Venice: January 1615, 16-25

Pages 303-321

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 13, 1613-1615. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1907.

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January 1615, 16–25

Jan. 16. Senato, Secreta, Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 573. To the Ambassador in England.
We have received recently various despatches from you, the latest being from the 18th to the 23rd December last. They contain, besides other important imformation, the negotiations of the count of Scarnafes with His Majesty and the decision to help, of which His Majesty's ambassador told us, when on 27 September last he asked us for a declaration in favour of the duke of Savoy. We replied that it would be superfluous, the ambassadors of Savoy had been in audience to announce that the accommodation had been arranged, though this subsequently proved not to be true, because the governor of Milan would not approve the negotiations of Mons. Savelli and M. Rambouillet. The ambassadors of Savoy will have related all this to the ambassador of England and it will have long since reached the ears of His Majesty. We send this in order that upon occasion you may be able to reply and to say under what circumstances this agreement was communicated. However we do not believe that such an occasion will present itself, because by more recent letters His Majesty will have received information of all that has taken place up to the present and will be aware that the communication was made upon the faith of the declaration made by the Savoyards. The present state of affairs is that the first proposals having been refused, the Pontifical and French ministers have returned with others better adapted to the governor's ideas, namely that His Highness should disarm first, that the governor should do the same a fortnight later, that peace should be made with Mantua with a promise not to attack him, and differences should be referred to arbiters with the emperor's assent. These conditions did not displease the governor, but he said that he had no authority to accept them, being bound by his orders from Spain, and after His Majesty had heard of the attack upon Milan, he would not be bound to a truce, though he intended to have one virtually, withdrawing the troops under the pretext of the season, contrary to the military faction. Meanwhile the Spaniards have taken Oneglia and Maro with a whole valley, and the duke has occupied some imperial fiefs, while troops are constantly being collected. Up to the present nothing is known of the intentions of the Catholic king, and things point rather to a continuation of war than to any form of accommodation.
Ayes 169.
Noes 1.
Neutral 1.
Jan. 16. Senato, Seoreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 574. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Besides what I have already reported the king wrote to the churches of the religion of France, exhorting them to keep a good understanding with Lesdiguières and to supply help in every way to the duke of Saroy, so that he may not succumb. As His Majesty possesses great influence with them, he received a reply that they would do so, as I hear on good authority.
Last week a gentleman was here in their name and also for the duke of Rohan. He saw the king twice and spoke of this and of the means of breaking off the marriages between France and Spain. His Majesty listened willingly, and the gentleman, who is a friend of mine, expects to be sent back soon. Almost at the same time the Marquis of Bonnivet was here, and in the name of the duke of Longuerville he told the king that the duke is remaining in his governorship, that they are trying to remove him in favour of the Marquis of Ancre, who is also governor of the citadel of Amiens in it. The duke offers his services to His Majesty for ever, and he also speaks of means of breaking off the marriages. He was well received, and the third time that he saw the king, two days ago, he took leave and departed.
Last Sunday week the Count of Scarnafes and His Majesty's agent crossed the sea. On the following day, at Amiens, the count received letters from the duke his master, with others for the king and a copy of the negotiations for agreement. After he had read his own letter, he immediately sent it, with all the others and one written by himself to the king here, by the same person. The letters of His Highness to the count are of the 21st ult. He first complains that he has been almost two months without news of him, when, owing to the importance of the affairs, he ought to have heard every week. He says that the ambassador Wotton has written to him fairly frequently about the favourable disposition of the States, which are only waiting for His Majesty to set the example, in whose power everything rests. He expresses a doubt as to whether it would be advisable to accept more disadvantageous conditions; repeats his complaints about not having written more frequently; he says that the Marquis of Rambouillet has promised wonders, assenting to everything that the suggested, but afterwards, in spite of the fact that the governor of Milan had refused) he remained silent without doing anything; he complains of the lukewarmness in the time of his great peril, contrary to the promises made to him; that he finds facing him strong forces of Spaniards, Neapolitans, and Lombards, besides the Swiss; that they have taken troops from the galleys of Prince Philibert, his son, and even the chasing guns (cannoni di Corsia); that the governor has newly occupied two of his places, although of small importance, and they are bringing their artillery against another, for the defence of which he has already made good provision, it being so situated that artillery cannot do much against it; that he hopes to save it, taking the body of his forces thither; that if His Majesty had declared himself openly, other princes would have done the same, and France would have followed a better policy. He commands him to urge His Majesty to make a declaration and a reply. With this he sends a very few lines to be presented in case the count should happen to be in London. He mentions the letters already sent on the 28th October, but these will arrive safely, but he does not say how he sent them. He lays stress upon the expenses incurred and the interests involved in the payment of so large a body of troops while the king's reply is awaited; however, if His Majesty approves of his disposition, all will be well, and in conclusion he begs His Majesty not to abandon his servants. He expresses this in words full of feeling; that in treating for an agreement he has not nominated arbiters, in order to have the honour, if it be possible, of His Majesty acting as one. This is added under the date, but in continuation of the letter from the middle of the preceding line, not as a postscript. (fn. 1) The king seemed greatly pleased with it.
The duke sent for the secretary left there by Wotton, when resident there in the king's name, informed him thoroughly of the state of his affairs and his intentions, gave him the letters of which I write, and sent him post to London. He left Piedmont on the 26th and arrived here in ten days; this is no small achievement, travelling by day only in this bad weather, when the days are short. He will see the king soon, wish him a happy New Year, and if the mission prospers, he is to leave again. I hope to hear about this and of the other things which take place.
