Venice: January 1627, 16-31

Pages 94-108

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 20, 1626-1628. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1914.

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January 1627

Jan. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
110. LUNARDO MORO, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The evening after the arrival from Flanders of the ambassador's brother there, Olivares sent a courier to the Marquis Spinola and the Infanta in Flanders, without letting the message go through the hands of the secretaries. It may be they are afraid of some revolt, or perhaps they are planning some stroke against Holland or England, and therefore, they are issuing their orders in such a way that they cannot be announced anywhere else, especially as a rumour is abroad that the ships of Dunkirk have landed in a small island near England and captured a quantity of animals.
Madrid, the 16th January, 1626.
Jan. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives.
111. MARC ANTONIO MORESINI, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The duke is convinced that Cardinal Richelieu means to ruin his ambassador, and this late change is only to make use of Scaglia with the English, so that, in case of non-success he may lay the blame upon Scaglia and render him hateful to the English also as the instrument of the deceit of others. On the other hand the English know the cardinal's manner of negotiating, so that in all probability if things go ill, the fault will be that of the principals, and the mediator will deserve praise. Accordingly they have sent instructions to the ambassador to intervene, but with all circumspection. The thing that most helped to bring about this decision was the news that the Duke of Buckingham may proceed to that Court in person, in which case Scaglia might become prime mover in that sphere. But those who see most clearly consider the duke's visit to France useless, harmful and full of contradictions, so they hesitate to believe in it, though one may believe anything of a man who has ambition as his motive and love for his escort.
Turin, the 17th January, 1626 [M.V.].
Jan. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
112. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I have paid my respects to the King and Queen of Bohemia. The king, mindful of his lost greatness, stands upon his royal dignity, though his present condition makes this too absurd as he cannot receive the ministers of great princes in a becoming fashion. He kept me standing and did not give me the proper titles. I am told that is his usual way here.
The queen treated me most courteously, and those who experience her most kindly nature must bitterly regret the ill fortune she has suffered and desire for her what her merits and greatness deserve.
The Hague, the 18th January, 1626 [M.V.].
Jan. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
113. GIROLAMO SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Two English ships recently pursued a French one, which took refuge at Brill. Two Dutch men-of-war happened to be in the port and protected it against the English. This action is considered of some account by those who weigh affairs of state with a just balance.
The Hague, the 18th January, 1626 [M.V.].
Jan. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
114. MARC ANTONIO PADAVIN, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the DOGE and SENATE.
There is little hope of a successful termination to the negotiations for peace with Denmark, as fresh difficulties are constantly arising. The Duke of Bavaria has sent a copy of an intercepted letter from England to Denmark, urging the latter to remain firm, assuring him of powerful help in men and money and promising that the Margrave of Baden will very soon have 20,000 men to go and join him, because England will supply him with men and money for the purpose. He also assures him that the Marquis of Coure is collecting forces to join Baden. Many believe this letter to be genuine; others consider it a pure invention of Bavaria to cool the belief in the treaties, as he does not want a peace just now, because it will mean giving up something of what he has.
Vienna, the 20th January, 1626 [M.V.].
[Italian; copy.]
Jan. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
115. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Dutch ambassador has complained at the behaviour of the ministers over the money due to the state. He fears an understanding between the two crowns and that they have undertaken not to help, the one the Rochellese, the other the English and Dutch. This suspicion is due to an order issued to the ports to receive the Spanish fleets, while a general order has been issued for a general census of the sailors and ships of the whole kingdom.
Paris, the 21st January, 1626 [M.V.].
Jan. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives.
116. To the Ambassador in France and the like to the other Courts.
The Count of Soissons arrived here and though he wished to remain incognito, we thought it proper to give him a public reception and also to entertain him at the public cost. We decided to receive him in the same manner as we received Condé. The count agreed to be addressed in the third person, and this was arranged. We could not, however, agree to give him the title of Highness everywhere. The count appeared completely satisfied and stayed four days longer than he had intended, seeing all the notable things.
