BHO

Venice: March 1630

Pages 293-313

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 22, 1629-1632. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1919.

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Citation:

March 1630

March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
369. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The French ambassador had word by the last express courier of the departure of M. de Fontane from Paris, who is coming as ambassador in ordinary to this Court, and with instructions, so he told me, so soon as his successor has arrived to go and find Cardinal Richelieu in Italy, without proceeding to the Court. This unexpected expedition depresses him, although he hopes that he may be able to excuse himself, or that the time between now and his departure, which cannot be less than a month, and a like space of time that he proposes to stay at Paris for his own private affairs, may bring about such a change in the affairs of Italy that his presence will no longer be needed. Nevertheless the grounds for this order are quite apparent, as it has always been stated that the cardinal is jealous of this minister, and so, in order not to leave him alone with the king, he wants him near himself under the pretext of honour. The ambassador is certainly extremely clever, but from what I have been able to gather, in spite of his extreme caution, he is not among those who favour war with the House of Austria.
He recently informed the king of the commissions he had received to return. He told me that upon this occasion he had renewed his instances in the name of the Most Christian to learn what England intended to do for the defence of Germany and for helping the States and the King of Sweden. These were the proposals he made when he arrived here. At that time Cottington had not started, and they told him that before coming to any declaration they wanted to see what turn the negotiations with Spain would take. This time the ambassador, according to what he tells me, pressed them more strongly, and said that now he was leaving he wanted some more conclusive reply, so that all the time he has spent here might not be utterly thrown away, and because the Most Christian wished to know what he might expect from his Majesty before taking further steps himself. The king replied that he was engaged in these negotiations, and although Cottington had arrived in Spain he had not begun to negotiate. It was therefore necessary for him to postpone all his resolutions. He hoped to be in time, because the Most Christian is at present engaged in the war of Italy and would be able to postpone the other enterprises. The ambassador answered him that his king did not ask him for any help for the war of Italy, because he and the republic would do what was necessary. At this point the king remarked that your Serenity would not have come in if it was a question of entering the Milanese. To this the ambassador retorted that the republic certainly would not fail to do what was necessary until the Duke of Mantua had obtained full and peaceful possession of his dominions, and until the affairs of the Grisons were reduced to their former condition, as the league was established on these conditions and for this purpose. He then took up his theme again and declared that his master had never pretended to prevent his Majesty from treating for peace with Spain or concluding one at his pleasure. All the same he supposed that this treaty would not be to the prejudice of friends, and he was firmly of opinion that his Majesty would never be obliged to abandon them absolutely. He adduced the case of his own master, who has made a peace with the House of Austria, which he declares he does not wish to break, and yet he does not cease to help his friends, when he perceives it is reasonable and necessary. In this way he tried to persuade his Majesty to make a similar treaty for offence only, and professed his willingness to begin to discuss the matter at once. He further remarked that they might send for me to learn what share I might care to have in it, and if I could not take part, from lack of instructions, they could leave a place for the republic to enter. He asserted that notwithstanding the war of Italy he had sealed powers, signed by his Majesty to make a treaty with England for helping the States and princes of Germany and succouring the King of Sweden. He told me that the king gave him no definite answer, indeed he noticed that he was confused and full of irresolution.
Yesterday the ambassador met the Council about the undecided questions touching the sea. He told me that he had made the same proposals, to which he had no immediate response, as indeed he could not. But what is of more importance, he feels sure that they will not answer. When I pressed him to try and obtain a decision he said he thought that he would not make any more requests. He was of opinion that when one knew that the reply could not be good or conclusive it was better to leave the way clear to those who would favour the treaty to reproach the treasurer one day, and those of his kidney for having allowed so important and useful a proposal to drop.
This seems to me a very feeble argument, and I am still doubtful as to whether he really spoke so resolutely. I am inclined to give it some credence from my knowledge that he is very well acquainted with the affairs of the king here, and that owing to the weakness, which he recognises, he knows that they are in no condition at present to come to any decision or to undertake the obligations which he suggests; indeed, he states frankly that if the English were willing to undertake the obligation he would be a bad minister if he concluded a treaty, because he knows that they are utterly incapable of performing what they might promise. Yet I am inclined to believe that he has no commissions or powers to make this treaty, because from the very first I have always tried to push forward the negotiations, and seeing the lack of money and other things here I have laboured untiringly so that advantageous proposals might be made, and that they should not ask England to contribute as much as the Most Christian had done, because it was enough to interest him with some portion.
This would have given universal satisfaction, and the king would have insensibly placed himself on the right road to an understanding with his people, whose dissatisfaction would certainly be removed to a great extent if the king decided to interest himself in some way in the affairs of Germany, the general disposition tending to the relief of the Princess Palatine, and accordingly to the recovery of the Palatinate. That would require a very determined and powerful war in Germany. They have not the means of making it here, though they might wish that they had, because the king observes with dissatisfaction the great affection that the generality bear for the Princess Palatine, and the desire of many to see her in England. As this arises chiefly from compassion at seeing that princess in such an evil plight, the feeling would doubtless disappear if she returned to her state, especially if it was through the help of the king here.
