Venice: October 1626, 2-10

Pages 556-572

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 19, 1625-1626. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1913.

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October 1626

Oct. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives.
750. To the Ambassador at the Hague.
Mansfelt has entered Hungary and proceeded to Bergstet. It is not known where he means to stay as he has but few troops with him. They have sent Traumestorf and Questemberg to Ternavia to consult with Wallenstein, the Palatine of Hungary and the Archbishop of Strigonia about the best way of smashing Mansfelt. Gabor is armed and creates great anxiety, but he does not move as he wants to know first how he stands at Constantinople. He has written to the emperor remonstrating about the forces moving against him. They have ordered Baron Dohna to drive out Mansfelt. They have sent the Count of Anholt after Denmark, with 5,000 horse, and Tilly is following him with the rest of the army. It is thought he may make peace, as it is said the Palatine is begging for pardon, through Lorraine and Wirtemberg. On the other hand we hear from Constantinople that the king has ordered the Pashas of Buda and Bosnia to keep powerful forces on the frontier in order to alarm the emperor, and if Gabor confers with the former, they may join in a league against against Cæsar with other confederates. The Transsylvanian ambassador has left the Porte, where he was well treated by the Caimecan. He took presents to the prince from the Sultan and letters for the allied princes.
In this province matters remain in suspense, so that we have to keep up our expenses, especially as they are increasing their forces on the Milanese side.
The like to England, acknowledging the receipt of his letters of the 4th.
Ayes, 103. Noes, 4. Neutral, 9.
Oct. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
751. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
At a special audience I informed the king what your Excellencies command me in your last of the 4th September, about Preaux's negotiations. In narrating the proposals and the replies exchanged between your Excellencies and the Dutch ambassador at Venice, I tried to convince him of your care for your own decorum as well as for the common weal, without injuring the good understanding with France or taking part in an agreement, which had not been communicated to the state until after its conclusion. Upon these points, which are all equally important, I endeavoured to steer a middle course, so as to evince neither satisfaction, dissatisfaction, nor any other sentiment on your part, about what has happened, without any diminution of confidence, on which I laid great stress, both in narrating the office performed and by abounding in expressions calculated to confirm it.
The king received me most graciously, surpassing my expectations, based on Court rumour, to the effect that his Majesty tries to avoid business and dislikes giving audience. He drew me aside to a window, to get away from Lord Carlisle and others who were with him in the chamber, and I endeavoured to render myself intelligible without an interpreter, a form which pleased his Majesty extremely, and which I adopted gladly on every other account. Not satisfied with commending your Excellencies' decision he expressed his belief that in so arduous an affair the united prudence of the world could not have managed better, nor was he less satisfied with my confidential communication, its explicitness and minuteness. He remarked: The French behave ill to everybody, we must not trust them so much, they always deceive. Never will I treat my confederates in such a way. He then added: But what will the most serene republic do now? I replied that your Excellencies are more than ever harassed by suspicions and consequently by expenditure, which has become well nigh unbearable, though without weakening your zeal for the common weal. I enlarged upon the difficulties which are reviving in Rome about the demolition of the fortresses and the troops in the Milanese, whose numbers tend rather to increase, without any certainty of good results. I added that we might attribute these innovations to the usual advantages enjoyed by the Spaniards, from having no fear of France, who is embarrassed with her own perplexities, or of Germany either, now well nigh ruined, and who were intent on the resolves of his Majesty.
The king replied: That is so, but I shall keep well on the watch, although at present I meet with some difficulties. He did not allude further to these topics which could not be easily disposed of without remorse and blame, nor did he say a word about the recent important rout of Denmark, and still less did I utter a syllable on the subject, limiting myself to the above general allusion to Germany, lest he should induce a demand for succour. He added: And M. de Savoie, what is he doing? I understand that having arranged an armistice with the Genoese he contemplates revenge for the scant respect shown him by France in this last agreement, hinting vaguely at assistance given to the conspirators and practically approving it. I replied that so prudent a prince as the Duke of Savoy, knowing that the present crisis threatened the ruin of the common weal, certainly would not lose his head, and would reasonably seek quiet, and one might say the same of all the other powers whose interests are connected with France, but above all with the common cause. I would not lose the opportunity of quietly remonstrating against the contradictory opinions held by this government about French affairs, with regard to which the following letter will show at what a pace they are hastening to the precipice.
