Venice: August 1617, 1-15

Pages 561-577

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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August 1617, 1–15

Aug. 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 846. Ottaviano Bon and Vincenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Marquis of Lanz told our Secretary that he had been to visit the English ambassador, who said he had remarked to the Count Palatine that it would be advisable for the Protestant Princes of Germany to help the duke of Savoy with men or money, and had so worked upon him that the count had left Sedan determined to urge the other princes to declare for His Highness. He added that he had touched upon the question of a league with England, the States and the princes of Germany, if we find that there is anything serious in this, we will send further information when we are better informed.
Paris, the 1st August, 1617.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 1. Inquisitori di Stato, Dispacci da Napoli. Venetian Archives. 847. Gasparo Spinelli, Venetian Secretary in Naples, to the Inquisitors of State.
I hare heard that the English Consul and one Messia of the household of the Spanish ambassador have written here that the statue of the duke of Ossuna has been broken up and burned at Venice, at which His Excellency seems much enraged.
Naples, the 1st August, 1617.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Aug. 1. Cons. de X. Parti Comuni. Venetian Archives. 848. That leave be granted to Sig. Gieronimo Venier to confer twice with the ambassador of England, to let him his house.
Ayes 16.
Noes 0.
Neutral 0.
Aug. 2. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 849. The Ambassador of England came into the Cabinet and spoke as follows:
I bring with me a distinguished prince of the Empire, the duke of Radzivil, half Pole and half German, whose brother is generalissimo of the king of Poland against the Muscovites and has also commanded 5,000 to 6,000 horse. He will bind himself to bring 6, 8 or 10,000 men to the service of your Serenity, bringing them by ships of Pomerania. I intended to negotiate about this, but I gave up the idea because I understand that your Serenity is confident of peace. I am afraid of the effect that my speech may have, but I hope your Serenity will receive it as I intend. The share of my king in these affairs since the beginning has been such that he deserves to be considered. If it seems that the offices of France and of the Nuncio, with whom I am incompatible, do not allow me to take part, yet my king deserves consideration because he has consistently behaved well. The duke of Savoy has always styled him friend in the discussions of the ambassadors, he has negotiated for a closer union and has all but obtained it. The king interested himself in the treaty of Asti has supplied money and sent him a ship with munitions. It is not much but the consequences are considerable. He has favoured him with the Palatine and with the princes of the Union. The States decided to give him 50,000 florins a month, and the princes will also be obliged to do something. His Majesty finally was the means of arranging an accommodation between the duke and the Swiss Bernese who would not have acceded without this, and he received a succour of 3,000 men from them. His Majesty has consistently maintained the justice of the cause of the republic, and that she was entirely justified in taking arms to repress those robbers the Uscocchi. He has recommended by his letters the duke of Saxony, the earl of Oxford (Ostoch), lord Dingwall and a captain who is now in the camp, with permission to levy troops in his realm. He has also offered to interpose for union with the princes of Germany. I therefore think that your Serenity cannot leave His Majesty out of account in these negotiations.
I will now say why I am dubious about peace. Suppose some one says in the Council of His Catholic Majesty, Your Majesty desires the peace of Italy, and knows that the unquiet spirits of Savoy disturb it. Now Vercelli, the key of Piedmont is in your hands, it were well to keep it. This reasoning is certain to have great weight with a race which clings tenaciously to what it has taken. The example of the duchy of Siena is a warning. Even if they restore it they will keep the bridles, Porto Hercole, Orbatello and other fortresses. A better means of defence seems to me, as I have insisted upon other occasions, to bind yourselves with the princes of Germany. That will include the king of Great Britain, the towns of Germany, the States, the Swiss and the Grisons; what power can be greater than these? This will be a better means of securing peace.
I will add another thing. Three days ago I saw a friend who has resided a year with the princes of the Union and has come here to act as tutor to the prince of Anspach who is at Padua. I asked him why they did not keep up a resident for the princes. He replied, because no one was sent from here in answer. I should like to see this done. The resident of your Serenity might live at Spire or some other place of the Palatinate where both religions are practised. There would be no scandal and great service. I have another thing to say, not from the king, but of myself. I do not know why at such a time the court of His Majesty remains without an ambassador from this republic, especially as in France they have not only the ordinary but an extraordinary one. His Majesty expects to be in England in a fortnight and he will spend a month at London.
I have two offices to perform. An English ship called Alitea has been here a month. It is going to Zante for cargo and will then continue its voyage. Let your Serenity make use of it for the service of S. Marco, as Ossuna has taken some by force while this will serve for friendship. But they say that your Serenity has superabundant forces, while Ossuna wishes to withdraw his and restore the booty. If that is so I beg you to release it, but otherwise to use it and in any case to come to a decision.
The other affair is to recommend that English captain. He offers to raise new troops; those which he now has can be put under a new leader.
