Venice
December 1626, 11-18

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1914

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50-64

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'Venice: December 1626, 11-18', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 20: 1626-1628 (1914), pp. 50-64. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89110 Date accessed: 28 July 2014.


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December 1626

Dec. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
68. To the Ambassador in England.
We have this week had an agent of Baden; we enclose his proposals and the subsequent offices of the English ambassador. We made suitable replies to both. The manner of their office leads us to believe that the King of England and the Duke of Savoy have readily agreed to promise contributions upon the strength of our views and promises, that they have issued their orders for this and it only remains for the republic to do the same. This looks like an attempt to lay any failure on the part of Baden at our door, by raising doubts about our word. In our replies we thought we had dealt adequately with the matter. When you have an opportunity you will speak to the lords of the Council, because there is still a minister of Baden at that Court, and the Duke of Savoy has declared himself categorically. With the present situation in the Valtelline we are unable to give any other answer than what we have given already, while expressing our great esteem for the margrave and commending the disposition shown by England. You will advance the considerations and offices laid down by the Senate with such suavity as to temper any bitterness shown by those ministers in their letters and reports.
The like to the Hague, France, Savoy, the Valtelline and Zurich, mutatis mutandis.
To England add:
We know that the agents of Bohemia and Denmark have confidential relations with you and they are interested in this matter. You will be able to speak to them because they know the nature of that climate, and will not only be impressed themselves but will speak to some of the Council, a circumstance of which you may make use later. You will also make use of our second office with Wake of this evening, to show the state of affairs here, and to confirm our intimacy with that crown. We also desire you to show your hearty appreciation of the confidence which Bassompierre shows to you.
Ayes, 127.Noes, 0.Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Dec. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
69. That a secretary of this Council be sent to read the following to the English ambassador:
We will not delay our reply to your office of this morning. Difficulties have arisen about carrying out the treaty of Monzon, and Coure has received orders not to carry out the treaty until the question of the tribute is settled. On the Spanish side they are increasing their forces. Your Excellency will be able to form your judgment from these facts and inform his Majesty, with advantage to the public cause.
Ayes, 127.Noes, 0.Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Dec. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
70. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Two days after my last despatch the Duke of Buckingham acquainted me in his Majesty's name with the negotiations in progress with France, Denmark, Gabor and the agent of the Margrave of Baden. he told me that the king had yielded a part of his own satisfactions to those of his brother-in-law, to friendly powers and to the whole world by consenting to receive the French attendants into the queen's service, after they had so deeply offended him, conceding also some advantage, though it has not yet been effected, to the Catholics of Great Britain. He added that by these acts of good will his Majesty had chosen to set an example to the Most Christian King in order to receive other satisfactions based not on favour nor upon complimentary propriety, but on writings and agreements signed with the king's own hand. Of this nature were the embargoes laid on English property in France, being directly contrary to the conventions between the two kingdoms and to the observance of the last promises made to the people of La Rochelle, who being threatened by the King of England made a disadvantageous agreement, notwithstanding which, none of the promises made to them are observed and on the contrary they suffer more persecution than before. Upon these two affairs the king would send an embassy extraordinary to France, and if he did not receive such satisfaction as he anticipated from his brother-in-law, they would certainly become irreconcilable enemies. He requested me at any rate to recommend the matter to your Serenity's ambassador at the French Court.