The day before yesterday I happened to be with His Majesty's Secretary. He showed me the letter, and added that the reply will be taken by the count and the agent, who have continued their journey in greater haste. They will set out in two, or, at most, three days from Paris. The agent will see Lesdiguières, going a little out of his way, and the count will go on to the duke to relieve his anxieties; to say that His Majesty is resolved to assist His Highness both in peace and in war, and in accordance with his ancient practice he will begin with peace, and do everything to secure one which is consistent with the duke's safety and honour, and if he cannot he will help him and get his friends to do the same, according as necessity may demand.
London, the 16 January, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 16. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 575. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the conclusion of the audience of the ambassadors of Spain and Flanders, in the manner which I reported, they immediately despatched in all diligence an account of the whole matter, first to Flanders and thence to Spain. The king, in order that he may leave no means untried before coming to war, has drawn up a statement to be signed by Spinola, and another for Maurice. He has sent them to the Archduke accompanied by letters to the following purport: He says that having learned to his great regret that the treaty of Santen, arranged by the ambassadors, accepted by the princes and ratified by the States of Cleves and Juliers, has not been executed by reason of a binding document presented by the Marquis Spinola to Prince Maurice, His Majesty, desiring nothing but the peace of Christendom, has wished to clear away the scruples which have rendered the treaty vain, and after a thorough examination, in order that nothing may be left out of consideration, he has taken the trouble to draw up the formula, which will be in the hands of the agent; that if it be found worthy of acceptance, he will account the labour well spent; if there be anything doubtful in it, the agent will make it clear; but if it please him to put another formula into writing he will be delighted, or else to accept the agreement without adding anything to it; he concludes with some complimentary words to His Highness. His Majesty has written to the agent at length, telling him what he is to say in order to remove all doubt; and if he does not succeed, to declare and protest that His Majesty is not to blame for the succeeding war, as he was most anxious for the peace of Christendom and had done everything in his power with this in view.
He has also written to his ambassador in Spain, but hitherto I have not discovered whether it was for anything except information. I enclose copies of the letter sent by the king to the Archduke, the two formulae which he sent, the document presented by Spinola to Maurice the latter's reply, and all in translations.
The ambassador of the States has made it clear to the king that the Spaniards are thinking of making further progress in Germany, because Spinola wants to oblige Maurice not to go further by reason of Cleves, so that there may be no other passage to succour the Palatine and the others, so that he may be tied and the Elector and other Princes deprived of the assistance of the States.
On all hands the king receives the same advices, that in the spring the arms of the house of Austria aspire to advance themselves in Germany, and that to pass from the country of the States into those parts it behoves to cling to Juliers and Cleves, and the difficulty consists in Maurice signing a promise never to return with an army into the country of Cleves, as Spinola desires, or rather that he must never return there to do anything; that Maurice's assent is necessary to the agreement. The king has very well grasped this point, which is the gist of the whole matter. He has found a formula to preserve the interests of Germany and the States and has clearly told the archduke in his letter to carry out the agreement without any addition.
I related in my other letters that on the 15th ult. the ambassadors of the Princes received a satisfactory resolution from the Dutch, and were about to set out very shortly. They did so, and on the 23rd their league was solemnly sworn to, and they left on the 24th. Eight princes are included, namely, the Elector Palatine, the Elector of Bradenburg, the Marquis of Anspach, the two brother dukes, the elder Wirtemburgs, the Landgrave Maurice of Hesse, the Marquis of Durlach and the two elder brothers, princes of Anhalt, for themselves and others of their house, with about twenty Imperial towns. It is said that they will contribute 180,000 florins every month, which is nearly 70,000. crowns, and they will begin on the 1st of February, that the conference which they are now holding at Nuremberg will be finished, to be present at which the ambassadors are hastening their journey. There, besides providing for money matters, they will decide about arms and everything for their common safety; how they shall comport themselves in the Imperial Diet, which will begin when theirs is over.
The league with the States is for the next twelve years, and defensive. Some part of the cavalry of the States has been seen in the dominions of the archbishop of Cologne.
The ambassador of France has received letters from his king with permission to return home, and he will set out one of these days. I have gathered from his conversation that their Most Christian Majesties desire to have his personal account upon various points connected with passing events.
Some disputes have arisen in the matter of ships between the French who are in Canada and the English in Virginia which are of some moment, but as the ambassador himself told me, they concern individuals and can easily be arranged. What is of more importance are the fluctuations which are caused by the approach of war.
I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your Serenity's letters of the 19th and I will obey the instructions.
London, the 16 January, 1615.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 576. Copy of the King's Letter to the Archeduke Albert.
Having learned to our great regret that the treaty of Santen has not been executed by reason of a certain document presented by the Marquis Spinola to Prince Maurice of Nassau, we, desiring nothing else than the peace of Christendom, have endeavoured to master the scruples which have rendered the treaty illusory by various conferences held with the ambassador of Spain and your own, so that we may leave nothing undone in the interests of peace. We have taken the trouble to draw up a formula, a copy of which our agent will deliver to you, and if you think fit to accept it, we shall consider our labour well expended. If you find any difficulty, our agent is charged to explain it; but if you will write out any other formula, we shall be delighted, or if you accept the treaty without addition, we shall be very glad. We beg you, as a just and pacific prince, to maintain universal tranquillity in Europe.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 577. Translation of the above.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 578. His Majesty's Formula to Count Maurice.
