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Marie de Guise and Cultural Transfers

A Too Free Conduit? When the Flow of Men and Ideas Turned against Marie de Guise

Des vannes trop grandes ouvertes? Marie de Guise victime de la circulation des hommes et des idées
Eric Durot

Résumés

Cet article souhaite montrer comment l’importante circulation des hommes et des idées entre la France et l’Écosse se retourna finalement contre Marie de Guise et le royaume de France en 1559-1560. Afin de construire un royaume franco-écossais, étape vers l’Empire franco-britannique, le roi de France Henri II encourageait la circulation des hommes et des idées de part et d’autre de la Manche. Son but était de s’allier avec les opposants écossais et anglais à la reine d’Angleterre catholique, Marie Tudor. Il soutenait et employait tout particulièrement d’importantes figures écossaises du protestantisme. Sa politique échoua lorsque les préoccupations croissantes des Écossais concernant la « francisation » de leur gouvernement se heurtèrent à un nouveau contexte politique dans lequel une reine protestante, Elizabeth Tudor, monta sur le trône d’Angleterre. Le « conduit » ouvert se retourna contre les ambitions françaises et contre la régente d’Écosse, Marie de Guise. La rébellion en Écosse commença en 1559 et fut couronnée de succès en 1560. La rapidité avec laquelle les lords protestants remportèrent la victoire s’explique en partie par le fait qu'ils s’allièrent à l’Angleterre après avoir longtemps bénéficié d’une attitude française très tolérante à leur égard. La prise de contrôle des communications trans-Manche par les Anglais conduisit à l’isolement de l’armée française en Écosse et à l’ouverture d’un second front en France avec la conjuration d’Amboise, en 1560. De manière significative, des Écossais protestants, officiellement au service du roi de France, étaient devenus des agents doubles au bénéfice de l’Angleterre.

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  • 1 Paradoxically, the sixteenth century was barely mentioned in the highly interesting Les idées passe (...)

1As consort to the King of Scots, Dowager Queen, and finally as Regent, Marie de Guise embodied a free conduit that contributed to the dissemination of ideas and flow of people on both sides of the Channel.1 It remains to be seen, however, whether or not she was ultimately the victim of the very freedom of movement that she helped to encourage. This essay draws upon the following grounds to address this question. Among the French-related factors contributing to the Scottish Reformation Rebellion in 1559-60 were the Catholic affiliation of the French Crown, the provincialization of Scotland by the union of the two crowns, and the French claim to the English throne through Mary Queen of Scots. It appears that the French King Henri II (1547-1559), along with the Guise brothers, actively contributed to the development of an open conduit that was equally available to potential opponents, both religious and political. Although this form of “free movement” retrospectively seems surprising, it was an integral feature of the Franco-Scottish kingdom that was desired by the French. This essay, while making no claim to being exhaustive, provides concrete examples of Scots who were allowed to travel despite the possible suspicions of the French crown that they were “heretics,” rebels or English informants. Marie de Guise had also shown goodwill towards these figures, but as will be seen, the freedom that they enjoyed dramatically backfired on her in 1559-60.

2To explore this period, this essay first describes the close links between France and Scotland, and specifically the free movement of people and ideas desired by the French King that they made possible. Second, it highlights the ways in which France’s potential opponents, including the Scottish reformer John Knox, benefited from this policy. Finally, this essay demonstrates that these policies finally turned against Marie de Guise and against French ambitions after the Reformation rebellion broke out in Scotland and the English were able to make the most of their freedom of circulation.

An Open Channel to the Construction of a Franco-Scottish Kingdom

  • 2 Gordon Donaldson, The Auld Alliance: The Franco-Scottish Connection, Edinburgh, The Saltire Society (...)
  • 3 Marcus Merriman, The Rough Wooings: Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1551), East Linton, Tuckwell Press, 2 (...)
  • 4 Regarding the ambitions of the French king and the Guise family, see Stuart Carroll, Martyrs and Mu (...)
  • 5 Henri II’s lieutenant in Scotland as plenipotentiary minister Cleutin d’Oisel, to the Duke of Guise (...)
  • 6 Eric Durot, “Marie de Guise, un sacrifice pour les siens,” in Annette Bächstädt, Bruno Maes, and Ch (...)

3The Franco-Scottish “Auld Alliance” had been a strategic partnership against England since 1295,2 helping to forge close political and diplomatic ties between France and Scotland, as well as personal, cultural, and commercial connections. These relations intensified after the fifteenth century. After 1418, for example, the Scots Guard became the first company of Royal bodyguards in France. Under Francis I, the alliance was strengthened in 1537 by the marriage between his daughter, Madeleine, and James V, King of Scotland. Madeleine died shortly thereafter, and Marie de Guise was chosen as a replacement in 1538. Mary Stuart, born in 1542, succeeded her father the same year, politically strengthening the ascendency of the Guise family in France. The new French king, Henri II, provided military support to Scotland during the Anglo-Scottish war called the “Rough Wooing,”3 thereby earning Henri II the title of “Protector” of Scotland and of the young queen, Mary Stuart, in 1548. The Queen was betrothed to the Dauphin Francis and grew up in France. During this time, the French King was striving to build a Franco-Scottish kingdom and in 1554, his efforts to have Marie de Guise installed as Regent of Scotland proved successful.4 Connections between Scotland and the Continent were safe, direct, and unhindered as a result of this union, even as war between the two countries continued, with both Calais (from 1347 to 1558) and Boulogne (from 1544 to 1549) falling under English control. Marie de Guise’s correspondence with the French crown traveled primarily by sea between Leith and Dieppe, although a coded letter sent “à l’adventure par la voie de l’Angleterre” in 1556 arrived in France unintercepted by the English.5 Marie de Guise’s letters attest to exchanges of both money and gifts with the French King, in stark contrast to the years 1559-60.6

