Venice: 1499

Pages 276-286

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 1, 1202-1509. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1864.

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1499. Jan. 28. Sforza Archives, Milan. 780. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
On the 26th ulto., by the postman of the Genoese [merchants], announced the arrival of a courier from the King of France, and of two ambassadors from Britanny.
Today the King rode on horseback, and was accompanied by Don Pedro (de Ayala), and himself. The King told them that the courier had brought a letter from the King of France, purporting that the apostolic delegates had decreed his marriage with Madame Jeanne of France null, and declared that he was free to marry any woman he pleased.
The ambassadors from Britanny say that the King of France now wishes to marry their Duchess; but that she, considering the King of England as her father, will not do anything without his counsel, and desires him to notify his opinion on this point to her.
Previously the King of England had been informed that the marriage between the King of France and the Duchess was concluded on the 17th instant, and now it is said that the King of England is compelled to recommend the Duchess to do that which was already accomplished, although by several messengers he had privily advised the reverse.
In a long conversation with the said ambassadors, the King of England elicited that the King of France is disposed towards peace with all; and that, even should he send forces into Italy, he will not quit France.
London, 28 January 1409.
Feb. 16. Sforza Archives, Milan. 781. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
Announces the arrival in London of Christoforo de' Carboneri, on the 10th instant from Holland.
With the intention of taking leave of the King, filled up a blank sheet bearing the Duke's signature, to the effect that the Duke, answering his letter of the 17th November, took all the replies of the King in good part.
On the 13th instant, in the packet of the Spinolas from Bruges, received a letter from the Duke dated the 9th January, expressing satisfaction at the reply given by the King last November, and at Raimondo's [proposed] return. Went therefore on the 15th to Greenwich, where the King was residing, who, after reading the whole letter, said he was much pleased at the Duke's satisfaction, and added that he should have liked him (Raimondo) to remain; he consented, however, to his returning, but desired him so to contrive that Agostino Spinola might have letters from the Duke, and thus give news.
Should the Duke not desire his return, ten days will amply suffice for the receipt of letters, and on the expiration of that term will set out.
There is no disturbance, nor, as he has frequently written, can any be expected during the lifetime of the present King.
London, 16 February 1499.
Feb. 20. Sanuto Diaries, v. ii. p. 317. 782. News from England.
Receipt of letters from Jacomo Capello, captain of the Flanders galleys, dated Hampton, 19th January, stating that in two days he should commence loading, and complete the cargoes so as to depart on the expiration of the term assigned for demurrage. Recommends that the galleys be sent to Flanders, and not to Hampton alone, because the English hold out for high prices on the marts, so that the Venetian merchants would do better by going to Flanders.
A few days previously some of the galley crews were travelling over the country selling their wares, when, at a distance of 20 miles from Hampton some highwaymen attacked three of them and killed two; so the captain sent to London to notify this to the King, who, although three months ought to have elapsed before doing justice, caused two of these thieves to be taken, and sent them to Hampton, where he had them hanged. His Majesty does everything in favour of Venetian subjects, and shows them great good will.
An ambassador from the Duke of Milan is at the court, in small repute: he remained 50 days before he could make his statement and have his first audience.
The captain intends to take, a pilot at Lisbon by reason of the dangers, as in November and December 50 ships have perished in those seas.
March. Sforza Archives, Milan. 783. Don Pedro de Ayala, Prothonotary, to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
Has received the Duke's letters and is much gratified to find that he ranks him amongst his servants. Alludes to his residence in England by command of the Sovereigns of Spain. Professes himself as much at the Duke's service as his ambassador the Signer Raimondo, to whom he communicates whatever concerns the Duke, as doubtless stated by Raimondo. Will not write more at length, as by Raimondo the Duke is made fully acquainted with the affairs of England and other countries. Assures the Duke that the King of England's love towards him increases daily, and that he is extremely pleased to hear of the great friendship between the Duke and the Sovereigns of Spain; nor does he doubt but that, should anything happen, the King of England will follow them throughout.
Signed: “Servitor P. de Ayala, Protonotarius.”
[Latin, from the file, “1499,” March.]
March 18. Sforza Archives, Milan. 784. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
In favour of the Duke's subject, the Genoese citizen Cipriano de- Fornari, who, during the past and present year, has never ceased visiting and keeping the ambassador company, and ever placing all his property at the ambassador's disposal.
London, 18 March 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
March 20. Sforza Archives, Milan. 785. The Same to the Same.
