Venice: March 1616, 1-15

Pages 141-151

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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March 1616, 1–15

March 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives. 196. Pietro Vico, Venetian Secretary in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The sympathies of the Spaniards are with the archduke Ferdinand in his dispute with your Serenity. If the war continues, it is thought to be certain that they will help him with money. The king, in speaking about this to the English ambassador in the council of State, could not dissimulate his dissatisfaction. He told him that the Venetians desire to obtain by arms what they could have by means of friendly negotiation. They have been led to take this line by their knowledge of the king's peaceful disposition, but when they break with princes allied with this crown, His Majesty will not hesitate to interfere.
Madrid, the 1st March, 1616.
[Italian. deciphered.]
March 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Napoli. Venetian Archives. 197. Gasparo Spinelli, Venetian Secretary at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
This week I have seen Cardinal Sforza. In speaking of the affairs of France and Italy, he told me that everything would be arranged in Piedmont because Don Pedro of Toledo hoped to get the duke of Savoy to decide to give up the treaty made in the time of the marquis of Hinojosa, which he said had been considered so noxious in the Council of Spain that they had decided to destroy it at all costs. It was injurious to the reputation of His Catholic Majesty because other princes had been concerned in signing it, so that it was really more a league against Spain than a treaty. Above all it was not seemly that the king of England should interfere in the affairs of a Christian and Italian prince, because he is a heretic and schismatic and has nothing to do with this province; true theology could never suffer a new theology to be formed adapted to the ideas of princes and to interests of State. He told me that he knew for certain that Don Pedro is not acting at haphazard but under the orders of Spain, which will keep putting off the execution of the treaty until the duke renounces it altogether, after which he will obtain much more than is contained in the treaty.
I said I had understood that His Majesty had accepted the treaty out of regard for the peace of Italy and the word of the Most Christian king was also engaged. He replied that the marriages were not then effected; they were now in accord with that crown; the only difficulty was with the king of England and others, and the council of Spain would not suffer this.
Naples, the 1st March, 1616.
March 7. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 198. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador Foscarini left last Friday. Before he left the duke invited us to dine with him. After dinner he spoke about disarming the state of Milan. He was sure that the Spaniards would not lose the present opportunity of draining the financial resources of your Serenity. He said it was necessary for him to rearm, to make sure of Asti and fortify S. Piero. He would send to England to ask the king for help, and he begged your Excellencies for help also. He did not doubt but the King of Great Britain would do something, but that His Majesty depends greatly upon the action of the republic.
Turin, the 7th March, 1616.
March 7. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 199. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
I have seen the duke and told him that the resident of the republic at Milan had instructions to join with the agents of France and England in asking for the execution of the treaty of Asti.
Turin, the 7th March, 1616.
March 8. Consiglio di X. Parti Secrete. Venetian Archives. 200. That the letters of our ambassador in England of 14 January last about the representations made to him by the ambassador of Savoy regarding the feeling of the French ambassador against him for getting help for the princes of France, and the doubts of our ambassador that his public letters are intercepted in Flanders, be sent to the Savii of the Cabinet for their information. (fn. 1)
Ayes 16.
Noes 0.
Neutral 0.
March 8. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 201. Antonio Foscarini, late Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the audience given by the duke of Savoy to Donato and me, we waited two days to return the visits of the nuncio, the count of Verua, the Master of the Horse, the archbishop of Tarantasia; the agent of England and other persons of distinction. This done, the duke again sent for us; we found His Highness awaiting us, to dine with him. At table we discussed various matters. Afterwards he detained the count of Verua only, dismissing the rest. He showed us a letter from Switzerland speaking of the efforts to prevent the passage of armed forces to your Serenity; the money sent there by the governor of Milan for this purpose. He spoke of the importance of the pass, which must be acquired whatever it cost. He said he also had letters from Milan, with no resolution but only words and hopes. He knew quite well how prejudicial the slightest wavering on the part of your Serenity would be. The Spaniards aspire to swallow everyone, keeping them in a state of expense and anxiety. This could not continue and some decision must be made. The first course and the one he would most readily support would be to spend in a short time effectively what would have to be spent in the long run, and carry war into the state of Milan. He showed the ease of this; and exposed the defects of the citadel of Milan, saying that 4,000 Spaniards hold that State in slavery. If this course does not please your Excellencies, he will have to fortify Asti, so that it may not fall by surprise. To do this he must increase his forces by at least 5 or 6,000 combatants. As his country is exhausted he must look to your Excellencies for help, after that he will be at the disposition of your Serenity. The Spaniards will arrange peace with your Excellencies and His Highness in order to command the others, and in time all. If your Excellencies negotiate a peace it will be well to do so together. Nothing will be more helpful to the common service and the liberty of Italy than a good understanding. For this end alone he desired a defensive league for security in these and various other affairs. He expressed a strong desire for a complete understanding with your Excellencies and a dependence on your wishes. He knew thoroughly the evil intent of the Spaniards. He wished to see them humbled. It was urgently necessary to fortify Asti and to have help to do it. In return he promised to make peace or war as your Excellencies may decide. He charged us to transmit all this to your Serenity. When we left he accompanied us to the door of the room, and afterwards warmly embraced both myself and the secretary Rizzardi.