With regard to the affairs of Denmark he announced the despatch of the four English regiments, the permission to levy 6,000 Scots and a certain supply extraordinary of money which Calandrini is taking with him in jewels. Touching the movements of Gabor and the despatch of the gentleman from Baden, he confirmed to me precisely what I wrote, as discovered by me previously, and I now merely add that the money for Gabor will not be disbursed at Constantinople until he take the field in person and declare war against the emperor, a condition added in the agreement after the last conferences. In the negotiation with Gabor's ambassador the English ministers, as I know on good authority, determined to apply to me for the disbursement at Constantinople through the mart of Venice, with some hope of interesting your Excellencies in the matter, notwithstanding which, the duke never dropped me a hint about it, perhaps because they think of placing the matter in the hands of Ambassador Wake, Secretary Conway's son-in-law, to whom I understand that all the particulars aforesaid have been communicated. In my replies I made no further rejoinder beyond commending his Majesty's most worthy projects, the regard displayed by him for his own repute and the common cause, as well as the duke's good counsels, which guided him to such laudable resolves, merely adding commendation on the subject of Gabor and Baden, which can only procure for me demands, as I already knew all about the negotiations. I passed on to the affairs of France, thanking his Majesty and the duke in your Excellencies' name for confidence so well deserved by reason of your sincerity and most cordial love, and your desire for the welfare and union of the two Crowns. I praised the satisfaction given to France and endeavoured courteously to impress upon him that the like address, employed here by M. de Bassompierre, favoured by his Excellency's good intentions, would in great measure serve to obtain reciprocity for the negotiations at the French Court, the union between these two kings being alike advantageous for both countries, especially as endeavours were made to trouble it by the dissemination of peccant humours by those who profit most by what hurts the English and French crowns. In conclusion I assured him that our ambassador in France being anxious for the welfare of both countries would ably help all offices to this end.
The duke seemed abundantly satisfied with all I said, requesting me to thank your Excellencies and to assure you that no sovereign loved the republic more than his Majesty, unbosoming himself in other confidential terms to me, saying the two countries being so far apart left no cause for suspicion, and the like.
At this conference I perceived that the duke is interested in this mission to France; so two days later he said to the Secretary Agostini, whom he met at the Court, that he himself would perform the embassy and come and see me before his departure.
This resolve of the duke's is not approved by his confidants, it appearing to them that he risks too much both of his authority in England and his reputation in France, where, many being dissatisfied, others jealous for love, others aggrieved by arrests, and the mass of the nation disaffected, there is no opportunity for him to benefit himself. It is supposed by some persons that there may be hidden designs; as any other person of ordinary rank might have sufficed for the shipping business and religion with greater profit, greater knowledge of the subjects, less cost to the kingdom and perhaps with better results, as the duke by reason of his position, rank and amours will not defray this embassy with less than 100,000 crowns, and yet blood-letting is out of season, the body politic being too enfeebled already.
What these hidden designs may be is not so easy to ascertain, as they remain solely within his own breast and dependent on his own interests. Some believe that he may seek peace with Spain and perhaps with Germany through the mediation of the queen mother, who seems very anxious for it, in accordance with the overtures of Bassompierre I reported, but in reality the French Court aims solely at becoming acquainted with the designs of this ministry and regulating them according to their own interests, which certainly are to keep Spain detached from the emperor, although I believe the Spaniards are naturally much more inclined to unite with the English than the French.
Others think he absents himself on account of the meeting of parliament, as anticipated, owing to the renewed difficulties about the subsidies, though this is not generally believed, although the matter is very freely discussed and no less generally desired and impelled by necessity than abhorred by the king.
A third party thinks that a general peace may be negotiated in France, ministers being gathered there from almost all the powers interested in the matter, but I cannot promise this. Others again talk of his amours, though I believe this to be accessory rather than essential. From what I can gather, there are other persons, arguing more soundly, who believe that the duke would like to be present at the nomination of the French subjects who are to re-enter the queen's service, in order to lay them under obligation to him or exclude such as may not be his dependents, before they cross the Channel. They also say that Bassompierre has rendered him ambitious of sharing the glory of the adjustment, which thus reconciles him to France and obliges her, consolidates his favour with the king and queen and with the king's brother-in-law, thus strengthening him against his enemies and popular disturbance in England, which is attributed to his conduct. This agrees with his confidential interviews with Bassompierre, which created suspicion, and it is thought that the French will gladly keep the duke with them, to have in their hands and nearer to them the whole government of England, and in the meanwhile, if possible, make sure of La Rochelle, reinforce their navy, set on foot some new trade with the Hanse towns or at least get the better of the Huguenots. This matter has been already discussed at the Court and may possibly have reached the king's ears; as M. de Soubise has again been told to draw near, and after two long conferences with the duke alone, the king himself admitted Soubise to his presence, they having been constantly denied him hitherto since his withdrawal into this kingdom, against the will of the Most Christian, and I understand that he also saw the queen. So far as can be discovered the negotiations with him hitherto had solely for object to acquaint themselves thoroughly with those affairs, with the promises made by the king to the Huguenots, which matters most to England, and what she can promise herself should they not come to terms.
