Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 11, 1607-1610. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1904.
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The Documents calendared in this volume cover the period between June 1607 and June 1610. The presence in Italy of Englishmen like Sir Anthony and Sir Robert Sherley, of Irishmen like Tyrone and Tyrconnel, the quarrel with the Grand Duke of Tuscany about the attack on English shipping, the flight of the Prince of Condé and the negotiations between the Marshal Lesdiguièes and the Duke of Savoy at Brusol, have extended the field of research and entailed an examination of the reports from several of the minor Italian Courts, where English history is not usually to be found.
It will be convenient to analyse these documents under four heads, grouping them together in so far as they illustrate (1) England, foreign and home affairs and the Court; (2) Sir Henry Wotton's Embassy at Venice; his relations with the anti-Curial party and the suspicions they aroused at Rome; his dealings with the King's book—“A Premonition to all Most Mighty Monarchs,” and the disgrace into which he nearly fell thereby; his negotiations about commerce and his connection with British subjects in Italy; (3) the Levant Company and the “Consulage of Forestiers”; the Jesuits at Constantinople and the transfer of trade from Alexandretta to Tripoli; (4) Pirates, with the doings of the most famous of them, Ward and Dauncer.
In the region of foreign affairs the question which most nearly affected England and her relations to France and Spain was the negotiations for a truce as preliminary to a peace between the Dutch on the one hand and Philip III, and the Archdukes on the other. The Dutch themselves were divided over the question (Nos. 365, 391). Barneveldt and the “truceites,” as they were called, were anxious to reach a permanent settlement with Spain; Maurice, at the head of the army, and supported by the Maritime provinces of Holland and Zealand, which were growing rich by the war, desired its continuance. Henry IV, was supporting the Dutch vigorously, and wished to see Dutch independence achieved and the Dutch question settled before proceeding further with the “Great Design” for the abasement of the House of Austria. But he desired to secure the co-operation of England, both in order to relieve himself from some of the burden and also as a safeguard against an attack by Spain. James' half-heartedness and apparent shiftiness exasperated Henry. On the suspicion that James had secretly offered to mediate between the Dutch and Philip and had promised the Spanish that the “Sovreignty” question should be dropped (No. 398), Henry burst into violent language, calling his brother Sovreign a “double-faced fellow” (uomo di più faccie) (No. 366) and a “fraudulent trickster” (ingannatore fraudolente) (No. 424). On the other hand neither James nor Salisbury quite liked the idea of a truce and peace on the basis of Dutch independence; they were anxious to avoid a rupture with Spain (No. 126); the Royal Navy was in a bad state, (fn. 1) so were the finances; they both foresaw and dreaded the rise of Dutch trade and sea-power (Nos. 204, 376). “The King knows that if commerce is thrown open to the Dutch the revenue of this kingdom will be greatly diminished”; a view confirmed by the retiring Venetian Ambassador, Giustinian (No. 391), who reported that “if the difficulties in the way of establishing a stable Dutch government can be overcome there will appear in Christendom a great and notable power, whose riches and forces I have found far in excess of my expectation,” and by Wotton (No. 716), who, when addressing the Doge, declared that though the Republic was mistress in the Mediterranean, the United Provinces were one of the strongest powers in the Ocean. But James was personally jealous of Henry and was resolved that he should not enjoy the sole prestige of the settlement (No. 376). “The real reason why the King of England favours the truce is in order to prevent its being concluded without his participation through the instrumentality of France;” that would have injured his pretensions to be the arbiter of peace and war. Moreover the Spanish peace was still unpopular in England; it was held by many that England had lost a great opportunity and that her naval power was declining as the result of the peace; while others regretted the rich gains of privateering (No. 468). These countervailing considerations kept James' action in a state of hesitancy.
Preliminary negotiations for a peace, not for a truce, had been opened in March 1607 by an agreement to a cessation of hostilities between the Archdukes and the United Provinces, but the essential points, independence and the navigation to the Indies, were only defined by the Hague Conference which eventually met in January 1608. Philip meanwhile was negotiating through the Archdukes, who experienced great difficulty in persuading him to confirm the concessions which they had granted. Matters were handled first by Diego d' Ybarra, who was withdrawn as a persona ingrata to the Archdukes (No. 34), then by the Franciscan friar, John Neyen, who subsequently fell into disgrace with Spain on the charge of being too favourable to the Dutch and too sanguine in his representations as to the ease with which a truce might be concluded (Nos. 60, 314); finally by Brizuela, the Archduke's Confessor, who carried the affair to a conclusion. During the long process of these preliminary negotiations, the Dutch approached both James and Henry to insist upon support. To Henry they threatened that they would make peace upon the best terms they could get, even if they were forced to abandon independence. To James they said that unless supported by him they would throw themselves entirely into the arms of France. The Dutch Deputies, Dr. Jehan Berkes and Sir James Maldarce, arrived in London in July 1607 (No. 31). They were at once confronted with the root difficulty of the situation from the English point of view. The government was quite content to see the war prolonged on condition that England was committed to no expense nor to anything which would lead to a rupture of peace with Spain. The object of the Dutch Mission was, on the other hand, to obtain definite pledges of support. Outwardly they were received with marked attention and “with ceremony hardly less than that accorded to ambassadors from Crowned Heads” (No. 34). Salisbury applied a series of cautious interrogations. Were the States so deeply pledged that the peace negotiations must be carried through? The answer was “No.” Would the States make peace without independence? The answer was “No.” Would they tell him what the King of France had promised? The answer was that his Majesty had kept to himself what he intended to do for them (No. 36).
The upshot of these negotiations was the appointment of Sir Richard Spencer and Sir Ralph Winwood as James' Commissioners to co-operate with the French Commissioners at the projected conference at the Hague. They were to encourage the Dutch to continue the war if they saw that the States were so minded, knowing full well “how convenient this war would be for the good of his Majesty's realms if it might be maintained without his charges.”
With this result the Dutch Deputies, professing themselves content, left London after dining in company with the King and the Prince at Merchant Taylors' Hall, and accepting the freedom of the Guild (fn. 2) (No. 37). But before leaving they received news that the ratifications sent from Philip to the Archdukes did not recognise Dutch independence, as had been stipulated, and were signed “I, the King,” the formula used in addressing subjects, not “Philip, King,” the formula used to Sovereigns, and that in these circumstances the Dutch had rejected them (Nos. 43, 47). On this point the Dutch were firm. They announced that they would keep their fleet at sea off Gibraltar, where it was a standing menace to the Indian flotta (No. 43).
In Holland matters were at a deadlock and remained so for some time. During this pause in negotiations with Spain and Flanders the Dutch endeavoured to persuade both James and Henry to sign a treaty of defence. Henry signed on January 15th 1608; but James raised difficulties (No. 126). He insisted that the English treaty should be kept quite distinct from the French, and that the Dutch must first secure recognition of their independence, both provisoes being dictated by the Spanish leanings in the mind of James.
The peace conference met at the Hague in January 1608, and the Archdukes' Commissioners announced that no difficulty would be raised on the point of independence (No. 168), but the freedom of the India navigation at once became a burning question. After much discussion (No. 186) it was resolved that the Dutch should be allowed to trade for nine years to all parts of the Indies not actually occupied by Spain. Philip when asked to ratify, delayed, and meantime endeavoured to detach France. The bribe was the hand of Philip's second son and the reversion of the Low Countries (No. 271). But Don Pedro de Toledo, the Spanish ambassador, offended the French Court by his hauteur (No. 290). He ignored the Queen's claim of kinship with Spain, declaring that “Great Kings have no relations.” At an audience with Henry he nettled the King by saying that his Master had learned that the King of France “offered” his daughter in marriage, whereupon Henry broke in, saying that his daughter was noble enough to be “sought” not “offered” (No. 301). Don Pedro's mission was a failure, and Philip was forced to resume negotiations with the Dutch.
