Venice: December 1580

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 1580', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 7, 1558-1580, (London, 1890) pp. 649-657. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

December 1580

Dec. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 825. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The English Ambassador has just given me the enclosed copy of a treaty which has been entered into by the Pope, the King of Spain, and the Grand Duke of Tuscany, against his Queen, and which the Ambassador affirms to me is both genuine and most positive; and when I inquired what object or interest could have induced the Grand Duke to enter this league and to incur the expense of it, the Ambassador told me that the Duke hoped by ingratiating himself with the Supreme Pontiff and the King of Spain, to obtain great advantages for himself, and particularly to carry out his designs upon the Duchy of Urbino, by means of a marriage between the sister of the Duke of Urbino and his own brother Don Pietro; and further that it was absolutely certain that the Grand Duke, according to the ideas and practices of his father, and to secure himself, would endeavour to keep the King of Spain engaged in foreign wars, and that he had other objects besides. The Ambassador said further that he could furnish me with certain proof that, during the lifetime of the Duke's father, Chiapin Vitelli was sent to Flanders apparently to serve the interests of his Catholic Majesty, but in truth to prolong the negotiations and obstruct them as much as possible; and the Ambassador said he knew that then his Queen was assisted and favoured, by Chiapin Vitelli's intimate advice, and that by means of Chiapin Vitelli the conspiracies formed against her by the Duke of Norfolk and other persons were discovered. I will contrive to ascertain whether I have been told the truth, because these English are so artful in their negotiations that I cannot be sure that this story may not have been their invention, or if not entirely so, at least to some extent.
Moret, 2nd December 1580.
[Italian; the portion in italics is in cipher.]
826. Articles of the Confederates: copy enclosed in the preceding Despatch.
On Thursday the 18th February in the year 1580 the Ambassadors of the Catholic King and the Grand Duke of Tuscany were together at the audience (in Rome), when a league against the Queen of England was concluded between his Holiness, the said King, and the said Grand Duke in manner following.
1. That his Holiness will furnish ten thousand infantry and one thousand cavalry, the Catholic King fifteen thousand infantry and fifteen hundred cavalry, and the Grand Duke eight thousand infantry and one hundred cavalry; and to these forces are to be added the Germans who have gone to Spain, and who are to be paid pro ratâ by the above named Princes.
2. Should it please our Lord God to give good speed and success to the expedition, the populations are in the first place and above all things to be admonished, on the part of his Holiness, to return to their obedience and devotion to the Roman Catholic church in the same manner as their predecessors have done.
3. That his Holiness, as sovereign Lord of the Island (of England) will grant power to the Catholic nobles of the kingdom to elect a Catholic Lord of the Island, who, under the authority of the Apostolic See will be declared King, and who will render obedience and fealty to the Apostolic See as the other Catholic kings have done before the time of the last Henry.
4. That Queen Elizabeth be declared an usurper (detentrice) and incapable to reign, because she was born of an illegitimate marriage, and because she is a heretic.
5. That the property of the Church shall be recovered from the possession of the present owners, and men of quality and learned men of the country shall be appointed bishops and abbots, and to similar offices, and they, by the example of their lives, and by preaching, shall endeavour to bring back the people to the true religion.
6. That the King of Spain is not to make any other engagement, except to enter into a league and relationship, if he please, with the King to be elected, and so that they united together may assist the affairs both of the Island and of Flanders.
7. That the Queen of Scotland is to be set at liberty and to be aided to return to her kingdom should she desire so to do.
8. That his Holiness will use his best influence with the King of France, in order that neither his Majesty nor Monsieur his brother shall give assistance either to the Queen or to the Flemings against Spain.
9. That the Bull of excommuniation which Pius V. of happy memory issued against the said Queen be published in the courts of all Christian princes.
10. That the English Catholics shall be received in the army, and granted suitable pay according to their rank.
Dec. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 827. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Stafford, the Ambassador of the Queen of England, has constantly been in attendance upon Monsieur during the negotiations for peace within this kingdom, and amongst the acts which he has performed with the consent of Monsieur he has made a speech in public to the King of Navarre and the deputies of the new religion, exhorting and entreating them to come to terms with his Majesty. After the articles were agreed to, he came here, and having kissed the hands of their Majesties, he departed two days ago to return to England, whither, it is said, Marshal de Cossé will proceed after Christmas to conclude and establish a good understanding between that kingdom and this; and the Marshal is shortly expected at this Court.
The opinion is confirmed and increases every day that Monsieur will go to Flanders early next year with the King of Navarre and the Prince of Condé.
