May 1561


Institute of Historical Research



Martin A. S. Hume (editor)

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'Simancas: May 1561', Calendar of State Papers, Spain (Simancas), Volume 1: 1558-1567 (1892), pp. 199-205. URL: Date accessed: 20 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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May 1561

5 May. 128. Bishop Quadra to the King.
I answered your Majesty's letter of 17th March on the 14th April, giving a long account of the state of affairs here, and explaining the reasons which led me to proceed in the manner I have done. Since then the events have happened of which I have given an account to the duchess of Parma and cardinal de Granvelle, and these events, together with what these people say that a Nuncio of the Pope has attempted in Ireland, have rendered matters much more difficult, and have infinitely exasperated feeling here, or, at all events, these people have taken that as an excuse for not receiving the Nuncio. I do not know whether they really meant to act properly even if nothing of this happened, although appearances have been favourable for the last three months, and I have never seen these people so reasonable as during that time. Notwithstanding all this, and an attempt of the councillors to embroil me with the Queen, I have gone on in the way I began ; namely, by showing her and Robert what they will have to accept if they want to gain the countenance of your Majesty and so compass their wish, which is to marry without having to beg or buy—as they are doing—the consent of her subjects.
I have not thought well, either, to change my mode of proceeding with Cecil, professing to treat him as a friend, although he is not so ; because he has so entire a control over the Queen and affairs, that, however much I wished I could not negotiate through any other channel. Since he spoke to me on the 25th ultimo, when he told me that the councillors considered me fanatical and suspicious in the matter of the catholics here, and gave me an account of the Irish affairs, with so many objections to the coming of the Nuncio I thought well to write a letter to Lord Robert complaining of the suspicions which I heard they entertained of me, but my principal reason was to repeat to him all the promises which he and the rest of them have made me in this business of the Concilio to see whether it would lead them to give me a favourable answer about the Nuncio. I send your Majesty a copy of this letter that you may see that I have written less than they promised me. The Queen read and re-read the letter many times, but, nevertheless, when I spoke to her two days afterwards, I found in her no more decision than usual. She said that she had heard from Cecil what had passed with me, and his information about the Nuncio, but that it was an important business which could not be decided without much consideration, and an inquiry into any injury which the visit might cause to the affairs of the nation. I begged her to consider that the Pope's action towards her was an act of benevolence and friendliness, which was a great compliment to her, and that a messenger should be listened to, from whomever he might come. I afterwards asked her that the business should be considered by dispassionate people which all of her councillors were not, as not content with persecuting Catholics they had dared to accuse me in order to blacken me in her eyes, and I then repeated what Cecil had told me about their considering me a suspicious person. She replied that so far as regarded the business of the Nuncio, she would consult the most judicious men in her council, and in my own case she said that, although by certain statements she had seen she understood that the catholic prisoners and others had more intimacy with me than subjects should have with the minister of a foreign prince, and that she had proof, as she said, from members of my household, that I had written many things in favour of the prisoners, yet she had such confidence in me that she was sure I had never thought of doing her evil. I asked her what things against her interest she referred to as being published from my house. She said what had happened was that some of the imprisoned bishops and other papists in London went about saying that she had promised to turn Catholic at the instance of Lord Robert, which they said they had learnt from men of my household. The object of the prisoners in publishing this was to disturb the Protestants and make them take arms against her, as indeed there was one preacher in Wales who had said publicly in the pulpit that she wished to return to her obedience to the Pope, and that Cecil was already a Papist. I replied, in accordance with what I had written to Robert, that I never published anything in this business except the coming of the Nuncio, and my hope that she would send representatives to the Concilio ; and even this I only said to one or two men whom I named, and who would prove what I said. The idea that the accused declared these things to injure her in the opinion of the heretics was I said simply malice on the part of the heretics themselves, who had been led to disturbance and violent speech by what she and her friends had said and persuaded people to three months ago and not from anything I had said or the Catholics had written to their friends. She was convinced of my innocence in this respect or. at all events, satisfied with my arguments, and went on to say that she did not see why these differences of religiou should prevent a perfect friendship and alliance between your Majesty and her. I answered that the blame of dissension must rest upon her as she was so extreme in these matters that she must needs seek new friendships to uphold her and neglect the old ones. She gave no reply to this except to ask me whether it was true that your Majesty had promised Lord Robert your friendship and support if religion were restored here. I said that your Majesty had promised nothing to Lord Robert, nor had asked any conditions from him, but only that hearing by my letters of the goodwill that Lord Robert professed to the restoration of religion (which was confirmed by her own recent tendency and Cecil's assurances to me) your Majesty had ordered me to thank him and praise his good intention, whilst promising a continuation of the favour your Majesty had always shown him. The Queen said she did not think that Lord Robert had ever promised me that religion should be restored here. I said, Yes, he had, by means of the Concilio, and if she would send for him there and then I believed