Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 9, 1592-1603. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1897.
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This volume covers the period between January 1592 and April 1603, and closes with the death of Elizabeth. During the last months of the Queen's reign diplomatic relations with Venice, which had been suspended since July 1557, were once more renewed, and were continued virtually without interruption down to the fall of the Republic. It is to be hoped that this fact will facilitate the labour of research in the succeeding volumes, for hitherto, from the year 1557 to the year 1603, it has been necessary to gather information about England from the despatches sent by Venetian Ambassadors at the five courts of Madrid, Paris. Prague, Rome, and Constantinople, from the Minutes of the Senate and from despatches forwarded by the governors of Zante and other islands.
Although the destruction of the great Armada in 1588 had virtually freed England from the dangers of conquest, Spain did not at once abandon all idea of renewing the attempt, nor did England fully realize how complete was her deliverance. During our period we meet with two unsuccessful expeditions, one in 1596 the other in 1597, led by the Adelantado of Castile, and another partially successful landing of the Spanish at Kin sale, under Don Juan d'Aquila, while, in retaliation, from the English side, we have the expedition to the West Indies under Drake and Hawkins, and the capture and sack of Cadiz by Essex.
As regards France, Elizabeth was annoyed and alarmed by the conversion of Henry IV. and the peace of Vervins. She had spent men and money in assisting Henry and she considered it almost a breach of faith that he should come to terms with Spain. Whatever her inner intentions may-have been her outward policy wavered, on the one hand she coquetted with the idea of peace with Spain and the archduke Albert, and sanctioned the farce of the Boulogne conference; on the other she fed the Dutch, renewed the treaty of 1585, in August of 1598, and kept Sir Francis Vere in Ostend throughout that memorable seige. These two policies were represented at her council board, the one by Cecil, the other by Essex, both died before the Queen, and she herself bequeathed her unsettled attitude to her successor.
At the end of the preceding volume of the Calendar, Henry IV. with the help of the Swiss and English was vigorously pushing the siege of Rouen, while the Duke of Parma was manœuvring to the north and attempting to force Henry to raise the siege. But Parma was dilatory and slow in his movements, and the French nobles of the League gave vent to their spleen by declaring that “the Spanish owed their reputation to the fact that they had never been matched with anyone of consideration”(No. 39). Parma's retreat began in March 1592, and was excused on the score that Count Maurice had threatened to lay siege to Dunquerque. The Duke was wounded in one of the many engagements which marked his retreat and by June he had retired to Spa, where he presently died.
The retreat of Parma left Henry free to concentrate his attention on Paris. By October (No. 107) the idea of abjuring his religion had begun to take shape, and in January 1593 (No. 130) the Pope had already declared his scepticism as to Henry's sincerity. “How can we trust Navarre? One of his own party told us that even if Saint Peter himself declared that the King would become a Catholic we had better not believe it. . . This is a ruse suggested to him by the Queen of England.”
Philip meanwhile was endeavouring to secure the election of a King of France by the Three Estates; and he sent the Duke of Feria to Paris to influence that assembly. The Duke delivered a speech on the 2nd of April (No. 195) to which the Archbishop of Rheims, Cardinal de Pellevé, replied. But in August (No. 208) Henry made his recantation and received the sacrament in St. Denis, and the Pope became so far reconciled to the inevitable as to say to Paruta, the Venetian ambassador, “If it please God to make Navarre king of France, it is not for us to oppose His will”(No. 207). When Elizabeth heard of the recantation she was indignant. Her envoy in Paris told the Venetian ambassador that it was not so much the King's conversion that angered her Majesty as that the King had taken this step without informing her; and she had no confidence that he would not do the same about a peace with Spain (No. 230). In which suspicion she was justified as the peace of Vervins proved.
But before that peace was reached three series of events call for attention and are illustrated in the documents before us, the naval expeditions of Drake, Hawkins, and Essex, the counter expeditions of the Adelantado and the progress of Spanish arms in the north-west of France.
As early as April 1593 rumour that a large fleet was being mustered in England threw Spain into great alarm (No. 153) and on the first of May Drake is reported to have sailed from England on the Friday before Palm Sunday. Alarms of this description were chronic in Spain. It was not till July of 1595, however, that Drake and Hawkins really sailed on their last disastrous voyage.
Their fleet numbered eighty ships in all and the flagship measured seven hundred tons burden and carried sixty pieces of artillery. There were about sixteen thousand men on board (No. 360). The destination was the West Indies. Drake insisted upon this in opposition to Don Antonio of Portugal and Antonio Perez, both of whom desired to direct the attack upon Portugal itself (No. 364). Don Antonio, however, died on the second of August just about the time that Drake sailed (No. 365). He had been living in Paris in great poverty, supported by charity. Drake sailed for the Indies, while apparently the Earl of Cumberland was cruising about in the seas between Portugal and the Azores. We hear of Drake at the Grand Canary on October 6th (No. 378), where he did not effect much. (fn. 1) By January, 1596, the report that Drake had landed at Havana reached Spain (No. 395) but there is no word of the death of Sir John Hawkins and Sir Nicholas Clifford, which had taken place in November of 1595. The Spanish Admiral in those waters was Don Bernardino de Viglianeda, and in a private letter to his nephew (No. 438) he very minutely describes how, after the death of Drake at Nombre de Dios, he fell in with the English fleet which was making its way home, and pursued it far beyond the Channel of Bahama, an operation which appears in Captain Troughton's “Journal” as “met a Spanish fleet but escaped.”
Drake's expedition was a complete failure; how complete from the financial point of view may be gathered from Lady Margaret Hawkins's pathetic letter to the Queen. (fn. 2) Essex's expedition to Cadiz though more glorious was hardly of greater service. By April 1596 the Spanish were aware that a large armament was being mustered in Plymouth. French politicians thought that the appointment of Essex to the command was a ruse on the part of Cecil to remove the favourite from the Council board (No. 419). But the Spanish, though warned, “could not believe that, after the death of Drake, the scattering of his squadron, and the loss of Calais, the English fleet would think of moving to any great distance” (No 463), and so when the English appeared off Cadiz, on the 2nd of July, they encountered a poor resistance and were speedily masters of the city. The shipping was either burned or sunk. Twelve thousand men under the Earl of Essex were landed. Outrage and pillage were prohibited. “Two soldiers who broke the prohibition by attempting to take a woman's necklace, were punished by instant death.” The churches were exempt from plunder. Two hundred and fifty thousand crowns were demanded as ransom for the prisoners. (fn. 3) The news was brought to Court, but as the King was asleep Don Christoforo de Mora, his chamberlain, would not awake him, and kept it back for three hours after the courier's arrival (No. 469). When his Majesty learned what had occurred he was indignant, but, says the Venetian Ambassador, “he showed a Christian fortitude in bearing the blow. The news seemed to lend him vigour for he rose from his chair and walked a few paces, a thing which the weakness of his legs and the remains of the gout had not hitherto allowed him to do.”
Although the intention of the English was to have established themselves in Cadiz, yet by July 10th, the commanders came to the conclusion that from lack of provisions the place was untenable and they determined to abandon it. Sir George Carew, who was present, complains that the loot was very small; “that the town was rich may not be denied,” he says, “but rich towns taken in fury and not by composition run all to spoil.” The English had intended to pump the wells of Cadiz dry in search of booty supposed to have been hidden in them (No. 473), but their hasty departure left them no time to put their plan into execution. They sailed south; landed at Algarve and plundered the town of Faro (Nos. 476, 481), and then “as soon as fair weather set in the whole fleet sailed away.”
Philip was incensed at this harrying of his shores, and the humiliations to which he was exposed. In conversation with the Nuncio he “seized a candelabrum and with energy declared that he would pawn even that in order to be avenged on the Queen . . . These words,” says the Ambassador, “in the mouth of a King who has never shown any passion in fortune, good or evil, prove that his mind is fully set upon undertaking war again” (No. 473). But on the whole, the result of the English landing was not altogether disastrous for the King. The damage no doubt was serious; but the King declined to help the people of Cadiz to pay their ransoms (No. 471), and the Cortes of Castile “under the excitement of the English attack voted special subsidies to his Majesty provided they were to be spent on the defence of the kingdom and not on foreign wars” (No. 478). This suited Philip perfectly. He had sworn to be avenged on the Queen of England, and an attack on her kingdom might fairly be called a defence of his own, after the experience of Cadiz. And hence sprang the two counter expeditions of 1596 and 1597. By October 10th we learn (No. 497) that the Adelantado is making great preparations in Lisbon; four hundred horse, arms for ten thousand men, clothing for four thousand, some vestments for the Mass. Carpenters, smiths, masons, were pressed when they would not serve willingly. He had brought together nondescript craft to the number of ninety sail, but only a third of this number was fit to fight. Twelve thousand men manned this armada, but ships and munitions are reported “very poor; and there is a great lack of biscuits.” Great secrecy was observed as to the destination of this force, and all orders came direct from the King's own hand to the Adelantado. The King commanded Masses for the success of his arms, and the psalm “Contra paganos” went up from all the churches in Spain. An Irish bishop and other Irish embarked at Lisbon, and by the 12th October the fleet had begun to drop down the river (No. 502). People conjectured that Ireland rather than England was the point aimed at; others supposed that the Adelantado had orders to co-operate with the Cardinal Archduke in Holland; but the Venetian ambassador remarks that the Channel, if the Armada gets as far in safety, will prove a danger. By November Philip began to show his impatience. “The King has sent orders that the Armada is to sail at once, even though the provisions are not ready. The Adelantado summoned all the captains and pilots to give their opinion on oath. Their answer was that if they sailed at this season they ran an obvious risk of shipwreck. On this the Adelantado drew up a memorial to the King which was signed by every one. His Majesty merely repeated his orders in a more imperative form. This obstinacy on his part . . . makes people believe that the fleet is to be directed against the Queen of England in revenge for the insult she put upon him at the very heart of Spain.” After three or four attempts to clear the harbour, at last the Adelantado reached Vigo, where he learned that some English ships were waiting for him off the coast of Galicia (No. 506). Then comes the disaster. . . On the night of the 27th of October the Adelantado with the whole of his fleet, except the Biscay squadron, was off Cape Finisterre. He was caught in a violent storm and many of his ships went ashore. He took shelter in Ferrol, where he found that thirty of his vessels were missing, twelve were undoubtedly sunk and eighteen could not be heard of. It was useless to think of an expedition against England for that winter, and the Admiral resolved to lay up in Ferrol (No. 507).
During the winter desertion and sickness did their usual work. Out of the twelve thousand originally on board not more than two thousand five hundred were left by January of 1597 (No. 539). But Philip would not abandon his project for revenge. By the autumn of 1597 a force considerably larger than that of the preceding year was ready in Ferrol. It sailed on the 19th of September and reached Corunna. Leaving Corunna on the 18th of October with a fair wind, they were thirty leagues off the Lizard by the 22nd. Their intention was to seize the Castles of Pendennis and St. Mawes at the entrance to Falmouth Harbour, to garrison them and then to retire to the Scillies to wait reinforcements with which they might challenge Drake's fleet on its way home. But at the mouth of the Channel they encountered strong head winds. The “San Marco” of Don Diego Brochiero began to leak under stress of weather and was ordered to put about and make for Spain. The Adelantado held on some hours longer; then seeing that the violence of the storm increased, he too gave up the attempt to enter the Channel, and turned back to Spain. He reached Corunna on the 30th of October. (No. 629, 630.)