I have left the ambassador Donato highly esteemed by His Highness and all the Court; he negotiates with remarkable prudence, displays great splendour and liberality and attends to his duties with the utmost diligence and assiduity.
Casal of Montferrat, the 8th March, 1616.
March 8. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Napoli. Venetian Archives. 202. Gaspar Spinello, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
Since my interview with the Cardinal Sforza I have met a leading noble, who is very favourable to your Serenity. He did not wish to be named, but he told me they will try and push their affairs in Italy with all the arts imaginable. He declared that their chief aim was to sow discord if possible between the duke of Savoy and your Serenity and the king of England, they will do their utmost to induce His Highness to renounce the treaty of Asti, and they will try and keep all the passes closed against your Serenity.
Naples, the 8th March, 1616.
March 8. Consiglio di X. Parti Comuni. Venetian Archives. 203. That the jewels of the sanctuary and the armoury of this Council be shown to some English gentlemen, now in this city, on their travels.
Ayes 16.
Noes 0.
Neutral 0.
March 8. Inquisitori di Stato. Dispacci. Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 204. Giovanni Rizzardo, Secretary of the late Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Inquisitors of State.
Since I last wrote to your Excellencies from Dover on the 26 December nothing of moment has happened in the matter in which I am instructed. The journey was continued as I said it would be. However I must state that the ambassador Foscarini, when we were entering the boat to cross the Po, at Casal of Montferrat, suddenly decided to travel alone by post. He had the horses taken to Bre, a place eight miles from Casal, and set off for Mantua accompanied only by Sig. Mario Marelimentil, a Genoese and his close friend who had been with him some months at London, and without a single servant. He left me with instructions to continue the journey with his property and household in the same boat, which we found waiting for us about ten miles from Mantua. The ambassador told me that he had been induced to make this resolve because he had received word from Venice to beware of the state of Milan, on account of the governor, who is his enemy (fn. 2), and it was advisable for him to pass by there with the greatest possible haste. I must add that his departure was accompanied by some confusion, and did not take place with becoming dignity. I hope, however, that all will turn out well.
Basegnano, a place of the Milanese, the 8th March, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 11. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 205. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have received your Serenity's letters of 5 February last. I sought audience of the king and obtained it at Newmarket, a place sixty miles away from here. I had barely reached the ante-chamber to be introduced to His Majesty, when I received your other letters of the 20th sent by express courier. As soon as I saw the king I presented the second letters and thanked him, as instructed. I told him of what had happened since my last audience in the dispute with the archduke and the other things in my commission, pointing out how helpful it would be if His Majesty would inform his ministers, especially in Spain, of his knowledge of the justice of your Excellencies' cause and of his good disposition in favour of your Serenity. This would greatly increase the indebtedness of the republic towards His Majesty and would be very advantageous to you, because a declaration of his ministers and an intimation that he considered your Serenity's cause just and was displeased at the unjust wrong inflicted and the protection of a villainous and rascally race rather than the observance of promises frequently made by the emperor to the republic, which simply desires to preserve its own, would prove of great assistance not only because of his reputation and authority, but also by his goodness and prudence. I added that similar offices might prove useful in Spain on various accounts, but still more with the princes of Germany, and especially with the count Palatine whom your Excellencies esteem highly, particularly as you recognize his good disposition towards you.