Hitherto these negotiations had been for a peace, not for a truce (No. 177). But now, in view of the difficulties raised, the English and French Commissioners proposed that, as a compromise, a long truce should be signed; the Dutch to be independent during the continuance of the truce. President Jcannin, who was the moving spirit in this matter, pointed out to the Dutch that by this acknowledgement of independence during the truce both the French treaty of alliance and the English—which James had signed in June during Don Pedro's mission to France—would become operative. But the maritine province of Zealand resisted and demanded recognition of absolute independence (No. 330). Negotiations were broken off and English hopes that war would be renewed ran high. A large number of English ships were reported to have joined the Dutch with a view to attacking the Spanish flotta, and the English Ambassador in Spain declared that words could not express the English desire for war. “If his Majesty would only go to war he would make money out of it, not spend money on it” (No. 333).
But Jeannin was still working for a truce and so persistently that he was suspected of interested motives (Nos. 342, 365). He played on the difference of opinion between Maurice and Barneveldt, between the maritime and the inland provinces (No. 376). It is at this moment that Inigo Brizuela, the Archduke's Confessor, appears on the scene (No. 378). He was sent by the Archduke to induce Philip to make such concessions as would allow the truce to be signed. Meantime Jeannin, Winwood, and Spencer had induced Maurice and Barneveldt to come to an understanding and the Dutch Deputies to accept their draft of the truce, but with three notable riders (Nos. 384, 399)—Absolute independence during the truce and after it; Philip to declare, within three months of signature, whether the truce runs outside Europe or not; the truce to be longer than ten years.
The importance of this news lay in the agreement of Maurice and Barneveldt, for the riders stubbornly maintain the attitude of absolute independence. But now the Archduke stepped in and repudiated Jeannin's action on the independence question. The President Richardot was sent to the Hague with an explicit declaration that his Catholic Majesty had never granted any authority to renounce “Sovreignty” (No. 387). All negotiation was suspended until the return of Brizuela. He arrived in Madrid on Christmas Eve and put forth all his power to convince the Spanish that a truce was absolutely necessary (No. 406). On the 23rd of February Brizuela passed through Paris on his way back. He saw the King and assured him that he brought such powers as justified hopes of a satisfactory conclusion (No. 446). These hopes were fulfilled. The Deputies of the States assembled at Bergen-op-Zoom on the 12th of March, 1609. There they met the English and French Commissioners. On the 27th the Venetian Ambassador in England reports that the terms are settled, and as a fact the treaty was signed in Antwerp on March 30/April 9. (fn. 3) The first clause recognised Dutch independence. It runs thus: “Lesdits Sieurs Archiducs declarent, tant en leurs noms que dudit Sieur Roi, qu'ils sont contens de traiter aves lesdits Sieurs Etats Genereaux des Provences - Unies en qualité et comme les tenans pour Païs, Provences et Etats libre sur lesquels ils ne prétendent rien.” To the treaty was appended a certificate of the English and French Ambassadors that the India Navigation would be open to the Dutch on the consent of Spain, and that Spanish subjects might trade in India ports held by the Dutch on consent obtained from the United Provinces. At the Hague on June 17th England and France signed a treaty guaranteeing the observation of the truce by Spain, “in recognition of this guarantee and of the succour received from the said Sovreigns, the States promise to make no treaty with the King of Spain or the Archdukes during the existence of the truce without the consent of the said Kings, while those Sovreigns promise to make no treaty with Prince or Potentate which might be to the prejudice of the States and their liberty” (fn. 4) (No. 488).
Henry had achieved his object of securing Dutch independence as a part of his “Great Design.” (fn. 5) Events were maturing which were to lead him still further along his premeditated line, and he endeavoured to carry James and England with him. Their joint action in the treaty of Antwerp committed James to the French policy, and now the death of the Duke of Cleves raised the question as to whether the Dukes of Cleves and Julich should be Protestant or Catholic. The geographical importance of those provinces was grasped at once by Salisbury (No. 793). The Catholic League and the Protestant Union were already facing one another in Germany; Maximilian of Bavaria led the one party and relied on the support of the Empire, the Pope, and the Jesuits; Christian of Anhalt headed the other and relied on Henry, whose hostile designs on the house of Austria he understood and shared. It was inevitable that the succession to Cleves should become their battle ground. Foscarini in Paris predicted “a lively passage of arms” over the question.
The Archduke Leopold seized Juliers, while the Elector of Brandenburg and the Palatine of Neuburg—afterwards known as the “Possessioners”—occupied Cleves. Henry forbade the Archduke Albert to support his brother, and promptly asked James what he meant to do. In September 1609 the English Ambassador informed the King of France “that his Master would follow his Majesty's counsel in the matter of Cleves” (No. 611). But James did not desire to become embroiled in a European war, nor did he really think such a war probable. He never considered that the Archduke Leopold could hold out against a threatened combination of France, the Dutch, and England. After some delay he eventually promised to supply four thousand infantry, but they were to be raised from the English troops which had till recently been in the service of the States and they were to be paid out of the Dutch debt to the English Crown; the command of them was given to Sir Edward Cecil (Nos. 803, 817). But these terms were only extracted after pressure by the French Ambassador, M. de la Boderie.
Henry meantime was acting with extraordinary vigour. With the aid of Sully vast armaments, munitions, parks of artillery intended for Cleves, were being massed at Chalons, while Lesdiguièes was in Dauphiné preparing to carry out another branch of the “Great Design,” the expulsion of Spain from Italy. Personal passion and appetite lent fire to Henry's actions. He had been making advances to the Princess of Condé. Her husband resented this and carried her over into the territory of the Archduke Albert. The Spanish party thought they now possessed an effective weapon for the annoyance of Henry and possibly for the disturbance of France. The Condés were received with marked attention. The Marchese Spinola gave a great entertainment in their honour. The Princess danced the “bransle de la torche and there were forty Spaniards that kissed her.” Both she and her husband adopted the Spanish dress. Henry was furious. He summoned Sully from his bed, raged up and down his chamber in the Louvre. Sent Praslin, then Bouteville, then de Cœuvre to demand the Princess back; to declare that her retention would be a casus belli; that he would march with an army of forty thousand men to recover her (Nos. 725, 750). De Cœuvre, the last of his emissaries, attempted to carry her off from Brussels by force, but the City guard was called out and lay under arms all night. Next day the Princess was taken to lodge in the Palace of the Infanta. The Prince on his side spared no insults. When de Cœuvre asked him to drink to the Queen of France he said he did not know there was only one Queen, he thought there were four or five. He, however, soon made his position impossible. His wife hated him and brought very grave charges against him; he became violent and struck the secretary to the French Embassy, whom he found coming out of his wife's room, and “drove the Ambassador's wife out of the house with very heinous reproaches” (Nos. 798, 813). Complaints were lodged with the Archduke, and the Prince was requested to leave the country. The district was swarming with Henry's emissaries. To avoid observation he dressed as a lacquey and held the stirrup of M. Frittima, Spinola's secretary, in whose suite he feigned to be; all four gates of Antwerp were opened at the same time one evening and out of each rode a company of horse. In one of them was the Prince of Condé, who disappeared into the night, but in which direction no one knew. He passed rapidly through Switzerland, over the Brenner and down to the Lake of Garda. There he took boat at Riva and landed again at Rivoltella near Desenzano. Horses were waiting him but so were agents from Champigny, the French Ambassador in Venice (Nos. 840, 843), though they failed to recognise the Prince in the lacquey, and Condé soon reached Milan. Fuentes treated him outwardly with great respect, gave him the right-hand side in his carriage and an escort of light horse. But in reality the Prince was a prisoner, lodged in the Castle in a suite of rooms between the Governor's and his Secretary's. A French doctor visited him and was supposed to have tried to poison him. When Condé found that Fuentes curtailed his freedom he fell into tears and passionate wailings for his folly in quitting France. At Milan he remained till Henry's death gave him the opportunity to return.
