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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April 1635, 1-15
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
453. The Ambassador of the King of Great Britain came into
the Collegio and spoke as follows in French :
I should not have ventured to come to disturb the graver affairs of your Serenity had not the favours accorded to me on the death of my wife overcome my great grief by a sense of fresh indebtedness to the republic. The favours shown to me here have far outrun my merits, and make me most anxious to discharge some of the debt. In the mean time I have come to render infinite thanks for such honours and for those you decided to render to the memory of my wife. As I could not accept these without special permission from his Majesty I have sent to inform him of the offer and of the numerous other demonstrations of friendship and esteem which I have received, for which I also thank your Serenity.
The doge replied, We were most grieved to hear of the death of the ambassadress, owing to your loss of such an excellent lady and the grief it must occasion you. We hope that God will console you. The decision about a public funeral will be carried out whenever your lordship pleases, as it was due to our affection and esteem for his Majesty and yourself.
After the ambassador had made a complimentary reply he strongly recommended the interests of Colonel Dubles, who did not arrive before his leave of absence expired because of the delay in accompanying him on this embassy. The ambassador hoped this would not prejudice him because he had been the cause by keeping the Colonel with him. He was a very deserving gentleman both for his own qualities and for his devotion to the republic. The ambassador added that all the English nation had received the greatest favours and he asked permission to introduce the Secretary Rolandson to thank his Serenity on his Majesty's behalf. This was done and the secretary expressed his thanks very respectfully for the gold chain presented to him by the state. After the doge had responded graciously about the satisfaction his ministry had given, the ambassador rose, bowed and went out.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
454. That the Ambassador of the King of Great Britain be
summoned to the Collegio, and that the following be read to him :
We are much gratified by your courteous office and we would express our grief at the sad event that has happened as well as our hope that God will grant you every consolation. With regard to the public funeral, we desire to do what you wish and will await your pleasure. We will do everything possible for Colonel Douglas, whose worth and loyalty are recognised ; and we shall always be glad of any opportunity to show our affection and esteem for the King of Great Britain and for yourself personally.
Ayes. 130. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
455. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Spain,
to the Doge and Senate.
They have been consulting at the palace about the reply to be given to what the courier from England brought, and desired the Marquis of Fuentes to take part in the deliberations, as being the general appointed to command the Dunkirk ships, and acquainted with the waters there. What they have decided cannot yet be discovered. It is said that there are three points to be settled. First, England claims free trade for the English in Brazil and the Indies if that crown is to supply ships for their recovery. They will never consent to that here owing to the great hurt it would inflict on the Spaniards and Portuguese alike.
Second, the king insists on a promise from the emperor and this crown to restore the Palatinate, and, if Bavaria will not consent, that Caesar will compel him to do so. They replied, so I understand, that the part held by the Austrians will be restored, and that they will do their utmost to persuade Bavaria, but they do not think it right to undertake to do more. England does not accept this.
Third, the Austrians desire that the alliance shall be both offensive and defensive, while the King of England only wants it to be defensive, although not excluding the hope of some secret promise for an offensive one.
The nuncio here has spoken to the Count Duke against the project, urging him to continue in his zeal for beating down the heretics. The Count Duke replied with a smile that he did not know as yet what would happen about the alliance, but his Holiness might rest assured that the king would do nothing unworthy of his predecessors. His lordship ought to know that reciprocal amity was a good thing for all princes ; and on this particular occasion, if anything came of it, more would result for the advantage of religion than for its hurt. The ministers here, since the announcement of these negotiations, say that the use of the Catholic religion in England is having more latitude at present, in order to create the impression that the negotiations are directed solely towards the service of God, and in this way they try to cover their political aims.
Madrid, the 4th April, 1635. Copy.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
456. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
The king returned to London on Saturday last as arranged. On the following Sunday their Majesties decided to give public audienco to Senneterre. As he had not delivered any letters from his master to Poygni, that minister determined not to accompany him. Senneterre sent the letters, declaring that they had only just reached him, which seems doubtful to me because of their ancient date. Poygni accepted the letters with the excuse and they afterwards went together to the audience. Their Majesties received them with the usual ceremonial, and after the usual compliments they took leave and proceeded to the queen's apartments, and passed nearly all the rest of the day in private conversation.
