Venice: December 1579

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: December 1579', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580, (London, 1890) pp. 622-626. British History Online [accessed 25 April 2024]

December 1579

Dec. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 786. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
I wrote on the 19th ultimo in conjunction with the Ambassador Lippomano, who departed hence on the 26th ultimo, and may God prosper him according to his great merits and virtues. The King gave him a diamond ring taken from his Majesty's own finger, and insisted upon knighting him, although the Ambassador did his utmost to avoid this mark of honour.
The Queen-Mother has been to see Monsieur at Bergues, twenty-two leagues from hence, but has failed to induce him to come to Court; he has, however, promised to do so within the next two months, alleging that now he has to settle some differences existing amongst his gentlemen, and that he must visit the King of Navarre and his sister, but these are merely excuses invented to prevent his attending Court and waiting upon the King, and with the hope that his Majesty may comply with the demands which he has preferred on previous occasions.
Very little is said here concerning the marriage of the Queen of England with Monsieur, and the English Parliament, which was to have assembled at the end of December to consider this question, is now adjourned until January. Letters of the 29th November from London announce that there the matter was much discussed, and that the majority seeing such great inclination on the part of the Queen believe in the result, an opinion which is so strongly held by many persons, that they have given out that Monsieur was then in England incognito. Also that the Earl of Sussex, who is the sole favourer of this marriage amongst the great personages, was very ill, and, as it was suspected, from the effects of poison. Also that on the preceding Sunday a preacher, who is a chaplain to the Earl of Leicester, had the audacity to present to the Queen a petition and beseech her to read it immediately, which she did on her way to the country; and finding that the petition contained nothing but arguments against the marriage, she became very angry, and caused the chaplain to be forthwith arrested, and ordered the Earl of Leicester not to quit his house. In short there was great talk about this affair, and every day in the streets defamatory libels were circulated against the Duke of Alençon.
Also that a placard had been fastened to the cape of a servant of the Earl of Sussex, on which was written: “Quinta (sic) Evangelii libertas, totius (sic) Regni calamitas; qui stat, lit (sic) videat ne cadat.”
The same letters from London state that there was a great stir of arms in Ireland, and that the Earl of Desmond had been proclaimed a rebel.
Paris, 4th December 1579.
[Italian; in cipher.]
Dec. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 787. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Notwithstanding the answer which Monsieur gave the Queen-Mother, he nevertheless came secretly after her departure with only three attendants to the Court, where he remained two days, and had an interview with the King his brother. The reason for this sudden change of action is said to be that Monsieur declared he would not be treated like a child and be led by his mother, but as his coming was coincident with the entry of the Prince of Condé into Picardy, there is reason to think that Monsieur has acted thus to assure the King that the Prince had no intention of raising any disturbance within the kingdom, but had acted with Monsieur's consent, and with a view to a foreign war.
Paris, 6th December 1579.
Dec. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 788. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Mons. de Simier has returned from England; he was most honourably dismissed by the Queen, who presented each of his gentlemen with a chain, valued at from two hundred to five hundred crowns, and gave De Simier, with her own hands, presents of the value of eight thousand crowns ; and ordered him to be conducted to France in one of her own ships, accompanied by many of her gentlemen. On arriving in France he went immediately to the Duke, his master, and has not yet appeared at Court, so that the intelligence which he conveys cannot be positively ascertained ; but he brought letters from England from various persons, and these are believed to contain the articles of the marriage signed by the Queen herself and whereby she has given his Highness the most favourable terms which it is in her power to offer with regard to the succession. The Queen entreats the Duke, as this question is now in the hands of Parliament, to be content with what she can effect at present; she promising him that if the marriage be concluded she will endeavour in this matter also to meet his wishes, for in her judgment it will be more easy to obtain the declaration after his Highness shall have arrived in England and have been proclaimed and recognised as King. She had, therefore, prorogued Parliament, which had been ordered to meet last November, until next January, because she failed to perceive on the part of Parliament such a favourable disposition as would be required to declare the succession.
This question of succession has always been a principal point put forward by Monsieur, for it seemed to him much to his disadvantage that on the death of the Queen he should have to return to France with the Crown of England in a travelling bag (in una valissa); so, although his Highness inclines greatly to the marriage, and especially because he cannot obtain from his brother the office of Lieutenant-General, still it is impossible to surmise what course he will take.
A gentleman is expected from Queen Elizabeth a few days hence, when the ultimate decision will probably be known.
The Queen-Mother went lately to Noyon (Nogion) to hold an interview with the Prince of Condé.
The announcement of the arrival of the Luke of Alençon in this city, which gave rise to much remark, has been heard by these Majesties, and to their great displeasure, for it cannot be concealed but that Monsieur was at Court, as he lodged in the house of his Master of the Horse, and was seen there by several persons. Their Majesties would have it believed that Monsieur had not been seen by them, and have assured some principal members of the Council to this effect, and they have spread a report that Monsieur came here merely to visit a young lady with whom he is in love.
