Claude Nau or Claude Nau de la Boisseliere (d. 1605), was a confidential secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots in England from 1575 to 1586.
Nau was a successful lawyer practicing in Paris when he was recruited by the Guise family in 1574 to be Mary's secretary. He was presented by the Duke of Guise, Mary's nephew, to Henry III of France who gave him diplomatic accreditation and sent him to Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth gave him a letter of introduction to the Earl of Shrewsbury the Scottish Queen's keeper at Sheffield Castle. Nau was frequently mentioned in Mary's correspondence, and many of his own letters survive.
In August 1577 Nau added a postscript to one of Mary's letters to her ally in France, James Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow, that he intended to send him the queen's portrait, but the painter working at Sheffield Castle had not completed the work to perfection.
In June 1579, Mary sent Nau as her ambassador to her son, James VI of Scotland, instead of John Lesley, Bishop of Ross. However, the Scottish court at Stirling Castle would not allow him an audience, apparently because Mary's letter was addressed to her son, not the King. Although Nau was accompanied by Nicolas Errington, Provost Marshal of Berwick upon Tweed, he had no papers from Elizabeth. The Privy Council of Scotland issued a proclamation that he deserved punishment and should be commanded to depart.
Claude's brother, the Sieur de Fontenay, sent from France, had more success. Fontenay was able to meet James VI in August 1584. Fontenay wrote to Claude about his good reception, James had met him in his cabinet at Holyroodhouse, and lent him a horse to join the hunting. In November 1584, Nau spoke with Elizabeth, on the subject of Mary's allegations against Bess of Hardwick.
Nau had a relationship with a young woman in Mary's household, Elizabeth Pierrepont. In April 1586 he sent a friend to discuss marriage with her father Henry Pierrepont. Mary was in favour of her marriage, but it seems her father had other ideas and removed her from the household.
Nau was arrested at Chartley in 1586, but seems to have lived comfortably with the family of Francis Walsingham. After Mary's execution he returned to France where he was exonerated from accusations of treachery to Mary by the King and the Duke of Guise.
Nau wrote a history of the years 1542 to 1545 which describes Regent Arran taking power in Scotland, possession of Holyroodhouse and Falkland Palace, and the exchequer. He tells the story, also found in John Lesley's History, of the banquet for the Patriarch of Venice, where a buffet laden with Venetian glass was deliberately tipped over to impress the envoy with an idea of Scotland's material wealth, and the burning of Edinburgh in May 1544.
Nau started translating John Lesley's Latin history of Scotland, the De Origine, into French. He did not complete this historical work.
- A. Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, vol. 4 (London, 1852), p. 390.
- Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. 3 (Edinburgh, 1880), pp. 185-6
- HMC Manuscripts of the Marquis of Salisbury at Hatfield, vol. 3 (London, 1889), pp. 47-62.
- William Boyd, Calendar State Papers Scotland: 1585-1586, vol. 8 (Edinburgh, 1914), p. 278 no. 307, 296 no. 321.
- William Boyd, Calendar State Papers Scotland: 1585-1586, vol. 8 (Edinburgh, 1914), pp. 341-2 no. 366.
- Stevenson, Joseph, (1883), xii-lvii.
- Stevenson, Joseph, (1883), xii, xvii: BL Cotton Titus C.xii fol.1.
- Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol. 9 (Edinburgh, 1915), pp. 524-529.