Venice: March 1615, 1-15

Pages 362-376

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


March 1615, 1–15

March 2. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Zante. Venetian Archives. 681. Gerolamo Bembo, Proveditore of Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
Although I foresee the disturbances which may arise here from the publication of the regulation of values sent to me by your Serenity on the 31 December, which I received by way of Cephalonia, where they had already been published, I will nevertheless fulfil my instructions. Your Serenity will understand from the enclosed petitions what is the feeling here, and I have been asked to make representations and ask your Serenity to give them some assistance. I endeavoured to appease them, pointing out that your Serenity was always engaged in looking after the interests of your subjects and so far from complaining they ought to be grateful. They were somewhat mollified, but there is a great scarcity of money for ordinary usage in the island, there being only thalers and ryals, the rest all quattrini. However the instructions shall be executed until further order.
From Zante, the 2 March, 1615.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch 682. Petition of the Syndics.
The decision taken by the Pregadi on the 23rd December last to diminish the ryal from lire 10 to the price of lire 6 will cause grave disturbance of all trade here and the stopping of all negotiations. We desire to represent the grievances of these poor islanders in the matter. Whereas a ryal would formerly purchase fifty cloths, now it will only buy thirty. The ryal had appreciated to 10 lire, at which it was commonly current. The change is harmful for various reasons, but most of all because it will cause an extreme scarcity in the whole island, because the merchants attracted by the high rate of the ryal employ their capital here rather than elsewhere and supply the people with food, as they gain more than 25 per cent. beyond what they would from investing their ryals in the Morea. They will doubtless withdraw this capital and we shall be left with nothing but quattrini, as there is no other kind of money. This island is very different from Corfu and Candia where they get sequins and other Venetian money, and as quattrini cannot suffice for the needs of the people they will be left deprived of all necessities for their maintenance. But the most important point of all affects the trade in raisins. If the reduction to lire 6 is established the Flemish and English ships engaged in the trade, who bring no other money than the aforesaid [ryals], will abandon these parts and take their trade elsewhere.
Zuane Negro Syndics.
Alessandro Cernovicchio
Antonio Rastopuli
March 3. CI. VII. (fn. 1) Cod. MXLIX Bibl. S. Marco Venice. 683. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
This week letters have come from the Commandeur Sillery, announcing his arrival at the court, but without further particulars. They are very anxious to know the intentions of the Catholic king, not only with regard to Flanders and Italy, but also about the marriages with this crown, as they consider their effectuation as certain if Spain does not cause delays since the Most Christian king desires them, the States General ask for them, the princes make no opposition while those of the religion say nothing against them, not because they welcome the project but because of the great divisions among them and because many of their chiefs receive pensions, so that it is generally considered that no resistance will be offered.
Paris, the 3rd March, 1615.
March 3. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 684. Renier Zen, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador of England has arrived. I sent my carriage with the secretary and some gentlemen two miles out to meet him. This pleased him greatly and he thanked me warmly. He dismounted from his horse and rode in the carriage to a little way outside the town, where the Count of Verua met him with the duke's carriage. He had audience of His Highness on the following morning, who received him with a very serious and grave manner, which greatly astonished the ambassador and all his court, because they expected something different, as the duke had been very gracious and condescending almost every evening at the festivities and masques during his stay here. I have been to see him, and he showed me the greatest confidence and friendliness. I told him that his sudden departure from Venice had deprived your Serenity of the opportunity of replying to the friendly office which he had performed before his departure, but that you had replied to His Majesty's letter and directed your ambassador to thank him, with the hope that his authority, aided by the skill of his ambassador, will bring these affairs to a peaceful conclusion. He told me that he had left the day after because he thought he ought to be here, as time was pressing; he had asked that authority might be given to me to work jointly with him upon these affairs, as he would rely upon my advice in everything, especially as he was new to the court. I replied in a fitting manner, and offered to do everything I could.