To Rome and the other Courts except France add:
We think it right you should be informed not to speak about it without provocation, but to justify our action if occasion arises, expressing our wish to honour the count.
Ayes, 91. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
Jan. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives.
117. To the Ambassador at the Hague and the like to England.
All particulars about overtures for peace are always worth observing. It will do no good for you to make representations to the Government, as they would only provoke fresh requests. If chance offers an opportunity of a discussion with the Palatine or the French or English ambassador, you can advance arguments in favour of diversions, as the proper action of the two crowns, which we have already expressed and need not repeat. The Danish ambassador has recently taken leave. In reply to his demands we have shown how much we have done and he has seemed satisfied, while the Dutch ambassador also has finally given in. The officers of the late Count Mansfelt were courteously received in the Collegio and satisfied with our excellent disposition, though the accident which brought them has completely changed the aspect of affairs. Some of them will continue their journey to France, England, Holland and elsewhere.
To England add:
We have received your letters this week showing your vigilance and ability. We have nothing special to answer.
Ayes, 147. Noes, 0. Neutral, 7.
Jan. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
118. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
It is confirmed that the Most Christian disapproves of the negotiations at the Court of Bassompierre, who justifies himself by the copy of his instructions, claiming that he exceeded instead of diminishing them. I understand that the Catholics in England vituperated them because he was either unable to obtain anything for their advantage or else gave himself very little trouble to do so, and they even reproached him to his master, that despite the prohibition of the laws he obtained permission to export some thousands of hides, greatly to the profit of his purse. The king and ministers resent the forms observed in France and consider them a pretext, indicating ill will, at variance with the concessions made on this side. Despite this I fancy that the Duke of Chevreuse, who is the close confidant of this side, on the one hand, and on the other Bassompierre himself, with the assent of Richelieu, through Moulins, late secretary of the Count of Tillières who conducts the affairs of the Most Christian at this Court, have made overtures, so that the queen's satisfaction and other matters connected with the marriage may be brought more into conformity with the contract than was conceded to Bassompierre, and that with regard to shipping a day should be fixed for both sides to give up ships, sequestrated property and reprisals.
In consequence of these overtures they have again sent to France Gerbier, one of the gentlemen who returned lately from that Court, and they have answered Moulins thus. Upon the first point about satisfying the queen, that the king inclined towards them out of general regard for the common weal and his brother-in-law, which is true as the last expulsion of the French was based more on state policy than on anything else, the negotiations with the Catholics having greatly exasperated him so that he could not go a step farther, nor do I think he will: firstly, in order not to wrong Bassompierre, who is thought to have gained and hold the acquisition in account. Next, they suppose that by the new treaty the Most Christian has derogated from the articles of the marriage contract, in consideration of which the French may seek to introduce some change into it. To this must be added that since Bassompierre's departure the disagreements with the queen have not diminished and Gotier's imprisonment on account of suspected intrigues with the nurse more and more increases the bad opinion of the French nation. Finally, the most important consideration is thought to be the duke's interest, who having already placed his relations and dependents about the queen, would be compelled to remove some if not all of them were her French attendants to be increased, and so he would lose the supremacy he exercises in her household, which he wishes to preserve.
As regards shipping, the Most Christian's proposal seems very fair and so they attack it by disbelief, suspecting that if they refused to approve what was arranged by the qualified ambassador, it is unlikely that covert proposals of insignificant persons, not supported by letters of credence or by royal commission, would take effect. The English government also quotes the conventions arranged between the two kingdoms in 1570, confirmed by the present kings, forbidding the seizure of property as compensation for the capture of ships upon which the admiralty awards are still pending. The Dutch, Hamburgers and others supply examples daily, as from mere policy, without any treaty, they are content to proceed by the ordinary channels. On all these accounts the king claims the removal of the sequestrations made by France, the first being contrary to the said conventions. To these resolves must be added facts; twenty men-of-war having sailed a few days ago for the French coast, with orders to stop all vessels indiscriminately, some say to go even further and burn them in the open harbours, but so far I have no confirmation of this. (fn. 1) This first squadron will be followed by five royal galleons of those which returned lately after being battered by a storm, and I understand that M. de Soubise will embark on board one of them as an adventurer.