The King was well satisfied with what the Duke wrote. Told him about Antonio Spinola. This Antonio has great influence with the King and is not a person to lose, as he willingly exerts himself to hear [the news], and is a staunch ducal partisan, as are all the Spinolas of the west.
English affairs do not so much require the presence of Antonio Spinola, as he lives but little in London, where Agostino Spinola, who is well affected and prudent, resides constantly, and should he fail, there is one Antonio Salvatico, a thorough ducal partisan of great intellect, who will not fail to give every opportune suggestion. There is also about the King's person a Genoese physician lately arrived, by name Zoanne Batista de Tabia, who, by reason of his talents, has good credit, and, being of the Spinola faction, does not fail to benefit the Duke's cause where he can. It would not be amiss to propitiate an individual who has been a merchant in London upwards of 30 years, by name Cipriano de' Fornari, who, although naturally of the other faction, has nevertheless always been throughout most devoted to the Duke. He is most thoroughly acquainted with English affairs, and will soon be at Milan.
Announces the departure from England to reside at Rome of Messer Petro Penedi (sic; Pinnock?): the King has given him letters procuratorial for that court. Understands also that he is the bearer of letters to several personages on the road—to the Archduke, to the Cæsarean Majesty, to the Signor Constantino Cominato (fn. 1) (alias Arniti, governor of the Marquisate of Montferrat), to the Duke (of Milan), to Giovanni Bentivoglio (Lord of Bologna), and, he rather imagines, to the Venetians. It is the custom of many priests of the west, when they go to Rome to push their fortunes, to present letters as it suits them. Messer Petro told him he (Petro) intended placing himself under the protection of the Vicechancellor (Cardinal Ascanius Sforza), and would have taken letters from him (Raimondo). Abstained from giving them, as, if possible, Messer Petro means to go through France. Messer Petro is well acquainted with English affairs; has always evinced regard for the honour of the Duke, and purposed taking some good horses as a present for him, but doubtless hopes to be paid for them. There can be no harm in showing him kindness, as he is hostile to the French, and should he hear news in Rome would always give the Duke notice.
London, 20 March 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
March 20. Sforza Archives, Milan. 786. The Same to the Same.
On the 10th inst. the Duke's courier, Ambrosio de la Chiesia arrived in London with his letters of the 25th, 28th, and last of December, and 12th, 22nd, and 23rd of January. The news being all good, he demanded audience of the King, who was assuredly glad of the prosperous progress of events. Although the King had heard the whole intelligence by way of Rome, Florence, and Pisa, especially about Casentino, he was nevertheless pleased to receive details. Whether the Duke keeps him (Raimondo) in England or recalls him, it will be well to send the King frequent advices; nor is there much difficulty in this, as couriers daily come from the Cæsarean court to Bruges, whence messengers pass constantly to England. Assures the Duke that, however prosperous his affairs may be, they are always represented adversely by his Italian adversaries, and when the truth comes from Rome, it arrives as diluted as if it had passed through an alembic; though the King always believes what is notified to him by the Duke.
London, 20 March 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
[Italian, 1 page.]
March 20. Sforza Archives, Milan. 787. The Same to the Same.
Among the letters brought by the special courier, some confirmed his recall, whereas the two last of the 22d and 23d January, desired him to keep the Duke well informed. Has not therefore taken leave, or been honoured by a present from the King, as is his Majesty's custom with regard to all ambassadors.
Agostino Spinola and Antonio Salvatico are of opinion that he should depart, considering his stay no longer decorous for the Duke. Not knowing how to decide, he went to the King, acquainting him with the commands received. Was received with all possible graciousness; and the King told him that as he was to depart all intelligence concerning the Duke's affairs would be communicated to Agostino Spinola. Sought a fair cause for remaining, and said that if the King commanded him to remain, he would do so willingly, being certain thus to meet the Duke's wishes. The King replied that he would not assume such responsibility. Quitted his presence accordingly with the belief that he could no longer remain decorously in England.
Understood however, through another channel, that the King would be content he should remain a few days (on account, he believed, of the French ambassadors, who were expected); and considering that he might err more by coming away than by remaining, met the Spanish ambassador, Don Pedro de Ayala, a staunch partisan of the Duke's, and after a long conference with him, came to the conclusion that he should remain, if possible. Don Pedro, as the Duke's servant, undertook to ascertain the King's mind, and having adroitly intimated his wish to remain in England for a few days longer, should the King not be of a contrary opinion, the King appeared very satisfied, speaking very lovingly and with much honour of him (Raimondo). For the present will not depart, but wait for instructions.