All the English and Spanish naval expeditions had proved failures; but in the north-west provinces of France, there was a remarkable advance of the Spanish arms, which largely contributed to the conclusion of the Peace of Vervins. At the close of the preceding volume we left the Duke of Mercoeur holding out in Brittany, and supported to a certain extent by the Spanish troops under Don Juan d'Aquila, who had occupied and fortified the port of Blavet. Elizabeth was furnishing Henry with a similar amount of assistance, though rather grudgingly. By April 1596, the Spanish advance on Montreuil began to cause serious alarm in England. The Queen's Secretary in Paris had gone over on purpose to point out and insist upon the danger (No. 419). The French were in hopes that the large forces collected at Plymouth for Essex's expedition might still be diverted to the succour of the threatened sea-side places; and M. de Sanci was sent immediately afterwards to secure that result, but without success. The movement on Montreuil, however, proved to be merely a feint. The Spanish threw themselves on Calais, and captured it on Thursday April 25th (No. 429). “It is a loss,” says the Venetian Ambassador “of immense importance to all Christendom, and the consequences will be most grave.”
The news did, in fact, cause a great sensation. When the Pope heard it, he said to the Venetian Ambassador, “God's holy service be done. But were we to speak freely to your Lordship, we should say as the Duke of Ferrara said at the battle of Ravenna, Fire! They are all enemies.' The French are so careless, the Spanish so insolent, we don't know which we prefer.” Elizabeth was now prepared to send a large force to the King's assistance, but she asked for Calais as security for her expenditure (No. 431), and aroused considerable suspicion and annoyance in the mind of Henry. Meanwhile the Spanish were pushing on. Ardres fell, chiefly owing to the pusillanimity of the Marshal de Belin, which caused Henry to exclaim, “My cowards do me more harm than my foes.” This took place on May 31st. Henry continued to urge Elizabeth to assist him more vigorously. His agents were M. de Sanci and the Duke de Bouillon. He apparently used as a pressing argument the consideration that if he were not helped by the Queen, he would find himself forced to make peace with Spain. This gave the Queen the opportunity to observe to de Bouillon, that she too, as well as the King of France, was receiving overtures from Spain, but that it would never do for either of them to make peace separately. “For,” she said, “apart from the fact that we could not secure such good terms separately as if united, should one made peace without the other, the party that was excluded would be ruined at once, which would eventually prove a misfortume for the contracting party - I am convinced that we shall never have a trustworthy peace with the King of Spain as long as he is on the flood of success, and does not realize that his career may be checked, his power overthrown, his greatness humbled. To accomplish this a solid union is necessary, in order that we may be able to face our common danger with adequate forces” (No. 483). From this it will be gathered that de Bouillon's mission was bearing fruit.
The Earl of Northumberland had been named as Ambassador to France on July 8th, but declined to serve on the plea of deafness, and “the absurdities it must beget - when I shall not understand distinctly by reason of the quickness of their pronunciation and the unacquaintedness of their accent - which defect how much it troubles me, even in my own usual tongue with strangers, none but myself and my grief can best make witness of. (fn. 4)” Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, was named in his place, and, with Sir Anthony Mildmay and a large suite, crossed over to France in September, bearing the Garter for the King. The Duke of Montpensier was ordered to entertain the Embassy at Rouen until the King's arrival, and an amusing account of the cherie entiere, which Montpensier made them, is sent home by both Lord Rich and the Ambassador himself, nor was the King himself less liberal on his arrival at Rouen on October 6th-16th. (fn. 5) On Saturday the 9th-19th October, the King swore the treaty with England (No. 503), and on the following day he was solemnly invested with the order of the Garter. Before Lord Shrewsbury left Rouen, “he had many secret conferences with the King, and it seems that the sole subject discussed was the way to recover Calais” (No. 504).
Nothing very practical in the way of help came from England however. The Queen was absorbed in the Cadiz expedition, in attempting to suppress the Irish rebellion, and in assisting the States of Holland. She had neither men nor money for France, except upon such conditions as suited her. The English Ambassador at the beginning of 1597 was urging the King to take vigorous steps for the recovery of Calais. His Majesty declared that the moment was not favourable. “Well, then,” said the Ambassador, “will your Majesty allow my mistress to capture the place for herself?” “Certainly not,” said the King, “and if she goes there, I will call out my troops to stop her.” “Then,” said the Ambassador, “your Majesty is content to see Calais in the hands of Spain, rather than of my mistress?” “Not at all,” replied the King, “but I desire to recover it at my own time.” (No. 549). In fact, the allies seem to have been very suspicious of one another. Elizabeth doubted that Henry would make peace with Spain whenever it suited him, and leave her in the lurch; while Henry, though anxious to obtain English assistance, by no means desired to see Calais in the Queen's hands. He pithily summed up his views when he said “I would rather be skinned by my foes than scratched by my friends.”
While matters were in this unsatisfactory state the news came that on March 11th the Spanish had captured Amiens. Portocarrero, the Spanish governor at Doulens, their furthest outpost, succeeded in entering the town by a clever and brilliant ruse (No. 558). The blow was a very serious one and seemed to indicate that the Spanish advance had by no means reached its climax. The King sent express to England demanding that the English troops should be made up at once to their treaty number (No. 569). But the Queen after the rejection of her proposals about Calais was in no ready mood of compliance. Henry was in very grave straits. He burst out to de Sanci: “Sanci, Sanci, you and de Bouillon advised this war, and your pernicious counsels are like to be the ruin of France. For myself, I know I shall fall in battle, and my successor will punish you as you deserve” (No. 571). He made an appeal to the Republic for pecuniary aid. “I am on the road to ruin,” he declared to the Venetian Ambassador, “and I can see no remedy. If my dearest friends and allies do not help me, who will? What I am doing now is my last effort. God grant that the issue be successful; otherwise I shall be forced to conclude a peace.” The last effort was destined, however, to be successful. The siege of the Spanish in Amiens began. Conducted by the Marshal de Biron, the siege-works are described as the most “remarkable operations of war which bad been witnessed since the siege of Antwerp” (Nos. 602, 604). The English who took part in the siege are noted as “fine troops.” (fn. 6)
By the middle of September the town was recovered. The terms granted by the King were extremely lenient (No. 616). The reason for this was that Henry was anxious to make peace. As early as July 1597 there had been rumours on the subject. The Pope, partly alarmed at Turkish successes against the Imperial arms, partly with a view to detaching Henry from England and the States of Holland, was exceedingly desirous to bring about a peace between France and Spain. The agent he employed was Bonaventura Calatagirona, General of the Franciscans and Patriarch of Jerusalem. Henry declared over and over again that he would never entertain any proposals for peace as long as the Spanish were in Amiens; he felt that Philip on the tide of success would probably offer terms which France could not accept. But when the recovery of Amiens took place in September, the King announced that he was ready to treat. Spain still held Calais, Ardres, and several other places in the northwest, but the onward movement of her arms had been checked, and she had just suffered a severe blow by the failure of the Adelantado to capture and hold Falmouth. The moment was growing ripe for the completion of the Pope's intentions. The Cardinal Legate, Alessandro de' Medici, was now entrusted by His Holiness with the chief conduct of the negotiations, and was commissioned, though somewhat reluctantly by Philip, to represent him in the coming Congress (No. 620). The representatives met at Vervins, but they proceeded with such secrecy that neither the English, Dutch, nor Venetian envoys in Paris could learn what was taking place (No. 650). In December Thomas Edmondes, the English Agent, had assured Francesco Contarini that Henry would not “make peace without the consent of the Queen, who is not really averse from it” (No. 641), or if he did he would find himself embarked on a fresh struggle with her, more serious than the Spanish war, as it would be partly civil, for the Queen could rely on the support of the Huguenots. Meanwhile at Vervins, after some slight difficulties as to precedence, the congress got to work. By February 28th the terms as regarded Spain had been fixed; but when the King of France raised the question of his ally, England, the Spanish commissioners declared that their powers were insufficient to deal with this point. A delay took place until a courier had time to go and come back from Spain. During the interval Elizabeth despatched an Embassy to France, Sir Robert Cecil was the head of it, and his mission was to offer the King support if he would continue the war (No. 656), and to dissuade him from peace. The Ambassadors entered Paris on March 11th (No. 671). Their suite is described as being very brilliant, but they met with no formal reception on his Majesty's behalf; though they were honourably lodged in the house of the Duke of Montpensier, with a guard of royal archers at the gates. Cecil explained to the Venetian Ambassador the scope of his mission; the Queen, he said, was indifferent as to peace or war, but as the King had invited her co-operation she had sent an Embassy, not as suitor for favours but in compliance with a formal request. “But,” says Contarini, “I am of opinion that this ostentatious readiness to accept peace is intended to upset peace.” Henry was in Brittany, and as the Ambassadors refused to deal with any but the King, they presently set out to join him, relying on the assistance which the Duke de Bouillon's presence at Court promised to their mission. At Vervins, the Cardinal Legate, who was aware of this English Embassy and suspected its objects, was in a state of impatience for the return of the courier with powers which would allow him to conclude the treaty of peace before the English could succeed in upsetting it. About April 8th the courier passed through Paris on his way to Vervins (No. 677), and immediately afterwards the Legate began to urge the King to a conclusion, on the ground that by this time he must have heard all that the English had to say. On May 2nd the treaty was virtually concluded (No. 687). The Spanish agreed to evacuate Calais, Ardres, Châtlet la Chapelle, and Doulens, and to dismantle Blavet. The Queen of England and the Dutch might enter the treaty provided they did so before July the 2nd. But by May 13th the Envoys of the States of Holland were in Paris loudly declaring that nothing would induce them to come to terms with the King of Spain (No. 688), and by May 28th Edmondes had returned in haste from England. The Queen was in alarm and perplexity; her people were anxious for peace; their trade was suffering; Spain and the Imperial ports were closed; if the Dutch ports were also shut, the loss would be enormous. On the other hand, if peace were made, the Dutch, being deprived of the support both of France and England, and that simultaneously, might succumb to Spain to the serious danger of England (No. 695). Henry was very anxious that both England and the States should come in; when the Queen went the length of threatening war, he said: “If I am once free of the lion's paws, I'll easily save myself from the cat's claws.” It appears that Elizabeth might really have been induced to enter the treaty of Vervins, had it not been for the resolute refusal of the Dutch. She could not and would not abandon her allies, and the consequence was a long period of undetermined policy, of help rendered to Holland in Ostend and negotiations with Spain conducted at Boulogne, which we will have presently to consider. The conclusion of the treaty, as far as France is concerned, was largely attributed to the influence of Gabrielle d'Estrées, Duchesse de Beaufort, and of M. de Villeroy (No. 688), who overrode the Duke de Bouillon.