Notwithstanding these circumstances, it is considered quite true that the Duke had spoken with their Majesties, for although he went very secretly to the palace, and by night, yet he was nevertheless seen by persons who subsequently narrated the fact, and it is contrary to reason to believe that love, not very violent, for a lady, should have had sufficient force to impel Monsieur to do an act which placed him under great suspicion and caused him to show so much contempt for his Majesty and for his mother, who had herself earnestly begged him to present himself at Court.
Paris, 18th December 1579.
[Italian; the portion in italics is in cipher.]
Dec. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 789. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The gentleman from the Queen of England who was expected to follow the arrival of Mons. de Simier went to Monsieur on the morning of Christmas Eve, and on the next day, together with the Ambassador resident here [Sir Henry Cobham], waited upon their Majesties, and remained two hours in audience with them. This gentleman departed two days ago with autograph letters of great length, addressed by the King and the Queen-Mother to the Queen of England.
The communication which this gentleman brought expressed the determined will of the Queen of England to conclude the marriage according to articles which had been framed for the complete satisfaction of Monsieur and signed by her; and although with regard to the difficulty of the coronation and succession she would have wished that Monsieur, relying on her word, had. gone to England to consummate the marriage and facilitate the result by his presence; she nevertheless offered, for his greater satisfaction, to settle this question by assembling Parliament during the present month, and by dealing with the members after such a fashion as would render Monsieur completely satisfied.
The decision of Parliament will therefore be awaited, and to give a colour to this negotiation and to show that it is treated with due consideration, it is proposed to send to England certain principal personages, in the name of this Grown and of Monsieur, to attend the Parliament.
This is all that can be discovered concerning these negotiations, so if the marriage is being treated in sincerity it must be said that it has never been so near a conclusion as now; and the English Ambassador has told me that matters are so far advanced that within two months at the furthest either the marriage will be solemnised or it will never be spoken of again. Nevertheless, many persons who profess to see further than what can actually be seen, say that the marriage will not take place, and found their opinion upon the length of the negotiation, which has so wearied everybody that it is now neither spoken of nor discussed, and also upon the nature of the Queen herself, who heretofore, as on other similar occasions, has shown herself very averse to take a husband, and likewise giving to the difficulties which the English have raised, and will raise, with reference to the coronation and succession, so as not to permit England to fall into the hands of a French King. Many also believe that under the name of this marriage, affairs of greater importance (qualità) are being treated, and they say that in time of King Charles, also under the pretext of a treaty of marriage with the present King of France, a league was concluded with the Queen against the Spaniards, which resulted in the capture of Mons; and if the army of Count Louis, the brother of the Prince of Orange, had not been speedily routed, events of even greater moment would have been witnessed.
These views, although they may prove true, find their answers in what is being openly done, and not in what might be done.
If the marriage should take place it will not seem to many so very strange, because the length of this negotiation ought not to cause anxiety, seeing that the whole affair is most grave and full of difficuties, and that the will of the Queen, who was heretofore disinclined to marry may easily have been changed by time, and even more by the interests of those who have been aggrandised by her, and who by their rigorous and tyrannical proceedings have earned the enmity of great part of the English nobility, who in secret are Catholic, and who know that unless they gain some fresh support, as they expect to do by this marriage, they would fare very ill at the death of the Queen, whose life they do not think will last long.
This same motive might determine the Queen and her dependants to come to an understanding with Parliament, so that the questions of the coronation and succession might be carried, in which case it is thought that the result may be very unfortunate, having regard to the alliance and good understanding between this Crown and England which must ensue, and the consequent repulsion which many of the English lords will feel at having a Frenchman for their King. But these opinions may be mitigated by the consideration that such a King would not be without all hope of having children, in which case the English would have the advantage without any apprehensions of a King of their own, who, with the following which he has in France, would strengthen and keep alive his claims on Calais and other territories within this kingdom; and should Monsieur also succeed; at some time to this Crown of France, the English would be at liberty, having him on their island, either to keep him there beyond sea or permit him come here on such terms as might please them most.
If it be discussed what course would most benefit France, great difficulties as heretofore, might arise, but this question is not now at issue, because Monsieur, provided that he be sure of living and dying King, has no other thought, and these Majesties, seeing him determined on this point, will give him no further advice. But the information I obtain depends entirely on hearsay, for as their Majesties carry on the negotiation by letters written with their own hands, I must be content with what they choose to disclose, and they do not communicate more freely even with their own confidential Ministers, amongst whom conflicting opinions exist.
Paris, 31st December 1579.
[Italian; the portion in italics is in cipher.]