Venice
December 1623, 16-31

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1912

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170-180

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'Venice: December 1623, 16-31', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 18: 1623-1625 (1912), pp. 170-180. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=88899 Date accessed: 21 October 2014.


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December 1623

Dec. 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Roma.
Venetian
Archives.
220. PIERO CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Besides the affair of the Valtelline and an attempt to obtain grant of a part of the ecclesiastical revenues of Spain for some years Pastrana is also treating with the pope for a dispensation for the marriage with England. They do not seem very eager about this, and even though this was arranged by the late pope the things agreed upon are not yet carried out. The English now say that it would cause too great an inconvenience for everyone to be able to attend freely at the queen's private chapel, and not without danger of some riot taking place in the palace, and to open a church in the city free to every one would be to permit liberty of religion. Upon this they have held various meetings in the house of Cardinal Bandini, but without arranging anything.
They have taken it in very ill part here that Cardinal Zappata, when accompanying the prince to the Spanish frontier, remained outside the baldachino when eating with him.
The pope is writing a most elegant brief to the prince congratulating him upon his arrival in England and exhorting him to continue in the good disposition towards the Catholic religion which he demonstrates.
Rome, the 16th December, 1623.
[Italian.]
Dec. 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Roma.
Venetian
Archives.
221. PIERO CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The pope told me that he had charged the nuncio sent to Venice to object to the preaching at the Dutch embassy. He said he had no objection to what was done privately in the house, but they threw open their doors and rang their bells, which your Serenity certainly ought not to permit. In this connection he told me something that happened when he was nuncio in France. They were preparing to decorate the streets for the feast of Corpus Christi and proposed to decorate the outside of the English embassy. The ambassador objected and would not permit it. The disturbance became so great that the matter was referred to King Henry IV, who most wisely decided that the ambassador was quite right in not allowing his house to be touched, but the streets belonged to his Majesty, who immediately ordered the richest decorations that the palace contained to be set up in front of the embassy, though without touching it, so that when the king came out he received the blessings and applause of his people. The pope accordingly begged your Serenity not to allow anything to be done outside the Dutch embassy which might set a bad example. When I said that I did not think any scandal took place outside the embassy, his Holiness said he was sure of it.
Rome, the 16th December, 1623.
[Italian.]
Dec. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
222. ALVISE CORNER, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The count is much occupied with news that has arrived by various couriers from England, which your Excellencies will hear.
Madrid, the 17th December, 1623.
[Italian.]
Dec. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
223. ALVISE CORNER, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The report about the delay of the Infanta's marriage proves true, as although the day was fixed and preparations made, nothing has been said about it since the arrival of couriers from England. Some think it has only been postponed for a few days and because of something that has happened in London. This seems to have caused great alarm here, as they feel sure that the machinations of the heretics certainly have something to do with it, the opponents of the marriage taking advantage of this to offer stronger resistance. Others point out that no vigilance will ever suffice to prevent the king there from maltreating the Catholics or even the Infanta. I hear on good authority that quadrupled letters have come from England withdrawing the powers given to the king on the grounds that as the Infanta will not leave before March it is useless to marry her earlier, and in the meantime they ought to settle the interests of the Palatine, upon which his Catholic Majesty has always promised satisfaction to the King of Great Britain, to whom his son-in-law has complained for not obtaining it quickly.
Accordingly the marriage is postponed, and perhaps the English are beginning to change their minds, as at the time of the prince's departure his physician told me might happen. The Spaniards consider this the more likely because it is said that the Earl of Bristol, the ordinary ambassador, has been publicly recalled. This is thought to be due to the offices of the Duke of Buckingham, his opponent, and if he prevails they foresee that he will upset the rest, especially in the absence of this ambassador, who has always given every possible satisfaction here by his ability and dexterity to facilitate the marriage, as it was he who chiefly conducted the negotiations. The Count of Olivares, as the prime author, and who certainly desired its effectuation, is extremely fearful about the removal of this minister, since it would strengthen the suspicion that England is not eager for the conclusion, remembering the ironical and double-edged remark made by Buckingham, when he took leave with unconcealed dissatisfaction, to wit, that he would never cease to urge the end of the negotiations (riciordandosi del moto irronico e ingannivole, che gli diede Bochingan nel tempo che con dichiarito disgusto si licencio, che è, non lasciarebbe però di persuadere il fine dei trattati).