The peace was far from popular in Spain, where the restoration of the cities already captured was considered humiliating to Spanish pride (No. 693). Philip was really sickening towards his last illness. He had been seriously unwell in May, and while in that condition he resolved to carry out his scheme for the renunciation of Flanders in favour of his daughter, and her marriage to the Cardinal Archduke Albert. After the marriage contract had been signed “the King in honour of the occasion allowed the ladies of the Court to appear in his chamber masked. There was a great festival, and Don Juan d'Idiaquez told me,” says the Venetian Ambassador, “that the King, though in bed, gave his orders and directed the ball with as quick and lively a spirit as if he had been at the head of his army. He insisted that the Prince should dance; but with the Infanta only, not with any of the ladies as His Highness showed a modest wish to do” (No. 690). That was in May. By August the King was suffering from daily paroxysms of gout and fever. A swelling settled in the knees and caused excruciating pain. It was opened, but the operation afforded no relief. On August the 7th his Majesty received the viaticum and his physicians told him quite frankly that he should ask for extreme unction whenever he thought the moment come. On the 13th and 14th he rallied slightly; and begged the Nuncio to entone a Pontifical Mass. This rally was attributed to a miracle wrought by a relic brought from Toledo. But a relapse soon followed and the physicians expected the crisis from hour to hour. His sufferings were appalling, gout, sores, vermin, anticipations of decomposition before the sentient centres had ceased to feel. Yet he “displayed incredible patience. His courage never deserted him. He made himself familiar not only with the thought of death but with every material detail and circumstance thereof. He arranged the ceremony of his funeral and purchased a large amount of black cloth. He ordered them to bring to his room the leaden shroud in which he will be wrapped, and the leaden coffin in which he is to lie; and gave orders for some needful alterations.” Still he lingered on. All business was at a standstill, but when Don Christoforo de Mora ventured to inquire whether the Prince should despatch affairs the dying man shook his head (No. 732). His sick-room became awful, unendurable to his medical assistants (No. 731). Still he lingered on through twenty-nine days, almost a month of incredible torture, till on the morning of the 13th September the release was granted and Elizabeth's great rival quitted for ever the scene of his triumphs and his failures, of his grandeur and his solitude.
The admirable summing up by Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, gives us a concise portrait of the sovereign's character and a just estimate of the import of his reign (No. 737). “He was a Prince who fought with gold, not with steel, by brains not by arms. He has acquired more by sitting still, by negotiation, by diplomacy, than his father did by armaments and by war. He was one of the richest sovereigns the world has ever seen; yet he left the revenues of his kingdom and of the Crown burdened with about a million of debts. To his good fortune rather than to the terror of his name he owed the acquisition of Portugal with all its territories and treasure; on the other hand, he lost Flanders. In Africa he had won Pigno, but lost Goletta.
“Profoundly religious he loved peace and quiet. He displayed great calmness and professed to be unmoved in fair and evil fortune alike Vast schemes occupied his mind, witness his simultaneous attack on England and on France while assisting his son-in-law to acquire Saluzzo, while attempting to expel the French from Italy, while facing the revolution in Flanders.
“On great occasions, in the conduct of wars, in feeding civil discords in France, in the magnificence of his buildings, he never counted the cost, he was no close reckoner, but lavished his gold without a thought. In small matters, however, in the government of his household, in his presents and rewards, he was more parsimonious than became his station. He sought aggrandisement for his kingdom at the expense of others, yet he did not hesitate to dismember his kingdom by ceding Siena to the Grand Duke, Piacenza to the Duke of Parma, Flanders and Burgundy to his daughter.
“He held his desires in absolute control and showed an immutable and unalterable spirit. He feigned to be injured and feigned not to feel injuries, yet he never lost the opportunity to avenge them. He hated ostentation, and would never allow his life to be written. No one ever saw him in a passion; he was always patient, phlegmatic, temperate, melancholy. In short, he has left a glorious memory of his royal name to serve as an example not merely to his own posterity but to strangers as well.”
We have already remarked that after the peace of Vervins the policy of England was engaged in supporting Holland, while coquetting with Spain and the Archduke Albert. “The Queen will not attempt anything against Spain this year, so as to render a reconciliation possible,” says a despatch of September 19th. The next despatch, September 26th, conveys the terms of a treaty between England and Holland, which are given in extenso in No. 773. Some of the Spanish ministers, the Adelantado for example, hoped and declared that the accession of a young prince would inaugurate an era of more vigorous and more successful operations against England. Desultory and inconclusive operations were in progress. The Earl of Cumberland had seized, but was unable to hold, Porto Rico; the young King who had not realised fully how exhausted a treasury he had inherited from his father ordered out the fleet at once, but a short time after we learn that it is countermanded.
Philip the Third's chief point of attack upon Elizabeth was Ireland. His object was at the first to alarm the Queen and thereby compel her to come to terms of agreement with himself, leaving the Netherlands without support; but as time went on and the Queen's life became obviously frailer, a second object was added; Philip wished to establish a footing in Ireland whence he could influence the succession to the English throne. Almost contemporaneously with the disclosure of Philip's policy as regards Ireland, we find the Queen entertaining, or rather trifling with peace proposals made to her on behalf of the Archduke Albert, through the agency of Jerome de Coemans. The first rumours of a Spanish landing in Ireland reached Paris in January 1599 (No. 772); by March the Archduke had sent his Envoy to England to negotiate a peace, though the Queen intimated that she must move carefully as she was not fully persuaded that the Archduke was authorised to act for Spain (Nos. 778, 793). The rumour of the Spanish landing was merely a rumour, however; nor did it actually occur for some time later. By the summer Essex was in Ireland, making some progress against Tyrone, while the Spanish were slowly massing forces at Ferrol, under the Adelantado (Nos. 805, 812). In the autumn Essex had his famous and fatal interview with Tyrone, returned to England, and was placed under arrest. M. de Bethune, Henry's ambassador to Scotland, brought the news to Paris (No. 827), and reports some rumours as to the cause, the Earl's Catholic sympathies and his advocacy of war with Spain, both of which laid him open to suspicion.
The result of Coemans's negotiation may be seen in the fact that the Queen at length consented to a Congress in which the terms of a peace should be arranged. A number of preliminary and informal discussions seemed to have removed many difficulties. The place chosen was Boulogne, and the date fixed for the 16th of May. But the serious points to be discussed—the retention of the surety cities, Flushing, Brill, Ostend, by the Queen, free trade, the navigation of the Channel—were all as far from settlement as ever, and they never really came up for discussion. When the Envoys met, the Spanish representatives began at once to quarrel over precedence among themselves. Doctor Carriglio sent direct from Madrid, insisted as ranking above Don Balthazar de Zuniga, Philip's Ambassador at the Archducal Court. Then the Archduke's representatives objected to their master being styled “Most Illustrious” in place of “Most Serene” in the English powers. The Queen assented to the change. Then the English claimed precedence on a variety of historical grounds, Papal decisions, and so forth, and the audientiary Verreiken was sent to receive instructions from the Archduke. He ought to have returned by July 28th, but he was still absent on August 8th (No. 905). The great battle of Nieuport, fought on July 2nd, was the cause of the delay. The Archduke had been thoroughly beaten by Maurice of Nassau. Sir Francis Vere, who had played so conspicuous a part in that victory was now enabled to garrison and hold Ostend through all its memorable siege. Other reasons, too, were contributing to render the Congress at Boulogne abortive. The question of the Marquisate of Saluzzo was coming to a head. It seemed inevitable that war should break out again between France and Spain; in these circumstances Henry had no desire to see England and Spain at peace; the whole of his influence was directed to keeping those two crowns apart. By August the 26th Philip had given orders to his Envoys to break off negotiations unless the Queen would assent to three conditions: the restitution of the towns held in Flanders, the abandonment of the States, and the precedence of his Catholic Majesty (No. 910). These demands brought the Congress to a close (No. 915).
The Irish projects of the King of Spain had been in abeyance all this time, from January 1599 to May 1601 (No. 991). Philip was occupied more immediately by the question of Saluzzo, and by the alarm aroused by the threat of a Turkish naval expedition which the English and French Ambassadors at Constantinople had been labouring to secure. The peace of January 17th, 1601, however, left his hands comparatively free. Meantime in Elanders the Archduke was straining every nerve to recover his prestige after the defeat of Nieuport. He had set his heart on capturing Ostend. That town was held by English under Sir Francis Vere. Philip wished to create a diversion and to draw English attention away from Ostend. The failure of Essex in Ireland, his subsequent execution, and the temporary successes of Tyrone, called the King's attention once more to that quarter. By May an expeditionary force was gathered at Lisbon. Don Juan d'Aquila, the officer who had held Blavet for the Spanish before the peace of Vervins, was placed in supreme command. The chief naval command was entrusted to Don Diego Brodicero. But it is not till October 29th that we hear that “four or five thousand Spanish have landed in Ireland.” Kinsale was the point chosen, much to Tyrone's disgust, who, later on blamed the Spanish leaders for not landing at some spot which would have permitted a junction with his forces. As it was, all Lord Mountjoy's troops lay between the Spanish and the Irish rebels. The landing was effected on the fifth of October, and. Kinsale immediately surrendered. The Bishop of Cork, who was said to be with the expedition, is reported to have made large promises to the Irish (No. 1025). The Venetian Ambassador announces from Paris, that “The Queen, although warned of this contemplated landing in Ireland, either did not believe it or her troops failed to find the enemy. The Deputy, as the Governor is called, on receiving notice drew six thousand of the sixteen thousand infantry which he has in the north against the Earl of Tyrone, and set out towards the Spanish shortly after their landing. The Queen, moreover, sent him some small reinforcements, and has given orders for a levy of six thousand men for this service. - The opinion here is that all these troops sent from Spain will be thrown away to no purpose, on account of the change of climate and the lack of provisions; also, because they will not be able to effect a junction with the Earl of Tyrone, who is at the opposite extremity of the island, while the Deputy holds all the country between them, with well provisioned forts.”
A second expedition of reinforcements was despatched from Spain and landed in Ireland. They chose their point more skilfully, and succeeded in effecting a junction with Tyrone. Lord Mountjoy gave them battle and utterly routed them. Don Juan and his troops found themselves blockaded in Kinsale. No fresh supports were forwarded from Spain, and presently Don Juan was forced to make such terms as he could. These were extraordinarily favourable. He was allowed to march out with the honours of war, ships were provided to convey him, his men and his guns, back to Spain, the only pledge exacted was that he should land nowhere else save at Corunna.