Henry, meantime, had been pressing forward his design. His agents at the Diet of Hall and at DüUsseldorf, Boissise and Bongars, pledged him to the support of the “Possessioners,” and convinced the Union that it might rely on him, while in the South-East his negotiations with Savoy were maturing. In October 1609 Charles Emmanuel sent de Jacob to the French Court to invite the King to declare war on Spain and to send sufficient troops to allow Savoy to attack Milan (No. 657). Sully and Lesdiguièes supported the request. Bullion was sent to Turin to make definite arrangements (No. 694). He was to conclude a contract of marriage between the Prince of Savoy and the Princess of France, to determine the amount of French aid, to settle which of the other powers should be invited to join the alliance, Venice being one, and to pledge the French King to make no territorial acquisitions in Italy, where all conquests were to be divided among the Princes who took a part in the war. Cremona was the bribe held out for Venice. In January 1610 Henry assured de Trolliouz, the Savoyard Envoy, that he was quite resolved to support the Duke vigorously in the enterprise against Milan, and was only waiting the decision of England, the Dutch and the Protestant Princes, and that Lesdiguièes would go to Dauphiné to make the necessary military arrangements (Nos. 758, 784). There was a party in the French Council which doubted the Duke of Savoy's sincerity, and feared that the Spanish Envoys at his Court, Vives and Verva, might still hold him to the Spanish side. The Duke, on the other hand, was not absolutely sure of France, and was nervous lest he should be left alone to face Spain. These doubts, however, were laid to rest when Lesdiguiéres crossed the Alps to Exilles and met the Duke at Brusol, near Susa. There two treaties were signed on April 25, (fn. 6) one for the conquest of the Duchy of Milan, the other an offensive and defensive alliance against Spain. The Duke undertook to urge Venice to join in the Italian branch of the Great Design, while Henry, through de la Boderie, proposed to bring in James as a partner, though probably his active assistance was expected on the Rhine rather than on the Po. But the assassination of Henry on May 14th, nineteen days after the treaties of Brusol were signed, rendered them ineffective and destroyed the fabric of the Great Design.
It is natural that the Venetian Ambassador in England should be more interested and better informed about foreign than about home affairs. There is little, and that little not new, about the Union, Tyrone's rebellion, James and the Catholics, the plantation of Ulster, the Colonization of Virginia. Tyrone's Italian wanderings are fully described in the despatches from Milan and Rome and will be dealt with in the section relating to Wotton's Embassy. James saw the hand of Spain and of the Pope in the flight of the Earl, and declared that it was “hatched in Flanders by the warmth of Spain” (No 127).
James' ineffectual efforts to restore the Navy are noted (No. 108). In November 1607 the King was raising money at more than ten per cent., “the ordinary rate in this kingdom.” “They say the money will be employed in refitting the Royal ships and for other naval preparations. A calculation as to the naval forces on this occasion shows that they could not now send to sea anything like the fleet of the late Queen; for the peace with Spain has sapped not only in the navy but also in the mercantile marine that ardour for the sea which was born of the great gains they made in the war.” (fn. 7) It will be remembered that Salisbury had met the Venetian Ambassador's request for the execution of pirates by the plea that the government could not afford “to disgust the English with the sea.” The important but abortive trial of Phineas Pett (fn. 8) in May 1609 is only just alluded to.
Though home affairs do not figure largely in the Venetian Ambassador's despatches we get some interesting and curious glimpses of life at the Court. In 1607 Stephen Bogdan, (fn. 9) Pretender to the throne of Moldavia, was in England and had audience of the King (No. 93). He was seeking support towards his restoration, and seems to have obtained it to some extent. James, writing in 1610 to the King of Poland, apologises for earlier letters of recommendation granted to Stephen; “Nos, cum primum,” he says, “in gratiam principis Moldavensis litteras dedimus, non suspicari potuisse eam rem ad vos pertinere, tantummodo calamitate principis afflicti commotos et scripsisse benevolas litteras ad eos qui fortunam ejus juvare possent et in impendia ejus pecuniam aliquam erogasse.” (fn. 10) When Stephen left England he affirmed that he took with him letters to Glover, the English Ambassador in Constantinople, and an order for four thousand dollars (No. 774). He further stated that he was engaged to Lady Arabella Stuart, with the proviso that he should first make good his claim on the throne. He came to Venice, and in Wotton's absence he took possession of the Embassy “with a portmanteau or two.” Wotton was suspicious, and told him “that his fashion was fayre enough to make me believe much of him, but it was not my fashion to believe men upon so little acquaintance”; (fn. 11) unless he could produce an order from the King he must leave the Embassy, which he did. Stephen then went to Constantinople, where, on the strength of his letter, Glover gave him shelter in the Embassy (No. 591). This brought the Ambassador into trouble with the Grand Vizir, who had forbidden the Moldavians to frequent the British Embassy (No. 609). “Words ran so high that the Vizir said the Grand Signor would send the ambassador in chains to England to have his head off. . . . And in truth,” says Contarini, “I fear that as the Porte is tired of this affair something worse than words may befall the Ambassador, who persists, all the same, in his designs.” This episode of Stephen was the cause of great trouble and annoyance to Lady Arabella. In January she was under arrest and gossip recalled the Moldavian affair (No. 774). A comedy with allusions to her and the Prince of Moldavia appeared, but she had influence enough to secure its suppression (No. 794).
The Masques at Court figure largely in the despatches, not from any interest in the poem or the spectacle—the author is never mentioned once and the mounting sparsely praised—but because the invitation always raised the interminable question of precedence. Had the Venetian the pas of the Flemish Ambassador? Did the Flemish Ambassador represent the Burgundian Crown or not? Was it more honour to be invited along with the Spanish than with the French Ambassador? Though nothing so violent as the scene in Rome at the beatification of Ignatius Loyala—where the French Ambassador finding the highest place occupied by Spain called for a chair, placed it on the high altar and sat there throughout the ceremony (No. 578)—ever took place at the Court of St. James, yet both Salisbury and the King were compelled to listen to long and heated demonstrations that Venice ranked with Crowned Heads (Nos. 439, 443, 455 and 470). The Ambassador was invited to and was present at the Prince's “barriers” and reports that “the Prince in particular displayed great grace” (Nos. 763 and 774).
The Venetian Ambassador was occasionally brought into contact with some of those dubious characters the Italian Protestants, men who for the most part changed their religion from mercenary motives and came to England in search of benefices. Among these was one Don Ascanio Spinola (No. 430), a priest born in Sicily of a Genoese father. He had been arrested on the charge of plotting against the Crown, but when brought before Salisbury he declared himself a Protestant. In November of 1609 we find Spinola in possession of the pulpit in the chapel of the Mercers' Hall (No 714), which was used by Italian Protestants in London, though, as the Ambassador says, “there are only two of our nation who live in that religion.” It had been the custom of the Mercers to grant the use of their Chapel to foreign preachers of the reformed Church. As early as 1550 we find an Italian occupying the pulpit during Lent. In 1555 Geronimo Farlitus, an Italian, on the recommendation of the Bishop of London, obtained leave to preach the Gospel on Sundays and holy days. In 1568 the Mercers voted twenty crowns for the preacher to the Spanish congregation in their chapel. In 1612, while Spinola was still minister, Vanini abjured the Catholic faith in the chapel of the Mercers' Hall. (fn. 12) Spinola's convert found Archbishop Abbot very little convinced of his sincerity, and seeing that preferment was not coming his way he fled the country, to end his days at the stake at Toulouse. In 1617 Marc' Antonio de Dominis, Ex-Archbishop of Spalato, drew great crowds. Fuller says of him that “he has too much wit and learning to be a Cardinal Papist and too little honesty and religion to be a sincere Protestant.” At all events the refusal of the Archbishopric of York, which he sought, sufficed to send him back to Rome, where he met his deserts. Spinola himself seems to have abandoned not only England but his wife as well. (fn. 13) The Mercers continued to lend their chapel and their aid to foreign Protestant preachers till 1691, when the company refused its support to an Italian and resolved that the chapel should be henceforth reserved for the company alone. (fn. 14)
There is (No. 497) an account of the buildings and openings of the Exchange—known as “Britain's Bourse,” at Durham House. The King, Queen and Princes were entertained there by Lord Salisbury, who fitted up a shopful of presents for his guests and placed above it the legend “All other places give for money, here all is given for love.”