The duke thinks of departing in a few days, although his friends and adherents still advise him against doing so. I am convinced that in France everything will be arranged by his prime confidant, the Abbot Scaglia, and consequently in concert with the Duke of Savoy. From Turin your Excellencies will hear everything, including much which, after being decreed in Council here and ordered, will have been executed differently by the Court at Turin. At any rate I will do my duty with regard to cautions and be on the watch for his commissions, though I fancy he will take with him no other command than his own will and his own interest, though should he quit the French Court dissatisfied I believe all the adjustments will be fruitless, so that those who desire the union of the two crowns must use their good offices vigorously and above all keep their eye on the Duke of Savoy, who from passion and turbulent inclinations may make mischief in order to take the revenge he seeks on the French.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Buckingham has despatched a gentleman to the queen mother, (fn. 1) for the purpose, they say, of hearing whether his presence at the French Court will be agreeable, although it is supposed that everything has been already arranged with Bassompierre. He has orders, at any rate, to provide a grand mansion, etc., the duke expecting perhaps to be treated like Bassompierre, a parity he detests and which, if realised, might offend him. It is said at Court that Carleton or some other councillor of state will accompany him in the capacity of ambassador or adviser, but owing to the vacillation of the government here and its decrees nothing certain can be promised until after the result, and even that runs the risk of change.
London, the 11th December, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
71. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The disagreements with France keep pace with the reciprocal seizure of property and ships. 2,000 butts of wine loaded at Bordeaux by Englishmen were lately detained, with the belief that the governor of that province, the Duke of Epernon, means to lay a heavy duty on them. Meanwhile the kingdom is in a state of siege with regard to similar supplies. Some little arrives from Holland and those who wish for it pay at the rate of 150 Venetian ducats per butt. There is also a terrible scarcity of everything owing to the interruption of trade with France and Spain, which used abundantly to supply England with many necessaries. I also suffer from this ill luck, perhaps more than others because of my obligation to maintain the state's prestige, but I confide in having the consideration required by my shattered fortunes, especially as no other minister has been here under similar circumstances. I take pride in acquainting the republic frankly with my distress, instead of cloaking it, as thought for need certainly interferes with the public service.
In consequence of this same scarcity, not only of necessaries but of money, some 300 sailors came into London armed with cudgels, as they did a few weeks ago, to clamour against the Treasurer for their arrears. To-day the proclamation requiring them to disperse and depart, under pain of capital punishment, has been republished. Last night some others, who had been separated from the main body, were made prisoners and will be punished. The City train bands have mounted guard at the Court and at the Treasurer's house, and they have made good arrangements to secure everything.
The king has displaced the second justice and appointed another in his stead. (fn. 2) The refusal of these lawyers to subscribe to the subsidies together with that of the grandees, who to the number of sixteen, including earls and barons, refused under the pretext of poverty and their debts, has given a sort of check to the affair, so that with the example of the law and the credit of the nobility, many who have even subscribed revoke and after the duke's departure the Lords of the Council will go into the country as I wrote. For this same reason, being unable to lay hands on any sure fund, they have consigned to Calandrini some packets of jewels of those which he himself lately brought back from Amsterdam, and I fancy there are merchants at Hamburg who will either purchase or take them as security, perhaps on account of the Queen of Hungary. These jewels when mortgaged, supposing they do not choose to sell them, might yield some 200,000 crowns, which, they say, will be given to the King of Denmark, though I believe they will remain in the hands of the merchants for the payment of the English and of the levy of Scots, as I fancy this king has absolutely refused to disburse for the loans and passage money, thus failing in the contributions he owes to the league.
