Venice: October 1626, 21-30

Pages 581-596

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


October 1626

Oct. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Roma. Venetian Archives.
776. To the Ambassador in France.
The views and conversations about some reconciliation with England are prudent and are well directed by you, with proper zeal. The circumstances are such as to excite a natural curiosity.
Ayes, 115. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
Oct. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
777. SIMON CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Your Serenity will have heard already of the incident at the Hague. The coaches of the ambassadors of France and England encountered at a place where two streets meet, and each wished to go first. Three Dutch captains drew their swords in favour of the English coachman and struck the French one. When the king heard of it, he made a serious remonstrance to the States and demanded the three captains. The States expressed their regret at the incident, but said that the captains had gone to the camp and they could not give them to his Majesty. If they found them guilty they would punish them themselves. This reply has not pleased them here, especially with the present strained relations with England, and I hear that his Majesty is recalling his ambassador.
Paris, the 22nd October, 1626.
Oct. 23.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
778. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
As I reported, Marshal Bassompierre had private audience at Hampton Court. The duke took him there, warning him beforehand and requesting him to proceed with all gentleness, as he knew that the king would speak very angrily. The marshal took this as a mark of confidence, as if the whole thing had not been previously arranged between the king and the duke, a fact of which he became well aware. Nevertheless he took the advice, speaking as suavely as possible, as he had previously determined to do. On his entry the king commended his gentle and discreet address, thanking him. He continued that in France people were too slanderous, saying openly that he had been sent to declare war, but he was determined to preserve his independent authority and would not allow anyone to share the government of his realm, his subjects or his wife, from all of whom, without exception, he meant to have unconditional obedience. By other tart remarks of this description he compelled Bassompierre to apologise rather than complain, as the business itself and his commissions required, though he retorted that he had not been sent as a herald to declare war but as an ambassador to re-establish peace and union. The Most Christian could not forget the tender ties of blood in asking satisfaction for his sister, but he by no means intended that she should dispense with the debt of obedience to his Majesty, her sovereign and her husband. He kept within these bounds, contrary to the nature of Frenchmen, perhaps.
The audience being over he had a long conference with the duke, speaking very freely and saying he had avoided making retorts in order not to irritate the king more. He reduced the affair to the following points. As his Majesty steadily refused to treat, he requested the duke to obtain another audience for him in two days, when, after kissing hands he would return to France without more ado, after informing the other ambassadors at Court of what had taken place, in self defence. If, on the contrary, they wished to treat, he asked for the appointment of commissioners for the discussion of his claims without reserve so as to arrive at a conclusion one way or the other.
The duke seemed ready to favour this, and the Council sat for three days running, weighing the public interests, the duke speaking very freely in favour of giving the ambassador satisfaction, and to prove by appearances that the evil disposition does not proceed from him but the king, it was resolved to concede something. Twelve commissioners were therefore appointed, all members of the Council, including the duke and Carleton, lately returned from France, as you will hear. The day before yesterday they and the ambassador had their first session, when they asked him to put his proposals in writing, as he did. From what has transpired so far he asks for the re-establishment of a bishop, twelve priests, two ladies, a chamberlain and some other French gentlemen, the entire number amounting to some thirty persons. As a supplementary demand he requested that the presecution of the Catholics might be mitigated as promised by the marriage articles.
So far he has not received a formal reply, though I fancy no difficulty will be raised about the priests, with the exception of the Jesuits and fathers of the Oratory. Some do not favour a bishop, thinking it sufficient to connive at the residence here of the Bishop of Calcedon, who superintends the consciences of the Catholics, while on the other hand they are apprehensive of those brevets appointing primates of England, such as were sent heretofore from Rome to the Bishop of Mandes, as here they do not like superiors independent of the king. As regards the ladies, Buckingham's personal interest presents an obstacle, for although Bassompierre does not pretend to deprive his wife, mother, sister and niece of their offices in the queen's household, yet they know that if her Majesty has other ladies in her confidence, even without office, the others will remain with the bare title, in disfavour with their mistress, whereas they hope that, unrivalled, the necessity of the moment may win them her Majesty's affection. Again, nothing has been decided about the gentlemen, so with matters proceeding at this pace there is more reason to fear than to hope, though it is evident from the trifles under discussion, as the Earl of Pembroke aptly remarked to me confidentially, that never will an instance be found of a rupture, should it occur, between two sovereigns and kinsmen upon such slight grounds.