Meantime, Sir Francis Vere was holding out in Ostend for the relief of which Don Juan's Irish expedition had been chiefly and immediately devised. The siege of that city was the crucial point of the war in Flanders. “The Archduke declares that he will die rather than retire; the States, assisted by the Queen of England, omit nothing for the defence of the place.” Henry was hardly less interested than Elizabeth, he sent the Marshal de Biron to England (No. 1014) on a mission to remove a disagreeable impression created in Elizabeth's mind by some misunderstanding as to proposals for a joint succour to Ostend (No. 1019). De Biron made a brave figure with his splendid suite of one hundred gentlemen. He was nobly lodged at The Vine, while the Queen lay at Basing House. The Queen petted him, took him to the chase, invited him to dinner (No. 1020). Essex may have been recalled to her mind by the handsome person of de Biron, whose future held in store a more dastardly treachery and more ignoble end than that which quenched the life of Elizabeth's brilliant favourite. It is possible that Ostend was discussed by them. Anyway, Henry moved to Calais; Elizabeth came down to Dover. De Vere's heroic defence, his struggle with the Archduke, his struggle with the tides and turbulent seas, are fully illustrated by the despatches of the Venetian Ambassador in Paris (No. 1020–1080, etc.) Motley has suggested that on the night of the famous ruse which saved the town there was no real attack by the Spanish before the Spanish hostage-commissioners met de Vere, and that all the noise of an escalade which threw de Vere into such a towering passion had been carefully ordered by de Vere himself, to give him an excuse for prolonging negotiations till succour arrived. (fn. 7) It is clear, however, from the despatch of January 7th, 1602 (No. 1042), that the diplomatic world at least “believed the story as told by the English commander.
To turn now to English affairs in Turkey as far as they are illustrated by the documents here published. It may, perhaps, be of some service, and may help to avoid confusion, if I first give the names of the Sultans, Grand Vizirs, Capndans Pashas, and Muftis during the period which this volume embraces; they are to be found in the Appendix to Book Forty-fìve of von Hammer's history, though I am able to add a little to the completeness of that list.
- Ferrad Pasha, deposed March 23, 1592 (Nos. 40, 53).
- Sciavus Pasha, deposed Jan. 29, 1593 (No. 56).
- Sinan Pasha, deposed Feb. 16, 1595 (No. 332).
- Ferrad Pasha, killed, July 7, 1595.
- Sinan Pasha, deposed Nov. 19, 1595.
- Lala Mohamed Pasha, died Nov. 22, 1595.
- Sinan Pasha, died April 3, 1596.
- Ibraim Pasha, deposed Oct. 27, 1596.
- Cicala Sinan Pasha, deposed Nov. 1596.
- Ibraim Pasha, deposed Oct. 23, 1597.
- Hadim Hasan, killed April 8, 1598 (Nos. 678, 680).
- Gerrah Mohamed, Dec. 8, 1598.
- Ibraim Pasha, July 10, 1601.
- Jemisgi Hasan Pasha.
- Bostanzade Mohamed, 1592.
- Seheria Effendi, 1593.
- Bostanzade, 1598.
- Seadeddin, 1599.
- Ssanollah Effendi, 1601.
- Mohamed Effendi, 1603.
I have had the advantage of consulting the despatches from Barton and Lello, the English Ambassadors at Constantinople, which are preserved in the Public Record Office. Without knowledge of these it would have been difficult to unravel the complicated skein of diplomatic intrigue in which both were involved while endeavouring to secure the enlargement of the English capitulations. It is remarkable that Barton rarely, and Lello never, is mentioned in the Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, in spite of the eminent services which both were rendering to their country.
In the year 1592 the English Ambassador at the Porte was Edward Barton. He represented the Queen, but was the paid servant of the Levant Company, and badly paid he considered himself. (fn. 8) He therefore had a double function to fulfil; as agent for the Company of Turkey merchants he was expected to encourage trade and protect merchants from extortion; as representative of the Queen he was charged with a political mission as well, to hamper Spain and help Henry IV. Both Elizabeth and Henry were unwearying in their efforts to induce the Turks to take the sea with such a force as would alarm the King of Spain for the safety of his Italian possessions; at least that was the old pre-Armada policy of England. Spain on the other hand was equally anxious to obtain a truce with the Turks which would guarantee her immunity, and leave her hands free. But Philip was hampered. He was proud, and would not condescend to be the first to send an Ambassador, a point upon which the Turks insisted, and he was his Catholic Majesty, and could hardly enter into open relations with the Infidel. For many years two faithful agents Giovanni and Ruggiero Marigliani, father and son, had been at work to secure the King's object, but without effect. At the period when this volume opens Giovanni was dead and Ruggiero Marigliani was at Ragusa negotiating with the Grand Vizir through an agent in Constantinople for the reception of a Spanish Ambassador; and it was Barton's business to baulk him. He did so chiefly through his interest with two powerful ministers, Bostanzade, the Mufti, or Sheik-ul-Islam, and the still weightier Hoggia or Tutor, Seadeddin (No. 40). His efforts were crowned with success when the Grand Vizir wrote to Marigliani informing him that the Sultan declined to discuss any further the subject of his mission (No. 45).
In the interval between the murder of Henry III. and Navarre's accession to the throne of France as Henry IV., M. de Lancosme, (fn. 9) the French ambassador, continued to reside as accredited agent for the League, and openly hostile to Henry. De Lancosme's nephew, on the other hand, M. de Breves, was desirous of filling his uncle's place, and strongly espoused the cause of Navarre. Barton, in fulfilment of his mission, was called on to oppose de Lancosme and support de Breves. It was not a very difficult task. De Lancosme by his own headstrong impetuosity had already seriously damaged his position. On July 30th, 1590, he had received a formal dismissal from the Porte, chiefly the result of Barton's diplomacy; but he had not left the city, and continued to call himself the French Ambassador (No. 67). A trick played by Barton and a series of exciting episodes contributed to complete his ruin. De Lancosme received from a Venetian merchant a remittance which was sent in the Venetian Embassy bags. The news of this remittance soon reached the ears of Barton and de Breves, and they saw and seized the opportunity to do de Lancosme an evil turn. Barton went to the Capudan Pasha, reported the arrival of the remittance, declared that it came from Borne, from the Pope, was Spanish money, in short, and that de Lancosme was probably acting as spy for Philip. He told the Capudan that proof would be found among de Lancosme's papers in the shape of a letter from Cardinal Santa Severina which Barton himself had forged and sent to de Lancosme. (fn. 10) The Capudan flew into a rage and sent a cavass to summon de Lancosme to the Arsenal, and commanding him to bring the bill of exchange with him. De Lancosme refused point-blank, and with his usual impetuosity he added that he had only one superior at Stamboul, and that was the Sultan. The Capudan had no intention of swallowing such an affront. After a second fruitless invitation to de Lancosme he went to Seadeddin and the Grand Vizir, Sciavus, both of them friends of the English Ambassador. All three obtained the Sultan's leave to use force. The day before Divan, the dragoman of the French Embassy was arrested, and after Divan, Sciavus and the Capudan withdrew to the Sultan's kiosk and sent a cavass to summon de Lancosme. He excused himself on the ground that his suite was not ready. The Pashas sent more cavasses with orders to bring him by force; the Ambassador, however, hid himself, and the Turks only arrested a friar, the Embassy chaplain. After a while de Lancosme, thinking that the wrath of the vizirs was overpassed, crept out of his hiding, though he deemed it prudent to remain indoors. But as he was looking out of the window, he suddenly saw a great crowd making for the Embassy; in a panic he and his secretary fled. By the help of a ladder they climbed into an unoccupied house and pulled up the ladder after them. The Turks, unable to get at the Ambassador, set a guard over the house where he lay, but they made a clean sweep of the Embassy; the Ambassador's mistress, child, nephew, servants, all were arrested; furniture, on pretext of making an inventory, all broken; four thousand ducats' worth of jewels and silver in the hands of the Turks; the Embassy archives carried off to the Grand Vizir, where a number of dragomans were set to work on the translation. De Breves and Barton, acting through a French renegade, were the real authors of the whole proceeding.
When night fell de Lancosme stole out of hiding in the unoccupied house and went to his nephew de Breves, who gave him shelter. But presently, on the arrival of the French renegade, the unfortunate Ambassador took fresh alarm, and slipped secretly away and hid himself in a vineyard belonging to a dragoman of the Venetian Embassy. Here, late at night, he was joined by de Breves, and after some consultation they resolved to appeal to Seadeddin, the most powerful person in Stamboul; but Seadeddin refused to interfere, and sent de Lancosme on to the Capudan, who, speechless with passion, was unable to answer a word to the Frenchman's appeals. He was placed under provisional arrest. But when the translation of the papers seized at the French Embassy was completed, the remittance proved clearly to have come from Naples, and thereupon the unhappy Ambassador was committed to the common prison, where only the vilest malefactors were kept. There he lay a whole day and night, convinced, as he himself says, that his minutes on earth were numbered; and was only removed to the custody of a cavass on the intercession of Barton and de Breves. After a few days de Lancosme was handed over to the care of Barton and de Breves, on their parole. Both of these now began to discuss the most suitable way to dispose of their charge, and both agreed that it would be best to put him on board ship and send him to Italy. But while this discussion was in progress Seadeddin sent to Barton to say that the Mufti wag trying to damage Seadeddin's position by declaring that de Lancosme had purchased his freedom from the Sultan's Tutor, and that therefore Seadeddin objected to the release of de Lancosme from custody, lest he should confirm this libel. The French Ambassador, seeing that his life was no longer in danger, soon recovered his spirits and his hauteur. He told the Venetian Ambassador that nothing but force would expel him from Constantinople; and he openly and rashly announced himself a devoted servant of the King of Spain. The consequences were inevitable. On June 10th he was consigned to prison in the Tower of the Black Sea. Seadeddin was the author of this fresh blow. “De Lancosme bears his fate with great constancy,” says the Venetian, “and hopes that all will turn out well for him. He has taken to writing, to pass the time.”
De Breves and Barton had been successful in crushing de Lancosme, the Ambassador for the Guises, and the situation now was this, that de Breves practically represented France on behalf of Navarre, though nominally French interests were in the hands of Barton till de Breves's powers should arrive (No. 92). M. de Lancosme continued to be a close prisoner in the Tower of the Black Sea till November, when he was removed to a less rigorous durance. By November 29th letters had arrived from Henry, addressed to the Sultan, thanking him for having imprisoned de Lancosme who was acting for the Guises and Spain, and begging that he might be consigned to the English Ambassador (No. 114), and to de Breves. There was still some delay to the close of the de Lancosme episode, but on December 31st he was placed on board a ship bound for Marseilles whose captain had orders to land the late Ambassador at Toulon. His departure was so rapid that the Venetian Ambassador had no time to make him a formal adieu. De Lancosme after lying for many months at the island of Marmora, finally made his way to Italy and Rome.
Barton's position in Stamboul was undoubtedly very strong. He had succeeded in expelling de Lancosme, and French interests were placed under his protection till de Breves was fully accredited. The Grand Duke of Tuscany was endeavouring to obtain independent trading rights for his subjects in Constantinople, and it was to the English Ambassador that he chiefly addressed himself for help. But Barton had been instructed by Sir Thomas Heneage “to proceed slowly in such a weighty matter, lest it might be prejudicial to our merchants' traffic,” (fn. 11) and as protector of the French interests he was equally bound to move cautiously in a negotiation which would remove the Tuscans from under the French flag (No. 134). The result was that “the Florentine league and traffic here remains as yet unestablished, and out of hope to be obtained,” as Barton reports.
