Venice: May 1633

Pages 101-109

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 23, 1632-1636. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1921.

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May 1633

May 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
148. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
At the diet of Elbrum the Ambassador Anstruther urged in the first place a good union between the allies ; then that some way be found of restraining the preachers, who speak too freely against each other ; and thirdly, that when the Palatinate is restored England will be ready to supply money to the Protestant princes. It seems that Oxesterna has agreed to restore the Palatinate for the payment of a certain sum by England, and Anstruther is waiting for the drafts to carry this into effect.
The Princess Palatine says that peace will never be made in Germany unless both Palatinates and the Electorate are promptly restored.
The Hague, the 5th May, 1633.
May 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
149. Vicenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
While on the one hand one sees the ministers here disinclined to believe that even if the negotiations for an adjustment in Germany are persevered with they will arrive at any conclusion in the present state of affairs, on the other hand one recognises also that the intervention of Denmark for this by no means displeases them, as one who for the sake of his relationship would be unable to ignore the interests of the Princess Palatine and her children. For this very reason it would be very well received at this Court, when any suitable opportunity presents itself, if that king should constitute himself mediator in such negotiations. They have no misgivings here about that monarch proposing to Oœsar and requesting the interposition of Great Britain in conjunction with his own, although, on several accounts some' coolness remains in the general relations between them, since at present there is no minister of that crown here, as there used to be, and there is none from here in that kingdom. So they say that they must of necessity refer everything to the negotiations of Anstruther, and wait.
Nothing of substance has yet come from him upon this particular. Indeed it seems, on the contrary, that by his last letters his offices were directed energetically to the conclusion of some agreement with the Chancellor Oxestern, which he hoped was near, about overcoming the difficulty about giving up and handing to the Duke of Symeren the fortresses in the Palatinate. Upon that, as the government here intimates, really depends the resolution that they will take for the actual disbursement of the 10,000l. sterling a month', which' England offers, not only for the common cause, but for the interests of the Palatinate in particular. Accordingly the agent of the duke administrator, who urges the despatch of the letters of exchange which have frequently been promised to him, cannot attain his end, on the plea that they must move for their contributions in step with the procedure of the Swedes towards the consignment of the fortresses in the Palatinate in the manner indicated.
Although the reports about the departure of the Cardinal Infant grow more and more faint, yet many believe that the desire of the Spaniards for some accommodation in Flanders and Germany means that they have other intrigues on hand and is intended to leave them with stronger forces free to go and make trouble elsewhere. It would appear that in their innermost hearts they adhere to their fixed and acrid feeling about the position of the French in Italy and about other matters affecting the position of affairs in that province.
Foster, the gentleman of the Treasurer's household who was sent to France, has returned. He has little to report about the progress of the negotiations broached at that Court by the Ambassador Weston, confirming the opinion of the ministers here that the French, whether it be from their relations with Bavaria or others, do not care about co-operating in a closer union for the interests of the Palatinate with that whole heartedness that they would like here.
The Deputy Brasser went to a special audience of his Majesty the day before yesterday to state his arguments about the capture by some Dutch vessels of three Dunkirk war ships which had taken refuge in the Downs. (fn. 1) Upon the occasion of this audience he told the king that he had orders from his masters to inform his Majesty that even if some truces were arranged the Dutch would be all the more ready to serve their friends and allies, and those of the Palatine house in particular, in contributing their succours in Germany, as the common cause requires. This idea, which he has repeated to others also has given rise to the suspicion that those negotiations may have arrived at the point of a conclusion, and that the Dutch propose, with arms in their hands and the Prince of Orange in the field, to arrange them more advantageously.
The eldest prince Palatine and the Duke of Lennox, his Majesty's nephew and cousin, have been chosen by the king these last days for the order of the garter. (fn. 2)
The famous merchant Burlamacchi has failed. The amount of his debts is not fully ascertained ; they say that the bankruptcy will be a very notable one. (fn. 3)
The last despatches from the Senate are of the 8th of April.
London, the 6th May, 1633.
Postscript : they are making public at this Court the expositions of Fishiers, the French minister in Germany. The enclosed sheet will serve to compare with what will already have reached. Venice on this subject.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosure. 150. Exposition of the Ambassador Fischers.
[Italian ; 3 pages.]
May 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
151. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
The Chancellor Oxensterna has certainly arranged with Anstruther for the restitution of the portion of the Lower Palatinate held by the Swedes, with the obligation, so far as one knows at present, that England shall pay a certain sum down, and the Palatinate shall contribute the portion assigned to it by the diet of Elbrum ; but as it cannot do so, owing to its poverty, England will supply what is lacking. Only the signature of the Administrator was required for this treaty, for the rest, everything was arranged satisfactorily.
Anstruther, with the deputy Pau and other ministers has gone to Dresden to see the duke and obtain his approval of the arrangements made at the Diet of Elbrum.