Bassompierre has sent a courier to France in order, I believe, to learn the king's will more in detail, and the course of events there, which, in the opinion of many, serve as a guide for those in England also. Meanwhile he exerts himself to advance the negotiations and for the rest announces his intention of departing very soon.
Carleton has returned from France after receiving a handsome present worth 4,000 crowns. He stated that he received every honour at his entry and on departing the post assigned him by his sovereign met with no disparagement. He apologised for his first heats, on account of which he was in ill odour and badly treated, the king not choosing to give him any positive reply about his business, referring himself consistently to what Bassompierre would say. He said the queen mother was very angry in her desire that her daughter should receive satisfaction, and the like. In short his report was favourable rather than sinister and apparently would have been still better but for the counterpoise of the duke's interest, to which he is much devoted, a consideration which may have deterred the Most Christian from making the negotiation pass through his hands.
The complaints about the seizure of the French ships continue increasing; as yet they are eight in all, though the ambassador does not take fire about the matter, being of opinion, as I reported, that it will follow the course of the first and more important negotiation.
London, the 23rd October, 1626.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
779. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Anstruther, the English ambassador in Denmark, has sent his gentleman with repeated and earnest demands for help. He declares that the king will negotiate with the emperor, that he will be compelled to make a disgraceful but justifiable peace, that he is urged to do so by Saxony and other powers, and he may possibly pay himself what is due to him from England by seizing her vessels as they pass the Sound, unless a speedier way or a diversion be devised. Anstruther adds that Denmark, apprehensive lest Tilly winter in the duchy of Holstein, or advance to the coast, which would be very perilous for the Dutch, desires 100,000l. sterling immediately on account of his credits for quelling mutiny, which is already beginning among his troops for want of pay, and in conclusion he expatiates on the importance of these affairs for the common weal.
The Danish ambassador spoke to the king and duke in conformity with the letters. Instead of giving him satisfaction they withdrew the promise of the regiments in the Netherlands, saying they needed them for the insurrections in Ireland. I cannot represent the state of mind of this minister, who is struck to the quick, both in his public and private capacity, having assured the king that the English regiments would be sent to assist him, (I forwarded the letters to that effect), and now he risks losing credit and esteem with his master.
Here on the contrary it is no novelty, as since I came quite seven decrees of the utmost importance have been retracted, illustrating the progress of this government through every phase of weakness. On the other hand the impossibility of relying upon promises is very perilous for ambassadors, as destroying their credit with their own sovereigns, one such accident, without any fault of theirs obliterating the remembrance of any amount of toil or expenditure. Then again, the public considers the king's position very critical, if unassisted, and under the circumstances help from England is impossible rather than difficult. On this account the succour of the four regiments is a lesser evil, as being within call and well disciplined they will serve to gain time, until the need, which is very near at hand, cause the present government of England to change its policy.
This hope of military assistance being now doubtful, there remains that of pecuniary supply, to obtain which the ambassador does his utmost in vain; the king promises it but in spite of that his will remains subject to the laws of impossibility.
Yesterday the ambassador saw me by appointment in my own house. He enlarged on the broken promises, the disorder, and above all on the difficulty of gaining admission to the duke, who, knowing the complaints he has to make, lacks the means of answering him without remorse. The ambassador seemed determined to save his reputation against a repetition of such an event by requesting his king to recall him. He added that England, content with a courteous loan of 100,000 lire in ready money for the affairs of the Palatine in Bohemia, a sum which they had never repaid, launched his king on the war, by dint of promises, and then abandoned him by breaking them, and now sought to drive him to despair and further to destroy all hope of success in Germany. This is inevitable since it is notorious that no money can be raised in England without the parliament. They even render military succour doubtful, his king being not merely unassisted and deserted, but practically worse betrayed by the English government than by his declared enemies. The ambassador then discussed the statements which Gabor's ambassador would make to the King of Denmark about proceedings here, and set forth the ruin of Germany; which, to tell the truth, had it never known England might never have been reduced to such a plight, first by stimulating the Palatine, then by breach of treaties and finally by not aiding the war, England had brought that country to final ruin. In conclusion he besought me to help him by good offices in pressing his claims.
I did my best to encourage him and prevent him from sending forlorn accounts to his king. I pointed out the obligation he had incurred and the glory of perfecting this work, for which indeed he had been sent, and that he must not insist on leaving, or leave the ship without a pilot at the mercy of the winds and the enemy. I begged him not to take alarm, as resolves once retracted might by argument be brought back to their pristine state. I urged him to insist with the king and the duke on the fulfilment of what had been decreed and above all I impressed upon him the necessity of not sending a despatch with this bad news, as it was very important not to render the King of Denmark desperate. I promised him my good offices, and will do so by suitable remarks in the course of conversation, without committing your Excellencies, although one need not be very careful with persons who do nothing and are even more ignorant of state interests, seeing that they disregard the claims of honour, kindred, plighted word and practically their own destruction.