The doge replied thanking the ambassador, whose representations they valued. They had no information about the ship and the captain, but would procure it. An ambassador has been chosen. The reasons which have delayed his departure are manifest.
The ambassador replied saying he had met the envoy selected at Turin, and was sure he would give great satisfaction.
The Procurator Nani said that they had decided that on the return of His Majesty, there should be an ambassador accredited to him at the court.
Aug. 2. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Spagna. Venetian Archives. 850. Piero Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
All foreign vessels have been arrested at Cartagena by order of His Majesty, and the French ambassador with all his efforts, has not been able to obtain the release of those of his countrymen.
The fleet left at last for New Spain on the 16th ult. It was not accompanied by the English ships, as they tried to arrange here.
Madrid, the 2nd August, 1617.
Aug. 2. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives. 851. Piero Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
In a few days they expect the ambassador of England here, who is sent to negotiate upon the affairs of Savoy, as was announced. Many believe, however, that he is coming chiefly for the marriage, the negotiations for which have been steadily kept alive by the English secretary here, and it is thought now to be in very good train. The secretary who came to tell me of the expected arrival of the ambassador and of the instructions which he brings to facilitate the conclusion of peace, did not hide from one that he also had orders to treat for the marriage. He added that so many difficulties presented themselves in this matter upon the subject of religion that he did not hope for any success.
Madrid, the 2nd August, 1617.
Aug. 2. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 852. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
News has arrived from the Senator Montu reporting the decision of the States to give the duke 200,000 florins for four months. At the same time letters have come from Giovanni Francesco Biondi from England, reporting the great concern with which the king there had heard of the storming of Vercelli, and speaking of their hopes of assistance. They also cherish some hopes of the princes of Germany. Accordingly all thought of peace is laid aside.
Chivasso, the 2nd August, 1617.
Aug. 4. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 853. That the following be read to the English Ambassador:
We have recently heard from Spain that the negotiations for peace have been resumed there by means of the nuncio and especially of the French ambassador, while the agent of the king of Great Britain confidently communicated to our ambassador some conversation held with him by the duke of Lerma upon present affairs. We founded no great hopes upon this, but recently the Most Christian ambassador has spoken more clearly, presenting articles, which may be those your Excellency has seen, for settling the affair of the Uscocchi and affirming that His Catholic Majesty would agree to the execution of the treaty of Asti. We replied that we could decide nothing without the duke of Savoy, but if he was satisfied we would accept the articles provided a general settlement were made at the same time with general restitution and guarantees. We sent this week to Savoy and France and we impart this to the king of Great Britain because of his great share in these affairs, especially the treaty of Asti. We shall be most grateful for the continuation of his offices and influence, and we have instructed our secretary to inform him of everything as a sign of our perfect confidence and of our esteem for him.
With regard to the other considerations, we have always had the best relations with the princes of Germany and we cherish the kindliest feelings towards them, and if something appears of the feeling of His Majesty in the matter and the affair is likely to prove successful, and the princes, states and republics named by him concur, we will show our devotion to all that concerns the public weal.
Sig. Lenchio was welcomed and honoured here when he was staying for some affairs of the princes (fn. 1) and we are satisfied with the good treatment of our ambassadors and secretaries recently sent to the princes.
The ambassador Donato chosen to reside with His Majesty, would have left long since for his charge if he had not been prevented by the important affairs, which you know of, but we will soon select a person to go to His Majesty and bear witness to our singular affection and esteem.
The ship of which your Excellency spoke would have already joined our service if the captain had accepted the reasonable terms taken by the others, and it was not proper to allow it to leave because it was to serve to our prejudice. A decision will soon be taken so that you shall be satisfied in one way or another.
We have very recent letters from Scotland from our secretary, who writes that he represented to His Majesty the state of current affairs and the imminent peril to the duke of Savoy, to us and to all this province from the Spanish arms, and that he had received most courteous replies from His Majesty and the ministers; we thank His Majesty heartily, and we shall always be responsive to his friendly offices.
Ayes 79.
Noes 8.
Neutral. 61.
Aug. 4. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Venetian Archives. 854. To the Secretary Lionello.
We send you a copy of the last exposition of the English ambassador and the reply we have given him. We direct you to communicate to His Majesty the two parts referring to the treaty of peace and the sending of an ambassador. You will use the rest for information and as a guide if anyone speaks to you, but not otherwise. You will communicate about the treaty of peace so that it may seem to have originated with the Ambassador Wotton, but that it is not settled and has been confided to him to have the honour of his offices which have great weight owing to his greatness and wisdom.
This morning we had your letters of the 16th July with news of your dealings with His Majesty and the reply given. We have thought fit to pass the office with the ambassador of which we enclose a copy although he has not yet had audience; it will possibly be to-morrow. There is nothing further of importance, but meanwhile do not neglect the general office, urging it earnestly.