Sir Henry Wotton was still British Ambassador in Venice throughout the years covered by this Volume. The Republic had emerged successfully from her struggle with the Curia Romana, but at Rome the feeling towards Venice was still hostile. Efforts were constantly made to induce the theologians who had supported the Republic to go to Rome; the Doge administered a very sharp reprimand to Ecclesiastics in Venice who destroyed books or writings in favour of the Republic. Wotton's position was not a very easy one. He was Ambassador of a great Protestant power in a Catholic State. In public he declared that his mission was to create and maintain friendly relations between Venice and England and to foster commerce; his real aim was to induce Venice to join a Protestant Union of England, Denmark, the United Provinces, and the Reformed Principalities of Germany, and he lent all his weight to any scheme which tended to the conversion of the Republic to the Protestant faith. (fn. 15) Wotton was sanguine, perhaps unduly sanguine, as to the result. On June 22nd he wrote to Lord Salisbury “The light of God's truth increases here apace through the public writings and more through the private discourses of Maestro Paulo and his assistants, not unlike the fruitful labours of St. Paul at Corinth.” (fn. 16) But had he weighed his own chaplain's estimate of Sarpi's character and attitude he might have doubted. “In countenance as in spirit,” says Bedell, “Sarpi is liker Melanchthon than Luther.” “Non bisogna far salti” is his maxim. Bedell hoped that the attempted assassination would wake him up “and put more spirit into him.” At Rome they conceived a rooted suspicion of Wotton and the English Embassy in Venice, and not without some cause. Much light is thrown upon the question of the Protestant movement in that city by Moriz Ritter's “Die Union und Heinrich IV.” from which it is clear that Bedell was in close touch with the anti-Curial party. In July 1607 the Pope complained of a pamphlet printed in English which was being circulated in Venice (No. 21). He suspected that it was printed at the English Embassy, where the Ambassador entertained, so his Holiness alleged, Marsilio and Fra Paolo, the exponents of the Venetian cause. The Venetian Ambassador in Rome gave a denial to the charge, and that was the line adopted throughout the frequent brushes between Rome and the Republic over the English Ambassador and his doings. The Doge himself assured the Nuncio (No. 26) that if he enquired he would find how absolutely false were the rumours that preaching went on at the English Embassy; and the Venetian Ambassador in Rome was instructed to assure the Pope that there was neither printing press nor preaching at the Embassy, that it was high treason for a Venetian noble to frequent any Ambassador's house, and that his Nuncio in Venice would tell him the truth. To this Cardinal Borghese replied (No. 35) that they had positive information from Venice that the anti-Curial theologians were in the habit of meeting the English Ambassador, as well as English and Flemish subjects, at the Linen-drapers' Exchange, where they had a room to themselves and attacked the Pope and the Apostolic See. Here Borghese shifts the ground of complaint; it is no longer Venetian nobles but Venetian theologians who meet the English Ambassador, and not at the Embassy but at a room they hired in the city. This very likely did take place, for Wotton and his chaplain were both men of letters and sought the company of that “Miracle in all manner of knowledge human and Divine,” as Wotton himself calls Sarpi. But even this was officially denied by the Senate (No. 41) in its instructions to its Ambassador in Rome; neither theologians nor nobles frequent the society of the English Ambassador, “we should punish them if they did.” The matter dropped for a few months, from August 1607 to March 1608, when Wotton at an audience of the Doge and Collegio complained that two trunks containing linen and books belonging to himself and to his chaplain had been detained at the lazzaretto (No. 200), as an order from the “Inquisition” was required before they could be consigned. Wotton says he does not know what “Inquisition” means; Inquisitors of State he knows, but “Papal Inquisitor!” why, he cannot even guess the etymology. The Doge apologised at once and said the sanitary officers were merely carrying out their orders, though they did not know that these did not apply to ambassadors. But this complaisance to a heretic stirred up the Nuncio once more. He came to the Cabinet (No. 208) and said that he had made enquiries and found that pernicious assemblies did take place at the Embassy. The Doge answered that the last governmental enquiry proved these rumours to be false. A fresh enquiry would, however, be ordered. For himself he did not believe the report, and if no Venetians were present it was not for the government to examine further what the Ambassador might do in his own house. If any persons did frequent the Embassy it might be they went there not to hear sermons but to discuss literature, the Ambassador being a man of letters. On April 11th the Nuncio was back again, this time to complain about the two trunks containing books “which must refer to his sect” (No. 230). As for one or two volumes for his own private reading the Inquisition did not mind; but two cases full! what can he want with all that? they must be meant for circulation. The books the Nuncio had in his mind were the Geneva Bible. The Doge boldly answered that the Government knew nothing about two cases of books. The English Ambassador's conduct was irreproachably circumspect; the jus gentium must be respected, the books were not circulated. With that the Nuncio retired declaring that he would seek proof of circulation. Meantime the Pope had told Contarini that “even if the lectures at the Embassy were strictly political, when handled by such persons they cannot help becoming heretical.” There was a lull in the storm for a while, though the Pope kept up a running fire of complaints (No. 475). He did not like the English Ambassador, he declared, he held him for a “bad man”; the Republic was nursing a viper, for everywhere the Agents of the King of England did their best to spread his errors. All this ill-humour was brought to a crisis round the appearance of two books in England, one King James' “Premonition,” the other the scurrilous libel called “Pruritanus”; both gave Wotton much trouble and came near to causing his disgrace.