London, 20 March 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
March 22. Sforza Archives, Milan. 788. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
The French ambassadors came to London on the 20th instant and had audience of the King yesterday. The English ambassadors at the Cæsarean court are expected back hourly.
London, 22 March 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
April 1. Sforza Archives, Milan. 789. The Same to the Same.
The King of England's ambassadors to the King of the Romans have returned. They went to make civil speeches, to renew the friendship impaired by the peace of Picardy, and by the favour shown to Perkin, and to learn whether the King of the Romans was acting in earnest against the King of France. The King of England Avas glad he sent the ambassadors, as they bring friendly assurances from the King of the Romans.
Subsequently a secretary from the King of the Romans arrived Spoke with him at great length. His King is really inclined towards friendship with England, and prepared to act, but suspects the King of England means to feed his Lords with hope, draw money from the kingdom, keep the King of France in fear, and do nothing.
The secretary remains but a short while—will endeavour to become acquainted with all his negotiations. The King of England is strongly pressed, especially by Spain; is, however, more earnest than usual; and Raimondo delays the courier to discuss the matter more at leisure, as the French ambassador is still in London. The King tells him that the French ambassador is come about trifling matters.
London, 1 April 1499.
[Triplicate, Italian.]
April 1. Sanuto Diaries, vol. ii., p. 394. 790. News from London.
Perusal in the College of a letter dated London, 2 March, addressed to Hironimo da Cà da Pesaro, stating that an ambassador from the Duke of Milan was come to the King of England, making three requests. First, to assist the Duke against the King of France, who sought to obtain the duchy of Milan. Secondly, to give his daughter to the eldest son of the Duke. Thirdly, to give the Duke a badge, namely, the Garter. The King made answer, first, that he was at peace with the King of France, which was to last for their lives, and that he could give the Duke no assistance. Secondly, that he will not give the Duke his daughter, who is three years old, and besides not of the Duke's condition. Thirdly, that the Garter is the badge and first order of King Arthur, and that the knights of old who bore this badge swore to be the friends of friends and foes of foes, and the King of France being a member of the order, the Duke cannot enter it. Thus did he dismiss the envoy, who was to depart on the morrow, dissatisfied. Had also (query the envoy) played with Zorzi, and beaten him, abusing the Venetians.
April 9. Sforza Archives, Milan. 791. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
In the conversation held with the King after the arrival of the courier, when explaining what the Duke had written in cipher, the King appeared more urgent than usual about the Duke's affairs and said he did not believe the Sovereigns of Spain would allow the King of France to aggrandize himself. Went on Holy Tuesday to the King, who received him more lovingly than usual, and said that the English ambassadors who had then come from the Cæsarean Majesty brought good news, that the King of the Romans would act as a good confederate and brother.
Returned to court on Maunday Thursday, when the King was washing the poor people's feet; the King having received him very graciously, he opportunely besought the King to hold the Duke recommended, and was answered in Latin “Habeo.”
On Holy Saturday the secretary of the King of the Romans arrived. Has conversed with him daily: he has come alone, without letters of credence, and was merely to speak with the English ambassadors, lately returned from the King of the Romans. The secretary had always been of opinion that the professions of the English ambassadors were fictitious. On the 6th instant the King sent for the secretary, who returned extremely satisfied. He received a handsome present, and on his stating that he was well pleased, Raimondo did his utmost to know why, but without effect, though when he asked the secretary whether the relations between the King of the Romans and King Henry would subsist, he was answered in the affirmative. The secretary departed on the 7th. Went on that day to the court with Don Pedro, the Spanish ambassador, and in their presence the King dismissed the French ambassador, saying that he returned no answer, but intended to send an agent of his own to France to reply. Had been already informed by the said secretary, who had it from the English ambassadors lately returned from his master, that the French ambassador made inadmissible demands. Raimondo and Don Pedro are of opinion that the French wanted some additional guarantee. King Henry chooses to keep himself in repute; and the receipt of his pension suffices him.
Is of opinion that the King of England has been deceived, as he expected an ambassador, not an obscure individual, from the King of the Romans; but the King of the Romans does not condescend so far, and the presents made by him to the English ambassadors were a poor mark of honor, nor, from the report of the secretary, was his language to them loving. On his (Raimondo's) last interview the King's mere complimentary message to the Duke confirmed this judgment, and he said he did not believe the King of France would quit his kingdom, but thought he would send troops into Italy.
In the course of many conferences the King had given him to understand that the distance between England and the Milanese did not admit of a confederacy between the powers; and then announced that he had some intention of allying himself with the King of the Romans, in which case he might perhaps change his mind as to the confederacy.
