Venice: July 1615, 16-20

Pages 519-529

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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July 1615, 16–20

July 16. Senato, Secreta. Dispacoi, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 923. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
A few hours after I sent off my last, the courier sent by the king to Turin for peace returned here. The ambassador of Savoy had letters from the duke of the 14th in which he says that he has received the letters sent post by the ambassador by the gentleman who left on the 2nd ult. as I reported. He shows some feeling that His Majesty has not sent him any money since the payment of the 100,000 crowns; he added that if the king's secretary told him that he hoped to obtain a safe and honourable peace otherwise he would not fail to support him, he is to point out that the Spaniards show they are far from entertaining such ideas, and so both safety and honour are in jeopardy, that it was necessary to send money at the same time, without which it was impossible for the duke to maintain himself. He commands him to tell His Majesty that the king's advice and his own inclinations lead him to use his utmost endeavours for peace; that there is no one who has authority to promise on behalf of the Spaniards, that the governor of Milan says he does not possess it and the Marquis of Rambouillet confesses that he cannot promise except for his king. Thus he negotiates with great peril and at an eminent disadvantage. Meanwhile he had a royal army on his arms, and he begs the king to send him some help in letters of exchange. That if an agreement was being satisfactorily arranged this would give him vigour to maintain himself and obtain safe and honourable terms, according to the intentions of His Majesty, and if peace is obtained, he promises to return the money without using it. He says that the Spanish army, after besieging Asti for more than a month, is less hopeful of taking it than on the first day; that the troops of the Italian princes are deserting and those who remain grumble and say they will not fight; the deception was apparent where under the pretext of providing for the defence of the state of Milan they had proceeded to occupy his. That on the two preceding days 4,000 infantry had arrived and the troops of the Dukedu Mayenne (Humena) were beginning to come in, thanks to the money paid to them by His Majesty; that he is expecting the arrival of Count John of Nassau with 600 horse, so that with the small assistance in money sent by His Majesty he hoped not only to defend himself but to dislodge the Spaniards and gain peace with honour and safety, as His Majesty wished. That he sends a copy of the negotiations in progress for an agreement, and he had never uttered a word or taken a decision without the consent of the ambassador of His Majesty, who had not hitherto been willing to promise that if the Spaniards broke their word, he would use force to compel them. As for judgment by the Imperial Chamber, that is by the princes of the empire and not by the emperor, it was less binding, and the matter appeared to be in a very different position from what he represented; that he understood that he had not studied the king's wishes and had asked for too much at a time, though he saw no sign of this in his letters. In a postscript in his own hand he says that speed is of the greatest importance and therefore he asks that help may be sent immediately.
With these instructions and other copious letters from the count of Verua the ambassador immediately asked audience of the king, which was granted to him on Sunday, His Majesty being then about to leave for Oatlands. When he came to the king he explained his commission. His Majesty approved and expressed his high esteem for the duke and added that, praise God, the aspect of affairs is changed, that peace is made and that he had special information as well as the articles; that the French ambassador had not wished to work jointly with his own. He remarked that things would be better, because if the Spaniards broke their word it would not be necessary to concert operations with France, but he will act by himself; that he is well aware of the disorders in the camp of the Spaniards, but the peace is by the Divine command and he rejoiced that His Highness had obtained it; that his ambassador had promised, subject to his good pleasure, and had taken a month for the ratification, and had afterwards sent it in a better form. As for submitting the differences with Mantua to the princes of the empire and not to the emperor, it was true that he had promised it, that he had confirmed it, that he had written to Spain and elsewhere, that he had the word of the Catholic king upon it, that he would see it carried out and that the secretary should immediately write to the ambassador to tell the duke, but that he would give him a note so that the secretary might believe what he said and wrote.