As regards the affairs of Genoa the king then said that he knew nothing certain about them, either from your Serenity or other quarters, beyond what was contained, he understood, in the merchants' advices. I assured him that whenever I received important intelligence concerning the common weal and that of the British crown in particular, I will not fail to acquaint him with it, through the duke or personally if I was sure not to inconvenience him too often. I thus sought to place myself on confidential terms both with the king and the duke, from whom all the evil impressions against France are certainly derived, and so rooted in his Majesty's mind that to eradicate them will prove no easy task, the king knowing nothing and it being impossible for him to know anything but what Buckingham chooses (non sapendo ne potendo saper Sua Maesta che quello vuole Bochinghen), though perhaps if warned opportunely in a way not to rouse the duke's suspicions and by the weightiest possible arguments, they may attach more importance to this grave crisis.
London, the 2nd October, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
752. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
All the letters confirm the extreme gravity of the Danish defeat, and simultaneously the overthrow of practically all those affairs unless very speedy succour arrive. The House of Austria could make no grander acquisition than to establish herself on that sea, the Dutch being then shut in on every side, with special fear for Emden owing to the disputes between the Count there and the burgesses. Here the Council has held several sittings daily, and apparently they have determined to avail themselves of the four regiments in Holland as well as of the others in England, to form a corps of from 6,000 to 8,000 men under the command of Colonel Horace Vere, who so unluckily lost the Palatinate. As yet, however, they have not given any answer to the Danish ambassador, although he urges it and keeps pressing the Council daily. Everything is caused by lack of money, which does not permit the execution of the Council's decrees. The Lord Mayor of London has positively declined to furnish the loan of 100,000l. demanded of him, and it even seems that at this alarum the people have refused the contribution now being levied, for fitting out the twenty ships.
All persons who have a fixed domicile, are taxing themselves voluntarily at the rate of so much per week, according to their means for the maintenance of the poor. On this basis they are exacting one year's amount of ship money from everybody, which will amount to a good sum. For the rest there is no appearance of great things, particularly as the king, when present at the council board about the affairs of Denmark, said that every effort must be made to find money, regardless of cost, and they might pledge his word and his crown, but there was to be no question of Parliament. On the other hand it seems that reports get abroad from Buckingham's house to the effect that he and his partisans desire it. All this is supposed to be a collusive artifice devised with the king, to regain popularity for the duke if possible.
Meanwhile a gentleman has been sent to Denmark with letters from the king, Buckingham and others, with promises of help and whatever else can mitigate the catastrophe, in order to comfort the king and keep things going there. They have some idea of sending some one else to Holland, perhaps Sir [Robert] Killigrew, appointed ambassador in ordinary, with the title of extraordinary, to avoid pretensions in the Council of State. He will have instructions to arrange with the Dutch the easiest way of sending the troops, which will doubtless be by sea, as with Mansfelt previously, the march over land being too hazardous, without escort from the Dutch who cannot grant it without abandoning their own defence. The Secretary Conway has also spoken to the Dutch ambassador on the subject, but all with a view to gain time, as nothing can be done without money and consequently all questions remain undecided.
Some persons, to palliate the present necessities and the delay of assistance announce that Denmark's defeat was not important, which is utterly false, while others picture to themselves that the handful of Scots raised for Mansfelt, which set sail for Denmark on the 8th ult. may have arrived there by this time very opportunely to render assistance; in any case they will be of little use.
The Danish ambassador labours both for his king and for Gabor, on whom depends the overthrow or maintenance of Mansfelt, who in this general misfortune of Germany is at any rate of great use, not to say that all assistance proceeds from him. His gentleman, Quat, who was to have quitted Holland for England, writes that after Denmark's rout he was detained by the States, about which you will have heard from the Hague.
The levy, I reported that the King of Sweden desired, will be postponed, his agent tells me, until the spring, in order to afford greater convenience should they choose to make any for Denmark, and also because the men could not be ready at the place of embarcation and for the passage before the winter.
The Earl of Nithsdale arrived lately from Scotland and announces that the people there are dissatisfied with the present internal fluctuations of this government, and there is also some fresh clamour for a Parliament. I therefore believe that the king will try and gain the Lord Chancellor of Scotland, who is said to be a man of spirit and to have followers, so the king will confer with him before forming any decision on that most important affair.
London, the 2nd October, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
753. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I confirm what I have frequently reported, that the English government is determined not to receive any of the French envoys under any title soever; and being unable to prevent their mission directly, they will put off their coming by trying to make them dissatisfied. Such has been the case with regard to Bassompierre, for after what took place in the council about a lodging, which seems to have caused a misunderstanding between the duke and Lord Carlisle, the king in person directed the Master of the Ceremonies neither to board nor to provide him with a house, nor yet make him any present save some slight refreshment preparatory to his going to audience. Despite this one of his gentlemen has arrived here, as also a second with the title of Tillières' secretary, announcing that Bassompierre will come in any case and they are diligently seeking a habitation for him. But although by the king's command the Lord Mayor of London gives them his help, yet no one will take any interest in the matter from fear of the duke's displeasure. So far, indeed, they have not found anything, and on this account or because of what your Excellencies shall hear the reports of his coming seem to me to have much cooled. If he does come he ought certainly to prepare a strong brazen breast plate to resist the blows which will be given to affront and even compel him to depart.