Is of opinion that all negotiation with the King of the Romans is, for the present, interrupted; that the King of England will ally himself entirely with France; and that the secretary was either deceived himself, or deceived him (Raimondo).
Should the King of England ally himself with the King of the Romans, which he (Raimondo) does not believe he will do, the Duke might place reliance on this alliance, provided he be allied with the King of the Romans, but not otherwise.
London, 9 April 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
[Italian, 6 pages.]
April 9. Sforza Archives, Milan. 792. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
Has told the Duke's cornier, Ambrosio de la Chiesia, to travel with speed, promising him ten ducats if he reaches Milan in 18 days from Calais. If the Basle road be impeded and he go by Savoy, he is to be allowed 20 days. Requests the Duke to have him paid accordingly.
London, 9 April 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
[Italian, 9 lines.]
April 9. Sforza Archives, Milan. 793. Agostino Spinola to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
Since the arrival of his ambassador, Raimondo, had only written once to the Duke, from whom he subsequently received four letters dated Milan, 12th. November. Was of opinion that Raimondo would efficiently perform the business committed to him. Had given information and advice to Raimondo.
On the receipt of the Duke's letter, it appeared to him and to Cristoforo de' Carbonari that, the Duke's business in England being at an end for some years, it was advisable for Raimondo to depart. Raimondo accordingly took leave of the King, who gave him an honourable present. Though, two or three days before Raimondo's intended departure, the present courier brought several letters from the Duke, was of opinion that the protracted stay in England of Raimondo would be neither advantageous nor honourable for the Duke, as he had already taken leave of the King.
In England at present no novelty can occur, nor can any advices [be needed thence], which might not as well be transmitted to Milan by Antonio, or the Duke's other servants resident in London, and the King of England would hold the Duke's affairs in greater account, were the Duke, in lieu of keeping an ambassador resident, to send a courier occasionally.
London, 9 April 1499.
Signed: “Augustinus Spinula.”
[Italian, 3 pages.]
April 14. Sforza Archives, Milan. 794. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
About the 16th of last month an ambassador from France, called Messer Pedro Luis, by birth a Catalonian, (fn. 2) arrived in London. He has been a soldier on land and at sea, and now wears the garb of a churchman. Has not heard the cause of Luis's coming, though it cannot be unimportant, because the Bishop of Durham, the King's Privy Seal (corniola secreto), has been several times to his house; and subsequently Sir Charles Somerset, the King's near relative, the Duke of Buckingham and the Duke of Suffolk, entertained him with stately banquets; and whereas by a statute of the realm no foreign bottoms may import wine or wool from France to England without paying a noble per ton to the crown, this French ambassador has been allowed to bring both one and the other in any French or Gascon ship at his option, though the grant does not extend to vessels of Britanny; at any rate, the King conferred a great boon on this ambassador, who was dismissed on the 7th instant.
London, 14 April 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
[Italian, 1 page.]
May 17. Sforza Archives, Milan. 795. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
The King has sent Dr. Ruthal as his ambassador to France, and ten days ago announced his intention of sending back to his Cæsarean Majesty the ambassadors who returned last Lent, though they are not preparing for departure, nor can he learn the cause. Believes that the King will be guided by circumstances, and should the King of the Romans prosper, the ambassadors will go to Germany. When the King of England speaks of the French, he says that should the King of France not go into Italy, there is nothing to fear.
The King of England attends to nothing but amusements, and to enjoying the infinite treasure which he has already amassed, and which he constantly augments.
London, 17 May 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
[Italian, 18 lines.]
June 1. Sforza Archives, Milan. 796. The Same to the Same.
By his letter of 17th of May, informed the Duke that the King had determined to send two ambassadors to his Cæsarean Majesty. Eight days have not elapsed since these ambassadors crossed the sea. They were in number two: Dr. Melitone (Morton) and the Master of the Rolls (William Warham). Has investigated the cause; discovers nothing, save that Antonio Spinola tells him these ambassadors will go to Flanders, and after remaining there two months, do as shall be then enjoined them. This is what he always expected, namely, that this most circumspect King will be guided solely by circumstances. Is however informed, by very good authority, namely the Spanish ambassador, that no satisfactory result will follow, and of this he was persuaded, as never at the court do they speak according to his (Raimondo's) wishes.
No commotion in England, nor does he think any can take place during the lifetime of the present King.
London, 1 June 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
[Italian, 1 page.]
June 20. Sforza Archives, Milan. 797. Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan, to King Henry VII.
Letter of recommendation on behalf of Lorenzo Bonvisi, citizen of Lucca.