Ayes 79.
Noes 8.
Neutral 61.
Aug. 5. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 855. The Ambassador of England was sent for to the Cabinet, and the deliberation of the Senate of yesterday was read to him, and re-read at his request; he said:
I observe with pleasure the complete understanding in these matters between the ambassador of your Serenity in Spain and the minister of my king. I am also impressed by the ambassador of France insisting upon the execution of the treaty of Asti, with the restitution of the places occupied both before and after that settlement. It is the principal point. The treaty ought not to be called in doubt, but the subsequent events at Vercelli, San Germano and elsewhere require a codicil. The point about the constant union between your Serenity and the duke of Savoy has afforded me great consolation, and I will publish it abroad. I need only refer to the magnanimity of the republic in refusing to settle its own affairs without establishing those of His Highness. As for the ship, there is, I understand, the example of your having released two French and one German. We do not expect less favour. If you suspect that this ship is going into the service of enemies, sureties will be given, and I am sure that the men will rather die than surrender, except to force, and of that there is little fear, as the seas are less infested at present.
If your Serenity had not sent for me, I should have asked an audience, as an express despatch has come from my king. He tells me that the Secretary Lionello went to Scotland after him, and had overtaken him at Edinburgh, where although he was not entertained as befits a minister of this republic, owing to the narrowness of the city, the confusion of the court and the mixture of nations, yet he was welcomed and heard by the king most graciously. His Majesty sends letters which I beg to communicate.
Jacobus etc. Domino Joanni Bembo Venetiarum Duci.
Letteras Vestras nona die mensis Junii datas reddidit nobis minister vester Joannes Baptista Lionellus. Ad exitum vero colloquii pacis quod attinet molestum sane nobis est illud non secundum votum vestrum nostrumque successisse. Non est enim alius in amicitiis vestris, qui plus sentiat ea, quae vobis molesta eveniunt quam nos, aut qui jura amicitiæ promptius exequatur cum opportunum erit, quod vobis prolixius exponet legatus noster qui apud vos est; cui ut fidem habeatis rogamus.
Datum e Palatio nostro Edinburgensi, 4 die Julii, Anno Domini 1617.
Jacobus Rex.
The ambassador then said, I propose to do what possibly no other ambassador has done here, to proceed apertis tabulis and read to you the instructions themselves. The letters are of the 4th of July and unsigned, as the king is not accustomed to sign with his subjects. He then began to read: “The Secretary of the republic resident here since the death of the last ambassador has come hither post. He has related the evil turn of the affair with Spain and the hostile actions of her ministers. He has asked for an open declaration of friendship for the republic not inferior to what was done in past years. With regard to this request there are two things to be considered, one that such a request should be madé before anything was heard from you, who, as our ambassador, ought to have been informed of anything of the sort.” Upon this point some comment is needed. I promised your Serenity to faithfully represent to the king the affairs with which you charged me. There never is and never will be any greater difference between me and your ministers than there is between two well adjusted clocks which may not always strike exactly together, but show the same time. But either I must complain of your Serenity or else my memory is at fault, as when the document was read to me I certainly think I expressed the declaration of His Majesty against the arms of the Catholic in the very terms in which they were prescribed to me. The diligence of Sig. Lionello has forestalled me, though I sent an express. It is true that I sent my messenger to the Secretary of State at London. Possibly he wished to be the bearer of the news to the king. The second matter is that when asked Sig. Lionello admitted that the republic had an ambassador in Spain and the Catholic king has an ambassador here, and it seemed strange that when there was thus no sign of an open rupture they should ask the king to declare against Spain. “However, we do not wish your lordships to imagine that our love is less than upon other occasions, even if we do not quite know in what form to make such a declaration. We ask you to inform his Serenity that the republic will find in us the same constant affection as has always been displayed. As for the present declaration you will add that as we are now in a very remote country, not staying for much more than a night in any one place, separated from the greater part of our council and ministers and without any papers, we shall need time in order to determine the precise form. We have sent to our extraordinary ambassador in Spain that as soon as he arrives he shall inform the king of the violent proceedings of his ministers in Italy, especially against the republic and Savoy, and represent how much this will arouse the suspicions of the other princes of Christendom, especially ourselves, who are so nearly bound to the republic. That he shall then speak for peace with honourable conditions and ask him to instruct his ministers to desist, as many princes begin to take alarm and they will oppose them, and we shall certainly not be the last among them. If they continue their violent measures we will declare our friendship for the republic in the desired manner.”
The ambassador then said: That is the extent of my commission, the substance of the rest is that the republic possibly committed an error in not listening to the proposal for a closer union, for if they had, those who now move with so much harshness would perhaps have shown themselves more peaceful and reserved.