Not to re-enter any of the said towns or places, or commit any act of violence contrary to the treaty provided that the same be observed by the Marquis Spinola, and that no open occasion be given for the rupture of the present treaty, that no invasion be made and no arms levied for the disturbance of the peace of Christendom, or against any of the allies of the States. In such case he may act in the just defence of the States and their allies without being held to have violated his promise or the treaty, but on the contrary the blame shall rest with those who create such disturbance. If even this question arises, which God forbid, the kings of Great Britain and France shall be judges as to who was the first to break the peace.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 579. Translation of the above.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 580. The Bond which Maurice consented to sign.
We Maurice having understood from the ambassadors present at Santen that by the agreement made between the Marquis of Brandenburg and the Duke of Neuburg that all the towns occupied by either party in the disputed territories should be evacuated, the troops retiring to their own country, in order not to delay the execution of this agreement, promise to withdraw the garrisons from Juliers and all the other places occupied by us at eight o'clock in the morning on the day of November, and to set our army in march so that by the day of December it will have entirely evacuated the country, without ever returning to take any place or attempt anything prejudicial to the agreement. We will not, moreover, in any wise hinder the demolition of fortifications provided that the Duke of Neuburg and the Marquis Spinola make similar promises to withdraw from Wesel and Dusseldorf and all the other places occupied by them in those territories, and that the marquis promise to remove his army completely from the country, never to return or do anything prejudicial to the agreement or hinder the demolition of fortifications.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 581. Translation of the above.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 582. Copy of the Obligation presented by the Marquis Spinola to Count Maurice to sign.
I, Ambrose Spinola, having learned from the ambassadors assembled at Santen that the States of the United Provinces are ready to withdraw their forces from Juliers and the other places occupied by them in the country of Juliers, Cleves, Berg, la Marche, Ravensberg and Ravenstein, promise that on the same day I will withdraw the troops from all the places occupied in those countries, of which I am in possession, without even entering any of them again upon any pretext whatsoever, provided that Count Maurice will make a similar promise.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 583. Translation of the above.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 584. The Formula of His Majesty to the Marquis Spinola.
Not to re-enter henceforward upon any pretext or do anything contrary to the agreement, whether as general of the Archduke, the Emperor, the king of Spain, the Elector of Cologne, the Catholic league or other friends of the Duke of Neuburg or upon pretext of any other employment, provided that the same be observed by Count Maurice of Nassau, except in case of an open rupture of the present treaty or any other invasion or disturbance of the peace of Christendom; or upon any of the allies of the Archdukes. In such case it shall be permissible to take employment in the just defence of the archdukes and their allies without being held to have broken promise, the blame on the contrary resting with those who disturbed the peace. In such case, the kings of Great Britain and France shall judge who was the first to break the armistice.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 585. Translation of the above.
Jan. 17. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives. 586. Francesco Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The courier last sent to Flanders by the ministers here carries the king's decision with regard to the accommodation of the differences there. This is that His Majesty agrees that the contentious article shall be settled mutually or that it shall be entirely annulled, with express orders to make peace. The English ambassador confirmed this to me, saying that an accommodation would certainly be effected. He afterwards added that his king wondered, supposing the affairs of Savoy were also settled, what the Spaniards would do with all the troops which are assembled in Flanders and Italy.
From Madrid, the 17 January, 1614 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 20. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 587. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Commandeur Sillery will be leaving very shortly for Spain. He will go post to execute his instructions upon the marriages. He only takes with him some presents for the Infanta from the queen, of no great consideration. The present of the king is kept back until they have heard the decision of His Catholic Majesty. He will make some complaints about the affairs of Flanders, as they are much put out here by the impediments placed by the Catholic king in the way of the agreement arranged by the ambassadors of France and England. The Marquis Spinola has sent to Spain an express messenger to state the reasons which led him to agree to what was settled. Certain Spaniards of the Council, who were of the opposite opinion, have done the same, maintaining that war is in the king's interest, and it would be most prejudicial to abandon Wesel, a place which would cut off the communication of the Dutch with Germany. The ambassadors of the States and of England speak with great determination, saying that if the Spaniards do not restore Wesel war will break out in those parts. They have repeated this several times to His Majesty, and are striving hard to obtain assistance.
Four days ago the Count of Scarnafes passed this way on his return to Turin, accompanied by an agent of the king of England, to negotiate upon current affairs and to put his hand to an accommodation in the name of that king.
From Paris, the 20 January, 1615.
Jan. 20. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 588. Rainer Zen, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
In a few days they expect here the nephew of Sir Henry Wotton, who was the ambassador of England with your Serenity, to act as ordinary agent for that Crown at this Court.
From Turin, the 20 January, 1614 [m.v.].
