Venice: December 1616, 11-20

Pages 377-384

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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December 1616, 11–20

Dec. 12. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives. 551. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador of Florence receives fairly frequent letters from Madrid from a brother of his who is serving the king and who has a knowledge of fortifications. They are sending him to the strait of Gibraltar to survey the site, with the purpose of erecting forts there, to impose customs and regulate the shipping, and that this idea has arisen since the decision of the republic to take troops that way. Copy.
Prague, the 12th December, 1616.
Dec. 18. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, 'Francia. Venetian Archives. 552. Ottavio Bon and Vicenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
This seems the time for the Grisons to demand the destruction of Fort Fuentes. If they do not seize this opportunity of extracting the thorn from their foot, they will never have another chance. The lords of Zurich and Berne are sending deputies to the Grisons to urge them not to lose this opportunity. A general diet of all the confederates has been held, at which they decided to send forthwith a solemn embassy to Milan to demand the demolition of the fort. If at the time of the departure of this embassy the lords of Zurich and Berne and the Grisons also make a show of appointing captains for war, I think it certain that they will obtain all that they want from Milan. If the Grisons are told that in case of a war with the king of Spain, the lords of Zurich and Berne, the king of England, the States and the duke of Savoy will help them, they will readily agree to this line of action.
Paris, the 13th December, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 14. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci Spagna. Venetian Archives. 553. Piero Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The secretary of England has reported to me the reply which he received from the ministers to his recent offices. This was substantially that the emperor Charles V. had taken from the French and restored to the duke of Savoy's father the states which had also been defended and preserved by the late king, but he had ill returned these benefits. That His Majesty asked no more than an apology from the duke. The Secretary Cerisa added that the Venetians were very prudently working their affairs at the expense of their neighbour.
In a few days the ambassador from England will be here, who is coming about the marriages. He will have instructions to negotiate about Piedmont and to urge peace. The secretary, in speaking to me about it asked me to keep it very secret, that if he does not obtain a satisfactory reply His Majesty is determined to help the duke with men and money. It is said that he also has instructions to negotiate a marriage between the prince of England and the princess Maria. They would probably listen readily to this in spite of the question of religion, in order to prevent the king there from taking any resolutions prejudicial to the interests of the Spaniards; especially as even if they decided the matter now, they could not carry out the affair for some years owing to the tender age of the princess. I have told the secretary of these rumours, but he has always denied them, swearing that the ambassador's instructions, which he says he has, say nothing about this matter. He added that the duke of Lerma also had asked him if he had authority to treat of this.
Madrid, the 14th December, 1616.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 15. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Inghilterra, Venetian Archives. 554. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
As soon as I received your Serenity's letters of the 18th November I wrote to the Secretary Winwood, who was with the court at Newmarket, asking him to procure me an audience of the king, in any place that might suit His Majesty. The ambassador of Savoy wrote to the same effect that very day, as he wishes for another audience in order not to fail in his duty of importuning the king, although he has little hope of effecting anything good. We have not yet received any reply, so I can only wait to execute my instructions until the king grants me leave to go to him.
Two days before me the resident of Florence sent to Newmarket also to ask for an audience, and none has been appointed. It is not known what business moves him, but after he has gone it may be possible to find out.
I went yesterday to kiss the hands of the Prince of Wales. I presented the letters of your Excellencies and congratulated him upon his new title. He replied graciously and promised on all occasions to show his esteem for the republic. He asked many questions about the present state of the affairs of the world, the war between your Serenity and the archduke and that between the duke of Savoy and the governor of Milan, some particulars about France, and above all, in what consisted the help which your Serenity granted to His Highness. I gave him straightforward answers, which pleased him, and added that powerful help was needed from His Majesty, and how eagerly the duke desired it as well as all the powers who are interested in preserving His Highness.
I wrote the other week that they had begun to load the munitions granted to Savoy, because they had found a ship in which to put them, but the ship proved none too safe and would have run great danger of being taken by pirates, not only risking the loss of the property but to the detriment of those seas, as they would have been employed in fighting merchant ships. Accordingly that bargain has been abandoned, and hitherto, with all their efforts, they have not been able to find a suitable ship on these shores, and therefore the powder remains in the Tower to the great disappointment of the ambassador, who is very anxious to have it in his hands to be quite safe.