I sent the secretary with my coach and went myself to see M. de Seneterre on the following day, by arrangement. I expressed the devotion of your Excellencies to the interests of the Most Christian, and wished him success in his present negotiations with this crown. We exchanged further compliments. He then asked me what I thought of the leanings of this Court, what their temperature might be and which side the ministers here were disposed to favour. I replied that I felt sure that the Sieur de Poygni had given him full information upon all these particulars. During the short time that I had been at this embassy I had not had occasion to treat with them, and so I could only pass a common judgment. I believed them to be good Englishmen and devoted and loyal servants of their king. It seems to me, he replied that they are very friendly towards the interests of the Dutch. It is necessary to encourage this feeling above everything else, because the Dutch carry on their backs a burden which is too heavy for them, and if it were not in great measure supported by the king, my master, they might have come near relieving themselves of it by this time, by concluding the truces. Accordingly to procure a good understanding between them and this crown is a most essential point that cannot fail to be most helpful, because they can suffer every day considerable damage and experience singular benefits from this quarter.
Without giving me time to speak he began to talk of something else. He said he heard that the Spaniards were making great preparations of arms in Italy, both in the kingdom of Naples and in the state of Milan. They must be intending to rekindle the fire. But what did the pope think of it? Are they not offended about the affair of the Borgia? Yet he is not arming. How will he grant a passage through his states to the Neapolitan cavalry? The king, my master, cannot stand an idle spectator amid the noise of these movements. He will send troops to Italy. He will look after his own affairs and will assist the interests of his allies where necessary. But what does the most serene republic propose to do in the case of a rupture in that province? I told him that it seemed to me that affairs in Germany were in such a critical state that I thought they would require more than a passing attention from both sides, since they were of the first importance, and that this consideration sufficed to persuade me that Italy was not now in imminent danger of the outbreak of a fresh fury of arms, but would enjoy some respite. All the same I could not but commend highly the prudent vigilance of his Most Christian Majesty.
He went on to say, it is necessary to make a definite move against this House of Austria. The king, my master will undoubtedly devote all his energy to this. Perhaps his efforts will in the mean time succeed in drawing out some advantage from this quarter. From what I have been able to gather from the king's own lips I do not consider the affair so hopeless as it has been represented to me.
I replied that his prudent dexterity would easily overcome all the most thorny difficulties of this affair, and I felt sure that he would not leave without the merit of a successful undertaking, and so I took my leave.
After his first audience, expressly for himself he had another private one of the king apart, and remained for the space of some hours. He told Poygni that he had employed the time on nothing except to dispose his Majesty to listen and approve the proposals that he was about to make to him. To day both of them together are to meet at the table of the Council before the six Commissioners deputed for them. Among these the Archbishop of Canterbury has been substituted in place of the Lord Treasurer. There they are to set forth the contents of their instructions. They imagine that the death of the Lord Treasurer will have softened if it has not entirely destroyed the harshness which did most to thwart the success of their negotiations, since it was he, really, more than any one else who insisted to the king upon the necessity of holding fast to his neutral position (per che era in effetto quello chi piu constantemente d' ogn altro rimostrava al Re la necessità di mantenersi in posto neutrale).
They seem now to be devoting more diligence than before to completing the arrangements for the sailing of the new naval force. His Majesty has chosen the Earl of Linge to command it with the title and authority of admiral. But it is believed that some part of it will go to the Indies under General Gorge for the purpose reported in my last.
A ship recently arrived from Lisbon reports the wreck of some galleons which were all ready to sail for Brazil ; also that in a small island near Cuba, called Tertugas if I remember rightly, the Spaniards have cut to pieces and entirely extirpated all the English who lived there, numbering more than 300. The news of this has aroused strong feeling here.
An express courier from the Ambassador Fielding arrived here on Monday from Venice in only ten days. He brings word of the illness of the ambassadress and declares that the ambassador is entirely satisfied with the honours accorded to him, and the ambassador's own letters bear this out.
I will take this opportunity to present to his Majesty the letters of your Serenity, and I will not fail to introduce the matter dexterously into my conversation with the leading ministers.
Of the affairs of Germany the news which has reached here this week is varied and most important, but not absolutely certain. They state in the first place that the town of Spire, after having met with energy two fierce assaults of the French, has at length been taken by storm by them, (fn. 1) and that the assailants would not listen to any proposals for a composition or agreement, since they were above all anxious to avenge the blood so barbarously shed in the surprise of Filipsburg. On the other hand it is said that the imperialists have surprised the citadel of Treves by a stratagem and made the Elector a prisoner. (fn. 2) This comes by way of Brussels, but it has little support, indeed it is refuted by letters from the same place which report that the Bishop, alarmed at the movements of the Austrians in that direction, went off to Metz, to put his person in safety. The French ambassadors here do not credit the report of the imprisonment of the Elector, because they steadily assert that he has not been staying in that city for a long time.