By April 1593, de Breves' instructions, credentials, and present for the Sultan had arrived, and he proceeded to kiss hands and assume rank as an Ambassador. But events were in preparation which were destined to bring the action of Barton into collision with the aims of de Breves. Part of Elizabeth's Eastern policy had been to obtain as much influence as possible in the smaller States of Poland, Transylvania, Walachia, Moldavia. Her Ambassador had interfered successfully in the affairs of Poland, and more recently had made Prince Aaron Vaivode of Moldavia; in the Hungarian war Sigismund Bathori appealed to Barton to save him from the consequences of refusing to help the Sultan, his suzerain, against the Emperor. In May 1593, matters were coming to a crisis between the Emperor and the Porte. The Imperial Ambassador or Internuncio von Khrekwitz, gave an answer about the tribute which did not please Sinan Pasha, the Grand Vizir, the Embassy was surrounded by troops, the dragoman arrested and accused of treachery in making false translations and ordered off to the common prison “reeking with a thousand diseases,” where says the Venetian Ambassador, “the poor devil still lies. The knowledge of his fate has terrified the other dragomans of Embassies and prevents them from the proper discharge of their duties” (No. 159). The butler of the Imperial Embassy, a renegade Croat, suggested to the Grand Vizir that he should seize the Archives in the Chancery of the Embassy. The Imperial Ambassador offered eighteen thousand thalers for the liberty of the dragoman and promised the tribute by July (No. 165). But it was too late, war was declared. Sinan Pasha assumed the command and established himself in camp outside the great walls of Stamboul; and there presently the Imperial Ambassador was brought (No. 190). He came in a carriage and was lodged in a small tent. He was in a shocking state of health, and his two servants who followed the carriage on foot were loaded with chains. The Imperial Embassy was closed and the rest of the household, secretary, chaplain, doctor, and others, to the number of twenty-six, were clapped into prison. At the camp Sinan was raging against the Ambassador, threatening to impale him and his dragoman for having deceived the Sultan, and declaring “that a man who cannot speak the truth does not deserve to live.” The meaning of all this fury was that the Turks had received news of the battle of Sissek, and the utter defeat of Hassan Pasha. On July 29th (No. 198), Sinan Pasha left for the front. He was at the head of twenty-eight or thirty thousand men. Eerrad Pasha was left at Kaimakam, or lieutenant Grand Vizir. It was no part of the English policy that the Turk should fight the Emperor in Hungary, What Elizabeth really wanted was the appearance of the Turkish fleet in the Mediterranean at least as far west as Italy. She accordingly instructed her Ambassador to use all his influence in favour of peace (fn. 12) between the Emperor and the Sultan. That influence was considerable. Barton himself reports that, (fn. 13) “the Grand Seigneur has done me new honour, presenting me with six pieces of plate, six pieces of cloth of gold, and six of silk. This is more than has formerly been given to any Christian Ambassador.” Upon this policy of peace Barton found himself in direct opposition to de Breves, who was doing all he could to foster the war in the interests of his master Henry. What precisely those interests were may perhaps be gathered from Henry's remark, that “The League made me King, who knows but the Turk may make me Emperor.” Henry was a candidate for election as King of the Romans. The weakness of the Austrian house and the loss of Hungary, would certainly have paved the way for the choice of so powerful a prince as the King of France.
The division between French and English Ambassadors, the result of their opposing policies, was deepened by questions of jurisdiction or the “consulage of forestiers” as it was called, the question really of the covering flag, which assumed an almost personal character (No. 201). De Breves was jealous in guarding the prestige of the French covering flag, Barton on the other hand claimed that the Flemish, as being under the Queen's protection, should fly the English flag, We shall see what this led to in the sequel. But in the meanwhile, in August 1593, an episode which caused considerable annoyance to Barton took place (No. 211). Some prisoners in the Tower of the Black Sea escaped by cutting away the floor of their cell. They were political prisoners, and the Sultan flew into a fury. The governor was put to death, and a sanjakate offered to anyone who gave information. A search of all Frankish houses was ordered. Barton was summoned to the presence of the Lieutenant Grand Vizir, who used such violent language that the dragoman fled and the Ambassador himself was in expectation of arrest (No. 213). In these circumstances he resolved to appeal to the Sultan in person. This was by no means an easy matter. But Barton hired a boat and rowed under the windows of the Kiosk; there, by the help of a negro of the Sultan's inner family, he managed to pass his petition into the Grand Signor's hands, and received a promise that he should not be molested. Meantime Ferrad Pasha, the Lieutenant Vizir, had also approached the Sultan, demanding the revocation of the promise of immunity, and complaining of the Ambassador because he refused to surrender his barber, who had been in the habit of frequenting the Tower of the Black Sea, and was suspected of complicity in the flight of the prisoners. Barton, who knew nothing of Ferrad's action, went to call on the Pasha with explanations, but to his amazement he found himself arrested in the Pasha's house and told to surrender the barber or he would be sent to prison. There was no help for it and the barber had to be sent for and handed to Ferrad. It was near the Feast of Bairam, so the barber was not put to the torture at once, and Barton lost no time in appealing to the Chief Eunuch, but with what immediate success we do not learn. It is curious that Barton himself makes no mention of this episode in his despatches home.
Luckily for the Ambassador the long-looked-for ship from England, bringing the presents for the Sultan, arrived at the beginning of October. The Sultan went over to his Kiosk to see her come in. She was hung with scarlet cloth round the quarter deck and bulwarks and was dressed with flags and pennants. She passed the Serraglio Point with fanfares of trumpets and salvoes of artillery arranged in the hold which produced a more brilliant effect than the usual salute from the batteries. His Majesty liked it so much that he wished for a repetition of the show two days later (No. 221). One immediate result of the arrival of the ship was the liberation of the Ambassador's barber. On Sunday, October 17th, 1593, Barton kissed hands and made his presents consisting of broad cloth, cloth of gold, silk, silver goblets (No. 224). He handed in a memorandum containing four requests, dealing with the despatch of a Turkish fleet, the question of Don Antonio's son, prisoner at Fez, the renewal of the Capitulations and details of trade.
The Ambassador immediately made use of his improved position to open and press negotiations for peace with the Emperor (Nos. 237, 240, 242). Nothing came of it, however, except that Barton's interest in the policy of the Danubian States, Transylvania, Moldavia, and Walachia led him into a long and troublesome law suit in the Venetian Ambassador's Court. He had gone surety for the Yaivode of Moldavia to the firm of Ellman, and was endeavouring to escape the consequences. The details, which are both interesting in themselves and valuable as illustrating the jurisdiction and procedure of Ambassadorial Courts in Constantinople, can be read in Nos. 262, 272, 276, 289–296.
De Breves, who, of course, had not been taken into Barton's confidence in the matter of the peace negotiation, had nevertheless discovered what the English Ambassador was about and reported it to his master. The result was that Barton received mortifying instructions from home, and writes to Sir Thomas Heneage: “I will in future be obedient to the new order sent me not to meddle with the Emperor's affairs as well because of his ingratitude as also because the French King, acquainted thereof by the French Ambassador, is offended therewith.”
Sultan Murad III. died on the 16th January 1595. He was succeeded by Mohamed III., and the Venetian gives a most pathetic account of the strangling of the new Sultan's sixteen brothers (No. 328). (fn. 14) The war in Hungary had been far from favourable to the Turks. The Sultan Murad, alarmed at the ill-success of Sinan Pasha and by the revolt of Transylvania, Moldavia, and Walachia, had sent to Damascus for the Holy Standard, just before his death. But Sinan's reverses were not retrieved. The Imperialists under Count Mansfeldt continued to recover such important places as Gran, Wissegrad, and Waitzen. Sinan's death on March 24th (fn. 15) threw the Turkish forces into still greater confusion and the new Sultan who, to use Barton's phrase, was no less a “Cupid's Knight” than his father, was forced to take the field in person. Barton was pressingly invited to accompany Mohamed (fn. 16) (No. 404). The Sultan left in June, Barton on July 4th. By October the Turks and Christians had met in the plains of Keresztes, under Erlau, (called Agria in the despatches) and the Sultan, thanks to his officers Cicala, Hassan, and the great Seadeddin, won a complete victory. Barton was present at the fight, and was even reproached with having drawn his sword against Christains. Whether that was true or not, it is certain that he resumed his efforts in the interests of peace, and undertook some tentative negotiations in that direction (Nos. 515, 516). But neither side was really disposed to come to terms. The war dragged on for many years.
Mohamed returned to Constantinople and entered the city in triumph. With him came Barton. He found trouble waiting him at the hands of de Breves who began to display a growing hostility to his English colleague. Paulo Mariani, acting Consul for England and France, at Cairo, but really Barton's right hand man, was hung through de Breves's instrumentality, on a charge of having furnished the Spanish with information (No. 524). The old question of jurisdiction also was coming to a head once more. In May 1597, (fn. 17) Barton writes to Sir Robert Cecil reporting “the unfriendly behaviour of the French Ambassador towards me.” The peace policy of the English (Nos. 622,647) was highly distasteful to the French Ambassador; and the depredations of the English privateers in the Levant, of which we begin to hear in October 1597 (No. 622), gave him an ever growing justification for his unsympathetic attitude. This question of the privateers was a legacy which Barton bequeathed to his successor. He died in the thirty-fifth year of his age, on the first of January 1597, (fn. 18) and was buried on the island of Halki, where his tomb may still be seen.
Henry Lello, who had been secretary to Barton, took over the management of English affairs, at first with the title of agent. His earliest extant despatch to Sir Robert Cecil is dated March 1, 1597. “I will continue to write,” says he, “as formerly being ordinarily performed by the Ambassador lately deceased.” Lello continued the policy of his predecessor, and was able to thwart the Spanish efforts for a truce (No. 776). But it was not till August that the ship “The Hector,” bringing the Sultan's present and Lello's full credentials as ambassador, passed the Dardanelles (No. 806). She carried a large cargo of woollen goods which the Venetian Ambassador reports to be so excellent as to constitute a serious danger to Venetian trade in that commodity. The Sultan and all his court came down to the Kiosk to see the “Hector” sail in; and Lello reports that “the sound of our English trumpets gave him so much pleasure as those about him say they have not seen him so delight in any Christian prince's strength and defence.” (fn. 19) The present consisted of Master Thomas Dallam's famous organ “very cunningly designed” says the Venetian Ambassador “which serves as a clock and can play several airs by itself” (No. 814), while Lello remarks that “the instrument it is thought will give the Grand Seigneur great content if any of his people can maintain the use thereof.” There was also a coach for the Sultana Mother, plate for the sultan, and cloth which had become mildewed, “most base” says Lello “and not beseeming so mighty an Emperor and to come from as famous a Prince “ (fn. 20) “The Sultana is very pleased with her present and has promised to be my friend” Lello writes “I have recommended to her care the Consulate of Cairo . . . yet the French Ambassador uses all the means he can to hinder me, and grieves to see our credit so great here.” The Venetian Ambassador's despatches display no less a jealousy of English influence, and while he admits that the “Hector” was a fine ship he complains of the vanity of the English in showing it, its artillery and ammunition to the Turks (No. 814). In fact, a combination of the French and Venetian Ambassadors against the English was already tacitly if not explicitly established. Lello kissed hands on October 4th. Here is his own account of the ceremony.
