Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 15, 1617-1619. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1909.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
For the compilation of the present volume of this Calendar it has again been necessary to extend considerably the field of research. The leakage of certain state secrets and the famous conspiracy of 1618 have involved a much wider search among the archives of the Inquisitors of State. The presence of English vessels in the Venetian fleet and of English soldiers among the Venetian troops has compelled a careful examination of the papers of the Senato Secreta containing the despatches from the Captains General at Sea, the Proveditori of the Fleet, the Captains in the Gulf, the Commissioners in the Fleet, the Proveditori General of the Forces, and incidentally, the despatches from Dalmatia and Udine, each of which constitutes a series of considerable bulk. There are also two relations of England for the year 1618 by Antonio Foscarini and Piero Contarini respectively; but the most important fresh material is supplied by Horatio Busino, Contarini's chaplain, whose diary and letters afford a vivid picture of English manners and customs in the early part of the seventeenth century, in matters usually considered beneath the dignity of an ambassador's notice.
The bulk of the material, as usual, comes from the great depository at the Frari; but the Contarini papers bequeathed to St. Mark's library in 1843 by the last surviving member of the family, supply Busino's letters, Contarini's relation of England and Contarini's register of despatches. This last contains two or three letters not preserved in the files at the Archives and presents other minor differences. The two relations of Foscarini and Contarini have been published by Barozzi and Berchet in their great series of the Relazioni. Unfortunately their text is not free from errors, both of omission and commission; accordingly these relations are printed in full in the volume, the principal errors of the Italian editors being indicated in the footnotes, so far as it is possible to do so in a translation. The late Mr. Rawdon Brown made full translations not only of Busino's letters, but also of Contarini's register at St. Mark's library. These translations are preserved at the Public Record Office under the title of Transcripts from the Venetian Archives. I have made very full use of them, to lighten my labours, and from a careful collation with the originals I have found them in the main perfectly accurate. Two rather serious errors are indicated in the notes to pages 251 and 281, and I venture to think that Mr. Brown was at fault in his rendering of the last lines of Contarini's despatch of May 18, 1618 (No. 362).
The two years covered by this volume, from September, 1617, to the end of August, 1619, embrace a period of the greatest historical importance, to Europe owing to the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War, to Venice from the famous Spanish conspiracy and to England with the appearance of an organised English naval squadron in the Mediterranean.
The general European situation had indeed borne a threatening aspect for many years past, but so far a general conflict had been averted. Such wars as broke out, on the Rhine, in Piedmont and Friuli were essentially local in their character, and a peaceful disposition prevailed so far as to prevent these conflagrations from spreading, enabling a more or less satisfactory peace to be patched up upon each occasion. (fn. 1) But larger questions remained in the background which threatened the general tranquillity. The easy-going Emperor Matthias, old before his time, could not be expected to live much longer, and the Hapsburg candidate for his place was Ferdinand of Styria, a pupil of the Jesuits and a devoted Catholic. In June, 1617, Ferdinand was chosen to succeed to the Bohemian throne on the death of Matthias, and the Protestants soon had occasion to perceive what treatment their religion might expect under the new ruler. With the whole strength of the house of Austria behind him, Ferdinand was able to strengthen his hold on the empire, and in July, 1618, he got rid of Matthias's minister Klesl, who was advocating a policy of compromise with the Protestants. When Matthias at length died on March 20, 1619, the election of Ferdinand as King of the Romans seemed practically assured.
The Protestants of the empire were aware of their danger, and Frederick the elector palatine, as chief of the princes of the Union, seems to have begun early to move against the Austrian ambitions. In September, 1617, we find him at Sedan, discussing the situation with the Duke of Bouillon and ambassadors from England and the Netherlands (No. 6). His idea was to put forward the candidature of Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria, his kinsman, who might count on the support of his brother, the Archbishop of Cologne. For this purpose Frederick tried to enlist the support of his father-in-law, and induced Maximilian to write to James a letter expressing gratitude for Frederick's efforts in his behalf (No. 376). But the Duke of Bavaria was cautious and felt that Spanish opposition provided an insuperable obstacle. With the failure of this promising candidature, all hope practically disappeared, but attempts were still made to keep out the Hapsburgs. Charles Emanuel, the very enterprising Duke of Savoy, was even suggested, and promised the help of both the Dutch and England if he had any chance of success (No. 895). Nor were the palatine's own claims neglected, and it was surmised that James by a re-marriage with the Dowager Duchess of Saxony might detach that duke from the House of Austria and secure his vote for the palatine or Bavaria (No. 834).
Meanwhile in Bohemia matters had come to a crisis. The Protestants rose in revolt against what they considered the oppressive behaviour of the Catholics, encouraged by the election of Ferdinand as king. On May 23, 1618, took place the 'defenestration' of Martinitz and Slawata at Prague. The revolt quickly spread and Ferdinand was threatened in the very heart of the Austrian dominions. The Spaniards, upon whom chiefly Ferdinand relied for support, realised the full extent of the danger, and especially feared the advantage that the palatine and James might take of this opportunity. They knew that James in particular might easily put himself at the head of all the Protestant forces in Europe, and experience had taught how much damage the English could inflict upon them. (fn. 2) Accordingly they devoted their arts to working upon James's fears and vanity in order to keep him neutral. They circulated rumours in England that Spinola had orders to invade the Palatinate if Ferdinand should stir in aid of the Bohemians (No. 563). In Spain Uceda assured Cottington that the Catholic king was determined to support his kinsman in Germany and to put down the rebels (No. 831). Lerma had said practically the same thing some months before (No. 522). Finally, Philip himself wrote asking James to intervene to bring about a settlement, and to restrain the palatine from incitement of the rebels, to which they attributed all the trouble (No. 769). They hoped by a show of confidence to keep James from assisting the palatine and incidentally render him an object of suspicion to the French and the Dutch (No. 576).
At the very outset the revolted Bohemians sent to James, justifying the necessity for their outbreak, and asking for advice and assistance (No. 483). Count Christopher von Dohna was selected to go on a special mission to the Dutch and England for the renewal of the Union and to seek help for Germany. He was expected in England in August, 1618, but did not arrive before the following January. He remained about a month in England, where he vigorously prosecuted his suit, assisted actively by Donato, the Venetian ambassador, and the Dutch commissioners, then in the country, who all agreed to hammer away at the king as vigorously as possible (No. 734).
If the decision had rested with the majority of the English nation, there can be very little doubt as to what course they would have followed. As it was, some of the king's ministers seemed eager to force the pace. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Council, who came much to the front in the spring of 1619 during the king's illness, while lamenting the king's lethargy and his readiness to let the Spaniards deceive him, hoped that something might be done at sea (No. 734). He suggested to Donato that the Dutch would join in the renewed league with the princes of the Union, and Savoy and Venice might enter, as the league would be made to include Italian affairs, and they would omit any mention of the reformed religion, to avoid giving offence to any one (No. 708). Wotton made a similar suggestion of a league in the Collegio in April (No. 845). At Turin the English agent Wake expressed the most sanguine views of what his sovereign would effect for the Bohemians (Nos. 930, 936).
But those who knew James best expected the least from him. The king's disposition makes him hate anything that requires thought or trouble, wrote Donato (No. 682) and the Bohemian business promised to be a particularly thorny affair. To the appeal of the Bohemian patriots James for a long while made no reply, from fear of retaliation in his own dominions (No. 501). In November, 1618, Contarini reported that the king displayed no inclination to help the Bohemians and entertained no idea of the kind (No. 587). However, in the course of that same month, at Philip's request James wrote a letter to his son-in-law to be circulated among the princes of the Union warning them to be careful to ascertain if the Bohemians had really taken up arms for the defence of their rights and privileges. If they had, he would favour their cause, if not, they ought to be repressed. He asked Frederick to supply him with a full account of all the particulars (No. 600). The appearance of Dohna at the beginning of 1619 seemed to have galvanised him into quite a show of activity and resolution. The league with the princes of the Union was renewed, the king promised to help the Bohemians with 200,000 crowns, and orders were issued to put the navy in a state of repair. Efforts were also made to induce Savoy and Venice to join the league (No. 734). For the moment this appearance of energy was accepted at its face value; the Duke of Savoy seems to have really believed that James would come out and openly assist the Bohemians and that Dohna's mission had succeeded beyond all expectation (No. 749). Even Donato was deceived, despite his very pessimistic views of the English court at that time. Such powerful inducements have moved the king, he wrote, including the interests of the liberty of Germany, of religion and the peril of the palatine, his own security, the clamour of his people, and the rawness after such a prolonged lethargy, that his fiery resolutions cannot now grow cold (No. 743). But really generous resolution was not part of James's nature. With so many vital interests at stake and when war was actually raging he would stop to ask for a careful and deliberate enquiry into the rights and wrongs of the case. Whenever possible he would put the troublesome question out of the way altogether, and first his own illness and afterwards the reception and entertainment of the numerous ambassadors who came to offer condolences upon the queen's death were allowed to put the whole matter out of sight. When Donato wished to discuss the Bohemian question, James immediately turned the conversation to the excellence of the prince's dancing (No. 694). The king refused even to contemplate the possibility of the election of the palatine as King of Bohemia (No. 778). But even James could not for long expect to dispose of difficult and thorny problems by affecting to ignore them. Encouraged by Spanish flattery he decided to send his favourite Hay, now Viscount Doncaster, on a mission to Ferdinand and the Bohemians, to endeavour to patch up a peace. Even about this he showed no unnecessary haste, and though Doncaster was selected in March, he did not start until the middle of May.