It is confirmed from various quarters that Oxisterna has left Germany with the intention of proceeding to Sweden, and in particular by the news that he had arrived at Calais to take ship there. (fn. 3) The comments at Court upon this most essential and important point do not seem to amount to any more than would be occasioned by ordinary curiosity, and the opinions expressed vary according to the prejudices of the speaker.
London, the 6th April, 1635.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
457. To the Ambassador in England.
We have received your letters of the 9th ult. The individual who offered to make improvements in Istria may come when he pleases to see the country and make his offers in person, but you are not to commit the state to pay the expense of his journey or to anything else.
That 300 ducats be granted to the ambassador for the carriage of letters and the cost of couriers.
Ayes, 132. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
458. Antonio Antelmi, Venetian Secretary in Germany,
to the Doge and Senate.
Since this news arrived the hopes of the ministers here have developed of a rupture between Poland and the Swedes in Prussia. The ambassador extraordinary of England at that Court, the more he recognises the lack of confidence between him and the Swedish commissioners, on account of the offence taken by one of them, who is son of the Grand Chancellor Oxisterna, in his embassy at London, endeavours the more to make friends with the Poles. At a private audience he went so far as to tell the king that if his master, the king of Great Britain found the Swedes obstinate in bringing themselves to a reasonable composition with that republic, he would be disposed to side with the party that more nearly approached what was right. Although at that Court they considered this as an inducement held out for the marriage of that king to the Palatine princess, it has, nevertheless, greatly encouraged the party which advocates a rupture with Sweden, who all belong to the Austrian party.
Vienna, the 7th April, 1635.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
459. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to
the Doge and Senate.
The death of the Lord Treasurer Weston in England makes them think hard here, owing to the changes that may ensue in the Government there. They considered him sympathetic, not for any goodwill that he showed, but owing to the principles he adhered to, in his own personal interest, to keep the peace with all his neighbours I learn from an English Catholic who lives here that they made him presents (lo facerano presentare).
Paris, the 10th April, 1635.
Senato, Secreta. Relazioni. Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
460. Relation of England of Vicenzo Gussoni. (fn. 4)
As I went by order of the state from Holland to England, I will add a relation of the latter, but much more succinctly because that great kingdom, overconfident perhaps in its position, interests itself but little in the present troubles of Europe, and even less in those which may arise, although that great power, by throwing its weight more into one scale than the other can do much to change the course of affairs in all Christendom.
The island is almost triangular in appearance, and with Scotland is from 750 to 800 miles long, 320 to 400 miles wide and 1700 miles in circumference. The northern angle has nothing facing it of any kind, only the vast open Ocean ; the second angle is opposite Flanders and the mouths of the Rhine, and the third looks towards Spain. The whole island abounds in ports and rivers ; the climate is healthy, the country rather hilly than flat, well populated with a people anciently barbarous and fierce, who lived more in the woods than in well ordered and constructed cities. After eight changes of rulers it has now, by a recent and final change, become a happy and most flourishing monarchy under the House of Stuart, of Scottish origin. From it are obtained valuable cloth of every kind, lead, tin, salt fish in abundance and other merchandise. It abounds in all necessaries, and from others they only require what are luxuries rather than necessaries, such as wine, sugar, spices, silk and so forth.
Although separated from holy Church, it retains, but in a corrupted form, the ancient ecclesiastical division of two archbishoprics of Canterbury and York with 24 bishoprics under them. After London, the metropolis, adorned with three crowns, York must be reckoned next for its size and population. The third is Bristol, a port famous for its trade with France, as that of Southampton is for that with Spain. Oxford and Cambridge are both most renowned possessing faculties, academies and colleges which are truly famous and noble, and the most stately buildings. In short the whole kingdom, besides the towns mentioned and many others, is very extensively built over, with estates, mansions, towns and villages, with delightful and superb dwellings, not only for the king and lords of great position, but convenient and appropriate for persons of every kind. All these things are so well known and have been related in various languages and described by several authors and histories that to repeat the story would prove wearisome and a waste of time without adding to the knowledge which any one can acquire by reading.
It will be my aim to confine myself to other particulars more worthy of the state's consideration, setting down with more sap than ornament such observations as I have collected in the long course of my embassy.