When the ambassador returned to London he immediately called on the secretary. When the latter had seen the king's order he said that he would at once write to the ambassador or in his absence to the agent, to promise His Highness that jugdment should be rendered by the princes of the empire and not by the emperor, and in the following week the letters of His Majesty to the duke would confirm this, but he said that a confederation would afford greater security upon all the points, and asked him if he had authority; he said that he had, but that this negotiation required time, and it was necessary to send off immediately the letters which the secretary sent him yesterday. The contents of these is that the ambassador having complained that the duke had received no confirmation that the differences with Mantua should be judged by the princes of the empire and not by the emperor, and that he is charged to tell His Highness that if Spain breaks her word, the king will employ force to compel her to keep it. With this much the ambassador sent post yesterday to the duke.
On Saturday the Spanish ambassador had audience. He said that peace was concluded in Italy, that the Catholic King had been influenced by consideration for His Majesty, for which the duke ought to be grateful to him. I am able to affirm to your Excellencies that the interposition of the king here has been of assistance in Spain, and nothing has more moved the duke than the promise to defend him and the resolute determination for peace. I may add that the offices of your Excellencies have tended to the same end, as His Majesty himself remarked to me, and as the secretary confirmed, and as I have several times reported, especially in mine of the 5th ult.
London, the 16 July, 1615.
Postscript.—I omitted to say that the king's ratification of the ambassador's promise made to the duke to attack the Spaniards was sent to Venice, the king's secretary assuming that the ambassador would return immediately after the treaty had been arranged, in accordance with his instructions, namely, to leave immediately whether war or peace resulted, and as I reported at the time. For greater assurance the letter was duplicated, which I reported was to be given to the ambassador of Savoy, being directed to the king's ambassador or to the agent in his absence.
July 16. Senato, Secreta. Dispacoi, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 924. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have received your Serenity's letters of the 19th and 25th ult. The first contain the complaints of the merchants your subjects upon the prohibition to bring merchandise here from the Levant, and directs me to discover the purpose of the prohibition, of those who are interested here in its observation, and the merchants, and what hopes there are of its revocation. The other refers to the offices hitherto performed by me with the king and ministers and exhorts me to continue, points out the prejudice which the subjects of your excellencies may suffer by lading only on Venetian or English ships, and ends by saying that more particular instructions will be sent to me after the Cinque Savii have reported. In conformity with your commands I have to say that this prohibition to all except members of the Levant company to bring merchandise from those places where it is accustomed to trade is nothing new, but is based upon others issued in the time of the queen, and entirely approved by the present king and the parliament of the realm. I may add, for the more exact information of your Excellencies, that in 1580, when the Venetian trade and shipping in these parts was declining owing to various impositions, the skill of the people here and perhaps to the changefulness of things, your Excellencies, desiring to provide a remedy, imposed the new custom upon raisins and made other provisions. Queen Elizabeth complained of this in her letters of 13 October, 1581, to which your Excellencies replied on 6 December of the same year. The queen answered on the 15 March, 1582, and the rejoinder of your Excellencies was on the 14th August of the same year. The contest continued from 24th December of that year, the 13 September, 1583, the 20 April, 1584, the 1st December of the same year and the 22nd April, 1585. Negotiations proceeded for the removal of impositions on all sides, to suspend the new custom and remove some imposed by the queen, but as they could not agree, this long series of letters remained fruitless. Subsequently some provisions were made by both parties in favour of their own subjects and for the shipping, as they judged opportune. The matter in negotiation was done by the queen, approved by the parliament and, as I have said, the privileges of the Levant company have been confirmed by the present king. From my letters of the 12th ult. your Excellencies will have understood the efforts which I have made for a revocation with the Lords of the Council and about the ships of the merchants, and the reply I have received. I have not ceased my efforts and requests since then. The chiefs of the merchants have sent to say that they will be on my side and they hope by advancing their arguments to give me complete satisfaction, that in the interests of trade it will be advantageous to act temperately in matters which aggrieve both parties. I shall make strong representations and do everything in my power.
London, the 16 July, 1615.