This recourse to the old familiar method, so often proved to be utterly futile, deceived no one, except possibly James himself. Archbishop Abbot openly expressed the hope that Doncaster would not go (No. 831). The Dutch, who had at first waited to see what James would do, realised that it was pure loss of time (No. 878). Arguing from their own experience in the treaty of Xanten, they feared that James's love of peace would lead him to accept even a deceptive one, and they wrote warning the Bohemians to be on their guard and not to be deceived by fine words (Nos. 905, 919, 937). Although Dohna had received liberal promises verbally he had not succeeded in obtaining anything in writing, despite the most strenuous efforts, and he laboured under no delusions; he thought that James and his Court were entirely under Spanish influence (No. 879). The Spaniards, on the other hand, and all the friends of the house of Austria, were entirely satisfied with James and pleased at Doncaster's mission. They had every reason for content, for that ambassador took an early opportunity of assuring Ferdinand that his master had no intention of favouring or fomenting rebels against their lord (No. 962).
The offer of a league to Venice, Savoy, the States and other powers, was genuine enough and entirely in accordance with the king's ideas, though this has been doubted. (fn. 3) Abbot was a strong advocate of such a policy, and would have liked to see it made effective, but with James it was merely a means of avoiding trouble and shifting responsibility. He was quite ready to play the part of ornamental chief to a great European league, constructed with the object of placing limits upon the ambitions of the house of Hapsburg and overawing them by its mere aspect, but supposing the league did not produce this effect James was not the man to set its machinery in motion to bring about the desired results by force and he might be expected to leave his allies in the lurch, to get out of the difficulties created for them as best they might (No. 708).
Contrary to all expectation and appearance peace in Italy was arranged at Madrid in September, 1617, and thus the harassing Friulian war was brought to a close. But though Philip and Ferdinand may have been perfectly sincere in signing the treaty, it soon became clear that the Spanish viceroys in the peninsula would make trouble. Toledo at Milan raised difficulties about disarming and the restitution of Vercelli, while Osuna at Naples continued his undisguised hostility to Venice. A creature of his, the French adventurer Jacques Pierre, had come to Venice in the middle of 1617, ostensibly to disclose a plot of the Viceroy against the republic, but really to carry out a conspiracy for the overthrow of Venice with the connivance if not the active assistance of Osuna. (fn. 4) This man was taken into the Venetian service, and he endeavoured to win the confidence of his new employers by still further revelations of the plans of the Duke of Osuna and the Spaniards, in a paper the chief interest of which for English readers is the alleged proposal made by Robert Dudley, Leicester's son, to the King of Spain, of a plan to smash the English and Dutch by the employment of a new sort of vessel called galeasse of his own contriving (No. 337). The Venetians did not trust their new captain, however, and kept a close watch upon him. In the middle of May, thanks to the revelations made by Baldassure Juven, a French soldier of fortune, nephew of the Duke of Lesdiguieres, the Senate came into possession of the details of a plot, of which Jacques Pierre was the principal agent, to seize the chief points of their city, massacre the doge and the leading nobles, and let in a fleet of Osuna, which would be cruising in the neighbourhood and would be provided with specially constructed light barques for the navigation of the lagoons. On the discovery of the plot, Jacques Pierre and seven of his accomplices were promptly executed. Such was the famous Spanish Conspiracy. Vague reports got abroad, and caused considerable excitement throughout Europe. James heard the news in June and at once wrote to the newly elected doge congratulating the republic on its escape (No. 412). He had had considerable experience in conspiracies in his time and was very curious to learn the details of this one. But though he tried very hard in various ways he could elicit nothing beyond the merest generalities. Somewhat nettled, he said laughingly to Contarini: I really do not imagine that I am suspected (No. 430). The republic, however, maintained the most prudent reserve on the subject, and although Wotton suggested that they should send an account of the business to his master, just as James had supplied them with the details of the Gunpowder Plot, they returned a polite refusal (No. 497). Somewhat later, on Oct. 17th, the Council of Ten supplied an official account of the whole matter, but of an absolutely private nature, the oath of secrecy being imposed. Doubts having been raised by some members of the Collegio as to the genuineness of the conspiracy a further secret paper was issued by the Ten on the 3rd December, answering their objections (Nos. 565, 619). (fn. 5)
James asked Contarini whether any Englishman was implicated in the conspiracy, and the ambassador answered in the negative. This was not altogether accurate. One of the leading agents in the affair was an Englishman named Robert Elliot, a fugitive at Naples, where he had lived some years. He and another Englishman went to Rome to submit to the pope a plan to capture Tunis with the help of Dudley's galleasses, and extirpate that nest of pirates. Though this project was influentially backed, the pope refused to have anything to do with it, and Elliot was sent to Madrid by Don Francesco de Castro, then the Spanish ambassador, to tell Philip how little the pope cared for the preservation of Christendom, and thought of nothing but the enrichment of his nephews and the building of palaces (No. 337). By Osuna Elliot was given the command of the brigantines intended for attack in the Venetian lagoons. In January, 1617, he was at Trieste, perhaps perfecting his knowledge of the Istrian ports of the republic, of all of which he was reported to have taken soundings. During his absence the command of the brigantines was given to a Captain Ascanio Steffanucci of Todi, a proceeding that gave great umbrage to Elliot (No. 201). However, by April he had returned to Naples, and was reinstated by Osuna in command of the brigantines, and with these and an armed galleon sent into the Adriatic, undoubtedly with the intention of co-operating with Jacques Pierre and his confederates in Venice. Elliot, however, acted after his kind. Instead of pushing straight for Venice, he loitered about in the Adriatic south of Ancona picking up prizes. He captured booty to the tune of 60,000 ducats, but the great conspiracy was discovered and stamped out before he could arrive on the scene. The conspirators seized at Venice stated that if the barques had arrived in time, Venice would have been taken (Nos. 619, 709).
The English ambassador Wotton was not himself entirely free from suspicion. In the preceding year attention had been drawn to a sudden intimacy with the Spanish ambassador. (fn. 6) Little more than two months before the discovery of the conspiracy, James had most earnestly enquired of Contarini whether they suspected that Wotton was not acting sincerely and if from certain of his proceedings it was thought he might be in the pay of the Spaniards (No. 255). Just before the disclosure of the plot Wotton had some dealings with Nicholas Regnault, secretary of Jacques Pierre, and one of the leading conspirators. This man had met the ambassador at a book shop in the Merceria and offered to communicate matters of importance. Wotton, who was easy in such respects, allowed the man to call three or four times at the embassy. Regnault told Wotton the story of his life and how he was the confidential servant of Osuna, and said he had decided to go to France and England to communicate certain very important matters. (fn. 7) He asked for an introduction to some one in England. He also spoke of designs of the Spaniards upon some place in Africa near Algiers. Apparently Wotton gave him a letter of recommendation to the Secretary Lake. Immediately upon the arrest of Regnault, Wotton drew up a paper narrating these circumstances and sent it to the Collegio, where he subsequently made a statement upon the same subject. The matter evidently excited some suspicion, and Monti the Secretary was questioned on the subject both before the Council of Ten and the Inquisitors of State (Nos. 361, 447). (fn. 8)
Yet another circumstance contributed to cast suspicion upon Wotton. He had under his protection a fellow countryman named John Holland, who kept a lodging house for foreigners at San Giovanni in Bragora, ignoring the regulations for the policing of foreigners and trusting to the ambassador to get him out of any trouble. In the early part of 1618 this place was filled with a crowd of some three hundred foreigners of various nationalities. Many of these were English who had come with the Earl of Oxford, who had offered his services to the republic and seems to have spent the carnival at Venice with more joviality than discretion (No. 282). Some were young students, who were not very guarded in their observations. A Scottish engineer, who came with a plan for making a fountain in the piazza, talked of utilising this opportunity for undermining St. Marks. It was remarkable that whereas these foreigners at their first appearance were very poor and ill-dressed, they afterwards went about in rich apparel and seemed to have plenty of money to spend. After the execution of the conspirators, all these foreigners suddenly disappeared (Nos. 672, 677, 750).
Another person of English connection involved in suspicion was Captain Tournon, a Frenchman who had frequented the English court where he had taught both Prince Henry and Prince Charles the use of the pike. He had formed some relations with the conspirators and was consequently arrested and imprisoned, but as no evidence was forthcoming that he had any share in the conspiracy he was released, though the Senate declined to accede to Wotton's request to give him some public attestation of his loyalty (No. 753).