Letters from England received by the English Ambassador report that Lord Grey, the governor of the Queen in Ireland, having entrenched himself under Smerwick, where the Spaniards and Italians who have come from Spain in the name of his Holiness were besieged, compelled them to capitulate, and after their surrender cut them all to pieces with the exception of twenty-four who were sent to the Queen in England.
The Earl of Desmond, the chief of the insurgents in that island, had promised to relieve the garrison ; but he subsequently retired with his people to the neighbouring forests.
Many persons here believe that Don Antonio is not only alive and at large, but also in possession of the cities of Oporto and Viana.
Blois, 16th December 1580.
Dec. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 828. Lorenzo Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
The Secretary Villeroy, who has been sent by these Majesties to the Duke of Alençon with the articles of peace, departed from this place yesterday.
Blois, 28th December 1580.
Bequeathed MSS. Portfolio 1. 829. An Account of the State, and of the Queen of Scotland, and of the Prince, her son, from the year 1542 until the year 1580, compiled by the Lord Count Stefano Angarani.
I have compiled the present narrative concerning the Queen of Scotland and the Prince, her son, in which are described the persecutions, misfortunes, and imprisonments of this Queen, commencing with her nativity in the year 1543, together with the death of King Henry, her husband, and many other Barons, and the utter destruction of the Catholic religion in the church, and finally the coronation and the government of the Prince, her son, to the satisfaction of the Barons and subjects of that kingdom, and with the hope of the liberation of the Queen, and the re-introduction of the Catholic religion. All this appearing to me a great and grave subject I have thought it proper to relate the facts to your Excellency, whom I shall always honour.
Mary, Queen of Scotland, and daughter of James V., King of same kingdom, succeeded her father seven days after his death, whereupon Henry VIII., King of England, desiring that Edward, his son, should take her for wife, waged a terrible war against the Scots for the space of nine years, and greatly disturbed the kingdom.
1548. The Queen, being of the age of six years, by the desire and order of her Barons, was sent to France, and educated and nobly brought up until the age of sixteen years, when she was betrothed to Francis II., then the Dauphin, who subsequently became King of France.
1558. After the death of Mary, Queen of England, who was the wife of Philip, King of Spain, Elizabeth, her sister, succeeded her; but Henry, King of France, father of Francis, having heard that Elizabeth, by the order of her father, had been deprived of her right of succession as illegitimate, and that the kingdom of England had therefore devolved to the Queen of Scotland and belonged to her as the nearest heir, ordered that 8he should be proclaimed and crowned as Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and bear the arms and insignia of the three kingdoms in her own name.
1559. Elizabeth was, therefore, greatly enraged, and showed herself openly hostile to France, and to defeat the King of France and his plan she incited several Barons of the kingdom of Scotland to act against the French who held garrisons in Scotland, and she also sent English soldiers to Scotland, by whose exertions the French were compelled to retire. The Catholic religion then became extinct in the kingdom, the churches and the altars were destroyed, the monasteries, bishops, and abbots abolished, and, finally, all religious persons who confessed and defended the Catholic faith were driven from their offices and sent into exile, or were punished and thrown into prison, to undergo the most terrible misfortunes.
1560. Francis II., King of France, having died, the Queen returned to Scotland, believing that by her presence and with her authority she might tranquillise and appease the civil troubles, and restore to some extent the Catholic religion and rites of the Church.
1561. But when an attempt to this effect was made by the Queen's adherents, James, the natural brother of the Queen, who was Prior of St. Andrew's and subsequently Earl of Murray, assisted by the Queen of England, who furnished him with money, conspired against the Barons and well disposed citizens.
1562. The Earl of Huntly was slain by the conspirators, and his eldest son condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and his second son to death. The Earls of Sutherland, Arran, and Bothwell, the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, and others, were banished from the kingdom.
1563. The Queen, being thus alone in the hands of the heretical Barons, did not dare to attempt any movement in favour of the true religion, and was compelled to surrender all her powers to James and the other heretics.
1565. This most pious Queen, finding all the affairs of the kingdom in a state of ruin and the Catholics sorely oppressed, and seeing no other remedy, judged it expedient to marry some pious and Catholic Prince and thus obtain some relief from the evils which surrounded her. She therefore, with the consent of all her Barons, united herself in matrimony with Henry Stuart, her cousin, under and by virtue nevertheless of a dispensation from our Lord Pope Pius IV. But the Queen of England on many occasions used her best endeavours to prevent this marriage, and persuaded the illegitimate James and the Barons, his adherents, to take up arms; and the Queen of Scotland, together with her husband, desiring to oppose these rebels, attacked them with a large army, and compelled them to fly to England, where they were cordially received by orders from the Queen of England. But what the rebels could not obtain by force they endeavoured to effect by fraud, and they, therefore, in the presence of King Henry, accused one David, his secretary, and a Catholic, of having plotted with the Queen to put the King to death; and this David was slain by King Henry in the presence of the Queen, and she, being then pregnant, was strictly guarded in Edinburgh; but King Henry, having on the following day admitted his fault and the great wickedness which he had committed, secretly asked pardon with bitter tears from the Queen, and she, having graciously forgiven him, embraced him, and they both together fled by night from the hands of the conspirators, and forthwith entered into the Castle of Dunbar.