  • 7 Alexander Stevenson, “The Flemish dimension of the Auld Alliance,” in Grant Simpson (ed.), Scotland (...)
  • 8 Siobhan Talbott, Conflict, Commerce and Franco-Scottish Relations, 1560–1713, London, Pickering & C (...)
  • 9 Marie-Claude Tucker, Maîtres et étudiants écossais à la Faculté de droit de l’Université de Bourges (...)
  • 10 John Mair, Historia Majoris Britanniae, Paris, Josse Bade, 1521.
  • 11 Guillaume Bochetel to Marie de Guise, La Muette, on 16 February 1547 (Foreign Correspondence with M (...)
  • 12 Henry Scrimger, Exemplum memorabile desperationis in Francisco Spera, cum præfatione J. Calvini, Ge (...)
  • 13 Scottish students bought lots of books in Paris: Margaret Lane Ford, “Importation of printed books (...)
  • 14 Robert Norvell, The Meroure of an Christiane, composed and drawn fourth of the Scripture, Edinburgh (...)
  • 15 He pursued the same strategy towards the Holy Roman Empire, seeking an alliance with the Lutheran p (...)

4 Scotland and France also maintained strong cultural, intellectual, and commercial bonds. Because of the political rapprochement and the decrease of the Scottish commerce with Flanders, trade between the two kingdoms increased in the first half of the sixteenth century.7 French kings granted specific privileges8 to a number of Scottish merchants who settled in Dieppe, where a street named “la rue d’Écosse” exists to this day. The University of Paris, where the Collegium Scoticum was founded in 1333, was a frequent destination for Scottish students who wished to pursue their studies.9 The Scottish theologian and philosopher John Mair (1467-1550) earned a doctorate in theology in Paris, where his works were also published. Mair advocated for the superiority of the Council over the Pope and for the right of the three Estates to replace a tyrant. Although he became a naturalized French subject in 1528, Mair contended that both the Scots and the English were all Britons.10 He also exerted influence over the reformer John Knox. Indeed, Mair embodied the complexity of relationships between France, England, and Scotland that ultimately proved, as I argue below, to be contributing factors in the fall of Marie de Guise. Another figure who illustrates the complex careers of native Scots with strong French connections, Henry Scrimger (1506-1572), studied law in Paris and Bourges and was chosen by the French secretary of State William Bochetel as preceptor to his children. When Scrimger needed to travel to Scotland for business puposes, Bochetel commended him in 1547 to Marie de Guise as an honorable person.11 Nevertheless, Scrimger soon embraced new doctrines in France and published a book with a preface by Jean Calvin under the pseudonym “Henricus Scotus” in Geneva in 1550 (which was condemned two years later by the Sorbonne).12 He retained his benefices in Scotland, however, and was later granted one by Henri II in France in 1556. Four years later, he remained the private secretary of Bernardin Bochetel, an important French ambassador to Switzerland.13 Among other notable cases of Scots in France, Robert Norvell, a Scots Guard and a Protestant, was denounced for spreading heresy in Paris in 1555. He was imprisoned briefly in La Bastille before being allowed to return to Scotland where he published The meroure of an Christiane in 1561.14 It appears that religious factors were of secondary importance to the King of France with respect to the Scots.15

  • 16 Henri II’s letters, Villers-Cotterêts, June 1558 (Relations politiques de la France et de l’Espagne (...)
  • 17 Estienne Perlin, Description des Royaulmes d’Angleterre et d’Escosse, Paris, François Trepeau, 1558 (...)

5This period of French openness culminated in the marriage of the Dauphin Francis to Mary Queen of Scots in 1558, which was followed by French letters of naturalization for all Scots that provided Henri II with new subjects.16 The budding Franco-Scottish kingdom was thus able to allow each of the two kingdoms to enjoy religious and political independence while also facilitating an open conduit. The French king had set his sights higher, however, in seeking to marry his daughter to the Protestant Edward VI (1547-1553). Then, as Henry VII’s great-grand-daughter, Mary Stuart bore the arms of England from 1558 to 1560. As a result, her husband the Dauphin, at the time King Francis II (1559-60), could claim the throne of England. French propaganda compared England to Paris and Scotland to the Parisian faubourgs, suggesting that Paris was more important but that the king needed to control this important suburb in order to lay full claim to the city.17 This goal was achievable through demonstrations of goodwill, even towards Scottish opponents.

French Goodwill towards Potential Opponents to Fight the Queen of England

  • 18 Pamela Ritchie, Mary of Guise in Scotland, 1548-1560: A Political Career, East Linton, Tuckwell Pre (...)
  • 19 Memoirs of His Own Life by Sir James Melville, Edinburgh, The Bannatyne Club, 1827, p. 65.

6Marie de Guise famously ruled alongside a number of Scots who favored reform, while also weakening important Catholic lords such as the Earl of Huntly.18 Her attitude towards her Scottish opponents was part of the broader French policy towards Scotland that is traceable to the 1546 assassination of Cardinal Beaton, which had significant consequences. From 1544 to 1546, David Beaton served as Lord Chancellor of Scotland, Cardinal Legate, and principal minister. As a pillar of the French alliance, he opposed the Anglophile party and arranged for the trial and execution of the Protestant preacher George Wishart, transforming him into a martyr and leading to the Cardinal Beaton’s assassination in March 1546. William Kirkcaldy of Grange (1520-1573), a former High treasurer of Scotland who had “alwayes a New Testament in English in his poutche”19 was among the key perpetrators of the assassination and was subsequently outlawed by Parliament. A French army was sent to Scotland to storm the castle of Saint Andrews in which Kirkcaldy and his companions – called “the Castilians” – were besieged. They were soon arrested and brought back to France.

  • 20 Correspondance des nonces en France, ed. Jean Lestoquoy, Rome and Paris, De Boccard, 1966, p. 134.
  • 21 Portrait of William Kirkcaldy of Grange by François Clouet(?), c. 1555, held at The Scottish Nation (...)
  • 22 Nicholas Wotton to Mary I, Poissy, on 30 November 1556 and to Lord Paget, Paris, on 1 March 1557 (T (...)