It is small wonder, therefore, if the English embassy was in somewhat ill repute at the time of the Spanish conspiracy and for a while afterwards. A very clear indication of this state of feeling soon appeared. On Wednesday, May 30, only a week after the execution of the conspirators, Wotton sent his steward, William Leete, to invite the Earl of Oxford to the embassy for the following day. The earl was out, and Leete waited for him well on into the night, when he returned home in the gondola. Near San Martino a band of armed men, led by an individual nicknamed Count Piero, stopped him, asking who he was. Leete answered that he was a servant of the English ambassador, whereupon in spite of all remonstrance, Piero arrested him and carried him off to the Arsenal. Leete spent the night in prison, and on the following morning Piero visited him and used the most insulting language. He said: We do not know what he was after at Venice, but he was associated with those who were hanged and repeated more than once that he would have let him go if he had not declared himself a servant of the English ambassador. Popular rumour naturally associated the arrest with the recent conspiracy and Wotton rightly took a serious view of the case. He at once demanded the most complete redress through his secretary, refusing to appear himself before it had been obtained (Nos. 382, 392, 400). The doge tried to pass the matter off as the empty vapourings of an irresponsible person, unworthy of serious attention (No. 409). Wotton, however, persisted in his demands and as the republic was particularly anxious to conciliate England at the time they finally yielded so far as to sentence Count Piero to imprisonment during the ambassador's pleasure. It is evident that this was only granted when it became clear that Wotton would accept nothing less (No. 403). Having obtained his point Wotton could afford to be generous and at once asked for the prisoner's release upon condition that he should come and ask pardon in a suitable manner (No. 415). The matter being thus satisfactorily settled, Wotton appeared in the Collegio in person on the 26th of June, where he had not presented himself since the 18th March. The new doge assured him that they had never cherished the smallest suspicion either of himself or of any of his household. Wotton expressed his thanks and remarked jocularly that the misadventure of his steward was probably due rather to excess of good wine than lack of good will (No. 419). (fn. 9)
The Spanish conspiracy was only an episode in Osuna's deliberate plan for an attack upon Venice. The Viceroy of Naples was far too acute a man to allow the success of his designs to depend upon a wild conspiracy carried out by a very questionable party of adventurers. If they succeeded, he was ready to take full advantage of their success. It would provide a short cut to the attainment of his ambition, to dispute the Venetian dominion in the Adriatic and defeat the fleets of the republic in her own waters. In the meantime he was steadily pursuing the slower but surer way. His experience in Flanders and England had taught him the value of sailing ships, as opposed to galleys, and he devoted his energies to building up a fleet of his own. Not only did he start on the building of new ships in his dockyards, but he proposed to strengthen his available force more rapidly by engaging large merchant vessels which might easily be converted into men-of-war. In the autumn of 1617 he sent a merchant named Alexander Rose, introduced to him by Captain Robert Elliot, with 12,000 crowns, to obtain four or six galleons from England and Holland, which were to come under the pretext of bringing dried fish (Nos. 38, 141). The Venetians got wind of this and immediately sent to their representatives at London and the Hague to use every effort to prevent such ships from sailing. Contarini at once told James, who said he by no means intended his subjects to have a hand in such affairs (No. 88). Rose was summoned before the Council and closely questioned. Though they could elicit nothing from him about any agreement to serve Osuna, they assembled the ship owners, including Maurice Abbot, the archbishop's brother, and made them swear not to serve the Spanish fleet (No. 124). The ambassador also asked that merchants should be warned not to send their ships to Naples, as they might be seized there and compelled to serve against their will. In fact, at the beginning of November, 1617, Osuna did actually detain and arm an English ship despite the outcry of its owner (No. 75), a circumstance that stirred great excitement in the mart of London. In the Netherlands, the Venetian Resident Suriano kept on the alert, and endeavoured to prevent the sailing of an English ship which it was suspected that Rose meant to take to Naples. He succeeded in having it detained for a while, though it was subsequently released at the request of Carleton, the English ambassador, who assured Suriano that it was going to the Indies and had nothing to do with Rose (No. 152).
The Viceroy was extremely sanguine of success, and therefore was the more angry and disappointed when Rose returned in February bringing a letter which evidently conveyed to him the intentions of the Council not to allow him any English ships (note to page 155). However, he did not give up hope, and at once sent off Henry Gardiner on a similar mission to obtain ships and war materials in England, while at the same time he endeavoured to propitiate James by a present of ten horses (No. 275). He expected great things because Gardiner had a relation who possessed great influence with the king (No. 285). However, Gardiner obtained little more success than Rose. He was carefully watched by Contarini in England, and when he at length got back to Naples he only brought a whaler of 200 tons (No. 645).
All Osuna's designs against Venice ended in failure. In March, 1618, he boasted that he would obtain forty ships from England and Holland (No. 285). He did indeed succeed in buying a ship from an English merchant named Garset, but that only resulted in bringing punishment upon the vendor's head and alarming others (Nos. 168, 254). His arrest of vessels only frightened all traders away from his ports. Rose's own ship, the Royal Merchant refused to approach the port, but when Osuna armed eight or ten galleys to capture it, the captain put to sea, determined to resist to the uttermost. Although his ship was only a merchantman, he had no fear of Osuna's galleys (No. 227). Until the very end of the year 1618 no English or Dutch ship would come near the Neapolitan ports (Nos. 574, 592). He even thought it expedient to release those ships which he had detained, and Gardiner's whaler was allowed to proceed unmolested to Zante. A list of the ships armed by him, drawn up in July, 1618, contains the names of only two English ships of moderate size and three Dutch ones (No. 473).
In the fleet which he actually did get together Osuna was equally unfortunate. His admiral was very roughly handled on the 10th November, 1617, by the Venetian squadron which he had endeavoured to surprise off Santa Croce. A simple English merchantman could defy his galleys with impunity. The fleet he collected to co-operate with the conspirators at Venice frittered away its opportunities in small piracies. In the winter of 1618–19 he had to submit to the indignity of seeing the Neapolitan waters scoured by the renegade pirate Sanson, who carried on his buccaneering with absolute impunity, though apparently he had no more than a squadron of seven ships. With this force he kept the Spanish ships shut up in Messina, from which they dared not venture out to fight him (Nos. 606, 733, 737).
There can be very little doubt that Osuna acted throughout with the full approval of the government at Madrid, though at times it suited their purpose to disavow him or to send him orders which he usually ignored. In the spring of 1618 he talked openly of capturing Venice (No. 271). In July Sarmiento told Sir Henry Mainwaring that if Osuna had been given a free hand he would have taken Venice already, but, it would come. The republic would soon be exhausted by her expenses and would fall into his king's hands; Spanish would soon be spoken at Venice (No. 716). Possibly on the same occasion the same ambassador told Mainwaring that he and all the ministers of his sovereign had orders to do their utmost to forward Osuna's plans (No. 642). When the Bohemian revolt broke out, the imperial government feared that Venice might take advantage of the opportunity, and Matthias instructed Ludovico Ridolfi, his resident at Rome, to ask Osuna to make a demonstration in the Adriatic in order to hold Venice in check. (fn. 10) Though orders were sent to him from Spain to restore two rich Venetian galleys which he had captured, the Venetians at least never believed that there was any serious intention of carrying these orders into effect. In the summer of 1619 they received word of an arrangement made between Osuna and Ferdinand for the former to send troops by sea from Naples to Trieste to serve against the Bohemians. There was some fear in England that the republic might permit this, but Venice remained steadfast in her determination to maintain her undivided sway in the Gulf, and as Naunton remarked, if the galleons of Naples did make the attempt to push through to Trieste, they would pay dearly for their temerity (No. 924).
Venice had long before taken measures to protect herself against the schemes of the house of Austria. In the spring of 1617 she had engaged 3,200 Dutch troops under Count John Ernest of Nassau. As the war continued in Friuli, Suriano was instructed to procure further reinforcements from the States General, this time under the Count of Levenstein. This force, like the preceding one, contained a number of Englishmen, for a party of them mutinied because they had grown tired of waiting in their ships, and had not received their pay. These English, wrote Suriano, are mutiny incarnate (No. 51). Before these troops had started, peace was signed, and orders were sent to stop them; but they arrived too late, the men had already sailed, and reached Venice in January, 1618. There they proved rather a source of embarrassment than otherwise. Their presence afforded an excuse to Ferdinand for delaying to carry out the terms of the treaty. Quartered in the islands of the lagoons, they constituted a menace to the city itself. The Spanish ambassador Bedmar did actually tamper with them. They were to rise and assist Jacques Pierre and his confederates in overthrowing the republic. A mutiny really did break out among them, but it happened prematurely and was promptly crushed.
Difficulties also arose with the earlier force of Dutch mercenaries. Their commander, Count John Ernest of Nassau, died soon after he had reached Venice. This and the coming of peace seems to have affected the discipline of the men. The republic found a difficulty in paying them punctually. Their commander reported in October that they were very unruly and most dissatisfied (No. 43). He constantly presses for money to pay the men in order to avoid a mutiny. In March a mutiny actually broke out, which was stopped with difficulty (No. 279). Quarrels broke out among the officers, and one of them was killed in a duel. Much ill feeling was aroused upon the question of who should succeed Count John. The post was claimed by Sir John Vere, as second in command, a fiery-tempered adventurer, a member of a famous family of soldiers, who would as soon be hanged as miss a chance of fighting (No. 32). In February Count William of Nassau arrived in the camp and claimed to succeed his brother. He was supported by Milander, a German, and one of the captains. A serious quarrel arose and challenges were exchanged until at length the Proveditore, General Barbarigo, to avoid further trouble, sent Vere off to confinement to Udine and took Milander with himself to Palma (No. 210). This, however, did not suffice to stop the quarrel. Vere and Milander contrived to meet each other and fought a duel together, of which we have two very conflicting accounts (Nos. 296, 297). The Venetian Proveditore of the Forces was much incensed with Vere, whom he accused of breaking his word and sent back to strict confinement in Udine. Vere's own countrymen sided with him, and his kinsman, the Earl of Oxford, came to Udine at carnival and offered to fight any one who took Milander's part (No. 322). Everything pointed to a serious disturbance among the troops, but ultimately a reconciliation was affected. Meanwhile Wotton had been pushing Vere's claims before the Collegio, though without success. Barbaro was manifestly prejudiced against him, and the Proveditore General Barbarigo, when consulted, reported that though Vere kept his men well in hand he was not naturally active or quick, and although a man of birth and distinction he was not popular with the officers even of his own nation, or with the men (Nos. 57, 527). Ultimately a Frenchman, M. de Roquelaure, received the vacant command. Vere was released from confinement in June, at Wotton's earnest request, and went to serve with his company in the fleet, as the troops were no longer required on land.