Great part of the blame for all this is attributed to Lord Carleton, who having lost the character he formerly enjoyed as a zealous supporter of the common weal, now shapes his course solely by the duke's compass. He is a poor gentleman, compelled to incur heavy expenses in France to maintain the dignity of the embassy, expecting it perhaps to yield him profit, without receiving anythting from this side, there not being money even for the king himself. I now understand that he has written the worst possible account of the treatment received by him in France; that he could not find lodgings for his money, that all persons were forbidden to visit him, and the like, which has greatly exasperated the English government, and certainly if the French wished to adjust the matter they should have treated Carleton better, or at least have courteously assisted him in his need.
After the late insurrections M. de Soubise remained some time on the confines of this kingdom, and yesterday morning he arrived very secretly in London. With the same secrecy he sent his gentleman to visit Madame de la Tremouille, apologising for not going in person until he had received the king's orders about publishing his arrival or no, and for the rest making it understood that he wants a house nearer London, than the one he has lived in so far. This is his pretext to those to whom he cannot deny his coming, but the fact is that all yesterday and this morning he has negotiated with the duke alone in the king's most private corridors, and I know on good grounds that he is urged to make some fresh stir under favour of the Huguenots in France, they having been very ill treated in the last agreement, it having moreover come to my knowledge that Madame de la Tremouille, being on the point of returning to France, the king himself requested her to delay her departure for a few days. Extraordinary attentions are paid her; she is banquetted by the favourites and the duke himself will also entertain her one of these days. She has been already gently canvassed to interest herself in the affair, together with her son, the Count of Lavalle, who, during the late insurrections was Soubise's lieutenant in la Rochelle. So far I do not perceive any inclination in this lady to interfere in the matter, indeed she rather leans to take the other side and go to the Court to divert any suspicion which the Most Christian might entertain of herself and her family. She rather desires to place her son in the service of Denmark, now that owing to the last defeat he is undone and unprovided with officers. As for the rest, the event is uncertain, nor can it be so easily discovered, as Soubise and everyone-else are aware of the king's necessities and that his promises have no foundation.
The object of the English Government is to secure itself against France, and prevent any attack on England, who, under pretence of religion may with a better grace assist the French malcontents and foment disturbance than if her aid were given to those bearing the odious name of conspirators.
Others are of opinion that England seeks to have the Huguenots on her side in the event of a Catholic League.
Be this as it may, the English Cabinet is acting with passion, nor could the Spaniards have a finer game to play, as the one single power, which might possibly retard their progress, is wilfully rushing headlong to its ruin.
There arrived here simultaneously a Knight of Malta, a Frenchman Suar (fn. 1) by name, a near relation of Chalais who was beheaded, and convicted of having been an accomplice in the conspiracy. Here he received a welcome and had the audacity to ask to be presented to the queen, who displayed great anger, being unable to understand how the king could tolerate to heinous a crime, considering the ties which bind him to herself and her brother.
Owing to these events it was reported that in France all trade with England had been prohibited, though as yet this has not been officially confirmed, but from what has gone before one may reasonably fear such a step, and time will show the truth.
Meanwhile the king remained a single day in London and took the Queen with him to Hampton Court, with the intention of going further into the country and remaining there some while. In this constant ebb and flow of country amusements and the chase, much time and money are wasted.
London, the 2nd October, 1626.
Postscript.—After enclosing my packet I received late at night the ducal missives of the 11th September with the advices from Constantinople and account of the negotiations current there, of which I will avail myself as commanded. As greater advantage is now expected from that quarter and from Gabor, I have thought it proper to acknowledge their receipt.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
754. SIMON CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
M. de Bassompierre came to see me before his departure for England. He spoke at length about the ill feeling between the two kings and insisted more than ever that he must be firm in his negotiations at London. I scattered sweets as much as possible making much of his character and skill and they would come back to Paris leaving satisfaction in England. But when he remarked: We shall even join the Spaniards, as we cannot put up with the affront, I shrugged my shoulders and said I could not believe he really meant it, as that would mean putting everything under the heel of the Spanish monarchy, whose ambitions he well knew. He replied: I mean that we shall be avenged.