7Francis I immediately asked for papal absolution for the murderers, however, because the French King needed Scottish noblemen to participate in the war against England.20 Kirkcaldy subsequently escaped from prison at the Mont Saint Michel, a feat by which Henri II was clearly unalarmed because he appointed him as a captain. Kirkcaldy then fought for the French in Flanders in 1553 and 1554, and his portrait was painted in France, probably by François Clouet.21 In 1556, his sentence was commuted in Scotland. During this time, he was also an agent of Edward VI and offered his services to Mary I.22 He returned home in 1557, where Henri II continued to need him, as well as other Scottish nobles, because France and Spain were at war again. Marie Tudor supported her husband, Philip II of Spain, whereas Henri II had urged Scotland to fight with him.

  • 23 Gilles de Noailles to the cardinal of Lorraine, London, on 28 October 1559, and the cardinal’s repl (...)
  • 24 Nicholas Wotton to Queen Mary, Paris, on 12 November 1556 (SP 69/9, fol. 133).

8Another example of French goodwill towards Protestant Scots was William Guthrie, who was implicated in the murder of Cardinal Beaton and imprisoned in France until his release in 1550 following the Treaty of Boulogne between France, Scotland, and England. Guthrie settled and married in Dieppe, where he was probably a merchant while also illegally submitting spy reports to the Scottish rebels in 1559. The cardinal of Lorraine learned of Guthrie’s intrigues and unsuccessfully attempted to arrest him.23 To understand French policy towards Scotland in the 1550s, and particularly towards Scottish opponents such as William Guthrie, it is important to recall that it was driven by a single objective: victory over – or even the takeover of – England. It was a perilous game, but Francis I, and especially Henri II, chose to ensure the allegiance of the Scots through his lenient policy. This was particularly true during the reign of the Catholic Mary I (1553-1558). Henri II was called upon to conciliate and engage with the Scots, who were ardent Francophiles but also devout Protestants. The king also used the Marian exiles, who were both religious and political opponents to Mary I. The conspirator Henry Dudley was sent to France by his relative, the Duke of Northumberland, in 1553. Dudley discussed the possibility of obtaining French support against Mary I with the king, but he was arrested at Calais and jailed in the Tower of London. After his pardon, he met Henri II in 1556 and promised to deliver Calais to France in exchange for providing military assistance against the Queen.24 The plot failed, but he remained in France until 1563 when he returned to England as a captain in service to Queen Elizabeth I.

  • 25 For further detail, see Eric Durot, “The Role of John Knox and his Seditious Writings in the Outbre (...)
  • 26 Jane Dawson, John Knox, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2015, p. 54.
  • 27 Armel Dubois-Nayt, “ ‘La différence des sexes’: construction et fonction du ‘genre’ dans la pensée (...)
  • 28 Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, Edinburgh, Wodrow Society Publications, 1846, vol. 1, p. 228-2 (...)
  • 29 Ibid., p. 252.
  • 30 John Knox, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstruous Regiment of Women and The Appellat (...)
  • 31 Histoire de la Réformation à Dieppe 1557-1657, par Guillaume et Jean Daval dits les Policiens relig (...)

9The case of John Knox is yet another case of Henri II’s conciliatory policy towards Scottish Protestants.25 In addition to his Scottish identity, he regarded himself as an adoptive Englishman.26 Known as the Calvinist reformer of Scotland, as well as for his attack on female rule in The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, primarily a diatribe against the Catholic Queen of England.27 After embracing the Protestant Reformation, Knox reached Saint Andrews Castle in 1547, where he served as chaplain of the Castilians. After he was captured by French forces, Knox was sentenced to serve on the French galleys and imprisoned in France for eighteen months as a political prisoner. During this ordeal he corresponded with Kirkcaldy of Grange.28 He was released in 1549 and preached in England until he fled to Frankfurt and Geneva after Mary I ascended the throne, returning to England via Dieppe in 1555. He spent a year meeting with nobles and preaching, and in May 1556, the clergy charged him with heresy, although various influential figures, including Erskine of Dun, supported him by attending his trial. As a result, Marie de Guise decided not to prosecute him, despite being enraged by his vehement calls for religious reforms.29 In July 1556, the Church nevertheless condemned him as a heretic in absentia immediately after his departure for the continent. When he later transited through France to reach Geneva, however, he was not ill-treated or denounced for his reformist attitudes by the French Church. He traveled to Lyon, La Rochelle, and by sea to Dieppe the following year in hopes of returning to Scotland to join the “Lords of the Congregation,” a group of noblemen who signed a “bond” in 1557 to establish Protestantism. Knox spent three months in Dieppe, where he probably wrote his famous First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, as well as The Appellation of John Knox.30 After war broke out between France and England, however, he returned to Geneva, where he anonymously published the First Blast. In early 1559, Knox again traveled to Dieppe, preaching in French under the protection of the Lord of Sénarpont, the King’s lieutenant in Picardy and a trusted confidant of Admiral Coligny and the House of Bourbon.31 By May, Knox was able to return to Scotland, where his presence encouraged the Scottish rebellion against Marie de Guise and Catholicism. This turn of events suggests that the French King may have underestimated the Scottish Protestants, whom he believed he was using to his own ends, particularly after abrupt political changes in the wake of Mary Tudor’s death.

A Strategy that Backfired: The Isolation of Marie de Guise (1559-60)

  • 32 Henri II and the Constable of Montmorency to Marie de Guise, Ecouen, on 1 June 1559 (Archives diplo (...)