The war in Friuli brought the Venetians many offers of service. Wotton personally introduced Joachim Ernest, Duke of Holstein, a kinsman of the queen, the Earl of Oxford and Captain Henry Bell. But the peace of Madrid rendered their services unnecessary. Offers also came from Henry Bruce, a Scot, Geoffrey Pole, grandnephew of Cardinal Pole, and Sir Thomas Stodder, who had all served on the Austrian side. Stodder was actually engaged and came to Venice, but was promptly dismissed upon Wotton's representations, the ambassador calling him the worst and most despicable animal in the world (No. 514). Wotton heard of Pole's application at a very early stage, and at once appealed to the Collegio asking that he should not be received, since he had not made application through the embassy. Accordingly, although Pole had a strong recommendation from the Cardinal Farnese, his offer was politely declined.
The most important auxiliaries engaged by Venice were for defence at sea. In the autumn of 1617 Osuna's admiral Ribera reported that he was blockaded in Brindisi by a mixed force of Venetian, Dutch and English vessels under the flag of St. Mark. (fn. 11) The presence of English vessels in the Venetian fleet at this time is undoubted, although we have no definite particulars. In August, 1617, Wotton had recommended the engagement of the English ship Alethea, and was told that they would already have done so if the captain had taken the reasonable terms accepted by the others, (fn. 12) words which indicate that other ships, probably English, had even then been hired by the Senate. The Alethea must have been engaged soon after, as on the 2nd January, 1618, we find it definitely mentioned as in the Venetian service (No. 160). Speaking in the Collegio on the 28th December, 1617, Wotton declared that he had learned from an eyewitness that in the recent action off Santa Croce, one of the English ships and that not among the largest had fired quite 400 cannon shot (No. 141). This shows that a number of English ships were in the Venetian fleet at that time, but we come across no more names. It is true that in February Wotton asked for the release of the ship Milisen, which had served four months beyond her contract, and later in the month the Senate ordered the release of the ship Allasca, upon certain conditions (Nos. 238, 246). Almost certainly the same vessel is meant in each case and that vessel may be the Alethea, for it is quite impossible to attach any importance to the foreign proper names as recorded in the minutes of the Collegio. (fn. 13) Whatever the numbers of the English ships, it is fairly certain that they had only been engaged for a temporary emergency, and by the beginning of 1618 they were all anxious to get back to their ordinary business of trading (No. 175). It is probably not assuming too much to attribute to them and their Dutch colleagues, the chief credit of the important victory of Santa Croce.
The departure of these ships and the news from Naples that Osuna was sending Alexander Rose to hire ships in England and Holland to serve against them in the Adriatic, probably induced the Senate to write on the 14th December, 1617, to Contarini in England and Suriano in Holland, to engage ships and men for service under the republic. Contarini was to engage six or eight ships, together with 500 soldiers to serve both by sea and land (No. 122). Of this levy the present volume contains very full details. At first Contarini experienced great difficulty in finding suitable vessels, the largest and finest being engaged in the East India trade, and he had to proceed cautiously because of Spanish opposition. Sarmiento, indeed, did his utmost to prevent the levy, and even played his trump card of suggesting that James should act as arbitrator in all the disputes between Spain and Venice (No. 265). This time, however, the appeal to the king's pet vanity did not achieve its wonted success. The government made no difficulty about granting leave to hire the ships. The Council, in which Spanish influence was very strong, certainly did impose the condition that they should be used for defence only (No. 244); but Contarini made the strongest protest against any such limitation, pointing out that it rendered the concession utterly worthless. When he appealed to the king, James expressed his unwavering friendship for the republic, explained that the clause was inserted chiefly for the satisfaction of the Spaniards, and promised that the captains should not be told of it, but should be ordered to obey the republic absolutely without any reservation (No. 253). The captains, who knew their Sovereign, asked for some guarantee in writing, but Contarini did not wish this, and ultimately each of them was summoned before the Council and told that it was his Majesty's wish that they should serve Venice and render absolute obedience to her commanders (No. 317).
Contarini found it out of the question to engage any East India ships or vessels of the royal navy, as he at one time thought of doing. He could have obtained Dutch ships at a cheaper rate, but considered the English ones as of better build, with superior guns, while their crews excelled those of all othe nations in battle (No. 254). He obtained seven vessels in all, most of them probably from those engaged in the Levant trade. (fn. 14) For some while the little squadron was delayed by contrary winds, but on the 20th April they left Gravesend and started on their voyage to the Adriatic under the command of Captain Daniel Bannister, whose vessel, the Royal Exchange, acted as flagship (No. 304). They carried on board Colonel Henry Peyton with 500 men, comprising a number of gentlemen of good family. (fn. 15)
The Spaniards announced their intention of opposing the passage of the squadron through the Strait of Gibraltar. They failed to do so, though they attacked, with disastrous results to themselves, the Dutch squadron collected by Suriano, which followed soon after, having on board a certain number of British subjects (Nos. 390, 487). Osuna also was expected to dispute the passage of the two auxiliary squadrons, by collecting his whole force at the mouth of the Adriatic (No. 335). However, the English squadron safely reached its rendezvous at Corfu on June the 27th without having suffered any molestation on the way (No. 422), and some six or seven weeks later the twelve Dutch ships also reached the Adriatic.
The arrival of these powerful reinforcements made Venice very strong in the Adriatic and at once removed the fear of any serious attack upon her supremacy there. The Duke of Savoy and Wake, the English resident at Turin, hoped that the Venetians would let the new squadrons loose upon the shores of Spain and Naples, where they could inflict inestimable damage (Nos. 290, 481). After its long voyage, however, the squadron was in no condition for immediate service. A large proportion of soldiers and sailors were sick, and there was also some relaxation of discipline and dissatisfaction. Moreover, the English ships evidently did not come up to the admiral's expectations (No. 443). The disaffection among the men soon produced serious results. They learned that the previous levy under Vere received higher pay, and at once they demanded the same rate. On July 14th, two hundred of them landed at a place in the Ragusan territory and refused to go on board their ships again unless their pay was increased. The Venetian admiral at once took prompt measures to suppress the mutiny, landing a considerable force and bringing up the whole fleet. The mutineers were forced to surrender at discretion. Eight of the ringleaders were hanged at the yard-arm, on the 16th, the rest being divided out among the fleet (No. 450). George Herbert, an ensign, was dismissed the service, though he claimed reward rather than punishment, and was afterwards reinstated at Wotton's request.
This event naturally caused considerable commotion. Wotton complained in the Collegio that undue severity had been shown and wrote a very strong letter home. He weakened his case, however, by too manifestly using the incident as a lever whereby to obtain concessions in other matters. He probably recognised that the men had received no more than their deserts, and he did not persist in pushing the grievance. The Venetians were anxious, all the same, about the impression the event might produce in England. The English chaplain in the fleet went home soon after with an account of the mutiny very prejudicial to the Venetian admiral's humanity. (fn. 16) Upon his arrival the Venetian ambassador at once sought him out, having heard that he brought a paper signed by a number of soldiers stating that the ringleaders who were punished had nothing to do with the mutiny. Contarini told the chaplain that he marvelled to hear him tell such lies, warned him he would have to prove his case, as the ambassador intended to put the matter before the king and Council in a very different light, and advised him to consider the danger he ran. He asked the chaplain what benefit he hoped to reap from making such statements and told him that he would only damage Peyton. Finally, the chaplain promised to do nothing without first coming to see Contarini. He wrote out a statement of the mutiny and retired to the country to avoid further trouble (No. 555). Very little more was heard of the affair. When Contarini paid his farewell visit to the king, James spoke of the matter, saying that the accounts received in England would seriously prejudice further enlistments for Venetian service in the country, but he seems to have fully accepted Contarini's explanation and merely suggested that the republic should publish an official narrative (No. 618).
There remained a good deal of dissatisfaction in the fleet and among the owners of the ships in England, owing to disputes about the rate of payment, as the men found they lost heavily on the rate of exchange, and the republic was not scrupulously exact in the dates of payment. This disaffection became exaggerated abroad. It was reported at Naples that the fleet was disunited and that some of the ships had gone to Tunis, and later that eight or nine of the foreign ships had left in disgust and Osuna had sent to engage them for his own service (Nos. 488, 499). At the same time it is evident that the Admiral Piero Barbarigo had become nervous about the large and composite force under his command. On July 29th, 1618, he wrote that his force was powerful enough to defend the Gulf even without the Dutch they were expecting or the English which had arrived. The force was made up of many barbarous nations. Every time anything happened that they did not like they showed a reluctance to obey orders. He had noted signs of restiveness among them which increased his anxiety. The arrival of the Dutch ships would only augment the danger. The gathering of so many bertons of this character in the Gulf might easily do the republic more harm than good (No. 465). On the other hand, some Ragusans who had seen the fleet, reported at Naples that its whole strength consisted in the Dutch and English ships, the rest being very feeble (No. 820). The Venetian Senate may have thought the same, as they did not act upon Barbarigo's suggestion. In October they wrote telling him to weed out some of the defective ships, as winter was approaching, but only such as he could safely dispense with (No. 567). It was not until June, 1619, that an order was sent for the paying off of five of the foreign ships (No. 918).