Jan. 22. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 589. The Ambassador of England came into the Cabinet and said:
I have not been able to offer the usual good wishes for the new year in good time, owing to a somewhat serious illness. Now I am well again I hasten to do so. At my last audience I allowed myself rather more latitude than usual, perhaps more than I ought, as I was justly indignant. The name of my king had been dragged on to the stage and passed about among merchants, some being moved by envy, some by malice, making him of little account, as if the frontiers of his dominions were the limits of his power, and as if the caprice of the king of Spain were the rule of his conduct. Since then I have learned in letters from Rome and other places that this idea was spreading in public places and in the courts of other princes of Italy, vires acquirit cundo, greatly to the prejudice of good relations between His Majesty and the republic, as if they were a chimera, a matter of appearance rather than of reality. I have made search among the examples of the past to see whether the relations between His Majesty, the republic and the other Italian princes have ever been anything other than useful and necessary. I have confined my researches to the historians of this republic, who are the most royal and sober which exist, and whom I have found to be a mine of rich value in matters of state and the examples of a perfect government. I find that in all cases of urgent need and danger to the liberty of Italy, the Italian princes have always had recourse to the crown of England. I find that that crown has frequently entered into close friendship with the Italian princes, and with this republic more than all. In the two crises, the most perilous through which the republic has passed, namely the social war and the league of Cambrai, the first resolution of the republic has always originated from the opportune action of the king of England. I find that England has never done anything contrary to the liberty of this province, either by desire of gain, to please friends, or out of obedience to those who pretend to have authority to command other princes, considerations which have always predominated with other crowns. I find that the republic has steadily cultivated the friendship of that crown, abstaining carefully from every appearance of a more than ordinary understanding with those princes who now possess the greatest authority in Italy, in order to avoid alienating that crown on the one hand, and arousing the suspicion of the Turk on the other, the one the most sincere and constant friend, the other the most deadly enemy that the republic has ever had. I find an example that fits, mutatis mutandis,' with the present circumstances. The republic had been offended by the Florentines and approached in the most friendly manner by Filippo Visconti, duke of Milan. But seeing that the duke, feeling confident of the friendship or at least of the neutrality of the Venetians, proposed to seize a pretext for attacking the Florentines and so to increase his dominions, the republic made friends with the Florentines and gave them important help against the duke, until an honourable peace was concluded. If the republic had not made this generous decision in time, Filippo Visconti would have become a Philip of Spain in Italy in power and greatness. I find that this has been the opinion of the Senate in similar circumstances. Nothing is more perilous than to trust too much to the Spaniards, putting the affairs of Italy in their hands, as they seek to encompass their ends by fraud and deceit (such are the words of my author) and under the guise of friendship they scheme against the liberty of the Italians, and it would be useful to allow the reputation of another foreign prince to rise in Italy to act as a counterpoise. In the last century I find the following episode: the king of Spain, being emperor, is armed and very powerful, the pope is friendly and almost all the other princes of Italy are obliged by fear to obey his wishes. The French are completely expelled from Italy and bound by treaty not to meddle with its affairs. Nevertheless the Venetian Senate remained firm in its purpose to oppose Spain, because they feared that the king of Spain cherished ideas very inimical to the liberty of Italy, and that he would make them all take their laws from him. They thought that if they abased themselves they would only confirm this purpose. Afterwards, although the king was disposed to make peace, he was led away by his councillors and captains. At the beginning of these difficulties the Senate instructed their ambassador in England to ask the king there who had always shown great friendship to the republic, to see that nothing was done to the prejudice of the liberty of Italy, of which, to his immortal fame (I consistently use the very words of the historian) he had been the special protector. As compared with that time, the crowns of England and Scotland are now united, and Ireland which was always in revolt then, is now pacified. The king is now free and unhampered, while then he was involved by marriages with Spain. The Low Countries then considered the subjects of Spain are now recognised as a free and independent republic. The princes of Germany, then divided, are now joined in a close and powerful union. The Venetian republic, then exhausted by past troubles, is now, praise God, rejoicing in the greatest prosperity. It was then a question of defending the state of Milan for Francesco Sforza against Charles V., and the republic did not make peace until he was restored. It is now a question of defending Piedmont for the duke of Savoy, and if he is not so great as Milan, yet he is more important for the liberty of Italy, to which he is the principal gate, having France at his back, whence help may come. The crown of Spain was then rich and prosperous, its subjects well off and skilful; now the one is loaded with debts and the others are poor and wretched. The king was then served by famous captains who served him faithfully, while their successors deserve to be called courtiers rather than soldiers. Hence it follows that greater opposition can be offered now than then, and as their pretensions are more considerable the need for resistance is greater. They began as simple captains, then they rose to be governors and now they propose to become the arbiters of Italy, from which (but absit omen), there is but a step to absolute dominion. To avoid this danger it is necessary that there should be the same determination and unity among the independent princes as then existed between the crown of England and this republic. What consequence the Spaniards place upon this, as a hindrance to their