Venice
January 1627, 1-15

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1914

Pages

75-94

Annotate

Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Venice: January 1627, 1-15', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 20: 1626-1628 (1914), pp. 75-94. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89112 Date accessed: 18 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


Highlight

(Min 3 characters)

January 1627

Jan. 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
93. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The lords of the Council, having returned lately from the country, where they had been desired to exact the subsidies and obtain subscriptions to them, I have seen some of them and especially the Secretary Conway. His Majesty's last letters from Constantinople dated the 6th and 22nd September, old style, give no information whatever about the recent appointment of Cassin Pasha to the viceroyalty of Tunis. (fn. 1) I do not find that they propose to take any steps here, by letter or otherwise, without information from their own minister, nor could they if they would, being utterly in the dark about him, just as they are about many others. I will keep on the watch, and as it concerns the security of trade in general, which benefits all alike, I cannot believe that they will object here to seconding it. In these letters from Constantinople Sir [Thomas] Roe writes about the two demands of Gabor's agent for the survivorship and investiture of his dominions in favour of his wife, and that the negotiations for peace with the emperor may not be continued without his participation. Many believe, however, that there is a truce at this moment, by which Gabor hopes to benefit, as you will have heard, perhaps through Count Mansfelt's arrival at Venice.
The same ambassador also mentions the orders given to the Pasha of Buda to create alarm on the borders by an armed force, but not by attack, because of the diversions created by Persia, a policy they do not at all approve here, being convinced that the Turks will do nothing, and without their assistance the stir in those parts is held in small account. In this connection, having discovered that Wyche, recently appointed ambassador at Constantinople, has long resided in Spain, first as a merchant, where he twice became bankrupt, and then as secretary assistant in the house of the English ambassador, Aston, who, together with the Earl of Bristol, negotiated the last marriage, I willingly turned the conversation to Sir [Thomas] Roe's demands for recall, and elicited the foregoing particulars, Secretary Conway, indeed, saying of his own accord precisely what I wished, namely, that he was not entirely satisfied about his opinions, that he knew him to have a Spanish bias and was guided by interest; that the king had commanded his despatch, but Conway had procrastinated, awaiting an opportunity of warning his Majesty, and at any rate that he would conjure him at the peril of his life to act becomingly. I do not believe this minister to speak from prejudice, as the notices I have received from several quarters corroborate what he said. As the matter seemed important to me and the opportunity favourable, I remarked in general terms, without censuring the individual or anyone else, how essential it was to have a good minister at the Porte, as besides the changes of government and the advantage to England of a good understanding, the most important results to Christendom are now bound up with Turkish affairs. I expatiated on the approaching negotiations for peace with the emperor, on the great need for helping Gabor as a counterpoise to the flood-tide of the House of Austria in those parts, and which must be derived much more from the good offices of the Porte than from supply of money, whether furnished by England or by other powers. I alluded to the recent overtures for a truce made by the Spaniards, and not yet arranged owing to the exertions of his Majesty's ambassador, who well knows how injurious it would be for British interests, as if the Spaniards were safe in the East, all their forces in the Mediterranean would be turned towards these parts.
I laid stress on the distance from the Turkish Court, greater sincerity, ability and loyalty being required from ministers the further it is from instructions, as their punishment even would not remedy the mischief done and only serve to reproach those who foresaw the probability of such disorder. I would only dwell on similar maxims of statecraft, lest, if repeated, they should be taken amiss, and indeed as arrangements are in course for the dispatch of Wyche, I shall seize an opportunity to see him and try and secure his help for the republic's most important interests at the Porte. His past negotiations, the opinion entertained of him universally, including the king's own ministers, do not leave me quite without suspicion of his policy on this embassy. The merchants disapprove of employing him for their service, as it is considered certain that he purchased the appointment for 1,000l. sterling, part of which will have found its way into the purse of the duke's mother, part being received by another gentlewoman, his relation, so it is evident he does not intend to be a loser. This point, it may be said, guarantees him against any offices to his detriment, and for the same reason the duke cannot but support and favour him. The Dutch ambassador is aware of the disorder, but sees the difficulty of remedying it, and he also confines himself to general maxims. The resident of Bohemia has written to his master on the subject. The Cavalier, who is now at Constantinople, insists on being recalled. The duke does not approve of his still being employed; he has enriched himself enough, and here also he inherited a property by no means contemptible, which he proposes to enjoy in undisturbed quiet.