Accordingly Olivares is anxiously endeavouring to invent a remedy, and especially to remove the pretext of the affairs of the Palatinate, endeavouring to get it taken up immediately and have it settled quickly. To this end they beg his Imperial Majesty not to show himself unbending and, in order to mollify the ambassador, the count has given him the collar of the Golden Fleece, but it is clear that the affair will become even more involved by the assignment made by the emperor to the Elector of Mayence of places of the Palatine, which the King of England especially took very ill, and with the brave show made by Gabor their pretensions will be higher and more difficult to satisfy than in the past. I have also heard the Count of Gondomar remark with his usual humour that the Junta about the marriage were like the physicians of the provinces who bleed the patient until he dies, as by demanding provision against every eventuality while the prince was here, they bled too freely and ran the risk of losing everything, hinting not only at the breaking off of the marriage, but a complete rupture, and blaming them for having made such numerous demands as to anger the English and provoke them to make various demands on their side in favour of the Palatine, which might upset everything previously arranged.
I furtively heard similar remarks mixed with jests from the Count of Gondomar upon the occasion of the christening of the little princess, which took place on the 8th inst. with great pomp.
Madrid, the 17th December, 1623.
[Italian.]
Dec. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
224. ZUANE PESARO, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Pisiurs assures the king that the English marriage will do no harm or will produce no effect, his object being to persuade his Majesty that matters are going well. I am assured by a person of credit that these nuptials are subject to the following conditions besides those arranged for religion:
The Spaniards shall restore what they hold in the Palatinate, and therefore they are dismembering the country, giving pieces to this and that prince of Germany, dependant upon them.
The Duke of Bavaria shall keep the Upper Palatinate and have the electoral vote for life.
The Palatine shall enjoy the title of King of Bohemia for life with the scanty revenues of the Lower Palatinate.
The two crowns of Spain and England shall provide him with a pension of a larger sum.
The Palatine's eldest son and the emperor's daughter shall be sent to Brussels to be educated and to marry, and this son shall be the heir of all upon the death of his father and Bavaria.
The Spaniards aspire to possess themselves of the prince, who may become heir of the throne of Great Britain. Even without these conditions they affirm the conclusion although it may be a long business.
The Marshal Chrichi has consummated his marriage with Madame Lesdiguieres, sister of his deceased wife, without a dispensation. The constable, on the previous day, sent a religious to Rome for the dispensation or rather for absolution. They wished to make sure of not being thwarted. France takes liberties which would not be suffered in others.
Paris, the 22nd December, 1623.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
225. ALVISE VALARESSO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I am assured that even the most secret expeditions made to Spain have not in any way derogated from the others, and that they all work chiefly towards two things, the suspension of the nuptials and to ask instead for a definite marriage and to have the Palatinate restored before the marriage, and not as the consequence thereof. It remains somewhat doubtful, however, whether the Ambassador Bristol has not precipitated matters, either because of the delay of the messenger bringing the order for suspension, or because of his own interests. Accordingly the news most anxiously awaited at the Court seems to be that Grisli has arrived in time to stay further progress. Thus the scene changes more and more, and from being infatuated with the marriage the English now seem to contemn it. On the other hand the Spaniards who introduced such long delays are now hastening the conclusion. Thus the King of Spain in a recent letter called the prince brother-in-law, a title no longer used, in telling him of the birth of his daughter. But the prince is disposed to laugh at such demonstrations and I hear that he is firmly resolved not to suffer the Spaniards to play with him any more. I hope indeed that his very venturesome journey may have proved a most useful school, and that good will come unexpectedly out of the evil. I understand that he is the actual instigator of Buckingham's movements and it is not Buckingham who instigates the prince's wishes, as was believed.
He now sees clearly that if they do not change their course they are going to perdition. Already he seems to me determined to decide upon the most important steps for himself without caring for what his father may say. As I thought it best not to side too much with the prince, so as to give the king no reason for jealousy, I praised the new resolutions of his Highness to a great lord, who communicated these affairs to me, but I remarked that while it was now highly necessary to abandon the old harmful counsels of his father yet it would be a matter of prudence to do so with every regard for appearances of filial respect; but above all things it was necessary for the prince and Buckingham to hold steadfastly to their course, because with the king's feeling so near to the Spaniards, if ever they yielded a point it would precipitate the ruin of the whole affair and certainly involve that of Buckingham also at least. The king meanwhile seems practically lost; he comes to various decisions and inclines to his usual negotiations; but he does not care to fall in with the wishes of his son-in-law and the favourite. He now protests, now weeps, but finally gives in (il Re intanto si mostra d'animo quasi perduto; nelle rissolutioni e variò; alle solite trattationi è inclinato; ma non sa come aderire ai voleri del figliuolo et del favorito; egli hor grida hor piange et in fine si rimette).