The other day the French ambassador sent his secretary to congratulate me upon the good reception of the ambassador Bon at Paris by His Most Christian Majesty upon the affairs of the Grisons, the king permitting the renewal of the league between your Serenity and the lords of the three leagues. I thanked him for the news and remarked how advantageous it would be generally for the defence of Italy. However, I do not know if I can believe it, as hitherto I received no definite news from Paris and the king told me recently that the Secretary Mangot had given the ambassador a bad reply upon this particular.
I have continued my researches in the matter of ships to serve your Excellencies, and I have found a shipmaster who would come and serve your Serenity. One of them gave me the enclosed note about the cost of each ship per month, confirming my opinion that we should find greater advantages at Amsterdam, at less cost.
London, the 15th December, 1616.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 555. Note. £
A merchant ship of 160 tons burthen might be had for 50l. sterling the month 50
Such a ship needs 80 men for war service, amounting per month to 80
Food at 8d. per day per man 80
In ducats 840
Dec. 15. Senato, Secreta, Dispacci. Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 556. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have seen the news sent to your Serenity from Chivasso by the ambassador Donato, that the agent of England had got a leading minister of this court to write a letter to the duke in which he says that the help of the republic will be poison to the duke and your Serenity has no other object than to irritate the Spaniards so as to treat advantageously with the archduke. I have not hitherto been able to make myself absolutely certain who wrote the letter, especially as I am so far from the king and Winwood. I believe firmly that it comes from the latter, as I have heard so, and his ideas to the same purport have been reported to me by others, and I know that his reasoning leads in that direction and your Excellencies may recall that I have noted some of his conversations with me in my letters when he was certainly reserved. The ambassador of Savoy told me that Winwood was continually speaking to him in this way, charging the republic with being the original cause of all the present disturbances between the governor of Milan and the duke, and quite recently Sig. Giovanni Francesco Biondi told me that when he went to take leave of Winwood before leaving for Piedmont, the secretary spoke quite freely to him. When Biondi defended your Serenity the secretary declared his opinion more fully. So far as I could gather he considered your Excellencies had caused the present war in Piedmont in two ways, one by not embracing any of the proposals for a league which were made by His Majesty, as the English are persuaded that if the league had been made its prestige alone would have restrained the Spaniards from making any attempt upon any of the confederates in order not to bring the united force of all upon them, or if this had not sufficient to keep them from attacking the duke, that his defence, divided among so many powers, would have been an easy matter. The second way is that, since the dispute between the republic and the archduke about the Uscocchi, he believes that your Excellencies have endeavoured to upset the treaty made between His Highness and the governor of Milan, to relieve yourselves, sending money to the duke to get him to make war upon Milan. I wrote of this in my letters of the 1st July. He finally told Biondi that out of consideration for your Serenity the duke had not disarmed within the time prescribed by the treaty, and a few days ago he told the count of Scarnafis that a composition had been completely arranged between Cardinal Ludovitio and M. de Bethune, but when the duke was about to sign it he would not do so unless the republic was secured also, and therefore it was broken off. I have frequently introduced offices to reassure him and have induced others to convince him of the good intentions of the republic in the matter of Savoy, but he clings obstinately to his first impressions. Argument makes little impression upon him, as he is known by those who have dealings with him as a man who has little of the knowledge necessary for the charge which he holds. I have not observed such opinions in the king, nor have I heard anything from the ambassadors of any words to that effect, but it may be that with his great prudence he hides it better. Moreover the king and his ministers know their obligations towards the duke of Savoy, and although they have hitherto avoided fulfilling them, yet their minds are uneasy; they see how much prestige they are losing in the eyes of the world, and perhaps they are trying to persuade themselves and others that the help which is given to the duke by France and the republic, who are the two other powers guaranteeing the treaty of Asti, is not given sincerely or usefully, and thus they are led to say that the money supplied by your Excellencies' is poison for His Highness, and the French soldiers are all enemies, as the king said recently to the Most Christian Ambassador, and so they persuade themselves that the duke will not so easily obtain men from France and money from Venice, and he would be better advised to come to terms with the Spaniards and end the war, abandoning or completing the treaty of Asti. Even if they began to fight again on the following day, the treaty would not be spoken of again, their part would be discharged and the king would be absolved from his engagement to help Savoy in virtue of his promise, which weighs more with him than his own interests.