When the instructions to hire ships in England reached the Ambassador Contarini, he seems to have turned his thoughts first to a Captain Henry Mainwaring. This man came of a good Cheshire family, but owing to a disappointment he had turned pirate, devoting his attentions particularly to the Spaniards, to whom he proved himself a scourge and a terror; as a seaman he won the reputation of having no equal in nautical skill and in fighting his ship. He came to see the error of his ways and in June, 1616 received a full pardon from the king, and soon rose in favour at court, being made a gentleman of the bed-chamber, and finally knighted in March, 1618. To this man went Lionello and Michielini from the Venetian embassy. They asked him if he would accept a good appointment. He said Yes, and then they asked him if he would oblige the republic by supplying particulars for the ordering of some ships already granted by James, and he should have the command of these and others when they reached the Gulf of Venice. Accordingly he helped the Venetians to look for ships, and from his going up and down the Thames with them rumours got about that he was to command the squadron. Mainwaring sounded Contarini on the subject, but the ambassador was cautious and said he had no authority to appoint a commander-in-chief, while at the same time he wrote home for instructions. James meanwhile expressed the hope that the republic would give the command of the squadron to one of his subjects, and suggested Mainwaring as the man (Nos. 202, 713). The Senate in replying on March 1st suggested that an ex-pirate might not command the obedience of his captains and his appointment might also create difficulties with the Dutch (No. 251). Accordingly Contarini did not venture to engage him. The mere rumour of his appointment caused great alarm to the Spaniards, and Sarmiento made great efforts to prevent him from going. First of all he sued Mainwaring for 80,000 ducats for the booty taken by him from Spanish subjects (No. 286). He afterwards tried another tack, promising Mainwaring pardon from his king and offering him employment, telling him that Venice would soon fall into Philip's hands.
Disappointed in his hopes of receiving the command of the squadron Mainwaring at first thought of sailing with it as a volunteer. This plan seems to have been defeated in some way by Sarmiento; but after the ambassador had left England Mainwaring crossed to Flanders, whence, finding himself in danger, he returned to England, chartered a small ship from the Isle of Wight and crossed to Normandy (No. 716). Contarini thought that he had gone to Ireland and was contemplating piracy once more (No. 532), but he was really on his way to Venice over land. He went disguised and travelled very secretly, because the Spanish ambassador had sent his portrait to Milan and other places to have him apprehended. In Savoy the duke gave him a private audience and made him a present (No. 581). When he reached Venice he was told that he could not expect very much, and accordingly he took pains to obtain special and influential recommendations. He did not ask for employment in the seven ships already engaged, but drew up a memorial pointing out that three large ships would be worth far more and cost far less than the seven. This paper (No. 714) by one of the first seamen of his time, emphasizing the great importance of the capital ship, and going into minute details of manning and armament, is of remarkable interest for the student of naval history.
The Senate were duly impressed by the considerations so ably laid before them, and decided to ask James for the use of four ships of the royal navy. They wrote to their ambassador at London directing him to help Mainwaring as much as possible to obtain these ships, and also to get a guarantee from the king for his good service (No. 718); they also asked Wotton to assist them in obtaining the royal ships (No. 720).
With this commission and a gratuity of 600 crowns, Mainwaring set off for England, full of hopes of obtaining the ships and the command he so much desired. The actual proposal was that Venice should hire the ships, put them in a thorough state of repair and return them in good order when she had done with them. (fn. 17) The Venetian ambassador then in London, Antonio Donato, thought there would be no difficulty about obtaining four of the old ones, though a fortnight later he entirely changed his tone and thought a refusal almost certain. He went to Newmarket and found James excellently well disposed towards Venice but equally afraid of offending Spain. The king referred him to the Council, who returned an absolute refusal, saying that it was not consonant with the king's safety or dignity to grant his ships to a foreign power (No. 784). Without the ships Mainwaring was of no use to the republic. Moreover, the Earl of Montgomery and the Lord Chamberlain, whom he offered as his sureties, would not bind themselves in writing, but only pledged their word of honour (No. 804), accordingly the Senate wrote to Donato telling him he had better let the matter drop (No. 843), and so, although Mainwaring was constantly besieging the Venetian embassy with fresh plans and bringing fresh recommendations from Dorset, Buckingham and the king, the whole matter fell through.
Unfortunately for himself, Mainwaring arrived in England at a time most unpropitious for the realisation of his ambition. The noise of great naval preparations in Spain had excited some apprehension of invasion, and the nation was busy putting its maritime forces in order. Under the rule of Nottingham and Sir Robert Mansell the royal navy had steadily declined in efficiency throughout James's reign. Only six "guardships" were kept in commission, two between Dover and Calais, two at Plymouth and two off Scotland. The officers and crews had long arrears of pay due to them, which had caused a mutiny in the early part of 1618 (No. 253). The other ships were simply left to rot in the Medway, "twenty-four first-raters each like a fallen colossus, shut up in a ditch of stagnant water, disarmed and abandoned, a prey to the rage and injuries of the weather, while a great deal is spent to keep them in this condition, to very little purpose" (No. 690). During the sixteen years that James had been King of England, wrote Donato, they have never knocked a nail into any of the royal ships or so much as thought of such things (No. 742). Of the forty ships of high board belonging to the navy at the beginning of 1619, twenty were quite unseaworthy (No. 752). But the scandal had become too patent, and better times were at hand. At the beginning of 1618 Buckingham was associated with Nottingham as Lord High Admiral. In October the old earl was finally bought out and Buckingham reigned alone in his stead. Although the new admiral was not a man of great worth or ability, he was genuinely anxious that in his time of office the navy should be rendered really efficient. But the real movers for reform were the English merchants of the great companies, who constituted the nucleus of a commission appointed to enquire into the condition of the navy, so much so that the Venetian ambassador seems to have considered the merchants and this commission as one and the same body. In July the merchants of the East India Company had asked the king for the use of his men-of-war, which were simply lying idle and rotting, promising that they should be at his service whenever required and to renew them by building one every year (No. 455). This matter was referred to the Council and was promised due consideration. At the moment of Mainwaring's return to England, the naval commission had just issued its report, exposing the old abuses and laying down a definite programme for the future. (fn. 18) The merchants, of which the commission so largely consisted, were also largely responsible for the upkeep of the navy, while they supplemented the royal navy by the services of their own ships fitted out for war. As Donato remarked, the ships of his Majesty are more beholden to merchants than to the king himself. They arm them, pay them and claim to command them (No. 832). The first result of the commission was an order issued at the end of October to arm all the king's men-of-war. The immediate cause was the existence of strained relations with both the French and the Dutch. But in the following January the urgent entreaties of Baron Dohna for help in Germany, the reports of the arming of a large fleet in Spain and the Austrian menaces against Venice, led to an unwonted activity in the dockyard at Rochester. They proposed to fit out a fleet composed of the six guardships, six other royal ships upon which repairs were actively pressed forward and fourteen merchantmen. This was nominally intended to go out against the pirates, but incidentally as a threat to Spain, where it speedily produced the desired result. The Spaniards knew that the English ships were stronger and better than their own in every respect, being better armed and better manned. They promptly abandoned their own naval preparations and began to talk of joining in the expedition against the pirates, in order to divert the English from attempting anything to their prejudice (Nos. 809, 921).
When passing through Holland, on his way to England, the Ambassador Donato was struck with the signs of prosperity and power which met him on every hand; it had become a power in the world, whose efficiency was greatly increased by the control of everything resting in the hands of Count Maurice of Nassau (No. 572). After reaching England he was equally struck by the reception there of the Dutch commissioners. Formerly they approached the king, as subjects their lord, but now they treat as equals, as an old courtier remarked to him (No. 622). But despite all this brave show, the time was an anxious one for the young republic. The twelve years' truce with Spain was drawing near its term. When it was signed they had been strong on the support of both France and England; but now France was torn by internal troubles, while England was leaning more and more to Spain, which seemed to be ever increasing in strength. Moreover, the country itself passed through a serious internal crisis.
In the closing months of the year 1617 it seemed as if fresh matters of dispute with England were constantly arising. There was considerable jealousy between the English and Dutch, particularly in maritime affairs; and the queen with her Danish sympathies was always ready to inflame any discord (No. 24). The English claimed a superiority which the Dutch were by no means willing to concede. So far did this feeling extend that many doubted the wisdom of Venice hiring squadrons from both nations to fight side by side (No. 174). More precise causes of dispute seemed to multiply. The English claimed to levy dues from the Dutch who fished for herrings off the coast of Scotland. The Dutch resisted the claim and sent warships to protect their 4,000 to 5,000 fishing vessels. Thus when one Brown the collector went to demand the dues, he was arrested and carried off to Holland. James was most indignant, demanded that the offending admirals should be handed over to him and ordered the arrest of Dutch subjects as reprisals. The Dutch almost immediately released Brown, condemning the harshness of their admirals, but insisting upon their claims. A year later the question was as far from being settled as ever, as the Dutch not only refused to pay the dues, but prevented the English from fishing in those grounds (No. 556). Another vexed question was the whale fishery in Greenland, which was complicated by a claim of the King of Denmark for dues from both disputants, as the Dutch came up in greater force and drove off the English more than once, inflicting great losses. Worse than all, very serious conflicts took place between the two nations in the East Indies, where the Dutch insulted the English flag (No. 556).