designs, appears by their extraordinary efforts to keep them disunited, flattering and caressing where they do not love, showing contempt where they fear. They pretend to draw closer to all the princes, in order to arouse jealousy and suspicion among them, moving heaven and earth, as the saying goes, and by means of their authority they endeavour to disturb all friendly relations between the princes, which are only intended for the lawful purposes of self-defence. Europe is now suffering from two festering wounds, the bad blood from which infects the rest of the body. If we simply wait for heaven to help us, without attempting anything, we shall be like the rustic of the poet who stood and looked on dum defluat amnis, without doing our duty to stem the impetuous torrent. We stand with folded arms, inviting those, to whom the opportunity is a spur to do worse, whereas they would otherwise lose heart. In such wise the only bridle which has hitherto kept the Spaniards somewhat within bounds, will be removed, namely, the fear that if they attacked one prince all the rest would be on their backs tamquam ad commune restinguendum incendium. They will always have the spur of the applause of the other Italian princes of which they boast, for pressing hard upon the duke of Savoy, while no one will feel how mortal is the wound inflicted upon the general liberty through the breast of that prince. But I seem to hear the objection that these are but terrores panici, vain imaginings, that the world may rest tranquil, being indebted to the Spaniards for undertaking to humiliate an ambitious prince who disturbs the general peace. It is not my part to offer apologies for him, but I venture to think that history will not blame a hereditary and absolute prince for refusing to submit tamely to the dictation of those who have no authority over him. He would be unworthy of his high reputation and of the great regard in which he is held by other princes and in particular by my master, and he would be unworthy of the title of eldest son of St. Mark, in which he takes such pride. But this is not a personal matter. The liberties of Italy and of Europe are at stake, and just as Serpens quando scrpentem comederit fit Draco, so his total subjection or humiliation would enlarge the ideas of his enemies. There are some, who calmly, and not without an appearance of reason, advise delay for a space to avoid expense and danger, hoping that matters will soon resume their original complexion, owing to the desire for peace professed by the Spaniards. Quanto diligentius homines metuumint quam meminerint. Is the original state of affairs so desirable; have the Spaniards always observed a due respect for others and have they not always seized every opportunity to diminish the dignity and authority of other princes and states? Have they not always raised difficulties by sea and land, and a mortal war against peace; have they not always as it were maintained Hannibal ad portas, a band of thieves and assassins, known as the sbirri of the House of Austria, who prey upon the merchants and the surrounding country with their ships and who never let slip an opportunity of bathing their wicked hands in the oldest and noblest blood in Europe? I know what I am speaking about when I say that the leading ministers of that crown had a project not long ago to divide the dominions of this republic with the common enemy, a project never thought of in the division of the empire into East and West, such was the respect in which the liberty of this province was then held. Have not the usual friendly relations between prince and prince been changed to obedience, humiliation, mortification and punishment? I know that all the princes who have had to do with them have been compelled to yield something to their advantage, to increase their state, as happened at Piombino, Finale, Correggio, Monaco and other places, and if Sassello is not included it is owing to her total subjection to the republic of Genoa. Do not the new fortresses of Fuentes and Sandeval clearly prove that they propose to make the state of Milan the citadel of all Italy, putting themselves on the defensive against the Grisons and Piedmontese. Do they not seize every opportunity of executing bulls and banns, the arrows Joris fulminantis et tonantis?—always something prejudicial to the general liberty. But all those who do not wish to be deceived are aware of the progress of these evils. Now a good opportunity offers, not to re-make the world, that would be a vain desire, but to remedy present ills, it is better to decide and act boldly than to exercise the usual patience. I say an excellent opportunity has arisen while the forces of the Spaniards are divided, so that owing to the scarcity of captains, distance and other circumstances it will be impossible for them to resist a general opposition of the other princes or to think of extinguishing a general conflagration. The arts employed by the Spaniards to delay the disarmament which is now under negotiation, are simply in order to gain time, so that in the spring they may have ready two powerful armies which may be employed together where most advantage offers, and they make everything depend upon the yes or no of the king, to make war or peace as may suit him best. Their preparations of men and money during the negotiations, on both sides of the mountains, are justly suspect. Although His Majesty, owing to the greatness and secure position of his dominions, might remain an idle spectator of the danger of others, as this republic might also do if the conflagration were not so close, yet the common advantage is no less important than personal safety. His Majesty has constantly desired peace, and praise God, his subjects, throughout his reign, have enjoyed the true Dies Haleyonei, without foreign wars, internal disorders or possible grievances. Therefore they are so prosperous (stanno cosi commodi) that an adequate subsidy will never be wanting in the hour of need, as our princes have never been considered poor when their subjects are rich. The neighbouring countries have profited by His Majesty's peaceful inclinations, as witness the truce of Holland and the present treaty of peace between the Protestant princes of Juliers and Cleves. It is a clear proof of the purity of his motives in these affairs of Italy that when, at the first, there was some suspicion of an understanding between the duke of Savoy and the governor of Milan to the prejudice of the duke of Mantua, he instructed me to go to the court of the latter prince to perform a duty suitable to the occasion. Although this did not take place because the internal affairs there were overshadowed by external, an excuse accepted by His Majesty, yet his real intentions