The English Ambassador here returned from Nantes seriously ill, with all his household, some of whom died. I have continued our friendly intercourse, which he appreciated. Having recovered he came to see me the day before yesterday. He told me he clearly saw that the relations between the two kings would take a bad turn, as they gave no reply to certain proposals he had made except that they would first see how Bassompierre fared in England, and they would treat him here in accordance. After reflecting upon this and also by order of his king he had gone to St. Germain to take leave of the king. He went on: They hold the reprisals made from our merchants, and although the last affair of this kind was adjusted, they have revived old claims and propose to satisfy them out of the goods of our English which they hold, But they reckon badly, as my king will have to give letters of reprisals to his merchants, and I think they will find they have made a mistake as our men know the way to put themselves right. Here they are all becoming 'Hispanified'; they allow armed barges of the Spaniards to enter the ports of Calais and Boulogne, and when they find a Dutch or English ship, they rob it, a thing that often happens.
At Calais there is one of our men who renders good service to our nation and his friends. They told him to stop because they want to see the Spaniards hurt us.
I tried to calm him, as he seems very well informed. I said I did not think his departure hence would be very well timed when Bassompierre might be starting some useful negotiation in London. If the boat lost its pilot and oars it would hardly enter port. He replied: No sir! they must make a thorough breach to allow of good repairs. I shall not leave without seeing your Excellency again. I assured him that he might rely on the good offices of your Serenity with both parties.
He told me in the course of the conversation that he clearly perceived that this year the war between his king and the Catholic would be at sea only; the King of Spain was strong in ships but not in sailors or equipment.
Paris, the 2nd October, 1626.
[Italian: the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli Venetian Archives.
755. ZORZI GIUSTINIAN, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the DOGE and SENATE.
In my last despatch I informed your Serenity of Gabor's fresh demands of the Porte and the orders sent to the new Pasha of Buda. Since then the English ambassador has seen the Caimecan in support of these demands, and that official confirmed the despatch of the orders to the Pasha, the same as had been sent to his predecessor, Mehemet, to keep armed on the frontier, in order to make Cœsar uneasy, to defend his own affairs and those of the prince, confer with him and do what the Sultan's service requires. As the Caimecan knows the restless nature of the Pasha, he has warned him to do nothing to cause a breach. The Caimecan said they would not allow the prince to join the allies, and if the emperor seeks peace they will put it off and will not make it without letting us ambassadors know and without our consent.
The prince's agent was not altogether satisfied with this reply to the English ambassador and he begged the ambassadors to repeat their offices and press for two things, the speedy despatch of the investiture and insignia desired by the prince, and definite instructions to the Pasha of Buda, that if the emperor asks for the renewal of the peace, he shall not consent unless the prince agrees, and will not even let the imperial ambassador proceed to the Porte unless the treaty has previously been arranged with the prince's consent.
The Vigne of Pera, the 4th October, 1626.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives.
756. MARC ANTONIO MOROSINI, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The duke expects little good about the English business, indeed he considers it very likely that the two crowns may unite against England. He gave me many reasons for this. I tried to console him, for he has never spoken to me so frankly before. He feels the defeat of Denmark deeply and foresees evil results in those parts, as Gabor remains inert, France is spoiling the good that others might do, and England is a feeble instrument for smashing such a great monarchy. You are young, he said to me, and are sure to see what I fear I may see also, what it means for the House of Austria to be master of all Germany. We may then pull ourselves together and save our lives and possessions, but our liberty, never.
He spoke to me of his relations with the Genoese. He heard that the galleys of the Marquis of Santa Croce had been summoned to Spain. They were to take on board the Neapolitans and Spaniards who were in the Genoese with the idea of taking them against England; fifty large men of war had left the Spanish ports for those shores.
Turin, the 4th October, 1626.
Oct. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
757. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
They have information here from private and official sources that sixty large barques have left Biscaya laden with military stores, and in particular with pikes, muskets, mattocks, shovels etc., accompanied by forty ships of sixty lasts each, and 8,000 Spanish soldiers for these parts. They are not alarmed for the United Provinces or Holland, and they do not believe it is against England. They feel sure that Ireland is the objective, not to send help to or raid as in former times, but to seize a place there, build a fort, stir up their friends and keep land and sea in a state of alarm. They assert that another group of ships has been sighted off England. Some assert that these are the same, others and professional sailors argue that they are not, as they are too weak for such bravado or even to cross the ocean.
Here on the receipt of the news the admiral was ordered to the fleet, and all the men of war are being mobilised. The Dunkirkers have also been stirred to activity by the information and have made themselves felt, capturing a little ship proceeding from England to Amsterdam with a cargo of cloth, and sinking fifteen fishing vessels.
The States have met in long consultations this week on the subject and I gather they have come to the conclusion that the Spaniards, being provoked to mortify the English or to chastise the Dutch, are attempting to kill several birds with one stone. Their object in collecting this force is to strike a mortal blow at all the northern powers who are resisting their ambition, to hit Denmark and occupy the Sound whence all the corn and meat consumed in England and these provinces proceed, and where they would also inflict great losses on the customs and revenues of the King of Denmark. They therefore propose to send a special mission post to Denmark, promising help.