With respect to France, the ambassador told me that they were well disposed, and he had often heard it talked about with the cardinal, but he had pointed out that the difficulties were much greater of making war in that country than in Italy, in addition to which they would be against the Catholic league and the pope himself, who would rather see Bavaria elector than the Palatine, owing to the considerations of religion. I tried to uphold the rights of the Palatine without excluding those of Bavaria, as if the latter claims on the ground of his expenses for the league and his right to indemnification, the former has an even more reasonable contention, that his state was unjustly taken from him. In addition to this, as Bavaria has become the obsequious follower of the emperor it behoves France the more to support a side which may hold the balance in Germany against the designs of the House of Austria, and this cannot be done more suitably or more advantageously than by supporting the Palatine's interests. I may say that these are not the views of this minister, and if he can upset any decisions which may be taken on this subject he will do so very frankly. He is one of those who was formerly sent to the Princes of the Union and who took part in the treaty of Ulm. He maintains that on that occasion the Palatine showed scant respect for the Most Christian, as he would not agree to any of the proposals of his ambassadors, but there is no reason to marvel at that, because they were all prejudicial to the interests of that prince.
London, the 1st March, 1630.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
370. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Letters have reached the Court from Cottington of the last day of January with news of his arrival at the Court and of his first audience, which took place on the 22nd of that month. They forthwith published broadcast the particulars of that business, the extraordinary honours he has received and the excellent disposition he reports having found in the king and his Council to give every satisfaction to England. As a matter of fact, there is nothing conclusive beyond the deputation of the Count of Olivares, the king's confessor and three others as commissioners for the negotiations. All the other announcements from Cottington's account, even if based on solid grounds, must be suspect, because, as I have always written, he depends upon the treasurer, and his pen will not set down ideas differing from the sentiments and desires of that minister. The affairs of the government here are reduced to such a pitch that in order to deceive the generality the king and the majority of the Council are willing to be deceived themselves, especially over this affair.
The day after the arrival of these letters the Spanish ambassador went to audience of the king. So far as I have been able to find out he merely performed a complimentary office upon Cottington's arrival at the Court, saying that he referred himself to what that ambassador had written, as he imagined that from his account his Majesty would have good cause to believe that his master was more anxious than ever to make good his promises. Some are of opinion that the treasurer and the Earl of Carlisle suggested this office to the ambassador, so as to confirm the king in the good opinion which they are trying to instil into his Majesty.
Many circumstances that have come to my knowledge show that the king does not incline to this treaty of his own accord. Perhaps he is aware of the shadowy nature of its foundations. Certainly these were never so solid as the partisans of this peace have wished to make him believe. I believe that now they will have great difficulty in holding to their views, because information is coming from every quarter that the Spaniards are selling to Bavaria that part of the Palatinate which they hold, which ought, by virtue of the negotiations, to be the first restored to the Palatine, as being immediately under their control. I am assured from many quarters and especially by the French ambassador that the king also has definite and authentic information of this. Yet this does not cause them any searching of heart, and it suits them to remain engaged in this affair so as to have a legitimate pretext for not making those preparations for war which would be necessary were it not for these peace overtures. In the general opinion, which may, however, easily prove wrong, they will never reach a definite conclusion, but will remain on foot for two or three years. In that time the treasurer will arrange his own affairs and will yield before the indignation of the people, withdrawing from his office and the Court. It may be that the king will then summon parliament and show that he means to attend in earnest to affairs abroad. Yet there will be considerable difficulties then, because the angry populace will be unlikely to agree to satisfy the king. At the present time his Majesty's condition is too disordered to permit a hope of any decision such as the common service requires. They are constantly preoccupied about the provision of money, although with the sole object of supporting the royal household, which is now reduced to great disorder, as they cannot meet the payments for the provisions for the courtiers.
The Star Chamber recently decided the case of those members who were arrested at the dissolution of the last parliament. They have been condemned to fines and imprisonment. The leading one (fn. 1) was fined 2,000l. sterling, equivalent to 10,000 ducats, perpetual imprisonment in the Tower and to find surety for his good behaviour during his Majesty's pleasure. This sentence has been delivered by virtue of a decision of Juris Consulti, who decided that that Chamber and the King's Bench are tribunals competent to judge them, while they, on the other hand, have always protested that they cannot be tried by any body except parliament itself. For this reason, when summoned before the tribunal they refused to make any answer whatever, and for this reason also they were condemned, as they have a law here which they call nihil dixit against those who will not answer justice. The judges have taken this opportunity to make a universal law in which they declare that all those who speak against the king or who are in any way soever suspect of being riotous or seditious are forthwith subject to the jurisdiction and condemnation of the same tribunals.
From this sentence the king will have obtained 20,000 ducats. He will also have got other 60 or 70 owing to a sentence recently given against a number of delinquents for having cut down some of the Crown woods. (fn. 2) There is another ancient law of parliament which obliges all those of this kingdom who have a yearly income of more than 200 ducats to be present at the king's coronation under pain of the loss of half their goods. They are now waiting for a list of names of the offenders, and they have sent commissioners into the counties with full powers to make exaction. From this they hope to obtain a considerable sum, many say five million ducats, but if it reaches one million it will be a great deal. This exaction is a very severe one, especially as the reason is known not to be of the most legitimate nature, and if the people of this realm was not very obedient to the laws of parliament, it would involve the risk of some rising. Everything proceeds quite quietly, and although this law is very ancient and has not been observed for a long time past, the last occasion having been in the time of Henry VII, yet up to the present many have voluntarily offered to make payment.
All these may be called false mines for obtaining money, because they are good for once only, and states are not maintained by such devices (caballe). In the meantime the treasurer announces that he has deposited 100,000 ducats for arming the ten ships I wrote of, but from what I gather the force will be so weak that no one will be found willing to command it, as they cannot hope to have what is proper for the defence of these coasts. The French ambassador told me that he could not obtain satisfaction in his negotiations about commerce, and these ten ships would serve to some extent to give to French merchants. From this one may conclude that they will no sooner be at sea than the French will try to take them. This will be a knotty business and so far as I can I have tried to prevent it. This ambassador recently received the money on deposit for building a suitable church and apartments for the Capuchins who are coming with the Ambassador Fontane for the queen's service. This has caused a great commotion among the Puritans, who cannot tolerate the existence of a public church with Catholic ritual here.
