Venice: May 1634

Pages 217-225

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 1634

May 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
291. Vicenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I am condemned to a painful detention in this island solely by the contrariety of the weather, but I hope that my departure hence will not be delayed for more than a few hours, to judge by what the sailors say, as apparently the wind is inclined to become favourable soon.
When I was on the point of going away his Majesty chose to honour my departure in the usual way with the usual present of silver gilt. If your Excellencies will allow me to keep this present it will serve to some extent to make me feel my expenses less.
The Ambassador of Sweden and Germany met with much greater difficulties about the levies than he expected, in agreement with the general opinion. Under various pretexts they keep delaying and restricting the permission although to make matters easier he reduced his request from entire regiments to recruits merely.
The heat of the Lords of the Council here and of the merchants as well in their resolutions about breaking off business in the Turkish dominions has cooled off. Although the despatch of the ambassador chosen for Constantinople is still suspended as well as of the four ships laden with cloth, which were to go with him to that mart, it is stated on good authority that the royal order is about to be withdrawn, as they consider that the affair may already have fallen through of itself without any worse consequences or inconveniences.
The Court is full of whispers that the Spaniards have made some very far-reaching agreements with Savoy. Every one is waiting to see what employment will be given to Prince Tomaso in Flanders. The English Resident at Brussels writes that an extraordinary courier has arrived from Spain with orders to the Marquis of Aytona for the imprisonment of the Prince of Barbanson, the Duke of Buonovilla, the Count of Epinoi and many other lords of great mark in those Provinces. He adds that the Duke of Arescot has been arrested at a place not far from Madrid. (fn. 1) There is much talk about the confusion which may arise from such measures, but the most general opinion agrees in expressing the great fear among the leading men of the country at the publication of those orders.
The king celebrated the annual feast of St. George by inviting all the Knights of the Garter to dine with him, after the two earls the one English and the other Scotch, newly chosen and numbered among the order, (fn. 2) had made a very splendid appearance with their robes, liveries and horses.
The last public despatches to reach me are of the 7th of April.
London, the 5th of May, 1634.
May 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
292. Alvise Contarini Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Oxenstern writes from England that he will soon be back at the Hague on his way to Germany. He speaks doubtfully as to whether the levy of Scots, they spoke about, will be granted to him.
The Hague, the 8th May, 1634.
May 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
293. Francesco Zonca, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In accordance with the obedience which I owe to the commands of the Senate I have taken up the burden laid upon me by the Ambassador Gussoni to reside here in the capacity of minister of your Serenity until the arrival of the Ambassador Corraro. In these duties, in which I trust that Heaven will support and direct my excellent intentions I shall use my utmost endeavour to secure every advantage for the state. In the first place my efforts will be directed to bring to the knowledge of your Excellencies the most exact particulars of all that I succeed in discovering about what takes place in the constitution of the present government here, using the most careful judgment. I shall cultivate the same confidential relations which have been maintained with such useful results by his Excellency, and I shall pay particular attention to this the better to discharge my duties to the public satisfaction. I will also carry out with the most exact punctuality such commands as reach me from your Serenity and I will study to leave nothing to be desired in all that concerns the public service, so far as my powers allow.
After having ruled contrary to the sea passage for many days the wind changed to favourable and the Cavalier Gussoni set out for Dover to take his passage there for Calais. He stayed here chafing for some days after he had finished with the compliments at Court. Very great regret at his departure is felt by the members of the government here and by the foreign ministers as well, with whom his Excellency kept up a mutual intimacy with advantage to the public service. They extol the splendour and generous dignity with which he maintained the lustre of his position as minister of the republic throughout the whole course of his charge, and they commend to the skies his prudence, experience and ability in affairs of state and in the current events of the time, as well as his most zealous circumspection towards the interests of his country.
The principal efforts of the royal Council these last days have all been devoted to finding some means to soothe the Protestant Princes in Germany over the refusal they have just given to the Ambassador Oxisterna about the regiments of the infantry and the assistance in money for which he asked. In substance the replies both orally and in writing to his original and repeated offices amount merely to representations of the condition of this crown, as powerless to contribute money for the common cause for reason commonly known, and the inconvenience of permitting complete levies owing to the numerous drafts taken in the last years for the service of France, Germany and the Netherlands. In this last connection it was found good to issue a royal proclamation forbidding the grant of levies to any one soever. It is further asserted that the rules of good governance require that while the united powers, such as France and the Netherlands, are powerfully armed, they ought not to be liberal with such permits as they should first consider what may be necessary for the defence of his Majesty's own dominions, where the number of men capable of bearing arms has been greatly reduced owing to the reasons indicated above. They go on to point out that the demand for troops and money point to the obligations of an alliance between England and the Princes, his superiors, and this is not yet established. That orders will be given to the Ambassador Anstruther so that he may negotiate this article first of all, and that settled, his Majesty will give the fullest support. In the mean time, as a further pledge of the king's good intentions they have promised him the levy in Scotland of certain recruits, to avoid establishing a precedent for whole regiments, which could not be refused subsequently to others without giving rise to remonstrances. In fine they do not forget to advertise their services here towards the common cause in Germany, as well by the troops led thither by the Marquis of Hamilton, by the money expended at the time of the making over of the Palatinate, and by the offices contributed by a special ambassador, with the princes of the party, which proved so helpful to the public cause.