Milan, 20 June 1499.
[Latin, 15 lines.]
July 1. Sanuto Diaries, v. ii. p. 612. 798. Receipt of a Letter from Andrea Bragadin, Venetian Consul in London, to the State, dated 8th June.
Announces that he has received the Signory's letters concerning the repeal of the four ducats duty per butt on wines loaded by foreign vessels in Candia, and desiring him to request the King of England in like manner to take off the duty of four crowns per butt on the wines imported into England from Candia.
Went therefore, accompanied by the merchants, to the King, and acquainted him with the whole. He replied that he neither would nor could, as at present his subjects no longer care to go and load wines; it sufficing to say, that whereas of yore they paid 8l. 18s. per butt [for sack], the present price is only 6l. 8s.; so that it is not possible to repeal this duty.
July 13. Sforza Archives, Milan. 799. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
There is nothing to write, save that, after the departure of Dr. Ruthal for France, Master (Sir Thomas) Lovel, the King's chief financier, crossed to Calais, and returned with a good sum of crowns, paid by the French King on account of his obligations to the King of England. Has been unable to ascertain the precise sum; some say 50,000 ducats, others 100,000. Antonio Spinola said he had heard 200,000. Does not believe the amount to be so large, for having had a long conversation with the King, who holds his own glory in becoming account, and having assiduously endeavoured to learn the sum, he thinks it impossible that, if it had been 200,000, the King would have failed to tell him so. The French respect the King greatly, and having lately seized in France a partizan of King Edward's, by name John Taylor, who devised Perkin's expedition to Ireland when the latter first declared himself the son of King Edward, they have surrendered the prisoner to the English ambassadors. Dr. Ruthal has already returned, but his colleague, a layman, remains behind to bring the prisoner with him. Believes that this thing will be held in great account by his Majesty; much more than 100,000 crowns, as the English may say, “Whither shall I go then from thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence.”
The ambassadors who have been sent back to his Cæsarean Majesty were charged to remain two months in Flanders to act according to instructions which would be written them. Should his Cæsarean Majesty be victorious, they will go to him. During the last week two ambassadors have arrived from the King of Portugal; they are supposed to have come for the Garter.
A new set of heretics has appeared in England; they say that baptism is unnecessary for the offspring of Christians, that marriage is superfluous, and that copulation suffices, and that the sacrament of the altar is untrue. The prelates have commenced persecuting them (a perseguitarli), and it is hoped they will put an end to the heresy.
London, 13 July 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.”
[Italian, 2 pages.]
July 13. Sforza Archives, Milan. 800. Raimondo [de Soncino] to Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan.
Has come to London, and already received the King's letter for him. Is merely awaiting fair weather, and will then go to Antwerp, to avoid placing himself at the mercy of the French in Flanders, as on the former occasion.
London, 13 July 1499.
Signed: “Raimundus.” (fn. 3)
[Italian, 14 lines. Fragment.]
July 31. Sanuto Diaries, v. ii. p. 706. 801. Don Juan de Guzman, Duke of Medina Sidonia, Count of Niebla, and Lord of the City of Gibraltar, to Doge Agostino Barbarigo.
Requests him to send the Flanders galleys to his ports, especially to San Lucha de Barrameda, promising good treatment to all Venetian subjects.
[Italian.; translation from, the Spanish.]
Aug. 20. Sforza Archives, Milan. 802. Ludovic Sforza, Duke of Milan, to Henry VII.
Has lately been visited by the Reverend Lord Peter Penech (Pinnock ?), the King's ambassador on his way to Rome, who delivered the King's loving message. Although he acknowledged the letter immediately, repeats these few words lest his missive should have been intercepted.
Milan, 20 August 1499. (fn. 4)
[Draft. Latin, 1 page.]
Oct. 18. Sanuto Diaries, v. iii. p. 23. 803. Report that the Kings of Spain and England and the Duke of Burgundy were leaguing against France from fear lest King Lewis increase his power: Spain being apprehensive of the occupation of Naples by the French, and King Henry dreading the loss of Calais and other places held by him in France, from which he derived great commercial advantages.


  • 1. Who assumed the name of Comneno. See Ducange, Historia Byzantina (Paris, 1680, p. 196 and following.)
  • 2. See Bergenroth, p. 207–208. He was Archdean of Angers.
  • 3. This is the last letter in the collection from Raimondo de Soncino.
  • 4. This is the last letter to Henry VII. from Ludovic Sforza, who was captured at Novara by the French on the 9th April 1500, and died a prisoner at Loches, in France, on the 16th May 1508.