Venice: February 1580

Pages 629-633

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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February 1580

Feb. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 792. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Stafford, the Queen of England's gentleman, having remained several days with Monsieur, returned to the Court four days ago, and after having spoken with their Majesties, set out yesterday for England, and he gave out to some persons that he desired to return to France very shortly. The difficulty attending the conclusion of this negotiation arises principally from the question of the coronation, which question has been considered by Monsieur in consultation with many principal Lords of this Kingdom who are now with him, and among these are, the Duke de Montpensier, who went thither with the assent of the King and at the request of Monsieur, the Duke of Aumale, and the Marquis of Elbœuf, both of the House of Guise, the Marshal Cossé, the oldest and most esteemed captain in France, Mons. de Brissac, and some principal Lords of Normandy and Britany, partly Catholic, and partly Huguenots. With the above, Monsieur has discussed the unsatisfactory state of this kingdom and the remedies which circumstances required, and he did so while Stafford was yet with him; and Stafford, during his stay, despatched a courier to his Queen. Although Monsieur keeps his affairs very close, it is nevertheless understood that the decision of his Council was to take up arms against foreigners, because it was found impossible to repress the youth of France, who are by nature restless, and more so now that the Kingdom is divided against itself; and the Council were also of opinion, in consequence of the disorders rife in the Kingdom, that the States General should be summoned. It is quite certain that Monsieur has intimated to the King that it was incumbent upon his Majesty on account of the great complaints which had come to his (Monsieur's) ears from every quarter, to provide for these disorders by summoning the States General, and he besought his Majesty not to impose upon him the necessity of undertaking a charge which was the prerogative of his Majesty himself; and in the meanwhile he begged his Majesty to advance him money, as he was prepared to do anything in order that his Majesty might perceive and recognise his good intentions.
It is however, believed that Monsieur's real intention is to proceed to Flanders with the forces and support of the Huguenots and of other Lords of this Kingdom, and that this English gentleman (Stafford) has not only negotiated the marriage treaty but also warlike movements, the Queen being desirous to see the Spaniards absolutely expelled from the States of Flanders on account of the great dread which the English have of them and which the English Ambassador here resident cannot avoid showing particularly when he complains to many persons of the evil disposition which the King of Spain evinces towards the Queen, and especially since her affairs in Ireland have proved so disastrous, for, according to letters received from England and dated the 28th ultimo, the Queen's forces have suffered a defeat of importance in addition to that which I mentioned in my letter of the 20th (16th?) ultimo.
The Huguenots from all quarters are urging the King to assist the proposal of Monsieur to attack Spain in order to free his Majesty from troubles at home, but meanwhile, they are doing all the harm they can in every way, and particularly in Auvergne, where, since the capture of Mende, they are harassing that province to such an extent that the Catholics have been compelled to send an Ambassador to his Majesty beseeching him to give them aid speedily.
Paris, 13th February 1580.
Feb. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 793. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Announces the death of the King of Portugal, which took place on the 31st ultimo.
Paris, 22nd February 1580.
Feb. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 794. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
This morning early the English Ambassador called upon me to learn what news I had concerning the death of the King of Portugal, he having been informed that I had received a despatch from the Secretary Villeroy, and he said with a most cheerful countenance, “God be praised that my Queen is now free from a great anxiety. We were advised that the Spanish fleet was to sail for England, and we knew exactly the course the galleys were to take, and where they were to land forces, both in England and Ireland. We also knew that the Pope had made fresh denunciations against England besides those which Pius V. had pronounced, to liberate all our people from their oaths of allegiance. We also knew that certain priests had been sent to England to negotiate secretly, and I have given the Queen information of their proceedings, and by this time I hope that they are in her hands, and if God have not willed so, why then we are unjustly afflicted? And this greed of the King of Spain is too prodigious, for he is not content with the many kingdoms which he possesses, but is now endeavouring to seize the kingdoms of other sovereigns and to make himself monarch of all Christendom. Take it for certain that negotiations which some time ago he carried on with the Turk and the King of Fez, Powers with whom his predecessors never would be on friendly terms, could have no object but this. He was in hopes, without recourse to arms, to become master of Portugal, and from thence to attack us ; and now that this attempt has failed, he is seeking to occupy that country by force, both against the will of the nation and against right; for the kingdom belongs in truth to the Duchess of Braganza, who is descended by the male line from the blood royal; and if the King of Spain were to occupy this territory, he would so increase his empire and his power that he might the more easily expect to accomplish his other designs. But it will not please God that such an unjust and ambitious purpose should be realised, and you, Lord Ambassador, will soon learn that the King of Spain will be diverted from his Portuguese enterprise after such a fashion that he will have to mind his own business.