James had published anonymously an “Apology for the Oath of Allegiance” in answer to the Papal Breves and to Bellarmin's letter attacking the oath. He sent a copy of this to the Venetian Ambassador in London, while he was entertaining the French Ambassador at supper (No. 177), with a verbal message that the book did not touch on religion. In October 1608 came an answer from Rome, written by Bellarmin under the name of Mathæus Tortus, reproaching James with having professed Catholic sympathies before he came to the Crown of England and basing the charge on the letters for which Elphinstone, in support of the candidature of his kinsman, William Chisholm, Bishop of Vaison, for the purple, had surreptitiously obtained the King's signature (No. 360). This ended in Elphinstone's condemnation, though he did not suffer death. James' reply to “Tortus” took the form of a “Premonition to all most Mighty Monarchs, Kings, Free Princes, and States of Christendom”; it was preceded by the “Apology” which James now acknowledged, and was dedicated to the Emperor. The book was published, but recalled twice for revision (Nos. 430, 483). James' action was unpopular in England, where “the Court is very ill affected towards this child-birth of his Majesty” (No. 313). The King, however, resolved to send it to all the Courts of Europe, and caused copies to be bound in velvet with arms and cornerpieces of solid gold stamped with the rose, the thistle, the lion, and the lilies. Agents were appointed to take the volume to some of the foreign Courts, Barclay to Lorraine, Bavaria, and Savoy; Ayton to the German Princes; Gunderot to the Emperor and King Mathias (No. 527). In the case of Spain, France, and Venice the book was to be presented by the Liegers. The King presented it also to the ambassadors resident at his Court (No. 536). Henry received the book with scant courtesy; the Romans said he flung it down on a table hard by; the English refuted this insinuation by declaring that there was no table in the gallery of the Louvre where audiences were granted. Henry certainly handed the book over to Cardinal du Perron and Father Cotton, and remarked that “those who held their tongues knew better how to preserve their authority and dignity” (No. 554). In Spain Cornwallis was implored by Lerma to abstain from presenting the book (No. 682). Cornwallis contented himself with giving a brief account of the work, and added that his Master begged for an answer on any points which appeared to his Catholic Majesty unsound or erroneous. The King turned the conversation and did not reply. The Emperor refused audience to Barclay, so did Bavaria (No. 714). In Flanders the Archduke Albert excused himself from accepting the book on the ground that he had once been a Cardinal (No. 564). The volume was not presented to the Pope, of course, but his Holiness knew all about it and remarked that its character could be gathered from its author. He caused a list of eleven heresies to be extracted from it (Nos. 549, 550). At Florence the Nuncio produced this list, and the Grand Duke handed the volume to his Confessor with instructions to burn it if the contents of the list were verified (No. 567). The Confessor, however, himself cancelled the order and proposed to reply to the work (No. 637). There was a feeling at Rome that no reply should be made, and the King of France urged this course (No. 594). At Turin Barclay failed to present the book to the Duke of Savoy as he had failed with the Emperor. When the Pope expressed to the French Ambassador in Rome his satisfaction at the Duke's conduct, de Breves fired up and said “it was not for the Duke of Savoy to set an example to mightier Sovreigns” (No. 590). At Venice they knew that the book would be presented, and the Senate on July 21st, 1609, passed an order that the Doge should return thanks for the honour, and should “at once hand the book to the Grand Chancellor, who, immediately and without allowing anyone to see it, shall place it under lock and key in the Secret Chancery.” On July 25th—St. James' day—Wotton appeared in the Collegio, and, holding the book to his breast, he made a brief speech and handed in the King's letter, which was read. He then presented the book to the Doge, who took it and held it while Wotton explained the genesis of the work and its scope, which was to warn Princes against Curial encroachments, not to criticise other Sovereigns nor to sow new faiths, and he closed “with this infallible maxim of my Master, 'The King of Great Britain can never deceive any man.'” The Doge accepted the gift as it was intended, not for the spread of strange doctrine but for the defence of temporal jurisdiction, and as a pledge of amity. Wotton took his leave, and the moment he was gone the Doge handed the book to the Grand Chancellor, and he locked it up in the Secret Chancery, whence it has never emerged. In reporting to Salisbury, Wotton declared that the Doge kissed both the book and the letter, but that was not so. (fn. 17)
Six days later the Nuncio came to the Cabinet and preferred a request, which was certainly moderate in its tenour; he recalled the fact that when the “Instructio aurea” or “Basilikon Doron” was published, the Warden of the Guild of Booksellers was summoned and warned to allow no copies to be sold in Venice. He asked that the same might be done now, and that the “Apology” be entered on the register of the Holy Office as a prohibited book; there was no intention, he said, to procure a public condemnation nor to mention the King by name. The Venetian Government did, partially, comply with this request, and the Guild of Booksellers was forbidden to sell the book, but no note was entered on the register of the Holy Office (No. 612). On August 23rd Wotton came to the Cabinet and with unusual signs of emotion and great heat of language he complained of the “Friar” who had had the audacity to prohibit the work of his Majesty. On the 9th September the Senate voted on the reply to be made but came to no resolution, and on the 10th Wotton complained that he was without a reply. On the same day the Senate resolved to make a soothing answer explaining the nature of the Holy Office in Venice and renewing expressions of regard for the King. On the 11th, after this reply had been communicated to him, Wotton, with great vehemence declared, that “Your Excellencies are not to reckon me any longer an accredited Envoy, but as a poor private gentleman.” The Doge was absent through ill health, but at the first audience in which he saw Wotton he told him that had he been present he would not have accepted this renunciation of office; his letters of credence were addressed by the King to the Doge and in the absence of the royal orders the Ambassador could not divest himself of his functions without the Doge's consent. Wotton replied that he had taken this step on his own responsibility; his Master might waive his personal feelings, but he, as a faithful servant, could not fail to be jealous for his Master's honour. The same day, the 11th September, the Senate informed the Ambassador in England of what had taken place and instructed him to seek audience immediately before Wotton's despatches could arrive and explain the situation. The Senate also voted the appointment of an Ambassador Extraordinary to leave for England within eight days, so seriously did they take the situation. Wotton, meantime, had very likely thought the matter over and was alarmed at the position. On the 15th Sept. he came to the Cabinet and declared that the spontaneous appointment of an Ambassador Extraordinary to his Sovereign enabled him to resume the “habit he laid aside.” The Doge administered what Wotton certainly took to be a rebuke, though couched in very quiet and dignified terms, and the audience ended.
On September 24th, Correr, the Venetian Ambassador in England, reports that he received on the preceding Monday the instructions sent on the 11th. They had been conveyed from Venice to London in nine days (No. 635). Correr set out at once for Theobalds, only to find the King gone to Wanstead. “His Majesty,” he says, “arrived shortly before sundown, in a pour of rain,” but was graciously pleased to receive the Ambassador at once though only half-dressed. Correr found James in a most conciliatory mood. (fn. 18) He declared that he quite approved the action of the Republic, and added: “Were Venice to send to England a book which attacked the religion I profess my friendship for her would not suffice to induce me to tolerate it. I should certainly prohibit it.” He added, however, that he must wait to hear Wotton's report on the matter. James, while taking this moderate view of the reception of his book in Venice, was by no means displeased with Wotton's warmth in his defence. Correr, a little latter (No. 651), reports that Wotton is held in high esteem and everything will be done to preserve his reputation. The arrival of Contarini's special mission (Nos. 792, 801), which pleased the King, and the conciliatory attitude of the Venetian Cabinet smoothed the last ruffle on either side, and the episode of the King's book left no lasting traces on the relations between Venice and England, though Wotton found it necessary to beg the King's pardon for his “immoderation.” (fn. 19)
The second episode connected with a book caused hardly less annoyance to the Venetian Ambassador in England than the King's book brought to Wotton in Venice. A scurrilous libel entitled “Pruritanus,” written on the Catholic side, and blasphemously applying passages of Holy Writ to Henry VIII., Elizabeth, and James, appeared in London and exasperated the King, who desired to have the author in his hands (No. 536). The question of the King's own book was then at burning point in Venice, and when the Republic was advised by its Ambassador in England as to the nature of “Pruritanus” (No. 564) the Government willingly assented to the prohibition of the libel (Nos. 621–622). But meanwhile the search for the author in England revealed the fact that the book was being sold from the Venetian Embassy. The Ambassador knew nothing about it and was furious when the report reached his ears. He opened an investigation among the members of his suite and found that “a wretched priest,” whom he had taken on to serve Mass at the Embassy Chapel for strangers, as the plague, then raging, caused him to have a private Mass for himself and his staff, had concealed a number of copies of “Pruritanus” in the porter's lodge and was selling them surreptitiously (No. 576). The Ambassador handed all the copies, seven hundred in number, to Lord Salisbury. At the King's special request, neither the priest nor the porter were arrested, for his Majesty hoped to lead them on to confessions. But the discovery of more bales of books, in a cellar, so enraged the Ambassador that he shut the priest up “in a very small chamber.” The cleric escaped by a window and the Ambassador, convinced of connivance on the part of his guards, sent the suspects to Lord Salisbury, and the same day re-secured the fugitive. It seems that neither the King nor Salisbury attached much importance to the persons of the porter or the priest. When, after an examination of the prisoner by Sir Julius Cæsar, (fn. 20) they came to the conclusion that the book was written in England, the King wished to set the Flemish priest at liberty and even pleaded for the porter, an old man of eighty. But the Ambassador refused. The priest was dismissed, and as for the porter '“the King may command me,”' says the Ambassador, '“in this House, but I can not believe that he desires me to have ever before my eyes the cause of such disorder,' and with that I saw the porter out of door, and gave orders that he was never to be allowed near it again” (No. 636). Correr was anxious as to the effect of this episode on his position at home, but an official statement by Wotton that the King was fully convinced of his sincerity and satisfied with his conduct laid all to sleep.