July 16. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 925. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador of Brandenburg has told me that Maurice on hearing of the king's belief that the places will be restored in conformity with the promises of the ambassadors of Spain and the archduke, marvels at the readiness of His Majesty to believe and at his consequent delay in coming to a decision. He has given orders to all the militia of Friesland and Guelders to proceed to the frontiers of Cleves to be safe against all dangers and to receive under arms there the imperial command to sequestrate Cleves, Juliers and the other countries in dispute. On the 7th began the general conference, in which a resolution will be taken, probably, it is thought, to carry out the treaty of Santen.
The fortifications of Juliers, Rees, Emmerich and Cleves have already been rendered quite perfect and Maurice will be ready to face all emergencies, taking the field with a good force of infantry and more cavalry than the other side. The States and Princes wish that His Majesty would dismiss the ambassadors of Spain and the archduke. For the moment they ask for no more, and say that they would begin the war alone. But while His Majesty continues to cherish hopes of restitution he seems far from this, though he declares that if restitution be not made he will not only fulfil his promises but do much more.
The emperor would like the princes to meet in person, at least in an Imperial Diet, to assemble about the month of September. He is sending out invitations by letter, but they insist upon their usual pretensions.
In the audience the Spanish ambassador again affirmed the restoration of the places, but no one believes him except His Majesty.
I have to thank your Serenity and your Excellencies for the favour accorded to me on the 13th ult. I promise to serve with the same devotion as during the last ten years and to do so as long as any property and life remain to me.
London, the 16 July, 1615.
While about to send off these presents I hear that two couriers have arrived from Spain, one for His Majesty and the other for the ambassador. I will send particulars later.
July 16. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 926. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses account sent by Tassies for carrying letters from here to Antwerp.
London, the 16 July, 1615.
July 16. Inquisitori di Stato. Dispacoi, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 927. Giovanni Rizzardo, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Inquisitors of State.
In spite of every effort I have not been able to gather any information about the Ambassador Foscarini being invited to a banquet by the late prince and dining publicly in the servants' hall with the courtiers. Although I have asked several people and pretended I had heard of it I have found no one to say that it ever took place. I have indeed heard that he went once to audience of the king and prince when they were away from the city. He arrived about dinner time, and after seeing His Majesty he was detained almost by force by the duke of Lennox, the king's cousin, and other chief lords, seated at their table and given a place above them all. This did not satisfy the ambassador, because he had not eaten at the table of the king or the prince, and he said something about it after the audience. Accordingly the prince invited him to his table, and they dined together apart from the rest, not in the servants' hall as reported.
I have learned nothing further upon the matters committed to me by your Excellencies, though I understand that upon these and other points the ambassador has possibly been too jealous of the dignity of the republic, as you may have gathered from my other letters. I seem to have completed the execution of the instructions given to me by your Excellencies, and am awaiting further orders to make good any omissions of which I may be judged guilty.
I have made every effort, but without success, to obtain the book of which I have already written. It is said that the author will not let it go because he wants to have it printed. There is nothing for me except to obtain it from Biondi himself with as much art as I am capable of, but as he is far away from the city and is not expected back within two months, I must wait for that time unless I can manage to obtain it in some other way.
News is obtained in the manner which I have already described. With regard to Cleves and those parts, His Excellency has some one who sends him letters. He has shown me some of these, and I have read them with the signature, but as this is a secret between them I cannot say who the person may be.
The intimacy with Savoy continues so close that during the last two weeks hardly a day has passed without a long conference between them, not to speak of continual visits to each other's houses, so often as twice a day. I mention this in order that your Excellencies may not subsequently reproach me with having omitted anything, not because I think there is anything wrong in it.
London, the 16 July, 1615.
[Italian; deciphered.]
July 20. Senato. Secreta. Dispacci, Zante. Venetian Archives. 928. Gerolamo Bembo, Proveditore of Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
The captain of the fleet, after receiving news of the Turks, and having a favourable wind, decided to sail. I feel sure that by now he will have reached the kingdom [of Naples], especially as I have heard from an English berton which arrived here yesterday that three days ago he had seen five galleys near Cerigo, and as they were under the fortress he judged that they were Venetian.