His audience with the duke was complimentary, with general offers from the king to obtain an honourable peace for him. He told me afterwards that he did not think he would depart far from the treaty arranged by the ambassadors, except in the particular of twenty days for disarming, which the duke did not like owing to the scant security in the present season. He added that he found the duke well disposed towards peace, and he will give a verbal satisfaction to the king of Spain, but that he does well to arm, because he believes that the arming of the duke and your Excellencies will terminate these affairs and give peace to Italy. He told me in conclusion that he proposes to go to the governor at Milan to inform him of the good disposition of the duke, but previously he thinks of sending his secretary to find out whether he has authority to negotiate, because if he has not, his journey would be fruitless. He hinted that I might go with him, as he said that the good offices of the Signory for peace would unite him closely with me both with the duke and at Milan; but as he went on to speak of other things, I replied by praising His Majesty's desire for peace and said I hoped that the glory of arranging it was reserved for His Majesty and his minister, avoiding any reference to the other matter before I knew the intentions of your Serenity, whose instructions I humbly ask for in case he makes fresh proposals for defence and alliance. I simply spoke generally about the peace, with some respectful words about the king. My first instructions may suffice, as I have to work in concert with the other ambassadors and for other reasons which I need not give, for I perceive that France possibly may not co-operate, and may say that she is awaiting the issue of the negotiations of M. de Sillery in Spain. However I expect that the governor's reply will settle the matter, as he will say that he has no authority.
The ministers here and the duke himself make a great parade of the considerable assistance which they expect to receive from the Princes, the Low Countries, the Protestants, the Swiss, England and the Princes of France, and I believe that I know the reason why they do so; however I think it right to report the matter.
The other day the duke sent to say that he would like to come on Sunday evening to the feast in this house. I prepared a banquet, and the duke sent me a barrel of oysters from Nice, saying that he would come and eat them with me. Prince Thomas sent me a wild boar taken by him that day, and I learned that the duke wished to come to dine with all the ambassadors and a party of ladies, and afterwards he proposed to honour the house with a magnificent masque, as you shall hear. I therefore proceeded to gratify the duke's wishes. Accordingly on Sunday this house was honoured by the company at dinner of thirty ladies, the duke, Prince Thomas, and all the ambassadors except England. He was invited, first by me and afterwards by the duke, but was unable to come except to the supper afterwards, at which practically the whole Court was present. The duke paid exceptional honour, such as possibly has never been rendered to an ambassador's house, as after the banquet he went into the upper apartments and masked himself with Prince Thomas, the Baron of Tornon, Count Guido Villa, the Baron of Lolin and his other court favourites, all dressed in most sumptuously embroidered liveries, with more than forty persons in livery, pages and court music. His Highness, with the Prince and the others named, performed a magnificent dance in figure of eight, after ordering a dance by twenty pages, lighted by two torches and accompanied by weird music, the whole executed so daintily that the English ambassador was amazed. He told me that it did not seem possible it could be the same person who had been so wonderfully grave the other day, who shortly before had conferred seriously with us about these current difficulties, and who told us among other things that news came from Spain that his son Filiberto was sick, and the doctor could not diagnose the disease, that he had sent one to that court and he did not know what would become of him, and left suddenly without saying another word, apparently wrapped in thought.
The masque lasted until two o'clock in the morning. I accompanied the duke to the door, and he departed still masked, with the prince. He afterwards invited me to the feast at the Castle on Tuesday, where he proposes to give a grand banquet with the prince and princesses, the ambassadors and a number of ladies; thus, though the drums and trumpets are proclaiming war, the nights are passed with music and feasting.
Turin, the 3rd March, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 4. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 685. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The very day that I wrote my last the gentleman of Lord Rich was here with letters from the duke to His Majesty and others from the agent. He also brought letters for Rich from the Duke and the Count of Scarnafes, in which His Highness thanks the king for his offices with Lesdiguières and others in France, for his action with the States and Princes of Germany, for his protection and for the help which he has promised by the mouth of Scarnafes and the information of the agent. He begs that they may be carried out for the common service so that the help may arrive in time; that the craft of the Spaniards has been found out during the progress of the negotiations, that His Majesty will perceive their purposes by the intercepted letters, of which he sends a copy, also supplying one to your Excellencies; that he has sent the Count of Scarnafes this time to inform the king by word of mouth of all the things for the providing of assistance and the matters agreed upon. They seem to think a great deal of the help of the adventurers and especially of the ships.