With all these standing questions, there was, in the autumn of 1617, the additional difficulty of religious differences in the provinces themselves, between the Arminians and Gomorists, led respectively by Olden Barnevelt and Prince Maurice of Nassau. A proposal to settle the differences by calling a synod attended by foreign divines, was strongly opposed by the Arminians. Instructed from home, the English ambassador Carleton spoke strongly in favour of the synod on the 16th Oct. 1617, and his speech was printed at the instance of the States General. Soon afterwards a pamphlet appeared in answer to the speech, to which Carleton took great exception, believing that Barnevelt was at the bottom of it and that Grotius was the author. He took a very serious view of the case and demanded the punishment of author and publisher. He felt very annoyed with Barnevelt, whom he said he had always considered a prudent man, but now perceived to be a fool, as he advised him to take no notice of a matter which so nearly concerned his honour (No. 98). This question had not long been satisfactorily settled when James took offence at a book published by Gerson Bucerus, which positively declared that the practice and government of the Dutch churches was more in accordance with the scriptures than those of England with their bishops and other ceremonies. He feared it might produce a bad impression in Scotland, where they were far too much inclined to take the same view, whereas James wished to introduce the English liturgy (No. 436). Satisfaction was again demanded, and the States agreed to some extent though they would not punish the author, whom they believed to have acted in good faith without malice.
Meanwhile, the famous synod of Dordrecht had been decided upon, despite Arminian opposition. Archbishop Abbot was commissioned by the king to select the five divines who were to represent England. They received instructions to seek to allay all differences rather than dispute about them (No. 576). But the Gomorists were completely in the ascendant. On the 29th August, 1618, Barnevelt was arrested on a charge of high treason, and after a prolonged trial he suffered death on the 13th May, 1619. Apparently James believed in his guilt. He told Contarini that Barnevelt since his imprisonment had repeatedly asked his gaolers whether the populace was stirring, what the troops were doing and if the Spaniards had made any demonstration. The Viceroy had received one of his sons at Naples with honours far beyond his condition, clearly showing that there was something bad behind (No. 548). Carleton was expected to rejoice over the fall of the Advocate, but he does not appear to have done so, and after the execution he seems to have intervened to obtain decent burial for the unfortunate man's body (No. 890).
The fall of Barnevelt meant the triumph of English interests in the Netherlands as opposed to French. At the arrest of their leader the Arminians had at once appealed to France. Louis promptly sent Boissise on a special mission to the Dutch to support the cause of Barnevelt and warn the States that Prince Maurice might one day take away their liberties (No. 550). He was also to ask that the ordinary French ambassador should have a seat in the Council of State, such as Carleton enjoyed (No. 529). James believed that Boissise was taking Spanish gold for the support of the Arminians (No. 483). The situation was very strained and Carleton and Boissise did not exchange visits at the Hague. The result was a complete rebuff for France.
This policy of Maurice in drawing closer to England and administering to France what amounted to an affront seems very strange. It is clear from various indications and expressions that the prince had resigned all hope that James would intervene actively to help his friends on the continent, and he felt something like contempt for the English sovereign's exaggerated attachment to peace. But he probably feared English hostility more than he expected her favour. The situation had become very perilous in spite of Dutch complacency to English sentiment in so many directions. In October, 1618, as the result of what had happened in the East Indies, James gave orders to his warships to seize two Dutch Indiamen, returning home with rich cargoes, giving them battle if necessary, and when they got through safely, additional orders were sent to capture a third merchantman that was expected (No. 570). The Dutch forthwith resolved to send commissioners to England with all speed to endeavour to arrange a settlement of all the outstanding disputes, and in particular to effect a union between the East India Companies of the two nations, a question that had been in negotiation for some time. The commissioners reached England in December, and, in spite of many delays and vicissitudes, they completed their negotiations in the following June, having settled in a satisfactory manner all the questions with which they had to deal. For this they were greatly indebted to the king, who acted as arbitrator and helped to reduce the extravagant claims of his own subjects.
The removal of Concini seemed to promise France a more independent government, released from Spanish influence. In Italy a more spirited policy was certainly adopted and through French pressure Don Pedro of Toledo was forced to restore Vercelli to the Duke of Savoy, an event at which James rejoiced greatly, but which he had done nothing to bring about, although by the treaty of Asti he had made himself jointly responsible with France. Relations with England seemed on a friendly footing, and when the French court was staying at Rouen in December, 1617, for the assembly of notables gathered there, many French noblemen took advantage of their proximity to our shores, to cross over for their diversion (No. 146), although their presence might easily have aroused suspicion if any credit had been given to the cock and bull story told by the Jesuit from Milan sent over by Wotton (No. 49). But the country was far from settled, and the queen mother might always form a centre of disaffection. The government was suspicious and irritable; the Venetian ambassador at Paris Simone Contarini comments severely upon the manner in which they conducted their relations with foreign powers (No. 349). With England the situation became strained early in 1618. The French ambassador Desmaretz, who was personally unpopular at Court, took offence because he was not invited to the prince's masque, although it was not his turn. In this he received support from his own court, which almost immediately recalled him, although James was very loath to let him go. The secretary whom he left behind got into even worse trouble from his relations with Sir Walter Raleigh, so much so that the king absolutely refused to receive him again, and he also was recalled. Shortly before this, the king's physician Mayerne, who was in Paris on private business, was asked to leave the country within a week, no reason being assigned. This action gave James great offence, especially as he believed it to be due to a suspicion of his intriguing with the Huguenots. He sent word to the French king that never for the sake of a few individuals of the reformed religion, or for any faction which might pretend to grievances would he stir in their favour, although for the defence of the edicts granted by Henry he would assist, if necessary, in person. For the rest he had no more intention of meddling with the kingdom of France than with that of the Grand Turk (No. 525). In spite of this declaration, the situation only grew worse. In retaliation for the treatment of Le Clerc in England, the French king refused to receive the English resident Beecher, who was thereupon recalled to England. The secretary, whom he left in charge, a Frenchman, was sent for by the Council, after his departure, and told he must resign his position immediately, otherwise they would have him put to death at the slightest provocation (No. 611). Besides these special causes of resentment, there were other general considerations underlying them. James much disliked the independent action of France in Italy to secure the carrying out of the treaty of Asti (No. 216); he considered that the control of the government was getting far too much into the hands of his pet aversion, the Jesuits (No. 563). He especially resented a remark of the French chancellor to Beecher, that his king could dispense with the friendship of any one whom he did not consider to be devoted to him (Nos. 707, 778), and perhaps most influential of all was the open opposition in the Netherlands.
The situation became so serious that open hostilities were feared. The governor of the Channel Islands was sent back to his post, orders were issued to arm all the ships of the royal navy, and upon a report that Beecher had been imprisoned in France, they stood prepared to treat the French resident in similar fashion (No. 576).
The Spaniards viewed this state of affairs with entire satisfaction, but the friends of the two powers regarded it with apprehension and alarm. Relief came from the Duke of Savoy, who was negotiating for a marriage between his eldest son and the Princess Christina of France. In spite of Spanish opposition, which went so far as to object that the princess had been already promised to the Prince of Wales (No. 590), this union was arranged and duly accomplished on the 10th February, 1619. The duke used his influence at the French court to bring about a reconciliation between the two crowns. In this he was actively assisted by the Venetian ambassadors in both France and England, and by Wake, the English resident at Turin, who travelled through France to England for the purpose. With a favourable disposition on either side a reconciliation was easily brought about almost as soon as Gabaleoni, the Savoyard ambassador, reached London. In France they laid all the blame for the estrangement upon Jean Deageant, who had become controller general of the finances upon the fall of Concini, (fn. 19) who was said to have taken too much upon himself, conducting business and taking decisions without consulting Luynes, and therefore he had been dismissed from the Council by the King's order (No. 674).
Diplomatic relations were re-established by the sending over of the Marquis of Tresnel from France as ambassador extraordinary, to offer condolences upon the queen's death, followed soon afterwards by the Count of Tillieres, who came to reside as ordinary. Sir Edward Herbert crossed at the same time to take up his residence as ambassador at Paris.
Among the subjects Tresnel had to negotiate was a proposal for a marriage between his king's third sister Henrietta and the Prince of Wales. Luynes seems to have adopted this policy as a means of strengthening the friendship of England and incidentally his own position (fn. 20) rather than with any hopes of carrying the matter through, and also as a check to the Spanish proposals which Gondomar was expected to renew (No. 887). But he thereby gave great offence to the Duke of Savoy, who complained that he had broken his compact. When the duke at Luynes' request, interested himself to bring about a reconciliation between England and France, he asked no other reward except that Luynes should do nothing to interfere with his plan to marry one of his daughters to the Prince of Wales (No. 857).