If I meet His Majesty or Winwood I will perform the office commanded by your Excellencies, but I will put it in the form I think best, so as not to prejudice the help to be given to the duke, because in their present reluctant state of mind to do anything for that prince they would be ready to seize upon any pretext for offence if they know that His Highness had communicated to your Excellencies what the English agent told him in confidence.
It is hardly necessary for me to recommend to your Excellencies the secrecy upon some of the above matters, as they are of such nature that they may cause harm the more they are reported.
London, the 15th December, 1616.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 16. Consiglio di X. Parti Comuni, Venetian Archives. 557. That leave be granted to Antonio Lando to visit and be visited by the ambassador of England upon one occasion only, that ambassador having proposed a visit by means of his secretary, upon the choice of Lando to be Proveditore General of the armies in the mainland and Istria.
Ayes 15.
Noes 0.
Neutral 0.
Dec. 17. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati Venetian Archives. 558. Christoforo Surian, Venetian Resident in Holland, to the Doge and Senate.
I had a conversation yesterday with one of the leading men of the government. He said: We do as much as possible to keep a bridle in the mouth of the Spaniards and if we had not hitherto kept garrisons in Cleves and Juliers they would have reduced those countries under their rule, and their troops would have gone in large numbers to Italy, to the prejudice of the duke of Savoy, and possibly to help the archduke Ferdinand against your Serenity. You can, therefore, understand how much we desire your preservation and to stand together against their ill-will. He added that they are inclined to believe that the proposals made by the Spaniards through the king of Great Britain for reciprocal restitution of places has not been advanced with the idea of employing their forces elsewhere, or after our troops have withdrawn, to obtain possession of the rest by some trick or pretext. We shall keep our eyes open, and the republic should look closely after her interests, as they will deceive you if they can. He said that when I first came, there was some discussion about improving the relations between our two republics, and that Carleton, the English ambassador, was also present. Various things were proposed, but all were open to some objection.
The Hague, the 17th December, 1617.
Dec. 17. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives. 559. Christoforo Surian, Venetian Resident in Holland, to the Doge and Senate.
The resident of the Margrave of Brandenburg returned here from Cleves yesterday evening, and to-day he saw prince Maurice and Barnevelt to tell them the opinion of the prince, the margrave's son, upon the proposals made by the English ambassador concerning the treaty of Zanten. I met him soon after his arrival and I gathered that the prince and his father desire the restitution of the places, since His Highness obtains nothing from that state at present; but on the other hand they are uneasy about the security, as they have heard that Mons. Klesl has advised the emperor to induce the Spaniards to accept the treaty, as after the States have withdrawn His Majesty can sequestrate the lands.
The matter requires grave consideration. The proposals have been sent to the provinces and a reply is not expected soon. Prince Maurice said they would hardly accept them. He added laughingly: The Spanish proposal seems to me like the red flag of Tamburlaine, which signified that there was no further salvation, because they protest they will hold the places if there is no settlement by the end of February. This is mere bombast; there are too many things to consider, to proceed in such haste. He thought the mission of Lesdiguières and the reconciliation of Nemours and Savoy might make them sing a different tune.
Sir Thomas Studler, the Englishman, will not accept 80 ducats a month but asks for 100, and no less, as your Serenity will see by the enclosed letters. As I was instructed to give him 80 at the most, I have not closed with him. He may serve as an example to others who might offer themselves to serve your Serenity. You will see by the enclosed paragraph what Pasini writes to me on the subject.
The Hague, the 17th December, 1616.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 560. Paragraph from Pasini's Letter from Brussels, the 13th December, 1616.