The agent relates his arrival, the negotiations with Lesdiguieres, of the readiness shown to follow the desires and commands of His Majesty; that he arrived in Turin at an opportune moment, when the Duke was in difficulties and that the promises of His Majesty had infused great vigour into him. He also mentions the need of His Highness for support and describes the present posture of affairs. I hear also on good authority (beside what I have said, for the truth of all of which I can vouch) that the duke has told the king, what the agent has expressed more clearly, that if he cannot have peace it would be useful for him to get possession of Genoa, showing by various reasons that it would be easy to take it by surprise, and of great importance as money is supplied from that quarter for the needs of the Catholic king, and this is one of the principal things with which Scarnafes has to deal here. I heard something of this from the king's lips, as your Excellencies shall hear later on. This caused me to give greater heed to the person who supplied this information and who is in a position to know.
The letters from the duke to Rich thank him for his goodwill, say that he has seen the account of his expenses in the levying of the 4,000 infantry of this nation, which are very different from what is customary in Italy, and in conclusion says that at the coming of the Count of Scarnafes he will learn the decision and all particulars. The Count writes that as he will soon be here he will say no more except to assure him of the duke's affection and how much he is indebted to him. Letters have arrived here for the Count and he is expected to arrive here soon.
London, the 4 March, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 4. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 686. To the Ambassador in England.
A few days ago the ambassador of His Majesty left for Turin, as you already know. (fn. 2) His mission is to use all his efforts in the interests of an accommodation of the disturbances of the province. Both Savoy and Milan are largely increasing their forces, so that we are very glad that His Majesty has resolved upon this mission. We also will do everything that is fitting in the same cause, and we have already made representations at Rome and in Savoy, while last week we sent an express courier to Spain with letters to the king and instructions to our ambassador to urge the king and ministers to peace. We send this for your information to make use of as your prudence dictates. We are anxious to learn what His Majesty will do in response to the requests of the duke of Savoy and in fulfilment of his promises if greater need arises in the present circumstances.
Ayes 168.
Noes 1.
Neutral 1.
March 5. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costant. Venetian Archives. 687. Cristoforo Valier and Almoro Nani, Venetian Ambassadors at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
I, Nani, made my public entry on Wednesday in last week; I was received with great honour, in which the ambassadors of France, England and Flanders took part. Subsequently we visited various persons, among others the Mufti. He asked what was happening in Italy, what was going on between the Spaniards and Flemish and what intelligence there was with the French and between England and Spain. We replied that there had been some small difference between the king of Spain and the duke of Savoy, but by now it ought to be settled, that in Flanders everything had been settled, that the most excellent relations existed between the Most Christian and Catholic Kings, and with respect to the English, although occasional pirates fought here and there, the intentions of the king were most friendly.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, the 5 March, 1615.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 6. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 688. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Monday I had audience of the king. On behalf of your Excellencies I praised his benignant intentions for the general good in the cause of peace, I thanked him for his courteous offers to your Serenity to this end, and said that, as His Majesty knew very well, you had from the first beginning of these troubles done everything to maintain peace; that you hoped that the declaration of His Majesty that he had taken the duke under his protection, and his offices with both parties aided by his authority would bring them both to reason and so he would acquire for himself the glory which others had not been able to obtain, if this desirable end could not be attained then certainly human counsel was inadequate to provide a remedy for the present disorders; that His Majesty might rest assured that your Excellencies would always have the same regard for the liberty of this province and their own as your ancestors had always shown and would act in such a way as to confirm the good opinion of His Majesty and of all others. I expressed the great regard of your Excellencies for this crown and for His Majesty in particular.