Wotton always declared that part of his mission to Venice consisted in the development of trade between the two nations. That trade was concerned chiefly with currants from the Ionian islands and sweet wines and oils from Crete. Venice was a protectionist State, and protectionist not only against foreigners but to the detriment of her own subjects as well. The Ionian islands suffered in their trade owing to vexatious regulations conceived with a view to compelling all trading vessels to put into the port of Venice, and there were duties like the anchorage tax imposed upon foreigners which made English vessels unwilling to come to Venice for cargo. With both these points Wotton was brought in contact. On orders from James he again requested that the anchorage tax might be removed (No. 49). On September 25th, 1607, the Senate passed a resolution releasing British subjects from the anchorage tax as paid by foreigners, in the full expectation that in “England Venetian vessels will be granted the same privileges as they enjoy in France and Spain.”
But the point of most lively concern in matters of commerce was the currant trade with Zante. In 1602 the Senate had passed a law forbidding the people of Zante to sell direct to the English. The object was to compel all the currants to be brought up to Venice itself and therefore to force English ships to come there to lade; as there were other trade regulations which made it impossible for a ship to lade in Venice if she had discharged cargo at any port inside the Adriatic or had brought less than two thirds of her cargo into the port of Venice the Venetians hoped by the pressure of these rules, to keep the trade of Venice alive. The Venetian Board of Trade, the Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia, was opposed to this narrow protectionist policy; and the people of Zante protested and petitioned against the regulations. An official report on this petition (Nos. 464, 469) showed that the English, finding themselves excluded from Zante, transferred their business to Patras and the cargoes of kerseys, Londons, (fn. 21) tin and other goods which they used to take into Zante were now discharged in Turkey. They had also begun to grow vines round Patras and in the Morea, and threatened soon to be independent of the Zante crops. Meanwhile the people of Zante, driven to despair, opened a lively smuggling trade. They ran their currants across in the night time from Zante to Clarentza, where the English picked them up free of export duty. The report recommends the re-opening of the currant trade in Zante and Cephalonia to the English; and if the Government fears that by doing this vine-planting will again become excessive to the damage of corn-growing and the danger of starvation in the event of a siege, the remedy is to limit vine-cultivation by law, but not to force the inhabitants to cultivate grain on land suited to vines. The Government yielded to these representations, and on May 9th, 1609, the Senate passed a resolution that “all other provisions be recalled and the impost of 26th January 1580 be restored in its integrity, and farmed out from year to year.” This threw the currant trade of Zante open to the English once more, with what results the documents contained in this Volume do not tell us.
Two troublesome shipping cases occupied the attention of the Venetian Ambassadors in England and of Wotton in Venice. A Venetian ship the “Soderina and Reniera” had been captured by English pirates and run into Tunis, where the cargo was sold to the Turks and by them sold again to English merchants trading in the ship “Husband.” The Venetian Ambassador had information that the “Husband” intended to slip through the channel and reach Flanders, where the goods could be disposed of (No. 128). The Ambassador went to the Lord High Admiral and induced him to seize the “Husband” on her way up the channel and to place her and her cargo in sequestration. But the merchants who had bought the cargo in Tunis declared that it was a bona fide purchase, bought from the Turks, not from the pirate Ward, and prepared to make good their case. The King and Salisbury supported the Venetian claim, but Admiralty officials and many of the Council took the part of the merchants. The interested parties in Venice were slow in furnishing proof that the goods in question were really Venetian, and it took nearly a year and a half to secure a sentence in favour of the owners, and then the merchants appealed and summoned the Ambassador as an interested party (No. 456). Meantime a proclamation against Pirates (No. 427) had been issued, and a commission was sent to the ports to sequestrate pirated goods; the Ambassador found it necessary “to interest the Commissioner on behalf of the Venetian nation by promising him a portion of all goods recovered through his means. In no other way can one hope that the English will bestir themselves on behalf of foreigners” (No. 431). The result of this action by the Ambassador was the arrest, at Plymouth, of two pirates, Longcastle and Taverner; “it cost me twenty pounds to have them,” says the English Commissioner, Vice-Admiral John Rander, “and there is another called Cade who will speak the truth upon good terms” (No. 479). Longcastle and Taverner had been present at the capture of the “Soderina”; and this considerably strengthened the Ambassador's hands. But the opposition was still vigorous. The King, however, interested himself (No. 719) and in November 1609 sentence was finally pronounced in the Admiralty Court in favour of the Venetians, the Judge by way of excusing himself in the eyes of the English merchants declaring that he acted on the King's orders. The merchants appealed to Council to be relieved of the costs of customs, warehousing and hire of the ships, and the Ambassador was inclined to meet them if they would acknowledge this as of grace from the Venetian owners; but when he found that the bill they drew up exceeded half the total in question he withdrew his consent. The English were now playing off the case of the “Corsaletta”—to which we shall refer immediately—as against the case of the “Soderina,” and the result was seen in Lord Salisbury's remark that if full satisfaction could not be obtained on either side that must be attributed not to any lack of goodwill but to the laws and customs of the respective countries. The case of the “Soderina” was not concluded at the date when this Volume closes.
The case of the “Corsaletta” or “Costley” or “Cortley,” which occupied Wotton's attention, was hardly less complicated than that of the “Soderina.” The Venetian Commander of the great galleys fell in with this ship off Strivali. The Englishmen declared that they had conformed to the convention by vailing the foretopsail and sending the ship's boat on board. The Venetian Commander, not satisfied as to whether she was a pirate or not, sent for the Captain, who declined to leave his ship, as to do so would be contrary to the rules of seamanship. The Venetian Admiral searched the ship and on finding contraband currants on board ran his prize into Canea. Vigorous representations followed on the part of Wotton, and finally, on the positive assurance of James himself that the “Corsaletta” was not a privateer, orders were issued to restore both ship and cargo to the agents for the owners. This order was, however, addressed to the Naval Commander in Crete, not to the Governor, and delay ensued. When Wotton succeeded in getting a second order for the release of ship and cargo it was found that both were seriously injured, and hence the action of Thomas Cordall and others against the officers of the Republic, which the English merchants were able to play off against the Venetian claims in the case of the “Soderina.” In June 1610 (No. 953) Wotton presented a full statement and claim, which amounted to £5,615 13s. 4d., or, “taking the Venetian ducat at four to the pound sterling,” 22,462 ducats 16 soldi. This case also is left pending at the close of the documents here calendared. These two cases are typical and illustrative of the condition of the sea. The Doge was quite right when he said that Mediterranean waters were swarming with pirates. Hardly a merchantman sailed from England that was not armed to do some buccaneering if the occasion offered.