The doge said: With regard to the ship, we never believed that it was going for the service of Spain against us. But it appears there was a fear that she might be taken by force and compelled to do so. However, we shall not neglect to come to some decision satisfactory to you. With regard to the other matters, we are much beholden to the king for his continued friendship; His Majesty's intent to alleviate the present troubles is worthy of his greatness. we thank him heartily.
The ambassador made fresh requests with regard to the ship, and departed.
Aug. 7. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives. 856. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Germany to the Doge and Senate.
Prainer has left for Vienna, with nothing settled about his command. The 500 horse paid by Spain which were first under Marrada have been at length divided, 400 being placed under an English Colonel called Marsam, who left for the camp yesterday, the other hundred under the Prince of Saxony, to whom the Archduke Ferdinand has promised to give a hundred more.
Prague, the 7th August, 1617. Copy.
Aug. 8. Senato. Secreta. Dispacci. Signori Stati. Venetian Archives. 857. Christoforo Surian, Venetian Secretary in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
On the arrival of the ordinary from Italy, M. Vandermyle sent to know if I had any reply from your Serenity to the proposals for a league made by him for M. Barnevelt. I made excuses for the delay. He went on to urge several arguments in favour of the league. After the conversation I discovered that he had instructions to speak in this way, although he seemed to be speaking for himself. Some of the lords said that the republic ought to propose what it thinks would be best as they had done the like in England and France during their troubles.
Yesterday evening the Resident Sticke told me that the deputies of Guelders and Overyssel had orders to consent if the republic negotiated for a league. I believe that if your Serenity gives me definite instructions the league will result, but the need for secrecy is the greater, for I feel sure that the French have a shadow of suspicion and the English too, and they, either separately or together will try to upset the result, so that the affair should be conducted with speed and caution.
The Hague, the 8th August, 1617.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 8. Senato. Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives. 858. Christoforo Surian, Venetian Secretary in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
M. Barnevelt asked me where Castiglione might be. I said there were several, but I supposed the one in question to be near the Veronese. He said he heard that the Spaniards were putting a garrison there and that ought to open the eyes of your Serenity. I found that the English ambassador had heard of this, I suppose from Mr. Wotton. I visited that ambassador the other day. He asked me if I knew that the Secretary Lionello had returned from Scotland. I replied that I had received word of his leaving Edinburgh. After a few words he went on, I am astonished that the republic does not keep an ambassador with my master in these troublous times. I replied that one had been selected, but he had affairs in hand affecting the general interests, and he was also very ill, and that was the reason for his delay. He replied: That is true, and princes do not usually remove such ministers. He then asked if it were true that Sig. Simon Contarini was going to the princes of Germany, as he was informed. I said that I had no particulars.
The Hague, the 8th August, 1617.
Aug. 10. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 859. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In conformity with your commands I send to your Serenity the account of the expenses incurred upon the journey to Scotland, from the 9th June, and beg you to have the mandate ballotted.
London, the 10th August, 1617.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 860. Account of expenses incurred by me, Giovanni Battista Lionello, in going post to Scotland, staying there and returning:
s. d.
By four horses from London to Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh to London by the posts, 600 miles going and returning, at threepence (penini) per mile, per horse, according to the general custom of the kingdom 600 0
By the usual gratuities to the postillions, sixpence each for sixty posts, going and returning 30 0
By the usual gratuities at the stables for sixty posts at fourpence each 20 0
By the usual gratuities to the post women for sixty posts at fourpence each 20 0
By expenses at inns and other extraordinary expenses of the journey going 96 8
By the same expenses in returning, which took more time 116 4
By lodging and expenses at the court at Edinburgh, two days 164 0
By sending two messengers to the court at Falkland 8 0
By sending the interpreter to follow the court to Falkland five days 42 0
By going myself to the king at Falkland, in crossing the sea and horses 26 6
By lodging and board for four days at Falkland 65 0
By returning from Falkland to Edinburgh 25 0
By lodging and board at Edinburgh for three days 45 0
By presents to the king's guard who accompanied me 22 0
By the other servants of the king who were engaged in finding me lodgings 11 0
By the interpreter for putting things in order for the journey 40 0
Total equalling £66 sterling 11 shillings. 1,331 0
The £66 11s. at the rate of exchange current on the last day of June, which amounted to 57 pence the Venetian ducat of good money, make ducats 280, lire 1, soldi 10.
Aug. 11. Cons. di X Parti Secrete. Venetian Archives 861. That the letter of our ambassador in Germany of the 24th July last be communicated by a Secretary of this Council to the Savii of our Cabinet, after enjoining secrecy, and that a copy be left for their information. The letters relate what Givan de Uchin told the ambassador about the proposal of Captain Givan de Aquin, an Englishman, who is negotiating with the officers and sailors of five English and Dutch ships, to take them to Trieste, raise troops and go buccaneering against the subjects of the republic, by an arrangement made between Mark Graffin, an English Colonel, and the Archduke Ferdinand, which also names Richard Zorton, master gunner, and an English pirate, Giacomo Garzi, under captain and Angelo a Provençal of France, also under captain, all belonging to the said ships. (fn. 2)
Ayes 13.