Perceiving with what long strides they are hastening to ruin I stirred up the Dutch ambassador, though by reason of his own ships and the confusion of the government he cannot do much; I also discussed the subject in conversation with some of the gentlemen here whom I know to be well affected towards France, as the absence of many others of the party who went into the country about the subsidies warrants a suspicion that their mission was contrived designedly. My remarks touched on current emergencies and disasters to the common cause, the destruction of Germany, the interests of all the friendly powers and of the United Provinces in particular with regard to the reverses of the German nation, burdened on the one hand with very heavy taxes and on the other discouraged by the disagreements among their confederates and protectors, which I need not repeat, and being well known here they did not defend, but justify them on the plea of self preservation and the ill will which they suppose the Most Christian bears against England, fomented by the Spaniards for their own end. From the replies I gathered that both here and in France the two reasons assigned for the dispute, the queen's household and the shipping, are merely pretexts and not hard to adjust, the point on England's side being that Buckingham is offended because they objected to his going to France as being personally distasteful to them, while the Most Christian is supposed to be firm in his resolve to extirpate the Huguenots, especially the Rochellese; and the French incline to strengthen themselves at sea, which they will never endure here because they are so close. More than one person told me frankly that not to oppose this would amount to giving the French the keys to his Majesty's dominions.
Besides this there are the suspicions here which I may now call certainty, of collusion between the Most Christian and Catholic kings, the former being determined not to break openly with the latter, for reasons he has announced. From these considerations I gather that the English have decided to lift the mask and thus fathom their depth of water, more than one person having told me that if the Most Christian cares to support sinking Germany, his Majesty will do the like, by diversion or in some other way, but they do not mean, under cover of this lethargy, to find a Spanish fleet ready to attack them, without being seen, as they suspect from the reception of Spanish vessels in the Most Christian's open harbours, in order that they may be closer and have a safer retreat. The idea of inclining the Most Christian to German affairs is certainly intended to divert him from strengthening his fleet, of which they are very jealous here and from attacks on the Huguenots, who are similarly protected. Despite this the obstacles due to poverty are so great as to make it appear impossible to do great things, and perhaps to be unable to secure or defend themselves advantageously against the two kings who if not openly allied for attack are at least not averse to it. If it be effected I fancy they would prefer leaving the advantage to the Spaniard by peace or otherwise, rather than allow the French to get anything.
According to opinion here France moves firstly from her knowledge of the disorders in this kingdom and her knowledge of the king's poverty, the ambition of those most in authority in France to advance Catholicism to the utmost and bring the Huguenots to destruction, Richelieu under pretence of the English and the India trade seeking his own safety by making himself master of the harbours and the sea thus guarding against disgrace, which often happens in the changeable climate of France, and if it befalls him he would be able to intimidate the king through the consideration which he will always enjoy with those who have naval forces and know their importance. These and other reasons which I omit, are masked by the two affairs of shipping and the queen's household, though I know that at present these are the least important.
I acquaint the Ambassador Zorzi with the suspicions of England that he may keep the French from the precipice and I rely on his giving me assurances from them which will enable me in conversation to moderate the bad opinion of them which here rages more and more.
London, the 22nd January, 1627.
[Italian: the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
119. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The naval preparations already ordered by the king do not exceed the intention announced. His Majesty appointed commissioners for this, depriving the ordinary Grand Council of all authority, because the number of its members, who received seats as an honorary rank, lessened the security and secrecy of their decisions. They calculate that the fitting out of the twenty royal galleons will cost 80,000l. sterling and they are destined for the defence of England and Ireland. The other ships, requiring much money and many provisions also, I believe, need much time. The Dutch ambassador has been acquainted with this royal resolve, his masters being also urged to have their contingents ready, by the terms of the league. The ambassador asked on what expedition these forces would be employed, and when told, on the coast of Spain and to anticipate the preparations in that quarter, he rejoined that the present business with France gave no indication of this and enlarged upon the detriment done to the common cause. They answered in general terms, and he told me he understood in very plain terms that they care less for the loss of Ireland than for that of the Huguenot faction in France.