As regards the Spaniards it is considered that they may adopt two courses, either the usual one of temporising by the arts of promises and excuses, though they may give this up because they may find that way closed, or possibly they may not fear much harm from this quarter and may seize the opportunity of breaking off the marriage, casting the blame upon the English themselves. The third course of accelerating the conclusion and sending the Infanta does not seem credible for many reasons besides the present feeling of the prince and the opposition of Buckingham, which would expose them to certain defeat. The Spanish ambassadors went to inform his Majesty of the birth of the little Infanta. As they were leaving they added something about the dispensation arrived from Rome, saying that although the pope desired fresh articles he had waived this out of consideration for the king their master, and as a matter of fact I hear from the Lord Keeper that it is scarcely if at all altered from the first. Certainly the Catholics here have not found their condition worsened by the changed aspect of affairs. When conversing on the same subject with the same Lord Keeper I remarked that they ought to continue to treat them well now for reasons of state, to show that they have not done so up to the present against their will and at the request of others.
Inoiosa has received from Spain letters very favourable to his claims of precedence over Mendoza, who has been deprived of the remainder of his embassy, as one guilty of a serious crime. The idea of the entertainment that Buckingham was to give to Inoiosa by the king's order has fallen through as Inoiosa did not seem to welcome it.
The Spaniards here are spreading their customary slanders, saying that Gabor has been egged on by your Serenity, assisted by the Turks, and that you are approaching a rupture with the pope. I contradict this.
The person destined for Denmark is waiting until the replies arrive from Spain. I hear that they have another person ready, who is to go incognito to the princes of Germany for the same purposes.
They have discovered a private society of persons bound together in a strict union. (fn. 1) The majority seem to be mature, but it is feared they may have more extensive designs. They have also found an anonymous letter directed to a leading minister, warning him to have a care for the royal ships as if there was some conspiracy for their destruction; accordingly they have strengthened the guards.
The prince is preparing a masque, to which the Spanish ambassadors will probably be invited, as they did not attend the one last year. (fn. 2)
Wotton, sometime ambassador at Venice, has finally arrived here. (fn. 3) He has seen the king and also the prince, who in particular showed him great favour. The question of his return is not yet decided; he certainly desires to go back, but it is doubtful whether it will take place. If he does not, Sir [Isaac] Wake will take his place. I have not yet been able to call upon him. I find that so far he is performing offices which are not such as are becoming.
The French who were with Mansfelt have almost all left and complain of ill-treatment. The unknown person of whom I wrote, that is the Capuchin friar, continues to agitate for the negotiations of Bavaria. The greater part praise it and consider it sincere, though some have suspicions; the French ambassador gives his support. I consider it the best of all the negotiations. Buckingham hears the friar willingly and inclines to the business. I do not know what the prince's opinion may be, but the king for his part said that they ought not to stand away from the Spaniards or mistrust them.
I hear something of a despatch sent to the Duke of Savoy. The Landgrave of Hesse has written a letter to the king full of lamentations, representing his present misfortunes. The king has received from his ministers in Spain a copy of some letters which the pope wrote to them about the dispensation, which was to be brought to him by an express messenger by way of Spain; but it has not arrived, and the letters are stopped. In the house of Inoiosa they say that he will soon leave.
London, the 22nd December, 1623.
Postscript.—At this moment I hear that Chiligri has arrived from Spain and reports that he got there in time to stay the nuptials.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Signori
Stati.
Venetian
Archives.
226. MARC ANTONIO MOROSINI, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
At Breda, where there is a large garrison, a riot has recently broken out because the States have published severe laws to prevent officers from making unjust profits. These complain because they are creditors for large sums and claim to have paid the soldiers out of their own purses. They claim the abrogation of the laws and the repayment of their advances. Prince Henry has gone thither with deputies of the States to appease the tumult. He takes with him some English officers, as it is understood that the greatest disturbance comes from men of that nation. The town is on the frontier and the enemy not far away, so they attach great importance to the event and will try to obviate any mischief. (fn. 4)
The Palatine has written a courageous reply to the letter written to him by the King of England about the marriage proposed by the Spaniards of the emperor's second daughter to his eldest son. He says they must first restore to him his hereditary possessions entire with the electoral vote, and after that let them speak of alliances and marriages. I am assured of this and your Excellencies may accept it as a fact.
The Hague, the 23rd December, 1623.
[Italian.]