The Hague, the 5th October, 1626.
Oct. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
758. LUNARDO MORO, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Count of Gondomar must have travelled so slowly because he knew he was to die. He passed to a better life a few leagues from Madrid after four days' illness. If there were any negotiations with England, as I believe, his death will throw everything into confusion, because it will not be easy to find another whom the English will trust. When discussing this death one of the ministers burst forth to me: And yet the ambassador of the republic in England constantly incites the king there to send out his fleet and make war on this crown, adding his belief that they also supplied money. I hear things of the sort every day without any foundation, and the republic has just cause to complain to the king about the slanders spread against her.
Madrid, the 6th October, 1626.
Oct. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Napoli. Venetian Archives.
759. PIERO VICO, Venetian Secretary at Naples, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Since the arrival of a courier from Spain it has been announced that the viceroy will go to Germany to accompany the Queen of Bohemia, his son, the Constable of Navarre remaining in charge. This, however, is not confirmed. The galleys which the viceroy is sending to Spain will be four of his best, and they will send a like number from Sicily. When they reach Genoa they will join the squadrons with which the Marquis of Santa Croce has orders to go to those seas, to guard the shores from the attacks of English and Dutch ships.
Naples, the 6th October, 1626.
Oct. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
760. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Notwithstanding the devices whereby they sought to delay, if not to prevent Bassompierre coming he arrived in London the day before yesterday. Neither at Dover nor at any other place was he boarded, lodged or visited, so that he himself remarked to me yesterday with a smile that he almost doubted whether he was an ambassador or no. At Gravesend the Master of the Ceremonies received him with twelve barges; at Greenwich there was the Earl of Dorset with those of the king, and at the Tower the usual coaches. He was taken to the lodging hired by him, the king's servants being asembled there to board him until his first audience; but he refused, saying that had he been lodged by his Majesty, he would have accepted this additional honour also, but being in his own house, and consequently in that of the Most Christian, he did not think it fitting to accept the offer and requested them to take no further trouble.
Later that same evening the duke went to see him, and they exchanged the mere usual compliments. I fancy that the duke complained somewhat of Bassompierre having brought in his suite the queen's confessor, who was lately expelled, together with some others who had formed part of her establishment. To tell the truth they do not like this, and it might have been avoided to escape further irritation in matters of such slight importance, at the very outset.
I called upon him yesterday, having sent my coaches to his entry and paid the other compliments. In the course of the conversation I remarked on the low ebb at which the common cause now stands, urging him, for his own sake, to regulate well the important business now in hand and to cultivate the union between the two crowns, observing that from his appointment to this office, the world well knew how strongly the Most Christian was inclined to quiet, choosing an adroit negotiator accustomed ably to transact all business advantageously for the common weal. I also advocated amity and gentleness and to assuage passion. I certainly found him well disposed, and that he prided himself on overcoming every difficulty, that being apparently his great ambition, and he boasts extremely of his former successful negotiations. He is determined to breast all blows bravely and above all to parry such as do not materially affect the matter in hand. The method hitherto adopted by him is good, both about the chapel and his retinue, to prevent any strife with the English, who are naturally averse from his nation, which is impetuous and ardent. He is to have his first audience on Sunday next, according to report, at Hampton Court, the king intending to go yet further into the country, perhaps on his account. At this audience Bassompierre thinks of asking for commissioners to be appointed him, that he may the more easily conduct his negotiations about the marriage articles; he being doubtful of having more than a single audience. as was the case with Carleton in France, a punctiliousness which seems to displease him, by reason of the disparity between himself individually and Carleton. What satisfaction he may obtain is doubtful. He demands the observance of the terms of the marriage contract as regards conscience and the queen's attendants. Here, on the other hand, they pretend that the French, instead of serving their mistress, meddled unduly in politics and in the internal affairs of the government and the realm, especially in religion, which is a very sensitive point. With regard to the reappointment of the attendants, and the ladies in particular, he clearly sees that the difficulty is insuperable, as all the chief offices have been assigned to ladies of Buckingham's family and other dependents of his. In this matter I believe he would rest satisfied with the admission of one or two French ladies with whom the queen might at least converse confidentially.
This point of reinstating the French who were dismissed or others, in whole or in part, which is the first of his commissions will meet with opposition because at variance with the duke's interests, whose supremacy is incompatible with a good understanding with France, now too deeply offended. Time and the queen herself, by sacrificing a part of her gratification to the union between the two crowns, together with phlegmatic bearing on the part of Bassompierre, might be the most fitting remedies. Among other things he said to me: My king is offended and nevertheless sues for peace. The justice of his cause rests upon documents, on oath and on a king's word. If they will not abide by this word in essence he will accept such appearances as will save his face in the eyes of the world and exonerate him before God respecting his sister's conscience. He has two royal brothers in law; he wishes rather to be a suppliant to the one who shuns his friendship, than to embrace the other who desires it and constantly urges him to form some union.
