Venice: November 1631

Pages 559-566

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.

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


November 1631

Nov. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
734. PIETRO VICO, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The English ambassador is detained with fresh hopes about the restitution of the Palatinate. I fancy that now, before they come out, the Spaniards want the Palatine to undertake to give them a free passage through his states against the Dutch, and to give his three eldest sons to the emperor to be brought up as Catholics. The ambassador has sent word to the king by a special express, and I hear that he will leave in a few days for England. A Capuchin (fn. 1) will also go, who manages this affair, with these and other commissions.
Vienna, the 1st November, 1631.
[Italian; copy.]
Nov. 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
735. VICENZO GUSSONI, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Duke of Vendome is about to proceed to England, they say for the purpose of petitioning the queen there to intercede with the Most Christian for his return to France.
The Hague, the 3rd November, 1631.
Nov. 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
736. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
We hear something of the King of Sweden inviting the Palatine to take the field with the troops that the States propose to disband, with some help from England. Wake has never left Paris, but the English agent told me this, adding that he did not think his king would agree in order not to break the arrangements made in the late peace by which the Spaniards bound themselves to reinstate the Palatine. Thus do princes take deception itself for a pretext when they have neither the will nor the power to do what they ought.
Noian, the 10th November, 1631.
Nov. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
737. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Your Serenity's letters of the 27th September bring me word of the departure of the Ambassador Pesaro from Rome, amid general applause and signs of some regret on the part of the pope himself. I have made use of the information upon occasions which seemed suitable, and I shall continue to do so in accordance with my instructions. With the letters of the 10th ult. I receive copies of some of the 3rd from Milan, and I will use them as prescribed.
In the meantime, I may say that they make great capital here of the progress of the King of Sweden, and they do not believe that the Spaniards will be able to make further trouble in Italy, although it is very hard for them to see the Most Christian in possession of Pinarolo. They are extremely displeased here at the acquisition of that place. They pretend not to believe it even though the French ambassador has received the news from the Secretary Botiglier and has communicated it to the king. The confidential relations which the Duke of Savoy has always enjoyed at this Court are seriously affected at present for that reason alone, and the ministers seize the opportunity to alienate the king's affections from him, from what the French ambassador has told me, upon the pretext that the duke has recently written a letter to his Majesty, in which he has not observed the respect which has always been customary from the Dukes of Savoy towards this Crown, because he failed to observe the practice of putting the title at some distance from the beginning of the letter. Most assuredly they would not have paid any attention to such a matter of punctilio at any other time, but just now when they see the union of that house with France assured by such important pledges, all its actions are strictly weighed. These last days I have heard it stated in the house of a great personage, who may have been expressing the views of the Court, that the league between the Most Christian and the Duke of Bavaria had regard to maintaining the princes of Germany in possession not only of their hereditary belongings, but of their acquisitions as well. If this be true, there can be no doubt that this last condition has regard to those states of the Palatine of which Bavaria is in possession.
Yesterday I was at the Dutch ambassador's, at a time when letters reached him from Holland. With the confidence which exists between us, he read me many particulars from them, and I happened to hear this very same thing touching the league between France and Bavaria, written to him by a person whom I know very well, a member of the Assembly of the States General. It is true he adds that the French ambassador and the Duke of Vendome deny that anything has been concluded.
In addition to all this, I happened to be speaking to the French ambassador about the successes of the King of Sweden, and of the letters which he recently wrote to the king here, informing him of the victory he had won at Leipsig, in which he says that he hopes very soon to restore the Palatine to his pristine splendour. It seemed to me that he did not agree to this, remarking that the question of religion required that Bavaria should be maintained as well for making opposition to the Austrians in Germany, and he gave me this opinion: It is enough if the Palatine has served as a pretext for abasing the House of Austria. This was an unexpected way of talking. Being uttered as if from himself, I cannot say if such ideas are really entertained in France. In spite of this, the success of the king in Germany is so advantageous for his cause that I do not know how the French can do anything in any case.
