Venice: April 1559, 1-15

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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'Venice: April 1559, 1-15', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580, (London, 1890) pp. 59-67. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

April 1559, 1–15

April 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 55. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Peace is supposed to be concluded, but certain things remain for settlement, as I will tell hereafter.
When on the 28th the dispute about the affairs of Piedmont, which had caused so much trouble that it was considered certain that the negotiation for peace would be broken off, was arranged, on the Commissioners going forth, the Cardinal of Lorraine said aloud that thanks were due to God for the conclusion of the peace, and he embraced and kissed his nieces, the sisters of the Duke of Lorraine, who were at Cambresis with their mother; after which the Cardinal and all the other Commissioners went to church to return thanks to God, having the “Te Deum” sung. In the evening bonfires were kindled all over the town, and on the morrow there were many companies of maskers as a mark of rejoicing.
On the morning of the 29th the courier arrived at Brussels with news of the conclusion of the peace, which was confirmed in the evening by the arrival of Don Juan de Yvara, who went straight to the King at the Abbey [of Gruniendal], where bonfires were made in like manner. Something, however, remains for adjustment, and I hear amongst other things that the French want to rebuild Terouenne and Nol [Nesle ?], to which should King Philip consent, they say that they on their part will restore a fortress on these frontiers which was razed. There is also a difficulty about an abbey, and I am told that the affairs of Tuscany and Montferrat are not well settled. I have been unable to Learn what the difficulties about Tuscany are, but concerning Montferrat the French would fain dismantle Casale, and insist that no fortress in that Marquisate should be held by King Philip, who on the other hand wishes to retain at least two of them.
Besides this, the affair of the hostages for the restitution of the fortresses by either side is not well settled, for although they have agreed that one side only is to give hostages, and that the party giving them is to be the last to make restitution because the other has the pledge and security, they have not yet determined which party is to be the first to make restitution.
With regard to matters concluded, I hear on the best authority that the two Kings will give back the fortresses and places taken by them in the last wars.
The marriage of the most Christian Kings eldest daughter is referred to the election of King Philip, who will either take her for himself, or give her to his son; but he has not yet quite determined, and some persons think that he will take her, and that to his son will be given another daughter of the King of France.
Calais will remain in the hands of the French on the terms already mentioned.
Savoy and Piedmont will be restored to the Duke, France keeping the five fortresses already named, and King Philip the two, although the Duke of Savoy tells me that of the two to be held by the King Catholic, he (the Duke) will always dispose at his option. He is to take for wife Madame Marguerite, and from what he says the marriage will take place immediately on the conclusion of the peace, for which purpose he will go to France, having already sent to Rome for the dispensation.
Corsica will be given unconditionally to the Genoese, who will accept a French Ambassador (che accettaranno Ambr. Francese), and will leave their ports free both for the French fleets and for those of King Philip. There was some difficulty about the return of the Fieschi, and I do not know how it has been settled.
The places of Tuscany will be given to King Philip, but in this matter also there seems to be some impediment; and when the news of the conclusion of the peace arrived, the ambassador from Florence said to my Secretary that he thanked God for being relieved from great anxiety, and that his Duke would be the greatest Prince that Italy has had since the time of the Romans.
Things being brought to this condition, they begin to think of departure for Spain, and the Duke of Francavilla, one of his Majesty's councillors, has already asked and obtained leave to go through France. It is also said that Don Ruy Gomez, son-in-law of that Duke, will soon depart, and that he will be the person to go to the most Christian King to receive his oath to the treaty, and then proceed on his journey; the Constable or the Cardinal of Lorraine coming hither to do the like by King Philip, who is expected to remain in these parts some months longer, but will go to Spain in September at the furthest, and almost everybody says by sea, though some are of opinion that he may go through Italy, and embarking at Genoa cross with the fleet, though the road through Germany might be dangerous, as he would have to pass through the territories of hostile Princes.