The king listened to me attentively and said that he had already at a previous audience declared his full resolution, and he now confirmed absolutely the same thing. He then proceeded to discuss and gather information about the state of affairs and what your Serenity desired him to do. He told me that one of his secretaries would arrive that evening; he would give him the document and instruct him completely about the affair and of what your Excellencies think he should do and he would carry out the whole.
When the secretary Winwood arrived, I gave him the document for His Majesty and informed him thoroughly of the whole affair. He had evidently been very well informed before, though not so fully instructed as now by your Serenity. He told me they would write to Spain to notify that court of the dissatisfaction of His Majesty at the protection afforded by the archduke Ferdinand to such people as the Uscochi, who are public thieves, and that he should prefer to favour them rather than fulfil the promises frequently made to your Serenity. That His Majesty will write in like manner to the Elector Palatine not only for himself, but for all the princes of the Union, and will complain of the action of the archduke. He will express to those princes his complete conviction of the justice of the cause of your Serenity and his disposition in favour of the interests of your Excellencies. He will charge Sir [Henry] Wotton to perform all the offices which are necessary. He told me further on his own account that he would acquaint the States with the good disposition of His Majesty. I thanked him for all and expressed our very great indebtedness to him.
I had decided to await the execution of all these things at Newmarket, although the secretary assured me that everything would infallibly be carried out, and that if I wished to see him again, he would soon be back in London. He told me that Sir [Henry] Wotton would be leaving to-day. Accordingly I decided to come back here immediately and speak to him about these affairs before he left. I have done this to a great extent, and will do so again, as he has postponed his departure until the beginning of next week. I told him of the great esteem for and confidence in the Elector Palatine and the other princes leagued with him, cherished by your Serenity on many grounds, but chiefly owing to their connection with His Majesty, your knowledge of their goodwill and the assurance that with the good offices of His Majesty they will do everything in favour of the affairs of your Serenity. That your Excellencies will always highly appreciate the declaration of their goodwill owing to the consideration possessed in Christendom by such princes, but that nothing would more increase the good feeling of your Excellencies towards them than these affairs with the archduke.
Sir [Henry] Wotton seemed pleased at hearing all this, and told me that he had pondered the same things, but he will be able to act much more effectively when he has received the commands of His Majesty, and he was happy that this would permit him to serve your Excellencies earlier, even before arriving at Venice, and he wished for nothing better than such an opportunity.
As the secretary Winwood told me that His Majesty had also written to the States, I desired, so soon as I reached London, to see M. Caron, in order to gather full information from him. I informed him of what had taken place both in the field and in negotiation, and asked him to send word to the States, as I was instructed to do so. I then spoke to him of the favourable disposition of the king towards the affairs of your Excellencies, of his conviction of the justice of your cause and everything else that might show confidence and incite the States to serve your Serenity.
Sir [Dudley] Carleton, who is going to start soon for his embassy in Holland, has been to take leave of me. He expressed a great desire to serve your Excellencies wherever he might be, and told me that in addition to his personal obligations he had a special paragraph in his instructions to act in the interests of your Serenity whenever an opportunity offered itself, and when he took leave of the king, His Majesty had told him that he was under a special obligation to serve your Excellencies, but in addition to that he added his own command. I thanked him, and acquainted him with the latest events in the matter of the Uscochi. He told me that he had had occasion to inform many of these affairs, and whenever he had a chance he would seize it to advance the reputation and interests of your Excellencies.
London, the 11 March, 1616.
March 11. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 206. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
What I wrote sometime since that the French ambassador had told me about negotiations for the marriage of the second Infanta of Spain to the prince here has not only been confirmed by others recently, but with the addition that the negotiations are far advanced. Since my return from Newmarket I have gathered from others that some negotiations are on foot, and in particular that Viscount Fenton, by the king's order, has interviewed the Spanish ambassador very secretly; this is interpreted as being chiefly upon this affair. The Spanish ambassador also goes to visit the queen, and last week he went very privately and remained almost five hours in conversation with Her Majesty. To-day he has been again for a long while; at first for some time he was entertained by some music, and afterwards stayed a great while with Her Majesty without anyone else being present. I hear that one of his household was seen to come out with some small picture under his cloak. This question has certainly not been brought before the Council, and some of the principal members, to whom this alliance would be most distasteful, persuade themselves, as at other times, that in spite of all negotiations it will not be easy to come to a settlement
I have also ascertained that Viscount Fenton said that the Spanish ambassador had instructions to complain to the king about the injuries inflicted by your Serenity upon the archduke Ferdinand, but he did not wish to irritate His Majesty at the audience and had desired him to perform this office. I will obtain further evidence upon this and I will use all possible diligence that His Majesty may perform with the ambassador the offices promised to your Serenity as soon as possible, as it may easily happen that the ambassador, in speaking about such things to the king, may try to discover his intentions, and after first securing a hearing for what he has to say, may keep putting off what the king wishes to say to him with respect to your Serenity.
