Venice: October 1578

Pages 583-586

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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October 1578

Oct. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 730. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The news of the death of Don John has been confirmed by a courier who has passed through Paris express for Spain, in order to inform his Majesty there.
Paris, 11th October 1578.
Oct. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 731. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Mons. de Bellievre came yesterday to see me in the name of his most Christian Majesty.
He told me, after paying the usual compliments, that if he had had any good news to communicate he would have imparted it gladly, but that it was unnecessary to speak of things which were the reverse. He then proceeded to commiserate the misfortunes of the most Christian King, and the difficulties and suspicions which exist within the Kingdom, and which are caused not so much by the Huguenots as by the discontent of the nobles and the people, and the dangers from without, especially from Casimir. Then he added that Monsieur still continued his enterprise, but that he was ill-pleased and dissatisfied with the conduct of the States, who had neither given him territory nor united with him in arms, and did not, in short, perform what they had both promised and written, notwithstanding that his Highness had endeavoured to give them every satisfaction by having on his own part both accepted and subscribed to the League between the States, the Queen of England, and the other Princes named therein, although his Highness had at first led the King to believe that he would not do so.
Mons. de Bellievre spoke to me at length on this question, vituperating the League greatly, not only on account of the welfare of this Kingdom, but of that of all Christendom; and he further said that neither the King nor any other person acquainted with affairs of state could approve of the inclination of his Highness to marry the Queen of England, but that when he had resolved so to do, his most Christian Majesty bad no alternative but to give his consent and so satisfy his brother, because it was his Majesty's desire to keep united and upon good terms with him. I then said, in Order to ascertain whether there was any foundation for this marriage, that hitherto I had been unable to persuade myself that it could be accomplished; but his Excellency answered that matters were in a much more forward state than was generally believed, and that Mons. de Simier was about to proceed to England in the name of Monsieur in order to conclude the articles with the Queen; and he added, “It is quite true that it is not the first time that this woman, even when she was younger, has broken off negotiations with other persons which might have been considered concluded; and even if this proposed marriage were solemnised, Monsieur could not say that he was married, because he would have an old woman of forty-five years of age without any hope of children; nor could he even say that he was a free man, because he would be in the power of a nation most suspicious and the natural enemy of the French; and there were besides a thousand other objections, which I can leave you to ponder.”
I have related all the communications which have been made to me by the principal and confidential minister of this King, in order that you may have full information.
Paris, 19th October 1578.
Oct. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 732. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
After the acquisition of Binche Monsieur returned to Mons on account of the plague which had broken out, and even amongst his soldiers, who had been infected by some Roisters of the States, who were present at the expedition against Binche, so that many soldiers had disbanded and left the Camp. It is therefore said that at the end of this third month (sic) his Highness will return to Soissons, a strong place on the frontiers of Picardy, and attend during this interval to the negotiation of his marriage with the Queen of England; and as I have procured the principal articles which de Simier has concluded with the Queen, I send them to your Excellencies, and it will be well to keep them secret, for I know that the Duke of Alençon does not wish them to be published at the present time as it is possible that they may be altered in some particulars.
While closing this despatch I have heard that the Lords of Flanders who had mutinied in favour of the Catholic religion, and against the Prince of Orange, have entered the province of Hainault with twenty-four companies of infantry, and a strong force of cavalry, and have sought Monsieur to become their protector; but his Highness answered them that he has promised and sworn to protect and defend them all generally, and not a part of them only. They say that Count de Lalain in particular is greatly dissatisfied with this reply, and, in short, affairs are all in confusion amongst the Flemings themselves; and the Prince of Orange is in a state of great perplexity, more especially as the Queen of England has informed him that as she will always favour in general the Low Countries when united together, so, when civil discord exists amongst them, she will not interfere in the least, and this decision will prove their ruin.
Paris, 20th October 1578.