From Zante, the 20 July, 1615.
July 21. Cl. VII. Cod. MXLIX. Bibl. S. Marco, Venice. 929. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A courier has arrived here from Savoy with letters from the ambassador Zen containing news of the difficulties which have arisen between the ambassador of France and England in signing the treaty. Tied with string to my letters I found letters of the duke of Savoy to his ministers, with his signature. I do not know whether they came there accidentally or of set purpose. However I immediately took a copy, which I enclose. The ambassadors of Savoy came to see me to impart the particulars of the treaty and said that they feared that the unreasonable proposals now put forth by Rambouillet were simply an artifice. They begged me to use my offices with their Majesties for the establishment of the treaty. I promised to do so, and though I have not yet seen the queen, I have spoken to the ministers, telling them of the offices performed by your Serenity with the duke assuring him that he would receive complete satisfaction from the negotiations of the ministers of the two crowns. I said that when I was about to go and congratulate His Majesty upon the happy termination of the affair, I had received letters telling me of the difficulties which had arisen between M. de Rambouillet and the ambassador of England in signing the treaty. Although this might now be settled, yet I could not rest without pointing out to them the dangers which might arise if the treaty were not confirmed as soon as possible.
They replied that the republic had played a most correct part in these affairs. With regard to the new difficulties their only confirmation came from the ambassadors of Savoy and they could say nothing more until they heard from their minister, to whom they sent a ratification of the agreement on the 15th.
In speaking to me about the grievances of the duke of Savoy Villeroi remarked that the English ambassador might bind himself independently by whatever words and conditions he chose, but while he was acting in concert with the others it was necessary not to prejudice or offend those who had greater interests involved. He went on to say that for some little time the English have been meddling in everything, and they want to make themselves the arbiters of the world. They had done the same in Flanders, where they departed from what had previously been arranged in concert, and by separately giving the archduke to understand that the States would accept an arrangement, which they would not agree to, had led to the present difficulties there. They would do the same in these affairs, and he did not see for what reason the ambassador wanted to introduce the words, in consideration of the promise of the governor of Milan, which has not yet been made; that the Spaniards would never agree, and the king here could not consent for his honour's sake (nel discorrermi Villeroi di quanto si doleva il Duca di Savioa, venne a dirmi, che l'Ambre d'Inghilterra poteva a parte obligarsi con qual conditioni et parole stimara più a proposito, ma mentre voleva farlo nel foglio con gl'altri era necessario non pregiudicasse ne disgustasse quelli che ne hanno maggior interesse aggiongendomi andarsi Inglesi da certo tempo in quà mescolando in tutte le cose, con volersi render arbitri del mondo; L'istesso haverano fatti in Fiandra, che partendosi da quello prima s'era concertato insieme, diedero a parte intentione all Arciduca che li stati sariano condescesi a certo partito, al quale non volendo essi attentive, si sono condotti le difficoltà al termine che si ritrovano, et il medesimo causarebbono in questi affare, non credendo per qual ragione voglia VAmbre mettervi quelle parole stante la promessa del Govr. di Milano, la quale ad esso non era stata fatta. Che Spagnuoli non ri havrebbono mai concorso ne poteva questa Maestà per sua reputatione contentarsene).
I said that I did not think that the difficulty was so great as to imperil the agreement, and I did not see how His Majesty's honour could suffer, I gave him several of the arguments by which the English ambassador supports his opinions and pointed out that it would be wise not to raise other difficulties which might destroy the treaty, and that as the English ambassador had already signed, withdrawal would perhaps be difficult. He replied that nothing else could be done even if everything was broken off because His Majesty was greatly interested, but that no decision would be taken or reply given to the ambassadors of Savoy before they have heard from Rambouillet, but perhaps, even now he has presented to His Highness the confirmation sent to him.
Paris, the 21st July, 1615.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 930. Letter of the Duke of Savoy to his Ambassadors in France.
