Venice: February 1616, 1-15

Pages 118-128

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 14, 1615-1617. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1908.

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February 1616, 1–15

Feb. 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 165. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
I have seen the duke, and presented the letters to your Serenity. He thanked me, but said that it was not sufficient to defend him if attacked. He said he had letters from England of the 14th ult. sent by extraordinary courier, who brought instructions to the agent to go to Milan and make representations for the disarmament and the fulfilment of what was promised. The duke said that the same office ought to be performed by the minister of the Republic; I think they will do it, but they are so cold that I do not know what to promise myself.
Turin, the 1st February, 1615. [m.v.]
Feb. 2. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 166. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The duke of Nevers and the king's deputies returned to court two days before their Majesties arrived here. They reported that they had arranged an armistice with the princes until the 1st of March, and there is to be a conference on the 10th of that month to arrange peace. Nothing but peace is now talked of; it is much desired, the people being tired of the disorders and the princes exhausted. The English ambassador has been present at all the negotiations and has proved marvellously successful, employing the authority of his king in particular with the duke of Bouillon and the Huguenot deputies. At first they looked unfavourably upon his interference as well as upon that of any other minister of a prince, but as his efforts have proved so successful, they are now grateful to him and have thanked him warmly.
Tours, the 2nd February, 1616.
Feb. 3. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives. 167. Pietro Vico, Venetian Secretary in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The ministers here have made grave complaints to the English ambassador because the count of Nassau, contrary to the capitulations made by the princes pretending to the duchy of Cleves, has taken possession of some places in that state which were neutral, telling him that the king will not suffer wrong to be done to a prince under his protection, that he kept an army in Flanders to protect him against every one and would make his power felt. They seemed much dissatisfied with that king.
The ambassador excused his master, saying that he had intervened in that affair simply in the interests of peace, to which end all his efforts were directed, and he had no part in these proceedings.
The ambassador has sent an account of all this to England.
Madrid, the 3rd February, 1615. [m.v.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 5. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 168. To the King of Great Britain.
Our great confidence in your Majesty induces us to direct our ambassador Barbarigo to represent the grave events which are happening. We beg you to hear him graciously, as the matter is of the greatest moment both for the welfare of the republic and the general good.
Ayes 143.
Noes 7.
Neutral 12.
Feb. 5. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 169. To the Ambassador in England.
The provocations and hostility in the matter of the Uscocchi have been continued by the archduke's people, so that instead of effecting the promise, so frequently made, to extirpate that race, they are openly protecting them and have entered our provinces of Istria and Dalmatia together with these, devastating and robbing the country and compelling our representatives to make reprisals against them. Thus for example the enemy to the number of 800 were overtaken near Puola, when laden with booty, by two of our companies and 300 infantry, who routed them after a sharp skirmish, recovering the booty, killing 160 and taking about a hundred prisoners. On the frontiers of Friuli, where we have taken archiducal possessions, various skirmishes have taken place, generally to the disadvantage of the enemy, who have lost 200 killed and many prisoners, the killed including Captain Franco and the Lieutenant of Ortenburg. Thus the justice of our cause becomes more apparent by showing the necessity of our operations. The emperor requested a truce of two months, during which he gave his word to fulfil his promises and to remove the root of the evil. We agreed to this by our ambassador and the Imperial officials sketched a document for him, upon which we might easily have come to an agreement, if the archiducal party had desired, but they first caused delays and soon showed how little they desired peace, as while they contrived delay by various pretexts they never broke off hostilities but continued to increase their forces, constantly bringing up new troops to our frontiers, while they never lost an opportunity of preventing us from bringing new troops or getting other help.