The Hague, the 12th May, 1633.
May 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
152. Vicenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The departure of his Majesty for Scotland is so near at hand that all other affairs at the Court give place to that. The royal orders have issued for everyone to get ready with all speed. The day is already fixed for Wednesday in next week, when the king will leave this city and start on his journey.
With things in this state the French ambassador does nothing in his charge and merely goes about performing the courteous offices for his departure, in accordance with the usual custom. As I have said, he leaves only a secretary here.
According to what they write from France M. di Guron is spoken of as his successor, but one can say nothing for certain as yet, because so far his nomination has not been announced by the Most Christian, so Fontane asserts.
When the Ambassador Joachimi left it was stated and still is that he would return but it is not known when. The Agents of Spain, Florence, Flanders and Holland allow indefinite reports to get about as to whether they will follow his Majesty. It seems that they will be guided by the nature of their affairs and by what may happen to turn up. When any one has mentioned the subject to me I have replied that there was no occasion for me to go on that journey so long as no orders to the contrary reached me from the state. In the future the couriers, advices and affairs will go to Scotland. The absence of the king, ministers, government and Court will render the material even more sterile. Meanwhile they are waiting with interest to hear what the Ambassador Anstruther has been able to arrange with the Chancellor Oxistern. They consider the negotiations are in very good train about handing over the Palatinate fortresses to the Duke of Symeren.
The lords here seem thoroughly impressed with the idea that it does not behove England ever to dissociate herself from the support and advantage that the strength and union of the princes of the party in Germany may produce for the common good and for that of the Palatines in particular. On the other hand it is not difficult to perceive from their talk that the interposition of Denmark for peace negotiations would not displease them, as of one interested by sympathy and blood in the Palatine house ; but they conclude that for a proper knowledge and sound information it is necessary to wait for the account which Anstruther's own secretary should bring, who is expected from Germany.
I have not forgotten to raise the question of the ordinary ambassador with the ministers here again. Everyone seems to believe that the king means to send the ambassador in ordinary to Venice, but just now it is a fact that the ministry devote scant attention to foreign affairs, and so they procrastinate and defer their decision.
There are various opinions at this Court about the Prince of Orange taking the field and they seem doubtful whether the Dutch really mean to prosecute the war seriously, or whether their object is to obtain a treaty on more advantageous terms when they have arms in their hands. From the two Dutch ships which arrived in the Downs from the Indies with very rich cargoes and escaped to sea by suddenly setting sail, avoiding the seizure designed against them, some forty sailors with the captain himself remain prisoners, as they had not time to get on board. The Deputy Brasser has remonstrated strongly, to all the ministers, and here they seem ashamed of having shown their hand without securing their intent. (fn. 4)
The last letters of the Senate to reach me are of the 15th April.
London the 13th May, 1633.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
153. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
The Princess Palatine declares that Denmark has not yet told her anything about his interposition for peace in Germany. The Resident Bosuel says he has not done so to England, although their interests are so closely united that he ought first of all to obtain the consent of that prince. They are momentarily expecting a secretary from that king and possibly he may perform some such office.
The Hague, the 19th May, 1633.
May 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
154. Vicenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The ministers here are watching closely the turn that the negotiations for an accommodation in Germany may take. They are afraid that the Duke of Saxony, jealous, as they say, of the house of Weimar and tired of the war, may allow himself to be won over, to the prejudice of the common cause, to conclude some agreement with the imperialists. It is believed that these would also gladly see the Landgrave of Darmstadt intervene in the negotiations, as one who has never seemed to have any objection to be a dependant and servant of the house of Austria.
On the other side they say that the presence of the Chancellor Oxestern at the last diet of Germany has thoroughly united the four circles. These united with the allied states and provinces may form a strong counterpoise to all attempts made to arrange matters by agreements separate from the common benefit. It seems that in the circles in question they have decided that the direction of their forces shall rest with the Swedes. The question to which they chiefly devote their attention here consists in the adjustment for the interests of the Palatine's heir, because they do not consider the conditions proposed acceptable, for the simple restitution of the Lower Palatinate without the electoral vote. They consider that the vote alone, besides the vicarship of the empire carries with it many other privileges of the greatest importance, which they reckon to be worth almost more than the Palatinate itself. In the meantime the Agents of the Princess Palatine here urge with more ardour than ever the payment of the contributions for the service of Germany, which has always been promised but never carried out as yet. In their talk they are somewhat free with their complaints, declaring that they no longer know what to believe after such long delays, and they seem to fear that the object here is to procrastinate by giving empty words.