he would confess as much in her presence as she herself had promised exactly the same thing. She could not deny this as I reminded her of the place and time when she had said it, but she got out of it by remarking that this was only on certain conditions. I replied that I did not recollect any conditions, but perhaps my memory was at fault, and in any case I begged of her to weigh very carefully the decision she arrived at in the matter, and not to miss the opportunity that God gave her to pacify and tranquillize her country for good without offence or danger to any. With this I left her and she promised to send for me when she had decided about the Nuncio. Every day since then the archbishops of Canterbury and York and the bishops of Winchester and Salisbury with the Chancellor and Cecil have met on this business. The Queen sent yesterday to ask me to go to the palace to-day, as her Council had orders to reply to me about the Nuncio. I said I would go, but as I feared they wanted to give the answer in this way in order to show me some piece of rude impertinence, I thought best to write a note to Cecil. He answered re-assuring me, and I send copies of these notes. When I went to the palace to-day I found they had the answer in writing. I told them I had informed the Secretary that I did not intend to accept any answer from them but yes or no on the question of the coming of the Nuncio, and if the document they handed me contained anything other than this I decided not to take it or listen to them. They told me there was nothing else and begged me at least to hear it. I saw they were determined to give this as their answer whether I heard it or not, so I told them they might read what they liked. The paper contained two principal points, namely, that the Queen did not consider it well to admit the Nuncio, inasmuch as it was against the law and good policy of the country, and that in this step she followed the precedent of Queen Mary, who had prohibited the entrance of the Nuncio who brought the Cardinal's hat to Peto from Pope Paul IV.
The second point was that as the Queen understood the object of the Nuncio's coming was to intimate to her the holding of the Concilio, she informed me that she had decided not to give her acquiesence to such Concilio, nor to consent to the continuance of that which had commenced at Trent, both on account of the lack of freedom which apparently would exist, and because she had not been consulted as she ought to have been, as to the place of meeting and other circumstances in the same way that other princes had been consulted. She did not say nevertheless, that she would not assist when a free and pious Concilio was held by sending her ambassadors and learned persons of the Anglican Church to endeavour to agree to a consensus of doctrines in the Universal Church, as all princes should do. The answer concluded by saying that this was her decision and she would never alter it, and that she had answered thus mildly out of respect for your Majesty who had interposed, to the request of the Pope's Nuncio, who sought to introduce into this kingdom orders and commandments of his own. I replied that I would inform the Nuncio that entry into the country was denied him, and thanked the Queen for the respect she professed for your Majesty's intercession. With regard to the other matters referred to in the answer, I had nothing to do with them, nor was it my duty to refer to them. They might send them to the Nuncio themselves if they liked by one of their own messengers, as I was not a messenger of theirs or of anyone else. To this not one of them had a word to say, and they broke up and went home except the earl of Derby (who will accompany the Queen this summer), the earl of Shrewsbury to whom they recently gave the garter, and Hunsdon the Queen's cousin. The discontent of the people at this business is evident, but the Queen will have her way in exchange for persecuting the Catholics as she is doing. The prisons are full of them and more are apprehended every day.
I afterwards went into the Queen's room, and found her so confused and upset that it was plain she was embarrassed at the way they were treating me. I said I had heard she would not allow the Nuncio to come, which was very different from what I had been led to expect from her voluntary promises on many occasions. I regretted it extremely on account of the inconvenience to public business, and because your Majesty could not fail to consider me untrustworthy, seeing that events had turned out so contrary to what I had assured you. She began to excuse herself, and said her idea always had been that the Concilio we spoke of was to be free, like that she referred to in the answer. I replied that I did not write thoughts but words, and what I had written were the words that she had uttered, but that in any case there was no harm done as she knew the negotiations had originated with them, and they had begged me to write to your Majesty about the matter, so that it was for them to repent and withdraw as often as they liked. On taking leave she was very full of compliments to your Majesty, to whom she said she was much obliged. I am quite sure that these people, bad as they are, were not of the same opinion in the matter three months ago as they are now, but that some new circumstance has since confirmed them in their bad courses. I have tried to discover what it can be, and I find that a certain man that the Queen has in Germany named Mont, (fn. 1) has recently sent her despatches from the Protestant princes, which probably invite her to join a league they wish to form. What has encouraged them most however, is, I think, their negotiations with the French, as I am sure the Queen has an understanding with Vendome, and that they are in agreement on the question of religion. A person who has seen letters from Vendˆme to the earl of Bedford to this effect assures me that it is so, and as the Earl is so headstrong and imprudent, he has spoken of the matter, and in this way I am informed of what is going on. This is exactly what Bedford was sent to France to arrange on Paget's advice, and which I tried to prevent by showing the Queen a better way. I have been unable to get them to adopt it however, and great harm has been done through my not being able to close with them as soon as they made the proposal through Sidney to me. They have sent Sidney to his Government in Wales a mouth since, when they determined to vary their mode of proceeding, as they know he would not play me false or approve of their new departure. He told me when he was going, that the sudden orders he had received to depart, without any need therefore, made him suspect that the Queen had changed her intentions, and he was sorry, amongst other reasons, because he knew in the long run Robert would to have pay for it. Pray pardon me if I press upon your Majesty that this intelligence about Vendˆme should not be overlooked, as his public professions about religion being so entirely at variance with it, some design of importance cannot fail to be at the bottom of it.—London 5 May 1561.