With this information and with the letter which we send you for the king, you will acquaint His Majesty with these particulars as your prudence may suggest, adding that our long patience and our peaceful disposition show our good intentions. We are arming in the interests of public safety and to defend our subjects, hoping to see the end, once and for all, of these troubles. Even if the breach continues, His Majesty has proved his zeal for the preservation of free princes, especially in Italy, to the glory of his name. We confide in this and expect his advice and demonstrations worthy of his good disposition towards us and of his greatness and authority. The greater our obligations towards His Majesty so much the greater will be our gratitude. The justice of our cause is notorious. If you see that he is impressed you may point out how helpful it will be for His Majesty to declare himself and give his opinion in our favour, expressing his displeasure at the undeserved attacks made upon us, and that they prefer to protect a lot of villains rather than keep their reiterated promises. Such representations made at the court of Spain or wherever else he might think fit, would be of great assistance. It would also be of great help if His Majesty would induce the Elector Palatine and the other princes of Germany to declare in favour of a proper settlement of this affair.
You will also make similar confidential communications to the ambassador of the States and other ministers of princes so that they may be impressed by the justice of our cause, by the true state of affairs and by our determination to defend ourselves.
If the troubles do not cease we may need a quantity of munitions of war, and powder, rope, etc. You will take note of what quantity and quality of such munitions you can obtain there if necessary, sending us word of the cost and carriage. You will also discover how many thousand foot you might obtain with ease from that kingdom with the king's goodwill and if it would be better to get Irish troops, advising us clearly of the wages, the expenses and arrangements for transporting them with all particulars you consider worthy of our notice.
The duke of Savoy notifies us that the new Governor of Milan desires that all negotiations between them may be carried on by favour of the Catholic king, without abiding vigorously by the treaty. He points out the necessity for him to arm afresh, the impossibility of his doing so, the ease with which he could come to an agreement, every facility being offered by Spain, and redoubles his instances for a defensive league with him. We have replied by affirming our constant care for his interests, and for the general liberty and peace and by declaring that a league or other action would break off all negotiations and would offend the princes already interested in the matter, who ought to be approached first, so as not to give the Spaniards an excuse for arming or leaguing with others; that His Highness has nothing to fear for the present and may rest assured of our continued goodwill.
We send this for your information only.
Ayes 143.
Noes 7.
Neutral 12.
Feb. 5. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 170. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In fulfilment of the commands of your Serenity I have been to see M. Caron, ambassador of the States, and told him, as a sign of confidence towards his masters, the particulars of events taking place on the archiducal frontiers, by reason of the Uscochi, so that he might inform them not only of the events; but of the reasons and the necessity which move your Serenity to provide for your just defence. I delivered to him the whole of my commission and after he had heard everything and showed especial satisfaction, he replied that he would send his masters special information of all this, that they would clearly discern the justice of the cause of your Excellencies, both by reason of the particulars which I had given him and also of their knowledge of the prudence with which your Serenity manages your affairs and by their own experience that from certain princes it is much easier to obtain promises than deeds. He then proceeded to tell me that the affairs of Cleves may in time give rise to some new movement, as the Spaniards show signs of contriving various things not only there but still further inside Germany, where the Emperor manifested great displeasure that they had entered in order to deliver the town of Brunswick from the siege. Owing to the obligations of their league they could not suffer this. He ended by affirming the warm friendship of his masters for your Excellencies, the esteem which they have for the republic and their desire for the greatness and prosperity of your Serenity.
I performed a similar office with the agent of the Elector Palatine at this court. He also received it very courteously and told me that he would send a special account to His Highness, in which respect and by his own inclination he is anxious to serve your Serenity. He also made remarks about the non-fulfilment of the promise to remove the Uscochi from Segna and compare it with the negotiations upon the treaty of Santen and for the restitution of Wesel. He informed me that the Elector Palatine proposes to send to His Majesty very shortly the count of Schomberg, and he dwelt a little upon the news of some troops levied from the archbishopric of Mayence, although the archbishop sent a special person to assure His Highness that he should be subject to no attack. He had heard that the archduke Maximilian on his return to Flanders, was to pass by way of Heidelberg, and he reckoned that at that very moment or very shortly he should be in that town or at least in the neighbourhood. He knew nothing, however, whether he took that way as being the easiest route or whether it was in order to promote some affair in conformity with the things which might have been concerted with the archduke Albert at Brussels and with some other decision which may have been taken at the meeting between the same archduke at Bonn and the archbishop of Cologne and many other prelates of Germany who met there, as I have previously written to your Serenity.