were apparent. Now the situation has changed and with it His Majesty's ideas. He thinks that the protection then needed by the duke of Mantua and so generously afforded by the republic is now the right of the duke of Savoy, both in his interest and for the common safety. It is not now the time to speak of the original movement of arms here. It may have arisen out of the ambition of that prince, from some secret design of the Spaniards or from the mutability of human affairs. But leaving the causes out of account, we must consider the consequences. We see that the Spaniards are fortifying both in the Low Countries and in Italy. They profess that they had not originally intended to do so, but something may be derived therefrom for their advantage. As I have shown in the course of my argument, they have always had in mind the universal dominion of Europe. At present the acquisition of Oneglia and of Maro and their designs upon Nice are intended to close in Italy on every hand. As a counterprise to this daily increasing greatness, there is no one in Europe during the minority of France, except my master, joined with his friends beyond the mountains and the republic, supposing that the duke of Savoy is left alone and unaided or is conquered and forced to make shameful terms. If this occurs it will serve as a rule for all the other princes of Italy henceforward. The agreement concluded last month at Asti is worth no more than the one concluded at Vercelli shortly before. That the published edict does little against the Asteggiani is a sure argument that it will be repudiated in Spain. I have special information that they have so instructed all the ministers of Spain here in Italy. Relying upon their pretended security that the lesser princes will not move except at their pleasure, they will assuredly mask their secret design under a point of honour, that they cannot treat minor princes as equals, and they are determined not to submit to disarmament unless they are compelled, as they are always more gracious when afraid than they are generous when conquerors. His Majesty, desirous before God to do everything to oppose the progress of the Spanish monarchy, which wishes to build upon the ruin of a free prince, so that dum domi consulitur Saguntum non expugnetur, has not waited to see what the princes principally interested would do, but has acted as a great prince, the worthy descendant of those who have frequently held the title of defenders of the liberty of Italy. He has resolved not to permit the duke to be ruined by the violence of the Spaniards, but to help him to make terms which will leave him his liberty. He has instructed me to communicate this resolve to your Serenity, giving you his royal word that nothing will be done to disturb the peace of Italy but that everything will tend to reduce the Spaniards to order. Up to this present they create disturbance with the purpose of getting the mastery. His Majesty's sincerity in this is proved by the fact that though his populous realms are more fitted to furnish men than money, yet it is proposed to assist the duke of Savoy rather with money than men. Thus, to put it mildly, those who make such a disturbance about the introduction of foreigners into Italy, speak without grounds. We see by the past how the crown of England and this republic have always proceeded together in the interest of general liberty, and in the present emergency this is urgently needed. To enter into details, we see that the Spaniards propose to subject a free prince to their yoke. If they succeed they will be encouraged to do the same in all Italy, and they will acquire such reputation that they will be on the highway to the dominion of Europe. It is not necessary to enquire whether that prince acted rightly or no. Even if a foolish man had set fire to his own house, a wise neighbour would hurry with water to put it out. His Majesty is not acting alone, but with the authority of the other princes and states, and he reposes every confidence in the faith and secrecy of this Senate. I have therefore only to ask in his name how far you are prepared to act in concert with him and his friends, in the hope that the principal commotions of Europe may be lulled by an honourable peace which will preserve Savoy from oppression, or, if the Spaniards will not listen to reason, to assist him in his just and necessary defence. I will await the reply, to communicate it to His Majesty. When it has been received and when His Majesty's declaration has been published in due season I hope that the world will be disabused of the sinister interpretations put upon his conduct in the matter, and that the good relations between the republic and His Majesty may tend more to the public benefit than what is so foolishly and maliciously spread abroad. I hope that during the present year, which has opened so auspiciously, God will prosper your counsels and actions, so that the memory of them may remain to posterity, no less glorious than that derived from your ancestors.
The doge replied: We regret to hear of your Excellency's illness and hope that you will remain in good health. We thank you for your good wishes for the New Year and we send all good wishes to His Majesty. The other matters shall be discussed and a reply given at a favourable opportunity. (fn. 2)
The ambassador left a note of his discourse and so took leave.
Jan. 21. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 590. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The courier from Spain has arrived with news that the king is willing to restore Wesel and the other places, and that the other difficulties may be submitted to royal ministers in those parts. Upon this they have sent immediately to Brussels to learn what steps Spinola is taking, with the intention of sending M. de Reffugé again, so that with the help of the English ambassador an accommodation may be arranged. But there is no doubt that this is a device of the Spaniards to delay a settlement, which might be in favour of the States, and to gain time until a more favourable reason.
From Paris, the 21 January, 1615.
Jan. 21. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Mantova. Venetian Archives. 591. Antonio Maria Vincenti, Venetian Resident at Mantua, to the Doge and Senate.
The duke is informed on good authority that the Catholic ambassador resident in England has spoken very frankly to the king there in the name of His Majesty with regard to the assistance which it is proposed to send to the duke of Savoy, and that after a very lively discussion, the king of England agreed to suspend his assistance if the Catholic king would bring about an accommodation as honourable as possible for His Highness.
From Mantua, the 21 January, 1614 [m.v.].