London, the 1st January, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
94. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I have but little to add about French affairs. Some declare that about sixty vessels belonging to the Scots alone, laden with wine, have been set at liberty, but as yet this is not officially confirmed. The Scottish nation, however, is dissatisfied at having paid 4 crowns per butt like the English, the Lord Chancellor complaining of this publicly, because for centuries the Scots have enjoyed the same immunities and privileges as the French themselves since they always professed partiality for the Most Christian crown.
The duke's departure remains in suspense, although much preparation is in progress, so that he may at any rate make a decorous and respectable appearance, as required by his personal interests and projects. Two earls, Knights of the Garter, will go, to wait upon him, besides many other noblemen and persons of quality, but all young, better fitted for the ladies than for business. The final decision depends on the return of the gentlemen dispatched to France and on the reports of Bassompierre, whose arrival at the French Court is reported; and Clerk, one of the gentlemen aforesaid, has given it to be understood that he will be here in a few days. I confirm the fact that the king strongly urges this journey, while on the other hand the duke's friends dissuade him. Possibly the replies from France are unsatisfactory, as was the case last year when he was in the Netherlands, and that the queen mother let him know he would not be well received. Meanwhile he is trying to conciliate some of the grandees here with whom he had quarrelled, and I understand he has already been seen with the Earl of Essex. In addition to this, some persons declare that to gain favour with the people likewise, he, hand in hand with Bassompierre, arranged the seizure of the ships in France, so that being released through his good offices and on his appearance, the general hatred against him might diminish in virtue of the general benefit. But these are wild speculations, scarcely probable. Others say that from France he will proceed to Turin and even to Venice if the opening of the passes allows of it, and he let out to many of his friends that he would like to see Italy. He said as much to me, though for this I see no good ground, as he is more in favour with his Majesty than ever and can only lose by going far away.
Meanwhile it is certain that their suspicions of the close negotiations of France with Spain, of Richelieu's attention to naval affairs and wish to make himself master of the ports of Britanny and Normandy, imply unmistakable designs on La Rochelle and the doubt about collusion with the Spaniards is increased by several well-grounded indications that it is intended on the return of the fleet to have ready 160 vessels for the spring, there being projects, which are now in part discovered, for the seizure of Ireland; with mutual promises on the part of the two crowns not to interfere with each other in the undertakings, and thus divide the forces of England, who is almost as anxious about La Rochelle as about Ireland. The Spaniards, however, in order to secure themselves thoroughly, wish first of all to see the two crowns at strife, nor do they make the slightest movement against this side to avoid exasperating public opinion. While on this subject I may remark that five vessels which returned from Spain to Dunkirk with four or six Dutch prizes made no attack on the English and did not do them the slightest harm. It is evident from the above and what has happened elsewhere, that the French themselves are carrying the beacon in advance, whereby to guide the Spaniards in safety to their monarchy, although it cannot be effected without the subjection of France likewise, either before or after her neighbours.
I understand that from day to day a certain Scot (fn. 2) is to be sent to Brussels, the pretext being to negotiate an exchange of prisoners, as already effected by the Dutch. As yet I discover nothing further, but understand through another channel that certain English merchants being still at Seville, some persons here who advocate the cause of the Catholics and that of the Spaniards, have caused it to reach the king's ears that those merchants are well looked on, better treated and not at all molested about religion, property or anything else. To this the king replied: The Spaniards are really very discreet, words which, being uttered by his Majesty himself, deserve reflection, especially when current emergencies are considered.
The lords of the Council have returned from the country, whither they went about the subsidies, with various success. Some met not only with readiness to pay, but even higher offers; others received refusals under apologetical pretexts, some on the plea of absence, of sickness, etc., in order not to appear before the commissioners, who will return and make a fresh attempt after the holidays, perhaps with greater authority and threats from the crown. The affair, however, proceeds with more dilatoriness than ever and men still predict that not much will be gained.
The king has issued letters patent to obtain information about the English Catholics and their proceedings, and I fancy that one Toby Mathew, son of the Archbishop of York, a thoroughly Spanish partisan, about whom I wrote, is negotiating a compromise for them with the king. They offer eight subsidies yearly, amounting to about 80,000l., on condition of being exempted from all persecution from impositions and domiciliary visits, by which extortions quite 10,000 persons gain their livelihood. The Catholics are burdened beyond measure, the king deriving very little profit thence, though many ministers become rich on the sudden. To this must be added the scanty satisfaction received by his Majesty from the Puritans about these subsidies, while the Catholics pay them readily and subscribe without any remarks. Profit and the need of money weigh more than all arguments, as in this way a good ordinary revenue may be formed, though on the other hand the consequences are not without peril, the Spanish party will gain strength more and more and the rest of his subjects will become estranged from the king.