1566. The King and Queen, having mustered fresh forces, banished James and his adherents, who were the authors of all this wickedness, part to England and part to the islands. Hence the deepest hatred arose against King Henry because he had abandoned the friends who had been his partners in crime, and had joined the party of the Queen; and when the Queen of England asked pardon for these offenders by her Ambassadors, it was accorded by the Queen of Scotland, and especially to Morton, Ruthven, and Lindsay, who had committed great outrages, but they never relinquished the hatred which they had conceived against King Henry, and determined not to be satisfied until they had put him to death. On the 18th of the following month of June the Queen gave birth to her son James, now Prince of Scotland, to the great joy of all the kingdom, and the Prince at his baptism had for sponsors Charles, the most Christian King of France, Elizabeth, Queen of England, and the Duke of Savoy, who were represented by their Ambassadors accredited for that purpose. After the ceremonies of the sacred baptism had been accomplished the rebels formed a new conspiracy, and took counsel to put King Henry to death, and their end was accomplished by the Earl of Both well and others, by whom King Henry and some of his servants were strangled by night, and burnt with fires artfully prepared (fuochi artificiali) in his house.
1567. After the death of King Henry, Both well, with the consent of the Barons of his faction and the companions of his wickedness, endeavoured to obtain the Queen for his wife, and he therefore met her with a large force when she was on the road between Stirling and Edinborough, and took her prisoner, and carried her to the castle of Dumbarton, of which he was the governor, and there detained her with certain of her Barons for some time, in order to induce her to consent to marry him. Nevertheless the Barons, not being able to endure the outrages committed by Bothwell, attacked him with a large force, and he taking flight proceeded to the Orkney Islands, and thence hastened towards France, but was detained by the Queen of Denmark, and then sent to a castle, where he ended his days. But the Queen (Mary) of her own accord went to meet the Barons, who treated her with great inhumanity, and placed her in a strong castle in the Lake of Leven, where they frequently threatened her with death unless she submitted herself absolutely to their will, and finally compelled her with her own hand to sign letters whereby she relinquished the whole of the administration of the kingdom to her son, and appointed James, her natural brother, Governor of the King and kingdom; but the Queen, though she consented with tears and lamentations to their demands, protested nevertheless that she would revoke all those concessions which had been obtained contrary to her will as soon as she regained her liberty. Subsequently the Prince, the son of the Queen, at the age of one year, was crowned King, and James, the natural brother of the Queen, carried on the whole government of the kingdom according to his own ideas and fancies, and committed cruelties upon the Catholic and faithful subjects of the Queen.
1568. The Queen meanwhile came to an understanding with certain nobles to set herself free, and with their assistance miraculously escaped and proceeded to a fortress called Hamilton, and was there joined by the Barons and others who recognised her as their lawful sovereign; and with their authority she revoked and annulled all the acts to which she had been compelled to consent whilst in prison.
But James, the Governor, mustering his forces, attacked the Queen and her defenders, of whom many, in the sight of the Queen, were slain, and the Queen took flight towards England; and when this news became known to the Queen of England she sent letters and Ambassadors to comfort the Queen of Scotland and exhort her to patience and to bear misfortune, and invited her to England, promising to treat her as a dear and true sister. The Queen of Scotland, induced by these specious but false professions, took the road to England, but as soon as she arrived in England she was imprisoned in a certain castle and guarded with great strictness, and to this hour she has never been admitted to the presence of the Queen of England, who. although she dissimulates by professing to mitigate and arrange all the troubles between the Queen of Scotland and her subjects, nevertheless secretly defends and favours the faction of the rebels. A council was summoned, consisting of Barons of England, amongst whom was the Duke of Norfolk, on the part of the Queen of England, and the Bishop of Boss and other Ambassadors from Scotland to defend the actions of the Queen of Scotland, and James, the illegitimate governor, and others to defend the cause of the confederated citizens. But no agreement was come to, for the parties mutually complained and brought accusations against each other, and endeavoured as much as possible to sow discord ; and thus, after many months, the council was broken up, and the Scotch returned to their country, with the exception of the Bishop of Ross, Ambassador of the Queen of Scotland, who remained at her request and dwelt in England for seven years, always at the peril of his life and of the loss of all his property.
