The Tudor Society

3 April – Peace between Elizabeth I, France and the Empire

On this day in Tudor history, 3rd April 1559, the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis was signed between King Henry II of France and King Philip II of Spain. The previous day, 2nd April 1559, it had been signed between Elizabeth I and Henry II.

The treaty, or rather treaties, brought the Italian Wars to an end. But what were these wars? How was England involved? And what were the terms of the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis? Find out more in today's talk.

Also on this day in Tudor history, 3rd April 1578, Lady Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, cousin of Queen Elizabeth I, was buried in a lavish funeral at Westminster Abbey. Find out about her tomb, and her incredible lineage and links to royals, in last year’s video:

Also on this day in history:

  • 1538 - Death of Elizabeth Boleyn (née Howard), Countess of Wiltshire and Ormonde, mother of Queen Anne Boleyn.
  • 1559 – The second session of Parliament, in Elizabeth I's reign, met after the Easter break. Its purpose was to obtain parliamentary sanction for royal supremacy and Protestant settlement.
  • 1585 – Death of Thomas Goldwell, Bishop of St Asaph, in Rome. He had travelled to Rome at the beginning of the Protestant Elizabeth I's reign. He was buried in the convent of San Silvestro.
  • 1606 – Burial of Sir Edward Fitton, member of Parliament and Elizabeth I's Receiver-General, in Gawsworth Church in Cheshire.


On this day in Tudor history, 3rd April 1559, the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis was signed between King Henry II of France and King Philip II of Spain. The Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis was actually two separate treaties, and Queen Elizabeth I of England had signed one with King Henry II the previous day, 2nd April 1559. The treaties brought to an end the Italian Wars, a series of wars which had been rumbling on between the Houses of Valois and Habsburg since 1494 – 65 years! - and which had been resurrected by Henry II in 1551.

What were these Italian Wars about? Well, as the name suggests, they were about Italy, which at the time was made up of several kingdoms. The Valois and Habsburgs were vying for control of these kingdoms, each believing that they had a claim, and the trouble began when King Charles VIII of France invaded the Kingdom of Naples in 1494. He was forced to withdraw, however, when Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor and Ferdinand V of Spain made an alliance with the League of Venice, an alliance of Italian states.

How was England involved? Well, in 1554, Queen Mary I had married Philip of Spain, son of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and England had supported Philip in his war with France, which, of course, saw England lose Calais, a territory which it had held since 1347. Mary’s half-sister, Queen Elizabeth I, came to the throne after Mary’s death on 17th November 1558 and was determined to broker peace with both France and the Empire. According to the agreement she signed with Henry II of France, Calais was recognised as an English territory in temporary French custody, and the French agreed to give it back to England in 8 years time or pay an indemnity of half a million gold crowns. France was also to cease supporting the claim of Henry II’s daughter-in-law, Mary, Queen of Scots, to the English throne. Henry II had proclaimed his son, Francis, the dauphin, and his wife, Mary, as King and Queen of England following the death of Mary I.

But what did France and Spain agree to on this day in 1559?

Well, as the Encyclopaedia Britannica explains, the agreement left Habsburg-Spain the dominant power in Italy for the next 150 years. France, who had been soundly beaten in the most recent battles, for examples those of St Quentin and Gravelines, had to renounce its hereditary claim to Milan, recognise Spanish control of Naples, Sicily and Sardinia, and restore Savoy and Piedmont to Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoy, and restore Corsica to Genoa. However, France was able to hang on five fortresses and three bishoprics. The terms of the treaty also included the agreement of a marriage between Philip and Elisabeth of Valois, King Henry II of France’s daughter. Emmanuel-Philibert of Savoy also married Margaret of France, Duchess of Berry, Henry II’s sister.

So, that’s the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis which was signed between the major European powers on 2nd and 3rd April 1559.

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3 April – Peace between Elizabeth I, France and the Empire