I have seen an autograph letter from one of King Philip's Commissioners at the Conference, dated yesterday evening, containing the following words: “I thank God that during these last two days things have passed so prosperously, for we have agreed with the French to all the articles, and no further alterations will be made concerning Terouenne and Ivoy. Nothing remains but to draw up the articles and sign them, which will, I hope, be done to-morrow or next day, provided the French, as usual with them, do not raise difficulties with fresh demands to improve their terms; so I will not assure you of anything until I see the articles signed.”
Brussels, 2nd April 1559.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
April 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 56. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
I have seen a letter from M. de Sciampoli (sic), the brother of the Bishop of Arras, dated Cambresis, 2nd April, of the following tenour.
“This morning the Commissioners assembled, and everything was concluded, and the most Christian King's daughter, who was to have married Don Carlos, will be taken by [his father] the King Catholic. To-morrow we shall sign the treaty, and go together to mass; then dine with the Duchess of Lorraine, have the treaty proclaimed, and depart.”
Brussels, 3rd April 1559.
[Italian; the portion in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
April 9. Original Despatch. Venetian Archives. 57. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
It has seemed here, and may appear in the same light elsewhere, a bold step that this King should take for wife his most Christian Majesty's eldest daughter, who had been first offered to his son, most especially as King Philips negotiation is still pending with the Queen of England, where the Count de Feria has not failed to perform every sort of office, spending money profusely and making presents. But the King Catholic, perceiving on the one hand how ill he could succeed with Queen Elizabeth, especially as she was alienating herself from the Catholic Church, anticipating also the many difficulties, disturbances, and dangers he would have incurred by continuing his project to dispose of that kingdom at his pleasure, and hoping on the other hand through this [French] marriage to establish more effectually peace and concord with the most Christian King, easily allowed himself to be brought over to this opinion, which will doubtless have extremely pleased the French, who wished above all things to make sure of King Philips not marrying the Queen of England, to which kingdom they believe themselves to have a just claim.
His most Christian Majesty leaves it at King Philip's option to solemnise the marriage either here or in Spain, and about this no determination has been come to hitherto, though many persons are of opinion it will he solemnised in Spain, as the King Catholic would never be counselled to pass through France, and it would be inconvenient to take women by sea. They talk less of what was said heretofore, but nevertheless his Majesty cannot depart hence so speedily, as he must at least remain for four or five months to see further about the restitution of the fortresses and places on the one side and the other, as also to provide for much that is required in these provinces. It is said by some that to the Prince of Spain [Don Carlos] they will give the French King's third daughter, who was promised to the son of the King of Navarre, but some other chief personages say that one of the chief reasons which moved King Philip to take for himself the daughter of the most Christian King was, that his realms might be inherited by lineal descendants both on the father's and mother's side of the House of Aragon and Castille ; so his son [Don Carlos] will be married to a daughter of the Emperor.
The Duke of Savoy is in high spirits, as he in reason ought to be, on resuming possession of his territories after 23 years expulsion 'thence, but he is evidently tied and bound (legato), and more in the hands of the French than in those of King Philip; and when I congratulated his attendants on this result, they could not dissemble their regret, saying that the gladness remained incomplete because so many fortresses were withheld ; and all able politicians believe that he will be compelled to follow the will of the French (seguir più le voglie de' Francesi) rather than that of this King, to whom alone he has cause to acknowledge the benefit of having been reinstated.
It is not well known how the affairs of Tuscany are to be settled. This Court is, however, extremely dissatisfied with the Duke of Florence, and most especially with its chief personages; and the Duke of Parma, when speaking to me on this subject, said that his Majesty's councillors are so dissatisfied at the disposal of Sienna, that whenever it is talked about they all seek to exculpate themselves, saying that they were either absent at the time or never gave their assent The Duke of Parma also told me that the Duke of Florence had complained of him, but that he was compelled in self defence simply to narrate the causes why the war of Ferrara had not succeeded, he (the Duke of Parma) having given hopes to his Majesty, which were frustrated because the Duke of Florence failed to do what he was bound to do. The Duke of Parma added that although implicit belief cannot be given to all that is said by a great Prince, yet King Philip's proceedings vouch the fact that he never took any pains to marry Queen Elizabeth, and thus gain so great a kingdom, for it is undeniable that he always treated that affair very coldly, and neglected it in many ways.