“I omitted to send by the last courier because I could not then and yet cannot advise you of the good success of my employment here with the Grand Seigneur, as the French Ambassador with his great bribes, receiving now the Pope's pay, spares nothing to hinder all my designs, and chiefly for the Consulage of Forestiers which the Grand Seigneur after the arrival of her Majesty's ship granted should come under her banner.
“The manner of my presenting the present to the Grand Seigneur was as follows. I appointed to attend upon me twelve gentlemen on horseback vested in cloth of gold and silver, a gentleman usher, two pages in white damask, twenty men in livery gowns, twelve merchants decently apparelled merchant-like in black, and myself attired as richly as I might. The captain of the Chouses and Spahis was sent to accompany and entertain me to the Grand Seigneur's palace where first in open court before the Grand Seigneur, his Pashas, and Councillors I declared her Majesty's pleasure, salutations, and requests conferring about divers late accidents, especially of her Majesty's forces against Spain and of the peace made between him and the French King, which they all seemed to dislike. We spent a small time until the banquet for me was provided, which being furnished, only I, Halill Pasha, Chief Vizir, and Afitht (Hafi) Pasha, late General of Scelestia, sat at one table; the other Pashas sat apart by themselves at another. At a little distance from us sat the two Cadiliskers or Chief Judges of all this Empire, and apart from them, two of the High Treasurers; by them sat alone the High Chancellor. Everyone was served according to his degree, but our table was furnished with the allowance and dainties usually served to the Grand Seigneur in great variety and abundance. Which finished, order was sent by the Grand Seigneur that before our entrance to him, both I and my gentlemen should be clothed in vestments out of his treasury, which were there scarcely found; yet I had two and ten for my gentlemen; and so in company of the Vizirs I entered into the presence chamber where the Grand Seigneur sat upon a cushion of red satin most richly embroidered with pearls, and all his chamber flowered with red satin richly embroidered with gold. Omitting the sumptuousness of the sight, I first saluted him in her Highness' name; secondly, delivered the good intelligence between her Highness and his father; thirdly, informed him of the Queen's pleasure for my confirmation as Ambassador; and lastly, recommended to him the affairs of her merchants trafficking in these parts. Whereto he answered, as before, saying he much rejoiced at the Queen's friendship, and prayed God that she might always have the victory over her enemies as hitherto, and, lastly, told me I should receive satisfaction of all I desired. Leave being given to depart, I as accompanied by chouses and other officers to my house, having been saluted outward and homeward with divers tiers of artillery from the ship. And thus, while thinking myself sure of all things, the French Ambassador, with his bribe of six thousand chequins, not only overthrew our former grant of Consulage of Forestiers but all other demands I made, besides the Confirmation of our old Capitulations, the Viceroy denying me audience to show reason for my just demands. He denied that he had formerly granted to her Majesty the Consulage of Forestiers, or that he sold her friendship which was worth more to his master than his head. I have since made divers petitions to the King to be heard, but they are put back by the Viceroy. So that finding no remedy, I caused the ship to depart whereat the Grand Seigneur marvelled and said he had given order that I should be contented and that he would cause me and his Vizir to be friends, who rules him as he lists, and seeing no other remedy I called for an answer to the Queen's letters which within few days was sent me, but nothing answered according to the same except only he would confirm the old Capitulations, which letters I returned requiring him to make perfect answer to the same, the chief point being for the Forestiers which gravelled him, having, as I understand, order from the Grand Seigneur to give good regard to her Majesty's letters. He answered that he would advise the Grand Seigneur thereof, and that all my other demands would be granted, the chief being to have the Flemings capitulated to come under the Queen's banner. The day after the ship departed the Queen Mother sent for me lamenting that the ship had departed without her letter, saying: 'What an ungrateful woman I have shown myself to be 'in not writing to the sole princess of the world'; she also said she did not eat or drink that day for sorrow.”
But besides the question of the covering flag, and the jurisdiction over “forestiers,” the Venetian Ambassador reports (No. 817), that Lello “goes working away at various chimerical schemes, principally the idea of asking the Grand Seigneur to give him one of the churches in Galata, for the use of a minister he has brought with him. Both the French Ambassador and I consider this design as affecting the honour of the Holy Church, and we accordingly approached the Mufti on the matter. He promised us every support.” But the Mufti died suddenly; he was supposed to have been poisoned by the Sultana, who was his enemy. The present of the coach may have had something to do with this opportune demise. But the hostility of de Breves and the Venetians was not to be pacified. De Breves hearing from Halil Pasha that at his first audience Lello had laid great stress on the conversation of Henry IV., as leaving the Queen the only true friend of the Turk, and foe to Spain and Rome (No. 821), fastened upon certain phrases Lello was reported to have used. A battle royal followed. The French Ambassador refused Lello's invitation to supper on board the “Hector.” The Venetian Ambassador endeavoured to reconcile both parties, but without effect. Feeling ran high between members of the two Embassies. It was winter and there had been a heavy fall of snow. Capello, the Venetian, reports the following incident which took place on January 23rd, 1600: “Yesterday evening, as the result of a snowballing match, a violent quarrel arose between the households of the French and English Ambassadors Several were badly wounded, and had not night fallen, worse would have happened, for the Ambassadors themselves began to take part.” Venetian mediation induced both Ambassadors to send three gentlemen of their suite to the Venetian Embassy to declare solemnly that their chiefs had no share in the scandal, and would punish the offenders when discovered by the Venetian Embassy; the Ambassadors were formally reconciled. But while the quarrel had been at its height, de Breves had sent a note to Halil Pasha to complain of the English, of which note he gave no information to the Venetians.
“Accordingly,” says the Venetian Ambassador, “just when we were beginning, as agreed upon, our inquiry into the causes of the first quarrel, the English Ambassador sent his dragoman to Halil to obtain an order for an English merchant; the Pasha, who was already dissatisfied with the Ambassador, not only refused the request, but told the dragoman that his master was a lunatic, and that he had heard of the scandal which had arisen with the Ambassador of France. Halil also bade the dragoman warn his master to behave himself, and to keep within bounds and in order, and added other expressions of annoyance. The dragoman, who is a Jew, but lately taken into the English Ambassador's service, went back to the Embassy and reported all that, had happened, and without exercising any circumspection, he very likely represented the language of Halil as more violent than had really been employed.
“The English Ambassador came straight to me, told me what had taken place, and begged me to excuse him if he withdrew from the promise he had given me, for the French Ambassador, after placing everything in my hands, had still presented to Halil a note in which he not merely exaggerated the episode, but accused the English Ambassador of wishing to attack the French Embassy, and, therefore, as the French Ambassador had broken his word and promise, the English Ambassador claimed to be released from his, and to be free to act in defence of his interests and his honour.
“I endeavoured to quiet him, and begged him to wait till I heard the account from the French Ambassador. From him I learned how the matter stood; it seems that the note was sent to Halil before I had intervened between the Ambassadors. The French Ambassador offered to send anyone I might name to Halil to inform him of the arrangement which had been reached, to assure him that he and the English Ambassador were friends, and to explain to him all that I had done for the satisfaction of the English Ambassador. But for all that this offer was courteous and prudent, the English Ambassador only grew the more bitter, and next morning went straight away to the Capudan Pasha, who is a deadly enemy of the French, to lodge a complaint not only against the Ambassador of France, but against Halil as well, on account of the message he had sent through the dragoman; and he let it be understood that he would not appear before Halil, as he was an enemy and partial to France. Cicala (the Capudan) willingly espoused the English Ambassador's cause, and promised to support him, and, if necessary, to present a petition to the Sultan. But it seems that Cicala subsequently spoke to Halil, and resolved to entrust me with the solution of the difficulty. Accordingly Halil sent one of the chief cavasses to me, and Cicala sent another; they, in the name of their masters, informed me, with every expression of esteem and regard for the Republic, that the quarrel between the two Ambassadors caused great annoyance, and that, as it, did not seem to them desirable to interfere between the Ambassadors of Christian powers, they could take no better course than to place the whole affair in the hands of the representatives of your Serenity, for among the allies of the Porte, the Republic was the most ancient, the most worthy, and the most prudent; and they most urgently begged me as your minister to undertake this task, as the illustrious Gradenigo, owing to his serious illness, could not support any new trouble.
“I returned thanks to the Pashas, and made a suitable reply to the confidence reposed in your Serenity and the honour done to me, which, to say the truth, was expressed in terms not merited by my poor worth. I said that since their lordships so desired, I would do my best to carry out their wishes. When the dragomans had been dismissed, I informed both Ambassadors of the proposals made by the Pashas, and, re-opening the negotiations, by the grace of God they were brought to make peace, though the difficulties were numerous, and the rehearsal of them would be tedious to your Serenity. In truth I have found in the French Ambassador, albeit he had more grounds for resentment than the English Ambassador, on account of various injuries received in the course of this affair, a most excellent disposition and pliability.
“I immediately reported this new reconciliation to the Pasha, who was highly pleased, and made use of expressions of great regard for the Republic. He tendered me his thanks, as have also the Ambassadors.
“In the course of these transactions I have had a most favourable occasion to speak to the English Ambassador about the audacity of the English ships, which, in the waters and harbours of your Serenity, molest all other shipping, including that of the Republic. I pointed out to him the difficulties that might arise, quite against the wishes of the Queen. I begged him to report the matter home, so that steps might be taken to prevent the mischief going further. The Ambassador promised to make vigorous representations, and he assured me that if these pirates go to England they will be most severely punished. He added that when the Queen hears of these complaints, and sees that there is no other way of preventing them, she will revoke the charter of the Levant Company rather than allow others, under its shelter, to molest the Republic and her allies. I seem to have gathered from the Ambassador's remarks, that the English trade will not last long here, for in the course of his complaints against the French Ambassador for his hostile attitude on the old question of jurisdiction between them, in the heat of his conversation, he said that the French Ambassador ought to leave the English in peace for this one year that they have to trade here, for the English have countries far richer than this to traffic in, and seas where they can expand themselves at pleasure (alluding to the Indies), and that they might quite well cease their commerce here, where they are lightly esteemed and constantly insulted. If that really took place it would be of vast service to the navigation of these waters, for the more the English frequent these seas and become familiar with them, the more complaints of damage by them and injuries inflicted shall we hear of; to say nothing of other dangerous results which must arise from the number of ships which they possess, and from the magnitude of their plans, which are directed to the capture of booty, and are accompanied by barbarous cruelty which knows no fear and recognises neither God nor law.