The king listened attentively and said that his ambassador reported the same, and that it was sufficient for a general reply. He seemed satisfied, and in conclusion said that it was necessary to work for peace, and if it could not be obtained at the moment, to treat all together and arrange with your Excellencies how to supply assistance to the duke. That the ambassador of Spain in France has been talking in a lofty strain to his Lieger, saying that the Catholic king had been offended by the duke in divers respects, that he meant to punish him and is sending armies and fleets which will humiliate him and chastise him for good and all, that he had afterwards added that the respect of the king of Spain for his master was so great, that if he would intercede for the duke he felt sure that he would be disposed to pardon him and forgive him every offence; that on hearing this he had immediately sent express instructions to his ambassador in Spain to do everything for the service of Savoy and the peace of Italy; that now the Duke of Mayenne is going to succour the duke and some substantial assistance in money will be supplied by himself, the States and Princes, so that he may maintain himself during the negotiations until the final decision of the king of Spain is known; that your Excellencies will see to it that the peace is not rendered abortive by the Spaniards and that all hope of peace may not be lost, that Lesdiguières in concert with those of the religion is supplying troops and will do better still in the future; that he is urging the Most Christian king to help Savoy, hoping that even if he does not help openly those of the religion may do so covertly; that the duke has sent for his ambassador, resident with your Excellencies, to Turin, where he believes him to have arrived, to treat for peace, and when the issue is known, there being every hope of peace, he will treat with your Excellencies to help him, feeling sure that you will be most ready to do so as otherwise you would be your own enemies; that Spain is now keeping on foot a very large number of paid troops while she professes to be at peace, so to speak, with all the world; the expense which she is incurring is immense, and she would not be able to bear it with all her Indies without Genoa which is supplying her. That this Genoa which has so much money is the ancient enemy of our Signory and now she is the slave of Spain and the first to declare against Savoy.
It seemed to me that something must be hidden under these words, but I had no knowledge at the moment of what I heard afterwards, and I will endeavour to penetrate further into the matter so that I may report more exactly to your Excellencies. The king is evidently animated by as strong a desire for peace as can be wished, but if the Spaniards are determined to annihilate the duke, he will concert with your Serenity and his other friends to send assistance in sufficient money to enable him to resist, without involving himself in war. He repeated to me several times what I have said above. He disclosed that in a few weeks the ambassador will have returned to your Excellencies, and if it is not peace he will negotiate upon the details of rendering assistance to the Duke.
London, the 6 March, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 6. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 689. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In speaking of the affairs of Cleves the king told me that after the last letters of the Archduke he sent to beg for an agreement, and the Most Christian king did the same; that the ambassadors of Spain and of the Archduke speak in different terms and the time has come when they must take a resolution in a few days. He said this as if he spoke of an affair which had become distasteful to him (et ciò proferi, parlando come di negotio che le sia venuto hormai a nausea).
The ambassador of the States in the audience which he had on Saturday pressed His Majesty earnestly to make a decision as regards the ambassador of Brandenburg. He received the reply that the king would afford the most complete satisfaction to that ambassador before his departure from the kingdom. The ambassador of Holland pointed out that the States are bound jointly with His Majesty and with the king of France in the treaty of Santen, to move against whichever of the Princes Possessioners should take a hostile step, and therefore they cannot now sign an undertaking not to re-enter under any circumstances whatsoever into the country of Cleves, or take any place; that this would be contrary to the obligations of the treaty in question; that the promise of the Archduke is of no consequence, because he can do the same thing under the name of the king of Spain or of the Emperor.
The ambassador of Brandenburg is a Dutchman, a familiar of Count Maurice and a kinsman of Barnevelt. He has written that they will not ratify the article, and will soon make known their wishes to the king, to come to a declaration of war, and to solicit help from His Majesty. He has special instructions to induce His Majesty, as head of the Union, to declare the Princes and States to be just, that they are already making preparations, and if the succours are not ready at once he will not press for the moment. He has spoken about it to the Archbishop, who informed the king. The day before yesterday this ambassador asked for audience of His Majesty, who excused himself on the grounds of pressure of business, and said that he had already given the instructions to his secretary, whom the ambassador saw late yesterday.