Owing to suspicions about these negotiations and the various movements and preparations which are daily being made by the Spaniards, the United Princes of Germany live in some anxiety about their own affairs; but the margrave of Brandenburg and the States are much more disturbed about the affairs of Cleves. These last days the States have made a thorough review of all their forces of war, after which they have given orders to raise 6,000 new infantry and they are much relieved that their ambassadors at Brunswick have completely finished the accommodation between the town and the duke of Brunswick, because at the first accommodation they only negotiated to withdraw the forces, but no further particulars were arranged, as is now understood to have happened.
The same ambassador confirmed the league with the Hanse towns, which are to supply the States, when they need it, with 1,000 horse and 5,000 foot and they will send a certain sum of money every year as a deposit in Holland, to be used according to events for the general benefit of both parties.
It is also understood that the elector of Brandenburg has arranged to procure troops for the service of his own interests in the country of Cleves, as the same thing is being done by the duke of Neuburg and also by the Spanish party for their own ends, and the count of Bucquoi has already executed the commissions received from the archduke to levy two regiments and the count of East Friesland one, for making 6,000 foot.
The queen here, who is not very fond of the Dutch, owing to their differences with the king of Denmark, her brother, has been, much put out by seeing a picture print representing a damsel, called the damsel of Brunswick, who is apparently being attacked by a knight upon a bull, with a stag's horn upon his head, and who is rescued by three other knights. The queen has seemed greatly offended at this, as she believes that the king of Denmark is intended by the knight upon the bull; she has shown great resentment about it to M. Caron, the ambassador of the States, telling him that she meant to have the interpretation of those figures. He replied that he did not know it, and he succeeded in persuading Her Majesty that such inventions are probably the work of the Spaniards, in order to excite the wrath of Her Majesty, the more so because the States, in order to do everything possible for the satisfaction of Her Majesty, have suppressed and banished these prints from the whole of their country; Caron declared that not a single one was to be found in all Holland, except two copies, and a very high reward had been offered to whoever should disclose the author of the work.
From France, since the news about this place and the deputies for the negotiations between their Majesties and the princes, nothing further has arrived, and they are on the tiptoe of expectation, awaiting the issue of those affairs. Meanwhile His Majesty has sent M. de Montbarot to return to the princes, and has given him various letters from him exhorting them to abandon disputes about ceremony and to work for an agreement.
London, the 5 February, 1615.
Feb. 5. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 171. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir [Henry] Wotton, destined to be ambassador to your Serenity, told me that he had already taken leave of the king to start in a few days, long before His Majesty has reason to return to London, that he has orders to take the German route on his way out and to visit the Elector Palatine and the princess in the name of His Majesty. He has some private commissions for them for the special service of the princess to provide her with a secretary and with some lady to stay with her, as the one who went with her has recently died, to whom she was very attached. In addition to all this he had orders from His Majesty of greater moment, to assure that prince of his special protection; that His Majesty wishes to know not only the intentions of the Palatine, but of all the rest of Germany, to which the greatness of Spain may prove perilous, and those designs which by using the opportunity of the French alliance will be turned to the prejudice of other free princes; that the king will use every endeavour to preserve the league of the united princes in security and far from all harm and danger which may threaten them. He hopes to induce the king of Denmark also to enter the union, and the duke of Brunswick, and he is determined in any case not to permit the further advancement of the affairs of Spain. This could have been done much more easily this year as order had now been introduced into the affairs of the kingdom, and His Majesty certainly would and could do everything reasonable. Although in the preceding year he had done a great deal and more than any other prince for the duke of Savoy, yet it could not be denied that he might have been able to do more, but great impediments were caused by the scarcity of money, which arose from the upset of good order in the kingdom, but in the year to come things will be done systematically, which should allow the greatest facility for effecting the things which may be considered opportune (se ben l'anno passato haveva il re fatto molto, et più di qual si sia altro Prencipe per il Duca di Savoia, con tutto ciò, non si poteva negare che non si fosse potuto fare d'avantaggio, et che dalla strettezza del denaro, nata qui dalla confusione del buon ordine nel governo di esso non si fosse patito molto impedimento, ma che nell' anno venturo si doverà procedere con regola tale che dovera prestare commodità grandissimà di effettuare le cose, che saranno estimate opportune).