Some commissioners were sent from Scotland with complaints about the government, with proposals in favour of the Marquis of Hamilton and with demands for the king to assume the crown of Scotland. When they were half way on their journey the king desired them to return, their despatch having taken place without any previous notice to his Majesty, for which, however, they apologise. I believe some Scottish nobleman interfered, observing that his countrymen would be less exasperated at their departure hence without receiving satisfaction than at their return without having audience, so the king inclined towards their coming on.
The reports of the negotiation of an adjustment with Denmark continue. The Dutch ambassador and the resident of Bohemia have received from their masters a formula of proposals made to his Danish Majesty by Saxony and other powers, who were parties to the last congress which took place a few months ago at Brunswick; the chief difficulty consists in two points, one the withdrawal of Tilly's troops not only beyond the Circle, but to a distance thence, nor may they be quartered in the territories of the Protestant princes, so as in no manner to cause them apprehension. The other, which is the most important, consists in the demand for letters patent from the emperor and the entire Catholic league, so that the princes of that circle and others concerned may not only remain in the undisturbed exercise of their religion, but in peaceable possession of the ecclesiastical benefices, immunities, rights etc. as enjoyed at present, and that they be guaranteed against acts of violence and hostilities for the future, to which must be added the restitution of the prisoners, an amnesty for the princes who have declared for one side or the other and similar matters, as usual in negotiations of this nature. No mention having been made of the Palatine he has determined to write a detailed letter to the King of Denmark, begging him to persevere in vigorous hostilities and that in the event of their cessation he will not forget him. I know you will have heard these particulars, but I trust you will excuse repetition in a matter of importance. These ministers from Holland and Bohemia think that before the finishing stroke is put to these negotiations there will be some congress of the electors and other princes of Germany, so they have not mentioned them to the king or others of the Court, as they suspect would be disliked, as on the one hand it will serve to saddle the King of Denmark with the violation of the League, to dispense with the contributions and to claim exemption from those already due; and on the other to slacken all supplies, though even now they proceed very slowly. The Danish agent presses for payment of the 100,000l. promised at Christmas, but in vain and without hope. He demands 8,000l. for the levy of Scots, but meets with deaf ears owing to the present necessities.
The complaints of the Dutch ambassador about the seizure of ships belonging to his countrymen continue more than ever; complaints which gain strength from the contents of his last letters announcing the appointment of a commissioner who is to come to England for this business. (fn. 3) On the score of repute this does not please the ambassador, and he becomes more and more exasperated, but does not swerve from his well-matured opinions and is slow to irritate his masters against this side, representing solely what is essential and leaving the consequences, which might add to the affronts. Meanwhile the commissioners appointed to settle the shipping business have held two sittings. Lord Carleton, who is one of them, told me that there is a clause to the effect that they are to take the opinions of the ambassadors, the king wishing to give satisfaction to all his friends. I thanked him for the honour, commended his Majesty's prudence and the intelligence of these gentlemen, who must be much better acquainted with the nature of what was required. I said that your Excellencies would be perfectly satisfied if by means of this negotiation the complaints on both sides could be removed, and the affection and union confirmed. I especially recommended Venetian subjects and merchants in Holland, as they could never be suspected of taking trade out of the hands of other nations, which seems to be the chief apprehension. Carleton went into details about the misconduct of the French about the promises made by them to second the undertakings of England against Spain, even should their interests not allow them to declare themselves openly; these promises were far from being realised, and they chose to afford Spain every possible facility, transporting her effects under feigned names and the like. I answered this in general but conciliatory terms, observing that punctiliousness with regard to the past should be discarded, the affair being settled in the mass, security being obtained against future confusion so that they might occur less frequently to the detriment of love between friends and the advantage of the ill affected. I said more to the same effect, but did not prolong the conversation in order to keep within the bounds of neutral confidence.
I have received the ducal missives of the 4th December and will avail myself of the information with due regard to the public service.