Gabor's ambassador took leave of the king and queen yesterday, having received a present of about 800 ounces of silver gilt. He departs satisfied about his business, being the bearer of a declaration reported. At his last audience he requested the king to give him the escort of letters for the United Provinces, whose ambassador here is not very well satisfied because he was never made a party either to the conferences or the treaty. The ministry here, on the other hand, being dissatisfied with the United Provinces, because they have made no positive declaration about the third of the monthly payment of 40,000 rix dollars, but said conditionally that they would join for such amount as their means allowed, according to the division of this third among the other powers, who will be invited to contribute to it. He also requested another letter of recommendation for the Count of Mansfelt and his forces, and as the French assure the emperor that they have no share in those movements, prove at least in appearance that he is not abandoned by the great powers, so that Gabor may hold them in greater account. The king also writes to Gabor himself, assuring him of his affection, apologising for the delay in dispatching the ambassador's business, urging him to persevere in his honourable undertakings and commending the address of his minister and so forth.
The King of Sweden has written to his agent here announcing his return to his kingdom, leaving behind him his chancellor, to negotiate an absolute peace or a very long truce with the Poles. He had formed this resolve, being forewarned that the proposals of the Poles were inadmissible, so at a meeting of the States he proposes to arrange next year's war, as in fact necessary for all who meditate hostilities, because if they wait till the spring, the summer and very often the autumn passes before the completion of the necessary provisions. This corresponds with what I wrote about the proposals of the Infanta to that gentleman from Sweden, so one must keep on the watch, especially as I understand the King of Sweden has ceded to Denmark certain infantry levies, but refused him those of 600 horse, made heretofore for account of Sweden in the neighbourhood of the Hanse towns, who, it seems, have determined to send an agent to France and arrange some commercial treaty and perhaps through that quarter facilitate their trade. I believe that Richelieu will gladly listen to this for the sake of his marine and it will generate ill will here by reason of their claims to supremacy at sea. It is thought that the King of Denmark is on unusually good terms with the Elector of Saxony. This also demands attention because of possible negotiations for an agreement between them.
Forty sail having been sighted at sea off Land's End they were supposed by many to be Spanish ships. Shortly afterwards news arrived that the Dunkirkers, which lately went down Channel, as reported, had occupied the Scilly Islands, which are of very great importance, from their position between the French and Spanish coasts, between Ireland and England. They are waiting for corroboration of this and in the meantime hold the acquisition in very small account as it would be difficult to retain possession, and perhaps ere now the Dutch who were in pursuit of the Dunkirkers will have expelled them.
I have this moment received the ordinary despatches from Italy dated the 13th November. I humbly thank your Excellencies for your appreciation of my services. I will keep on the alert about what has been disseminated in Switzerland and the Grisons by the Ambassador Wake. I remember having frequently written about his bias and observe it more and more corroborated, though I cannot believe that the orders sent hence are to go such lengths and so openly, but rather suppose that they proceed from Savoy owing to his dependence, as he professes, on the duke's opinions, at any rate I will try and procure information.
Meanwhile, on the entry of the new year I pray that God will grant the republic liberty, glory and reputation for many centuries to come and that your Serenity may fulfil your worthy designs, with true content for all.
London, the 11th December, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 11.
Cinque Savii
alla Mercanzia.
Risposte 147.
Venetian
Archives.
72. With regard to the loss in the import duties of 10,000 ducats and more on goods coming from the West, we have gone into the matter carefully. We find that the collectors of the 6 per cent have readily obtained payment on many goods from the West in English ships, such as indigo, brazil wood and other drugs, as the duty thereon pertains to the Intrada at the rate of 10 per cent. The payment of the duties in various categories is very confused, though in 1579 it was decided that the 6 per cent should only be paid on goods coming from the Levant, while goods from the West should pay 10 per cent import duty, as foreigners, and every time the customs have been farmed out this has been clearly expressed. From 1616 to 1622 confusion was introduced by transport from the West to the Levant. The idea has lately arisen, however, that the spices, indigo and cloth coming from the West shall pay the 10 per cent import duty in the duty of 6 per cent; but this is inadmissible; they summoned Ralph Simes, an English merchant, before the governors of the Intrada, and on the 28th April, 1625, declared that he ought to pay 10 per cent on some indigo which reached him from the West, but that the money should be counted in their duty of 6 per cent. But this is unjust and intolerable, especially as the indigo had been released from paying the cottimo. On the 26th October, 1625, they arranged that other indigo which reached Simes ought to pay in the Levant; they made the same declaration about some brazil wood for Simes on the 13th May preceding. But these decisions are void and of none effect, and therefore we are of opinion that the money must be restored to the import duty of 10 per cent.