The present ruler, Charles, the first of his name, succeeded his father James, his elder brother Henry having died at the dawn of his youth. James the native king of Scotland, succeeded Elizabeth as the nearest of kin, and thus saw his original poor little kingdom enriched and aggrandised by the united vassalage of the three kingdoms. These being all contiguous, when united render the English monarchy much more considerable and powerful in that part of the world, which, cut off from the rest, may be said to form another insular world in itself, in emulation with ours. If the power of this great state was directed by its present ruler with more large minded ideas, with a view to his own glory no less than the public welfare, to which his strength is certainly not unequal, it would enhance his reputation. This seems to have declined in the general estimation. The king does not seem aware of this, or does not care, perhaps influenced by the natural indolence of his character and led away by impressions possibly suggested to him by the artifice of some more influential or more interested minister and so he seems to attach little or no importance to those principles which in times past were considered most suitable for that crown. In those days with offices and embassies, with auxiliary succour or effective payments, or military expeditions by sea and land, they endeavoured of set purpose to act continually as a counterpoise to balance the interests of Germany, Spain and France.
Having thus neglected such things, once considered due and praiseworthy as well as generous and necessary, the king is now resigned and restricted to internal affairs only, amid the slothfulness of ease and the restrictions of economy, to such an extent that even the Palatine house has for some time past lamented its misfortune at being almost entirely neglected by Great Britain.
His Majesty is about thirty four years of age and enjoys the full flower of robust vigour natural to his time of life. He is well proportioned and strong, but below the average height. Although more disposed to melancholy than joviality, yet his aspect, with his comeliness, is no less pleasing than grave. His actions disclose no predominance of immoderate appetites or unruly affections, indeed he is a prince full of goodness and justice. He takes great delight in sculpture and painting, and he professes and indeed possesses a skilled and thorough knowledge of both. He enjoys hunting above all other pleasures, and devotes himself to it with untiring energy, being in almost perpetual movement on his journeys at all times of the year indifferently. He loves his wife with remarkable affection, which keeps him from the remotest approach to anything that might cause the queen the slightest jealousy. It is certainly remarkable that a genuine reciprocal and exemplary goodwill should be maintained and increased in that royal marriage, in spite of the difference in ceremonies and religion.
He has four children, two boys and two girls. The eldest is styled Prince of Great Britain, not Prince of Wales, as used to be the custom ; the second son has the usual title of Duke of York.
The government of England may appropriately be called an aristo-democratic monarchy, since it is composed of all three forms, and although the last is most in evidence, the other two have a large share in essence. In proof of this it is enough to say that while war and peace are in the hands of the sovereign alone, the money contributions which support them depend absolutely upon the decision and voluntary consent of the people united in parliament. Similarly, while justice, pardon and the exchequer are in the king's hands and subject to his authority, yet the introducing, amending and abolishing of laws are always subject to the direction and control of parliament, as a body with the unquestionable power of an absolute legislator. Thus there are two counterpoises which guide the course of the kings of England in the ecliptic of their government, although they are superior sovereigns over their subjects, namely the power of the royal authority, which commands obedience, and the bridle of the laws, which does not leave them altogether independent. This is a restraint to prevent them from passing from sovereignty to oppression, even if they should attempt it.
Thus the people enjoy prerogatives of great liberty, and indeed the over jealous care with which they guard it may render them unruly and seditious, as has happened before. It is true that the absence of any one of outstanding eminence, sufficient to disturb that of the crown, preserves that kingdom from internal and civil tumults, just as nature and its position defend it from foreign attack, the sea acting as a practically impregnable moat and bulwark. So while there is no potentate more secure from without, so within, there is no prince more in the hands of his subjects than the King of England. In his realm he has no fortresses, citadels, garrisons or guards, even for his own person, of foreign troops, but simply of the people of the country, his own subjects. It is true that in addition to their nautical skill the people have a natural aptitude for the use of arms and the military profession, in which they prove the more bold and resolute because above all other nations they have no fear of the perils of the sea or death itself, which they treat with contempt. They gain experience, not in their own country, which for a long while has been an asylum of repose and the seat of peace, but in foreign wars, and especially those of Holland and Flanders. As a rule levies are raised in Ireland for the Spaniards and in Scotland for the Dutch States. His Majesty grants these very readily, owing to the large numbers of the common people those realms contain, and because of the advantage to the state of having many of his subjects disciplined and accustomed to the exercises of war.
Only a small portion of the naval forces of the monarchy comes from Scotland and Ireland, and one may call it entirely English. The land forces come from all three kingdoms. The troops are obtained from the people and the people are most numerous, and what is of more importance, naturally devoted to the military profession. In Scotland and Ireland they do not build ships of large burden, because they have no distant trade, but only small vessels for local transport, so it is no marvel if in those two kingdoms one cannot find sailors of skill and capacity comparable to the English. It is true that the Irish and Scots, owing to their large numbers and poverty, gladly enlist as soldiers for foreign nations, and have a very good name, especially as infantry.