“However, I am not without hope that their Ambassador and Consuls may leave this place and other places in the Levant, for almost all the claims and pretensions of the English have been decided in favour of France. They maintained that all foreigners who desired to place themselves under the protection of the English flag should be free to do so. The English representatives lack a strong support on which they counted to maintain the Ambassador in Constantinople, and the Consuls elsewhere; for they cannot draw their salaries except from the dues levied, and their payments can be exacted from the English subjects only, who are few in number, and so their fees will not nearly cover their current expenses. The whole charges, therefore, fall on the company of the Levant merchants (for the Queen will not listen to any other party), and as they cannot support such a strain, they will be forced to abandon the enterprise; besides, it seems that they do not pay a dividend owing to the small profits they make on their business.”
“15th January 1599–1600. I think it expedient to advise you of an affray between the French Ambassador's servants and mine, which manifests his great fury and malice against our nation, and that the same could not be without his consent and setting forward. Some of my people being in the streets with their Greek neighbours throwing snow, it happened that the master of the French Ambassador's house passed by and one of the balls, which was thrown by one Greek at another, hit him. He, supposing it to be done by one of my servants, fell into great choler, went home and within two hours there were assembled 30 or 40 French people, he having sent to a ship here in port to call all the mariners, who, with daggers, staves, and swords, stood privily in a house in the streets where my servants were to return home. Being advised thereof I sent them command not to meddle with the French, but to come some other way because I knew they had no weapons; but before the advice three were come as far as the place where the French issued out and hurt them all, and as the others came by they were also attacked. The Venetian Baglio and other neighbours were eyewitnesses of this butcherly fight, and cried out shame upon them. When my people were got together the French fled in haste to their master's house. Heretofore our endeavours were to defend the merchants and nation against the Turk, but now, since the peace between Spain and France, all that we can do is to defend ourselves from such injuries as he makes and devises against us. The new and old Baglios, yet here resident, are great mediators between us to examine and end the cause.
“The French Ambassador and I promised to the Venetian Ambassador not to complain to these barbarous people of the late affray between our servants, but meanwhile the French Ambassador has complained to the Viceroy that I, with my servants, had assaulted his house and hurt four of his men. I therefore thought it well to discharge myself before the Pasha, desiring the Baglio to make certificates how we had proceeded. The Venetian Ambassador implored me for the honour of our two princes to take some satisfaction of the French Ambassador and not to communicate our differences to these barbarous people, to which I again agreed if the French Ambassador in writing and by his messenger to the Pasha declare his complaint false, which he has done.”
As a matter of fact the question of the “consulage of forestiers,” was becoming concrete in the case of the Flemish traders. Lello reports on March 13th to Sir Robert Cecil: “The Flemish merchants begin to trade into these countries which will subvert ours, although it is now of little worth: yet seeing no means to prohibit them I thought it better to take their protection than suffer them to go under the French.”
This was the question to be fought out between Lello and de Breves. The whole matter turned upon the nature and quality of the Capitulations. No doubt existed but that originally the Flemish, like all other foreigners except the Venetians, must have sailed under the French flag. De Breves maintained that they were Spanish subjects, and therefore under his jurisdiction, as French Ambassador. Lello advanced a double argument, first that the Flemish were under English protection, and therefore included in the English Capitulations (No. 887), and that those Capitulations distinctly gave the English Ambassador “consulage of foresters.” Against him he had the Grand Vizir; in his favour Cicala, the powerful Capudan Pasha, and the Chief Gardener, the Bostangi Pasha. But the position was not as clear as the English Ambassador represented it. On the 23rd November 1600, the Venetian Ambassador reports (No. 931), “I have just learned something which seems to me of great moment, namely, that the Capitulations between the Grand Signor and the Queen have never been ratified though it is five years since the Sultan has been on the throne. This matter has been kept most jealously concealed, but I will manage to penetrate the secret.” The Venetian Ambassador is a hostile witness in the case, for on September the 2nd, he had been instructed that if he saw the French Ambassador's policy succeeding, and if he saw that he could further its object, he was to do so, but cautiously and secretly (No. 923). Nevertheless it is probable that his report of the actual state of the case is correct. He says (No. 936):
“It is well known to your Excellencies that there has never been but one Capitulation between the English and the Turks. This was ratified about eighteen years ago, in the reign of the present Sultan's father, and it was only then that the Queen of England began to send her Ambassador to reside there. (fn. 21) When the present Sultan came to the throne, the late English Ambassador, called Edward Barton, wished to renew the Capitulation at once, without waiting till the Queen sent another Ambassador. But the Turks, who are not at all ignorant of their own interests, always persisted in refusing to confirm the Capitulation, unless the Queen sent to the Sultan the usual present on his assumption of the throne, though they waived the question of a special Ambassador. Up to eighteen months ago they have gone on with the original Capitulation, as all other powers do until the new one is ratified. But then, when the gifts arrived, Mr. Henry Lello, who was here in the capacity of simple agent in the place of his master, the former Ambassador, was declared by the Queen as her Ambassador and received here as such. As soon as the present had been given to his Majesty, Lello immediately followed up the negotiation for the ratification of another Capitulation far more extensive than the former; he came to terms with the Porte and the Capitulation was even read in Divan, in the presence of all the Pashas, highly approved, and sent in to the Sultan, who countersigned it in these terms, which were shown to me, “We have seen it, let it be written and given to the Ambassador.” (fn. 22) While it was being written out the revolt of the Spahis and the death of Chirà the Jewess took place, followed by the fall of Halil Pasha who was the ultimate support of the new English Capitulations, and so the matter remained suspended.
“When Hafiz was appointed Lieutenant Grand Vizir, he would not ratify the Capitulation except in its original form, and in spite of the Sultan's signature he told the Ambassador that what Halil had done Hafìz could undo.
“The substance of the additions to the Capitulation is this, that English merchants trading in Constantinople shall only pay three per cent. on their goods, whereas they formerly paid five and even six per cent. But no arrangement was made about other ports where the dues amount to twenty per cent.
“But a few days ago, when it seemed that the Queen of England would make peace with Spain, and while news from Hungary was far from good, Hafiz sent for the Dragoman of the English Embassy, and inquired why the English Ambassador did not continue to seek the ratification. To which the Ambassador replied that he had already written to the Queen, and was waiting an answer, which would soon be here. It was not for him to say another word on the subject, because there was an attempt to alter what had already received the signature of the Grand Signor, who had actually, in replying to the Queen's letters, announced that he had granted to her Ambassador his request as to the renewal of the Capitulations.”
On April 8th, 1601, Lello complains to Sir Robert Cecil that “the suit between me and the French Ambassador continues without aid, for want of her Majesty's letters, and as they have not come, I am forced to seek friendship according to the custom of this country which must be by bribes. The Admiral stands very firm in my behalf, especially for the Flemings.”
The controversy, however, was drawing to a close. De Breves's influence began to decline. “A new Ambassador,” Lello had written in September of 1600, “is expected from France, who God grant may he of Christianlike mind, for it is expected that the present one will surely turn Turk, being already married according to the Turkish law. He secretly instructs the Turks how to manage their wars against the Christians.” Henry IV. had in fact, recalled de Breves who, either through inability, or disinclination, still delayed to take his leave.
The peace between France and Savoy, which meant peace with Spain, gave Lello an opportunity of placing de Breves in an unfavourable light, for the French Ambassador had promised the Turks that French arms would be directed against Spain (No. 969). Cicala's influence too, steadily exerted in favour of the English, was paramount, and he interfered decisively in the question of the “consulage of Flemings” (No. 969), by requesting the French Ambassador to desist from his opposition to Lello.
The Ambassador said that to please the Capudan he would write again to his master for instructions. Cicala, however, replied that letters took too long, and that the Ambassador must make up his mind at once. De Breves appealed to the Grand Vizir, but in vain (No. 976), and on May 23rd, 1601, Lello is able to acquaint Cecil that the question is finally settled in favour of the English.
“I told you that the suit between the Trench Ambassador and me for the protection of the Flemings and forestiers was to be ended by the Grand Seigneur's whole council. It is now ordered that the Flemings come under her Majesty's banner and be included in our Capitulations.”
And the Venetian Ambassador writes: “Your Serenity will see how things change their aspect here, passing from one extreme to another; only last year it was the desire not of the Sultan only, but of all his ministers, and almost, I might say, of Cicala himself, to prohibit the English from trading; now, in spite of excellent reasons based upon capitulations, decrees, and Imperial rescripts in favour of France, the very reverse has been adopted. This is chiefly due to the immense influence of Cicala, who formerly had little weight, but now, having ingratiated himself with the Sultan during the recent tumults, he aspires by means of frequent interviews and cunning counsels, to overtop the supreme influence of the Chief Eunuch, who by supporting Cicala in the past has been the sole cause of his present exaltation. It is not merely Cicala's greedy hopes to wring much profit out of the English Ambassador which induce him to take up this attitude, but also his ancient hatred of the French. The Grand Vizir has recounted to the other Pashas, and to the Cadileskier, the pretensions of the two Ambassadors, each of whom had a decision in his own favour under sign manual of the Sultan. The Grant Vizir explained that Cicala was of opinion that the English, who were better friends to the Porte than any other power, ought to be favoured; all the others adhered to the weighty advice of Cicala, and the Grand Vizir reported the consultation to the Sultan, and informed him of the two contradictory orders under his sign manual. The Sultan gave orders that the Flemish, as not specified in the French Capitulation, are now to sail under the jurisdiction of the Queen of England.”
That was the close of the long quarrel between Lello and de Breves. The Englishman was victorious. But besides the question of “consulage of forestiers” there was another constant source of friction between the French and Venetians on the one side and the English on the other. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada, English privateering developed rapidly. The booty brought home from the West Indies inflamed the imagination, and tempted buccaneers to try the Mediterranean as well. The fact of the war with Spain gave them an excuse for passing the Straits of Gibraltar and soon that sea was swarming with ships, which, under pretext of trading, were armed to the teeth and levied indiscriminate war on Spanish, French, Venetian, Turkish vessels alike (Nos. 878, 887, 896, 901, 903, 923, 1117). On July 8th 1600, the Senate addressed a letter to the Queen complaining of the conduct of the English (No. 895); and the Venetian Ambassador at the Porte vigorously seconded de Breves' expostulation made in the interests of French shipping. Lello indeed himself did not deny the facts of the piracy (No. 931), and frequently asked for powers to arrest privateers, sailing without the Lord High Admiral's patent. The Venetian ambassasador reports “the English Ambassador admitted that in truth very few English ships did sail to trade. But he urged that the kingdom of England, though a rich feeding ground, was not able to support the whole nation, and therefore they were forced to take to the sea, and to go fully armed on account of Spain; besides, these ships were the bulwarks of the country. Sometimes they did not find booty on the open sea and so pushed further. He has written to the Queen to put down this filibustering.” Lello actually made some arrests on February 7th, 1601; and he received a report from Matthew Stoke (not Stocker, as the Venetian Ambassador calls him), the English Consul at Patras (No. 987), declaring that the Consul cannot obtain convictions from the Turkish Cadi, who is open to bribes. The mischief showed no signs of abatement and Lello's despatches are full of indications that the French and Venetian Ambassadors are growing loud-voiced in their just complaints.