This idea seemed to me worthy of consideration and will serve as a beacon for your Excellencies for he also insinuated that the pope was included, though solely in the event of a rupture with England.
He also speaks of overtures made by the Duke of Bavaria to France to stop the progress of the House of Austria in Germany, provided no more is said about the Palatinate, but seeing the way those princes are blinded and intimidated, this is probably only a device of Bassompierre to help his present negotiations and win over those who desire the restitution of the Princess Palatine before everything else.
Bassompierre has asked the Chevalier Sciar, the Frenchman involved in the conspiracy, as reported, to frequent his house freely. The ambassador's intimates say it is because he is a man of pleasure and of shallow brains, but I can also imagine it is with a view to elicit what the duke negotiated with him to the detriment of the Most Christian.
By his Majesty's order, on the other hand, M. de Soubise has removed to Greenwich, that his negotiations may be less observed, their object certainly being to harass France, though I fancy that Soubise and his supporters know of the state of confusion in England and the impossibility of assistance from this quarter, nor will they feel inclined to interfere in the business, the less so because according to common report, the Most Christian King thinks of granting a general amnesty to all persons concerned in the conspiracy, by reason of the number of individuals of every condition involved.
The Duchess de la Tremouille has not been allowed to depart, though she has received presents and warm greeting. As yet her intentions are very good and rather in favour of union between the two crowns than otherwise. The Ambassador Carleton is expected back daily, but he will be guided by his ailments. Many persons think that he embroiled the present negotiations, as Bassompierre indeed declares, knowing that this is for his own advantage.
Meanwhile a gentleman named Wich (fn. 2) has departed for France, and together with the Earl of Holland's secretary will perhaps remain at that Court for the transaction of ordinary business, though he may perhaps get as far as Piedmont as I think the schemes and projects of the Duke of Savoy with respect to the troubles of France, serve greatly to regulate those of Buckingham, the two having an excellent understanding together, rather for their own advantage than that of the public.
London, the 9th October, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
761. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The King of Denmark has sent one of his halbardiers with letters to the king, the duke and all the members of the Council. He describes the late defeat, attributing it to the lack of assistance from England, which would have enabled him to advance into the heart of Germany, rather than bring himself to such a pass. He expresses his determination, vigorously and firmly to support the liberty of Germany, provided he receive prompt succour from England, declaring very plainly that all the mischief proceeds from the private quarrels between the king and his subjects, a point which every one does not care to discuss, and in conclusion vows that unless he sees this affair take a better turn he will do the best he can for himself.
The ambassador had special audience of the king and each of the ministers about this business, presenting his master's letters and expressing himself in accordance with them, hinting adroitly at the necessity for assembling parliament. The king, as on a former occasion, answered him very feelingly but without coming to any conclusion, save that of vouching for his goodwill and for his thought for those affairs. The others still confirm the decision to avail themselves of the four English regiments now in Holland, which will not move, however, without money, and that as yet is very light.
In the meantime the secretary of the Ambassador Anstruther (fn. 3) leaves to-morrow for Denmark, with letters from his Majesty here to the king there, in which among other conceits to encourage him, is the following, that at length they have listened here to the proposals of the Margrave of Baden, who, aided by the English crown, your Serenity and Savoy will in a few weeks have on foot from 15,000 to 20,000 men, comprising infantry and cavalry, and will make a fierce attack upon the imperial forces in Alsace. Everybody considers this fabulous, yet it is true that the English government makes use of the statement, and I have to report it because the Danish ambassador read it to me in the letters themselves and wrote to the king that they are impostures, commending above all the prudence of the most serene republic, which will not run risks. I hope to obtain a copy of these letters to enclose if it reaches me in time for this despatch.
With regard to money, the attempts to obtain a loan from the City of London having proved vain as reported, the king, by a private decree, withdrew all privy seals and benevolences which had been already issued without any profitable result, promising the few individuals who contributed a certain sum to return their money and thus save them from loss. To effect this they have had recourse to a very severe cautery. The king has determined to exact five subsidies from the country, forming one entire tax, and whereas the last Parliament granted four, allowing a certain time for the exaction, he now insists on an additional subsidy to be paid with greater despatch. They have therefore begun to carry this into effect by commissioners at Westminster, who summon all persons, nobility, burgesses and others, endeavouring to make them subscribe to this demand. But I understand that as yet many refuse and when the affair is published and proposed at popular meetings the opponents will be in yet greater number. In that case the government must resort to force, and it will be a very serious affair. If successful, it will constitute an example, the king will be master and no longer stand in need of Parliament. In case of defeat all means of obtaining money save in the ordinary way are at an end; this being the last, the most important and the most hazardous.