It is a fundamental maxim of state in England to take care always that they are actually more powerful at sea than all their neighbours. The English say that this superiority over all others at sea must always be maintained, since that is the sole advantage which remains to Great Britain, her neighbours being powerful on land, and if they were more powerful than her at sea they might undoubtedly make an attack upon her. The English are islanders, and can only make themselves formidable by maritime forces, for which they will always be feared so long as they remain superior. This nation boasts that even outside the island their armies have never been defeated in set battle, in times past, when numbers were equal. The English have indeed won most remarkable victories, even when fighting one to three, to which the immortal battles of Crecy and Poitiers render glorious testimony.
For the ordinary guard of this kingdom his Majesty keeps a squadron of 4 or sometimes less ships, which cruise about in these waters, according to circumstances. These four, with twenty four others kept at Rochester and 12 which are stationed at Plymouth, bring the number of the king's own ships to forty. Thirty six of these, although disarmed, can be speedily fitted out any day, because everything is admirably organised, so that all the requisite apparatus is always in readiness, carefully guarded and deposited in a place near here, which is a sort of arsenal, divided into several compartments (stanze), each one containing everything necessary for arming a ship. The arms or device of the name of each of these ships is placed on the door of these apartments, and thus distinguishes what belongs to each of them. In order to bring the number up to eighty armed men of war, which the king wishes to have, they recently began to issue commissions for building two new ships every year, and to prepare to season the wood for two more. Thus year by year they carry out the royal decree of building two and putting two on the stocks. (fn. 5)
England can make use of from 940 to 1000 merchantmen, all adapted for all the requirements of war. Among these are included 400 ships which, from Newcastle on the Scottish border, transport combustible earths to all the ports of the realm, which serve as well as firewood. These vessels can always be adapted for war, and are constructed with this end in view, by special command. They reckon there are 20,000 boatmen on the River Thames, and from Rochester and Gravesend to London. Whenever ships are being fitted out all these sailors are bound to serve for a nominal pay, and similarly all subjects are obliged to serve in time of war, for a scanty appointed wage. By express declaration of parliamentary laws they cannot refuse their actual personal service, whenever his Majesty commands them for the requirements of war. Thus all the ships capable of being armed that Great Britain can collect do not, at most, exceed a thousand. The small ones which navigate the rivers do not count, as they cannot go out to fight at sea. Even the English merchantmen all go well provided and armed, and therefore they resist and fight. They are manned with about half as many sailors and soldiers again as the Dutch are accustomed to carry.
The galleons of the India Company, like moving sea fortresses, serve a double purpose, for war and trade. They are so skilfully built and so carefully provided with everything that can possibly be required that they excite universal admiration. The wealth and power of this company consist in their trading voyages, and their trade to the most remote parts of the world brings most notable emoluments and glory to the state as well as gain to private individuals. They once united in what was almost an alliance or confederacy with the Dutch India Companies established at Amsterdam. But the union did not last. Intended to prevent strife, it produced the opposite result, causing discord and dissension to which one sees no end. One fears that the ill feeling which daily becomes more acute between the English and Dutch companies may involve the two states, and bring about bad relations between one power and the other. Several very clear indications show that this has not only begun, but made some progress and the opinion has already been expressed that if ever the friendship between these two nations is dissolved it will certainly happen over this question. It is true that the Dutch, having a burdensome war on their hands which is a more immediate concern, try to gain time and to prevent a rupture with England by patience and all sorts of dissimulation, but they now say that England is treating them as badly as she protected and supported them in former days.
The royal treasury is notably enfeebled, the lack of money being almost incredible, even for keeping up the ordinary expenditure for the royal household. They attribute this chiefly to the utterly exorbitant expenditure of the late King James, who was just as lavish in his luxuries and prodigality as his son, now reigning, seems, by comparison, moderate and restrained.
The royal revenues do not exceed 250 to 260,000l. sterling, worth about 2½ millions of ducats, although some represent it, hyperbolically, as so much as 300,000l. sterling, which would be three millions of gold. But the truth is that the annual expenses absorb it all, so that not only is nothing put by, but year by year they get more and more in arrear, as the expenditure exceeds the revenue, both for ordinary and extraordinary expenditure and by the assignments made up to periods of twenty and thirty years, for the extinction of the debts contracted with the crown by various individuals, who enjoy a very advantageous rate of interest, and thus increase their own profit and the crown's loss. In spite of this his Majesty need never lack money either for war or other extraordinary emergencies, as he possesses his richest treasures in the purses and property of his subjects, from whom they are obtained through parliament. In that body reside the highest authority and full power for contributions of every kind and for any amount, to be laid upon the inhabitants of the realm, so that one can very reasonably say that parliaments are the Indies and Peru of England, if their good will is only cultivated in a tactful and captivating manner. Such methods are distasteful not to say odious to the genius of the present king, who suffered from past meetings of parliament, which, to tell the truth, went so far as to show him scant respect, so that he abhors the name, authority and convocation of these same parliaments.