Many things are announced here that your Serenity may have heard from other quarters much earlier. The substance is that he has captured Bamberg and Wurzberg, and passed through all Franconia, forcing the Elector of Mayence to make great contributions and to declare himself neutral, abandoning the Catholic league. Others add in addition that the Duke of Bavaria, seeing matters going so far, has tried, by means of France, to get Sweden to acknowledge his neutrality. At the present moment, they reckon that the king has passed Frankfort and is not more than six leagues from Heidelberg. While he has been advancing in this manner, he has made adequate arrangements for the other corps of the army under the command of the Duke of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse. The first was to advance towards Silesia; the other is understood to have marched in the direction of the duchy of Brunswick and to have captured Minden. The chief object is to prevent the gathering of imperial troops from every direction, so far as may be possible.
Tilly has been reputed dead for many days, and although they have the same opinion here, yet the Dutch ambassador told me he heard he had united with Aldringher and Fucari, and was advancing to meet the King of Sweden with the intention of giving another battle. Moreover the defeat of Leipsig does not seem to have been so considerable as was at first announced; and the same ambassador showed me an account sent to him by Camerarius, the Swedish ambassador in Holland, in which he says that on the king's side there were 1,500 slain, of Saxony 2,000, and of Tilly 7,000 and 300 prisoners. However that may be, if the figures of the losses were even less, the consequences which have ensued are so great that they cannot be over estimated. Here they rejoice at the results with so much good fortune, and hope to enjoy the fruits without incommoding themselves any further.
There is a great deal of talk that the Palatine ought to have the command of the troops which served the States last summer under the command of Count William of Nassau, and it has also been said that the King of Sweden would willingly give up to him the monthly contributions which he receives from the States, and that they should supply the rest here; but so far it all ends in talk. I referred to it recently with the Secretary of State, in the form of a question. He told me that they talked about it in Holland. I replied that while they talked about it here the talk in Holland was not worth much, adding remarks, which though commonplace are not less urgent for that. I was told yesterday in great confidence that they aspire to nothing more here than to obtain from the emperor the rehabilitation of the Palatine. This would condemn not only him but all the other princes of the union as well.
The one who brought the news of the battle on behalf of the King of Sweden, is asking for money to pay the troops of Hamilton. These are much weakened, being reduced to 4,000 only. From the first the Treasurer promised that they should be well paid, but apparently he has grown tired, and this may slacken his facilities for making an effort, when he ought to be stimulated to render them more secure and considerable.
Scaglia continues as perplexed as ever. He sees the necessity of making up his mind to leave here without any applause. This might not trouble him so much if he had not committed himself so deeply with the Spaniards, whose confidence he would not wish to lose. No news has come of Ven since his departure. The Dutch ambassador told me that the ambassador of Denmark was waiting for him at Amsterdam, but he certainly has not taken that way.
The Duke of Vendome arrived yesterday from Holland. As yet it is not thought that he has come for anything but curiosity to see the country. He is staying in the house of the French ambassador. He has not yet seen the king, who is expected to give him quarters, although his suite, consisting of more than 200 persons, has proved very troublesome to the Treasurer.
This morning, at the beginning of the day, the queen gave birth to a princess. They immediately christened her with the name of Maria, because the birth was premature and the child, consequently, very weak. However, her Majesty seems to be doing very well, and this evening they celebrated the event with bonfires throughout the city. I have informed the Master of the Ceremonies that when it suits the king I should like to offer my congratulations in the name of your Excellencies.
London, the 14th November, 1631.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
738. VICENZO GUSSONI, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Palatine intends to send to England again, to urge the king there to take more lively and vigorous resolutions for his relief, as the operations of Anstruther and Rusdorf are doing no good and merely eliciting words and vain hopes; here also the States declare that although they have the best intentions they cannot take any steps in that matter until they first see what the King of Great Britain will do, as being more interested than anyone else.
The Hague, the 17th November, 1631.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
739. VICENZO GUSSONI, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
They have recently returned a friendly answer to the instances of the Palatine, but told him that they must wait to see England move first. The prince recognised the reasonableness of this, and he hopes to obtain the necessary declaration from the King of Great Britain. Last week he sent out four gentlemen, to England, the King of Sweden, Denmark and France.