733. Summary of the Principal Articles for the Marriage between the Queen of England and the Duke of Alençon.
1. That the marriage be performed according to the rites of the religion of the Queen.
2. That Monsieur may hear low mass privately iu his cabinet, without permitting any Englishman to enter.
3. The proclamations, edicts, and orders of every description whatever to be always published in the name of the King and Queen together.
4. That no Frenchman is to have any rank whatever in the Kingdom, nor even at the Court, unless the Queen and Council permit.
5. It being undesirable that a marriage should take place without an interview between the parties for their mutual satisfaction, Monsieur will agree to visit Eugland when the Queen gives him a passport signed by her own hand that he will be honoured, served, and well treated in every particular.
6. That Monsieur is to have for the expenses of his Court annually—crowns. For the rest, his Highness will be content not to interfere at all, either with the public revenues, or with any other matters which concern the Kingdom, without the express will of the Queen and of the Council, or of Parliament, should it be requisite.
7. Monsieur will be satisfied to come solely with his own household and guard without other troops, in order not to render the people suspicious.
8. The Queen promises to summon Parliament next March, and treat with them to consent that if Monsieur should survive her Majesty, he should remain King during his life, and while he resides in England.
Oct. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 734. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Monsieur has lately sent to give an account to the King of the progress of the negotiation of his marriage, and how he had accredited De Simier to England for this affair. De Simier went yesterday to kiss his Majesty's hand, and told him that his master had well considered this negotiation, and had found it very desirable both on account of his own greatness, and also for the interests of this Crown, from which he hoped not only to ward off the dangers which arose from the continual hostility of England, but to reconcile the Queen and keep her always friendly, and in short he expected to unite another kingdom to this; and that his master promised also to be a good and loving brother and neighbour, not doubting for a moment the disposition and will of the Queen of England, because as she was now threatened from many quarters, she would by means of this marriage secure herself greatly, and particularly from the Spaniards, who would not desire to quarrel with England and France united.
Monsieur, therefore, with the utmost affection besought his Majesty to approve his determination and to assist him, because when the negotiation was completed, as he hoped it would be, his Highness could then proceed to England with all grandeur and dignity, as became a son of France.
When the King became aware of this resolution, being certain that the more he endeavoured to impede it the more he would accelerate its conclusion, he answered that he was satisfied with whatever pleased his brother, and that when the whole affair was arranged his Majesty would not fail to give it his countenance and assistance in order that Monsieur might comport himself worthily. But since Monsieur declined to accept the advice which his Majesty himself, in a similar case, had accepted, namely, not to attend to such a convention (partito) and to break off the treaty, his Majesty begged Monsieur, at all events, not tol decide to proceed to England until he had obtained the assent of Parliament to accept him as their King whenever he took their Queen for wife.
In the meanwhile his most Christian Majesty has sent a confidential person to the Ambassador who represented him in England, to inform him of many particulars, and to instruct him to be most circumspect, in order to understand the whole negotiation, because in truth here all principal persons believed it to be an artifice on the part of the Queen, and of the greatest consequence in any event.
Monsieur has retired to a palace outside Mons on account of the plague which rages violently in the city, and the inhabitants of the city are beginning to be very ill disposed towards him.
In Flanders affairs continue to tend towards confusion; the provinces of Holland, Zealand, Friesland, Guelderland, and Utrecht have separated themselves from the other provinces, declaring that they intend to govern themselves and to live in liberty, though under the advice and favour, nevertheless, of the Prince of Orange, at whose persuasion the provinces have come to this determination, as, indeed, the provinces of Hainault and Artois have done, though with another object, because these latter provinces desire to live catholically and are satisfied to remain in obedience to the King of Spain, provided that they preserve all their privileges.
The city of Ghent would appear also to have a tendency to separate itself from the others, and a part of the inhabitants have appealed for protection to Casimir, who is within the city with a large force of his own people, and is extremely dissatisfied with the States because they have not paid him.
Nothing for the moment is heard of the Count de Lalain and the other lords who have risen against the Prince of Orange, except that they are endeavouring to increase their power in the province of Hainault.
Paris, 26th October 1578.