In speaking of the affairs of France, His Majesty told me that the queen had again endeavoured to induce the Duke of Longueville to renounce his governorship in favour of the Marquis of Ancre, and on this account the duke had again left the court in high dudgeon.
The person who is here for the duke of Rohan has received from him a letter for His Majesty of the 20th ult., which is little more than one of credit. He has presented it and executed the instructions which he holds.
On account of the multitude of affairs His Majesty has postponed his departure for two days. He is advised that among the demands to be made by the Estates of France one will ask for the effectuation of the marriages. I wrote some time ago that the queen's dependents were managing this. Villeroi said that the marriages would be more useful for France in negotiation than after their completion; he also declared several times that in Spain they are not inclined for the immediate passage of the betrothed, and the ambassador's declaration that they were was largely responsible for the sending of Sillery and not Alincourt, to whom instructions had already been given. Queen Margaret has told the queen more than once that with the passing of the bride from Spain, her authority will diminish, and she will in time have to withdraw, like herself. The same queen has also represented to the Marquis and Marchioness of Ancre that it will prejudice their interests too, because their fortune will decline with the growth of the favourites of the new queen. This has made a great impression, as they are quite well aware that the wife of the Ambassador Vaucelas is a great favourite, and with the Catholic king also, who desired his continuance in the embassy, although he is a relation of the duke of Sully. The Infanta has said that she will favour a French lady in the realm and not a foreigner of base origin, words which have stung the Marchioness. There are other reasons which may possibly cause some delay, but as the time and manner of passing may now have been arranged by Sillery, it will perhaps be difficult to procrastinate.
The king has sent Sir [Robert] Anstruther to Holland. He will afterwards proceed to Lubeck, Denmark, Sweden and perhaps Poland also. In Holland he will obtain the signature of the article as desired by the Archduke; at Lubeck he will counsel an apology; in Denmark he will ask the king to desist from manifestations of hostility and enter into the confederation with the united powers, and he will give the same advice to Sweden, interposing warmly in favour of peace with Poland.
The ambassador of Brandenburg informed me a short while ago that yesterday evening the king's secreta/rys Majesty had already written to the Archduke, giving him until the 25th to make restitution, that is the 5th April according to our reckoning, and if he does not agree, he cannot be his friend; that he has asked for a copy of this letter to send to his master. He will send for it to-morrow morning. The secretary has told him that he will give him a long interview as soon as the king has departed.
London, the 6 March, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 7. Senato, Deliberazioni, Secreta. Venetian Archives. 690. To the Ambassador in Savoy.
With regard to the request of the English ambassador that you should accompany him when he went to Milan, we approve of your prudent reply, in avoiding any obligation in the matter. Although we do not believe that the circumstances will present themselves, yet we think it better that you should excuse yourself.
Ayes 160.
Noes 0.
Neutral 1.
March 7. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives. 691. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The interview between the Elector of Mayence and the Palatine has taken place. The Elector reassured him upon the point of the forces of the king of Spain, and endeavoured to dissuade him from coming to any hasty resolution at Nurenberg. The Palatine declared that the princes joined with him were only thinking of their own defence, as the proceedings of others caused them alarm, as the Count of Vadamont had been newly appointed general of the Catholic league, the Spaniards had entered armed into the empire and had two armies, one in Flanders and the other in Italy. The Elector assured him that the Catholics had no other intentions but self defence, and thus they parted. The Palatine refused the proposal of the Elector to take the customary oath of union among the princes, but the Elector has written to the Emperor to say that the meeting was not entirely fruitless, as they discussed means of compounding the differences in the Empire, for which the princes will send one of their number to the Emperor.
Vienna, the 7 March, 1615. Copy.