Noes 0.
Neutral 2.
It was communicated to the Savii, and a copy left with Hieronimo Cavazza, the secretary.
Aug. 11. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 862. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On my return from Scotland I found your Serenity's letters of the 14th, 23rd and the 30th of June with the current news, and two others of the 5th July with the remarks of the Senate upon the negotiations in Spain, which I will use when I have an opportunity, and a copy of the office performed by the agent of England with the duke of Savoy and the reply of your Serenity to the Ambassador Donato. In this connection I will relate the contents of two despatches which have recently come from this agent in Turin to His Majesty. In the first he writes that he has had audience of His Highness in the presence of the ambassador of Venice, when the duke charged him with four points, to thank His Majesty for the munitions sent; thank him for the negotiations with the Bernese; offer excuses for giving powers to the Venetian ambassador in Spain to negotiate for peace without previously informing His Majesty, saying that it was owing to shortness of time, when His Highness could not do less than follow the advice of the republic. The fourth point was that as His Majesty had always said that a defensive war was an expensive one he had sent for the Ambassador Donato, so that that agent might be the more assured of the deliberate decision of both powers, namely, that if they saw that peace was hopeless, they would wage a resolute offensive war, and he hoped that His Majesty would favour them with his assistance according to the intentions which he had expressed, etc. The agent added that as His Highness had separated himself from His Majesty by treating for peace and war without telling him anything about it, His Majesty considered himself released from all his promises, but nevertheless the agent promised to write back all that he had heard.
The last despatch of the 8th ult. came yesterday. The agent writes that Vercelli was considered lost owing to the lack of provisions. They attribute this entirely to the Venetians, because to please them the duke agreed to pay attention to the peace proposed by them in Spain and abandoned the proposals of intervention made by others, which being quite reasonable would certainly have been accepted, and Piedmont would have escaped this danger. I combat these and similar ideas with weighty arguments, but they are bound to do some harm, as one falsehood in the air counts more with the ill-disposed than ten well-grounded truths.
The ambassador Wotton also writes occasionally, but simply speeches, whereby he has become so obnoxious that his letters sometimes remain three or four days upon Winwood's table without being read, and when they are read they are treated with contempt. (Il Sig. Ambr. Uton scrive ancor lui qualche volta, ma semplici discorsi, con quali è vento cosi a noia, che le sue lettere dimorano tal volta tre e quattro giorni sopra la tarola del Vinut senza esser lette, et leggendosi vengono sprezzate.)
I have seen Winwood and told him about all my experiences in Scotland, assuring him that all my hopes rested upon him, so that when he sees the king the numerous words spoken may be translated into acts. He promised to act for me and I know that he will do what lies in him, because he is the open enemy of the Spaniards and every day finds him more drawn towards our side, so that we may call him the chief protector of our cause. He is always anxious for the news of those parts and would like to see the affairs of your Serenity and the duke prospering. Accordingly it is a good thing to keep him in this frame of mind, as there is no lack of enemies. A gentleman told me that the earl of Suffolk, the Lord Treasurer, when I went to Scotland, said Lionello has gone to the king to get him to make a declaration, but he will not obtain anything, because the king will not meddle with those affairs and if he asked my advice I should counsel him never to intermeddle in the affairs of Italy in which we can have no interest. Many others also are strongly opposed to the desires of your Serenity, so that if you think fit to show some sign of gratitude to Winwood through me, I should consider it a wise step. The duke of Savoy, at the very beginning sent him some furniture for his rooms, and gave orders to the count of Scarnatigi to distribute 60,000 crowns between him and some others if the 400,000 crowns promised were obtained from the king (se paresse di usar altra dimostratione di gratitudine col detto Vinut per me crederei ottimo consiglio. II Sig. Duca di Saroia le mandò sin nel principio alcuni fornimenti di camera, et Jra lui et aleuni altri haveva rissolto et dato ordine al Conté di Scarnafigi di distribuir sessanta mille sendi se si ottenevano dal Re li quattro cento mille promessi).
The decision of the Senate to have an ambassador here for the king's return has been very prudent, and in the present exigencies may be of great help. I have not spoken to anyone before I knew further particulars and have orders to do so.