He told me moreover that he is to go on to Piedmont to assure the duke of Savoy of the continuation of the good disposition of His Majesty, strengthen him to continue in his present determination not to allow himself to be frightened by threats, or to be deceived by the promises of other princes, in whom His Highness knows it is no longer possible to trust, and that he must maintain his present good disposition towards His Majesty and continue and increase his confidence and union with your Serenity. He hinted that he might possibly take instructions to renew the affair already promoted by Sir [Dudley] Carleton about a league and he added that, knowing the desire of His Majesty to serve every interest of your Excellencies, he had reminded him to give him orders to favour the affair of the Grisons. The king had replied that at the moment he did not know exactly what was being done or precisely what your Serenity desired, so that he did not quite see what commissions he could give, but if he was asked by your Serenity to perform any office which you might think useful, he would do anything most willingly, and he had directed the ambassador to use his efforts wherever your Excellencies might consider them useful, according to your will. I thanked him for the confidence shown in communicating to me instructions so important. I loudly praised the zeal of His Majesty in looking after the welfare of the princes confederated with him. With regard to the proposal for a league, I told him that I had nothing to say, as Sir [Dudley] Carleton had already heard from the Cabinet and the ambassador Foscarini had reported to His Majesty upon the subject. I did not dwell upon the subject, but in the remainder of the conversation I took occasion to warn him that the manner in which it was necessary for your Serenity to treat was varied, and as the princes of Germany were numerous, unless their affairs are very well ordered and their obligations recognised, they would lose a great deal of time in their diet before anything useful could be done, but your Serenity had already in many ways shown your good disposition to His Majesty, and could execute everything necessary in a deliberation of the Senate, and no public declaration could add anything really essential or promote benefits which would at all counterbalance the suspicion and disturbance in the minds of others. I afterwards thanked him for putting his services at the disposition of your Serenity and assured him that your Excellencies preserved a lively recollection of the favours received from his Majesty and of his readiness to confer new ones: especially in the matter of the Grisons. As I knew that he might easily have occasion to see the Cavalier Salice or others with whom a knowledge of the affairs of your Serenity might be of assistance, I endeavoured to make him clearly understand how advantageous it would be for the public service, and especially for the Grisons, that your Excellencies are constant in fulfilling your obligations to your confederates and friends as appears in the case of the Swiss in particular.
I do not know if he will go to Zurich on his way to Savoy, but I understand that he is certain to pass through Berne, and possibly he will either promote or arrange the alliance of the two towns with the princes of the Union, if he finds that they are resolved to try it again. I discussed with him the current affairs between your Excellencies and the archduke's subjects. I gave him full information about all that has happened, and in this and in everything else he showed the keenest desire to serve your Serenity. He told me in particular that when passing through Germany he would make use of the knowledge which he possesses to display the complete reasonableness and justice of the action of your Serenity, and he will use his best offices in every place, as he knows this to be the wish of the king, his master.
I thank your Serenity and your Excellencies for so kindly relieving my sufferings and commending my services, including me in the new regulation for the salary of ambassadors. It will be a great stimulus to me to fulfil my duty, and I will employ all my feeble powers in fulfilling your commands.
London, the 5 February, 1615. [m.v.]