Three days ago I presented the ducal missives to the king with the news of your Serenity's election to the dogeship. This demonstration of confidence and esteem gratified his Majesty, and he showed that he was well acquainted with your eminent qualities. I thought the opportunity a good one to proceed to a succinct account of events in Italy. In relating these I took occasion to speak in general terms of the reported divulgations of the Earl of Carlisle. I especially begged his Majesty not to give ear to such falsehoods, and asked him to believe that the most serene republic would never fail in any fashion to do all that present circumstances may demand in spite of all that illdisposed persons might say. The king seemed persuaded of the conscientiousness of your Excellencies, but as you will have observed in the preceding letter, he spoke differently to the French ambassador. I have performed the necessary offices with that minister also in this respect, because I knew from his own words and from what I heard the members of his household had said recently, that he wished to have some special declaration from me. I confined myself to suitable terms, assuring him and all others who have spoken to me about it that your Serenity will readily fall in with what is necessary.
I have no letters from your Excellencies this week. I beg you to vote me some money for the carriage of letters, as the cost of them increases every day, chiefly owing to the difficulty of the passages.
London, the 1st March, 1630.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Savoia.
Venetian
Archives.
371. FRANCESCO CORNER, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The English ambassador, who seemed to have grown less eager to urge war on the French, because he feared their blows would fall upon the Duke of Savoy, now speaks, insists and persuades that the cardinal shall not embrace the peace and that he shall light-heartedly make war in the state of Milan. He spoke at length to me about it to-day, saying that the rupture would prevent the truce with the Dutch and the peace between his master and the Spaniards as well, but if peace was made in Italy both those powers would come to terms. He declares that if the French had quarrelled with the Duke of Savoy the King of Great Britain would have helped the duke, but if they enter the state of Milan he promises that the duke will be on their side, though he hints at the usual idea that they would like to go towards Genoa. I thought it best not to enter into particulars with him, but merely expressed the devotion of the republic to the common cause, as it is always best to speak rather vigorously when talking with him.
Turin, the 1st March, 1630.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 6.
Consiglio
di Dieci,
Parti Comuni.
Venetian
Archives.
372. In the Council of Ten.
That the jewels of the sanctuary and the halls of arms of this Council be shown to some English gentlemen now in this city.
Ayes, 15. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
Note enclosed: Mr. Harry Let, English gentleman, with three companions.
[Italian.]
March 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
373. To the Ambassador in England and the like to the Hague.
The ideas about peace circulated by the Spaniards and Austrians and the nuncio's proposals to Cardinal Richelieu have not delayed the movements of France or cooled the cardinal's decisions. He has reached Susa and sent on Crichi to Turin to prepare the way for the march of the royal force on Casale. The cavalry has reached the Monferrat and the infantry are marching straight to Casale. The Duke of Savoy's troops were only a show to please the Spaniards. A quantity of grain requisitioned by the French from Piedmont will be sent by the Po to Monferrat, and other provisions are being made daily. Spinola has reviewed his cavalry and sent reinforcements to Monferrat, renewing his orders for a bridge of boats over the Po at Valenza, though he is distressed at the news of Feria's appointment to the generalship of Flanders instead of himself. The Duke of Mantua, while attending to his fortifications, keeps active, and among several skirmishes recently cut to pieces 65 German horse on the road between Mantua and Castion Mantovano. Bassompierre reached Switzerland on the 20th ult. and is urging the provision of food and guns for the recovery of the passes of the Grisons. The King of Sweden has sent to urge them to move, promising to invade the empire and do his share. He says Saxony, Wirtemberg and others have promised to declare themselves. Sweden is certainly arming powerfully and in Germany they fear his junction with Denmark because some of Wallenstein's troops were sent to quarters in Holstein, contrary to the terms of the peace. The Pasha of Buda is renewing his complaints because of some incursions by the Hungarians. He claims the restitution of Cassovia and of seven districts belonging to the principality of Transylvania, as they were in Gabor's time. This looks like fresh trouble in that quarter for the Austrians. We devote ourselves more than ever to the public cause and are diligently increasing our forces. We expect shortly 3,000 foot from Marseilles of Candale's levies. You will use these advices as you consider best.
To England:
Your letters received last week were of the 1st ult., and those received to-day are of the 7th. We need only express our entire satisfaction at your diligence.
Ayes, 119. Noes, 1. Neutral, 4.
[Italian.]
March 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
374. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Marquis of Fontane, who is coming to reside as ambassador in ordinary at this Court, arrived unexpectedly. He made his entry the day before yesterday. Viscount Gordin went to meet him in his Majesty's name at the usual place of the Tower, with a very notable company of coaches, although rather more were observed when the Spanish ambassador came. Chance so willed it that his Majesty was away from London, having gone to his pleasures of the chase last Monday, to remain away ten or twelve days. This also caused less to take part in the welcome. The ambassador will postpone his first audience until the king returns, as he does not propose to cause or to suffer the inconvenience of going to find his Majesty sixty leagues from here. Meanwhile he receives visits from the ministers. The Spanish ambassador called upon him yesterday, with meticulous observance, possibly as a response to the readiness with which M. de Castelnovo paid his respects when he arrived here. I should not have allowed myself to be forestalled by anyone in performing these offices, which I know should be done without delay, in the existing state of affairs, but my indispositions have kept me in bed for the last four days, with unbearable distress at the breakdown of my health and much pain, and, what afflicts me more, I am unable to control my person, let alone my office. In spite of this disarrangement I have not neglected to make all possible demonstrations of honour, so as to leave no doubt in the mind of this minister of my readiness to pay my respects when I am in a condition to do so. I sent my coach to meet him, and I have since sent the Secretary Zon twice with my respects and excuses, which are justified by necessity in the present case. In response he sent his secretary to express his appreciation and his desire to pass over ceremony and come to see me without delay. I hope, however, that before the king returns I shall be able to forestall him. From the accounts I have heard he will be punctilious about compliments, but he may not show the same disposition in negotiation. I believe, indeed, that the French have decided to have little of this with the English, and so they may make functions and parade take its place.