After this conversation I met the Dutch ambassador, who will, I hope, have sufficient power with his masters, should the difficulty about sending the four English regiments to Denmark continue, to protest that they shall be forthwith dismissed, the United Provinces not having the means of keeping them nor the English of removing them, their pay being some three months in arrear, nor will they stir without it. As recruiting in the Netherlands is prohibited, the Dutch not wishing to limit their means of defence, the regiments would certainly remain with the officers alone if they had to make the disastrous voyage to Ireland.
The French ambassador has promised to speak about this to the duke, and by these negotiations we shall at any rate seek the confirmation of what was established, although nothing can be promised for certain, as although consultations are held and the Council deliberates, the execution of its decisions is effected by one man only, and very often in contravention of its decrees, (ma l'esecutione del deliberato si fa da un solo e molte volte diversamente dal stabilito).
I have learned another fact on good authority which may be compared with advices sent possibly long ago, that Tilly sent back to the King of Denmark his great favourite Colonel Berenghetnem, who was taken prisoner in the last battle, proposing through him terms of peace, on condition that he shall utterly renounce the friendship of France, England, the United Provinces and Gabor. To this peace and to his return to Denmark the king is strongly urged by his mistress, about whom I wrote from the Hague, she being much inclined towards the emperor's good pleasure and a quiet life. Be this as it may, the king sent back the colonel very secretly to Tilly and although the resolve is not known we may surmise a pacific tendency, since it appears that Denmark from ancient reminiscences has never been averse to the House of Austria. Indeed during the war itself he always retained in his hand this string of neutrality and traffic with the Spanish dominions, merely prohibiting military stores, to which must be added projects of personal advantage with the object of obtaining honourable positions for his sons by securing for them possession of the neighbouring bishoprics, as in the case of Osnaburg. In conclusion, the tardiness of France, the inability of England and prudential considerations on the part of the other powers, may easily give the last blow to the crumbling edifice, and it would certainly have been much better to have kept up the negotiations for the League rather than display its weakness by concluding it without any result.
London, the 23rd October, 1626.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
780. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
From the affairs of France and Denmark already detailed, and from what takes place daily at the English Court, to the detriment of the common cause and the degradation of this country, a suspicion prevails that the Spaniards have bribed the duke, or at least, as I have often said, that the duke himself, by such behaviour, invites them to bribe him. Everybody, however, is silent, nor do they dare discuss the subject, the crime being one of lèse Majesté.
Yesterday a courier was sent very secretly to Brussels to the Earl of Argyle, a Scot who commands a regiment in the Infanta's army, it being suspected that they propose thus to open negotiations for peace. It is said that the Archbishop of York's son (fn. 1) has also made some overtures to that effect. The Dutch ambassador, being more interested in the matter than anyone else, spoke to the Secretary Conway, who in reply to questions about this courier did not give straight answers; so the ambassador is not without suspicion, although assured by the king, the duke and all the ministers that no overtures for such negotiations shall be made without the knowledge of the United Provinces. In a conversation which I myself had with the Earl of Pembroke, he spoke in the same tone, adding that when reinforced the fleet would cruise off the coast of Spain and towards Cadiz, but as it is so weak I do not believe in this project.
The Dunkirkers are in great force at sea. The duke has directed that the twenty ships now fitted out by the City of London shall not put to sea without fresh orders. This causes a suspicion that some negotiation is on foot; the only reason for hesitating to accept this idea is that with things as they are the Spaniards witness the destruction of England by her own hand, who might impede their projects, without having to seek it by fraud, artifice or force.
The money matter proceeds slowly without much hope of a good result. To facilitate it, the king lately issued a proclamation showing the present need of the moment, especially for Denmark. He requests the speedy payment of five subsidies and gives assurance that it shall not constitute a precedent or vitiate the ancient laws of parliament, but on the contrary the promptitude of his subjects to succour him will incline his Majesty to give satisfaction to parliament in particular as desired by them. (fn. 2) Everybody exclaims that all these are the duke's devices, and as such they ridicule them, the hatred against him being at its height, and the love for the king greatly diminished.