This same ambassador having frequently complained of reports current at Court of negotiations with Spain, spoke on the subject lately with added force in consequence of what I reported about the free access of Clerk to the Spanish embassy in Paris. The king therefore thought fit to treat him confidentially and appointed Lords Conway and Carleton to let him know that many attempts at agreement had been made to his Majesty by shallow-brained persons, but he would never assent without informing his allies, and the ambassador might tell his master so much. Of Clerk's negotiations they said nothing, not even when urged, nor did they give the names of those shallow-brained mediators. At Court, however, within the last few days there is talk of expecting from Antwerp a famous painter, named Rubens, who has sold pictures to Buckingham to the sum of over 100,000 florins, for the purpose they say, of thus introducing himself and Cottington, whom I reported in disgrace as a Spanish partisan, now frequents the Court, nor does the king frown on him, and at his request, so I hear, lately knighted Wyche, the ambassador for Constantinople, (fn. 2) though this may be the usual prerogative of the post.
On the other hand the partisans of Spain tell me that the king wishes for peace by all means, to which the Catholic is not averse, the chief difficulty consisting in the observance of the stipulations, the Spaniards maintaining positively that all the promises of the English king are unfulfilled, so that he cannot be trusted, as shown, they say, by what was negotiated in Spain about the marriage, but the adjustment of the one with France and by the leagues with Denmark and the United Provinces. For my part I believe that the Spaniards give words which neither bind nor render desperate but act as a narcotic. Meanwhile, they strengthen themselves and leave no stone unturned in the hope of seeing these two kings come to blows. From similar circumstances, which though of varied fashion are essentially uniform, some persons infer that something is being negotiated unknown to the king, this belief being based on the duke's necessity for supporting himself, as in the event of a rupture with France, the French property which has been seized would be confiscated and to some extent supply the present beggary for money (mendicità presente del denaro).
The Palatine has recalled Rustorff who served as his agent at this Court for four years. I learn from several quarters that the impulse came from this side, as he thoroughly understood the affairs of the English Court, got well to the bottom of its designs and was disliked by those who wished to conceal them. The duke in short did not love him at all and the favourites declare the expense unnecessary for that prince, that all Englishmen are bound to serve him by reason of his close relationship to the crown, that Rustorff transacted business for Sweden, Brandenburg and other German princes and was especially dependent upon France, where he will perhaps be employed, on account of a pension of 500 crowns received by him heretofore from Blainville and which he subsequently renounced to please the King of England, as I reported from the Netherlands. His master tells him to bring back a blank sheet with the signatures of the Palatine and his wife and their seal, which was consigned to the English ministers when they sent the first fleet to Spain, so that it might put to sea in the name of the Princes Palatine. The sheet having passed from one secretary to another is not yet found, although of great importance, as it may be filled up with anything they please. Some believe that on this account the Palatine contemplates an accommodation, to which I know Rustorff will persuade him on any terms, as he utterly despairs of assistance from England. On this subject Camerarius, the Palatine's councillor, writes that hitherto Lorraine and Wirtemberg have exerted themselves in vain but they have recently heard covertly that if the Palatine, his wife and children were to change their residence and country, they would facilitate the remission, a plan which regards England from its closeness, nor can they possibly carry it into effect. Certainly the Palatine needs a good minister here; he must be neither English nor venal but sincere, it being remarked that they are seeking to render the countess unpopular just as they have already converted into hatred the love once borne the king, a vast project fraught with no ordinary and extensive designs, the consequences of which, though remote, should be nipped in the bud lest they take deeper root.