M. de Castelnovo should be leaving soon. I fancy that the ministers here will be very glad of this, because he is exceedingly exact in his observations, and he learns more every day about their disorders and weakness. This is one of the most powerful reasons why they have frequently avoided occasions of meeting him, in the fear that with his general skilfulness and his experience of their affairs he might have too great an advantage over them, notwithstanding the fact that the final decision always rested with them, and consequently they could always arrange it in accordance with their interests. But actually the government is reduced to such penury (mancamento) that they have no man of spirit, and the manifold disorders of themselves dishearten those who might otherwise labour with some amount of good will.
The Ambassador Fontane has brought with him twelve Capuchins to serve the queen for the worship of her church. The Most Christian has sent them at his own expense as far as this city. I fancy that there will be some difficulty about providing for them here. The place they are to live in is hardly begun, and all the other circumstances are incomplete. They proceed slowly in everything, but especially in matters which concern the Catholic rite.
Fresh letters have come from Spain. According to what I am told Cottington has not very good news. He begins to be aware of a certain lukewarmness at the beginning of his task, so he writes that they are expecting ambassadors extraordinary from the emperor and Bavaria at that Court to arrange some agreement about the part of the Palatinate which the Spaniards hold, and they fear with prejudice to the claims of the king here. He adds that if the negotiations are prolonged the matter will be taken to Brussels, as a more suitable place for despatch. But it is clear that the Spaniards have no intention whatever of proceeding to give any real satisfaction, and although they are well aware of this here, they are willing to dissimulate for reasons which I have indicated before.
Rubens was made a knight and received a jewel, which his Majesty took from his own finger, besides other presents. They could not have made more fuss with any minister, however important. It is all with the object of giving the Spaniards to understand how glad they are at the negotiations, and how acceptable are the persons who have them in hand. It is thought that this painter may come as ordinary ambassador, and he himself does not deny it.
They are still getting ready the ships ordered. I am assured that a certain cavalier has taken a farm, and for lack of money the treasurer has consigned some Crown lands to him. They have made alienation of these on previous occasions, to such an extent that what was formerly worth 200,000l. does not now amount to half that sum. With the amount of ready money which they have been able to extract from judicial sentences these last days his Majesty has decided that they shall settle the payment of the troops who served at the Isle de Rez, to whom half of their pay was given last August. They will now have satisfaction in full.
I acknowledge the receipt of the ducal missives of the 9th ult.
London, the 8th March, 1630.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
375. To the Ambassador in England and the like to the Hague.
Ten regiments of Richelieu's infantry had reached Monferrat on the 3rd under the Marshal Villeroy, and the French had erected a bridge near Casale. The Nuncio Pancirolo had made no progress in his negotiations for peace. Richelieu arranged his departure from Susa for the 10th and proposed to reach Casale in six days, the Marshal La Force bringing up the rearguard. Prince Vittorio conferred with the cardinal at Bresul, arranging for provisioning the force, and the cardinal obtained a promise of aid from the duke's forces. Twelve thousand foot and 2,000 horse, by Spinola's order, are about Casale, and the rest of the army is approaching, so that news of the outbreak of war may be expected soon, at a moment when Germany is full of evil humours. News has come that the widow of Transylvania has taken poison and Gabor's brothers and nephew seem inclined to seize the reins, while the Turks would not object. So far the Imperialists have not succeeded in separating Bagozzi from Gabor's nephew, or in inducing the Pashas of Buda and Bosnia not to oppose the seven districts remaining under Cæsar. A colonel of Denmark has gone to Halberstadt to ask quarters for troops in Holstein, they say to resist the landing of the King of Sweden. Denmark had his people armed to resist this, increasing Austrian suspicion of his joining Sweden, who will have 60,000 men in the field in the spring.
To England:
The above particulars will serve for information, and we have no letters from you this week.
Ayes, 115. Noes, 3. Neutral, 3.
[Italian.]
March 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
376. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
With the first breathing space from my indisposition I lost no time in going to pay complimentary offices to the Ambassador Fontane; but my strength did not equal my desires, and I was bound to give in once more. Thus I am worse than ever, and the physicians are of opinion that it will be a prolonged relapse, because my constitution is weakened by other attacks, and the nature of the climate, which is utterly unsuited to my temperament, render curative remedies of little effect. I should regret this much more if occasions for action were ready to hand and important as they are elsewhere, but in the absence of business here my only regret is the loss of my health.
The king will return to-morrow and it is thought that the French ambassador will have his first audience on Tuesday, the 19th inst. M. de Castelnovo will make all the haste he can, such being his instructions, to go without delay and find Cardinal Richelieu. According to the latest news that these French ambassadors have, the cardinal was still at Ambruna on the 22nd ult. and it was thought that the slowness of the progress was due to some fresh suspicions about the disposition of the Duke of Savoy. Those of the duke's party announce that with the help of 6,000 muskets received from the Spaniards he may stop the passage of the French force. I am told that Cottington, in his last letters, asks for greater powers, and the treasurer has recently been to find the king, it is surmised in order to decide something in this respect. He returned yesterday, but I do not know what they decided.
