BHO

Venice: March 1567

Pages 389-390

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1890.

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Citation:

March 1567

March 20. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 384. Giovanni Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Mons. de Moretta has returned from Scotland, whither he was sent by the Duke of Savoy to hold the Prince at the christening, and he was anxiously awaited by these Majesties in order to hear from him some particulars concerning the death of the husband of the Queen of Scotland, Mons. de Moretta having been in those parts when the King was assassinated.
Mons. de Moretta relates that the Queen was actually with her husband on that day until a late hour, and then departed to be present at the marriage feast (ad un festino) of one of her ladies (di una sua damisella), the Queen having promised her husband that on the following night she would sleep with him, and in faith and as security for this promise she gave him a ring in pledge.
Towards midnight the King heard a great disturbance, at least so certain women who live in the neighbourhood declare, and from a window they perceived many armed men round about the house; so he, suspecting what might befall him, let himself down from another window looking on the garden, but he had not proceeded far before he was surrounded by certain persons, who strangled him with the sleeves of his own shirt under the very window from which he had descended. One of his chamberlains followed him, and was heard to say, “The King is dead, oh, luckless night;” nor was the wretched man deceived, for he and the father of the King both lost their lives.
Having done this, the assassins destroyed that part of the house where the King was accustomed to sleep, intending thus, it is said and conjectured, to have it believed that, to escape the destruction of the house, the King had killed himself when descending from the window.
Mons de Moretta says he left the Queen deeply afflicted, and in great fear of a worse fate. She had published a proclamation promising four thousand francs and a large annuity for life to any one who would denounce the malefactors, but hitherto no one of them has been discovered.
It was widely rumoured that the principal persons of the kingdom were implicated in the act, because they were dissatisfied with the King; and, above all, a bastard brother of the Queen [the Earl of Murray] is suspected, because at the time when she was at variance with her husband the Bastard told her that the King had boasted to him of having had intimacy with her before she was his wife. The Queen, exasperated, asked the King if it was true that he had said this; the King denied it, and gave the lie to the said Bastard, who repeated the accusation to the King's face; so from this private quarrel the report arose that the Bastard had desired to revenge himself.
The English Ambassador hints that the marriage between his Queen and the Archduke Charles is less probable, and that the Earl of Sussex, who was to have taken the Order of the Garter to the Emperor, will probably not depart at present.
Moret, two leagues from Fontainebleau, 20th March 1567.
[Italian.]
March 30. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 385. Giovanni Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The Duke of Guise, accompanied by a brilliant and youthful train, arrived here on Holy Thursday, and was received by the King with the utmost affection.
It is heard from Scotland that the principal persons there are divided into two parties, each of them attributing the blame of the King's death to the other. In the meantime all were arming, so some insurrection of importance may ensue.
The Queen, after having resided for some days, for her greater security, in a strong castle, has returned to Edinburgh; and she has written to the Bishop of Mondovi, who was to go as Nuncio to Scotland, to remain here for some days, as she hopes that all tumult will soon be quieted, and that he may then travel securely; but he, seeing the position to be difficult, intends to return to his bishopric, and has written to the Pope accordingly.
The Cardinal of Lorraine has been warned by letters from his friends in Scotland that many of the chief personages there had suspicion, and had almost come to the conclusion, that he had advised and procured the death of the King, and that he must therefore be on his guard.
In confirmation of the above the English Ambassador gives out, and has even said to his most Christian Majesty, that almost immediately after the death of the King of Scotland the wife of one of the principal personages of the kingdom died by poison, and it was reported that a marriage between this personage and the Queen would follow; whence it was inferred that in order to obtain this end it had been settled between these two that the one should put her husband to death, and the other his wife; but hitherto this story has not gained much belief, though it is well known that the Queen of England deeply regrets the death of her relative, the youthful King of Scotland, and strongly suspects that his wife was privy to it, and moreover she is now demanding with great earnestness that the assassins should be brought to justice.
Moret, 80th March 1567.
[Italian.]