Many of the councillors and other titled personages have returned into the country to levy the loan, which meets with resistance under pretext of poverty. The absence of some and of the greater part is not advantageous and many believe it to have been contrived purposely, lest the heat with the French be moderated as requisite, and as might have happened. I especially regret the absence of Lord Carleton, who spoke to me about this affair before his departure with great good judgment, and also because two of the most troublesome counties, the most reluctant to pay, have been assigned to him. (fn. 3)
The commissioners from Scotland will leave satisfied upon the two points urged by the nobility; the first that on the payment of a yearly contribution to the king they shall retain possession for ever of the church property; the other that as for reasons of sound policy the king wills the abolition of the hereditary offices, the persons entitled to them may sell them to the king. They, however, insist on ready money and nothing else knowing that they will continue to hold them during the present penury, which will not end so soon. For the adjustment of these two points the king has nominated forty commissioners, and after their report, which cannot be brief, he promises to go post for his coronation and call a parliament to confirm and ratify everything, as desired by the Scots above all things. Two other Scottish bishops have arrived, but owing to the illness of one of them they have not yet seen the king or made their proposals.
I have received the ducal missives of the 17th and 23rd December and availed myself of Mansfelt's death and recommended a good understanding with France and the diversion of peccant humours, as commanded, in such wise that when discussing the most intimate relations between this country and France, one of the persons best affected, extolling the prudence of the Senate, said its most discreet opinions would always be adopted willingly. I said in general terms that your Excellencies advocate quiet, union and the public service, confidence, not punctilios, between sovereigns and friends, solidity, not appearances, in a matter of such vital importance, nor would I commit myself further without instructions.
London, the 22nd January, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
120. AGOSTIN VIANUOL, Venetian Secretary at Florence, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Encloses some fairly recent advices from Neoburgh with particulars which seem of no small importance.
Florence, the 26th January, 1626 [M.V.].
Enclosed in the preceding despatch. 121. From Neoburgh, the 30th December, 1626.
By way of Calais we learn that the Biscayan ships entered Ireland on the west coast and occupied the county of Sligo and the island of Pugo; and similarly, the Dunkirk ships have sacked the island of Sorles and taken a fort there. On account of this there is great consternation in England, and all the ports are closed. Meanwhile, Buckingham has gone post to Canterbury, and it is rumoured that he will cross to France, to adjust all the differences with that kingdom and procure help against the Spaniards.
Jan. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
122. MARC ANTONIO PADAVIN, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Cardinal della Cueva writes to the Catholic ambassador here that the English from Holland, destined for Denmark, embarked upon five galleons with large sums of money, and the merchant, Calandrini, with other money drafts, but on the way from Amsterdam they were all drowned. Here the news is considered another victory, but all do not believe it, as many other letters have arrived from Brussels which make no mention of this incident. However, the ambassador shows the advice to all who wish to see it.
Vienna, the 27th January, 1626 [M.V.].
[Italian; copy.]
Jan. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
123. ZORZI GIUSTINIAN, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Last week a messenger arrived from Buda with news of the conclusion of peace and that Cœsar had promised to send an envoy to the Porte at once. The English ambassador, who is zealous over this business, tried to get at the truth from Gabor's agent, who said it was true there was a truce for three months, and Mortessa had withdrawn to Buda, but Gabor had not withdrawn to Cassovia, as he remained with his forces and those of Mansfelt in imperial territory, with the intention of renewing the war at the earliest opportunity. Two days later a messenger arrived from the prince, with letters to his agent and the English ambassador, dated from Creniz on the 14th December, confirming the truce for three months, and stating his intention of wintering in imperial territory, and his determination to renew the war at the earliest opportunity even without the Turks. He directs his agent to urge the ambassadors to get Mortessa recalled to the Porte to report about Hungary, as he will certainly induce the Sultan to continue the war. But the ambassadors of England and the States disagreed, saying that as the ministers here wanted peace with the emperor, Mortessa would be removed at once from his post. It would be better, seeing they are resolved on peace here, to postpone the conclusion as long as possible, so that the prince may continue the war, in which Mortessa cannot fail to be of some assistance to him.