The ambassador of Savoy left to-day to go to the King at Newmarket. He says he is advised by His Highness that in addition to the 14,000 foot at present in being, the governor of Milan will have 4,000 Florentines, 3,000 Lucchese and 4,000 recruits, who are expected from Spain. In this state of affairs and in view of the disinclination shown by the governor to carry out the treaty of Asti, His Highness is making the same representations in view of his safety as he did to your Serenity.
The ambassador of His Highness says very decisively, when he has an opportunity that the duke will never trust the Spaniards, that they must carry out the treaty of Asti completely. The king concurs in this opinion, that your Serenity has written to me that His Highness will on no account receive new proposals. The French ambassador says that his Most Christian Majesty has given very strict orders for the carrying out of the treaty of Asti, conformable to the information contained in the enclosed paragraph of a letter; but it is not thought that these representations will be so strong as the nature of the case requires.
From France they are daily expecting news of a complete settlement, but they expect that it will rather put a stop to the ravages of war in that kingdom than introduce a stable peace. It is said that the prince of Condé has declared that if he does not obtain what he wants in the treaty, he will return to camp and conquer it by arms.
M. de Courtenay also has gone to court after having received some letters from the prince of Condé to communicate to His Majesty the progress of the negotiations. But with all the hopes of a speedy settlement they will not neglect to maintain a good understanding with the princes if it does not take place, and even if it is arranged, the general opinion is agreed that the kingdom of France cannot long continue at peace.
The mission sent by your Serenity to the Swiss and the Grisons has been very well received here, especially as regards the secretary Padavin, who has such knowledge and experience in those affairs.
From Holland comes the news of the marriage of count Henry of Nassau to a daughter of the Landgrave of Hesse, encouraged and arranged by the States. By this they will still further cement their interests with those of the princes of Germany. The Spaniards have become somewhat uneasy lest with the forces acquired by the new Hanse league they may attempt the recovery of Wesel.
The margrave of Brandenburg continues to levy troops on his own account. The levies made at present by the archduke Albert amount to 8,000 foot.
London, the 11 March, 1616.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 207. Extract from a letter written from Tours on the 20th February last.
Their Majesties have charged their resident at Turin to go to Milan to assure the governor of the disarmament, as the duke of Savoy and the governor had differed upon this point. They have at the same time written to Spain to ask that Don Pedro of Toledo may give credence to the said M. Mangeun, to facilitate and abbreviate the said disarmament. This expedient has been considered the shortest and most suitable to bring about a settlement of these affairs, provided that the parties are as anxious and as willing as they profess to be.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 208. Translation of the above.
March 11. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives 209. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
From information which I have taken about the munitions of war of this country, the powder may be worth about 14 ducats the hundred, and the saltpetre, I am told, is the same price, but with this difference, that the hundred of saltpetre here is of 112 pounds, answering to 108 pounds according to the reckoning of Venice, and the simple hundred by which powder is sold answers to 97 pounds according to the reckoning of Venice. I am informed, however, that it will be difficult to obtain a large quantity of these commodities here, but that they can be obtained more easily in large quantities from Holland. I am therefore waiting for information.
With regard to rope, they use that of Flanders here to a great extent, which is worth about 26 Venetian pounds the hundred. The rope made here, which is a good deal better, may cost about 7 1/2 ducats the hundred of 112 pounds. Owing to this difference I have thought it expedient to send your Serenity a sample of both. The freight in Holland costs 10 ducats the cask containing 2,000 pounds of stuff. Here it costs 14, but the security of Holland will run to 8 per cent. while on English ships the rate is now 5 per cent. for Venice. In my next despatch I will send your Excellencies detailed information of the cost of troops and the journey, as on my return to London I did not find in the city the person from whom I expected the information, after instructions given when I left. I have paid 200 ducats to Giovanni Rasper, the courier, as he had no money to return with. Your Excellencies may reckon it in his account.