The ambassador seems highly dissatisfied at such, a categorical reply. However, in order that his mission may not prove altogether fruitless he has already sent some officers to Scotland to raise some 1800 soldiers as recruits with all speed, as he has announced. He has sent an express to the Diet at Frankfort about his negotiations and I imagine he will not leave here before their reply reaches him. He may then perhaps take up his negotiations again, so some think.
The intimates of the Abbot Scaglia here announce that Prince Tomaso makes much of him. He conducts all the prince's affairs at Brussels, and his Highness's plans and actions are all guided by the abbot's views and advice. The English Agent at that Court confirms this entirely in his letters. It causes great astonishment here, where it is well known that the Abbot is not in favour with the Duke, the Prince's brother, and they are waiting to see what observations France will make about it, notwithstanding the remonstrances which the Duke had made at the French Court on the subject.
Attempts are again being made by several members of the Council here to abate the overweening authority of the Lord Treasurer. I learn on good authority that the royal treasury being exhausted and it being necessary to pay the account of the Proti who built the last two ships for the king, (fn. 3) his Majesty decided to alienate a certain forest for this purpose, estimated to be worth enough for the purpose of paying the Proti. He gave the treasurer leave and special orders for this, but he sold it for a very low price, and devoted a small amount to the reduction of their large claims. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Keeper constitute themselves the heads of the party. I will inform your Excellencies by each post of what ensues.
From the house of the Spanish Resident here they have published a declaration printed at Brussels in French by order of the Marquis of Aytona, after the imprisonment of the nobles, as reported. From the tenor of this they argue here that the Spaniards are afraid of some revolt prejudicial to the interests of the Catholic owing to the connections which those individuals have in those Provinces. I enclose a translation of the paper into Italian for those of your Excellencies who may be curious to see it.
Two days ago their Majesties with divers gentlemen of the Court made the first move of the annual progress out of this city. They have gone to Greenwich to begin with, in order to spend some weeks in the neighbourhood in the pleasures of the chase.
London, the 12th May, 1634.
Enclosure. 294. Manifesto of Francesco di Moncada, Marquis of Aytona, etc. that the king recognises the loyalty of his subjects who have resisted the attempts to prevent their allegiance and will pardon those who have offended in any way, with the exception of those condemned by the Great Council.
Brussels, the 29th April, 1634.
May 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
295. Francesco Zonca, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The stay here of the Ambassador Oxisterna in expectation of the return of the courier sent by him to Frankfort with the news of his negotiations makes the Resident Nicolaldi anxious and uneasy because of the more secret overtures which may have been made to him at his last private meeting with his Majesty, shortly before the courier left. At all events it is clear that while there is no sign of anything here to make one believe their eager good will to co-operate for the service of the common cause in Germany, yet on the other hand they snatch at every pretext that can justify their delaying action, although, according to the general opinion, they do not mean in the end to contribute any more than they have done up to the present. This determination, for the rest, agrees in every respect with the actual impotence of this crown and with the inclinations of the majority of the lords of the royal Council.
In this connection they have not allowed to pass without opposition the claims advanced by the ambassador to have powers for the kingdom of Sweden and the United Princes, seeing that his letters of credence are only authenticated with the name and seal of his father although the letters themselves state that the Chancellor, as Director General for the kingdom of Sweden and with the advice and consent of the United Princes in Germany, has sent his son to his Majesty as ambassador extraordinary. When this was pointed out to him in the last reply he showed that his mission had been approved in the other Diet of Frankfort. He added that he had also been recognised as such by their High Mightinesses in Holland, without any question, as is well known. But as they are not altogether satisfied with this here and refuse on that account to negotiate more intimately with him, as he seems to desire, unless he can show more imposing commissions, they have intimated to him that the necessary instructions will be sent to the Ambassador Anstruther to proceed to Frankfort, and negotiate what is necessary at the Diet there. This did not please the Ambassador Oxisterna and he has undertaken to have a more explicit justification of his qualities sent, and this is the principal reason for his delay, of which I have confirmation on good authority.