One hundred and fifty sailors who served on board the last fleet in Spain, not having received their arrears, attacked the duke's coach with bludgeons, while he was sitting in Council, smashing and destroying it utterly. Three companies of trained bands immediately mounted guard at the Court and took the necessary precautions to safe-guard the gates of the duke's palaces. The rioters were quieted by a little money from the mint, and next day a rigorous proclamation was issued, forbidding sailors and soldiers to quit their commanding officers in bodies or approach London save in small numbers, under pain of death. (fn. 3)
From lack of money the troops in Ireland, some 3,500 in number, have similarly mutinied. The viceroy, Lord Falkland, was desired to quiet them by exacting payment from the people of the country, and when they positively refused, the government charged the viceroy to quarter the soldiers in private houses, just as the Spaniards do in Italy. This innovation causes even greater fear of disturbances, and they actually think of reinforcing the Irish garrisons with the regiments from Holland, perhaps in order that these likewise being unpaid may yet more encourage the mutineers, or else, as others believe, that remaining in England they may inspire additional fear and compel the people to pay the five subsidies mentioned above. (fn. 4)
The Chancellor of Scotland has very firmly announced to the king his firm intention of upholding the privileges of that country. This conduct has not won much approbation and indeed it seems that by reviving some old accusations they are drawing up a fresh impeachment against him, ruining themselves by greater mistakes every day.
Four ships belonging to the King of Denmark have been taken in the Elbe and brought to Scotland. All the seizures and complaints concern friendly powers, nothing of the sort being heard with regard to Spanish property.
The Dutch ships have not yet arrived, being perhaps delayed by the more immediate necessity of defending their own shores, which are much infested by the Dunkirkers, who having put to sea with seven large ships are masters there. As at Antwerp and other towns of Flanders they are beating the drum for sailors, it is supposed that the Spaniards are bent on having an efficient navy, perhaps to facilitate some undertaking on the Baltic, with the assistance of Tilly by land, thus blockading the Dutch, as from England they have little or nothing to fear.
I am also somewhat embarrassed by reason of the frequent orders given to close the ports, so I suspect that my despatches are delayed, those of several weeks being reserved for one delivery. Indeed by warnings received from several quarters I am disturbed by the idea that the packets are opened. This compels me to make the Secretary Agustini put everything into the cipher indifferently, causing double delay and trouble at Venice likewise. If the disagreements with France continue it would be necessary to keep a person on purpose for the conveyance of the letters in safety with a special passport from the king as far as Paris. Upon this I desire your Excellencies' commands to guide me, and I hope to be excused for any irregularities which may occur.
The reply from Dartmouth about the ships has not yet arrived. From certain indications the merchants here are of opinion that after scarcely taking breath in that harbour, they proceeded to Amsterdam, so the embargo did not arrive in time. For every good end I have given notice of this to the Secretary Suriano, so that he may be ready to assist the subjects of Venice and maintain her commercial rights.
London, the 23rd October, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
781. SIMON CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Three large ships coming from Spain have been taken by the English, very near the western shores of France. Besides a great quantity of merchandise, which they claim here as French, they were taking a large sum in reals to Flanders. The king here and all his ministers are much incensed, declaring that the cargoes were entirely French and claiming restitution. This incident has renewed the ill feeling between the two crowns, which is worse than ever. Nevertheless a wholesome rain will come very aptly to cool the ardour of England.
Paris, the 26th October, 1626.
Oct. 26.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
782. CHRISTOFFORO SURIAN, Venetian Secretary in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
On Friday two couriers arrived from London in quick succession, with letters for the States, Carleton's nephew and Calandrini. The ambassador's letters were very different from what they anticipated, as the States expected to be relieved at once of the cost of the four English regiments, and that these would be sent forthwith to Denmark, whereas they are bound to keep them until the 4th prox. Carleton's nephew made a similar request and said that someone would soon arrive to give the requisite satisfaction for the command of the troops. The latter will be Colonel Vere, the former Filippo Calandrini, who will bring all the drafts required and will also make all arrangements for the despatch of these men either by land or sea. Carleton also spoke very warmly of the English monarch's good will for the common cause and his desire that his uncle the king of Denmark be supported.
The Danish ambassador reports that the Duke of Saxony is urging Denmark to come to terms, and he is also urging the administrator of Hal and Magdeburg (fn. 5) to make an accommodation with the emperor. The English ambassador Anstruther writes that if this person is won over, as Brunswick has come to terms they will have things all their own way, as Denmark will be deprived of all authority and power; that monarch showed great steadfastness but he let it be known that if before Christmas he did not receive help, from England in particular, he would wait no longer, and would make peace.