London, the 11th March, 1616.
March 11. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 210. To the Ambassador in England.
The duke of Savoy has recently informed us that the agents of France and England had orders from their king to go to Milan, and beg the governor to carry out the treaty of Asti especially in the matter of disarmament. His Highness asks us, in view of the fact that our ambassador signed this treaty, to direct our secretary at Milan to accompany those agents and perform the same office with them. We have agreed to this and sent orders to the secretary. They have not yet gone, however, and no further particulars have reached us. We direct you to impart this information to His Majesty as a sign of how much we value his labours for peace, and his efforts for the liberty of the powers friendly to him.
There is a report here that the States have bought the claims of the Margrave of Brandenburg to the Duchy of Cleves, or have acquired it in another way. That for this cause they are arming strongly and great commotions must follow in Flanders. We are sure that you will employ your advantageous situation, so near the country and by communicating with the ambassador of the States, to obtain information about this.
Our last letters from the secretary Padavino are of the 4th inst. from Coire. He had not then been able to speak with the chiefs of the leagues, but the information which he gave to the communes about our affairs with the archduke was well received, and they seem inclined to grant our requests. If the governor and the Beitag (Pitac) show the same disposition, we may hope for good results. We hear that 270 men have been induced to serve by the secretary. You will communicate this to His Majesty as a sign of confidence, so that he may take what action he sees fit, knowing the influence that he has.
The negotiations upon the archducal affairs vary daily, according to the differing opinions of the imperial and archducal ministers. We remain firm upon the first point, that they remedy the Uscochi grievance and free us from this ancient pest. For the rest we will give every satisfaction. They on the other hand propose the restitution of the places which we hold in Friuli in their territory, occupied for our defence, will promise no remedy for the principal wrong and showed signs, on the 26th ult. of wishing to continue the breach; so that ravaging is taking place on both sides. Our troops in Istria, after fourteen hours' bombardment, have taken a walled place called Antignana. In Friuli the Proveditore General is attacking Gradisca. It has a good garrison and receives help from Goritz; but it will be pressed hard to prevent the enemy molesting us in that part. On the other hand the archducalists have devastated some towns, have fortified themselves in a post in Sagra, and the Uscochi in Dalmatia have done a great deal of damage by robberies in those islands and territories. You will use this information as you think best for our service.
We direct you to inform the ambassadors of the Palatine and of the States of the condition of our dispute with the archduke Ferdinand, and you will do the same to any agent of the king of Denmark or of any of the other powers that there may be, but especially Denmark, as being related to His Majesty
Ayes 162.
Noes 1.
Neutral 2.
March 12. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 211. To the Ambassador with the Duke of Savoy.
The duke's ambassador in London has approached our representative there in the manner which you will see by the enclosed copy of the ambassador Barbarigo's letter of the 16th January last. The duke may speak to you about it and in such case you will reply substantially as the ambassador Barbarigo did. You will ascertain the truth of the information given and how it was brought.
Ayes 162.
Noes 2.
Neutral 3.
March 14. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 212. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The duke told me that he did not know what to decide. He thought of availing himself of the offer of your Serenity to approach the governor, but the agent of France is entirely Spanish and instead of improving matters he would only make them worse. He was compelled to ask your Excellencies for some help, and he hopes for something from England.
Turin, the 14th March, 1616.
March 14. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 213. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
They are clearly prepared here to go to any extreme rather than lose their honour and liberty. The duke has sent in great haste to France, and an express person will leave to-morrow for Lesdiguières. He will also send to England, and will leave nothing undone for his defence.
Turin, the 14th March, 1616.


  • 1. See at page 105 above. A copy of this resolution is found in Senato, Secreta, Communicate del Consiglio de' Dieci.
  • 2. Foscarini had met Don Pedro de Toledo at Paris when they were both accredited to the French court. On the night of 31st Jan., 1609, they quarrelled seriously upon the question of precedence. See this Calendar, Vol. XI, page 235.