1569. At this time it was agreed between the Queens of England and Scotland that the Queen of Scotland should be liberated, with the condition, however, that while the Queen of England lived she should not advance any pretensions to the Crown of England, and should deliver up her son and other Barons of Scotland as hostages, and, further, that all her subjects in Scotland should receive a full pardon and be restored to her favour. The articles of this agreement were signed by the hands of both Queens.
1571. Nevertheless, when it was proposed to carry this agreement into effect, the councillors of the Queen of England and the confederated Barons of Scotland persuaded the Queen of England to the contrary, alleging that her kingdom would be constantly disturbed and harassed if the Queen of Scotland were set at liberty, on account of her being in friendship and at peace with so many Catholic Princes, by whose assistance the Queen of England might be dispossessed of her kingdom, and the Queen of Scotland placed in her stead. Therefore the Queen of England frequently excused herself to the Bishop of Ross, the Ambassador of the Queen of Scotland, by saying that, although she was acting against her own will, her honour, and her conscience, yet she could not do anything contrary to the wish of her councillors ; and as the liberation of the Queen of Scotland, in the opinion of her Council, threatened great perils to her state, she could not see her way to effect it; and thus the Ambassador left her without receiving any satisfaction.
While affairs were in this condition, many tumults and disturbances arose in England and Scotland. The Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, and many other Barons, hoping to re-establish the Christian religion, took up arms, enrolled soldiers, and seized and fortified certain castles and seaports. But when the Earls saw themselves abandoned by many princes from whom they expected aid, they, after many conflicts, abandoned the undertaking and fled with their army into Scotland, where they were kindly received.
1572. But the Earl of Northumberland, who had been imprisoned by the Governor Morton, was, contrary to every human law, beheaded, and eight hundred Catholics of the common people were hanged in England. Then the Queen of England sent a large army into Scotland, and demanded that the Earl of Westmorland and his adherents who had been rebels to her should be surrendered, and because the Barons of the kingdom of Scotland, and particularly the Catholics, refused to consent, she caused three hundred towns to be burnt, and fifty castles to be demolished. Moreover the English captain [the Duke] of Norfolk was thrown into prison; he was the individual who, with the common consent of the Barons of both the kingdoms of Scotland and England, and with the consent of his Holiness and many Christian Princes, had been selected to marry the Queen of Scotland for the purpose of re-establishing in the kingdom the rites and ceremonies of the Church. Besides this, fifty Barons and Earls and other nobles were imprisoned in the Tower of London, and at the same time a strict guard was placed over the Queen of Scotland ; and the Bishop of Ross, who had been imprisoned in London with many others, was transferred to another prison, and there for the space of three years continually suffered this punishment. The Duke of Norfolk was beheaded, and he paid the penalty for all the others. But in Scotland there were many conflicts between the illegitimate James and the Barons who supported the party of the Queen; and many lost their lives, amongst whom was James, the Governor, and in his place the Earl of Lennox was appointed second Governor, and this was done with the consent of the Queen ; but he, for having exercised too much cruelty against the nobles, and especially against the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, one of the principal men of the kingdom, was put to death, and not long afterwards another person called Filopotreto suffered the same fate.
1573. The Earl of Mar was appointed third Governor, and he, smitten by remorse because he occupied the throne of the Queen, and being in great fear, died suddenly.
1580. The present condition of Scotland.
Morton, the Governor last appointed, became so odious to the nobles that in the month of May, by the authority of the King and Barons in public council, he was dismissed and deprived of the Governorship, and reduced to a private condition. But now the King, having attained the age of fourteen years, has assumed the government of the realm according to the laws of the land, and has appointed certain Barons for his guardians, and particularly Barons of the Queen's party, and all affairs are directed by their advice. These councillors are twenty-four in number and all nobles, some being Catholics and some of the perfidious sect; but the King and all the nobles greatly love the Queen of Scotland, and the King constantly procures that Ambassadors should be sent to England for the liberation of the Queen under certain conditions. Hence the Queen of Scotland has been greatly comforted and consoled, and the Queen of England, perceiving this, allows the Queen of Scotland much greater liberty, and, retaining the Scotch Ambassadors, is sending Ambassadors of her own to Scotland with instructions to preserve peace and the usual friendship, and to persuade the Scotch not to receive foreign soldiers in their country. If, therefore, as it would seem, the disposition of the Prince will depend upon the Queen his mother, there is the greatest hope, if she be set at liberty, that the rites of the Church will be restored in Scotland, because the chief men in Scotland day by day are exhorted and persuaded to embrace it; and may it please the Omnipotent God, the giver of all good, to accomplish this end for His glory, and for the great benefit of the Christian public and the common advantage of the Church, and to grant us by His Divine Majesty this grace during these most troublous times.