10In November 1558, Elizabeth I succeeded Mary Tudor and restored Protestantism in England, and in April 1559, two peace treaties were signed at Le Cateau-Cambrésis; the first one between France and England – which also stopped the Anglo-Scottish conflict – and the second one, between France and Spain. With the war with England ended, Henri II sought to eradicate the Protestant “heresy” in both France and Scotland. In early June 1559, he wrote to Marie de Guise expressing his wish to extend the repressive policy imposed by his Edict of Ecouen to Scotland.32 This triggered a military revolt by the Lords of the Congregation, including Kirkcaldy of Grange, who took up arms against French troops in Scotland. Henri II’s death in July 1559 only strengthened their rebellion and prompted them to adopt the “Act of Suspension” to remove Marie de Guise from the Regency in October 1559. Before long, the Regent’s defeat became inevitable. The lack of reinforcements from France contrasted powerfully with English military support for the Lords of the Congregation that became official with the Treaty of Berwick (February 1560) and enabled Elizabeth I to send reinforcements by land and sea. The flow of information was decisively under English control. On 26 May 1560, Marie de Guise wrote to her brothers from Edinburgh Castle just as the Anglo-Scottish army was about to outmaneuver the French. Her letter revealed that weekly intelligence reports from figures such as Ninian (or Riguan) Cockburn kept the Scottish rebels aware of the decisions of Marie de Guise’s brothers and Francis II:

  • 33 Marie de Guise to her brothers, Edinburgh Castle, 26 May 1560 (A Knight of Malta at the Court of El (...)

The rebels have boasted that every eight days, they receive warnings of what is being done in your Council. You should do well to find out about Riguan Cockburn and have him arrested while you wait for the arrival of Monsieur de Valence, to check what I have heard. I have also written to you by my above-mentioned dispatch that I have been shown the word-for-word translation of one of your letters dated February 19, which I received from three different ways, of which the said rebels had had a minute before I had seen one, which leads me to believe that there is someone in France who has handled what is written in the Council and who gives these warnings.33

  • 34 Eric Durot, “‘I do love the contrary part and the Religion both’: des agents écossais très spéciaux (...)
  • 35 Parliament of Scotland, held at Edinburgh, on 30 July 1546 (The Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, (...)
  • 36 James Melville, Memoirs of his own life, ed. T. Thomson, Edinburgh, 1827, p. 20-21.
  • 37 Mémoires de Boyvin du Villars, ed. J. Buchon, Paris, A. Desrez, 1836, p. 618, and William Forbes-Le (...)
  • 38 Cockburn to Protector Somerset, Colston, on 16 March 1548 (SP 50/3, fol. 78); Throckmorton to Cecil (...)

11So, she summarized her loss of control over the circulation of men and information, and in referring to Cockburn, highlighted the roles of certain Scots Guards who were in the pay of the French King. In fact, there is some question as to whether the French crown turned a blind eye to the fact that a number of Scots Guards were operating as double agents.34 This was clearly true of Cockburn, who was explicitly identified as a spy by Marie de Guise in her letter. Cockburn’s case further exemplifies the French crown’s leniency in the years leading up to the collapse of the French regime in Scotland. Like Kirkcaldy, and to a lesser extent Knox, he had been involved in the murder of Cardinal Beaton in 1546 and was charged with treason by the Scottish Parliament.35 This did not prevent Henri II from granting Cockburn the rank of captain in the French light cavalry. Indeed, James Melville labeled Cockburn a “busy meddler” in his memoirs after observing Cockburn offering his services to the Constable of Montmorency in 1553.36 Henri II preferred to reward the political loyalty of the moment, and Cockburn took part in the 1553 military campaign in the Spanish Netherlands. Records show that he later served as an archer in the Scots Guard as late as the 1560s.37 However, Marie de Guise was correct that Cockburn was also employed by the English Government under Edward VI and later by Elizabeth I. The English ambassador to France, Nicholas Throckmorton, assigned him the code name “George Beaumont.”38

  • 39 Mary Stuart to the archbishop of Glasgow in Paris, Edinburgh, on 1 October 1565; Lettres, instructi (...)
  • 40 Mary to Charles IX, Bolton, 15 September 1568 (Ibid., vol. 2, p. 181).
  • 41 W. Forbes-Leith (ed.), op. cit., vol. 2, p. 122-132.
  • 42 Letter from Jean Calvin to the Earl of Arran, Geneva, on 1 August 1558 (Calvini Opera, eds. G. Baum (...)
  • 43 Jacques Poujol, “Un épisode international à la veille des guerres de Religion: la fuite du comte d’ (...)

12It is hardly surprising that the Scots enjoyed freedom of movement during the 1550s, but by 1559, this openness becomes more difficult to understand. By denouncing Cockburn, Marie de Guise made it clear that she wanted to end the use of double agents. It is also evident that Marie de Guise’s dynastic ambitions for her daughter no longer corresponded to the French king’s political maneuvers in 1559. Protestant Scots Guards such as Ninian Cockburn undeniably remained in the pay of the French kings, for example. In 1565, Cockburn did not hesitate to reveal that he was a double agent to Mary Queen of Scots, upon which she reportedly broke into tears. She concluded that “he’s better English than Scot.”39 She denounced him in vain in a letter in 1568 to Charles IX.40 Nor was Cockburn’s an isolated case among the Scots Guards. John Borthwick, another well-known mole, was a member of the Scots Guard in France between 1531 and 1539.41 Borthwick was convicted in absentia of heresy by the ecclesiastical tribunal of St Andrews and burned in effigy in 1540, causing him to turn to England. In 1558, Jean Calvin congratulated him for going to France to meet the son of the Earl of Arran at Châtellerault.42 By 1559, Henri II was becoming concerned not only by the beginning of the rebellion in Scotland, but by the Duke’s support for the Lords of the Congregation. Following the King’s failure to arrest the Duke’s son, the young Earl of Arran, in France, he was able to escape with the assistance of English agents and to join his father in Scotland, where he became a leader of the Scottish rebellion.43 As for Borthwick, he seems to have managed to maintain relations with both the new Queen of England, Elizabeth I and the French crown. He became the official écuyer of Mary Queen of Scots, who returned to Scotland in 1561 following the death of Francis II.

  • 44 In 1563, an Italian, Baptista Favori was hanged in Rouen for spying and sharing intelligence with E (...)
  • 45 Ambassador to England, Bertrand de Salignac, to the King, London, on 1 March 1571 (Correspondance d (...)
  • 46 Gilles de Noailles to King Francis II, London, November 1559 (Relations politiques, ed.cit., vol. 1 (...)
  • 47 The Guise brothers to their sister, Vendôme, on 19 February 1560 (A Knight of Malta at the Court of (...)