I communicated to the English ambassador the advices from Vienna about the emperor urging Wallenstein to attack Buda, so that he might stir up the Caimecan and others. But it is clear that their fear of war prevails over every other sentiment. The ambassador seems to care little about the withdrawal of the Turks so long as Gabor is resolved to fight, and the allies support him. He says that Denmark proposes to penetrate into Austria while Tilly will have to scatter his forces.
Pervis Bey, on his way to Tenedos, found an English ship laden with wine. He handed it to the Cadi with orders not to let it go without special instructions from the Captain Pasha. He took away some of the men. The English ambassador appealed to the Caimecan, and obtained the release of the ship and the men too.
The Vigne of Pera, the 28th January, 1626 [M.V.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
124. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
In order that Bassompierre's treaty may come to naught and that he may not have the honour of reconciling France and England, Cardinal Richelieu has adopted other means and is making other proposals. With these he has sent Buckingham's gentleman, Clerk, to that island, and now we hear that he will soon be back.
Paris, the 28th January, 1627.
Jan. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
125. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The duke's gentleman, Gerbert, has gone to France bearing the decisions of this Government, in conformity throughout with the replies given to the Most Christian's secretary, Moulins, as reported. The proposals about the queen, the sea and shipping are rejected under pretence of desiring some greater security for the observance of whatever may be stipulated, since what was conceded to Bassompierre is disapproved and remains without effect. I understand that Gerbert also takes the duke's reply to a note from the cardinal proposing that they, the two favourites, should adjust the present differences. I learn that the duke banteringly reproved the cardinal, saying he was not authorised, could not interfere unless commanded, and the like. In fact he is offended because Richelieu thwarted his journey to France and wishes to give Bassompierre a blow by negotiating afresh. Thus matters of such importance for the common weal rank beneath private interests, in which statesmanship has no part, and if introduced in the midst of conversation hostile and ill-affected persons silence it here by citing the disturbances in France, the perilous position of the king through the disunion and discontent of the princes and the like, which by weakening the French monarchy give vigour to England. On the other hand in France the reports received of the English government, the want of money, the disaffection of the people for the king, and the universal hatred of the duke sustain the stubborn aversion for an adjustment. I unmask such artifices everywhere, which are equally self-evident and prejudicial. I did this particularly the other day with Moulins himself, persuading him by his letters and good offices to give warmth, whereby to maintain union and affection, instead of destroying and suffocating it, assuring him of the merit he will obtain with the public cause, his own conscience and his master himself by turning him aside from catastrophe and preserving all his force for the maintenance of his own glory against his enemies and not against his own kin. I told him my discourse was always to this effect because the Signory was linked to the two crowns and to the common cause.
Eight of the twenty ships which went to the French coast have returned for lack of victuals, with which they were only provided for three months. The other royal galleons on which M. de Soubise was to embark as an adventurer are not yet ready, nor will they be for some time, he himself having returned two days ago from Portsmouth where they are being fitted out. I have nothing to add about the new fleet. Some said they would begin to fit out the royal galleons with the money collected for Buckingham's journey to France, but I am assured that no such fund ever existed. With the essential money failing I know not what to promise, especially as I understand they have contracted for the supply of victuals with the same individual who served them so badly last year, although the duke told the Dutch ambassador the contrary. The people are dissatisfied, their condition becomes worse through the interruption of trade and the preparations of Spain, nor are there the means of self-defence. As yet the discontent increases. It seems to me that these same Spaniards are meditating an attack on the Scilly Islands and the Isle of Wight, the project having been revealed by a captain lately arrived. They decided to reinforce the garrisons in those parts, though hitherto nothing has been done for lack of money, for which cause they cannot even convey the troops to the places where they are needed.