The Spanish ambassador had audience of the queen two days ago. He took her letters from her sister, the Queen of Spain. He pressed for this with some insistence, and the fact that he had not presented them on his arrival caused some to consider that his negligence in this respect might amount to insolence.
The latest ducal missives which I have received are of the 15th ult. I shall not fail to operate against the negotiations of Spain in conjunction with the French ambassador so far as I am able. I have always tried to do so, although with scant results, because, as I have frequently repeated, they do not think about their own interests here and the affairs of the kingdom are in such disorder that they could not take up any good resolution even if they wished. Meanwhile I have not neglected to publish the continued vigorous assistance which you afford to the Duke of Mantua, without sparing any labour or expense.
London, the 15th March, 1630.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
377. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Expulsis pap.
With the continuation of my ill health and the customary difficulty of picking up advices at this Court worthy of the notice of your Serenity, I should have excused myself from writing this despatch, were it not for an urgent reason. His Majesty yesterday sent to this house Mr. Cuch, the second secretary of state, to inform me, in the name of the Council as well, of the renewal of the edicts against the Catholics, and of the resolution that for the future they shall be rigorously observed, since his Majesty recognises that the liberty with which the Catholics for some time past have performed their exercises in the houses of the ambassadors creates a great scandal among the generality of the people here and causes a notable prejudice to the state. (fn. 3) In the second place he assured me, all the same, that it was not the intention of his Majesty or his Council to derogate in any manner soever from the privileges which the ambassadors have always enjoyed, and so the freedom of entering and leaving their houses will always be maintained. He begged that it should not be taken in ill part if it sometimes happened that the laws were carried out against those who had been at the mass or present at other ceremonies in the chapels, as his Majesty wishes the laws to be observed with greater exactitude so far as his own household is concerned, indicating the queen's chapel. A similar office was passed with the two ambassadors of France and with the Spanish one also. For myself, I thanked his Majesty for informing me of the resolution of his Council. I assured him that I would always fall in with his Majesty's wishes in matters which did not prejudice my position. I added that I should show an equal respect for any decision soever of the Council, and I knew that they could not in any way apply the execution to the foreign ambassadors, although it directly affected the household of his Majesty, of which there was no need for me to follow the example, as I wished to be absolutely independent. So long as my privileges were preserved to me, no occasion for dissatisfaction would ever arise, and that as I knew his royal pleasure that this affair should be common to all the ambassadors, I would state that I should claim neither more nor less than what would be granted to the others.
The secretary left me quite content, but I clearly foresee that some disturbance is about to arise, because this new step is caused by nothing else than because the Capuchins who came with the Ambassador Fontane for the service of the queen have begun their functions very conspicuously, preaching in their habit, which is very conspicuous. This has made a great stir among all the Puritan party. Accordingly, in order to satisfy the people they have decided to regulate the ceremonies, or at least to prevent access to the queen's church, which is certainly very free. To afford an open satisfaction to the queen they also decided to inform the ambassadors about this reform. It is quite certain that they cannot persevere with it without causing the gravest prejudice to the public liberty, since this execution consists in making enquiry and punishing all those who go to the ambassadors houses. This is the more worthy of consideration because under this pretext of religion they may institute other kinds of inquisition. I have said a word on the subject to the French ambassadors, because the very act of the Council itself in informing all the ministers has bound us more closely and practically advised and warned us tacitly that we must stand well together in this matter. They sent me word that in their opinion this declaration must be a mere form, but if they mean to carry it into effect at all they were absolutely of opinion that we must stand together.
I ought to point out more especially that it may very easily happen that the first attempts will fall upon those who frequent this house of your Serenity, rather than upon those who go to the embassies of France and Spain; and if it should happen, though I do not think it likely, that the first executions are made against those of the queen, it does not seem to me that that can supply a sufficient reason for passing the matter over, because the king can do what he pleases with the queen's household, as with something that belongs to him, as in the case of any other subject, whereas he cannot claim or practise the same against an ambassador, who, by all laws divine or human, should depend on no one besides his prince. In any event I will try to overcome all difficulties by mildness. In the meantime I have thought it right to inform your Serenity.
The French ambassador had his first audience last Wednesday, with every honourable circumstance due to his position. On the following day he returned the visit of the Spanish ambassador. He would have done the same with me, but owing to the unfortunate circumstances in which I am placed, I contrived to excuse myself. He assured me most effusively of the esteem of the Most Christian for the most serene republic and his appreciation of its steady determination to continue to render assistance in the present affairs of Italy. He told me of his conversation with the Spanish ambassador, who, in speaking of the Dutch, asked him up to what point the French were determined to assist rebels against his king. He said his answer was, Until your king gives back to mine all that he holds of his in Italy and elsewhere, and so long as he sees that he is still set upon making further acquisitions at the expense of himself and his friends. He told me afterwards that they had talked in a milder strain, the conversation having taken place as between private individuals and not ambassadors.
The Ambassador Colona went to audience of his Majesty yesterday. Letters have arrived from Spain recently, but although they are from private persons, I have not been able to find out anything. In general I fancy that the news is not good and that Cottington has written to his friends that with the return of this courier he hoped to return home. The people of the Spanish ambassador also speak to the same effect about themselves, saying that they will only remain here for a little while. For my own part, although I believe that the affair will have no conclusion, yet I do not believe that this bewitching of the English will be interrupted quite so soon (cosi giudico che tanto presto non habbi a discogliersi questo incantesimo per Inglesi).
They are devoting themselves to the arming of the ten ships, and it is announced that they will be at sea by the 20th inst.
The ducal missives of the 22nd ult. have reached me, in which I find myself charged to labour with the king and ministers to the end that the nascent disputes between the Kings of Denmark and Sweden may be uprooted. I will not fail to do this if God gives me health. I must not omit to add that the plague is beginning to make itself felt here, there being two deaths this week.