Yesterday I visited the Duke of Alva and Don Buy Gomez, who endeavoured to convince me of his Majesty's good will, and principally the Duke of Alva, who commended the care had by the King in this treaty for his allies, which he said was so great as to make the King utterly disregard his own interests provided his allies were satisfied, as they are; adding that on account of the allies he the Duke had expected the negotiations for the peace to have been broken off at least four times, as no dispute ever arose about his Majesty's affairs. His Excellency then went on to affirm at great length that King Philip was content with his own, and did not desire the possessions of others, and that in like manner as, in case of need, he well knew how to wage war, so did he desire peace above all things, and would endeavour to preserve it in Christendom.
The Council [General] will have to be arranged, King Philip greatly desiring that it may be held for the benefit and security of his states; the King of Fro/ace being likewise bound to wish for it equally, as here it is considered certain that his most Christian Majesty has been compelled to make this peace more through the troubles caused by the affairs of religion than from any other necessity he had. A gentleman of this Court told me he had it from the lips of the Cardinal of Lorraine that more than two-thirds of France have become Lutherans; and the Duke of Alva, talking with me on this subject, said King Philip knew the condition of France with regard to the religion better than anyone, because, had he chosen to give ear to those who on this account demanded his protection, he might very easily have put France to extreme confusion and ruin; so it is believed that these two Kings will do their utmost to have the Council held.
A reverend Bishop who was at the Council of Trent has told me that the last Act registered in that Council was, that whenever the Christian Princes were at peace the Council was understood to he open; so he said that these Kings without more ado might send their Bishops to the Council, in order to avoid loss of time, and that at any rate he would inform his Majesty of the fact.
The Cardinal of Lorraine and the Constable are expected here in a fortnight to witness his Majesty's signature, and to elect the four hostages to be taken with them to France ; the which hostages will not only witness the most Christian King's signature of the treaty, but will also make the promise to the new bride (alla nova sposa) in King Philip's name.
The Marshal de St. André [Jacques d'Albon] has returned to constitute himself a prisoner, although he is allowed to go freely about the city ; and because he is the prisoner of the King, his Majesty having purchased his ransom and that of the Rhinegrave from Duke Henry of Brunswick, to whom they belonged, for 50,000 crowns, it is affirmed that his Majesty will give him freely the entire ransom, for having been the originator and a good mediator of the treaty of peace.
All the poor French who have fallen into his Majesty's hands, in number many thousands, scattered over these provinces, and placed in the fortresses of the towns, suffering great misery and living in poverty, will now be released, those who were in the towns through which the Duchess of Lorraine passed having been already set at liberty.
By letters from England of the 28th ultimo it is heard that Parliament had adjourned till after Easter. On the day the letter was written certain Catholics were by the Queen's orders to meet others of the contrary party about some articles relating to the changes of the religion; but the result (la reuscita) of the proceedings of Parliament would make it appear that the Queen has determined not to adopt either in documents or otherwise the title of “Head of the Church,” but to act like the Princes of Germany, who use the power and not the title (che usano la potestà, et non il titolo).
Brussels, 9th April 1559.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]
April 11. Original Letter, Mantuan Archives. 58. Il Schifanoya to the Castellan of Mantua.
I have not sooner answered your letter, having been absent in country, 20 miles hence, at the obsequies of my Lord St. John, who was my master (padrone). While in these parts I will not fail to write to you, especially as I see by your letters that their Excellencies show satisfaction with my devotion and good will.