Dec. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
227. ZUANE PESARO, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Estates of Normandy have decided to satisfy the king verbally to divert his wrath, but they will send fourteen Councillors to represent their grievances, the burden of which causes the people to abandon the country and withdraw to England.
Paris, the 29th December, 1623.
[Italian.]
Dec. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
228. ALVISE VALARESSO, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Chiligri brought word of the suspension of the nuptials and of Bristol's promise to stay the negotiations. Probably the prince never desired to hear of the progress of the marriage in previous days as he did of this delay. Thus do human sentiments change. On his arrival in Spain Chiligri found many preparations had been made, that the solemnity had been announced and everything was ready for its completion, except that two days were devoted to celebrating the birth of the Infanta. Bristol has carried things thus far, although the prince before leaving Spain wrote to order him not to proceed to the nuptials without fresh instructions. It it hard to believe that such temerity arose from a neglect of obedience, and it is suspected that he had some secret commands from the father contrary to those of the son. Certainly Bristol did what he could to complete the affair, and in the letters brought by Grisli, who arrived a day after Chiligri, he represents the conclusion as near and absolutely certain, and speaks of the particular vexation that the Infanta has felt at this impediment, and by order of the king there he reminds the prince of the promises he made at his leave taking that he would hunt away as an enemy every one who should obstruct this marriage. This is a dart aimed at Buckingham.
In any case the prince was not disturbed in the slightest. The letter is regarded as an inflated bladder, wind without substance, and the prince has complained publicly of the proceedings of this minister, interspersing his complaint with grave threats (minazzie di vita), and possibly they will not wait long before recalling him. It is uncertain for what motives the Spaniards decided to go so far, unless possibly they knew that the prince had already sent to suspend the nuptials, and wished to make a show of their good-will, in order to make the English guilty of the breach; or else, without knowing of the suspension, in order to have the nuptials carried out, binding the prince while freeing themselves, they would, before sending the Infanta, have asked for things so impossible to concede that would in any case have ruined the matter while throwing the onus of the rupture upon the English, whereby they would attain their two ancient and well-devised objects, namely not to conclude the marriage and to evade the responsibility for the rupture, while gaining time and receiving less of a rebuff, two points upon which they have been deluded by the prince's earlier resolution to suspend the nuptials. We already hear some lamentations from them about this affront, with the object of forestalling or else to threaten and intimidate. They call the king and prince breakers of faith and perjured, and say that no one will trust them again. Some add that the King of Spain has an excellent opportunity to show his resentment against a poor and contemptible sovereign, with a divided and corrupted kingdom.
As regards the Palatinate, their peremptory answer is expected at any moment. The last given was that they offered in general terms to do everything possible for the restitution, saying that anyone who was not satisfied with this did not desire the marriage. Apparently they will stand by this, pretending that they cannot depart one jot from the old treaty on the score of their reputation, even if they could do so without inconvenience. I believe that without taking fire they will rest content to break the marriage, with their usual dissimulation, but preserve the friendship, showing the English that they are the injured parties, with the object of mollifying the feeling of the injury done to the English. Certainly I do not know with what art the Spaniards and their adherents speak of the marriage as of a torn-up affair. However, the prince in all his operations is marching towards that goal, and is quite determined. Thus one can always feel sure of his wishes and attitude as well as Buckingham's, who is very closely united with him and guided more by youthful passion than governed by necessary prudence. Among the councillors few are entirely perfect; some are well inclined, many are of doubtful sincerity, whilst the fortunes of all are slippery; among them the Earl of Arundel is in some danger with the king, with whom fear is always the predominating sentiment, and who is now divided between fear of his son and fear of the Spaniard, so that the government is all in a state of transition, and these days may be called critical for the salvation or ruin of the kingdom.
With respect to summoning a parliament, they have held many deliberations, but nothing has yet been decided, though it certainly will never happen except against the king's wishes. I foresee that they will lay the whole matter before it and leave to it the task of making the breach, in order to exonerate the prince and Buckingham, and also to interest the parliament the more in the consequences, for contributions and other things. But the wisest fear a renewal of the past disorders either from a jealousy of the royal prerogatives or owing to the immoderate pretensions of the members of parliament, augmented by the king's present necessities, which are likely to be the greater owing to the increase of the party and because the Spaniards will foment trouble the more. If this should occur, as one may easily fear, a parliament, so far from proving the only medicine, would be a mortal poison for this kingdom, as I have thought fit to remark to some of the noblemen here, with whom I never omit any good office.