March 10. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 692. Ranier Zen, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
I have seen Father Isidore, who said His Highness had told him that I had made urgent representations to him in favour of peace; he thought well of it and he had submitted the matter to the princes in order that they might find out what the Spaniards desired. He thought of assembling all the ambassadors and telling them of his good disposition so that they might report it to their masters. Thus on the following day, after he had called the nuncio aside, he sent also for France, England and myself. When we had arrived, His Highness said that after Mons. Savelli and the French ambassador had drawn up the articles which had been published to the world, he had shown his desire for peace by consenting to what they proposed, but the Spaniards were not contented and continued to arm, only giving good words in order to lull to sleep; they wished to deprive him of his States but gave out that they desired greater satisfaction; His Highness was ready to accord this, as he had said at other times, to please the princes, and he had called together the ambassadors the better to make public his good intentions, so that they might report them to their masters. Turning to the English ambassador he said, Your Excellency will oblige me by informing these gentlemen of the exhortations of your king in favour of peace, of his readiness to defend my liberty and whether I replied that I was ready for peace or no. The ambassador said that the king counselled peace, but one honourable to a free prince, and that His Highness had said that he was ready to embrace it, and that he had reported this to his king feeling sure that it would remove from His Majesty's mind those ideas which some were spreading abroad; that he was new in this court and if any of the rest of us had shown him any other way of conducting this affair, he would willingly have embraced it.
His Highness afterwards said to me: Your Excellency has always counselled peace, telling me recently that the Spanish ambassador has expressed a readiness to come to an agreement if I will afford greater satisfaction to the king. Tell your masters what has been said and my reply, so that they may know my good intentions. To France he said: Have I not agreed to what is contained in the articles! and since then have I not promised to do whatever else His Majesty might command to satisfy the Spaniards! The ambassador replied that he had and he would represent the matter to the king. His Highness finally added: This cannot continue. I am ready on my side to do what is fitting, but meanwhile the Spaniards are arming and wish to enter my states; after that all resolutions will be rain, it would be advisable to stop this arming. They say that they want more satisfaction and no one knows what they want. Fresia writes to me from France that he has spoken to the queen and ministers, and that Villeroi told him that the Spaniards pretend there have been four offences; the first is not obeying when they ordered him to disarm, the second is having sent back Tosone, the third having taken some proceedings against the Spanish ambassador, the fourth having entered the state of Milan. With regard to the first he said: I am a free prince; they have no right to command me. I have always said that I would disarm if it could be done in safety, and I say it again. With respect to the second, I should have done ill if I had kept those orders and there are a thousand instances to prove it. All have done so and it is the right course. As regards the third it is not true that he was illtreated; he was honoured in a fitting manner. It is true that some creditors wished to be paid by course of law, but I could not interfere in this. Such justice is denied to no one, least of all in Spain; there are a thousand instances and the Spaniards have no right to complain. With regard to entering their state, I did so for defence, as I did not move before they had entered mine, and all law and reason allow a man to defend himself. Even so I refrained from going so far as I might. I have written to Fresia to answer these objections as I have done. I have desired to make this statement to your Excellencies, and you know that I will give satisfaction.
The English ambassador then said: The desire of the Spaniards is clearly that your Highness should give greater satisfaction. I understand that you are ready to give it, but I do not know whether this readiness has been made known to the Spaniards and the governor of Milan in particular. I think it would be well that all three together, leaving for the moment the affair of the ambassador of France, should make known to the governor in some manner the willingness of your Highness to give further satisfaction, seeing that everything is now-reduced to this point, because if he does not know he may continue his warlike preparations and disarmament will be so much the more difficult, so that it would be well to stop him at the beginning. If it does nothing else it will at least serve to publish the readiness of your Highness and will open a road to proceed further.
The duke said: I think it well, and the Nuncio is of the same opinion. We were standing in a circle, where I was behind the English ambassador. While I was waiting for France to speak, he told me that I ought to give my opinion. I said that he ought to. He said: No, because I am formally separated from them. The duke asked me: Does your Excellency approve of this plan! I replied that I was ready to do everything for peace and anything that might help towards this and do no harm would have my approval; that I thought His Highness did well to publish his willingness, but that the mission would be imposing if performed by all the ambassadors. France then said: I am in a different position because I am daily expecting the end of my affair and of what M. de Sillery has done, so that I can do nothing. I hope that good news will reach me in a few days. He excused himself in other words for entering upon any operations, but said that we two might do it as we were not tied by such considerations.