[The aforegoing letter exists in fragments at Simancas, a considerable portion of it being detached from the rest, and ascribed to an incorrect date. I have made an attempt, guided by its text, to present it in its original form.—Editor.]
6 May. 129. Bishop Quadra to the Duchess of Parma and the Cardinal Bishop of Arras (De Granvelle).
I spoke yesterday with the Queen and Council who wished to give me an answer in writing about the coming of the Pope's Nuncio to this country, but I refused to take it. They read it in my presence, and it contained two main points. The first that the Queen did not think fit to allow the Nuncio to enter any part of her realm as it was against the laws, contrary to good policy, and apt to cause disturbance and disquietude. That the refusal to receive him was neither unjust nor unusual bearing in mind so recent a precedent as the action of Queen Mary with a Nuncio of Pope Paul IV. who brought a Cardinal's hat for Friar Peto. The second point was that, as they understood that this Nuncio was to propose to them on behalf of his Holiness the holding of a Concilio, the Queen declared that she was not disposed to agree to it, both on account of the lack of liberty to be given in it and because neither the place of meeting or other circumstances had been communicated to her as they ought to have been, and as they were to the other sovereigns. For these reasons she announced that she was not satisfied with this Concilio nor with the continuation of that which they call the Council of Trent. This, however, did not mean to say that, if all the sovereigns agreed to hold an universal Concilio which was free, christian and pious, she would not join with the rest and send her ambassadors and learned men of the Anglican Church, which she would do when such a Concilio was held. It concluded by saying that out of respect for the intervention of the King, the Queen wished to give a soft answer to the Nuncio notwithstanding that he came to propose a thing which was against the laws of the country and could not be entertained. I said that the part of what they had told me which I could convey was simply that the Queen refused to allow the Pope's Nuncio to enter the kingdom. The rest, as it was irrelevant to my request, I could not convey, and if they thought advisable to inform the Nuncio of it they could send a messenger of their own, as I was no messenger of theirs. With that I left them, and I gave the Queen the same answer.
The answer was drafted much more harshly (as I am informed) having been drawn up by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, the bishops of Winchester and Salisbury, the Chancellor and Cecil, but, as I told Cecil I would not accept a written answer, and warned them to take care to speak modestly of the authority and person of the Pope if they did not want to be answered in the same style ; they moderated the document to the form I have related, and took out all insulting words, although it is quite full of injustice and ignorance, as I told the Queen. I laughed to her at the example cited of, the Nuncio of Pope Paul IV., as it was so inapplicable ; that having been a case of resistance to the person of the Pope who was an enemy of the King my master whereas what they are now doing is to disobey the officer and magistrate of the apostolic See by rejecting his authority altogether. These people, however, are so satisfied with themselves that it is useless to point out their errors. As regards their willingness to join in a Concilio if it is what they call free, christian, and pious, and is arranged by the other great powers in union with England and in consultation with his Holiness, your Highness will bear this in mind so that, if there be any occasion to proceed with these negotiations, it must be understood that the Queen claims to be treated like the rest, and to attend on the same footing as the others. Although the liberty and piety which they demand in their Concilio may be nothing more than dislike to any Concilio at all, as they none of them want it, yet, if the other sovereigns agree, these people will be bound to attend by the answer they have given.
Pray convey this to the Nuncio, to whom I have not time to write.—London, 6th May 1561.
21 May. 130. Bishop Quadra to the King.
I recently besought your Majesty to be pleased to order me to be paid a certain grant made to me four years ago in Naples after the papal war, which has never yet been paid, as in my alsence here I have been unable to apply for it, and as I thought besides I should not need it here. Since then such necessity has befallen me that I have been obliged to write and ask your Majesty for it and again have to return to the subject now by sending a special messenger, Pedro de Oviedo, to present this letter and petition to your Majesty and to solicit the payment. I beg your Majesty to pardon my importunity and listen to the cause of it which is not alone my own need, but also my solicitude for your Majesty's service which may suffer if I am not succoured. As Pedro de Oviedo is informed of affairs here, having been with me always, your Majesty will be able to obtain what information you require from him.—London, 21st May 1561.
31 May. 131. The King to Bishop Quadra.
My sister the duchess of Parma writes me that, besides the nuns who have gone to Flanders, there still remain in England nine nuns of the convent of Sion who greatly desire to go over to my dominions to be able to live according to their rules and observance. It is just that you should help them in their good purpose, and we enjoin you as soon as you receive this to beg the Queen in my name to grant leave to these nine nuns to leave the kingdom and go to my Flanders states without any impediment or ill-treatment. You will use every effort to this end and help the nuns all you can for the service of the Lord. You will advise us and the Duchess of what is done, so that she may give due orders for the reception and entertainment of the nuns, as has been done for the rest who have gone to Flanders.— Aranjuez, last day of May 1561.


1 Dr. Christopher Mundt or Mont.