Finally, in January of 1603, the Venetian government, in reply to a petition addressed to them on December 5th 1602 (No. 1,105) resolved to send a secretary to England to demand satisfaction for the damage.
Elizabeth had always resented the absence of a Venetian Ambassador from her Court, and on every occasion, by messages to the Venetian Ambassador in France, and by plain speech to distinguished Venetians who visited her, she let her opinion be known. Francesco Gradenigo gives a lively and enthusiastic account of his visit to England (No. 505) in 1596, and of his presentation to the Queen. He crossed from Dieppe to Dover, and found the country “the most lovely you can imagine; so opulent, fat, and abounding in all things, it may truly be said poverty hath no place there.” He did not meet a single beggar on the road to London. He dined twice with the Earl of Essex, and describes him as fair-skinned, tall, and wiry; just growing a beard. The Earl presented him at Court, where the Queen was gracious and witty; and in the purest Italian “set springes to catch” compliments, which the courtly Italian did not fail to furnish. “Our brother of France,” she said, “tells us that we are to show you the most beautiful things in our kingdom, and you have begun by seeing the ugliest, ourselves.” Of course he answered that one glimpse of her Majesty eclipsed all else that her kingdom might contain. But at the close of the audience the Queen let fall these words: Once on a “time when I was princess, I was more esteemed by the Signory of Venice than now that I am Queen; but you are afraid of that old fellow;” by “quel vecchio,” she meant the Pope, and she was right, for it was Clement's expostulations, coupled with a dred of displeasing Spain, (Nos. 103, 109) which caused the Republic to defer a step it would naturally have taken, the maintenance of an Ambassador in England.
The chief scene of English depredations was the seas round Greece, from Zante to Crete; and the principal actors were Thomas Sherley, William Piers, and his lieutenant Lancaster (No 1162). Patras, Coron, Modon and the islands such as Milo, offered both harbour and market to the buccaneers, and the Venetian Provveditore in Zante insists that the seas will never be rid of the robbers till the Grand Signor issues orders forbidding shelter in Turkish ports (No. 1147).
Thomas Sherley, one of that famous “leash of brethren,” whose history will be found in Puller's Worthies and in the publications of the Roxburghe Club (“The Sherley Brothers”), had fitted out in the port of Southampton, two ships, the “Dragon” and the “George.” When he reached the Mediterranean he put in at Leghorn, and offered his services to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, promising to harry Turks and Jews, but to leave all Christians alone. The Grand Duke gave him between twenty-five and thirty men, possibly to replace the fifty men he had already lost in an engagement with a Flemish ship off the coast of Spain (Nos. 1150, 1151, 1153). On leaving Leghorn, Thomas Sherley, on board the “Dragon,” parted company with his consort the “George,” commanded by William Piers of Plymouth. On December 14th, 1602, when off Cape Malea, Piers fell in with the Venetian ship “Veniera,” having on board the Venetian Consul da Mosto, returning from his duties in Alexandria. He captured the “Veniera” without a fight and took her into Porto Vasso on the island of Sapienza, where he plundered her at his leisure. Piers himself told da Mosto that his crew wished to kill the Venetians, but that he had prevented them by force, and showed a bloody dagger in proof of his assertion. The “George” seems to have been a “rotten old hulk,” and Piers accordingly kept the “Veniera,” which he re-christened the “Fox,” and transferred the Venetians to the “George.” In her they came to Zante, but were instantly despatched again by the Governor to endeavour to recover the cargo of the “Veniera,” which was reported to be at Modon. Francesco Mondino, who was in charge of the mission, was given an escort of two English ships, the “Sacra” (?) and the “Darling,” but they parted company, and Piers' discarded “George” with the crew of the “Veniera,” was subsequently captured again by another pirate in a leaky brigantine, to which they were transferred, and left to shift for themselves with only one small anchor and a cheap cable. A gale sprang up; their foresail was split, and they gave themselves over for lost, but eventually ran under Coron and sold the ship for one hundred sequins, with which they made their way back to Zante.
Meantime Signor Giorgio Sumachi had been sent from Zante to Modon, by land, on a similar mission, to recover the cargo of the “Veniera.” He was instructed to take the Turkish official at Gastuni with him. His report to his superiors (No. 1124), gives a full and vivid account of the difficulties he encountered in his unsuccessful efforts to fulfil his mission. The truth was as the Provveditore at Zante reported to his Government, that the Turkish officials gave ready shelter to the English pirates in return for presents, and the merchants and inhabitants of the various Turkish ports were perfectly willing to buy plundered cargoes at the cheap rates demanded by the English buccaneers. The master of the ship “Caldiera” reports (No. 1156), that “In Milo the English have houses; are settled there and popular, enjoying full liberty of traffic with the inhabitants of the place.”
Meantime Thomas Sherley, on board the “Dragon,” had penetrated further into the Archipelago. He and his men landed at Zea and demanded bread. When this was refused a riot took place and two natives were killed, while three of the English, including Sherley himself, were made prisoners. The Englishmen sent to summon their consul at Zante to their aid; but meanwhile they were transferred to Negropont and handed over to the Pasha's lieutenant. This information was furnished by two Greeks of Zea, who offered to secure Sherley's ransom for a reasonable sum (Nos. 1148, 1153). (fn. 23)
The “Dragon” appears to have left Zea in command of another officer, and continued her piratical career. In February Giorgio Sumachi was despatched again on board the “Gigante” to purchase corn in the Archipelago for the Governor of Zante and for the Venetian fleet lying at Corfu. He had a large sum of money on board, and was given as escort an English ship called the “Blessing of God,” master, Stephen Infold of Plymouth. When off Modon Sumachi fell in with the “Dragon,” and making up to his consort, the “Blessing of God,” he asked whether she meant to fight. The answer was “You had better fly, if you can.” Thus abandoned by her consort the “Gigante” looked to herself. After an exciting chase she managed to escape, under cover of night, and, though sighted again next day by the “Dragon” and pursued, she eventually reached the harbour of Milo. But as she sailed in she saw two English ships lying there. These turned out to be the “Fox” alias “Veniera,” captain, William Piers, and Sumachi's consort, the “Blessing of God,” which had reached Milo before him. Sumachi saw the trap into which he had fallen, and, taking his money with him, he slipped ashore just in time to escape into the town. Piers, who had been fully in formed by the “Blessing of God,” sent his boats at once to board the “Gigante,” and finding his prize already fled, he threatened to burn the ship after plundering her. Sumachi, however, soon won over Piers by means of presents, and, as he himself says, “the Captain became my good friend, though his crew were devils” (No. 1150).
While the “Fox,” the “Gigante,” and the “Blessing of God” were lying in Milo harbour, the “Dragon” sailed in with another prize, the “Caldiera,” captured on her way from the Archipelago with a cargo of grain. No sooner did the “Dragon” sight Sumachi's “Gigante” than she sent on board demanding “the money and the merchant” and threatening to sink her. But Sumachi appealed to his friend Piers, who declared that if the “Dragon” did not desist he would fight her. The attention of both was presently diverted by the arrival of the “Bersatona” and they forgot their quarrels in the joint plunder of the new coiner. When that was completed, the “Dragon” sailed away to Zea to pick up her commander, Thomas Sherley, and the Venetian ships, the “Caldiera,” “Bersatona,” and the “Gigante” were left in peace.
Although Scaramelli had left Venice before these details had reached the city, the information was forwarded to him in London and it was for these and similar acts of piracy that he was to seek redress from the Court of St. James.
Scaramelli crossed the channel on the 5th of February; and on the 7th reached London. The Queen was at Richmond, and it was only after some delays, caused no doubt on purpose, that he obtained an audience of the Queen on Sunday the 10th February. The Queen was dressed in silver and white taffety, embroidered with gold; her robe was rather open in front and showed her throat with strings of pearls and rubies down to the middle of her breast. Her skirts, Scaramelli remarks, were ample, and stood out more than was the fashion in France. Her hair was of a light colour such as nature never gave her, and she had a row of pear-shaped pearls across her forehead; she wore a puffed coif and imperial crown on her head. Her dress and stomacher were all studded with jewels. For bracelets she had double rows of large pearls. She looked younger than her seventy years. Scaramelli gives a minute account of the whole interview at which the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Chancellor, the Treasurer, the Lord High Admiral, and the Secretary (Sir Robert Cecil) were present, as also the ladies and gentlemen of the Court who had been dancing. Towards the close, just before he was dismissed there was a slight passage of arms between the Venetian Envoy and the Queen. After reading the Doge's letter her manner, which had been bright and smiling, suddenly changed. I cannot “fail to feel hurt,” she said, “that during all the fortyfour years of my reign the Republic has never let me hear her voice save in making requests, nor has ever shown that regard for me and my kingdom that I have received from other Sovereigns. Nor am I aware that my sex has brought me this demerit, for my sex can be no offence to any who treat me as other Sovereigns are treated. But I am well aware, and therefore I partly pardon, that the Republic has never been able to obtain leave from certain Princes in this matter. Yet I would not be discourteous to her, though in the question of the privateers I would have you know that this kingdom is not so scant of men, but what there may be found a scamp and rogue or two among them; seeing, however, that these be my subjects I will appoint a commission to handle this affair with you.” Scaramelli took up the challenge as to the indifference of Venice, and replied: “Madam, I am rejoiced to know that your Majesty has reigned fourty-four years so nobly, over this your ample dominion, for that is a pledge that you are not unversed in knowledge of the world, and must, therefore, be aware that all Sovereigns are guided by circumstances in their conduct, I shall, therefore, say no more on the subject save that the Republic of Venice, a Sovereign Prince, great and by God's grace independent, though she ever treats with respect those who deserve respect, has never yet asked leave of any Prince in the world, and never will.” The Queen was far from displeased by this spirited reply, and retained a smiling countenance till the end of the interview, which, of course, could not close without a demand for compliments upon her Italian.
Scaramelli never saw the Queen again. She was rapidly drawing to the end of her life. Essex's treason, Tyrone's rebellion, Arabella Stuart's secret marriage, (fn. 24) and feigned madness, the death of the Countess of Nottingham, were all weighing upon her mind. Scaramelli reports on March 27th that the state of the Queen is desperate; that vexation of spirit, anger, old age, rather than any specific malady, are hastening her end. He records the lethargy—idiotcy he calls it—into which she had fallen, and represents her as deploring Essex's death as some unpardonable sin. Just before the Queen's death, however, the Envoy was received in audience by the Council (No. 1171). He describes My Lords as more like Kings than subjects, but admits that he was graciously received and made to sit at the head of the table in a brocaded chair. He obtained, on the whole, a favourable answer on the subject of his mission, and was able to write a reassuring despatch to Venice.
But the Queen's demise, which seems to have taken place either late on the night of April the 2nd (March 23rd O.S.), or at two o'clock on the morning of April the 3rd (fn. 25) (March 24th O.S.) (No. 1166) interrupted all negotiations for a time; and Scaramelli had to await the arrival of the new King before resuming his pursuit of William Piers and his brother pirates.