Jan. 23. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 592. Antonio Foscarini Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After I had written my last, I was invited by the king to the masque which was danced on the following evening in the great hall. (fn. 3) I went to the council chamber and there found the ambassador of Spain, and soon afterwards one of the masters of the ceremonies. He said that he would go and inform His Majesty that we were ready. When he returned, he informed the said ambassador that the ambassador of the States was present at the palace and desired His Majesty that he might go with us to see the feast; and so he returned to the king with the ambassador's reply. At that moment we had risen from the table and saluted. I noticed that the ambassador was greatly excited. He told me all this and said that he had sent to ask the king's leave to depart, as he was determined not to have the ambassador of Holland in his company. Thinking it a worthy action of a representative of your Excellencies and a Christian to make peace, I told him that His Excellency ought to beware what he was about, as at other times Don Alonso di Velasco, his predecessor, and the Illustrious Correr, who was my predecessor, had been with the Dutch Ambassador in public, although there was certainly some distance between them. After some dispute the ambassadors of Spain and Venice entered two boxes simultaneously, one on the right and one on the left of His Majesty, and a little while after the ambassador of Holland entered the Venetian box. He listened to me attentively, and showed that he valued and would observe my advice. Seeing that the hall was quite full and that every one was looking on, I said that it would be as well to withdraw to another place, and so we did. After we had sat down, he asked me, being very undecided, to advise him. I told him that he ought to tell the king he ought not to suffer rules to be laid down in his own house, that he was ready to give every satisfaction to His Majesty, and for that purpose he had come as the ambassador of the States, that he might be welcome, but not to take a subordinate or a somewhat inferior place. He asked me if I advised him so and if I thought it was fitting. He suggested that the ambassador had orders from his king not to appear with him. I asserted that I thought he ought to do so, as if it should happen that the ambassador of Holland appeared later, sitting in a somewhat inferior place, it would be all over with his dignity. This was my opinion and I added a great deal to the same effect. This moved him and induced him to tell me that he would do as I advised. Meanwhile the Treasurer, the Chamberlain, and the Earl of Uster had come from the king to ask for me; the ambassador asked me what he ought to do; I told him to leave the room and meet them with such terms as courtesy dictated, and so he did. The Treasurer having made a slight acknowledgment to the ambassador of Spain, fulfilled his embassy, and I having seen enough to persuade one to let others alone, did the same. They stopped a quarter of an hour in the room of which I spoke, without any results. When they left, the ambassador again begged me for an interview and once more asked for my advice. I repeated the same opinions as before. He seemed inclined to follow my advice and to desire that I should use my influence, and so I left him. The same persons returned once or twice who had previously come for me, and all accompanied me with terms of great honour to a small room full of lords and ladies, saying that the ambassador of Spain did not feel well and that he had left. Their Majesties arrived almost immediately and the prince and they went in to the masque, where I was alone, because neither the Spanish nor the Dutch ambassador had gone in there. When the queen, whom I sat near, asked me about it, I gave her a particular account. She seemed to lean strongly to favour Spain, and made some disparaging remark about the States (mostrò clla intender largamente a favore di Spagna et proferi qualche concetto a suantaggio dci Stati). After the masque and the collation I waited on their Majesties as far as their apartments. The queen entered hers first, and I, in taking leave of the king and thanking him for his favours, told him that I had remonstrated with the Spanish ambassador and was ready to do more. He thanked me and said that the ambassador would not recognise the States to be free. On the following Sunday I had audience, and after a long conversation he gathered complete information. He decided that on the following morning he would see the Spanish ambassador. He pointed out to him that more than once his predecessors had been with the ambassador of the States. He was grateful to me for my good feeling and offices.
Four days ago I called on the ambassador of Holland. He thanked me and said that he had been present three times publicly with Don Alonso di Velasco and with Sig. Correr, and that he had offered to go if the ambassador of Spain would go also. He enlarged upon many particulars and ended by saying that this showed the evil disposition of the Spaniards, that the States will be on their guard and that God sometimes shows by little things what is the heart of the great ones. He expressed all this with great emotion and seemed grateful to me for my good offices. The event still continues a subject of discussion, so much so that hardly anything else is spoken about. Everyone delivers his own personal opinion and it is certain that it will greatly exacerbate men's minds and increase rancour.
London, the 23 January, 1615.
Jan. 23. Senato, Seoreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 593. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king told me that the queen of France is determined that the marriages shall be effected and that the betrothed shall pass as soon as possible; that when Villeroi spoke about postponing them for some time, in the interests of the kingdom, the queen became greatly excited; that they are preparing everything for this event, and the Commandeur de Sillery, who had gone to Spain for other matters as well, took with him jewels and presents for the Infanta. He considered the carrying out of these marriages was both prejudicial and inopportune, whilst the question of war in Italy and in Flanders remained in the balance; that it would be expedient to offer remonstrances and representations in order that they might be postponed; that he will not fail for his part, that he has spoken about it to the ambassador of the States and has written to Germany to the United Princes in order that representations may be made jointly and consequently with greater weight. Although I do not hope for any results from this, yet I forward the information, and report His Majesty's wishes for the common service, so that your Excellencies may instruct your ambassadors to express opinions in conformity with what the others say. That some time since, on his own account, he caused his ambassador to speak to Condé and other princes, who are by no means Spanish, that he had spoken his mind clearly and openly to the Most Christian Ambassador here more than once.
In speaking of the affairs of Germany and Cleves he said that he had done his utmost for the peace of Christendom, that no one has worked harder for this than he, that he has brought matters to such a position that in a fortnight at most everything will be known; that the same advices come in from every side, that restitution will not be made; nevertheless the ambassadors of Spain and the Archduke asserted the contrary with so much assurance, that he did not think they could ever allow themselves to enter his presence again; that in a few days he will see the reply and decision of Spain, and that the Duke of Neuburg also is waiting at Brussels to hear it; that it was necessary to do everything for peace that had been done, and now, if it was impossible, they would have to prepare for war. That he will assuredly assist the Princes with 10,000 combatants and upon this he is determined; that if they move in Italy, it will be necessary to send help and in such case war with Spain must ensue; that he thinks himself hardly used that he is obliged to bear the whole weight upon his shoulders alone. He expressed the whole in forcible and resolute terms.
The Catholic ambassador has received letters by a courier sent by his king to Flanders on the 1st inst. I understand that he brings the reply and resolution with respect to the restitution of the places, and to Cleves, and gives the Archduke authority to decide. I am assured that one condition is that if Wesel be restored it must be to the hands of the emperor in such manner that he can take possession of it anew whenever he wishes. It is certain that here they desire a free restitution to the Princes, to be placed in their hands, and if this is not done, all hope of an agreement and peace disappears. To-morrow I shall know all and will send a report by the next courier if not before.