At the demand of the Protestants, before Parliament recommenced, a disputation was appointed between them and the Catholics in public in Westminster Abbey, each side electing eight [delegates], one of the eight alone on either side having to reply. The articles for dispute had been formally settled, the first being “De Ceremoniis“; and besides what was alleged by word of mouth, reasons in writing were to be delivered to as many of the Lords of the Council and of the Parliament as were present at the disputation.
The poor Catholics believed that the affair was to proceed loyally, without the deceit and fraud which were finally discovered. By order of the Lords (per commissione delli Signori) first of all the Dean of St. Paul's, by name Doctor Cole, spoke on behalf of the Catholics, supposing that his adversary, an arch-heretic, the Doctor Corné (sic), would reply to his arguments, against which the latter said not one word to the purpose, but commenced reading with great vehemence a book of the heretics composed long ago, deafening the audience with false doctrines, which to the vulgar seemed pious, and worthy to be put in execution. The first chapter purported that the law of God and the service in the churches ought to be performed (fatto) in a language understood by all the people, and that the use of any other but the native tongue was contrary to the will and precept of God. This the Catholics denied, and the Protestants having to prove their case continued to read their book for a long while. Then the Lords rose, and all the people [departed], their ears being full of this Protestant book, and a more impious one cannot be either found or even imagined.
For the second meeting, the Catholics, not having had time to compose a book, wrote what little they could by Divine inspiration, and returned to the usual place, where the Bishops, most especially those of Winchester [John Whyte] and Lincoln [Thomas Watson], commenced by reprehending the procedure at the first sitting, and urged that this was not the way to enlighten the people and to extirpate heresy; that still less was it the way to discuss the precepts of God, and to distinguish the false doctrine from the true; that on no account would they submit to such proceedings; that if the Protestants chose to dispute about matters of faith and religion, servatis servandis, the Bishops were there for that purpose; and they insisted that at this second conference the Protestants should be the first to speak, as the Catholics had done at the first [sitting]; saying, “Who can doubt that the people, who depart with the last words said in their heads, will always give more credit to what they remember than to what they have forgotten?”
The Protestants not giving ear to this, there was a very stormy debate, in such wise that the two good Bishops, inflamed with ardent zeal for God, said most boldly that they would not consent [to do otherwise], nor ever change their opinion from any fear, expatiating on many matters, which it would be tedious to narrate.
They were answered that this was the will of the Queen, (fn. 1) and that they would be punished for their disobedience. By command therefore of three of the chief members of the Council, viz., the Earl of Bedford, the Marquis of Northampton, and Master [Sir Thomas] Parry, Treasurer [of the Household], the two Bishops were sent prisoners to the Tower, and the rest of the Bishops and the Dean [of St. Paul's], with two other prelates, were ordered not to leave London, and to present themselves every day to the Council, as they now do.
Your Lordship will see what a sad story this is.
The peace was subsequently published here, and immediately after the proclamation a stringent order was promulgated, forbidding in future the performance in the hostels and taverns of certain plays and games on holidays, which used to be held in abuse and derision of the Catholic religion, of the mass, of the Saints, and finally of God ; so that some persons say things will yet return to their former state, if not from love at least by force, owing to this blessed peace and close alliance between the two principal and most powerful Kings in the world. The populace believe that this peace, together with the marriage made, will ruin them; and the heretics tremble to hear that a “Council General” is to be held for the extirpation of the many evil plants which now exist.
A statute has been enacted in Parliament limiting the revenues of Bishops to (I believe) 500 l. annually, and it seems to me that the Bishops will be deprived of all impropriated benefices, a great number of which the good and holy Queen Mary had restored to them.
The title of “Supreme Head of the Church” passed through the two Houses, but her Majesty is expected for some reason not to accept it.