Feb. 6. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costant. Venetian Archives. 172. Almoro Nani, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ship Royal Defence, which left here recently, laded here a hundred packs of silk of three months (tempo tre mesi) but the chief Jews, who are wealthy men, stirred up those who sold the silk, casting suspicion upon the good faith of the English merchants, and creating the opinion that once the ship had gone they would never be paid. Thus they were obliged to find the money before the ship left the port. They had to borrow it from the Jews in order to make the payment, at 18 per cent, interest. From what I hear from those who are well-informed English ships will not come here so readily, as the merchants of that nation have a considerable stock, both old and new, which they cannot sell very easily.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 6th February, 1615. [m.v.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 8. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 173. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
His Highness sent for me yesterday and told me of his negotiations with Milan up to that moment. He then read two letters (fn. 1) of Perona of the 3rd inst. He said he was determined to do his utmost to secure the disarming of the State of Milan, and would not make any agreement with them until he saw them disarmed. This was the advice given him by the king of England.
Turin, the 8 February, 1615. [m.v.]
Feb. 8. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Candia. Proveditori. Venetian Archives. 174. Pietro Bondumier, Proveditore General of Candia, to the Doge and Senate.
The captain of the great galleys arrived here three days ago, bringing sixty-six men whom he had taken in Syria (Sitia). The rector writes me that they are from a pirate ship, which went towards the Paleo castro of Syria in this manner. About four months ago a burton or urca of considerable size was armed in the port of Livorno. It carried 34 pieces of artillery and various other arms, and 120 men, sailors and soldiers. Their captain was called John, a Fleming (Giovanni Fiamengo). After leaving Livorno they went to the sea of Cyprus, but fell in with no booty of importance. While they were in the port of Magra they were joined by a smaller ship called by them a Patachio, well armed with about eighty men. They went off together, but the berton ran on a rock at Cacamo, some distance from Cyprus, where the captain and thirty men were drowned. Eighty were recovered in the other ships which proceeded to Syria, and landed sixty-six men, as they could not maintain so large a number. These are the men brought here. I have condemned them to the galleys until further order, and enclose a list of their names.
I regret to state that this realm is surrounded by vessels of a similar character, which usually betake themselves to the ports of Syria, owing to the convenience of the port and water. They frequently carry a number of Turkish slaves.
Candia, the 8 February, 1615. [m.v.]
List of the sixty-six men:
Gugliermo de Londri, Englishman.
Redolfi Londri de Guliermo Ogbal, Englishman.
Twenty-eight Italians.
Eight French.
Two Sclavonians.
One German.
Seventeen Frenchmen.
Eight others.
Feb. 10. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra, Venetian Archives. 175. Antonio Foscarini, late Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I left Paris in extreme cold, with snow and ice, and continued my journey with great difficulty until I reached Lyons. To-morrow, after making the necessary arrangements, I shall continue on my way home. On the 29th the weight of the ice broke two bridges at Paris, on one of which are the shops and dwellings of the goldsmiths, and on the other those of others. Some persons were killed. I have seen the River Loire covered with ice and quite unnavigable, as are the other rivers. The snow is so high that it can only be passed with great labour. For these reasons and still more on account of the troops, I have hardly met with a single wayfarer or merchant out of all who are generally about; up to Montargis, a place 26 leagues from Paris, I met no troops worth speaking about, but from that town, which is strongly guarded, almost all the places are guarded, the open towns being badly treated by the soldiers. At Nevers the duke came in person to see me, accompanied by pages with torches and a great suite. He took me to his palace and entertained me there until the following day, having constrained me to stay. He professed great devotion to your Excellencies and his esteem for me. He spoke of your quarrel with the archduke Ferdinand and asked me to make the offers which I shall mention. He spoke at length of the affairs of France.
The Marquis of Urfé, sent by the prince of Condé to the duke of Savoy, passed this way and on Saturday he expects to be at Turin. He fell in with me at a place near Tarare, where we exchanged greetings. He told me that the prince of Condé and all the other princes with him are determined to do all in their power for the service of your Excellencies; that he had express orders to see the Most Illustrious Ambassador at Turin and offer him troops in the present disturbances with the archduke. I thanked him in a suitable manner and said that your Excellencies preserved that good disposition towards the prince that he himself was aware of.
Lyons, the 10 February, 1616.