The enclosed dispatch was sent to Asti to a gentleman of the English ambassador who was to be sent on by him, as he wished to be the first to send his king word of the peace. We, therefore, consigned to him our instructions for the count of Scarnafes as well as letters for you and Fresia. The matter seems happily settled, but as the ambassadors of England and Venice have not yet signed, I am keeping it back in order to send the complete despatch afterwards. With regard to the manner of signing, the English ambassador has had some discussion with the ambassador of France, and after two or three meetings the matter was so far settled that the English ambassador had nothing to do but to sign. He attached so much importance to this that he would not do it in a corner but in the presence of all the ambassadors gathered here, myself and my council. However, when we were about to leave Asti and withdraw the troops, we were so much occupied that the matter could not be finished here, therefore a few days later we summoned all the ambassadors and our council and the treaty was presented to the ambassadors of England and Venice to sign in the presence of myself, my sons and of all the others. The French ambassador began to say that they ought not to sign the document as it was, because M. Gueffier had signed and it was not proper for him to sign below an Agent, and Gueffier was no longer an Agent, being functus officio, and that he had no part in the negotiations, being a simple letter carrier for their Majesties. The English ambassador removed the first difficulty by saying that at the recent treaty of Santen the ambassadors had signed below agents, and with this precedent he would not withdraw. The ambassador of Venice added that he would sign below the English ambassador. I said that M. Gueffier had signed in his presence with his consent, and had there styled himself the Agent of his Most Christian Majesty. I said that his objections appeared unreasonable and unfounded. However, to satisfy him it was agreed that the documents should be written out again to be signed at another time, adding some words needed to render the meaning clearer, and as they were all together it would be easy for the ambassadors of England and Venice to sign. Both said that though they could not put it in writing for the moment, as the first document had not been transcribed, yet they meant the publication to be made before all, and this could be done without a further meeting, and it would suffice that the drafts should be taken to the house of each ambassador to sign. This was agreed upon by all the ambassadors and so they parted. On the following day I signed the newly-made document and Crotti took it to the French ambassador for his signature. He said that he wished first to collate it with his own originals, and as it was not fitting that the same document should appear with different signatures he asked that the one signed by M. Gueffier might be brought to him to tear up. This was reasonable, and Crotti said that he would leave a secretary to compare the second document and meanwhile he would send the original documents. The ambassador told him to go, and added, I have sent to the English ambassador to ask for a copy of his declaration, as I wish to examine it, and I wish to know what he will do. Accordingly Crotti did not bring the document back that day and sent to tell the French ambassador that he would not go. From what the English ambassador said afterwards, he would not send a copy of the declaration, but said that he would bring it himself. He did so on the following day or the next. After the French ambassador had read and re-read it, he said that he should like to have a copy, to think over it.
The ambassador replied that he had shown this courtesy because of the good relations between their kings, and as the document had been publicly read he could not change a syllable, and this was no longer the place to think over it. He said that the French ambassador had only to consider the things which he had to do in the name of his king, but that to satisfy his curiosity he would leave a copy, though he was determined not to change it. He also complained of his proceedings.
On the following day, without betraying any knowledge of this, I sent back Crotti to obtain the signature of the French ambassador, He said that he would sign, but that he asked that it should not be taken to the other ambassadors before he had dealt with them about the signing, because there were two difficulties with the ambassador of England. The first was that he did not think it well that the words, and especially the promise of the governor of Milan, should be specified. The second was that he did not think it fitting, after all his king had done for the protection of our person and states, that another king should come and promise the same protection, as this would greatly prejudice the dignity of his king, whose protection sufficed. He said that the difficulty he had raised about the signature of M. Gueffier was not insuperable, but he had simply raised that pretext because it was not convenient at the moment to dispute with the English ambassador about the signing. However, if the ambassador would make a separate document he would give him leave to make it as full as he liked. The ambassadors saw each other afterwards, and so far as we have learned some words passed between them, the English ambassador complaining loudly of the proceedings of the French, saying that there was a better understanding between their princes than themselves, that this was not a way for the ministers of princes to act, and that in so grave a matter it was most dangerous to leave it unsettled, and though he was most anxious to preserve a good understanding, yet when the honour of his king was concerned he could not neglect to do what seemed right to him, feeling sure that His Majesty would approve, and if he did not he would be punished. With regard to the form of the signing, he had arranged with him about it several times, and he had a document in Gueffier's hand, made by order of the ambassador where he had readily accepted the promise, and he did not understand how he could now contradict himself so openly. That, as he said, we were so great a prince that we should never use the word protection, but we had done so to please him, and that he would not change any detail.