I will give no advice to your Lordship about continuing my correspondence, but I hope your Lordship will not allow me to labour for nothing. Since the death of my master, and loss of his salary, though I am content to undertake the fatigue of writing, my means do not admit of my paying the postage of letters, and the cost of paper, wax, string, and ink. I therefore pray you to consider my poverty. I shall remain here till I have a reply from the Queen to a petition with which I lately presented her, and until I have a reply from your Lordship, whom God save and prosper. Recommend me to Signor Cornacchia, Signor Calzone, and all the Lords of the Chancery [of Mantua].
London, 11th April 1559. [Signed] Il Schifanoya.
April 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 59. Paulo Tiepolo, Venetian Ambassador with King Philip, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday I visited the Bishop of Arras, who spoke to me in conformity with what I had heard from the Duke of Alva and Don Ruy Gomez, telling me of this King's good will, he being entirely bent on quiet, and to use the Bishop's own words, “averse to scandalous intrigue,” but in case it arose, he knew how to make those who were the cause repent; having arrived at the conclusion that this peace ought to be most gratifying to every Christian prince, and not render any of them suspicious. The only thing he told me, in addition to what I had heard from the Duke of Alva and Don Ruy Gomez, was, that when the King of France should withdraw his garrisons and protection from the places in Tuscany, they must submit themselves to the Duke of Florence, but many persons are of a contrary opinion, declaring that there is some secret understanding between France and Spain.
Nothing has been lately heard about the interview between the two Kings, but now a report circulates that possibly on the arrival of the Cardinal of Lorraine and the Constable something may be said on the subject, as the French greatly desire the meeting. The lodging for those personages is now being prepared, and from it a corridor (un ponte) has been made which extends to the Palace.
In like manner as, before the peace took place, there were many conjectures about the mode in which it might be concluded, so now lest it prove eternal there is no lack of speculation about where warmay next break out, some naming England, some Italy, some say against Sultan Soliman, and some against the Moors, towards which last idea the Spaniards would chiefly incline from the advantage that would result to them; but all this is talk, and at the present time the debts are very heavy, and the means of finding the money, most especially for an unnecessary and aggressive war, is so difficult, that it ought to incline the most restless spirits towards peace and repose.
The attendants of the Duke of Savoy say that on the arrival from Rome of the dispensation he will go to France to solemnise his marriage (a far le nozze), having in the meanwhile sent the Count of Stroppiana to perform an office with the King of France and Madame Marguerite, who judiciously requested her brother to place the fortresses retained by him at her husband's free disposal, saying that, if he suspects the Duke, his Majesty ought not to marry her to him, as she should be uneasy, and that if he has no suspicion of him she cannot comprehend why these fortresses are retained; so his Majesty bade her be cheerful, as, if the Duke behaved well to his wife, it is possible that the fortresses may be given him before the expiration of the three years.
It has not yet been determined who is to rule these Provinces when his Catholic Majesty goes to Spain, report varying on the subject. Mention is made of the Duchess of Lorraine, who by this treaty has gained fresh merit and repute ; others say that, after consummating his marriage and holding a Diet of his States, the Duke of Savoy will return hither; but the majority incline towards the Duke of Parma, though his Excellency, when discussing this topic with me, said that his relationship with King Philip (fn. 2) gave rise to this report, and that nothing whatever had been settled, but that at any rate the arrangement of his affairs in Italy required his presence there, after which, should his Majesty desire to make use of him, he would come. But whoever may be appointed, his rule will not last long, for everybody says that shortly after the King's arrival in Spain he will send hither Don Carlos, some personage being nominated to advise him, and at all events the Bishop of Arras will remain.
This prelate told me he was advised from Venice of the receipt there of letters from Constantinople, purporting that Sultan Soliman's second son, Bajazet, had rebelled, having already mustered 30,000 cavalry, with many other particulars about this matter.
Brussels, 14th April 1559.
[Italian; the portions in italics deciphered by Signor Luigi Pasini.]


  • 1. “Religione” evidently a mistake for Regina.
  • 2. Having married Margaret of Austria, the illegitimate daughter of the Emperor Charles V., the Duke of Parma was the King's brother-in-law.