Feb. 10. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra, Venetian Archives. 176. Antonio Foscarini, late Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In discussing the affairs of France the duke of Nevers spoke to me about the hopes of peace. Both the queen, and the princes seemed well disposed towards it; the duke of Epernon has lost her Majesty's favour through having advised the immediate consummation of the marriages, promising in Gascony three or four thousand gentlemen. These promises have vanished, and now his slight authority and following in that country are known. The Chancellor also is in manifest disfavour, and it is considered certain that the seal will be taken from him. The Commandeur Sillery, his brother, has left court in disgrace. In speaking of the conditions of the treaty he said he thought there would be some alterations in the council, although it had not been proposed. The prince would receive the governorship of Berry and the city of Bourges, upon condition that he gives up Guienne, which the queen will keep for herself or give to the king's brother; 400,000 crowns to pay the troops; a consideration of great value for the duke of Bouillon; that Longueville will be well advised to exchange his present governorship of Picardy for that of Normandy, which is better and he has many noble vassals there. Mayenne will receive money.
While I was with him a courier arrived with letters from Villeroi exhorting him to return to court to take part in settling the peace. I found him fairly well disposed towards the queen. He hopes that the council will be composed with the intervention of the princes. He had 6,000 foot and 1,500 horse enlisted almost without any pay, who maintain themselves at the cost of the country. He has reduced his infantry companies from 200 to 30 and the horse from 80 to 20. He gave these orders on the very day that I saw him. On the following morning he started in haste for the court. He told me that he would receive 100,000 crowns to pay his debts, and he would receive a like sum in advance of his pensions, which are 150,000 crowns a year. He offered more than once to serve your Serenity with all his forces against whomsoever you desired; he said he was a Venetian noble and bound to be so upon every consideration. Without the help of the king he had collected 6,000 foot and 1,500 horse and he had arms to supply twice as many. He asked if your Excellencies had given to anyone the charge exercised by the count of Vaudemont. You will do well to wait, as you can pick and choose. He spoke disparagingly of the count.
I gathered from his conversation that he wishes to see peace in France and proposes to consider a plan laid before him by some leading Poles, Hungarians and Germans to make a raid on the Turk and encourage risings in Greece and Albania.
A certain Captain John Renazé, whom I met at Nevers in the duke's house, who had a command of cavalry under Count Maurice, asked me to recommend his services to your Excellencies, promising to bring a number of light horse from Albania.
The baron of Moulins and the baron of Chaussée have also offered to bring two regiments and some horse for the same wages as paid to Italian troops. They said they could come by sea, or a good number could be sent gradually by land. I promised to send word to your Excellencies.
The marquis of Urfé told me that he did not believe that the conference fixed for the 10th would begin before the end of the present month; that the prince has always said that he wished the deputies of the religion to take part, which will mean ten or twelve days more; that he intends to give peace to France but upon condition that the late king's death is avenged, the Spaniards removed from the Government, the princes and good Frenchmen put in the council and the old friends of the crown conciliated. I have heard to-day that the Marquis has gone to Dauphiné to confer with Lesdiguières, and will proceed to Turin.
In a few days some Huguenot deputies will be here on their way to la Rochelle to their assembly. They will there speak of the negotiations for peace, which is expected to take place very soon.
Lyons the 12th February, 1616.
Feb. 13. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 177. To the Ambassador in Savoy.
We approve of your prudent negotiations in impressing on the mind of His Highness our desire for his prosperity, and to confirm him in his intentions to carry out the treaty of Asti, especially upon the essential point of disarmament. We direct you to thank him for the confidential communication of what passed between him and the governor of Milan. We are glad that he adheres to the most prudent advice of the king of Great Britain, to insist upon this disarming; His Majesty promising to assist him whenever necessary.
Ayes 132.
Noes 2.
Neutrals 8.


  • 1. “A letter which the duke of Savoy had newly received from Sig. Carlo Peron, a principal minister in Milan.” Wake to Winwood, 13 Feb. 1615 o s. State Papers, Foreign, Savoy.