They begin to speak of a parliament in England to find a way of paying the king's debts, which exceed three millions. Many think that all the marriage negotiations which His Majesty is keeping on foot in Spain are simply in order to reduce the kingdom to the necessity of providing the money, because if he tells the parliament that if they do not pay his debts he will be compelled to take a Spaniard, for the sake of her dower, it is universally thought that the people will rather agree to make a grant, and possibly he proposes to employ the same means to support his declarations and promises to Italy with resolute action, but at present nothing can be done except to allow some days to slip by. (Si comincia a parlar di un parlamento in Inghilterra per trovar modo di pagar i debiti del Re, che passano tre millioni, et vien creduto da molti che tutta la prattica di matrimonio che mantien S.M. in piedi con Spagna non è per altro fine che per condur il Regno in necessità di provederlo de denari, perche quando dichi al parlamento che non volendo pagarli i debiti sara necessitato di prender una Spagnuola, per valerse della dotte, credesi universalmente che il popolo consentirà pitù tosto a qualche concessione et forse anco che questi saranno i mezzi che si dissegna ritrovare por poter sostentar von li veri effetti le sue dechiarationi et promesse in servicio d'Italia, per hora non si può altro fare, che lasciar correr qualche giorno.)
The ambassador of the States has commissions to report to the king the decision of his masters with respect to the affairs of Savoy and to urge him to do something himself. Because formerly His Majesty passed offers with them, which were of great value, as now appears, and now they think they are bound to be the intercessors in their turn to His Majesty, and it ought to be a strong stimulus to him for the sake of his reputation.
London, the 11th August, 1617.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 11. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 863. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Digby has left for Spain, but he will not go to his ship unless he first receives a new despatch from the king. Meanwhile reports are current that the Infanta, about whom they are negotiating, has been asked in marriage by a son of the new king of Bohemia, and they will very probably accept, as the Catholic king would profit greatly by thus uniting in close relationship the two branches of the House of Austria, so far as can be seen that son will become a great prince, as in time the imperial dignity and all the patrimony of that house will come to him.
My impression becomes continually stronger that His Majesty is exceedingly wroth with the Archduke Albert because of the book (fn. 3) and the fruitless mission of the Ambassador Bennet, and on his return from Scotland he may perhaps show his feeling publicly. The archduke on the other hand declares himself highly dissatisfied with Bennet for having issued very bitter words in Flanders and in the presence of his councillors. Among other things he said that Brussels was a sewer and sink of every kind of treason. The archduke's agent at this Court has orders to make grave complaints about this on His Majesty's return. I understand that another book has appeared in France against the king here even worse than the Flanders one.
Very momentous also is the recent news of an encounter which took place on the 22nd August of last year between the English and a Portugese carrack, near the coast of Mombaza in the East Indies. After resisting for some days the carrack became fixed between two rocks and was burned by the Portugese themselves. 150 of those on board were drowned, and the rest numbering 500 [were captured] together with the greater part of the cargo. The Spanish ambassador has orders to complain about it the more so because the English merchants say that they did it with the permission of His Majesty, who gave them leave to avenge themselves for the injuries received in those parts and elsewhere from the Portugese and Spaniards.
Letters have come from His Majesty from Scotland that the Jesuit provost of San Fedele at Milan has published to four leading men of the Council nominated by His Majesty the reason for his coming and everything that he proposed to tell to the king himself. I have not all the particulars as yet. I have only been able to gather that he disclosed a conspiracy arranged in the lifetime of the Marshal of Ancre, between the pope, the Spaniards, and the Queen Mother against the realm and the person of the king of England himself. To carry this into execution they were to send hither under the guise of friendship, a great prince of France, one of the kin of the king here, who could be none other than the duke of Guise or one of his brothers. I hope to discover something further, as it is necessary to believe that the whole thing is well founded, as it has come from the lips of the archbishop of Canterbury, one of the four persons deputed, that the Jesuit was right in saying that the matter was of high importance, because it really is, although as things have turned out and owing to the changes in France the time has passed for carrying it into execution; but His Majesty ought to know of it. The Jesuit proposes to remain on in England without changing his religion, receiving nothing from the king but the means to live. He justifies his action he saying that he was simply moved by indignation to reveal this treason. (fn. 4)
All these occurrences and seeds of discord may, in the present state of affairs, prove of considerable advantage to the service of Italy, because the more the king realises that the friendship of Spain is feigned and very prejudicial to him the more he will recognise that it behoves him to attend to the interests and the preservation of those princes who love him and desire his welfare with a whole heart.
London, the 11th August, 1617.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 11. Inquisitori di Stato. Dispacci dagli Ambasciatori in Inghilterra Venetian Archives. 864. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Council of Ten.