Gabor's minister Quat has arrived here on board a Dutch man-of-war. (fn. 4) He is lodged at an inn where the government has assigned him 5l. a day for his diet. He has few attendants, nevertheless the king gave him his first audience with all the ceremonies reserved for ambassadors. He personally demanded the appointment of commissioners to represent to them his instructions more in detail. The duke told him he would be one of them and for the rest they spoke him fair. I fancy that he will chiefly insist on his master being included in the league, with the mutual obligation not to make any agreement which does not include all the confederates.
Meanwhile, everything will be done to conceal from him the poverty of this government and not to let him despair, as his mere report might greatly alter the state of affairs. With regard to money and military assistance he does not swerve from what was mentioned elsewhere, but aims rather at having a formal embassy sent to Constantinople to obtain such assistance as necessary from the Porte. He has not yet been to see me, being occupied with the ministers here about the appointment of commissioners.
The Dutch ambassador has informed the king that the United Provinces still keep their troops in the field to prevent the Spaniards from reinforcing Tilly's victorious army, saying, however, that the States cannot defend themselves and check the Spaniards single handed and urging his Majesty to form some resolve. He also hinted at the continuance in the Dutch service of the four English regiments, though without insisting on it, nor did he express himself so as to exclude these succouring Denmark. He added that there were fifteen Dutch vessels ready to put to sea with the first fair wind, and with orders to the Admiral to make straight for Portsmouth. Should the English fleet not be ready he is to cruise at a venture and do his best so that such heavy expenses may not be incurred uselessly. He has removed an evil impression entertained here that the Dutch deputies and the one from the Infanta who met at Middelburg in Flanders about an exchange of prisoners, might have some other object; the English government being now convinced that the States made no other proposal save this one. He spoke in this sense to the duke from whom he gathered in the course of conversation that there was some idea of a negotiation between the English and the Spaniards to arrange quarters for the seamen, an opportunity for this being afforded by the duke writing to Spinola about some exchange of prisoners. The Dutch ambassador pointed out the mischievous consequences of such a measure, for which the Spaniards are most anxious because of their want of seamen, but it would utterly ruin the English and Dutch navies. I believe that the duke has been convinced by the arguments of this experienced diplomatist, who on the other hand, is ill pleased with such negotiations.
The King of Sweden has written to the King of England, giving him account of his progress and of his wish to be received into the League on reasonable terms. Meanwhile I suspect he wants this government to send an embassy to Muscovy to encourage the invasion of Poland.
I have this day received the ducal missives of the 18th September, narrating the confusion which still prevails about carrying out the treaties respecting the Valtelline. I will avail myself of the particulars as commanded.
I enclose the letter from the king here to the King of Denmark.
London, the 9th October, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in the preceding despatch. 762. Carolus, Dei Gratia etc. Serenissimo Principi ac Domino, Domino Christiano quarto Danice etc.
Maximo sane nec verbis exprimendo nos affecissent dolore quia minus felix Serenetatis Vestrae con Tilleio nuper commissum praelium ad nos detulere nuntii, nisi invicta vestra fortitudinus et tolli terrarum orbi aeque ac nobis nobillimae virtutis vis eum repulisset, nosque refecisset, subsecute sunt etiam, nobisque inspecta Wolfembitani data littera testes vestra incolummitatis magnanimitatis et constantia que nobis omnino nosmetipsos reddidere, magisque solatium addidere, Igitur occasiones omnem amoventes segnitiem pro nostri erga vos animi ufficio, ad quod vobis nos et generis et amicitia, leges, rerumque Publicarum Jura et Justitia devinciunt, in illo strenue statuimus progredi studio quo vestra Serenitatis vota conatus opera foveamus cunctisque viribus promoveamus. Eadem de re vestrum nobiscum morantem Legatum fecimus certiorem ad quem adproperare quo tanquam vobis propiores exhalaremus tristitiam, qua tristis ille nos nuntius gravabat, haud gravati fuimus, simulque vobis coram eo nostrum arrhabonem animi, quo scilicet nos veri et sinceri nostri in vos amoris, honoris et affectus, usque memores futuros, vosque eorundem memores, et certissimos reddituros rursus vovemus, offere voluimus. Hac de causa jam jam colligende brevissima eademque sicurissima nobis initur pecunia via vobisque nostratium sex mille mittere militum, qui sub unitarum Provinciarum merent ordinibus atque disciplina vestibusque armis satis instructi audiunt. Hisque quamprimum de vestro certi erimus desiderio, et usu et plures alios subjungere et numos quibus stipendia solvuntur, componere stat sententia. Hunc poro praesentium latorem ad Serenitatem Vestram eo saltem mittendum censuimus fine ut nempe exoptatissima Serenitatis Vestra nobis plane et plene inotescat salus ac voluntas, et ut adeo citius pro nostris vobis et facoltatibus cum vestra nostram conjungamus operam ac diligentiam. Nil ardentius in vobis habentes, quam ut cum vestro nobis sit idem animus, idem labor, interea tamen pecuniam et milites quibus vires viribus addamus vestris legere non cessabimus.