The Hague, the 24th November, 1631.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Zante. Venetian Archives.
740. ZUANE BONDUMIER, Venetian Proveditore of Zante, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I must represent to your Serenity the very great injury inflicted upon these islanders by the arrangement made about currants at Cephalonia with the English. This is the reason why the currants of this island, which those people usually buy at a higher price, have been passed over this year. This has prevented the levy of the money of the new impost, destined for Candia and caused great distress among the inhabitants here, who have not been able to dispose of their harvests. I hope, however, that other ships will come to buy these currants, and so give life to the public revenues.
Zante, the 25th November, 1631.
Nov. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
741. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I have performed the office of congratulating his Majesty in your Serenity's name upon the birth of the princess. He seemed pleased, and showed great friendliness. He told me that your Excellencies would always find him ready to devote his best fortunes for you, as he esteemed the most serene republic one of his best friends. After this office, he asked me what news I had about Pinarolo. I told him briefly what I had heard talked of rather than what I had received in authentic advices, as I did not wish any reflection to be made upon my remarks, since the views of your Excellencies had not then reached me. His Majesty showed clearly how much this matter concerned him, as he talked diffusely about it, beyond his wont, and he chose to tell me all that he had about it. I thus found by the comparison I made about it with the French ambassador, that his impressions were prejudiced. His Majesty told me that the French ambassadors in Piedmont had represented to the Duke of Savoy the suspicions entertained by the Most Christian about his connection with the queen mother and Monsieur. They went on to state more particularly that it was believed in France that some assistance in money sent by the governor of Milan to the queen mother had been urged by him. When the duke defended himself as best he could against these charges, the ministers told him that this was not sufficient to put him right with the king, who claimed a better pledge for greater security, and for this purpose he said it would be advisable to hand over a fortress to his Majesty. The duke objected to this, and refused to go so far. He pointed out in particular that the peace just concluded would be practically annulled by such a step, because the Spaniards would very readily seize upon the pretext. The ministers would not accept these arguments, and the duke had to make up his mind that it was necessary to hand over Pinarolo, because if he would not the Most Christian was determined to have it by force.
Here the king stopped, saying, What do you think, Mr. Ambassador, do you not call this force? I replied calmly, stating that the event was new to me. I merely remarked that important considerations must have induced the duke to hand over that fortress, and for my own part I believed he had been induced more by advantage than by fear. The king remarked, Your lordship believes that the French speak high because they see the success of the King of Sweden. I said it was a good thing to seize an opportunity against enemies. I let this out as a hint that this is no time to live in such repose as they do here. He asked me how your Excellencies had taken this news. When I told him that there had not been time for me to hear, he said he should be glad to know something about it. In the meantime, he saw clearly that this affair will renew the war in Italy more bitterly than ever. I took this opportunity to inform his Majesty of the lack of good faith with which the governor of Milan is carrying out the treaty of peace. He keeps his state full of troops beyond the numbers; he invents pretexts of contravention on the part of the Duke of Mantua, and adds interpolations and new clauses to the investiture, not admitted in those of his predecessors, and what is of more importance, invented after the fact even of the present one, as by the testimony of the papal nuncio, to whom they were first read, it is known for certain that the letters were given in the ordinary form. In addition to this they did not abandon their notions of keeping up divisions in the Grisons and Valtelline, as they had promised assistance to the latter. They had sent to Germany for men and to Naples for money, and on every hand one heard of fresh preparations for forestalling rather than for defence.
I have spoken to the same effect to the ministers also. Many of them believe that France has designs upon the state of Milan, others that she only means to help the Duke of Savoy in his pretensions against the Genoese. Others again are persuaded that the sole intention of the Most Christian is to keep a bridle upon the Spaniards with respect to having the pass open. The French ambassador had instructions to represent this to the king, who replied that he perceived that his brother knew how to seize the right moment, which is precisely what he said to me also.