The king started from this city the day before yesterday on his way to Scotland. According to custom I went, as did all the other ministers to pay the usual compliments to his Majesty, wishing him a pleasant journey and assuring him of the esteem of our state. He seemed very pleased at the office, expressed his thanks to the republic and remarked that he would always cherish her goodwill. He went on at once to ask me if it were true that the Cardinal Infant, having embarked for Italy, had been driven back to Spain by the rough sea. I said that I had no news of this, but my last from your Excellencies of the 22nd ult. stated that he was to proceed to Milan, and that there was no longer any doubt of this. I referred to the military preparations at Naples for Milan and to their other provisions. The king remarked, The warning is a good one, but the Spaniards are busy in Flanders and Germany. Sire, I replied, your Majesty is well aware that they are trying for peace in both. Italy no less than England must keep her eyes and ears open for that. The king remarked that the entry of the Prince of Orange into the field afforded good hope, and we might believe that the Duke of Saxony would not dissociate himself from the interests of all the other princes in Germany. At this point he uttered these very words, Anstruther sends me very good advices ; the union is going well. He has come to an agreement with the Chancellor Oxestern. I shall know the particulars better when his secretary has arrived. I touched on the advantage to the public cause of his Majesty's assistance, and took my leave.
I went off to pay my respects and other offices to those of the Council who are to take the journey to Scotland. With the Secretary Cuch in particular I urged the considerations for sending an ordinary ambassador to Venice, but I could get no more out of him beyond the confirmation that the king intends to send one. I insisted on the point, representing the suitability and indeed the necessity of making this response. In the end I left him committed to let me know some particulars on the subject, although I can see well enough that with the departure of the king and all the Council, other foreign affairs will get but little attention here.
The Ambassador Fontane will leave next week. It is stated that until the arrival of his successor a secretary will be sent from France, and in the interval the minister of your Serenity will be the only person in the capacity of an ordinary ambassador in this kingdom.
The Abbot Scaglia continues his stay in Brussels. He has many friends at this Court, but for his own particular interests he keeps up his most frequent correspondence with a leading man among the merchants of this mart. (fn. 5) Here they do not know and do not believe that he has any employment with the Infanta or with the queen mother either, who remains at Ghent of her own free will. What they say about him, which is confirmed by those most in his intimacy, who exchange letters with him, agrees with the general idea that he is living privately at that Court in a discontented frame of mind.
Santa Croce is still here, although his operations in the interests of Monsieur have slackened. He has not obtained any satisfaction and there is no sign of his doing so, since they certainly do not wish to do anything here which would displease the Most Christian in this matter.
London, the 20th May, 1633.
May 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
155. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
The Polish ambassador visited the Princess Palatine and presented letters from his king. He offered condolences on the death of her husband and told her that his king had undertaken to interpose for the peace of Germany. He intimated that he would like to hear her opinion. She answered in general terms that she referred herself to what England and the Administrator approved.
He went also to the audience of the States and in visiting me he spoke of the affairs of Germany. As he has had the answer of the States he proposes to go and see the Prince of Orange in camp and then proceed to England. I am told that Poland has been exhorted by England to interpose, and that he is going to impart the resolutions taken at their instance and to find out what are their true sentiments about the affairs of Germany, and especially the Palatinate.
The Hague, the 26th May, 1633.
156. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
In accordance with the agreement, the Administrator is taking possession of the part of the Palatinate in Swedish hands. He will reside at Franchental. He was to pay 60,000 thalers, 30,000 down, as he has done, it is believed with the help of England, and 30,000 next year.
The Hague, the 26th May, 1633.
May 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
157. Vicenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the king is all ready for his journey to Scotland and although he has left this city for the purpose, while his following of nobles and the rest have already set out, yet he has decided to tarry in the country round about for the pleasures of the chase, and in the meantime he postpones further progress in his journey. We know, certainly that his intention was to see first the secretary sent by Anstruther, with the particulars of his negotiations with the Chancellor Oxestern. Now this secretary has at length arrived (fn. 6) he brings news which has been received with complete satisfaction here and which has won universal applause for the adroit manner in which Anstruther has contrived to take part in the negotiations, and conduct them so well that he has succeeded in bringing them to a successful termination, after many difficulties. The Chancellor Oxestern has agreed in the first place, and will put it in writing, to the restitution of the fortresses in the Lower Palatinate to the Duke of Symeren, as Administrator. The fortress of Mannheim alone is to remain subject to the Swedes. They have announced that the citadel shall be garrisoned by their own troops, as a recompense for their expenses, and that all claims whatsoever shall be cancelled by the payment of 60,000 thalers only. Finally the secretary has shown his Majesty that by the special care of Anstruther England is not committed to anything in any part of the document. She is not mentioned for any obligation in any article of the treaty, which is stipulated between Oxestern and the Administrator only through the mediation of that duke's deputies. This pleases them highly here, in addition to their satisfaction with the treaty as a whole. But as the deputies of Symeren have promised in writing the payment of the 60,000 thalers with the express consent of Anstruther, so everything here goes to show that they have fully made up their minds about the urgency and necessity of this contribution. They intimate further that they are ready here to supply not only this sum but an additional 60,000 thalers as well, amounting in all to some 25,000 to 30,000l. sterling, and more still which may be necessary for the payment of the garrisons which will be required. Accordingly the hopes of the agents of the Princess Palatine here have begun to revive since this secretary's arrival, since, by the royal command, the promises about providing money to be remitted to Germany have been repeated with emphasis. On this account Cholb, notwithstanding his decision to leave when he found that all his representations were in vain, has now postponed his departure on the ground of the great appearances that he will at last obtain some proper satisfaction. But as in the past they have seemed to procrastinate with words, promises and hopes, so it is necessary to judge by deeds alone as without these, after so many past delays, it is impossible to form the definite opinion that is required.