The duke seemed highly displeased, but he restrained himself and said that the plan was simply to make known to the governor his willingness, in order to prevent further arming, and this was not an affair but simply that the ambassadors here should tell his governor, with respect to the current report as to the wishes of the Spaniards, so that arming and disturbances should not proceed, and the good will of the duke could not be represented by M. de Sillery in Spain so that on every account this mission was desirable. It was only for peace and to prevent harm and did not affect his position. But all this proved useless to move him from his position. The duke therefore said that we might all think over it a little and afterwards meet to arrange something in the interests of peace. We agreed to do this and the French ambassador promised to think it over, in order, if possible, to do what His Highness desired, and so we parted.
Turin, the 10 March, 1615.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 11. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Milano. Venetian Archives. 693. Antonio Antelmi, Venetian Resident at Milan, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from Casale of the 9th inform me that the Duke of Savoy has shown to the ministers of England a paragraph in some Spanish dispatches which have been intercepted. The duke sent it as a sign of respect for their king, and offered to forward the original. Your Excellencies will hear more of this from the proper source.
Milan, the 11 March, 1615.
March 13. Senate, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 694. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I received six days ago your Serenity's letters of the 15th ult, with the exposition of the king's ambassador and the letters in reply to those of His Majesty. In execution of my instructions I asked for audience on Sunday, which was immediately granted that same morning. I presented to the king the letter of your Excellencies and thanked him for his solicitude for the peace of Italy; I praised the mission of the Ambassador Carleton, expressed the hope that by means of his efforts and the authority of His Majesty peace might result, told him of the instructions given to the Ambassador Zen to co-operate as much as he could, and ended by saying that your Serenity would continue to do everything for the security of the State and the peace of Italy, with a due consideration for the present state of affairs.
The king replied that by the grace of God matters were in good train; that the Spanish ambassador at Venice had spoken with his own about the differences with Savoy and the way to accommodate them; that they had as good as come to an agreement, that the Spanish ambassador had afterwards given him letters for Milan, and he had taken them in order to facilitate the negotiations. His Majesty expressed the hope that he would have the honour of procuring the tranquillity of Italy, and showed his satisfaction with your Excellencies, who, he said, deal with matters with a prudence which cannot be surpassed.
I again thanked His Majesty warmly, remarked that the weal of Christendom consisted in peace and said that we shall have good hope of it, and I would send word to your Excellencies, who would be delighted.
The king replied that matters were in good train and he hoped that the outcome would soon appear, but if the Spaniards will not consent to a reasonable agreement, he will not fail the Duke, and will treat with your Excellencies; that the other princes are more interested than he, who is the most distant of all the friends of Savoy, but this will not prevent him from being among the first to afford vigorous assistance. He concluded by expressing a hope for peace, saying that he was expecting letters from his ambassador and the arrival of the Count of Scarnafes, and before that it was difficult to decide or accomplish anything.
I know no good authority that the king has given orders to the Treasurer and the Lords of the Council to provide money to succour the Duke in case of need, for the Princes of Germany if war continues and for other eventualities. The ambassador of the States has informed me that on Saturday by the king's order he wrote to his masters, saying that the king has decided to assist His Highness with money, to serve them as information in accordance with his promise, that His Majesty claims the right to assist Savoy by the same reasons as the Catholic king pretends to succour Neuburg. The undertaking against Genoa is the idea of the Duke, if war cannot be avoided the king will listen to it as a thing to be accomplished only in the case of open rupture.
