Venice: May 1567

Pages 391-394

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


May 1567

May 2. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 388. Giovanni Correr Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The King's frequent change of residence has been the cause why the English Ambassadors, namely, the Ambassador in Ordinary, (fn. 1) and the Ambassador by name [Sir] Thomas Smith, who arrived at Moret two days ago to demand the restitution of Calais, have not yet had audience. They were introduced at Moret to his Majesty, who was surrounded by his Council, he believing, as it is said, that the demand would be made aloud, but the Ambassador, approaching his Majesty, spoke in a low tone, and with great modesty, telling him that the Queen his Sovereign, not to be taxed with ignorance, desired to remind his Majesty that the eight years had elapsed, after which period under a penalty of five hundred thousand crowns Calais was to be restored; and this not having been done she now, in observance of the articles agreed and sworn to at Cateau Cambresis, demanded the penalty and the aforesaid restitution. The most Christian King answered him that he knew very well what those articles contained, and the matter being of much consequence, the Ambassadors must be content to wait till his Majesty had obtained the opinion of the Lords of his Council; and that then he would summon them. The Ambassadors then withdrew, and when they were recalled, his Majesty told them openly that he would not restore Calais, but would hold it as a possession of his ancestors, to which the Queen of England bad no just right; and when the Ambassadors rejoined, citing the plighted faith, the oath, and his Majesty's seal, the Chancellor answered them, that the promise had been given under the express condition, that the said Queen should not in any way molest the subjects and territory of that kingdom, or of Scotland, but from what had taken place at Havre de Grace, it appeared manifestly that she had lost all the pretensions which she might have had to Calais. The King then said that the Queen ought not to regret the loss of Calais, knowing that of yore it was a possession of this Crown, and that the Lord God had willed it to. return to its first master, and that these two realms ought to remain content with the frontiers created for them by nature, and with a boundary so clearly defined as the sea, within which so long as both owners remained without either of them occupying what belonged to the other, peace and good friendship between the two crowns would always ensue, which result his Majesty desired extremely for the future.
On receiving this reply, these Ambassadors took leave; and the one who came last will depart to-day or to-morrow for England, having received a present of many pieces of plate worth a thousand crowns. They both seemed very dissatisfied, for although they did not hope to obtain what they demanded, they did not however believe they would have the negative so openly and resolutely given them, but that it would be cloaked with some delay of time indicating great respect; and they even said, “These Frenchmen know that we have a woman for our head, and therefore esteem us so little.” They had also complained greatly before they had audience, and had written to her Majesty that the moment it was heard that this last Ambassador had crossed, and the cause of his coming was known, all the English ships and merchants in Rouen and Havre de Grace were detained, as if war had been already proclaimed and commenced. But these ships were subsequently released, by order of his Majesty, because a report circulated there that in London they had done the like.
The English who were in this city have already quitted this kingdom from fear of war.
Paris, 2nd May 1567.
May 16. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 389. Giovanni Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Immediately after the King's reply to the English Ambassadors, viz., the Ambassador in Ordinary and the Ambassador Extraordinary, for the restitution of Calais, the Secretary L'Aubespine (La Beaupina) the younger was despatched to Spain to acquaint his Catholic Majesty with it, and also to congratulate him that the risings in Flanders, after due and becoming punishment of the rebels, had almost been suppressed. By order of the King a muster of men-at-arms is fixed for the 1st of next month, and all those who appear without horses are to be cashiered; hence there is a strong demand for the purchase of horses, as many of the above are on foot. Many days had passed without any news from Scotland, when on the day before yesterday a Frenchman arrived, who assured his most Christian Majesty that the Queen of Scotland had married the Earl of Bothwell her subject, who is a young man twenty-five years old, of handsome presence, a heretic Calvinist, and who was married some years ago, but by agreement made between husband and wife, she accused him of adultery before one of the ministers, and he not denying, according to the doctrines of Calvin, the marriage became null, and both one and the other are at liberty to do whatever they please.