We hear that nothing has yet been decided with regard to the negotiations between the emperor and Saxony. But they are much afraid that these negotiations may be used to separate that Elector from the interests of the common union. They have received very badly here his reluctance or rather refusal to agree not only with Brandenburg but with the other princes of the party in the recognition due to the Duke of Symeren in his capacity of Elector Administrator. Anstruther has orders about this, to proceed to Dresden, in order to labour, not only to render the Duke of Saxony more favourable to the affairs of the Palatine, but also to perform every office in order to keep him as united as possible for the benefit of the common cause.
They do not hear at this Court of any further progress with the negotiations of Fichiers for the hold in Alsace which the French desire. The government here has always professed to believe that success in this will be the more difficult because they assert that the princes of the party are jealous about the proposal.
The delay in his Majesty's departure renders them more anxious just now to hasten the journey. The king wishes to travel post by coaches stationed purposely at stated intervals, in several places, into which he can change. He will thus perform a great part of the journey ; for the rest he will mount on horseback and pursue his journey in that way through the parks and forests on the road, so as not to lose the pleasures of the chase. The queen has remained at Greenwich, and owing to her pregnancy she will not go far away from the pleasure resorts in the neighbourhood of this city.
Gerbier, the English Agent, has arrived recently from Brussels. He is to return to his residence in a few days. He had audience of the king, but it has not yet transpired what matter of importance he brings. He says a great deal about the unhappy position of the Spaniards in Flanders. He thinks there is danger of the fall of Rimbergh, as well as of other places into the hands of the Dutch. He says it will be a great deal if the Spaniards are able to avoid losing heavily. He asserts that they can do no more than remain on the defensive, and winds up with the statement that they will be compelled in the end to buy the truce with every disadvantage.
From a good authority I have obtained the enclosed advices about the Abbot Scaglia and his proceedings at that Court.
From the house of the Marquis of Santa Croce, who still remains here, a report has issued that an accommodation has been arranged, or is on the point of being arranged between Monsieur and the king, his brother ; we are waiting for confirmation on better authority.
It is calculated that the Cardinal Infant will have arrived in Italy by this time. The ministers here seem as interested as ever to see what will be the results of his arrival or stay in that country. Everyone is of opinion that the princes there will have good cause for reflection, owing to the mystery and consequences involved in such a move.
The last letters to reach me from the state are of the 29th ult.
London, the 27th May, 1633.
Enclosure. 158. Copy of paragraph in a letter from Brussels, about the proceedings of the Abbot Scaglia at Brussels, where he had confidential relations with the Marquis Aytona. His approaches to the Queen Mother and Monsieur thwarted, and he remains without friends or support although he always speáks against the Cardinal. He lives privately and in great comfort. He is in disgrace with his master but does not mind as he is well off, a great part of his money being in the land of Richaut, a London merchant with whom he has the most frequent correspondence.
May 28.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
159. To the Ambassador in England.
By your despatch of the 22nd ult. received this morning we see that sovereign is very well disposed to the affairs of Germany. You will support this in your intercourse with the ministers and with his Majesty himself, praising the generosity of his ideas and the admirable disposition he shows for the relief of his nephew.
Ayes, 92. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.


  • 1. See Cal. S.P. Dom. 1633-4 page 24 ; this took place on 1st May.
  • 2. Charles Lewis, Elector Palatine and James Stuart, 4th Duke of Lennox were elected Knights on 18th April. Beltz' Memorials of the Order of the Garter, page 188.
  • 3. Salvetti, writing on the same date, gives the figures as £150,000 sterling. Brit. Mus. Add MSS. 27962F.
  • 4. This incident took place at Cowes. not in the Downs, on 21 April. The forty men appear to have been allowed to return to their ship. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1633-4 pages 22, 23.
  • 5. From No. 158 below it would appear that this correspondent was Peter Ricaut, a Dutch merchant living in London.
  • 6. Mr. Hurst. S.P. Foreign. Germany, States. desp. 1/11 May.