Dona Moresini,Savii.
Antonio Canal,
Antonio Donado,
Alvise Mocenigo,
Domenico Thiepolo,
[Italian.]
Dec. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni,
Roma.
Venetian
Archives.
73. To the Ambassador Zorzi in France.
It is not unlikely that by overtures for a reconciliation with England through Bassompierre the Most Christian intends to strengthen the feelings of the English and their party if there is any suspension of the treaty here, as England, the States and other powers besides keep their eyes fixed on these parts. The recent successes of the Austrians in Germany may also lead his Majesty to suspend the treaty, especially as we hear that the King of Great Britain is providing 30,000 crowns a month for Denmark.
Ayes, 96.Noes, 0.Neutral, 3.
[Italian.]
Dec. 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Signori
Stati.
Venetian
Archives.
74. CHRISTOFFORO SURIAN, Venetian Secretary in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Letters have arrived recently from the English Ambassador Anstruther. He reports the constant determination of the King of Denmark to persevere for the common cause. He had invaded the country of Hoga and taken Hoga, Renten and another place. The cold prevented him from doing more. He had a good force and was eagerly expecting the succours from these parts and England. Calandrini has not yet appeared, but he is expected at any moment.
The Hague, the 14th December, 1626.
[Italian.]
Dec. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
75. To the Ambassador in England and the like to the Secretary at the Hague.
Our secretary in Germany reports that Wallenstein has offered the emperor 70,000 combatants to send whither he pleases. The Palatine of Hungary did not go to Pruch, because he is not on good terms with Wallenstein. They have added fresh conditions to those already arranged with Gabor, to wit: Cæsar will no longer pay the 30,000 thalers for the garrisons of Upper Hungary; the districts under Gabor must also swear to the peace through him; the Hungarian rebels shall not be included in the peace; Gabor shall not retain Mansfelt's forces; Gabor shall withdraw to Transylvania and disarm. The treaty was arranged between the said Palatine and Gabor's commissioners; Gabor has not answered yet; probably because the imperial camp is broken up. They have sent Questenberg and Werda to hasten a decision, as the forces of Denmark are wasting Silesia; the king attacked Oya, which Tilly has gone to relieve. The peasants are reduced to subjection. Your prudence will show a use for these advices in the interests of the state.
We have just heard of Mansfelt's death, (fn. 3) near the Serraglio of Bosnia, and are waiting for confirmation.
Ayes, 142.Noes, 1.Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
Dec. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
76. To the Secretary Cavazza at Zurich.
When we thought we had made the agent of Baden fully understand the principles of our policy, he returned to repeat his demands in such terms as to rouse our resentment. The behaviour of the English ambassador makes it clear that he means to magnify the apparent good will of his king and Savoy and throw all the onus of refusal upon us. We have therefore repeated our answer with greater emphasis. You will use it as your guide and seize every opportunity to justify our straightforwardness.
The like, mutatis mutandis, to England, the Hague, France, Savoy and the Valtelline.
Ayes, 122.Noes, 13.Neutral, 31.
[Italian.]
Dec. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Svizzeri.
Venetian
Archives.
77. GEROLAMO CAVAZZA, Venetian Secretary with the Swiss, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The man of the English ambassador, (fn. 4) who is staying in the Grisons, has come here, where he is expected to stay some time, continuing the course of the present negotiations. He says he has letters of credit from his king to present to the lords here if they happen to offer any opportunity of treating.