13The reason for the two-way policy of leniency towards travelling Scots was that the King of France needed them in order to preserve his contacts with the Protestant lords during and after the regency of Marie de Guise. Cockburn, Borthwick, and other Scots played an important role in developing Protestant links between France, Scotland, and England. The Scots were systematically less suspicious of the French than the English, and also than the French were of the English.44 This enabled Scottish agents to freely circulate across the Channel. It is highly likely that the purpose of their travels was to collect information for the entourage of the King of France, although because their reports were oral, historians do not have access to their contents.45 The French government needed the information provided by these roving Scottish spies to maintain its relationships with Scotland and even England while also avoiding being duped by them.46 At the same time, the Guise brothers had no choice but to ask Marie de Guise to support religious tolerance in Scotland, “letting them [the Protestants] live as they are, so long as they remain in obedience to the King and the Queen your daughter.”47 As we will see, this was a high-risk strategy for the French Catholic monarchy.

  • 48 This experience was undoubtedly useful in establishing a spy network created by Francis Walsingham, (...)
  • 49 Nicholas Throckmorton to William Cecil, Melun, on 3 September 1560 (SP 70/18, fol. 3).
  • 50 Gilles de Noailles to the cardinal of Lorraine, London, 28 October and 13 November 1559 (Relations (...)
  • 51 French memoir by the ambassador: “Mémoire de ce qu’en la dernière audience Monsieur l’Ambassadeur d (...)
  • 52 The Duke of Alba to the Bishop of Arras, on 20 March 1560 (Relations politiques, ed. cit., vol. 2, (...)

14Indeed, England was able to use “freedom of circulation” to its own advantage, and the existence of these double agents reveals the English government’s campaign to control the flow of agents and propaganda on both sides of the Channel.48 Nicholas Throckmorton played a pivotal role in France, for example, reminding Secretary of State William Cecil of “the French proverb: It is good to fish in troubled waters” after the Amboise conspiracy and the Scottish revolt.49 Throckmorton recruited Scots, assigning them codenames and collecting the information that they provided. Their written reports to London passed through Dieppe before discreetly crossing the Channel with the aid of Scottish traders.50 The English crown was also active along the Borders with Scotland. In October 1559, the French Ambassador to London met Elizabeth I, complaining that too many Scots were allowed to pass into England and too many English into Scotland without the safe conduct documents required under the treaties. He complained that Kirkcaldy of Grange had travelled to the English village of Norham without official permission to meet the Earl of Northumberland, for example.51 During the tumult at Amboise in March 1560, both an Englishman who had arrived from Scotland and a Huguenot were arrested in France. They had been caught exchanging information to prepare a plot to seize Francis II and arrest the Guise brothers in Amboise.52

  • 53 The deciphered letters are held in The National Archives, Kew; see A Knight of Malta at the Court o (...)
  • 54 The Guise brothers to the Bishop of Limoges, Amboise, on 30 and 31 March, and Marmoutiers, on 9 Apr (...)
  • 55 Throckmorton to Cecil, Amboise, on 7 and 9 March 1560 (SP 70/12, fol. 43).
  • 56 Marie de Guise to her brothers, Edinburgh Castle, on 30 April 1560 (A Knight of Malta at the Court (...)
  • 57 Nicolas Pellevé, Bishop of Amiens, to the Cardinal of Lorraine, Edinburgh, on 27 March 1560 (A Knig (...)
  • 58 Two missions of Jacques de La Brosse… The Journal of the Siege of Leith, 1560, ed. Gladys Dickinson (...)
  • 59 Boisdauphin to the Duke of Guise, London, on 9 November 1551 (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, man (...)

15At the same time, communications between France and Marie de Guise were becoming more difficult. From December 1559, the correspondence was systematically intercepted and deciphered by the English with the help of the Protestant Scots Guards.53 Once they had decoded them, the letters were allowed to continue to their destinations. As part of their official commitment with the Lords, the English blockaded Leith, the port of Edinburgh beginning in February 1560. Marie de Guise and her brothers attempted to use the dangerous “way of Flanders,” sometimes with the assistance of traders and seamen.54 Throckmorton, the English ambassador, wrote to William Cecil: “The French, for the sure conveyance of their packets, have devised now to send their couriers by sea to Aberdeen, Montrose, or Dundee.” He expressed surprise in the same letter that a Guise agent had been able to secretly cross England: “I marveil the more at Wilson’s passing […]; he passed as a scholar.”55 In April 1560, Marie de Guise informed her brothers that a courrier had been taken on the road to France.56 Even the bishop of Valence, Jean de Monluc, who had been sent to London and Edinburgh to restore peace in Scotland, was detained in Warwick for a time in the spring of 1560.57 According to Captain Jacques de La Brosse, by May it was “impossible to get anyone into Leith; they all were taken on the way.”58 Although England and France were not officially at war, the context stood in contrast with that of 1551, when Marie de Guise was granted access to an English port when she was returning from France.59

  • 60 An agent to the Guise brothers, Montreuil, on 13 May 1560 (Relations politiques, ed. cit., vol. 2, (...)
  • 61 The Guise brothers to their sister, Amboise, on 12 March 1560 (A Knight of Malta at the Court of El (...)
  • 62 The importance of the Scottish dimension of the tumult at Amboise has not been addressed by histori (...)

16In May 1560, a French agent concluded that rescuing Marie de Guise would require 3,000 men on 40 ships from France.60 Instead, the Guise brothers sent their sister a coded letter – which was quickly deciphered by the English – explaining that, as a result of the tumult of Amboise as well as the dangers of the roads to Scotland, they did not dare risk the life of their youngest brother, the Marquis of Elbeuf. Nor could they afford to lose the money needed to send a military contingent to Scotland under Elbeuf’s command.61 The English government and the Protestant Scots had successfully contributed to open a second front in France.62 The Guise regime was paralyzed by domestic unrest, by the Anglo-Scottish Secret Service, and more generally by English control over communications. In the end, French military support never arrived, and Marie de Guise died in complete isolation in Edinburgh Castle in June 1560. In the summer of 1560, French soldiers of the regency fled from Scotland, and the Scottish parliament officially rejected Catholicism.