The King of France must bestir himself and not remain asleep, for the best intentions pervade the whole kingdom and animate Monsieur himself The King must see that his kingdom cannot remain in its present position. He must know the restless nature of his Frenchmen; he must finally perceive that such a vast aggrandisement of the power of Spain in so many quarters, and especially by the proof afforded him by the intrigues in the Marquisate of Saluzzo, will ultimately effect his ruin. I perceive very clearly that the distrust which exists between the King, Monsieur his brother, and the King's subjects and Princes, may greatly impede an advantageous solution of this question; but I am convinced that if his Majesty wishes to be assured of their good intentions, means may be found to satisfy him, and that there will be no stir of arms except at the time and in the mode in which his Majesty may command. Believe me also that if the King does not come to any decision others will do so; we certainly do not intend to be mere spectators of the calamities which are near at hand, for we plainly comprehend the designs of the King of Spain against us, and believe that Mon sieur and the principal personages of this Kingdom will be on our side.”
The Ambassador added that his Queen was well aware that the Grand Duke of Tuscany had taken part in the combination formed against her by the Pope and the King of Spain, and that although he and his States were situate at a great distance from England, still the Queen would not fail to retaliate; and he concluded by saying, “What say yon, Lord Ambassador, concerning these matters? Do you think them of moment to your Republic? Of a surety you should well consider your interests, having a King so powerful and so ambitious as your neighbour, and should he seize Portugal, what will become of your commerce? for if it received great injury when the Portugese took possession of the Indies, think what will happen when the Spaniards, who have the power to reduce these countries to subjection, will be masters there.”
I answered that it must greatly grieve your Serenity to hear of distrust and differences of such vast importance between Christian Princes who were friends of the Republic, and still more that any evil should befall any one of them, and that I was positive that your Serenity would willingly mediate to make peace between Princes who were so friendly to yourselves, and that the peace and safety of England in particular were most dear to you by reason of the ancient affection and goodwill which had uniformly subsisted between that Crown and the Republic.
I have already written what I had lately heard from the Ambassador relative to the apprehension which the English entertained from the Spanish armaments, and the Ambassador himself has lately spoken to this effect openly at Court, and letters from England of the 13th instant relate that the Queen had given orders to the sea ports to prepare for defence, and that several galleons were being armed.
Paris, 23rd February 1580.
[Italian ; partly in cipher.]
Feb. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 795. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The news of the death of the King of Portugal appears to have given no concern to his Majesty; indeed, on the very day when the advices were received he went to St. Germain, whither he occasionally repairs for his amusement and to avoid attending to business, and he will remain there all the week. Monsieur is negotiating for his expedition to Flanders which the Prince of Orange is now supporting, although he at first opposed it, but he has now discovered a mode of arranging matters to his satisfaction; and this I have heard from the English Ambassador. The States also have sent articles to Monsieur. I have already written that the inducement held out to the King to make war on Spain is the fear of civil war, and these apprehensions are increased because Casimir and his officers are demanding the pay which has been due to them since 1575, according to the contract then made, and if those arrears be not discharged, they will protest and threaten as they are accustomed to do. The condition of this Kingdom, as I hear from persons who are well informed and who are faithful servants of the King, is very bad. Normandy and Britany continue to refuse to pay any taxes, except those which they paid before the reign of King Louis; and finally all the Catholics request and require the assembling of the States for the better government of the country, and they lament that the King should take so little care for the dignity and the interests of the Crown, and should think more of his pleasures than is becoming.
Paris, 23rd February 1580.
[Italian; the portions in italics are in cipher.]
Feb. 27 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 796. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The Queen of England, immediately after Stafford's return, ordered the Parliament to be prorogued until next May. But as her Majesty does not long remain of one mind it is difficult to divine what will happen. The Abate Guadagni, who went to see Monsieur, has returned, bringing a favourable reply from his Highness, who nevertheless declines to come to Court.
Paris, 27th February 1580.
Feb. 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 797. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
I have sent to your Serenity the articles by virtue of which Monsieur is summoned to Flanders. Monsieur is now at Angers, and carries on all his negotiations most secretly. The death of the King of Portugal is confirmed, and it is reported that Doña Catherine of Braganza has been elected Queen, but no very recent news has arrived.
Encloses the Articles (twenty-six in number, but without date) which have been approved by the Prince of Orange and the Deputies on behalf of the States of Flanders and which, subject to the approval of the Provinces, are to be submitted to Monsieur the Duke of Anjou.
Paris, 29th February 1580.