I gather that the assistance promised by the King of England to the Margrave of Baden for the maintenance of 6,000 foot and 1,000 horse, is conditional upon his receiving help from other princes, and especially from your Serenity. When the man spoke to me on the subject, I answered in the terms of your Serenity's reply to the ambassador.
Zurich, the 17th December, 1626.
[Italian.]
Dec. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
78. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Two days after the despatch of my last, Buckingham departed by night and strictly incognito for Canterbury, accompanied by Lords Carlisle and Holland. Many of the populace believed him gone on his embassy to France, as already announced, and with curses and horrible imprecations wished him gone for ever. At Canterbury he conferred with M. de Bassompierre, who after quitting the Court made two hazardous attempts to cross the Channel and was compelled to put back to Dover. It is possible that he may also have been detained by some appointment, as before the interview took place gentlemen were sent to and fro repeatedly.
After the duke's determination to pass to the French Court, his friends and adherents continued their remonstrances which were reinforced by the entreaties of his mother, his wife and his sister on their bended knees. I fancy he insists upon some greater security both for being well received and also for the success of his business, on the score of repute, before venturing on this journey, which every one warns him is fraught with the utmost danger of his ruin.
I do not believe that Bassompierre had sufficient authority to give him the guarantees he required, especially as the shipping grievances continue; indeed, yesterday morning when I saw the duke he himself told me besides that Bassompierre had received letters from his friends announcing the dissatisfaction of the Court at what he did here and at the many promises made by him to the duke in person, which Richelieu especially disapproved, perhaps on account of the interests of his nephew the Bishop of Mandes. The result alone can prove the truth of this which seems at variance with probability so far, for it is well known how closely Bassompierre depends upon the queen mother and the cardinal, without taking into account the satisfaction given here to the queen, so these are probably artifices devised by Bassompierre to rid himself of the guarantee required of him upon the duke's journey, or perhaps they are the duke's own inventions to afford a pretext for his retreat. Despite this he himself, when I saw him yesterday morning, told me he continued firm in his intention of going to France, though not so soon, as by their hostile acts the French demanded war rather than negotiation.
Everything will depend on the advices after Bassompierre's arrival at the Court and his statements; this journey in the meantime remaining in suspense, there being no reason for it beyond the duke's private interests, whether based on ambition or love, so that this affair also may be withdrawn, as has happened with so many others.
The day before yesterday the merchants received an express from France and shortly afterwards those changes at the French Court you will have heard of long since were announced, especially the dismissal of Blainville, which they highly approved here because of the small satisfaction they derived from his last embassy.
The parties concerned also complain that besides the sequestration of their effects, the imprisonment of many captains of merchantmen and the seizure of their sails and tackle, the French protest they will make use of them against the Rochellese and that there is danger of all the wines being spoilt and so forth. But above all great alarm has been caused because the galleons lately received from Holland are anchored off La Rochelle, orders having been received for other supplies to be speedily obtained in the Netherlands and that many reinforcements of infantry and cavalry are passing in the neighbourhood of La Rochelle and the islands. To satisfy the merchants the English government has similarly sequestrated all the effects, credits and vessels belonging to Frenchmen, and possibly letters of marque will be issued to cruise against them, rendering it impossible to extinguish the conflagration, though they have appointed commissioners, who, before this announcement, were ordered to draw up instructions for the duke and devise a remedy for the future in a matter of such importance for the two crowns. One of these commissioners is Lord Carleton, who excused himself from going to France with the duke, as the king seemed to wish. He blames the policy of the English ministry as ruinous for the country. He does not speak about this, but shrugs his shoulders, which tacitly implies as much; and, with this opportunity for confidential discourse, I also gathered that the expressions of Wake I reported were not commanded, but suggested by the Duke of Savoy, Carleton knowing something about this, as besides having a seat in the Privy Council he for some while employed Wake as his secretary. This communication must remain a very close secret, especially by reason of the persons concerned.
As to La Rochelle, M. de Soubise continues to negotiate with the king and the duke. The twenty ships fitted out by the city of London have been ordered to the Downs, some believing that Soubise himself will command them.