It is remarkable that James never seemed to perceive how entirely the Spanish offers of a marriage alliance depended upon the general situation in Europe. It was a fixed object of Spanish policy to maintain peace with England at any reasonable cost. England single-handed could do more to disturb them than any other power whatsoever, said the Duke of Savoy (No. 641). Caron marvelled that the Spaniards should inspire with respect and fear the one who should fear them least (No. 784). The Spaniards did not desire the alliance, but if English neutrality could not be secured by other means, they were prepared to make the sacrifice. In the mean time the negotiations served to keep James amused and out of mischief. With these general considerations in view it is immaterial to follow in detail the course of the negotiations, from the point when Wotton declared that they were broken off (No. 209) to the other extreme, only three months after, when they were considered very far advanced (No. 369). It is uncertain whether James really wanted the match, and the Dutch commissioners reported that the prince was very averse from it (No. 965). The queen, who at first had favoured the idea, strongly opposed it at the end of her life, and said the king could obtain a far larger sum from his own subjects than the Spaniards offered, though that was the great temptation (No. 376). Unfortunately her influence at that period counted for nothing. When Digby went on a special mission to Spain about the marriage in October, 1617, Cottington, the English resident, remarked to Gritti that the best thing that could be hoped from that embassy was that it might undeceive his king, as he had been fed upon vain hopes (No. 56). As for the mass of the people, their sentiments were not in doubt; they detested the Spaniards root and branch. At public celebrations Spaniards were openly mocked and even ill-treated (pages 61, 62). The knocking down of a child in the street by a Spaniard was sufficient to incite a serious riot against the Spanish embassy (No. 475). The people at large desired nothing so much as a war with Spain (No. 682).
Yet in spite of all James persisted in his infatuation. When his brother-in-law, the King of Denmark, remonstrated with him and even declared it was sacrificing the prince to marry, him in Spain, James tartly replied that with all respect for the prudence and wisdom of the King of Denmark he chose to dispose of his children according to his own fancy (No. 342). The Spanish ambassador, Gondomar, continued to exercise the greatest influence over the king. When he took his leave he was granted almost anything he liked to ask. He obtained the release of the imprisoned Catholic priests, including Baldwin, as well as permission to export guns to Spain. He made an almost royal progress to the coast, the king asking those nobles whose estates lay near his road to entertain him (No. 421). Although when he was out of the country James accused him of deceit and declared that he had found out something which would cover him with confusion on his return (No. 778), everyone knew that as soon as he came back he would acquire his old ascendancy. Even in his absence, the Dominican friar Lafuente, who acted as the Spanish agent, exercised an almost equally formidable influence, with free access to the houses of the great, every facility for carrying out his desires and unlimited ability to spend money (No. 695).
Of Spanish bribery and corruption in England Foscarini gives some interesting particulars in his relation. The first Spanish ambassador to James, the Count of Villa Mediana, had some difficulty in finding persons who would accept pensions or money, owing to the hatred of Spain. But matters changed considerably later on and they spent larger and larger sums in this way, the amount being divided among sometimes eleven, sometimes twelve persons, and some even received pensions with the king's knowledge (pp. 391, 392). Queen Anne speaks of the Council and the whole Court being corrupted by this means (No. 342). In November 1617 only 10,000 crowns were transmitted to the ambassador, a small supply, says Contarini, compared with the immense sums constantly distributed here in order to secure friends and adherents (No. 72). Lafuente, however, received large sums for the pensions of some of the nobles, who think it a glory to be the pensioners of another king and to always render ill service to their own natural sovereign, as Donato bitterly observes (No. 691). It is a Court, he says in another place, where the Spaniards get what they wish said and believed. The Spanish marriage gained many supporters because of the pensions which many of the cavaliers promised themselves once it was concluded.
In some of the minor matters of foreign policy James was usually more successful than in the larger field of European diplomacy. However, his indolence was growing upon him and he would give nothing but courteous words to the ambassador from Sweden who came to ask him to mediate between his Sovereign and Poland (No. 146). In Savoy, however, Wake distinguished himself by helping to arrange a league between the duke and the Bernese, signed in January, 1618.
With Halil Pasha at the head of affairs in Turkey, foreigners had a somewhat less anxious time than usual, although the French ambassador got into trouble for assisting the escape of a slave, for which the Pasha threatened to have him hanged, in spite of the strong representations of the other ambassadors (No. 114).
The falling off of the Levant trade owing to the development of that in the East Indies, the abuse of justice at Constantinople, especially in the case of Garraway, the imposition of the harach and the breach of the capitulations led the merchants of the Levant Co. to decide to recall their ambassador from Constantinople and leave only an agent there. (fn. 21) On Sept. 24, 1618, they wrote that if they could avoid it they would not then be at the charge of an ambassador. (fn. 22) In March, 1618, they chose Edward Kirkham, one of their number to act as agent, and in July, Pindar was preparing to leave. The French ambassador was expected to do the same, owing to the insulting treatment he had received (No. 432). The rumours of the joint naval preparations of Spain, England and Holland against the Barbary pirates created great alarm among the Turks and the Pasha did everything to induce Pindar to stay, promising that in the future he should have nothing to complain of (No. 461). Finally Pindar allowed himself to be persuaded; though apparently he remained on at the cost of the Turkish government (No. 478). A Chiaus was sent to England to announce the accession of the Sultan Osman, and ask for an ambassador to be sent in return. By the king's command he was received and entertained by the unfortunate merchants (No. 570). In October, 1618, the Pasha sent a circular note round to all the ambassadors expressing the hope that the friendship between their country and the Porte would be maintained, promising them satisfaction and announcing that a protest had been sent to the men of Algiers (Nos. 561, 562). In April, 1619, Halil, having heard of the English and Dutch ships in the Venetian service, and also doubtless the rumours of Osuna's intentions to attack the Turks, offered to take his fleet against the republic's enemies, for a consideration of 20,000 to 25,000 sequins and expenses (No. 851).
Outside the ambassadorial relations these papers contain practically nothing about Scotland and Ireland. In September, 1617, James made the Marquis of Hamilton a member of the Council and desired him to come and live near him in England, an action explained by Lionello as induced by the king's jealousy of his power and influence (No. 14). Another Scottish noble, the Earl of Argyle, created some amount of consternation by fleeing to Flanders in March, 1619. In October, 1617, there was some talk of the king going to Ireland to carry out reforms such as he had attempted in Scotland (No. 49), but the idea never went any further. The news of the arming in the Spanish ports in the spring of 1619 aroused some fear of a Spanish invasion of Ireland, which disappeared when the arming ceased.
During almost the whole of the period of this volume Sir Henry Wotton remained in charge of the English embassy at Venice. The main lines of his activities have already been described above. With the presence of the various English mercenaries, the affair of the Spanish conspiracy and the passage of rather more than the usual number of distinguished visitors, including two nephews of the lord keeper, he was apparently kept fairly busy. In a memorial to the Collegio he asks that special care may be had of the gentlemen in Peyton's force, who are worth twenty times as much as those of low birth (No. 466). But he did not, for all that, neglect the interests of the traders. He tried to obtain some concessions in the salt fish trade in which Venetian law provided that those who brought it to the city should have leave to take one-half abroad, but must sell the other half to the chief of the salt fishmongers (No. 647). He hoped to arrange this so that he might be mentioned by the merchants in England to show that he had not been useless (No. 753). In November, 1617, we find him hiring the Grimani palace (No. 101), and in the following January he was negotiating for the hire of the house of Zuan Antonio Valier (No. 185). This may have been on account of a destructive fire which broke out at the embassy apparently about the end of December. Wotton was recalled by letters dated the 17th March, 1619, and presented by him in the Collegio on the 30th April. The Senate were astonished at the manner of this recall, as their ambassador in England had not been told, they had received no previous intimation, and there was no one appointed to take his place. Accordingly they instructed their secretary in England to try and discover the reason (No. 866). Marioni reported, that he had been recalled at his own instance, in the hope of obtaining some employment at home, but failing that he would return to Venice, and so had asked that the place might be kept open for him (No. 899). Wotton made his final appearance in the Collegio on May 5th and left in charge Gregorio di Monti, a Venetian subject, probably faithful, but who had been engaged in some secret intrigues with the papal nuncio (Appendix I). Wotton travelled home by way of Heidelberg, but did not tarry long on the road and arrived in England at the beginning of August. Prince Maurice of Nassau, mindful of Xanten, expressed relief that he had not gone as expected, with Doncaster to negotiate with the emperor (No. 937).
Piero Contarini arrived in England on the 11th October, 1617, to relieve Lionello, who stayed on as his secretary. The chief duty of his embassy was hiring the ships and men for the Adriatic. After a year's stay he left to go to the embassy in Spain. His successor, Antonio Donato, had been chosen as early as June, 1616, on the death of Barbarigo, but had been detained by important duties in Savoy. Although he was only about twenty-four, his letters show that he possessed exceptional ability and he soon became a great favourite. He took an active part in promoting the reconciliation between France and England, though he did not hit it off at all well with the Savoyard ambassador, Gabaleoni. By and by came word that he was accused of embezzling large sums of money intended for the Duke of Savoy and paid by Venice. He at once asked for leave to return home and defend himself. Accordingly he left the Secretary Marioni in charge and proceeded to Venice. He defended himself with great ability in the Senate, but learning that further evidence was forthcoming he waited no longer, and fled back to England. The Senate passed sentence upon him of outlawry, deprivation of nobility and confiscation. In England Donato met with much sympathy both from king and courtiers, and Marioni had no success in trying to obtain the sequestration of his goods. James could not understand why the Venetians pursued the ex-ambassador so ruthlessly for what he regarded as a mere peccadillo. He is said to have remarked that if he punished his subjects like that for appropriating money to themselves, he would have none left (No. 955).
The long trial of Antonio Foscarini was brought to an end on the 30th July, 1618, when he was acquitted by a bare majority in the Council of Ten (No. 468). He at once took his place in the Senate, and later on was told off to carry on the negotiations with Mainwaring. His persecutor Muscorno was condemned and sentenced to two year's imprisonment, but obtained his release within a year (No. 909).