London, the 22nd March, 1630.
Postscript.—Just as I was about to despatch these present a report is brought to me that news has come from the port of Bristol, brought by English ships returned from the West, of a fight at the islands of St. Catherine and St. Andrew between the Dutch fleet, numbering sixty vessels, and the Spanish, which started from Nombre de Dios to proceed to Havana. They report that the fight was very sanguinary, the Dutch losing thirty-six ships and the Spaniards all the galleons which served as escort to their fleet. They say that the remainder of the Spanish ships, laden with plate, have retired to Cartagena and are blockaded by the Dutch in that port, and there is hope that they may be captured. I thought it proper not to omit this, and hope that next week I can send more authentic news.
[Italian.]
March 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
378. To the Ambassador at the Hague and the like to England.
We have no further news about Cardinal Richelieu. There is a rumour that the army had passed near Turin on the 16th, on its way to Casale, and had provisions for six months. Bassompierre has convoked a general diet at Solothurn for the 31st inst. to propose the setting up of the Grisons again and expel the Austrians from Rhetia. He wants provisions and a levy of 6,000 Swiss, promising 4,000 French foot and 500 horse. They have not yet been able to give him a formal reply, but they have agreed to the levy, and many officers have hastened to offer their services. The Swiss refused audience to Chancellor d'Ensisum, who came as ambassador from the Archduke Leopold. We hear from Germany that the Princes of Transylvania is moribund and in her last agonies has divulged the compacts made with the emperor. This has induced the Turks to decide in favour of Gabor's brother, and it will be hard to remove il Bagozzi from his side. The Austrians are much afraid of trouble from that quarter. You will use these advices as you may judge to be best for our service.
Ayes, 114. Noes, 0. Neutral, 3.
[Italian.]
March 23,
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
379. ALVISE MOCENIGO, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Some days ago the English ambassador sent an express courier, but I am advised that the Count of Olivares made use of his name in order to send the royal despatches with greater safety and to circulate rumours in favour of his machinations. At present the ambassador is sending his secretary (fn. 4) with all speed to London. This arouses the suspicion that some business is well forward, although, to tell the truth, one cannot find out. From what I gather the Spaniards express a desire to see the Palatine satisfied and wish they could do it as easily with the states which are in Bavaria's hands as they can with those in their own. A minister in the count's confidence remarked that as the emperor had made Denmark content by restoring his state, he ought to do the same for the Palatine, or at least for his sons. Whether these are devices to win favour with England by blaming the emperor for harshness or genuine opinions will depend on the course of events in Italy; and so they detain the English minister here. I fancy the chief reason for sending the secretary was to represent the good intentions of the Spaniards, and the reasons why they cannot satisfy the desires of the King of Great Britain without an accommodation with the Dutch, and so suggest a joint negotiation and a peace or truce. Cottington himself said to me that a particular peace would not settle things. I took advantage of this to point out the advisability of an accommodation in Italy also, but I clearly saw that he was thinking of the interests of his own king, from his obligation to the Dutch, if they do not come to terms, although his Majesty should make an agreement with the Spaniards. I do not think, however, that these negotiations can result in anything because they are so opposed to Bavaria's interests and to the claims of the whole empire. To smoothe the way I hear that Cottington has proposed to the count that his king shall cause his subjects to fetch away the salt of the Catholic from which, by the increase in price, Spain obtains a considerable yearly revenue. This would be another blow to France, which now provides the English with salt. The French ambassador, on hearing of it, remarked that it would not succeed seeing that Spanish salt was not adapted for salting fish, because it burned and consumed them.
The harshness of the Dutch against the Catholics renders all dealings with them more difficult. In the meantime they are trying to win the English and if this affair of the salt falls through, they will try others, upon which this minister is embarked, with scant glory to his master.
Madrid, the 23rd March, 1630.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
380. To the Ambassador in England and the like to the Hague.
Cardinal Richelieu, after his conference with Prince Vittorio, which left him dissatisfied, took all his force to Rivoli, only six miles from Turin. At the news the duke and prince proceeded to the city and made prisoners quite 500 French there; including twenty of note. Abbot Scaglia hastened off to the Marquis Spinola for help, and Spinola has decided to go himself to Piedmont with his army. Provisions were thrown into Trino at Scaglia's request. Collalto and the Duke of Neoburgh are getting ready to follow the marquis, 7,000 Germans are approaching Rhetia, and war has broken out, Savoy having refused to admit M. di Servien, who was sent by the cardinal. Crichi's son is detained a prisoner, his baggage seized and his house guarded.
Ayes, 148. Noes, 2. Neutral, 5.
[Italian.]
March 27.
Cinque Savii
alla
Mercanzia,
Risposte 148.
Venetian
Archives.
381. With respect to the petition of Edward Meplisdem, (fn. 5) captain of the English ship London, to lade currants at Zante for the West free of extra duty of 5 per cent., we think that he should have the favour, but he must pay the ordinary 10 per cent. of the new impost.
Dated the 27th March, 1631 (sic).
ANTONIO BASADONNA, Savii.
LORENZO CONTARINI,
[Italian.]
March 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
382. GIROLAMO SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Last Sunday, the 24th inst., took place the first acts of violence against the Catholics. They set guards at suitable posts not more than twenty paces from the houses of the ambassador extraordinary of France, of Spain and of your Serenity, and the Catholics on coming out of mass were immediately arrested. No demonstration was made at the house of the ordinary ambassador of France. No one knows why unless they did not wish to exacerbate him at the outset, and it was enough to have attacked the jurisdiction by the demonstration against the extraordinary. They did the same against those who went to the queen's church, although with somewhat more respect because when the Catholics were about to enter, two gentlemen appointed for the purpose questioned them as to where they wished to go. When they replied "to church," they told them, "If you are English, turn back," and then they were all arrested, though not immediately, the pursuivants going on the following day to drag them from their houses. They took some of them to the prisons, and those of better condition were detained in the houses of the pursuivants and afterwards released on bail.