The king's secretary told me yesterday that His Majesty had nothing more at heart than to assist the duke in peace and war, that he is anxiously awaiting news from Turin and the final decision of the Duke of Mayenne (Umena) to go over with his promised following of 6,000 foot and 1,000 horse to the assistance of Savoy; no more than two days after the arrival of the news, if there seems no more prospect of an agreement, His Majesty will cause the money which he has promised to be paid by letters of exchange; that the Duke of Mayenne had told the ambassador that if their Most Christian Majesties raised difficulties about granting leave, he would send the infantry through secretly and raise the cavalry in Germany and Lorraine, and this was the contents of the letter of the ambassador in France; that the king has given orders for the provision of a notable sum of money for the service of the duke, and that it will be prepared immediately; that His Majesty is resolved not only to assist His Highness if Spain wishes to deprive him of his state; but also to secure for him a reasonable settlement. He concluded by saying that he will be better informed in a few days, and will willingly let me know what there is. It therefore appears that while on the one hand they are treating here for peace for Savoy, with good hope of success, especially on the part of the king, yet on the other hand they are providing everything necessary if it is not secured.
London, the 13 March, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 13 Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 695. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Sunday the Spanish ambassador had audience. So far as I have been able to gather he again assured the king of the restitution of all the places occupied, even without any article; he spoke of the offences which the Catholic king pretended he had received from the Duke of Savoy, and concluded by speaking of the great weight attached to the intercession of His Majesty. The king's Secretary told me that in twenty days they will know the decision of the Archduke with regard to the restitution without any further conditions, and they will hear the wishes of the States sooner. He confirmed what the Spanish ambassador had said about the restitution, and the queen of France seems to hope for it. He seemed very uncertain whether he should believe it, and finally said that the differences of Cleves are a separate thing from those of Germany, which derive considerable importance owing to the interests of the Palatine; that he will let me know the advices which His Majesty is expecting, and which should be here in twenty days. Meanwhile I will use all diligence to discover what I can and will forward particulars.
The ambassador of Brandenburg, not having succeeded in obtaining audience of the king before his departure, has resolved to write. Meanwhile he has called upon the king's secretary, told him that the Elector, his master, has decided to see the treaty of Santen carried out without so much delay and so many documents or else that it shall be considered as broken and everyone left free and ready to resort to force; that if His Majesty will not interest himself, the forces of the States and the United Princes together will suffice when joined to those of the Elector, and they cannot fail; that they had entered into negotiations to please His Majesty and France; that but for this consideration they would never have thought of anything but of maintaining the claims of His Highness by arms. The Secretary was quite taken by surprise. The ambassador added that what he had said was by the express orders of his master and he repeated it because he had not said everything from the beginning in his audience of the king. He further said that his instructions were not to say it at the first audience, but to proceed gradually; that now the season is advanced, so much delay is advantageous to the enemy and such a method of negotiating gives him vigour and will cause a general war in Germany. The Secretary said that they would soon have the final reply from the Archduke; that Spain promises restitution unconditionally, and if this promise is not fulfilled, the king as head of the Union and as bound by his promise, honour and interests, will send a succour of 10,000 combatants and will not fail. The ambassador of the States has also spoken very openly, asking for a declaration, as both the United Princes and the States feel certain that Spain has made up her mind to war in Germany. The king, however, seems to hope for peace, and told me that if the Spaniards fail in their promise they will never again find anyone who will treat with them or believe what they say. The end of the States is to fight, backed by the arms of a king, as they always have been, and if they cannot have the support of France they hope to receive it here. The Spaniards, on the other hand, wish to separate the princes from the States, and all of them from this Crown, and with the greatest industry they use every device of speech to gain the king's favour.
It is quite certain that His Majesty has written and assigned the 5th prox. as the time for restitution, and afterwards he cannot be friendly. I have had this also from the lips of the king's secretary, who added that warlike preparations are being made on every hand.
London, the 13 March, 1615.


  • 1. The despatches of Contarini preserved at the Archives are much torn and ruined by damp for the months March-September, 1615. Fortunately the Ambassador's own register of his letters is preserved in the Library of St. Mark in excellent condition. Accordingly the transcripts from Contarini's despatches for these months have been made from the registers and afterwards collated with the despatches.
  • 2. Carleton left on the 15th Feb., see No. 684, his last appearance in the Cabinet being on the 14th, see No. 650.