With these ingredients the Spaniards or the Jesuits in France go now concocting the unique poison to disturb these bodies politic, bringing the two kings to blows. The inordinate avarice of the British merchants is increased by piracy, as would have been already proved by facts, but for lack of money, without which no great undertaking can be accomplished, whilst on the other hand this penury and the difficulty of finding funds, encourages the turbulent bias of France in this matter, which if not adjusted ruins everything, as I have always said.
The duke complained to the Dutch ambassador that his masters had allowed France to provide herself with vessels destined to act against a population professing the same religion as that of Holland. The ambassador apologised on the plea of necessity, as his masters cannot forbid the merchants to sell their vessels, which might betake themselves to French harbours even under a thousand other pretences. He said that from Hamburg and other Hanse towns France might obtain similar supplies, and for their employment, even if destined against the Rochellese, England would be the cause, as though at open war with Spain she does nothing against her, but plunders French ships instead, and by keeping the British squadron on this coast that power must needs be very suspicious both because of facts and appearances, and is therefore compelled to seek redress for itself.
To this Buckingham could make no reply, and indeed the Dutch ambassador is dissatisfied with him, and I suspect, from what I hear universally, that his opinions are also shared by the Netherlands; but he is very adroit and prudent, so that I feel sure he will go as straight as he can, indeed, a few days ago he sought to avert a fresh attempt and a most prejudicial one, made by Spain, to which the English government was not averse, though since his remark it remains suspended. The Spaniards proposed a general exchange of sailor prisoners, as lately effected by them with the Dutch, but on this condition, that the bargain should last for ever, without further rejoinder, an arrangement utterly destructive of the naval superiority of England, as her seamen, having no longer the fear of death and without the stimulant of despair, would never fight, and the Spaniards, by removing the peril and increasing the inducements to naval enterprise, would greatly advance their rooted projects, which with great reason are now seen to be directed thither, as the slightest progress in that direction is a lofty stepping stone towards the universal monarchy which can only be thwarted, assuredly, upon the sea.
London, the 18th December, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
79. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Some of the members of the Council have gone into the country to urge the subscription of the subsidies and their exaction, which more and more meets with increasing difficulties. The number of titled persons who refuse payment increases. The whole of Hertfordshire, which had already subscribed, apologises for having done so on the supposition that it was right and in accordance with the statutes of the realm, but it now realises that it has been deceived. Some, with more justice, base their refusal upon the impossibility of paying five subsidies in one single payment, as so heavy a burden was never laid on them even by parliament, save much at their convenience to be spread over a long time.
On the other hand the sale of the crown property continues, that is to say, the king was authorised periodically to reinvest its possessors, for which investiture considerable donatives were made; all passing for the most part into the hands of the courtiers, who for months and years in advance obtained promises from the king to that effect, as acknowledgment for their services. The necessity for re-investiture and donatives being now at an end, and the rents being doubled, the whole will pass into the king's purse as ordinary revenue, though I do not understand that there is much competition in this matter, because the sales are not confirmed by parliament.
We heard from several quarters that forty shallops had put out from Biscay, with orders to make for the Scilly Islands, which caused the suspicion I reported, there to divide into two squadrons, making for the coast of Flanders and entering Dunkirk, the object being that at least one of the squadrons might get in safe, whilst the other was being pursued by the Dutch, who are already in this neighbourhood. The intelligence was immediately despatched to the usual guard on these coasts, though many persons believe that such small vessels cannot weather this season and the present stormy weather at sea.
The Earl of Essex, since his return from the Netherlands, has resigned the regiment he commanded in that service, being offended, and not without reason, at Colonel Morgan being preferred to him for the command in Denmark. Another regiment, kept on foot here, will be regulated with the others, as I said, the entire number being reduced to four: one under the duke's name; another under Cecil's, commander of the attack on Cadiz, despite which he maintains himself in fair favour with Buckingham; the third under Lord Valentia, general of the artillery; the fourth under the sergeant major, but all remains in suspense for lack of money, and perhaps from suspicion of France. The people clamour greatly, as they are not accustomed to be thus burdened with troops, it being very evident that the fundamental maxims of the kingdom are changed, for just as Great Britain has the means for attack should she choose to use them so Nature herself has provided her with the means necessary for defence.