The English succeeded during this period in making an arrangement with the Shah of Persia to bring silk direct to England by sea, for which they were to give in exchange money, cloth, quicksilver, cinnabar and weapons (No. 194). In this the English merchants encountered a vigorous opposition from the Spaniards, who wished to make a similar bargain for themselves and sent an ambassador for the purpose. It was reported at Constantinople that the English agent in Persia Edward Connock and a companion had been poisoned by the Spanish ambassador at a dinner to which he had invited them (No. 352). The Turks affected to laugh at these arrangements and said they could not possibly be carried out (No. 903).
A Muscovite ambassador put in an appearance in London at the beginning of 1618 where he was royally entertained. The English merchants paid all his expenses and when he left provided him with a loan of over 200,000 crowns for his Sovereign as well as merchandise, in the hope of obtaining a monopoly of the Russian trade to the exclusion of the Dutch (No. 402). Another Muscovite ambassador went to Holland, where he did not obtain so much success, but the Dutch were very dissatisfied with their ambassador in London for allowing the English to obtain such an advantage over them (No. 436). The English, however, did not score as they expected, for owing to the disturbed condition of the country the ambassador they sent had to return without even landing (No. 570).
As already noted the East India trade was growing rapidly, and Contarini reports the nine magnificent ships destined for that voyage at the beginning of 1618 (No. 168). Contarini thought the traffic did the English more harm than good, as it cost many lives, drained the country of gold and silver and only brought them things they did not really need (p. 415).
English trade was also growing in the near east not indeed at Constantinople, but through the traffic in raisins at Zante. The English merchants seem to have usually brought English made cloth as their outward cargo (No. 794). It is interesting to find a Mayflower engaged in this trade, although there is no evidence to connect it with the ship of the Pilgrim fathers. (fn. 23)
Meanwhile the trade of Venice herself in those seas had practically vanished. In Nov. 1618, the Venetian Proveditore of Crete reported that none but English, French and Dutch ships were to be seen round those coasts and they had everything in their hands (No. 589). So serious had matters become that the Venetians asked for the opinions of the Savii alle Mercanzia as to whether it was possible to keep the trade in Venetian hands or if they should let it go to foreigners, and, if so, upon what terms. The opinions given are recorded in two papers (Nos. 299 and 659).
It is evident that conditions were becoming increasingly difficult for Christian and even renegade pirates fighting for their own hand, through the organising of national fleets and the burning out of their nests. Mainwaring gave up the business in 1616 and we hear of an unnamed pirate of some renown bringing in a ship to Ireland with 150 pirates, whom he delivered to justice in the hope of obtaining his own pardon (No. 242). The audacity of Sanson off Sicily, already referred to, was probably the result of desperation, as we find him ready to surrender soon after. The difficulty of their situation also probably induced some other English pirates to try and strike a bargain with the Grand Duke of Tuscany (No. 696). In the more respectable guise of privateering something might still be done. Sir Thomas Bromley manned a vessel in Zeeland and seems to have captured a number of Spanish ships in the Indies, though he stoutly denied the accusation (No. 455). Two ships of Lord Rich seem to have followed a similar course and found a haven at Villefranche under the protection of the Duke of Savoy (No. 376). But the mention of individual pirates becomes more and more rare.
On the other hand the Barbary pirates grew ever stronger and more audacious. They swarmed even off the coasts of England, where they made constant captures (No. 168). The Dutch in January, 1618, estimated their losses in this manner at 24 ships, and the number was constantly increasing (No. 183). The Spanish coasts suffered severely from the scourge, and a fleet of forty sail was cruising off Galicia in February, 1618 (No. 216). The Venetians estimated their losses at millions and made a special remonstrance on the subject at the Porte. The Turkish government, however, was not above affording the pirates active assistance, notably in one raid which resulted in the capture of over 1,700 slaves (No. 315). Ordinary trade in the Mediterranean had become all but impossible, and even the Atlantic was threatened.
It was evident that concerted action by the powers was necessary to put a stop to this nuisance. The Dutch took the first step, sending invitations to France, England and Venice to join them in helping to clear the seas and protect trade (Nos. 149, 150, 240). James also wrote and invited the Spaniards to join the combination (No. 179). Various plans were concerted for the capture of Algiers, and a spy who returned to England in April, 1618, reported that it would be easy to surprise the fortress and burn the ships there (No. 325). The rumour of these things caused considerable alarm at Algiers, where they quickly gathered a force of 30,000 men and eighty ships, expelling the consuls of France, England and the Netherlands (No. 394). But mutual jealousies among the Christian powers prevented the accomplishment of anything effectual, and the Dutch alone succeeded in getting a powerful fleet to sea.
Thanks largely to the letters of Busino and the relations of Foscarini and Contarini this volume contains more about English domestic affairs than is usually the case with these Calendars. Limits of space, however, forbid more than a brief indication of the chief points of interest. It is the less necessary to enter into much detail about Busino because he formed the subject of an article written more than fifty years ago. (fn. 24) We have some interesting personal touches of James; his outburst of temper at a masque, dispelled by the address and agility of Buckingham (pp. 113, 114); his unrestrained and undignified merriment, without any apparent cause, at the demands made of him against Donato (No. 971) and especially his reception of the Dutch Commissioners at Greenwich. The commissioners were introduced and came one by one to kiss the king's hand. He never moved or said a word, only raising his hat from time to time. He may not have felt equal to doing more, for he was at his eighth glass, and James liked his wines strong (No. 902). In April, 1619, he fell so seriously ill that his death was actually reported. He made an edifying speech to the prince and the Council and resolved not to spend so much time in the future upon hunting and in remote places (No. 831). This sickness shook the king a great deal and left him full of forebodings as he was mortally afraid of death (No. 868), so much so that he did not attend his queen's funeral, and avoided London so long as the Court continued to wear mourning (No. 894). The passion of his life was hunting, which he pursued to the exclusion of everything else, and for which increasing age by no means damped his ardour (No. 525). He used to ride without holding the reins, but merely trusting to the dexterity of his grooms, who ran on either side of him, keeping pace with the horse (p. 79). He disliked London and spent quite ten months of the year in the country. He had no affection for his people and never showed himself in the city, not troubling to conceal his dislike. His subjects, on the other hand, had no devotion towards him, as they could not help contrasting the deplorable conditions of the time with the glories of the past reign, and some lamented with bitter tears the decadence into which the country had fallen (pp. 419, 420). Yet when James returned to London from Scotland five hundred of the leading burgesses went to meet him accompanied by a countless multitude, who welcomed him back with shouts of joy (No. 34), showing that there was great potential loyalty among the people if they had ever met with any response from the king.
Queen Anne of Denmark had ceased to exercise any influence. She had to affect an ignorance of affairs as the king would have been annoyed if he thought she knew anything about them (No. 342). After a long and painful illness, she died on March 12th, 1619. Donato apparently believed that she died in the Catholic faith (No. 785). (fn. 25) She was hardly cold in her grave before there came anxious suppositions about the king's re-marriage (No. 834), although there is no evidence here that James contemplated such a step.
In Nov. 1617, Sir Ralph Winwood, the secretary of state, was carried off unexpectedly after a short illness. He was one of the leading opponents of the Spaniards and a strong advocate for helping Savoy. Although his honour is not directly questioned he had increased his patrimony by 200,000 crowns during the four years he had held office (No. 78). He was succeeded by Lake, a strong Spanish partisan, supposed to be in their pay, but later on Lake confined his attention to home affairs and Sir Robert Naunton became foreign secretary, having bought his post by arrangement with Buckingham. According to Donato he was utterly ignorant of his duties (No. 704). On Lake's dismissal in February, 1619, George Calvert took his place.
The disorder in the national finances only increased, and various measures were resorted to for obtaining money. The prosecution of the foreign merchants for exporting gold was suspected to be largely for this reason (No. 920). They also sold a quantity of the king's lands in Ireland (No. 924), and money was obtained by the sale of earldoms (No. 475). An attempt was made to cut down expenses, and the allowance for the royal household was fixed at 20,000l. a year (No. 362). Yet nothing seemed to fill the exchequer, and the services went unpaid. Carleton was obliged to return home in April, 1618, after repeated and fruitless attempts to obtain his salary, and it was observed at the time that James then had only one ambassador abroad, at Constantinople, and he was supported by the merchants (No. 339). Wotton also made frequent applications and would have been forced to return home had he not received a remittance of 4,000 crowns in May, 1618, and even then 800 crowns remained due to him (Nos. 339, 362). His ultimate return in the following year was largely because he could not obtain any money.
The populace in general detested the popedom and Roman Catholic were extremely rare and divided among themselves. Derision of Roman Catholic prelates and priests was always a popular subject on the stage (No. 218, p. 134). Under James the numbers of the Catholics increased, although the majority did not openly declare themselves (p. 419). Although the penal laws against them were severe, they were not rigorously carried out. Nearly all of the Catholic priests released at Sarmiento's request returned to England within a few months (No. 570). By the payment of a trifling fee to their gaolers they could go in and out of prison as they pleased, officiating privily first in one house and then in another, whereby they were enabled to support themselves and make considerable profits (No. 416).
Brief reference may also be made here to the return and death of Raleigh and the activity in England of Antonio di Dominis, Archbishop of Spalato, upon whom this volume contains little that is not generally known.