The affairs of the Lord Treasurer here still remain in the balance. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Keeper inveigh boldly against him, and have proved to the king in his presence that he acquired the forest already mentioned at a very great disadvantage to his Majesty. It is whispered that the Earls of Holland, Carlisle and Dorset have joined these two and all are conspiring together for the Treasurer's ruin. Every one cries out against him, and in his prosperity he laid no one under an obligation who could be of use to support him under such circumstances. He tries to justify himself, but feebly because the accusation against him is proved. He lives in the deepest affliction and in retirement, colouring his absence from the councils where his presence is necessary, under the pretext of bodily indisposition. He bases all his hopes upon his Majesty's favour, of which he has had such abundant testimony in the past, and on the offices of the Duke of Lennox, who is very dear to the king, a sister of whom is married to the Treasurer's eldest son, the one who was lately ambassador extraordinary to your Serenity.
There are various opinions about the issue of this savoury affair (aromatico negotio) according to men's sympathies. The wisest however think that as this matter touches his Majesty's private interests, he will pass it over and condone the offence, in consideration of the numerous services which he receives daily from the employment of this minister.
News arrives from Brussels that the Count de Firsin, a Walloon Colonel under the command of the Prince d'Espinoy, has withdrawn to Liege followed by some troops of cavalry of the the same nation. Here they expect some disturbances to follow the decision taken in Spain against the most distinguished nobles of those Provinces. The partisans of the Austrians here do not approve of such measures under existing circumstances.
We do not hear that the commissions have yet reached Prince Tomaso touching the offices which it was announced he was to exercise in Flanders. Those who know the Abbot Scaglia best assert that the prelate, with his usual intrigues, may have contrived the movements of the prince, by means of letters to Spain and Piedmont. His intimates announce here, at all events, that he retains the prince's favour.
Gerbier writes that the coming of the Cardinal Infant with his army by land is only spoken of as an idea which is far from practicable, notwithstanding the resolutions of Spain and the preparations in Italy ; they consider the obstacles which he will encounter from Sweden in Alsace, and still more from the French in Lorraine.
Some articles and points suggested in the Diet of Frankfort have issued from the house of the Swedish ambassador here. They have reached me through an intimate and I enclose a translation from the French to serve as confirmation or illumination for the Senate.
Your Serenity's letters received this week are of the 20th ult.
London, the 19th May, 1634.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosure. 296. Articles proposed in the Assembly at Frankfort.
(1) General Assembly of all the reformed Princes and Nobles.
(2) Conditions upon which a general peace may be concluded.
(3) In what form the interposition of the King of Denmark may be used, who is trying to maintain the peace.
(4) What reward shall be given to Sweden for her great services.
(5) By what means can sufficient forces be kept on foot to obtain a good peace.
(6) How to deal with the King of France's pretensions to Philipsburg.
(7) How to deal with the Palatine Wolfgang William of Neuburg about the neutrality for which he asks.
(8) If they shall receive or refuse the help and alliance of the Protestant Princes and Towns who offer to join the Swedish party, and how to treat with them.
[Italian, from the French.]
May 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
297. Francesco Zonca, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Amid the dependence in which the Court lives the generality of the city here does not concern itself with what may happen about the accusations made against the Treasurer of the Realm. It has been unexpectedly announced that his Majesty's affection for him has prevailed, assisted by the offices of the Duke of Lennox, who, according to the talk here, obliged the Duchess of Buckingham, heiress of the royal favour of her husband, to join with him in upholding the interests of the Treasurer. The day before yesterday he went to Greenwich, where their Majesties are still staying, and there kissed the king's hand in the presence of all the lords of the Court, in considerable numbers. The king received him without any change and showed him outwardly all the ordinary signs of his customary confidence. This greatly afflicted those of the contrary party and others who deplore the present state of the government, who hoped that with the fall of the Treasurer the fundamental principles of the country might be revived, for the greatness and better convenience of the king, the benefit and content of his subjects and the renewal of the ancient fame of the British nation.
On the other hand the Treasurer does not fail to get his dependents to advertise his great deserts with this kingdom, which has experienced such relief, so they say, since he entered the government. They refer in the first place to the embarrassments in which England was involved by the rupture with the crowns of France and Spain, the forces which were maintained abroad, running up heavy debts, the counties incommoded by the billeting of soldiers and sailors ; his Majesty's treasury exhausted and deeply injured, with countless other disorders. All these things were made good under his direction. They assert that he brought about a reconciliation with the French and Spaniards, satisfied the sailors and soldiers, disbanded the army and relieved the counties, and consequently cut off 800,000l. sterling of the old debts of the crown, which were charged with 10 to 12 per cent. interest yearly. He increased and put in a better state of repair the king's ships of war, which were reduced to a very small number and practically useless, and finally, he had recently taken in hand the fortification of the sea ports, which have been left hitherto unprovided against emergencies. The adherents of the Treasurer give utterance to such overstatements in order to dissipate the ill will which the people have conceived against him, which was increased by these recent coups. Besides this he is the prime cause in the general opinion which prevents the king from having a good understanding with parliament. All the same, in spite of the above considerations and notwithstanding the appearances in his favour, I learn from a very safe source that the king himself wishes to enquire into the sale in question, as they tell him that he was the loser by more than 100,000 crowns, and all do not consider this matter fully adjusted as yet.