Eleven secular priests have been released at Bassompierre's suit, out of more than fifty asked for by him. The persecution of the Catholics has not diminished so far, and they are accordingly much dissatisfied both with his negotiations and with France. In this connection I understand that a brief arrived lately from Rome, admonishing the Catholics here not to take the oath of fealty in the form prescribed. (fn. 5) Although this is but a renewal of ancient precepts, yet it causes suspicion at this conjuncture, nor do such violent measures do any good to the Catholic religion.
The sailors have received a part of their arrears, through money lent by the merchants, and departed, but as the mutiny procured this benefit for them, it may possibly serve them as a pretext and incentive for the future.
Gabor's ambassador was despatched in the form mentioned, with letters for the United Provinces, and others for Gabor, apologising for the delay and recommending Count Mansfelt to him.
Notwithstanding the transmission of troops and money for Denmark it seems to me that the suspicions of his adjustment with the emperor increase more and more, it being steadily rumoured that Tilly has offered to withdraw half of his army from the Circle of Lower Saxony. There is also the emperor's indult as regards the bishoprics of Bremen and Osnaburg for Denmark's two sons, together with other particulars.
The Dutch admiral, Real, will leave in two days with the hope of finding his ten ships at the Isle of Wight. Otherwise he will betake himself wherever the winds may have driven them. The English will not give him any assistance, as the suspicions of France increase, though the duke assures both him and the Dutch ambassador that for the new year he purposes sending a powerful fleet to sea. He endeavours meanwhile to amass a sum of money, lest the want of it produce a repetition of the embarrassment caused in this present year. I would not venture to promise this, however, nor is it possible for them to effect it, say what they will, unless in the course of next month or rather more, their meat be salted, without which a numerous fleet cannot put to sea, while after the cold weather it does not keep, and of this necessary supply I see no sign.
Thus does the vigour of this body politic waste itself, whereas a strong fleet would bring the Spaniards to reason and intimidate the French, who would be compelled to make friends with England. She would thus guarantee the Rochellese, whose interests she has so much at heart, and so kill two birds with one stone.
The admiral aforesaid will remain off Lisbon and Seville, so he told me, to diminish if possible at least the cost of the vessels, which are provisioned for six or seven months. He is a man of ability and all the Dutch privateers or merchantmen, of which there are many more than thirty in quest of prey on the Spanish coasts, are ordered to assist him if necessary.
This week I find myself without letters from Italy, either public or private. I make this intimation with respectful reference to your Excellencies' commands.
London, the 18th December, 1626.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
80. SIMON CONTARINI and ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
M. de Manti, commanding the fleet off Rochelle, has taken three English ships off that coast. It is feared that this may introduce fresh discords in the relations between the two crowns, especially if Bassompierre has left, as they believe, as his skill in affairs is always associated with good fortune.
Paris, the 18th December, 1626.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Balthasar Gerbier, the painter. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1625–6, pages 490, 493.
2 Apparently the dismissal of Sir Randal Crew, Lord Chief Justice, is meant. Soon afterwards Sir Thomas Richardson was made Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, but that post had been vacant since December, 1625, by the death of Sir Henry Hobart.
3 He died at Ratona, near Saroy, on the Bosnian frontier, on the 29th November, of a fever, while on his way to Venice. The news was brought to Venice by Captain Bernardin Rota. Wake's despatch of the 18th December. State Papers Foreign, Venice.
4 Oliver Fleming.
5 The pope's bull forbids our Catholics, upon pain of anathematism, to take the oath of allegiance, which it calls illicitum et noxium juramentum. My author's author saw it, showed him by Potter, one of the queen's priests, a secular, who railed on the Jesuits for it. Mede to Stuteville, the 13th January, 1626, o.s. Birch: Court and Times of Charles I, vol. i, page 183.