The Capuchin friar spoke recently with the king. He was the first to tell him that he wished to have a good understanding with the pope and to treat the Catholics well rather out of consideration for his Holiness than of the Spaniards. But I have no great belief in the sincerity of this. Certainly the Capucin has been sent with the consent of Bavaria and Mayence by the Nuncio of Brussels. He made his proposals, promising restitution of the Palatinate, offering to assist the Palatine becoming an eighth elector, and asking for the Palatine's eldest son to be kept near the Duke of Bavaria, with freedom in his religion, because they cannot trust the Palatine to whom they attribute the movement of Gabor. It appears that Bavaria is moved to make these proposals for a settlement by his mistrust of the Spaniards, whom he recognises as too great, and that is the reason given, but the secret cause may be Gabor's movement, which seems serious. The nuncio, and consequently the pope, supports the proposals, if we may credit what they say, because he also recognises and fears the Spanish greatness, but perhaps the real object is the hope of making that boy a Catholic. The king receives this affair unfavourably, because he does not want to separate himself from the Spaniards; the prince remains undecided, as he would like to please the king in this, or else he is thinking of force. The others for the most part are opposed, being prejudiced by their hatred of Bavaria and the pope. Among other things they think it would be a most serious thing to place in the hands of Bavaria the son of the Palatine, whom they call the brother of the Prince of Wales, and in this they are certainly right; but to avoid the collusion or the fraud feared by some it would be an excellent expedient to deposit the Palatinate in the hands of a third party until the completion of the negotiations; and while it is practically impossible to recover the Palatinate by force they ought to try every means of separating Bavaria from Spain.
The king has been somewhat indisposed, although perhaps rather in mind than in body. If nothing occurs to prevent it, I shall go next week to wish him the compliments of the season.
London, the 29th December, 1623.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 30.
Misc.
Cod. No. 62.
Venetian
Archives.
229. MARC ANTONIO PADAVIN, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The emperor sent to congratulate the Prince of England on his return home, and expressed some favourable disposition towards the Palatine, at the instigation of the Spaniards. Now the Catholic ambassador here has told his Majesty that the prince himself frankly told the Spanish ambassador in England that he would never consent to the marriage before the Palatine was restored to his former condition or until the Catholic undertook to declare war against the emperor and Bavaria to help him to recover his own. The Palatine will consent, moreover, to the marriage of his son to the emperor's second daughter, and he may have a Catholic priest to instruct him, provided his conscience remain free.
This manner of speaking to the emperor's ministers seems mysterious, and they feel sure that the Spaniards have put these words into the prince's mouth in order to strengthen their pretensions here and induce them to get Bavaria to rest content with the vote for life, and give up the fortresses and his other claims, to which many of the ministers here incline; but the emperor alone seems determined not to go back on his promises to the duke.
Vienna, the 30th December, 1623.
[Italian; copy.]

Footnotes

1 There is a crew or knot of such people discovered, who, under colour of good fellowship, have made an association, and taken certain oaths and orders devised among themselves, specially to be true and faithful to the society, and conceal one another's secrets, but mixed with a number of other ridiculous toys, to disguise the matter; as having a prince whom they call Ottoman; wearing of blue or yellow ribbons in their hats or elsewhere, having certain nicknames, as Tityre-tu, as such like for their several fraternities; and many other old conceits, the bottom whereof is not yet discovered, though divers of them have been examined and some committed, as one of the Windsors, and a few others. Most of them are young gentlemen who use to flock to taverns, thirty or forty in a company. This combination began first in the Low Countries, in the Lord Vaux's regiment, and hath since spread itself here to the number of eight score already known. What mischief may lurk under the mask, God knows. But sure they are confident and presumed much of themselves to carry it so openly. Whether upon this occasion or no I know not, but there is order taken that the pensioners shall be better appointed and better mounted, and when they ride with the king, to be furnished with a pair of French pistols. Chamberlain to Carleton, the 6th December, 1623, o.s. Birch, Court and Times of James I, ii, pages, 437,438.
2 This was Ben Jonson's, "Neptune's Triumph for the Return of Albion," printed by Nichols, Progresses of James I, iv, pages 948–59.
3 He landed at Sandwich on the 5th December, and went ten days later to see the king at Theobalds. Pearsall Smith: Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton, i, page 192.
4 "We have had here a petty mutiny among our English at Breda, upon the mistaking of a new placart of musters, published by the States, the suppressing whereof hath cost four of our poor countrymen's lives, who were executed this last week and so all quieted." Carleton to Chamberlain, the 21st Dec., 1623. State Papers, Foreign, Holland.