Conclusion

  • 63 E. Durot, “Marie de Guise, un sacrifice pour les siens,” art. cit.
  • 64 “[…] un bon ferme et perpetuel establissement de justice pour contenir ses subgectz en devoir et ob (...)

17The “free conduit approach” is valuable for historical studies, but it was obviously not expressed in these terms in the mid-sixteenth century. Both the King of France and Marie de Guise were forced to rule with and mollify Protestant Scots. The priority assigned to the fight against England by Henry II weakened the regency in Scotland, however. Beginning in 1558, Marie de Guise gradually realized that she had been abandoned by France and by her brothers.63 She also complained that the Pope had never provided her with a “firm and perpetual restoration of justice to contain her subjects in duty and spiritual and temporal obedience.”64

  • 65 Works of John Knox, ed. cit., p. 256; Amy Blakeway, “The Anglo-Scottish War of 1558 and the Scottis (...)

18The establishment of a Franco-Scottish dynastic union, an initial step towards a Franco-“British” Empire – or Franco-Anglo-Scottish Empire –, contributed to the outbreak of the revolt against Marie de Guise. In the 1550s, French policy contributed to spreading “heresy” in Scotland at a time when the religious question had not created two well-identified camps. The objectives of the French crown were overly ambitious, which may to some extent explain Henri II’s benevolence, as well the freedom of movement that he permitted. While waging war against Catholic rulers, Henri II and the Guise brothers nurtured both Protestantism and the political opposition. As John Knox acknowledged in 1558, “war [against England] continued, during the which the Evangel of Jesus Christ began wondrously to flourish.”65 While such a retrospective view is accurate, nothing was pre-ordained or predictable. Henri II’s policy of tolerance towards Scottish Protestants in the 1550s brutally backfired on the French crown in 1559. A peace treaty was signed in April 1559, Henri II decided to eradicate heresy in both France and Scotland, and Marie Queen of Scots continued to bear the arms of England. With the help of the new queen, the Protestant Elizabeth I, the Scottish opposition won the fight and exploited the “free conduit.” The Valois and Marie de Guise lost control over communications between Scotland and France, contributing to her death and to the collapse of the French regency, which was finalized by the death of Francis II in December 1560.

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Notes

1 Paradoxically, the sixteenth century was barely mentioned in the highly interesting Les idées passent-elles la Manche? Savoirs, Représentations, Pratiques (France-Angleterre, Xe-XXe siècles), Jean-Philippe Genet and François-Joseph Ruggiu (eds.), Paris, Presses de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, 2007.

2 Gordon Donaldson, The Auld Alliance: The Franco-Scottish Connection, Edinburgh, The Saltire Society and L’Institut Français d’Écosse, 1985; Elizabeth Bonner, “Scotland’s Auld Alliance with France, 1295-1560,” History, 84, 1999, p. 5-30.

3 Marcus Merriman, The Rough Wooings: Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1551), East Linton, Tuckwell Press, 2000.

4 Regarding the ambitions of the French king and the Guise family, see Stuart Carroll, Martyrs and Murderers: The Guise Family and the Making of Europe, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009, Chap. 3, and Eric Durot, François de Lorraine, duc de Guise entre Dieu et le Roi, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2012, chap. 3 and 11.

5 Henri II’s lieutenant in Scotland as plenipotentiary minister Cleutin d’Oisel, to the Duke of Guise, Edinburgh, 20 January 1556 (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, manuscrits Français 20457, fol. 295).

6 Eric Durot, “Marie de Guise, un sacrifice pour les siens,” in Annette Bächstädt, Bruno Maes, and Christine Sukic (eds.), Marie de Lorraine-Guise (1515-1560): Un itinéraire européen, special issue of Revue de l’Est, 1, 2017, p. 63-74.

7 Alexander Stevenson, “The Flemish dimension of the Auld Alliance,” in Grant Simpson (ed.), Scotland and the Low Countries, 1124-1994, East Linton, Tuckwell Press, 1996, p. 28-42.

8 Siobhan Talbott, Conflict, Commerce and Franco-Scottish Relations, 1560–1713, London, Pickering & Chatto, 2014.

9 Marie-Claude Tucker, Maîtres et étudiants écossais à la Faculté de droit de l’Université de Bourges (1480-1703), Paris, H. Champion, 2001.

10 John Mair, Historia Majoris Britanniae, Paris, Josse Bade, 1521.

11 Guillaume Bochetel to Marie de Guise, La Muette, on 16 February 1547 (Foreign Correspondence with Marie de Lorraine, Queen of Scotland, ed. Marguerite Wood, Edinburgh, University Press, 1923, vol. 1, p. 209-210).

12 Henry Scrimger, Exemplum memorabile desperationis in Francisco Spera, cum præfatione J. Calvini, Geneva, Jean Girard, 1550; Index de Rome: 1557, 1559, 1564, ed. J. M. de Bujanda, Geneva, Droz, 1990, p. 492.

13 Scottish students bought lots of books in Paris: Margaret Lane Ford, “Importation of printed books into England and Scotland,” in Lotte Hellinga and Joseph Burney Trapp (eds.), The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999, vol. 3, p. 179-201.

14 Robert Norvell, The Meroure of an Christiane, composed and drawn fourth of the Scripture, Edinburgh, Robert Lekprewik, 1561.

15 He pursued the same strategy towards the Holy Roman Empire, seeking an alliance with the Lutheran princes against the Catholic emperor, Charles V. See E. Durot, François de Lorraine, op. cit., p. 294-309.