The French ambassador also spoke to the ambassador of Venice, but more clearly, hinting that he did not want this signed because it was a tacit league made against the crown of Spain. Accordingly, seeing the matter was being drawn out, and that little was to be expected from the French ambassador, who was so full of deceit, malignity, instability and imprudence, we resolved to ask the ambassadors of England and Venice to sign the same document to which M. Gueffier had put his hand. They did so. We took this action because we perceived that the French ambassador intended to undermine our credit with their Majesties, by proposing that we should disarm before the time agreed upon. After the ambassadors had signed we decided to send word of what they had done to this ambassador to see whether after the fact he would be pacified, and also to discover whether he had any other intentions. We chose Monsig. Isidore for this mission, to say that in view of the delay and the indicision of their ambassadors, which also delayed the disarmament, I had thought good to anticipate in order to please their Majesties, and was prevented because the documents were not completed, and had therefore resolved to get the ambassadors to sign, feeling sure that he would welcome anything that would lead to peace. At these words he grew pale and said some nonsense about the signature being null because it was done without his knowledge; the reputation of his king was offended, and that I had refused his petitions. To all these points Monsig. replied in detail. He told him that the honour of his king was not attacked, because it was not incompatible that a prince should be under the protection of more than one king. He instanced Mantua which is under Spain and France as well as endless others; that his petitions had not been heard because their nature was such that they depended on others and it was impossible to depart from what had been settled. He replied: Very well, I will write to my king, and your Highness will learn that neither the one nor the other will protect your territories, meaning England and Venice. He was told that I also would write, that my ends were none other than to carry out what had been arranged and provide for the safety of my state, so that no unprejudiced person could blame me. He replied: We will say no more about it, I will leave for France, and so they parted.
Now you know all that has taken place, and you will be able to relate everything to His Majesty and his ministers and tell them that owing to the threats of this ambassador made contrary to the agreement and so much to the offence of other princes, I have been obliged to suspend disarming, which I had already begun before the time in order to please His Majesty, that I have decided to await their reply upon this and their ratification, as I am sure that the ambassador will interpose every obstacle in his power, as he is full of poison and of the spirit of contradiction and is so blinded by passion that he cannot distinguish good from evil.
The ambassadors of England and Venice are writing strongly about it, especially the Englishman, who complains bitterly. It is good to do everything in concert. I am sending the enclosed to M. Gueffier, it will tell him the substance of the matter and will inflame him. I use a great appearance of confidence, disclosing how the ambassador wished to deprive him of all honour and spoke contemptuously of him. All this will help, as we are most anxious for the document to be signed. We are going to print it and circulate it throughout the world, and we expect to obtain the ratification thus, without getting it from the ambassador who has done everything to cause delay. We have done all this to oblige the queen and not because we were compelled, as in fifteen days the Spanish army would have been obliged to flee, leaving Milan helpless. This is notorious, but we shall be disappointed if the queen does not give the ratification and recall the minister here, from whom we can expect nothing but continual offence. If you find that the ratification is delayed or things are not going well, you will urge the duke of Mayenne to send the troops which cannot be entirely disbanded.
The ambassadors of England and Venice have to perform the same offices, and if they can be done together they will produce a greater effect; at all events, you will perform yours.
Carlo Emmanuel.
Turin, the 10 July, 1615.