So far as I am personally concerned, I immediately informed the French ambassadors. Castelnovo had gone early that morning to the queen's chapel and then to dine with the ordinary ambassador. When he heard what had happened he seemed to think little of it, but when he heard that the same steps had been taken against his house as against the others, he changed his mind, and one can easily understand that personal interests alter the point of view. They sent me word that they would be glad if I would make a very strong remonstrance, so as not to tolerate so great an outrage, at least in silence, and Castelnovo would do the same. As I am still indisposed and unable to leave my chair, though somewhat better, I have postponed any office with the idea of seeing what the others would do and what fruit they would gain, so as not to commit myself unless there was some sign of obtaining satisfaction.
Castelnovo made his first statement to the queen, with whom he used stimulants and found her very impressionable. He got her to speak about it to the king for his private interest. So on Sunday after dinner she refused to go to chapel to the sermon. When the king urged her she made a serious complaint, touching upon the impropriety of this advice and the want of zeal in those who had given it. For two days the king avoided seeing the ambassador in the queen's apartments, as was his custom, but at length the ambassador requested to speak with him. The queen herself went to ask it, and left them alone. When the ambassador began his remonstrances, the king told him it was not good to excite the queen's feelings, and he did not desire anyone to concern himself in the affairs of his household. The ambassador replied, Your Majesty may forbid me the embassy, but you cannot prevent me from concerning myself in what touches the honour and conscience of the queen, as she is the sister of my king and we gave her on such conditions. But I know that your Majesty does not incline to such violence, since you know that we can do much worse in France against the English, who will be prevented from exercising their religion, because the edicts only comprise the subjects of my king. But these are extremes at which we can only arrive with great scandal, and it is better to act within the limits of moderation. The king said something about the observation of the laws here, and nothing more passed.
The ambassador told me all this yesterday, when he came to take leave, although he will not go until after the festival, English style, that is on the 7th prox. He added that since the incident the queen has refused to see any of the Lords of the Council, with whom she is greatly incensed, especially the treasurer, although he takes the lead in the Council, in order to give some satisfaction to the Puritans who are greatly excited by the coming of the Capuchins, and by the crowds they draw. In any case there is an idea that he inclines strongly to the Catholic faith, of which his wife is a declared adherent. From this it arises that his actions are more closely scrutinised, and the Puritans are more animated against him.
The Spanish ambassador, from what I have heard, has had a list drawn up of those who were arrested on coming out of his church. By a mild office with the treasurer, who is the one concerned, he has asked for their release, but without success. This unusual coolness of the Spanish ministers, who at other times on similar occasions have practically provided an asylum and acted as protectors for the Catholics, buying for cash occasions to constitute themselves leaders of the party, has led to the conclusion that they are not moving sincerely in the peace negotiations, and while the Spaniards do not think of giving satisfaction, the ambassador has not desired to interest himself further or avail himself of the rigorous prerogatives which those ministers usually guard so jealously. For my part I have not moved a step, as where one is unlikely to receive any consideration or satisfaction I prefer to follow rather than to set an example; but if they go on with the same violence next Sunday, it will be necessary to make some remonstrance.
London, the 29th March, 1629.
[Italian.]
March 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
383. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The ordinary of Antwerp, who arrived this week, has not brought me any letters from your Serenity in the usual packet, which came in good condition. The day before yesterday the Ambassador Fontane received letters from France. He sent at once to inform me of the arrival of the cardinal at Susa, that the Duke of Savoy had granted a passage and that as the pontifical ministers had not been able to find any disposition towards an agreement, everything tended towards war. Yesterday at midday an express courier reached the Court from Wake with the same advices, and in addition the declaration of the Duke of Savoy in favour of the common cause, in conjunction with France, that he has given all the places he holds in the Monferrat as a security, and that the Spaniards are hard pressed by the forces of the league. Really affairs there could not have taken a better turn. This is entirely contrary to what the Spanish ambassador published some days ago, that with the help afforded to Savoy by Spinola that prince had certainly stopped Cardinal Richelieu from passing. Upon this they subsequently built other chimerical edifices, tainted with the usual poison, and one heard nothing at this Court but rumours and advices in accordance, of defeats suffered by the French force, which, according to them, had entered Italy and suffered defeat simultaneously. God defend our province against experiencing such misfortunes as they desire for it here. It is noteworthy that the sole motive has its origin in nothing except their inability to tolerate the memory of past honourable encounters with France, whose continued good fortune and generous progress, more than any stimulus of glory, excite in this nation an insatiable desire for revenge.