The Hague, the 26th October, 1626.
Oct. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
783. LUNARDO MORO, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I hear nothing about the peace with England. By Gondomar's death they have lost the thread and track of it. I am very sorry for it, because he was very intimate with me.
Madrid, the 26th October, 1626.
Oct. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian, Archives.
784. LUNARDO MORO, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The East India galleons have arrived; the wind carried them to Galicia. It is expected they will unlade their cargoes at Coruña, for fear of the English fleet, which is reported to have sailed.
Madrid, the 28th October, 1626.
Oct. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Svizzeri. Venetian Archives.
785. GEROLAMO CAVAZZA, Venetian Secretary with the Swiss, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Mr. Wake arrived here yesterday to take up his embassy for the King of England. I paid him my respects. He presented fresh letters of credence to the lords here, though he did not negotiate any special business. He confirmed his master's good will towards them and the other Protestant Cantons, showing that his Majesty regretted the terms of the treaty of peace between the two Crowns, as they affected the Grisons. His Majesty was ready to give vigorous support in Germany and had declared war on the Spaniards and against the emperor as well. He criticised the French freely and did not conceal from me his ill will towards him. He made much of their breach of faith and lack of sincerity. He said the Grisons ought to give up France altogether and try and come to terms with the Spaniards, as they would get incomparably better conditions than they had from the French under the guise of protection and friendship, and everyone should take a hand in this. He said it would be a good thing to turn the swords of the Spaniards against the French, whose only care was to ruin their friends even to their own disadvantage.
I pointed out that France was not always the same and things might change. In the meantime, it would not be wise to hurt ourselves out of resentment against her. The Spaniards were great enough already, and so forth. But he is very irate and he will certainly speak to the same effect in the Grisons. He is to travel by way of Auriga and Brescia, and if possible will confer with Coure and Preaux.
He states that it is in the power of his king to make peace with the Spaniards whenever he likes. They have made very reasonable proposals about the Palatinate, which no reasonable person should refuse. His Majesty, however, did not lean that way; but if he found himself abandoned by all he would make terms as others had done, indicating France.
The Duke of Savoy did not mind the delay of a settlement between himself and the Genoese. If the French paid the 4,000 men they promised he would make conquests from Genoa. Wake said his king would send a number of ships to those seas to assist the undertaking.
He had heard by a messenger who travelled from London in seven days, of the sailing of the fleet against Spain, the arrival of Bassompierre, the grant of 6,000 men to Denmark for which 80,000l. sterling had been sent to Burlamacchi at Hamburg. I remarked, as a feeler, that I had heard that his king would give the Margrave of Baden the command of his fleet. Wake replied at once that his master had sent orders to pay 6,000 foot for the marquis and 1,000 horse. The money was to be paid at Strasburg and he would send a man for this soon after reaching Venice; it would be for six months. The free towns of Nüremburg, Strasburg and Ulm would also help, and the Duke of Wirtemburg also, in secret. In this way the Margrave might have a force of 20,000 men, forming a strong counterpoise to the imperialists.
He spoke of all this with great assurance and that the decision had only just come although the proposals had been made to the king long since. Colonel Boi, (fn. 6) sent by the Margrave to the ambassador, is really going back with this help.
Zurich, the 29th October, 1626.
Oct. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Roma. Venetian Archives.
786. To the Ambassador in England and the like to the Hague.
The Grisons in their pittach at Coire have declared that they will not accept the treaty offered to them by the French ministers and have forthwith sent their deputies to the Most Christian to state their case. They have selected others to go to us and the Swiss Cantons, and urge Coure to hold his hand until their deputies return, as they perceive that the negotiations between him and Cordova are progressing. It is true that the various difficulties and jealousies render the turn of affairs doubtful and make caution necessary. The Spaniards have recently moved their artillery from Pavia to Como on the way to Riva. Coure has taken great exception to this and sent to acknowledge our steady supply of provisions to the valley. As our credits amount to many thousands of crowns, we have been led to make the enclosed representations to the French, in order to clear things up. This is an abstract of what is taking place. We notice that they are curious with you and glad of these communications, which encourage confidential relations and you will there make use of them when you have a good opportunity.
The enclosed abstract of advices from Germany will give you all the information we have of affairs there. You will stimulate their sentiments and actions.
To England add:
We hear from Constantinople that the English ambassador is diverting the Turkish ministers from helping Gabor. As this does not seem in consonance with English interests, we send word so that you may adroitly find out about it and learn their objects.