The Palatine's agent insisted earnestly on getting back the blank sheet I mentioned and has at length recovered it. He leaves with the first fair wind. He will be treated like the other agents, the king having displayed some anger towards those who suggested that as the servant of his Majesty's brother-in-law he should receive an extra mark of munificence, and also because by the loss of his property he shared his master's lot. (fn. 4)
A halberdier has arrived lately from Denmark, sent by the king with the patent for the Scottish Colonel Spynie to raise 6,000 foot of that nation, though I know not when it can be done, unless the king give a certain sum, which will be hard, as he chooses to employ all the money in fitting out ships. For this purpose he has made a second reduction in the tables of the Court, and suspended not only the pensions but even the salaries of his servants and those of the crown until at least fifty ships are equipped, a measure which causes discontent and improper comment. The halberdier brings no other news from those parts except the conference between Saxony and Denmark and some overtures of Brandenburg to Saxony to demand of the emperor the restoration of the Palatine, but upon this Saxony has not yet declared himself. Nor is he expected to do so because of his well known principles.
The treaty of composition put forward between the king and the English Catholics still remains in suspense. The chief difficulty consists in their being unable to guarantee the amount to which they bind themselves, as those alone who have hitherto declared themselves Catholics could not bear the burden of 80,000l. yearly, without the titled persons, who being exempt from the extortions of the officials, seem averse to the payment, and without help from those who are Catholics, but who, in order to save their property and families, have not declared themselves and attend the reformed church, though should they once make the demonstration they would immediately share the common peril with the others, supposing the king to change his mind or the parliament pass an Act against the Papists, as is always customary every session. As they would consequently remain discovered for ever they will not run the risk.
I understand that this movement originated in the duke's house and with his mother, who is ruled by certain Jesuits who frequent it and reside there, and she thinks solely of devices for making money, being aware that the want of it and penury are the greatest obstacles to her son's supremacy. The duke on the other hand lends himself willingly to these ideas of becoming the head and protector of the Catholics, because his greatest hindrances proceed from the percecution and license exercised by the Puritans. This idea coupled with the authority he enjoys through the possession of the Cinque Ports, the keys of the kingdom, and the post of admiral, together with the queen's barrenness and the blandishments of the Spaniards, and much more by the necessity for self support, which is in great jeopardy if dependent on any other aid, cause persons the most visionary to anticipate still more important results (questa mossa come intendo tiene origine della casa e dalla madre del Duca, la quale governata da certi giesuiti, che vi praticano et habitano, non pensa che ad inventioni di far denari, mentre conosce la penuria et il bisogno, i maggiori nemici del posto che tiene suo figliolo, il Duca, all'incontro si porta volontieri a questi concetti di farsi capo e protettore de Cattolici, provenendogli i suoi maggiori contrarii dalla prosecutione e libertà che professano i Puritani, concetto che accompagnato con l'auttorità che tiene con le chiavi di questo Regno che sono i cinque porti et l'Amiragliato del mare con l'infecondità della Reina con le blanditie de Spagnoli, et molto più con la necessita del proprio sostegno per ogn'altra via molto periclitante da occasione a più speculativi d'entrar in consiguenze più rilevanti ancora).
In this connection I have just been told that Clerk will return to France. If this proves true the suspicions about negotiations with the Spaniards will probably become a certainty, notwithstanding the assurances to the contrary given here. The Dutch ambassador writes about this to his colleague in France to keep on the watch and I did the same with Zorzi, describing Clerk personally, so that his proceedings may be the better watched should they send him back.
The same ambassador has intimated to all the English colonels and captains in the service of the United Provinces that they must be at their posts and with their regiments by the 1st April next. Although it has been said lately that the Dutch are negotiating a ten years' truce this is supposed to be a Spanish trick to render the allied powers suspicious, as similar reports benefit them greatly in certain quarters, though from what I have learned about the interests of the United Provinces I cannot believe they would decide without first giving notice to England, France and the confederates, without whom their support would be in the air. Moreover, the ambassador tells me they are negotiating the renewal of their league with the French, which expires next June.
Some Scottish wine vessels have been allowed to quit France by connivance. For the rest the mutual reprisals continue without the slightest change after lasting so many weeks.
The prisoner Gotiers has been tortured. Some facts were elicited about a close intimacy with the daughter of the Earl of Carlisle, who would have preferred silence, and I understand that the ill will between him and the duke has since revived. They wish to hush up the matter and there was some idea of forbidding any mention of it, but that would only have made the mischief greater.