This morning I visited the Secretary Winwood. After discussing other matters he said he wished to put a question of great importance to me both to the service of His Majesty and that of the republic with regard to the Ambassador Wotton, concerning whom accounts of the worst nature reach his ears daily and which if known to His Majesty would cause him the greatest sorrow. That these reports related to his bad faith (poco fedeltà), that he knows Wotton to be the enemy of the duke of Savoy, because whereas on former occasions he was very well treated by him on his passage, he did not on the contrary receive so much honour on this last occasion, so that he bears him ill-will. That he knows him to have a close understanding with the grand duke of Florence, and that he has received money from him since his residence in Venice. That this last time when he got to Venice he remained more than a month before presenting himself to his Serenity, and subsequently not only acted coldly where he could, but moreover made mischief when in his power, especially in the disputes between the Count John Ernest, of Nassau, and Don Giovanni de Medici, wherefore he wished to hear the truth of this from me.
I confess, most excellent lords, to having felt very much embarrassed at the moment, for to apologize for Sir Henry Wotton or to praise him, acquainted as I am with his nature, would have been against my conscience, and detrimental to the interests of the state, and I should, moreover, have saddled the republic with everlasting ill. (Confesso Signori Eccmi che all' bora mi ritrovai molto confuso, perche escusar et laudar il Sig. Vuton per la cognitione che tengo della sua natura facevo contra la mia conscienza, pregiudicaro all' interesse publico et confirmavo in perpetuo male sopra la Serma Repca) On the other hand, I did not deem it fitting to speak without orders on such a subject, and so I determined to steer a middle course, answering the secretary that I considered Sir Henry Wotton a gentleman of honour and knew nothing of him from his Serenity, though I could indeed tell him that these same reports had found their way even to my ears, and that I regretted them, because such ministers ought to be free not only from fault but even from suspicion. That an English ambassador in Venice has it in his power at all times, and now especially, to be of great use by the demonstration of good-will and kindly offices, since as the mouthpiece of his king, he has the means of making himself heard; and that it certainly appeared to me that Sir Henry Wotton kept very much aloof, though I was unable to assign any reason for this, as I knew of none. The secretary repeated to me that he regretted the reports in circulation and said he must acquaint the king with them.
Concerning this matter I find myself in duty bound to tell your Excellencies that Sir Henry Wotton is in very small repute at this court and with the king. He has no friends, is poor with nothing in the world besides an annuity of 800 crowns for life, which he receives from His Majesty. He went back to Venice for the sole purpose of gaining a livelihood, as his debts forbade his remaining any longer here. He is of a most avaricous disposition, so that for money he would do anything, and it is reported that he was bought by the Spaniards at the treaty of Wesel, when he went there as ambassador, for suspicions to this effect were very manifest, and the Lords States remonstrated thereon. (Mitrovo obligato di dire all' Ecc Vre a questo proposito esser il Car. Vuton in questa Corte et appresso il Re in pochissima consideratione senza amici, povero, senza altro al mondo che 800 scudi di provisione che il Re li da in vita; ritornato a Venezia con solo fine di guadagnar per vivere poiche qui per i debiti non poteva più dimorare; di animo avarissimo, che per denari farebbe ogni cosa; et è fama che fosse guadagnato da Spagnoli al trattato di Vessel, che fu ivi Ambr. di che furono i sospetti assai manifesti et i Sig. Stati se ne dechiarirno.)
When on the eve of leaving London for Venice he was on terms of the closest friendship with the Spanish ambassador here, and I know even then that he went privily to his dwelling and remained there four or five hours at a time. Thus, having left Venice, disgusted with the State in the first place owing to what occurred at the close of his mission, about the book, and secondly because he did not receive a donative extraordinary, which he complained openly to me about, (fn. 5) added to which, having subsequently gone to Turin, drawn thither again solely by the desire of making money, and being already, according to general report, in the pay of the Spaniards, it would be no wonder were the rumours in circulation true, and possibly something more the discovery of which, as it would prove easier at Venice than here, I have no doubt that should your Excellencies make enquiry you will ascertain something in which case, should you deem it for your service, it would be easy to find the means of freeing the State from such serious detriment.
Lord Wotton, the brother of Sir Henry, has a seat in the Privy Council. He is an avowed Spaniard and our bitter enemy, allowing no opportunity for injuring us to escape him, so no heed need be taken for his enmity as we have the fullest possible measure of that already.
The merchant Burlamacchi who remits money to Sir Henry Wotton and is his creditor, has lately declined to supply him any longer to avoid further engagements, and the said ambassador has laid hands on the 600 crowns which your Excellencies caused to be paid to Parris on account of Sir William Smith, who has hitherto been unable to obtain them, all which may serve to show the shifts to which the ambassador is driven for pecuniary supply and how much reason there is to watch his hands. Should my reply to the secretary not satisfy your Excellencies, I beseech you to pardon my zeal for the State's service. (fn. 6)
With regard to the letters of your Excellencies dated the 30th and the 14 July, I fancy it behoves me merely to acknowledge their receipt. I need only add that the countess of Bedford, having come to London, declined hearing anything about this misdemeanour, so I have nothing more to hope concerning the examinations on behalf of the Sig. Muscorno.