16 Henri II’s letters, Villers-Cotterêts, June 1558 (Relations politiques de la France et de l’Espagne avec l’Écosse au XVIe siècle, ed. Alexandre Teulet, Paris, Renouard, 1862, vol. 1, p. 328).

17 Estienne Perlin, Description des Royaulmes d’Angleterre et d’Escosse, Paris, François Trepeau, 1558, fol. 27.

18 Pamela Ritchie, Mary of Guise in Scotland, 1548-1560: A Political Career, East Linton, Tuckwell Press, 2002.

19 Memoirs of His Own Life by Sir James Melville, Edinburgh, The Bannatyne Club, 1827, p. 65.

20 Correspondance des nonces en France, ed. Jean Lestoquoy, Rome and Paris, De Boccard, 1966, p. 134.

21 Portrait of William Kirkcaldy of Grange by François Clouet(?), c. 1555, held at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

22 Nicholas Wotton to Mary I, Poissy, on 30 November 1556 and to Lord Paget, Paris, on 1 March 1557 (The National Archives (Kew), State Papers, SP 69/9, fol. f. 146 and SP 69/10, fol. 41).

23 Gilles de Noailles to the cardinal of Lorraine, London, on 28 October 1559, and the cardinal’s reply, Blois, 13 November 1559 (Relations politiques, ed. cit., vol. 1, p. 363-366, and p. 369).

24 Nicholas Wotton to Queen Mary, Paris, on 12 November 1556 (SP 69/9, fol. 133).

25 For further detail, see Eric Durot, “The Role of John Knox and his Seditious Writings in the Outbreak of the French Wars of Religion,” in John O’Brien and Marc Schachter (eds.), The Spread of Controversial Literature and Ideas in France and Scotland, c.1550-1610, Proceedings of the Conference held in Durham (July 2017), Turnhout, Brepols, in press.

26 Jane Dawson, John Knox, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2015, p. 54.

27 Armel Dubois-Nayt, “ ‘La différence des sexes’: construction et fonction du ‘genre’ dans la pensée politique de John Knox,” Cités, 34.2, 2008, p. 157-169.

28 Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, Edinburgh, Wodrow Society Publications, 1846, vol. 1, p. 228-229.

29 Ibid., p. 252.

30 John Knox, The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstruous Regiment of Women and The Appellation of John Knoxe from the cruell and most in just sentence pronounced against him, Geneva, Pierre-Jacques Poullain and Antoine Reboul, 1558.

31 Histoire de la Réformation à Dieppe 1557-1657, par Guillaume et Jean Daval dits les Policiens religionnaires, ed. Emile Lesens, Rouen, 1878, vol. 1, p. 10-11 and notes p. 226-228. It is the printed version of “Mémoires de la rénovation de la prédication de la vraye et pure doctrine évangélique […].” Both Coligny and Sénarpont fought alongside Condé from the first War of Religion (1562-1563).

32 Henri II and the Constable of Montmorency to Marie de Guise, Ecouen, on 1 June 1559 (Archives diplomatiques du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Mémoires et documents, Angleterre 15, fol. 21-23); Edict of Ecouen, on 2 June 1559 (edited by Lucien Romier, in Les Origines politiques des guerres de Religion, Paris, Perrin, 1913, vol. 2, p. 362- 364).

33 Marie de Guise to her brothers, Edinburgh Castle, 26 May 1560 (A Knight of Malta at the Court of Elizabeth I: The Correspondence of Michel de Seure, French Ambassador, 1560-1561, ed. David Potter, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2014, p. 146): “Les rebelles se sont vantez que de huict jours en huict jours ilz ont advertissement de ce qui se faict en vostre conseil. Vous ferez bien de vous asseurer de Riguan Cockburn et le faire serrer en attendant l’arrivée devers vous de Monsieur de Valence, pour veriffier ce dont je l’ay oy parlé. Je vous ay aussi escript par ma susdite depesche qu’il m’a esté monstré la translation de mot à mot d’une de vos lettres du xixe febvrier, que je receuz par trois divers endroictz, dont ledits rebelles avoient eu une minutte devant que j’en eusse pas veu une, qui me faict croire qu’il y a quelque ung perdelà qui a maniment de ce qui s’escript au conseil qui donne ces advertissemens.

34 Eric Durot, “‘I do love the contrary part and the Religion both’: des agents écossais très spéciaux au début des guerres de Religion,” in Jérémie Foa, Matthieu Gellard, and Bertrand Haan (eds.), Servir le Prince en temps de guerre civile dans l’Europe des XVIe et XVIIe siècles, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, forthcoming.

35 Parliament of Scotland, held at Edinburgh, on 30 July 1546 (The Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, Thomas Thomson and Cosmo Innes (Eds.), Edinburgh, 1814-75, vol. 2, p. 466).

36 James Melville, Memoirs of his own life, ed. T. Thomson, Edinburgh, 1827, p. 20-21.

37 Mémoires de Boyvin du Villars, ed. J. Buchon, Paris, A. Desrez, 1836, p. 618, and William Forbes-Leith (ed.), The Scots Men-at-arms, Edinburgh, 1882, vol. 2, p. 146-179.

38 Cockburn to Protector Somerset, Colston, on 16 March 1548 (SP 50/3, fol. 78); Throckmorton to Cecil, Amboise, on 3 May 1560 (SP 70/14, fol. 16); Cockburn to Cecil, Moulin, Moulins, on 31 January 1566 (SP 70/82, fol. 59). The fifty letters written by Cockburn and sent to the English government often resembled diplomatic dispatches. See also Amy Blakeway, “‘Ane bull of our haly fader the paip, quhairby it is leesum to everie man to haif tua wyffis’ and the Redeswyre Raid of 1575,” English Historical Review, 541.129, 2014, p. 1346-1370.

39 Mary Stuart to the archbishop of Glasgow in Paris, Edinburgh, on 1 October 1565; Lettres, instructions et mémoires de Marie Stuart, ed. Alexandre Labanoff, London, C. Dolman, 1844, vol. 1, p. 290.