That 300 ducats be given to the Ambassador Contarini in England and to the Ambassador Morosini, for the cost of couriers and the carriage of letters, for which they shall render account.
Ayes, 80. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
Oct. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
787. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The paper presented by Bassompierre to the commissioners merely asked generally whether the king would maintain what had been agreed to at the marriage or not. With some of the members of the Council and the duke in particular he confined himself in details to granting satisfaction about the bishop, the priests, the two ladies, the Chamberlain and some other matters I have mentioned.
They have not yet answered the paper, as they thought perhaps that he would limit himself to the said particulars, and they would thus be enabled to curtail what had been stipulated by the marriage contract. Opinion is still divided and those who oppose the admission of the bishop are more numerous than the others, agreeing with the desire of the people and with their religious bent (essendo conformi al desiderio dei popoli et all'habito della Religione).
Some confidential friend warned the ambassador of the difficulties which impeded the grant of such satisfaction as demanded by him, so last Saturday he sent off a gentleman to France, requesting to be recalled. Next day he received a long visit from the Earl of Holland, who is deep in the duke's confidence and under obligation for favour received during his embassy in France. He seems more anxious than the others for the reconciliation of the two crowns, and assured Bassompierre that it was the intention of the duke and the majority of the Council that he should at any rate depart satisfied. These assurances made with good warrant induced the ambassador to send a second courier to delay, as he says, the commissions, the heat and a catastrophe, though possibly he employs these conceits to help his negotiations and I believe that the first courier was sent merely to acquaint the king with the difficulties foretold to him by Bassompierre.
Such is the course of the negotiations so far. At Court they say with good reason that both French and English are glad to gain time, to regulate themselves according to their respective internal and external interests and embarrassments which are perhaps equal in both countries. The English declare that they can always make peace when they please with the Spaniards, who well know what the resources of England could achieve against them when better directed than they have been hitherto. They exaggerate the result of the communication made to the Earl of Argyle at Brussels and of the negotiations here for peace as conducted by the Archbishop of York's son. In reality, however, as I gather from several quarters, nothing has ever been said about this in the Council of State; the king and his councillors affirm solemnly and boldly that as yet no negotiations are on foot and they let things take their course for the benefit of what is now being treated. To this they add some slight stir at la Rochelle, the despatch by the Most Christian of an agent for the purchase of twenty four ships in Holland; Richelieu's care for naval affairs, either by means of a company or otherwise; the passage of the galleons from the Mediterranean to the ocean and other manœuvres of France lending to this end; all furnish pretexts for comments and suspicion during the transaction of the present affairs. The constant seizure of vessels also renders an adjustment between the two nations difficult and increases the discontent, although it seems that both parties are well disposed, the French in particular removing the old Governor of Calais, Paleseo, who lent a helping hand to the trade of the Dunkirkers and other Spanish subjects, who assumed French names.
Bassompierre on the other hand is assured by an express from the French Court despatched by the Secretary Arbo, that from several signs they make certain there that the English are not negotiating with the Spaniards, so that he may more boldly insist on satisfaction, and that everything announced here about such arrangements is merely for the sake of benefiting themselves in the French business. Moreover the ambassador loses no opportunity of pushing his credit with the king, the duke and the Court. He visits the members of the Council frequently, waits upon the queen in private daily, caused the duke to have an interview with her, seeks to reconcile them; in the evening after supper he often finds himself in the queen's apartments with the king, the time being devoted less to business than to pleasantries, though even the latter are not without profit through the familiarity thus acquired and the inclinations betrayed. In short he leaves nothing untried. The duke assures him that he shall not depart dissatisfied, but always pretends to persuade the king. Nothing as yet can be asserted positively save the great antipathy between the two nations, that the present difficulties and conflicting interests remain the same and even were an adjustment made to the queen's satisfaction, it would always be in danger of a fresh rupture because of trade, of the Huguenots in France and the Catholics here, and similar incurable disorders in the two kingdoms.
The queen's vice-chamberlain, Goring, is appointed to Lorraine. He will not depart before the close of Bassompierre's negotiations and if these succeed he will perform a complimentary office with the Most Christian on the way. For the rest they pretend that the mission is required out of politeness to the new duke, on his accession, as when he announced his father's death to this Court no notice was taken of it and no condolences offered; so he has not yet sent to congratulate the present king on his accession. The invention is flimsy, and it seems that he is again to confer with the Duchess of Chevreuse and promise her every possible satisfaction from this crown. Others say that he is to induce the Duke of Lorraine with Wurtemburg to intercede with the emperor in favour of the Palatine. Others think he will get as far as Turin, whence I perceive that turbulent counsels arrive and are credited. But all this will become more manifest at the time of the expedition should they not retract as usual.