The commission from Scotland will leave satisfied. The Scottish bishops have had audience of the king and propose forthwith, in virtue of their privileges, to be authorised to proceed against the Catholics. His Majesty has not answered nor is he violently against them, having taken offence at the Puritans, who oppose the exaction of the subsidies to the utmost. I hear that the county of Nottingham in particular has utterly refused to sign and pay, but will send deputies to the king. (fn. 5)
On Sunday last the queen performed her masque, which was very pretty (gentile assai). The king had the ambassadors invited, adding that they should have a place apart. As the first at the Court, and following what was done about Bassompierre a few weeks ago, I thanked his Majesty for the honour, saying I expected a place near his person. Upon this point the Dutch ambassador told the Master of the Ceremonies that he should follow my example. I, however, declined to fraternise with him, treating him most confidentially but with a proper disparity. Next day the Chamberlain came to my house and blaming the Master of Ceremonies for not having properly executed his orders, added how ready his Majesty was to treat your Serenity like all the other crowned heads. Accordingly, I obtained a fitting post, and after thanking the king for this confirmation of his affection I said that no doubt could ever be entertained about it, just as there is no doubt about what is due to your Excellencies, but with the recent example of Bassompierre malignant persons might, in the event of disparity, make remarks unbecoming the unchanging correspondence between his Majesty and the most serene republic. The Chamberlain and the Earl of Pembroke, his brother, ratified all this in terms of the greatest esteem. All the members of this family show remarkable respect for your Excellencies and certainly deserve the Signory's affection.
The day after the masque all the lords departed for the country to exact the subsidies, unwillingly, because of the very cold weather and the expense, as they are all obliged to perform the journey at their own cost. Only a few have thus remained at Court, so that they cannot even assemble the Council. As the members here are not those with whom I am most intimate I have delayed the execution of the instructions of the 31st December, received this week, about the apparent formation of a league, reported from France. I remember writing about this as far back as the 16th September, adding that it was aimed against Venice and Savoy. Many still apprehend this, judging from the corrupt policy of France, the suspicion of collusion between the Most Christian and Catholic kings rendering it even more probable. I have already written to Brussels as commanded about the Abbot Scaglia in case he determine to make his proposed journey and only regret that all the advices will have to cross the sea twice.
I request the balloting of money to defray the cost of couriers and postage of letters, having no longer any funds for that purpose.
London, the 29th January, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 30.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
126. That for the next four years all wool brought from the West to this city by ship, whether laded by Venetians or foreigners, shall be exempt from all import duty.
Ayes, 143. Noes, 2. Neutral, 5.
Jan. 31.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Ceffalonia. Venetian Archives.
127. ANDREA DA MOSTO, Proveditore of Cephalonia, to the DOGE and SENATE.
On the 18th November last a complaint was presented to me against some English merchants about secret meetings (conventicole) arranged by them, and monopolies to the public prejudice and the loss of the inhabitants here. A process will be instituted immediately and as soon as a decision has been reached I will send full particulars to your Serenity.
I enclose the accounts of this chamber of the money sent to Candia and Corfu.
Cephalonia, the last day of January, 1627.


  • 1. The squadron referred to was the one fitted out by the city of London and under the command of Sir John Pennington. Writing on the 28th Dec. o.s. Pennington says he has only fifteen sail of very poor quality. His instructions were to seize four or six ships riding at Havre which had been bought by Louis in the Netherlands. Pennington sailed from the Downs on the 31st Dec. o.s. but put in at Falmouth on the 10th Jan. o.s. without having accomplished anything. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1625–6, pages 505, 507; Ib. 1627–8, page 12.
  • 2. On the 16th Dec., o.s. Shaw: Knights of England, vol. i, page 191.
  • 3. Oxford and Berks. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1627–8, page 25.
  • 4. See Finet: Philoxenis, pages 199, 200.
  • 5. Apparently he means Northampton. See Birch: Court and Times of Charles I, vol. i, pages 184, 188–190.