His Majesty spends a very considerable sum of money merely for his own household, which abounds with many superfluous things, both in the number of officials and ministers of every rank and condition, and by the assignment of the daily food allowance, which is given with great pomp and splendour even to excess, to everyone, and particularly to the lords of outstanding rank, who carry the white staff, a privilege which shows them to be servants and officials dwelling in his Majesty's own habitation.
The cost of ships armed for war would be more considerable than any other if they continued their former practice for their reputation and the security of those waters, as the English assume the title of lords of the Ocean as far as the Canary Islands. It is true that at present they exercise possession more by pretensions than by force, because they rarely increase the number of four guard ships, except for extraordinary occasions, which are assigned for the usual passage across, and the daily requirements of the realm, for its service and repute.
Those described as belonging to the royal Council are all in great esteem but not all of much authority, because the honour and show of that distinction are accorded to many, but the actual management of the most important affairs is confined to a few. Of these the one least qualified by birth enjoys the good fortune of being the most influential and the most signally favoured by his Majesty. He is a man of deep and sagacious intellect. Although outwardly unamiable, indeed rugged, he has found a way to carry him to the office of Lord Treasurer, which means qustodian and absolute dispenser of the money and supreme superintendant of the revenue and expenditure of the crown. In that office the more unpopular and detested he became with the generality, the more acceptably he maintained his place in the royal esteem. No one can help seeing, however, with ill will and envy constantly increasing against him, that he may fall dangerously at some time, and the higher he has risen the more hurt that will do him. He belongs to the Weston family, which a few years ago was not remarkable for nobility, and below the average in wealth. Now he signs himself no longer Weston, but Earl of Portland, having been raised to this dignity, which is very highly valued in England, during the last days of my embassy. His eldest son, become a baron, married a sister of the Duke of Lennox, which brought to his house the honour of kinship with his Majesty. In the early days of that marriage he was sent as ambassador extraordinary to France, Venice and Savoy, involving the king in an expense of 12,000l. sterling, equivalent to about 60,000 crowns. After his return he was declared a member of the royal Council.
In that body the Earls of Holland, Carlisle, Arundel, Sir [Francis] Cottington and Ven and the Secretaries Coke and Windebank enjoy his Majesty's special grace and favour. But as they all depend on the Treasurer, or never dare to oppose him, one may say that everything is directed by one head although in appearance it is by several. There are also the Lord Keeper and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both of these really seem to act on different principles from those of the Treasurer and they lose no opportunity of opposing his opinions. But as a matter of fact they know that he possesses the king's affection and mind so strongly that it will be most difficult if not impossible to eclipse the light of the authority which he possesses.
Upon the above ministers and other lords of the Court I have always tried to impress the advantage of continued friendly relations between this crown and the most serene republic, that England and Venice, although physically separated are not so in their interests and in their aim at the common quiet, a matter in which I have been most successful with his Majesty. The relations between that crown and all the other powers of Europe are kept up in very lukewarm fashion, as England has no ordinary ambassador anywhere at present, except at Constantinople and Venice ; although the former is paid by the merchants, not by the king, and the other is Lord Fielding, who only came after an interval of very many years, and who bears the title of ambassador extraordinary.
The king rather inclines to employ extraordinary ambassadors for extraordinary occasions, and residents, secretaries or such ministers for ordinary ones. In the interests of trade the English try to preserve friendly relations with the Porte, and for this reason they put up with the affronts which are accustomed to happen from the barbarity of that empire. With the King of Denmark he has rather a close blood relationship than a real union of friendship. That king claims a large sum of money from England, (fn. 6) but he cannot obtain a sou. He makes no secret of the wrong which he considers has been done to him. He keeps no agent of any kind in England, as he used to do. The relations with France are so well known that I need not dilate on them. It is enough to say that in addition to their natural antipathy the English cherish feelings of rivalry and envy against the French. Relations between England and Poland continue good and regular. Although their interests are separate, being so far apart, yet some union is arising from trade, and besides, the Poles, in their quarrels with the Swedes and Muscovites, like the interposition of the offices which England is accustomed to employ. The Resident Olivieri (fn. 7) cultivates the friendship of the Swiss for the English crown, which the Protestant Swiss in particular seem always to respect, desiring some alliance and support.