The king's instructions have been sent to the Ambassador Anstruther at Hamburg to proceed to Frankfort to the Diet there. So far as I have been able to discover they amount in brief to this : to hear the overtures that the princes there may make to him touching the establishment of some alliance with England, but with orders not to commit himself to anything, but to write and to wait for the answers from here.
Oxisterna, concluding from such instructions that their object here is to delay matters, has pointed out that this mission is ill timed, since Anstruther cannot reach Frankfort before the dissolution of the Diet. He declares that the princes there being all of one mind about the better direction of the war, or of the peace, according to the changes of fortune, there is not much left to be discussed and settled between them, involving a loss of time that would be better employed in prosecuting the campaign.
From time to time, although without effect the Princess Palatine renews her instances for some assistance for the entry which she desires her eldest son to make into his hereditary dominions. The prince himself, his Majesty's nephew, has represented in his own lamentable letters his misfortune and begs as a suppliant for some amount of ready money which shall enable him to appear as becomes the estate which he has from God, of a sovereign in those states. He asserts that he is called thither by the whole of the people there.
The replies to these letters and petitions were inconclusive, although they had the support of the Swedish ambassador and of the Dutch ministers, who intervene in this affair with opportune tact. They said here that they would not neglect to think of a way to do that which would best serve the interests of the Palatine and of the common cause.
Letters from Brussels, arrived this week, report that the Cardinal Infant has written to the Marquis of Aytona that in a few days he will be leaving Italy with a powerful army to proceed to Alsace for the relief of that province, and to go on thence to Flanders by force of arms.
The same letters add that Prince Tomaso betrays some mortification at seeing himself so far disappointed in the hopes which attracted him to hasten to those provinces, where he is considered suspect not only by France but by the Spaniards too who say that he is not clear water (chi dicono non esser egli acqua chiara).
They do not believe here that the Cardinal is leaving Italy, arguing that his presence in Alsace can be of little use, and his passage to Flanders by force of arms beset by obstacles and dangers which they do not believe he will risk.
Several of the gentlemen here will not believe that Prince Tomaso is likely to obtain the command which he claims in Flanders. They say here that the Spaniards are very cautious, and that they have enticed the prince into their hands for some cunning ends of their own.
Various opinions are expressed about Monsieur, as to whether he may find some difficulty about leaving those provinces, because the agreement between him and the Most Christian is considered settled.
London, the 26th May, 1634.
May 26.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
298. To the Secretary in England.
Acknowledge receipt of the Ambassador Gussoni's despatches of the 21st April with the report of his offices about the appointment of an ambassador in the place of the one deceased. Zonca is not to insist upon this or to say a word about it. Enclose advices for information.
Ayes, 107. Noes, O. Neutral, 2.
May 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
299. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English talk more than any one about the negotiations of Fechiers to win over the Princes of Germany to the Diet. They say that the Swedes will not agree and that the King of Great Britain will not be pleased at it. Yet every report confirms that the Ambassador Oxenstiern is getting no satisfaction in England. But if the conduct of the Lord Treasurer Weston is the reason for this, it might fall with him. It is known that he has recently received a severe blow from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Keeper to the delight of good Englishmen who consider that the king and kingdom are reduced to the utmost impotence in the Treasurer's interest alone. The news excites some perturbation here, as it is thought that interests of state as well as of religion may lead to an understanding with Sweden and serious interest in the affairs of Germany, possibly to the exclusion of France. One of the English residents here has told me that the Archbishop of Canterbury has tried to suggest to the king the summoning of Parliament.
Moretta, the 27th May, 1634.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. The Prince of Barbancon only was arrested, the Duke of Bournonville and the Count of Epinoi escaped across the frontier. The Duke of Arschot was arrested in Spain on the 15th April.
  • 2. Henry Danvers, earl of Danby, and William Douglas, earl of Morton.
  • 3. The two last ships built were the Unicorn and the James, the former at Woolwich by Edward Boate and the latter at Deptford by Peter Pett. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1633-4, pages 248, 483. Oppenheim. Administration of the Royal Navy page 255.