As soon as I received yours of the 3rd I went to see Studer. After a long conversation he would not budge from his determination not to serve for less than 100 ducats a month. This is due to Lord Roos, ambassador extraordinary of England in Spain, who promises to do a great deal for him; but in spite of this he says he would like to serve your Serenity. He told me that he would need a small sum of money for his journey.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 561. Letters of Thomas Struder saying that he will not serve for less than 100 ducats and the title of Colonel.
From Brussels, the 6th December, 1616.
Dec. 17. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives. 562. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I told the pope yesterday, as instructed, of the modest manner in which the English ambassador with your Serenity conducts himself, far removed from scandal, while I assured him of the piety of the republic. The pope seemed satisfied and afterwards he said that the Archbishop de Dominis had reached the Hague in the short habit of a merchant. He had sent by an ambassdor of Ragusa. He said much evil of His Holiness, but he would rather be blamed than praised by such a person. I agreed with this and said that he was honouring His Holiness in the best way he could with such a heart and such a foul mouth.
Rome, the 17th December, 1616.
Dec. 18. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costant. Venetian Archives. 563. Almoro Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Arthur Garnai, the English merchant who was concerned with the archenda, has recently been to see me. He said he wished to know what had been decided about this archenda, for which I had promised him satisfaction. I said that it was a matter of small moment; I had written to Zante for information and to Venice for orders, but had not had time for a reply, but if he would wait a while word would certainly come. He agreed to wait, although somewhat discontentedly, as he wishes the affair settled. I am awaiting your Serenity's reply to my letters of the 4th October, and I do not believe that you will allow this merchant to be defrauded under the word of a minister of yours, to add to his misfortunes, which are certainly great, as he has lost over 50,000 ducats at one blow, and he had a great quantity of sables which have been mostly ruined by the shipwreck of the galleon Naranzer, while he spent 30,000 crowns and more to obtain his release from prison.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, the 18th December, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 20. Senato. Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 564. Ottavio Bon and Vicenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday when we visited the English ambassador he told us that Epernon some days ago seemed anxious to join the malcontent princes. This ambassador has taken leave of Their Majesties to return to England. He proposes, he says, to return in two months to take up his charge, as he has left his house untouched and his children here. He says that he is going because he has obtained a very honourable appointment from his king, and has asked leave to go and take possession. (fn. 1) When he has done this and arranged his domestic affairs, he will return. However, the fact that the king has presented him with two coffers of very fine silver work makes it doubtful whether he will return. It seems that the queen and ministers are not a little suspicious at so sudden a departure, and they fancy he is going to urge his king to protect the princes, just as at the treaty of Loudun he interested himself for the safety of the faith.
We have heard from others, and he has not denied it, that the bishop of Luçon in the queen's name has spoken to him on this point, begging him not to induce his king to take any steps prejudicial to the authority of the Most Christian. The bishop represented that the king of England ought not to do to France what he would not like France to do to him, namely encourage his subjects to disobey him. He also said that His Majesty could not welcome his departure at this time, as the king of England during the troubles in this kingdom was accustomed to get his ministers to labour for its quiet, and the fact that His Majesty has not wished him to intervene, but even permits him to depart, gives rise to the belief that the English king has not the same good-will or that he believes the evils of this kingdom are incurable.
The ambassador replied that their sovereign would never experience any lack of good-will on the part of his king, but it was true that owing to broken faith he did not see how he could intervene advantageously. If he could do any good he would not fail to, but if they think they can put things straight without the help of others, His Majesty will be very pleased.
Paris, the 20th December, 1616.
Dec. 20. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Napoli. Venetian Archives. 565. Gasparo Spinelli, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
The Viceroy told me that for news from Constantinople he would no longer trust the Greeks and others, but would confine himself to two correspondents whom he had there. So far as I have been able to discover, one of these serves in the house of the English ambassador at the Porte, while the other belongs to the house of the French ambassador.
Naples, the 20th December, 1616.


  • 1. He was appointed Comptroller of the Household in succession to Lord Wotton, Cal. State Papers Domestic, 1611–18 page 407. Birch. Court and Times of James I., i. p. 440.