The Duke of Savoy is more united with England than any other Italian prince soever, and keeps up his connection at that Court with expressions of great esteem and affection. The king, who loves him, responds and gladly interests himself in his defence when required, although in the vain pretension to the royal title the king would never set the example of agreeing to it, as being prejudicial to all the crowns. I know that my remarks to the ministers on this subject bore good fruit. They also keep up their former friendly relations with the Grand Duke of Tuscany. This is very important to that prince because of the commercial interests of Leghorn. The Resident Salvetti, who has resided for twenty years as minister of Tuscany at this Court, is a very valuable instrument for maintaining and increasing this connection.
But I can assert with truth that it is with your Serenity, more than all the princes of Italy that England most values her relations, as the English consider that the two powers, with their sea forces should unite to some extent and by their friendship increase the esteem and reputation which they enjoy in the world. With the emperor and with the other Catholic princes of Germany they have little or no official relation, indeed their relations are in a sense openly strained, because of the Palatine house, although their distance apart removes occasions for direct hostilities. England keeps in touch with the other princes of the union by sending frequent embassies extraordinary, to which those princes do not respond, considering that England wants to put them off with mere offices and words, without the effective help which they so urgently need, or relieving the Palatine house.
They are anxious at all costs to keep up good relations with Spain for reasons of trade and as a counterpoise to France. This also suits the Spaniards, owing to the advantage they derive in the disposal of their goods, and especially in transporting specie in English ships from Seville and Lisbon to England, and so getting money into Flanders, partly by letters of exchange and partly in coin. The Portuguese also avail themselves of English ships, which they hire and send to Brazil to lade sugar. In this way they escape from the Dutch, owing to the respect and friendship of Holland for Great Britain, and also because the English go much better armed than those Portuguese caravels which mostly fell a prey to the Dutch. Cottington who negotiated and concluded the peace with Spain, which was unpopular with the English people, on the ship which fetched him from Spain brought silver in plate to the value of 500,000 reals He had this plate unloaded put into carts and taken in a stately procession through the whole city, so that the people might see that the money came from Spain.
In times past friendship between the English and the Dutch was a maxim of state for both, as well for interests of religion as to keep up a strong party against the Austrians. For some years this has given way to quarrels on both sides, chiefly due to matters of navigation and trade, and the former friendly disposition of England towards the United Provinces has greatly cooled. The merchant companies of the two nations, by their rivalry, add fuel to the fire, which makes such progress that the erstwhile exemplary friendship between these two powerful neighbours may possibly change to open hostilities. The Dutch complain bitterly that their ships bringing Spanish booty are arrested in the ports of England at the instance of the Spaniards. Thus when returning from the Indies they have to make a long and toilsome voyage right round the island of Great Britain, and so in avoiding the risk of losing booty taken from the Spaniards by entering English ports they incur other obvious perils of losing their ships, as they frequently do, owing to the nature of the circuit they are compelled to hazard by sailing in those stormy seas, where they usually arrive at the most unsuitable and dangerous time of year.
To the matters already related summarily I might add some account of the laws and institutions of the country ; but as these are local and, by the extravagance of many of them, proper to that nation alone, it is enough to say that they would prove intolerable to a great extent to any people of a less suffering disposition than that which seems to be generated in everyone by the British climate.
The ancient institution which gives the king the absolute guardianship of wards, the disposition whereof is daily managed by his Majesty either to the advantage of the royal revenues or as a reward for his particular servants and dependants, brings desolation and ruin instead of support to those unfortunate enough to be under age at the death of their father. Equally cruel not to say most unjust is the law that only one among brothers shall inherit the paternal property. Another legal arrangement is perhaps unexampled among all the nations of the world, that when a woman gives birth, even when she has been separated from her husband for many years, that does not suffice to convict her of adultery provided she can show that her husband has not left the island in that time.
Before I conclude I must bear witness to the excellent service rendered to me by my secretary Francesco Zonca, who has shown his capacity for dealing with affairs of the greatest importance. His services render him worthy of the state's consideration. I also have endeavoured to do my best. I shall value it as a sign of appreciation if the Senate will allow me to keep the usual present of plate which his Majesty sent me at my departure, an appreciation that will serve to lighten my labours and expenses, for while life remains to me I know that I cannot employ it better than in the service of my country.
Senato, Terra. Venetian Archives.
461. That Vicenzo Gussoni, returned from two embassies,
be permitted in token of his distinguished services, to keep the
silver presented to him by the king of England on his departure
from that country.
Ayes, 154. Noes, 1. Neutral, 5.
In the Collegio :
Ayes, 22. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0,
Senato. Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
462. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
A favourable opportunity presenting itself I went yesterday to audience of his Majesty. I presented the letters of your Serenity in response to the credentials of the Ambassador Fildin and at the same time I thanked him and spoke in praise of the ambassador. The king said he had received letters from the ambassador himself with the most complete testimony to the honours done to him by the republic. He asked me to thank the republic on his behalf and to assure your Excellencies of his constant affection.