With regard to Bassompierre I must mention that when I was with him yesterday, in talking of the difficulties which have again arisen about the treaty of the Valtelline, he told me that by the last courier the Secretary Arbo informed him that in France they suspected collusion between the pope and the Spaniards, though in fact the French government, which watched this matter closely had proofs that the Spaniards sought nothing but the quiet of Italy and it was rather the officials of France who preferred continuing hostilities and the management of funds, including the Marquis of Coure, but that the ministry would take special care not to be deceived. He told me this in strict confidence and I mention it for every good end. Nevertheless it is possible that by publishing these conceits he aims at facilitating his present negotiations, by removing the suspicion that the Most Christian may be occupied elsewhere. Be this as it may, I confirmed the account of those delays, as sent me by your Excellencies, adding that the re-inforcements in the Milanese caused alarm, that suspicion and consequently expense continued without hope of benefit or profit and by a strange metamorphosis the enemy was relieved from all apprehension by their military forces under the shield of peace, thus giving just cause for dread of deceit. I dwelt upon these remarks, which speak for themselves without comment, nor do the French confute them to me save by alluding to the perils of the king and kingdom owing to the recent conspiracies, as if they sufficed for the breach of promise and obligation and the betrayal of friends.
London, the 30th October, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra, Venetian Archives.
788. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Danish ambassador, insisting on the performance of England's promises, and the Dutchman well nigh protesting, the remonstrances of all parties and, above all, justice, have induced a fresh decree concerning succour for Denmark. They have decided to send two of the four regiments now in Holland formerly under the command of the Earls of Southampton and Oxford. For the other two the king requests the States to substitute their own veteran troops which however are to be paid by his Majesty, who is determined to furnish the promised reinforcement of 6,000 foot, making good that number to the United Provinces by a fresh levy in this kingdom, to be put on board the same ships which bring back the other two regiments of the Earl of Essex and Lord Willoughby, now in the Low Countries, the English government intending to make use of them in Ireland, or to intimidate the English and bring them to agree to the subsidies without opposition.
The Danish ambassador is satisfied with this arrangement and the Dutch hopes their High Mightinesses will not raise any difficulty. Both urge the despatch of what has been resolved, fearing fresh excuses. A contract has been practically arranged with the merchants for the payment of the arrears, and now the government is negotiating for transports and provisions. But everything encounters difficulty and delay from lack of money, which they seek to procure by diligently collecting the five subsidies. The entire Council of State goes in a body, first to one quarter of the town and then to another to obtain subscriptions from individuals. The process continues without disturbance, though they have not yet meddled with the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor of London, that is to say with the most substantial class of the merchants and people. Difficulties are also anticipated in the country as all that has been effected hitherto is owing to respect for the Council and to the presence of all its members. I fancy also that they count on the church property with the intention of incorporating it with that of the Crown. In Scotland in particular much property was bestowed by former kings on private individuals, and the government thinks of recovering this and adding it to the royal revenues, thus kindling sparks of discontent among the nobility there. The Marquis of Hamilton, the first prince of the blood in the line of succession to that crown, has already left London post this morning, although they say he had the king's permission. He is certainly dissatisfied with the duke to such an extent, that though affianced when a lad to one of his nieces, now in waiting on the queen, it is reported that he will not solemnize the marriage. The dissatisfaction of the Scottish nation is general. The late king conceded them great privileges of which they are now deprived. The house of Hamilton has a large following and it seems especially strange that the king should choose to handle such affairs before receiving the Crown.
They are also continuing the legal proceedings against the Chancellor of Scotland, who is accused, first, of having forged royal letters; second, of not opposing the meeting of Parliament as his Majesty wished and, third, of openly thwarting the projects for annexing church property to the Crown.
They are also apprehensive of a similar decree in England, as four bishoprics have remained vacant for several months (fn. 7) their revenues in the interval going to the king according to law.
Commissioners have been appointed for Gabor's ambassador, but they have not yet assembled, so he remains here to no purpose, and declares that his master will not stir in earnest unless some resolve be formed here. Upon this subject, Sir Thomas Roe, the English ambassador, writes from the Porte about the last negotiations of Gabor's ambassador there, of his departure and the letters written by the Sultan to several potentates. Sir Thomas earnestly asks for his recall. I believe he is offended because the duke proposed sending out a creature of his own, who died lately, (fn. 8) fortunately perhaps for affairs there. I have not failed in conversation to expatiate on the services he has rendered to his Majesty and the public through his acquaintance with the divan and its fluctuations. I hope his departure may be delayed for a year, though he earnestly presses for leave, as all admit his good services.