The Dutch ambassador called upon me recently and asked me with curiosity if I knew anything of what the last courier from Spain had brought. I told him all that I wrote to your Serenity in my last despatch. He complained to me about the bad way in which the ministers here treat his masters. With a show of confidence to them they communicated to him what the first courier brought, which was nothing more than a simple account of Cottington's arrival at the Court and his reception there. The most authentic circumstance about it is the remark of the Count of Olivares to Cottington that if the dispute was between the two kings the matter would soon be adjusted. So far as one can see, the object of this remark was to separate the interests of the Palatinate, and to urge England not to persist about them. But Cottington replied that the principal interest of his king was that of the Palatinate, and that he had no commissions except to listen to any serious proposals that they might have to make to him on the subject. From this move the English minister discovered and reported that there was no sign that the Spaniards meant to give any satisfaction about the Palatinate, although they always give fair words and declare that they will now perform every possible office with the emperor to get him to revoke the imperial ban against that prince with the object of reinstating him in peaceful possession of his dominions. It was upon this difference and the certain knowledge that they had little or no intention of fulfilling their promises that Cottington wrote to his friends that he hoped to be recalled. But the treasurer will not hear of it, and wishes to keep up this thread of apparent negotiation in order not to enter upon new disputes and as a consequence be involved in expense for the purpose of continuing the negotiations. The Ambassador Castelnovo told me that the treasurer is trying to induce the king to consent to make peace on condition that the Spaniards promise to do everything in their power with both the emperor and Bavaria to procure the restitution of the Palatinate. For my own part I do not believe that the king will consent, as he has always shown a determination to have deeds not words. Yet their weakness and their lack of good counsel are such that one may fear even such a disaster. Castelnovo remarked to me that if they make peace in this fashion the Palatine will never again be able to hope to recover his state. He said it would be a good plan to assist Bavaria to raise him, and so create a counterpoise to the emperor and all the House of Austria, thus confirming my belief that they incline to this in France.
So far as he is concerned personally I have always known that he belonged to that party, and now I have the opportunity I may as well state frankly that during the time that I have had occasion to deal with this minister, I have always found him very partial to the interests of the House of Austria, although reserved and inclined to dissimulate. I am sure that wherever he can prevent the Most Christian and the cardinal from taking any steps to oppose its greatness, he will do so. With respect to your Excellencies I must add that while in his conversations with me he has always spoken in terms of respect, I know that with others he has, at times, shown that he thought little of the forces of the republic, although not for any other reason than because she has no means of rewarding those who serve her. For the rest, I have no occasion for praise or blame, because I have always made every effort to oblige him, so that even if he had the worst intentions in the world, he could not help responding to some extent. Nevertheless there was room on his side for a greater display of courtesy in his visits. Mine were very frequent, his very rare. In the communication of advices I was very assiduous, he utterly negligent. From these outward demonstrations one may conjecture his inner feelings, and in order to clear myself, especially as he is to go to the Cardinal Richelieu, I ought to say that it is better to hold him in suspicion than as a confidant.
When Rubens left, the son-in-law of the Spanish ambassador here went with him. They took some Catholics with them to Dover, to cross the sea, as they are accustomed to seize such opportunities in order not to take the oath when leaving the kingdom. Despite their protection and their assurance that they belonged to their household, these Catholics were arrested. (fn. 6) The Dutch ambassador told me that Don Carlo had availed himself of this occasion to go to audience, but he really went to find out how they take the last advices from Spain. I fancy he will have found the king somewhat upset, but the others will have dissimulated being determined not to break with him. Before Rubens left he called on the ambassador of the States under the pretext of commending some prisoners to him. The ambassador told me that he made some hint of a truce, but he responded coldly because he did not wish to discuss that subject with him.
A Biscayan ship belonging to French merchants chancing to arrive at one of these ports, it was forthwith seized, so the maritime relations with France are more disturbed than ever, and the Ambassador Castelnovo has never been able to arrange the smallest difference. For this reason he is leaving very ill pleased and bent upon a rupture.
No further authentic news has arrived about the Dutch and Spanish fleets. The ambassador told me that he did not believe any of the reports, although I was told yesterday evening that fresh news had arrived about the taking prisoner of Don Federigo di Toledo, but this does not seem to be well authenticated.
The plague continues and has spread notably. The king already speaks of departing, because when it begins in this country it is most violent. The Master of the Ceremonies, who visited me recently, told me that it was stated at Court that the ambassadors would follow the Court, as had been done before. However, I will await the commands of your Serenity, and if it so happen that they do not reach me in time, I think I shall not do wrong, if I am well enough, to follow the example of the other ambassadors. In that case I hope I shall receive the assistance which has never been refused me upon such occasions.
London, the 29th March, 1630.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 31.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Signori
Stati.
Venetian
Archives.
384. VICENZO GUSSONI, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Carleton has returned from England to continue his charge as agent. He brought letters from his king very consolatory to the Princes Palatine here from the declaration made by that sovereign to Colonna that he would not agree to any accommodation with the Spaniards if they were not satisfied. Only yesterday Vane and Carleton had a long interview with the Palatine to arrange about the declaration of these princes about their intentions, to send to Spain. We gather that Colonna asked for this and gave the King of Great Britain to understand that some way out would be found, adding that two ambassadors would soon reach the Spanish Court from the emperor and Bavaria respectively and they would try to adjust the pretensions of everyone, so far as it lay in the Catholic's power. Here they are preparing instructions for Cottington showing the precise intentions of these princes, about the electoral vote as well as restitution to their dominions. But both present insuperable difficulties, and I understand that the Palatine himself would agree to the electorate descending to one of his sons after Bavaria's death.
The Hague, the last day of March, 1630.
[Italian; deciphered.]

Footnotes

  • 1. Sir John Eliot.
  • 2. Gillingham forest in Dorset. See Birch: Court and Times of Charles I, vol ii, pages 60, 61.
  • 3. An order of Council dated 10/20 March prohibiting the open repair to the houses of foreign ambassadors for the purpose of hearing mass and authorising the messengers of the Chamber to arrest persons who go thither and bring them before the Council. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1629–31, page 209.
  • 4. Arthur Hopton. See Cottington's despatch of the 3rd March. State Papers Foreign, Spain.
  • 5. Edward Mapplisden, master of the London, a ship of 400 tons, to which letters of marque were issued on the 14th May, 1628. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1628–9, page 306.
  • 6. See S.P. Dom., vol. cxlii, No. 9. Calendar, 1629–31, page 202.