From London, the 11 August, 1617.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 12. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Savoia. Venetian Archives. 865. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
His Highness sent for me this morning to meet MM. Marescial and Bethune to discuss the terms to propose to Don Pedro. As I was feverish His Highness postponed the meeting until to-morrow, but he told me what they had decided upon. To obtain Vercelli before disarmament, they offer that there shall be a mutual restitution of all places, His Highness to begin. The places occupied after the treaty to be placed in the hands of a third party. His Highness told me afterwards that if peace is not concluded this time, it will be necessary for your Excellencies to make up your minds to a written alliance with the States, the Princes of Germany, himself and the king of England, and if this is not done the troubles will continue and incessant war to resist the pretensions of the Spaniards.
Asti, the 12th August, 1617.
Aug. 14. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives. 866. The Ambassador of England came into the Cabinet and said:
I have informed my king, as you desired, of the articles agreed upon with Spain, by the ambassador Gritti and other ambassadors, with the participation of the minister of my king. The peace is to be made universal by the laying down of arms both in Piedmont and in Friuli. What has been irregularly taken at sea, as we may call the reprisals upon merchant galleys while the republic was friendly with the Catholic king, shall also be restored. That your Serenity accepts the articles upon the Uscocchi with due reserves, and that with regard to Savoy the king of Spain will abide by the treaty of Asti. I also informed His Majesty that I had communicated my instructions to your Excellencies ad litteram, and his disposition had caused great content and gratitude. So open a declaration of friendship from my king leads me to express my feelings more freely. I find that all discussions upon Italy may be reduced to three propositions, two unquestionable and one doubtful. The two are that your Serenity will not make peace without Savoy, and that Savoy will not grant it without the restoration of Vercelli; the doubt is whether Spain will restore it or no. I remember that some days ago I maintained here that they would not. But now I have drawn a balance, and rather lean to the affirmative. On the other side there is the natural tenacity of the race and the terribilità of the place, to use the new word, as a most important station, supported by the new fort of Sandoval, apt to receive succours from Milan and to bridle Savoy, holding thereby one of the keys of Piedmont into Savoy. There is also the formidable example of Siena and the question of prestige which may not suffer the immediate restitution of a place acquired with such losses after a long struggle. But there are very potent reasons on the other side, because they must decide to have one of two things, either to hold Vercelli and have a perpetual war in the midst of Italy, or to attempt the complete conquest of Piedmont and Savoy. He who possesses more risks more. The Catholic king holds much in this province, he cannot gain much by war and may arouse sleeping humours. As for taking Savoy and Piedmont, even if all Italy remained unmoved, France certainly would not permit it. Thus it is unlikely that the Catholic king will insist upon retaining that place. I will now submit an idea of my own which I have written to His Majesty's Resident at Turin, namely that the king of Spain should hand over Vercelli to Prince Vittorio as an act of munificence to his own nephew, not to the duke; I hope your Serenity will take in good part what little I can do for the general peace.
The ambassador proceeded to the case of two English merchants, sent to reside at Zante and Cephalonia, that they may be kindly treated, of one Count Erbat, prince of the Empire, made a slave by the Turks for letters of favour to the Bailo for his release, of a poor Irishman, condemned for blasphemy, for Captain Bel, either to serve in war or to take the news of peace to the king of Great Britain, and finally of a Grison who offers to raise troops and bring them through the pass and who does not ask for money before he brings them.
The doge answered that every satisfaction should be given to the ambassador in each of these cases, and after further courteous words the ambassador departed.


  • 1. John Baptist Leuk. See Vol. XI of this Calendar, and Janssen's History of the German People (Eng. trans.), Vol. X. p. 444.
  • 2. Also found in Senato, Secreta. Communicazioni dal Cons. de' X. The letter will be found at page 557 above, No. 839.
  • 3. The Corona Regia of Puteanus.
  • 4. The Jesuit that came from Milan is sent away without the king seeing him, who gave order that the lord archbishop and Mr. Secretary Winwood should hear what he could say. They dealt with him by all manner of good means, and drew from him, as he protested, the utmost of his knowledge, which was not worth the whistling, being certain strange chimeras and far fetcht imaginations of plots and dangers not worth the knowing, much less the relating. Whereupon it was thought good to despatch him away, the rather for that he grew scandalously debauched. He had a hundred pounds in gold delivered to him, which the searchers at the seaside took from him a thing that should not have been done; but now there is no remedy, neither do they know how or whether to send it after him. And here is the end of that play to the small honour of the author. Chamberlain to Carleton. 11 Oct. 1617. o.s. Birch: Court and Times of James I., ii. p. 37.
  • 5.
  • 6. The decipher may be found in Senato, Secreta, Comunicazioni dal. Cons. de' X. Vol. VIII.