A gentleman named Bonica arrived lately at this Court from the Margrave of Baden. (fn. 9) He negotiated in France with Sciombergh and obtained words. They feed him with similar food here also. He confirms the proposals previously made by the margrave, and I suspect the Ambassador Wake got him to undertake this journey, the son-in-law of the Secretary Conway, who being utterly bound to the duke derives strength and vigour from his authority, on which account I expect they will importune me for help. I can easily defend myself, but your Excellencies' commands would serve for my better guidance, and to forewarn me in this and other matters, as goodwill and the arguments of a single Court do not always suffice to meet the case exactly.
The fleet put to sea a few days ago, some even say that Admiral Willoughby was on board and that they are already returned owing to their provisions being rotten. Others dare not credit this, as it would be too ridiculous for so much cost and exertion to yield so little honour and profit, and that the provisions should be spoiled more quickly than they were supplied.
The twenty ships fitted out by the City of London were also detained, as I reported. The sailors were landed lest they should consume the stock of provisions, detained for three months and no longer, nor have the true causes of this delay yet been discovered authentically.
The Dutch ambassador has been twice to the king and the ministers. He reported information of sixty shallops bound from Spain to Dunkirk, but as they are small vessels and the season far advanced, no great attention is paid to the matter. He renewed his complaints about the seizure of the ships, adding that at Amsterdam the merchants began to clamour for compensation, or to be allowed to cruise against the English, protesting that the merchants of Holland, Hamburg, Lubeck and Danzig will combine for their own defence. Some members of the Council urge the ambassador to encourage recourse to violence for the recovery of damages, but the good old man suspects this extreme charity to be a trick to saddle his masters with breaking the treaty, thus justifying reprisals by England and providing pretexts for the peace in case of need.
The king lately consulted some experienced persons about starting a company to trade in the West Indies, as already proposed by the late Parliament, in consideration of its being extremely profitable for this kingdom and no less injurious for the enemy. Some private individuals continue to favour the plan and the means exist for raising a considerable fund, but in general all hesitate, requiring confirmation of the articles and privileges by Parliament.
A large Dunkirk ship, carrying upwards of forty guns, was stranded lately on the Lincolnshire coast. The men were all brought prisoners to London, the ship and guns being recovered, but the Dunkirkers still continue in force at sea.
Nothing more is heard about the insurrection in Ireland. Something was said in Court about sending the Earl of Dorset there as Viceroy. They will adopt mild measures by preference, promising repayment of what is now contributed for the maintenance of the military when the king shall be in less need.
I have received the ducal missives of the 2nd inst. and will make use of the advices as commanded.
London, the 30th October, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. Sir Toby Mathew.
  • 2. Proclamation of the 7th October, requiring the aid of the people in the way of a loan, and promising a parliament. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1625–6, page 449.
  • 3. Proclamation of the 7th October for restraint of the disorderly repair of mariners and soldiers to the King's Court or the City of London. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1625–6, page 449.
  • 4. The disturbances seem to have taken place at Cork, Waterford and Limerick. Cal. State Papers, Ireland, 1625–62, pages 169, 170.
  • 5. Christian William of Brandenburg, administrator of Magdeburg and Bishop of Halberstadt.
  • 6. Wake calls him Colonel Boette, despatch of the 1/11 Dec. State Papers, Foreign, Venice. He signs himself Nicolas Boet, in a paper of the 1st August. State Papers, Foreign, Savoy.
  • 7. This is an exaggeration. The bishoprics referred to are Carlisle, Bath and Wells, Exeter and Winchester. Richard Senhouse of Carlisle and Arthur Lake of Bath and Wells died in May; Valentine Cary of Exeter died in July and Launcelot Andrews of Winchester in September only. A fifth see, that of Ely, had also fallen vacant by the death of Nicholas Felton on the 14th October, and cannot be referred to here. See Birch: Court and Times of Charles I, vol. i, pages 155, 156. Carlisle was already filled by the King's assent to the appointment of Dr. Francis White on the 19th October o.s., while Laud was recommended to the see of Bath and Wells as early as July 27 o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1625–6, pages 570, 576.
  • 8. Sir Thomas Phillips.
  • 9. Finet calls him Benica and Bonika. Philoxenis, pages 189, 191. Rusdorf probably gives it correctly as Ponikau. Memoires, vol. i, page 759.