The flight of the Earl of Tyrone gave Wotton some trouble, as that restless Irishman, in company with Tyrconnel, eventually came to Italy, and the English Ambassador at Venice was in duty bound to keep an eye on their doings. After passing through France to Flanders, Tyrone settled for a while at Louvain. Constant complaints from England and the troublesomeness of his guests eventually induced the Archduke Albert to request the Irish to move on. At first it was uncertain whether they would make for Rome or for Spain; in both, as enemies of England, they hoped for a welcome and entertainment (No. 121). In view of this possible journey to Italy Wotton begged the Venetian Government to issue orders for the arrest of Tyrone should he set foot in the territory of the Republic (No. 125), though he assured the Doge that Tyrone would do no such thing. On January 5, 1608 (No. 143) the Senate, however, voted that “it is desirable to take no steps that might involve serious consequences,” but was unable to agree on the terms of an answer to be returned to Wotton, and on Feb. 1, 1608, the Ambassador complained that he had received no reply; the Doge assured him that “the necessary steps had been taken.” On March 29th (No. 209) the Government informed Wotton that Tyrone had reached Milan. They had the news from their Resident in that city, who writing on March 26th says, “On Sunday evening the Earl of Tyrone, his wife and household to the number of about forty persons, reached Milan. They were all well mounted and well armed.” The Earl put up at the “Three Kings.” There he was informed that the Republic desired that the Earl should neither enter nor pass through its territory, and he promised to take another road. Fuentes, the Spanish Governor of Milan, treated Tyrone with great respect; received him as a grandee and placed his Court carriages at his disposal and paid his bill (No. 214). But this did not last long, and by April Tyrone is reported as selling his horses and pawning his plate, and by the 16th of that month he had left Milan for Rome viâ Parma and Florence. On May 3rd the Venetian Ambassador in Rome announces that the Earl, with his wife, was in the city, lodged in a house in the Borgo Vecchio and in receipt of 300 or 400 ducats a month from the Papal treasury. Tyrone had been met outside the city by the members of the English College and the Cardinals Montello, Farnese, Colonna and Barberini, and it was then that he remarked to Standen, “Sir Anthony, it is better to be poor in Rome than rich in a prison in England.” He and other Irish carried the canopy over the Pope on Corpus Christi Day. But Wotton in Venice was receiving offers to assassinate the Earl in Rome; the Pope was soon tired of being at his charges (No. 256, 261). His life in the city was neither reputable nor safe. In August we hear that the Earl was ill, Tyrconnel and a page of his dead, and Tyrone's son and others of his company sick; all as the results of a journey to Ostia. Tyrconnel was burried in San Pietro in Montorio, and as we hear no more of Tyrone in these papers it is to be presumed that he had ceased to be of importance.
In spite of the King's book and English pirates Wotton seems to have enjoyed his Venetian Embassy. He was constantly engaged in seeking graces for his protegees, who continued to belong to the same class of doubtful characters as was noticed in the preceding volume of the Calendar, and in protecting his co-nationals like the young merchant Parvis who was prosecuted by the goldsmith Pencini for the recovery of pearls which Parvis had never received (Nos. 381, 407); or endeavouring to secure justice for the death of young Julius Cesar (fn. 22) (Nos. 151, 152, 153, 156, 179, 210), who was killed at Padua as the outcome of a brawl in a fencing school; or providing burial for young Mr. Cave (No. 812); or interesting himself on behalf of “poor Mr. Mole” (No. 320), shut up for thirty years in the Inquisition at Rome for publishing passages from Du Plessis Mornay and suggesting that the Pope was anti-Christ; or in presenting to the Doge Mr. Mole's pupil, (fn. 23) young Lord Roos, or young Sir John Harrington (No. 407), the Prince's friend, who shows the Doge a picture of his Highness and declares “he is fairer within than without”; or climbing up “aux orgues” for a better view of some Christmas festival that his faith forbade him to attend as Ambassador; or noting the doings of the brothers Sir Anthony and Sir Robert Sherley; or sending Mr. Bushey back to England with Fra Paolo's portrait, which was taken from him by the Inquisition in Milan (fn. 24); or presenting Lord Salisbury with his likeness done in mosaic, expressly for Hatfield, and a portrait of the Doge, done truly but roughly alla Venetiana and therefore to be set at some good distance from the sight; his long speeches in the Cabinet, adorned with Latin tags that are often vilely reported, his gite to the Lago di Garda, up the Brenta and into Friuli,—all are illustrated in the despatches from Venice, and give us a picture of a life full of colour and of interest.
As far as the history of the Levant Company is concerned these documents throw light upon three points, the “Consulage of forestiers” which was still a “ganging plea” between the Ambassadors of France and England; the attempt of the Jesuits, supported by France, to establish themselves in Constantinople against the wishes of Venice and England, and the transient question of the transfer of the trading depot from Alexandretta to Tripoli.
The question of the covering flag had given rise to many disputes and was not settled during the period covered by this Volume. M. de Salignac was French Ambassador at the Porte and Sir Thomas Glover the English. On April 15th, 1609, the Venetian Ambassador reports that there is a great difference of opinion between the French and English Ambassadors as to the covering flag for the Flemish. “This is a point which has been contested before, but never with such heat.” Both parties appealed to the Grand Vizir, who declined to decide without consulting the Venetian Ambassador. The Ambassador cautiously answered that, as the Minister of the Republic, a friend to both powers, his mouth was closed beyond the expression of a desire to hear that the question had been settled (No. 480). On October 3rd, 1609, de Salignac came to see the Venetian, and said that he believed peace had been made between him and the English Ambassador. A person named Edward had been managing the negotiations for some time. The agreement was that the profits of the covering flag, as far as the “Flemish” were concerned, were to be divided equally between the Consuls of England and of France. The Venetian expressed his satisfaction and declared that he had always expected some such solution “from gentlemen of so wide an experience.” But when he called on Glover to congratulate, “the Englishman began to laugh, and said it was true they had talked about being friends but at the moment of signing the convention the French Ambassador declared that he had never agreed to a clause by which a certain French Consul was bound to refund seven hundred ducats to an English Consul.” The English Ambassador declared that he would find a way to refresh his colleague's memory; and there the negotiations broke off for a while; the Venetian Ambassador reporting his opinion that the Englishman was probably right, for his own experience was that the French Ambassador “often says a thing and then withdraws it or declares he has no recollection of it” (No. 644). But on the 17th October the secretaries of the rival Embassies brought to the Venetian Embassy, for safe-custody, a deed of accord between them. The preamble ran thus: “To terminate all differences which have arisen between the subscribing Ambassadors and to prevent the occurrence of others in the future, their Lordships, in accord, resolve and agree that consular fees from shipping belonging to the seventeen provinces of Flanders and the Low Countries shall be equally divided; the English Consuls may not take fees from any shipping save that of the seventeen provinces; the present accord to be binding during the Ambassadors' residence; if difficulties as to interpretation arise the Venetian Ambassador along with two French and two English merchants shall decide” (No. 670). By this arrangement the matter was settled, at least during the residence of de Salignac and Glover.
The question of the Jesuits in Constantinople affected the English only indirectly. The first notice of it appears in a despatch of April 15th, 1609, when the Venetian Ambassador reports that the Jesuits at the French Embassy want to occupy the pulpit at San Francesco and the Venetian urges the Friars to resist (No 480). Failing in their attempt on the Franciscan Church the Jesuits turned their attention to the Dominican Church of St. Peter (No. 645). But here, it seems, that a certain Englishman, Launcelot Draper, had a right over St. Peter's, and his ancestors had more than once granted investment to the Dominicans. The Jesuits, supported by the French Ambassador, were endeavouring to induce Draper to dismiss the Dominicans and to instal them. Draper, however, was dragoman at the English Embassy, and with the secret help of the English Ambassador the Venetian Ambassador resolved to prevent this. In this he was successful and reports that, thanks to the good offices of the English Ambassador, Draper has re-invested the Dominicans for twelve years, in spite of an offer from the French Ambassador of three hundred sequins if he would invest the Jesuits. Encouraged by this success the Venetian Ambassador endeavoured to persuade the Grand Vizir to expel the Jesuits altogether by rehearsing the charges against them of complicity in the Gunpowder Plot and the attempted assassination of Henri IV. The vigorous opposition of the French Ambassador, however, thwarted his design.