[Vos insuper scire volentes nos jam generose Marchionis Badensis voluntati nostrum cum Venetorum Sabaudiaeque ope jungentes auxilium satisfecisse adeo, ut ille etiam brevi communem hostem advestrum levamen sexdecim vel viginti mille equitum peditum que coacti exercitu in Palatinatum Alsatie adoriri, et impediri queat.] (fn. 5)
Tandem quod moneamus nichil superest quibus nullum restat dubium de Serenitatis Vestra unico voto ac zello illius prosperitatem rei, qua de religionis aut restauratione aut eversione de communi ab Austriaca domus tiranide vindicanda libertate atque de cujusque singulorum Principum status securitate agitur promovendi stabiliendi tuendi. Quod opus, ut Serenitati Vestra cujus indomitas piae veraeque Regia et mentis et manus vires virtutes que jamdudum habemus perspectat pro sui ipsius vobis ad Dei Gloriam Ecclesia tuttellam vestram non interrituram famam et ad summum quorum interest solamem feliciter et fauste perficiatur.
Op. Max. Deum exercituum totto corde, et ut decet, quem tot et tanta consanguinitatis amicitia amoris et animi integerimi ufficia et beneficia vobis obtineant, obstrictum orare et exorare nunquam desinemus.
Dabamus ex nostro Palatio Westmonasterio X Cal. Octobris, Anno MDCXXVI.
Oct. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
763. SIMON CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I went to pay my respects to the queen mother and among other things I thought fit to tell her what Lord Carleton had expressed and that I had seen the supreme satisfaction with which he was returning to his king in England from his reception by the Most Christian and herself. The ambassador had said as much to me repeatedly and copiously. I thought it necessary to tell the queen that it was most necessary that the disputes between these two crowns should be appeased, and I had told the ambassador that his king should respond to the good will shown by the Most Christian in sending Bassompierre, and if reason had sway, friendly relations would be resumed.
I cannot express how much the queen appreciated my considerations. She told me that the English habitually spoke fair and acted ill. The dismissal of her daughter's French attendants had greatly upset the king and herself; she loved her daughter dearly and was deeply grieved to hear that she had never had any rest in that kingdom. She thanked me for what I had said, and we must wait and see.
Paris, the 9th October, 1626.
Oct. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
764. SIMON CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Ambassador Carleton was recently at Court to take leave of their Majesties. I was much afraid, from common report and from what the ambassador himself told me, that the relations between the two crowns had reached an evil pass, as he informed me that when he reached Nantes every one said they would have to receive him with stones. He has now returned to Paris and has been to see me. He told me that the king told him he would try to keep alive the friendly and confidential relations with his brother of England, such being his intention when he made the marriage, and he hoped England would do the same. The queen mother told him that she would always try to cherish good feeling between the Most Christian and the King of England, whom she loved as her son, but they must remove obstacles and proceed by a smooth way to the common satisfaction. The ambassador said he told the Most Christian that it was most necessary the two crowns should be in accord, and to this end they must keep an eye on certain individuals who went to England with objects very far from quiet, and were even dependants on other princes. Such things frequently caused quarrels between great princes. His king desired three things: rest in his bed, quiet at Court and tranquillity in the realm. He said he spoke to both their Majesties to this effect. He is leaving well content owing to the good intentions they have expressed here about the other matter of the reprisals, and because he received a handsome present of two large chests of gilt plate, of which he showed me the greater part.
Paris, the 9th October, 1626.
Oct. 10.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
765. That in conformity with the memorial presented in the Collegio by the secretary of England, leave be granted to Captain Scot to remain in the service of the King of England for a further period of six months, his ordinary stipend continuing the while. That notice be given to the Ambassador Contarini at that Court and to the said Secretary.
Ayes, 71. Noes, 6. Neutral, 12.
On the 7th October in the Collegio.
Ayes, 19. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.


  • 1. It would seem that this person must be Jean Souart, secretary of M. de Modène. Mercure Francais (ed. Richer), vol. xii, p. 273.
  • 2. Henry de Vic.
  • 3. Gordon. Rusdorf: Memoires, vol. i, page 747.
  • 4. He arrived on the 22nd September, old style. Finett: Philoxenis, page 185.
  • 5. The paragraph within brackets is inserted separately and from cipher.