London, the 23 January, 1615.
Jan. 23. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 594. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The churches of the religion of France, moved by the letters and authority of the king, after haring resolved to assist the duke of Saroy, have decided to send 6,000 infantry, and the baron of Barville is to make ready to go there with half of the snccours, which are to be sent as secretly as possible, taking advantage of the intelligence with Lesdiguières for the pass and in order to allow the men of Dauphiné to cross over without commotion.
The king has special information of all this, and I have it from the lips of one who is in a position to know. In the audience which I had of the king on Sunday he told me that the Protestant princes of Germany have decided to assist the duke of Savoy together with him, and have notified him to that effect; that the reply and decision of Spain are expected daily, and that if this is for the ruin of the duke of Savoy, they will afford him succours; that meanwhile the ambassador with your Excellencies will pass to Turin at the first sign, and in negotiating will do everything to secure a stable peace, and will show himself reasonable in all respects; that if Spain is determined upon a breach, France cannot do less than help, as she has repeatedly promised to do and pledged her word. With regard to the churches of the religion in France, I told him that I had advices that they were going to send help to His Highness. This was in order to learn with certainty from the king's own mouth. He replied, Let them alone, they will do well (lasciatele fare; faranno bene). I also succeeded in penetrating to the bottom of His Majesty's ideas, and confirmed my opinion that he wishes to establish the duke in peace, and to seek every means to avoid a conflict, and if he is driven to fight, he will assist him with all his forces together with those of his friends and allies.
The Secretary who was here with the letters of the duke was left by the agent at Turin, not by the ambassador Wotton. He has executed the commissions entrusted to him by His Highness, in the manner which I reported. The king believes that the count and the agent will arrive at Turin on Sunday at latest. News has come of their arrival at Paris, and, as I understand, of their departure.
London, the 23 January, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 23. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Mantova. Venetian Archives. 595. Antonio Maria Vincenti, Venetian Resident in Mantua, to the Doge and Senate.
News has come from France that the Princes and the Calvinist faction lean to the side of Savoy, so that they fear His Highness will receive encouragement and assistance from that quarter.
I understand from the same letters that the negotiations for the marriage with England are suspended, as the English have let it be understood that this is not the time to speak about it.
From Mantua, the 23 January, 1614 [M.V.].
Jan. 24. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives. 596. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I happened lately to meet with the French ambassador. I asked him what were the intentions of his king with regard to assisting the duke of Savoy, and said that if the Spaniards continued their encroachments along the coast towards Provence France might one day raise her voice against it, especially if they should happen to take the port of Villafranca. He replied that this was perfectly true, that they were awaiting Spain's reply, but if the Spaniards make further encroachments in these parts, it will be necessary to help the duke with the forces of Provence.
The French ambassador is advised that an ambassador from the king of England is expected at Paris shortly, sent by that Majesty to the duke of Savoy. His commissions are for a league between his king, the Most Christian, the duke of Savoy, the States of Flanders, and the princes of Germany. Your Serenity will possibly have fuller information from elsewhere, but I thought it well to mention the matter.
From Rome, the 24 January, 1615.
Jan. 24. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives. 597. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The French ambassador at an extraordinary audience held on Wednesday last, pressed the pope for some declaration in the matter of Suarez's book. His Holiness would do nothing, though the arguments and reasonableness of France seem to have produced some effect upon him, but he is afraid of prejudicing his authority and he fears the Jesuits. The congregation of the Holy Office has been holding very frequent meetings lately and I understand that they are discussing the revival and reinforcement of the decisions of the council of Constance, which defends and assures the persons of kings, but I gather that the pope desires that only the kings of France shall be meant, or he wishes to make other use of his authority upon the other princes. The French are not satisfied with this, it seems, and ask for an expression in general terms. The pope will not lay hands on the book, and so the thing goes on, exciting much attention, but no resolution is taken.
From Rome, the 24 January, 1615.


  • 1. The duke's letter is preserved at the Public Record Office, State Papers, Foreign. Savoy, 21 Dec. 1614. It differs in some respects from Foscarini's resumé.
  • 2. Carleton sent home a copy of this exposition. The fact is mentioned in his letters, but the copy is not to be found among the State Papers. The king took great exception to Carleton's action and instructed Winwood to write: [His Majesty] doth find it strange that you should without charge upon premeditate and advised deliberation, in so public and solemn assembly, adventure to make so sharp and bitter invective against so great a monarch as the king of Spain, with whom His Majesty by treaty doth live in amity. Winwood goes on to say that he supposed Carleton's action had been provoked by the behaviour of the Spanish. ambassador in Venice, and that he was instructed to inform the Spanish ambassador in England that Carleton had acted out of zeal for the king's honour and not from malice or any private discontent against the king of Spain or the Spaniards. Winwood to Carleton; State Papers, Foreign, Venice, Feb. 26, 1614, o.s.
  • 3. On Twelfth Night Ben Jonson's masque Mercury Vindicated from the Alchemists' was played before the Court. Nichols, Progresses of Jances I., iii., page 29. It gave such great satisfaction that it was repeated on Sunday, January 8/18.Ib. page 38. It was on the latter occasion that the events took place described in this despatch.