The ambassador discourses very diffusely about what may happen, but as this is all the expression of his own private views, at, least he says so, I should not venture to build upon them. Yesterday I told him what had reached me by the last advices from Venice about the preparations of Feria. He stated in so many words that if they made any trouble he thought that was exactly what was desired, hinting that they would not be sorry for an occasion for attacking the duchy of Milan. However, speaking to me in confidence, he seemed to attach great importance to the diversion which the enterprise of Sedan might create. If it be true that the Duke of Bulione has committed himself so far as to receive money from the queen mother and Monsieur, as the ambassador has tried to make me believe, the king will certainly attend to the matter. Yesterday the Secretary of State told me that it was a very thorny affair, because the Duke of Buglion was strongly supported in Holland. It is perfectly true that the Prince of Orange his uncle, is very fond of him, and possibly he may take this opportunity of expressing the resentment he felt for the attempts made against Orange. When I was in your Serenity's service in Holland, he declared that he had been very badly treated by France in this matter, so it is probable that still more recent events may have stirred him even more greatly.
The secretary of the Ambassador Anstruther has arrived from Vienna. I tried to learn from the Secretary of State what good news he might have brought, but he told me nothing except to repeat again and again that he had come. Since I found him so short in his answers, I told him that my advices from Vienna stated that that minister declared that he had asked leave of the king to return, because there was no longer any hope in his negotiations; that while he was losing his time his Majesty was not gaining in reputation. He did not say anything to confirm the leave, but merely remarked that that business could not be much prolonged. It is quite certain that they have no hope of a good issue here, but for the time being they are not willing to take any resolution.
They are expecting Lord Craven here from Holland, who is coming with the intention of raising a levy of 3,000 men at his own expense. Many announced that he is to serve for the Palatinate. Here the ministers do not allow anything whatever to come out about it, indeed they say that this thoughtless young man, being very rich, wishes to make this honourable coup for the King of Sweden, and that the king will readily grant him the levy. Letters from Brussels have been seen, written by the king's agent there, from which it is concluded that the Spaniards have found out that the Palatine thinks of going to Germany in the spring with a considerable force. Accordingly they declare that if this happens they will consider themselves released from all their promises for the restitution of the Palatinate. But they have done so little up to the present that the English ought not to mind whether they have them as companions in negotiation or no. They ought also to calculate the profit of the peace, as while it ought to be all for England, it is observed to have been for the advantage of the Spaniards, who desired nothing but the benefit of the time, and that they have already obtained.
The French ambassador told me that he believed the Duke of Lorraine had followed the troops and had sent to the emperor. He saw that prince deeply committed to those interests, without hope of any recompense, unless it might be some vain promise of an electorate in place of Saxony. There has been talk for some days past about that agreement between the emperor and that duke, although as yet the results seem a long way off, as no news has arrived to contradict the successes of the King of Sweden, but they rather go to confirm the certainty of his conquests. Sir [Henry] Ven originally had commissions to offer interposition for an accommodation, but these have been withdrawn, and he has been directed to make overtures for the union and inclusion of Saxony and Brandenburg. It is also said that they have no intention here to conclude anything, but they have taken this course under the pressure of circumstances, so that the mission might have some colourable appearance to support it.
The Duke of Vendome stays on here engaged in the pleasures of the chase. He is expecting a gentleman back from France, whom he sent to get his permission to return thither confirmed, after his absence during the past year. When the duke came, the king and ministers at first were not without suspicion that he might prefer some requests in favour of the queen mother. He does not seem to have the remotest idea of doing so, indeed he deals with the French ambassador on terms of the most complete confidence. As an earnest to that minister, when Scaglia desired to see him, the duke refused to admit him, declaring as an excuse that he could not separate his interests from those of the Most Christian, and so if the ambassador did not receive from Scaglia that which was due, as he has never yet visited him, he could on no account see him. The king welcomed the duke with great affection, and as a great demonstration of esteem he introduced him to the queen the very day that she was delivered. The honours done him are limited to these appearances, as he is not lodged at the royal expense, although his suite is not nearly so large as was at first stated.
I have received your Serenity's letters of the 11th, 18th and 23rd ult., and those of the 31st have just reached me.
London, the 28th November, 1631.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. Alessandro d'Alix. He had been in England in disguise under the name of Francesco della Rota. See Vol. XVIII of this Calendar, pages 160–162, etc.