40 Mary to Charles IX, Bolton, 15 September 1568 (Ibid., vol. 2, p. 181).

41 W. Forbes-Leith (ed.), op. cit., vol. 2, p. 122-132.

42 Letter from Jean Calvin to the Earl of Arran, Geneva, on 1 August 1558 (Calvini Opera, eds. G. Baum, E. Cunitz and E. Reuss, Brunswick, 1877, vol. 17, col. 277-79).

43 Jacques Poujol, “Un épisode international à la veille des guerres de Religion: la fuite du comte d’Arran”, Revue d’Histoire moderne et contemporaine, 8. 3, 1961, p. 199-210.

44 In 1563, an Italian, Baptista Favori was hanged in Rouen for spying and sharing intelligence with England, according Middlemore to Cecil, Rouen, on 7 August 1563 (SP 70/62, fol. 43).

45 Ambassador to England, Bertrand de Salignac, to the King, London, on 1 March 1571 (Correspondance diplomatique de Bertrand de Salignac, eds. Charles Purton Cooper and Alexandre Teulet, London and Paris, Béthune et Plon,1840, vol. 4, p. 1-4).

46 Gilles de Noailles to King Francis II, London, November 1559 (Relations politiques, ed.cit., vol. 1, p. 373-378).

47 The Guise brothers to their sister, Vendôme, on 19 February 1560 (A Knight of Malta at the Court of Elizabeth, ed. cit., p. 109-112).

48 This experience was undoubtedly useful in establishing a spy network created by Francis Walsingham, principal secretary to Queen Elizabeth I during the 1570s and the 1580s.

49 Nicholas Throckmorton to William Cecil, Melun, on 3 September 1560 (SP 70/18, fol. 3).

50 Gilles de Noailles to the cardinal of Lorraine, London, 28 October and 13 November 1559 (Relations politiques, ed. cit., vol. 1, p. 363-369).

51 French memoir by the ambassador: “Mémoire de ce qu’en la dernière audience Monsieur l’Ambassadeur de France, proposa a la Royne, et a aulcuns de Messieurs du Conseil,” (Memorandum of what the Ambassador of France proposed to the Queen and Council) on 5 October 1559 (The State Papers and letters of Sir Ralph Sadler, ed. Arthur Clifford, Edinburgh, 1809, vol. 2, p. 20-21).

52 The Duke of Alba to the Bishop of Arras, on 20 March 1560 (Relations politiques, ed. cit., vol. 2, p. 74-82).

53 The deciphered letters are held in The National Archives, Kew; see A Knight of Malta at the Court of Elizabeth I, ed. cit., p. 109-157.

54 The Guise brothers to the Bishop of Limoges, Amboise, on 30 and 31 March, and Marmoutiers, on 9 April 1560 (Lettres du cardinal Charles de Lorraine (1525-1574), ed. Daniel Cuisiat, Geneva, Droz, 1998, p. 390 and 391); an agent to the Guise brothers, Montreuil, on 13 May 1560 (Relations politiques, ed. cit., vol. 2, p. 131).

55 Throckmorton to Cecil, Amboise, on 7 and 9 March 1560 (SP 70/12, fol. 43).

56 Marie de Guise to her brothers, Edinburgh Castle, on 30 April 1560 (A Knight of Malta at the Court of Elizabeth I, ed. cit., p. 135-136).

57 Nicolas Pellevé, Bishop of Amiens, to the Cardinal of Lorraine, Edinburgh, on 27 March 1560 (A Knight of Malta at the Court of Elizabeth I, ed. cit., p. 121).

58 Two missions of Jacques de La Brosse… The Journal of the Siege of Leith, 1560, ed. Gladys Dickinson, Edinburgh, University Press, 1942, p. 140-141.

59 Boisdauphin to the Duke of Guise, London, on 9 November 1551 (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, manuscrits Français 20457, fol. 279); see also Amy Blakeway’s contribution in this volume.

60 An agent to the Guise brothers, Montreuil, on 13 May 1560 (Relations politiques, ed. cit., vol. 2, p. 131).

61 The Guise brothers to their sister, Amboise, on 12 March 1560 (A Knight of Malta at the Court of Elizabeth I, ed. cit., p. 114), deciphered by the English (SP 52/2, fol. 82).

62 The importance of the Scottish dimension of the tumult at Amboise has not been addressed by historians (thus, Nicola Mary Sutherland, “Queen Elizabeth and the Conspiracy of Amboise, March 1560,” The English Historical Review, 320, 1966, p. 474-489).

63 E. Durot, “Marie de Guise, un sacrifice pour les siens,” art. cit.

64 “[…] un bon ferme et perpetuel establissement de justice pour contenir ses subgectz en devoir et obeissance spirituelle et temporelle,” in Memoire des affaires d’Escosse pour diceulx estre escript a nostre st père le pape de la part du Roy daulphin et royne daulphine soubz le bon plaisir et intention du Roy, June-July 1559 (National Library of Scotland, GB 233 / Adv. MS.54.1.5).

65 Works of John Knox, ed. cit., p. 256; Amy Blakeway, “The Anglo-Scottish War of 1558 and the Scottish Reformation,” History, 102, 2017, p. 201-224, argues that the 1558 War was a catalyst in spreading reforming opinion throughout Scotland.

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Eric Durot, « A Too Free Conduit? When the Flow of Men and Ideas Turned against Marie de Guise »Études Épistémè [En ligne], 37 | 2020, mis en ligne le 20 octobre 2020, consulté le 19 janvier 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/episteme/7837 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/episteme.7837

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Eric Durot

Eric Durot is an associate researcher at the Centre Roland-Mousnier/Paris-Sorbonne University, where he earned a doctorate (François de Lorraine, duc de Guise entre Dieu et le Roi, Paris, Classiques Garnier, 2012). He was later awarded a Marie Sklodowska-Curie research grant to work on “Transnational Approach to the Outbreak of the Wars of Religion” at the University of York (2016-18). He currently teaches at Le Lycée français de San Francisco.

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