The question of the port of Alexandretta turned upon an order of the Sultan closing that port and compelling all ships to discharge at Tripoli instead. The real reasons, if there were any profounder than those professed, are not apparent; we do not know whether the Sultan and his Ministers merely desired to wring money from the Christian traders, or whether some commercial policy lay behind the order. The ostensible reason assigned was “the mischief done by foreigners at the port of Alexandretta” (No. 493). This refers to a quarrel between the French and the Venetians in Alexandretta which led to an insult to the portraits of the French Sovereign and eventually to the murder of the agent of the French Vice-Consul. The contending parties agreed to put the matter in the hands of the English Vice-Consul, who succeeded in arranging it (No. 521). The Sultan, however, issued orders for the closing of the port, and this the three powers, Venice, France and England endeavoured to oppose, but in vain, for the Pasha at once began to demolish the warehouses and the Consuls of the three powers were forced to move (No. 688). The Ambassadors at Constantinople, however, resolved to attempt to bribe the Grand Vizir. They agreed among themselves that a large present should be offered to him from all three nations if he would secure the re-opening of the port of Alexandretta. At first the English merchants of Aleppo refused their contribution, but they eventually yielded to the British Consul and found and deposited the necessary sum. It was then arranged among the three Ambassadors that each in turn should approach the Vizir (No. 850). The French Ambassador began, but was met by a very curt reply that the Grand Signor's orders were positive. Two days later de Salignac again saw the Vizir and offered him ten thousand ducats, but in vain. The English Ambassador then took the matter up and hinted that the English might withdraw altogether from the Levant trade, which would be a blow to his Majesty's customs; but the Vizir remained firm and added that it was useless to tempt him, not even a hundred thousand sequins would induce him to give any other reply. Finally the Venetian approached the subject, but the moment the matter was brought forward the Pasha begged him to desist. The Venetian said: “Are you speaking from the heart?” “Yes,” replied the Vizir, “from the heart I always speak to you and from the heart I speak now.” The Ambassador still insisted, but at that moment the sherbet was brought in and the Vizir cut the conversation short by saying “No! please let us drink and that is enough.”
“Good sailors and better pirates” (fn. 25) is the verdict of a foreigner on British seamen; and the same view is expressed in more cautious language by the Venetian Ambassador to England in May 1609. “This nation,” writes Correr, “is wont to navigate with great security because, apart from their seamanship, they fit out their vessels excellently and never let themselves be tempted to take such cargo as would hamper the handling of the ships or hinder them from fighting if occasion offered.” That praise did not apply to the Royal ships, but was probably deserved by the pirate crews of Bishop, Ward, Jennings, Tomkins, Dauncer, the “sea sharkers” as they are called, whose vessels easily out-sailed such Royal vessels as the “Tramontana” sent in pursuit of them. Simon Simonson, named Dauncer or Danziker, was not an Englishman, and though he figures largely in the Calendar and was the most successful of the gang—for he made his terms with Henri IV., sailed into Marseilles, disposed of his goods and went to Paris in the suite of the Duc de Guise—he need not detain us here. But the doings of Ward and his companions are copiously illustrated in this Volume. The Mediterranean was in fact swarming with pirates of all nations and with ships that, though sailing under well-known flags, were ready to turn buccaneer at a moment's notice. The Knights of Malta were accused of piracy, so were the Grand Duke of Tuscany's Knights of St. Stephen; his futile attempt on Cyprus had much the air of a marauding expedition, and Ossuna, on his appointment as Viceroy of Sicily, declared that he meant to lay Sir Anthony Sherley by the heels for a pirate for all that he held the King's commission and commanded the galleys of Naples.
There were two chief nests of English pirates, one on the Irish coast at Baltimore; Jennings was, perhaps, the most famous member of that gang, till he was captured in April 1609 by the Earl of Thomond. (fn. 26) The other centre was Tunis and the Barbary coast, and there John Ward reigned supreme. There is a full account of him (No. 268) furnished by an English seaman who had been in Tunis and had seen Ward. In June 1608 Ward was about 55 years of age, very short, with little hair and that quite white; bald in front with a swarthy face and a beard. He spoke little, and almost all in oaths. He was drunk from morning till night. Prodigal and plucky. Slept much and usually on board when in port. He had the habits of a thorough salt. “A fool and an idiot out of his trade.” Ward was in his youth an East Coast fisherman. He came to Plymouth and rose through all ranks during the wars with Spain. But, tiring of inactivity, he and some other adventurous spirits stole their ship's boat one night, came to the Isle of Wight, surprised a French ship, and in her went buccaneering, finally running into the port of El Arisch. There he joined forces with two other English captains, called Michæl and Bishop. Michæl went home, and Ward, Bishop and Michæl's lieutenant, Anthony Johnson, entered into partnership. Their operations were directed against any and every nationality. They preyed on the shipping that passed through the Straits and, as we have seen in the case of the “Soderina,” they brought their plunder into Tunis and sold it cheap to the Turks. A certain Thomas Butler, supercargo of an English ship, deposed (No. 348) before the Governor of Corfu as to Ward and Dauncer's captures, “Dauncer has four ships in all; the Englishman, called Ward, has two. Dauncer has captured twenty-nine sail in one month off the coast of Spain. Ward has captured three or four English ships off the coast of Ireland. He is thought to be at Algiers already.” At Tunis their protector was a certain Osman Bey, Captain of the Janissaries, who became extremely rich and powerful, thanks to this patronage. Ward was so successful that the Turks themselves began to go out with him on his expeditions in one or other of the fifteen fully-armed ships he managed to bring together. But one December Ward was on board the captured “Soderina” with about thirty Christians and three hundred Turks; they seized a French ship and Ward transferred himself to the prize, leaving the Turks in the “Soderina.” She was leaking and rotten, and, encountering a gale, she went to the bottom. On his return to Tunis Ward was nearly torn in pieces by the Turks on the suspicion of treacherous dealing with their compatriots. In January 1609 the Venetian Ambassador in London received an offer from an Englishman to capture Ward; the man begged for one thousand ducats towards the design. The Ambassador was cautious; declined to advance money, and said he would see the Earl of Northampton on the matter. Northampton's information was vague, and the offer came to naught. The Proclamation against pirates, the threatened despatch of Royal ships into the Mediterranean, the danger from the Turks, the risk of assassination and advancing age, all combined to make Ward anxious to retire from business. He approached the Grand Duke of Tuscany for admission to his service and a post at Leghorn; but apparently the terms offered were not high enough. Dauncer was more successful with Henri IV. Ward then endeavoured to secure a pardon in England. He offered the King forty-thousand pounds if he would grant it (No. 801) and promised to restore to Venice all plundered ships provided the Republic did not oppose his petition. But James, at all events, was in earnest about the extirpation of piracy and refused to listen. Ward was furious at this rebuff. He sent home, by a passing ship, the following message: “Tell those flat-caps who have been the occasion that I am banished out of my country, that before I have done with them I will make them sue for my pardon.” The Venetian Ambassador, however, suspected that the pirates were supported in high places. He reports that his Majesty has turned his attention to the “question of sharing in piratical loot” (No. 575). Nottingham had to defend himself against the charge of too great leniency to pirates, and closes a letter to Salisbury with a prayer that he may not “have cause to wish he had been put in his grave when his old mistress was.” And again (No. 728), a little later, the Venetian declares that at the recent assizes “nineteen persons were condemned to death. The King wishes to extirpate them, but the avarice of those who support them and the interests of some great Minister place obstacles in his way.” The reconciliation of Dauncer and his pardon by Henri was a serious blow to Ward and weakened the power of the pirates, who doubtless held together as against law and order. Very soon after that event Don Luis Fasciardo surprised Ward's ships at Goletta and burned them all in less than four hours without himself suffering loss (No. 628). Ward was reported as shipwrecked and even as drowned later off Crete, but we have no positive information in these papers as to his end.
My thanks are again due to Mr. Story Maskelyne for kindly providing the Index. I am also deeply indebted to Mr. Pearsall Smith, who has in hand an exhaustive work on Sir Henry Wotton and most generously placed at my disposal his transcripts from Wotton's despatches at the Public Record Office; also to Sir John Watney for his valuable information concerning the Mercers' Chapel.