The negotiations of the French ambassadors here in their conferences with the six commissioners deputed for them, have consisted these last days firstly in a full and most eloquent demonstration made to them by Seneterre of the advantages which would result to the public cause from the alliance between these two crowns and the States of Holland, and he strove to show them by appropriate and weighty arguments that the alliance proposed by the king, his master, was most necessary for the support of the Prince Palatine. He laid before them the terms of the alliance agreed between the Most Christian and the States, and that a part of the project was to invite his Majesty to join, as reported. Finally he repeated the proposals already made by the Sieur de Poygni, which I reported in my letters of the 2nd February. In order to formulate their reply for which he is pressing with all his might, they held most lengthy conferences the day before yesterday, but so far they have not informed him of anything.
The dissatisfaction felt by the Sieur de Poygni at the mission of the ambassador extraordinary has become known at Court and also that he is trying to obtain leave to return to France. They go about saying openly that it will be granted readily and that the other will be staying here for some time. This opinion is based upon the differences, which are still acute, between Seneterre and the Count of Soissons. Unless these are settled it is not considered credible that the Cardinal, who has a great affection for Seneterre and favours him highly, will bring him back to Court. Nevertheless he seems anxious to despatch his business speedily.
I have been trying to find out with all proper discretion whether the Austrians were doing anything to oppose the negotiations of the French at this Court, as it seemed to me impossible that they should allow them to progress with such secrecy. I find that they also are not failing to make advantageous proposals to his Majesty to induce him to declare himself on their side, but they do it with great secrecy so that they may not arouse the suspicions and alarm of others. They operate by means of letters, which arrive early every week and often by express but unofficial couriers, directed to one of the Lords of the Council, who reads them to the king and Council and is afterwards charged to send the answer. This has been brought to me by a person who has authentic information, but as the most recondite particulars are kept most extraordinarily secret, I have not been able to discover them. However, I have been assured from the same quarter that there is no disposition on this side, not even from the opposition party, to come to any conclusion.
His Majesty has announced two other leading commanders for the new fleet. The first is Sir William Monson, who will act as lieutenant to Admiral the Earl of Linge. The other is Sir [John] Pennington. (fn. 8) Both are highly skilled in their profession and considered remarkable for prudence and valour. The soldiers and sailors are being collected with all diligence, and his Majesty has ordered that the ships shall all be at Portsmouth by the 10th prox. ready to set sail. He will go there himself on that day and proposes to see them sail, and there only will he consign to the Admiral his instructions sealed, with orders not to open them until he is a specified number of miles from land. The ships will number just twenty six, including twenty two of the largest and best furnished galleons that have ever left this realm. The other four are also excellent and very fine ships. The entire force, from the quality of the ships, the number of soldiers and the experience of its commanders is considered adequate for any enterprise ; but so far as one can find out it is not collected for anything but to scour these waters and re-assert the respect for his sovereignty which the king claims as his due. It is possible that they have some other commissions, but his Majesty's intention in this particular is so dark that no one has found it out as yet.
The ambassador extraordinary of Sweden is expected here at any moment. A son (fn. 9) with a part of his household has already arrived. The surprise of Treves by the Spaniards and the imprisonment of the Elector is confirmed by all the reports which reach here.
The Ambassador Anstruther reports the dissolution of the Diet of Worms, amid firm and resolute declarations for the support of the party. Also that the ambassadors of France, of the Elector of Brandenburg and of the Princes of Lower Saxony are at the Court of the Elector of Saxony, to dissuade him from treating for peace with the emperor.
I have received this week the Senate's letters of the 27th February and the 3rd March.
London, the 13th April, 1635.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Svizzeri. Venetian Archives.
463. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Secretary with the Swiss,
to the Doge and Senate.
In strictest confidence the English Resident informed me that he has heard from Court of the death of the Lord Treasurer, who for his own private interests, to enrich himself, tried to prevent the king from taking the right course towards a reconciliation with his people, namely by summoning parliament. This obstacle being removed the people will gladly contribute to support his Majesty's generous resolutions, which the Resident believes tend to a rupture with France, to bring some balance into affairs. He hinted that instructions would be sent to him to perform offices with this people against the designs of the Most Christian, but the deliberations were not yet fully matured, although he had orders to go to the Duke of Lorraine to assure him that he will not be deserted, but even assisted by his Majesty if need be ; the time for performing this office being left to the discretion of the Resident.
Farra, the 14th April, 1635.