This intelligence has caused a vast deal of comment, little to the honour of the Queen, because this man was more suspected than anyone of having plotted the death of the late King; and although he was adjudged innocent, he has not however fully established that innocence in the opinion of many, who believe also that the Queen was a consenting party to obtain her end.
The Catholic religion, which in that kingdom had no greater foundation than the good intention evinced always by that Queen to support it, now remains according to general opinion deprived of all hope of ever again raising its head, because she, if what this man reports be true, without fear of God, or respect for the world, has allowed herself to be induced by sensuality, or else by the persuasion of others, to take one who cannot be her husband, according to our religion, and has raised a suspicion also that she will come by degrees to live according to the new fashion; and it is already seen that in the Parliament held in that kingdom at the end of last month it was resolved that as to the religion they were to live as they did when the Queen departed hence for those parts, which signifies according to the institutions of Calvin.
It is also heard that the said Queen a few days ago wished to see her son, who is being reared in the fortress of Stirling, and she was not allowed by the Governor to enter it accompanied by any man, but solely by her maids of honour. After having seen him, she departed thence immediately, and commanded the Governor that he was to deliver her son to her; but he refused to obey her; so some important stir is expected, it being considered certain that he did this with the knowledge and by the advice of others.
A bastard brother of the Queen of Scotland (fn. 2) has arrived here lately. He departed from her in disgrace, and the cause is said to be that he could not suffer any equal nor superior, and it appeared to him strange that this Earl of Bothwell should be preferred to him. He is a man of about thirty years of age, and of a restless disposition. He was the first to introduce the Calvinistic sect into Scotland, and at one time he effected many risings, to drive away the French, and from these risings have followed the enmities and divisions of opinion which have ended in the total ruin of the kingdom. When he departed he said he was about to sojourn at Geneva if he should find peace in that city, otherwise he would proceed to Italy, and then return to Scotland in spite of any opposition that might be offered him.
Paris, 16th May 1567.
May 30. Original Letter Book, Venetian Archives. 390. Giovanni Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
No letters have come from Scotland for many days past, and it is believed that the passage by sea is hindered. It is, however, heard from England, though the news from that quarter is considered doubtful, that the greater part of the Scottish nobility are in Stirling Castle with the Prince, and all of them indignant with the Queen, and yet more so with the Earl of Bothwell, whom they accuse of the death of the late King, and of having desired to poison the infant Prince. They also allege that he went to the Queen with about six hundred armed men, and by force compelled her to take him for her husband. Others, on the contrary, say that the force was voluntary, concerted by her to escape in some part the blame which must ensue from this marriage.
Her Ambassador resident here (fn. 3) states that he has not received letters, and consequently knows not whether she be married, but if it be true that the nobility had risen against her, the cause would probably be (this is his opinion) that on Easter Day her Majesty ordered many altars to be set up in the court of the palace, when twelve or fifteen persons attended to take the most sacred Sacrament. These uncertainties give rise to a great desire to learn the facts. The English Ambassador has complained seriously because one of his attendants was detained at Dieppe, and a packet of papers which he had in his possession taken from him; this packet was sent hither to his Majesty, by whom it was returned to Dieppe, and ultimately restored to the person to whom it belonged. This proceeding is not denied, but is excused on the ground that it took place without the order of his Majesty.
From the same English Ambassador it is heard that the Earl of Lennox, father of the deceased King of Scotland, had retired to England, and that according to the Ambassador's last advices Queen Elizabeth had not yet heard the reply about Calais; and that the Earl of Sussex, who was most honourably attended, and whom, some months ago, the Queen bad charged to take the order of the Garter to the Emperor, had departed from England with a commission to renew the negotiation for her marriage with the Archduke Charles.
His most Christian Majesty has designated as Ambassador to your Serenity Mons. de Foix, of a most noble family. He was formerly Ambassador in England, and is now from thirty-six to forty years of age. He is a churchman, learned, full of intelligence, and greatly in the confidence of the Queen of France.
Paris, 30th May 1567.


  • 1. Sir Henry Norris.
  • 2. James Stewart, Earl of Murray.
  • 3. The Bishop of Glasgow.