London, the 1st January, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
95. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Bassompierre's news about the Spanish fleet (fn. 4) proves as true as was expected. They do not like the treaty he has arranged in England and think of denouncing it, saying that he has exceeded his authority and has done them harm both in yielding and in receiving. The French would like a good understanding with that crown, but they desire some superiority in the negotiations. They are only waiting for the king to decide. Bassompierre does not show himself, and I could not see him although I called. He promised to let me know all about his negotiations at the first opportunity.
Paris, the 1st January, 1626 [M.V.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
96. That the English ambassador be summoned to the Collegio, or if he is indisposed that a secretary of this Council be sent to him and that the following be read to him:
We think most highly of the operations of the King of Denmark in Germany. We communicate to you our reply to his ambassador. This shows our steadfastness and our exertions for the common cause. In the recent affair of the Valtelline we have taken a leading part beyond our obligations to the league, and we have in this way kept busy the powerful forces of Milan. The fact that we engaged in the Valtelline affair long before Denmark moved only increases the merit of the republic, and the diversion we afforded stimulated the resolutions of others. It is already proved that our action not only prevented reinforcements being sent from Milan to help the Austrians against Denmark, but induced the Spaniards to send tens of thousands of their picked troops from Germany to the Milanese. Accordingly, the service rendered by our operations to the public cause is clear, and other princes, Denmark in particular, have profited by them. We hope this relation will make him recognise this. We bear this heavy burden, and we wish to be assured that that sovereign and the King of England will persevere in their efforts for the common cause.
Ayes, 132.Noes, 2.Neutral, 9.
[Italian.]
Jan. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives.
97. To the Ambassador in England, and the like to the Hague, France, Savoy and Zurich.
An ambassador from the King of Denmark arrived here two days ago. He informed us of the operations of his master and asked for help. The ambassadors of England and the States seconded this. We made the enclosed reply, commending Denmark's operations and pointing out how much the republic had done for the common cause by creating a diversion. You need not speak of this unless the subject is broached; but if it is, you will be guided by our reply, without committing yourself to anything. You will carefully note what is said on the subject.
To England add:
You will observe from the paper sent us by Wake, as was the case when the agent of Baden (fn. 5) came, how he aims at showing the good will of every one else and that only the republic stands aside, depreciating what we have done for the common cause. We have tried to expose the baselessness of his arguments, and you will try to do the same when you have a chance, and you can do so the more easily because our operations supply you with ample material.
Ayes, 132.Noes, 2.Neutral, 9.
[Italian.]
Jan. 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Zanté. Venetian Archives.
98. PIERO MALIPIERO, Proveditore of Zante, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Before the departure of the present English ship Samuel a ship arrived from Alexandria with confirmation of the news about the pirate bertons at Modon.
Zante, the 24th December, 1626, old style.
[Italian.]
Jan. 5.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
99. I, Antonio Antelmi, secretary, went to the English ambassador and read to him the Senate's decision of the 2nd. In taking note thereof he spoke as follows:
I am much honoured by the visit and the office of the Senate. I could do no less than back the requests of the King of Denmark. I thought I was serving the common cause by urging the support of that king. This ambassador honours me in a way I accept unwillingly, by doing nothing without first consulting me. I am sorry that he has placed himself where he is under close observation and where his proceedings can be fully reported to the Duke of Bavaria. It might be better for him to get rid of his offices and return home, since there are ambassadors here of his king's allies who can carry on the negotiations unobserved. It would be a great matter for that king to withdraw. We must do our utmost to support him; perhaps some means will be found, satisfactory to the republic, of affording him some consolation yet. I have heard the views of the Senate upon the request for help. Perhaps some means can be found in another way. The ambassador came yesterday evening to inform me of the reply he had received, and to-morrow we are to call upon the ambassador of the States together to discuss all the business. I should have been to pay my respects to his Serenity but for a troublesome cold. In taking note about the passage of auxiliary troops into the Valtelline, I know that there are few besides those of the republic.
I found the ambassador in good health and did not notice that the cold troubled him at all, so he may merely have made this excuse to avoid coming to audience. He came to the stairs with me and after I had paid the usual compliments I left.
[Italian.]
Jan. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
100. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Cardinal Richelieu wants to rule this kingdom alone and cannot support the growing fortune of the Marshal Bassompierre. Accordingly he has found a thousand objections to the treaty arranged in England. The proposed visit of Buckingham was the first, and on the marshal's arrival here the Louvre resounded with angry voices raised against him. They say he has left the queen without support and with no good Frenchman at her side; that he yielded too much to the English and did not stand up for the French. In short they criticise every article of the treaty and find fault with all. To an unprejudiced observer to emerge from such a difficult task and give general satisfaction was the work of no ordinary man. The skill and prudence displayed by him on other occasions prove that this is merely a shot fired at him by the cardinal. And whereas that prelate recently opposed the coming of the duke, he now desires it, though it is little to the taste of the king and the queen mother, not for the sake of clinching the agreement, but in order to show the world that there can be no settlement of the disputes between the two crowns unless he has a hand in it.
M. Rosegian, the Danish ambassador, (fn. 6) who arrived from England several days ago, entered Paris on Sunday. He paid his respects to their Majesties on the 4th. I have met him once, and he told me of the affairs of his king, including the help from England. The king there thought of calling the assembly and that to avoid trouble Buckingham should leave the kingdom.
Paris, the 7th January, 1627.
[Italian.]
Jan. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
101. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
This week I received the public despatch dated the 13th ult. As regards the affair of the Margrave of Baden introduced by the Ambassador Wake under the supposition of pretended promises from your Serenity, I can only refer to what I have often written, as I foresaw the result. The margrave having met with small satisfaction in France respecting his demands for help, applied to the Duke of Savoy, who being offended in the interval by Farges' last treaty, urged Wake to interest his king in the matter, so as to teach the French that even without them the common cause might be supported, an opinion which, being easily impressed upon certain persons, caused much mischief subsequently. Wake with the support of the Secretary Conway, his father-in-law, who is utterly the duke's creature, advanced the negotiation to such a pitch as to obtain the king's consent, which was given but with different views. It being impossible here to contribute 70,000l. monthly to Denmark as promised by the League, they aimed at charming his Danish Majesty with this supposed diversion, in which they believed, on the strength of the polite phrase of your Serenity's ministers, as it they had been irrevocable offers. Wake, besides the wish to oblige the Duke of Savoy, on whom he professes especial dependence, and to keep the republic engaged openly, even after the pre-supposed adjustment of the Valtelline, undertakes the business willingly, enjoys having the management of it, the more perhaps as it involves the handling of money, about the references for which he talks very positively, though all my efforts have failed to obtain any authentic proof thereof, especially on the part of merchants, who in a matter of this sort are the soundest authority. Few make bargains with the Court, and only those who are already so far involved as to be obliged to continue to save what remains, seem to know nothing at all about the business.
The gentleman from the Margrave of Baden, who was here lately, has taken nothing tangible back with him save a large diploma. He was pushed hither by Wake's suggestions, to facilitate the combined operation, and proclaimed that all was done on the supposition that your Serenity would second the resolves of England. I may have wearied your Excellencies with these particulars; I have always told every one not only that no light had been given me on the subject, but that the nature of the republic's engagements, the benefit derived by Germany from the diversions of Italy, and the heavy burdens upon the State did not allow me to believe that your Excellencies could advance farther, as your well-known services rendered much greater assistance to the common cause by the diversion in the Valtelline than any greater assistance which the republic might give the margrave. Despite the prevention by similar offices I feel sure the blow will fall on the English themselves and on the weakness of their government. As I wrote, the Danish ambassador, and consequently his king, whose interest is most nearly concerned in this diversion, are well impressed. When the ambassador showed me the letter from England which I sent, he said he knew the prudence of the republic, who did not base her resolves on castles in the air, and he had written to his master not to reckon thereon. The same arguments serve for the Palatine's agent, and having again given the information commanded he does not understand how positive assertions can be made so remote from possible facts, abandoning the King of Denmark after having placed him in peril, and leading the other powers to similar misfortune by these enticements which miscarry midway.
I have already spoken to some of the English ministers and obtained confirmation that Wake has reported the absolute refusal of your Excellencies, based on your low opinion of the margrave, on your wish for Mansfeld to have the predominance over all others for any attack on the empire as your servant, and to remain watching the movements of others, not to generate peccant humours, especially near home, and to remove such as already exist. Such are the exact terms of his letter.
In reply I vigorously supported your Serenity's arguments. I assured them that your Excellencies highly esteemed the margrave and your hope that he might have profited by the republic's military operations in Italy. I commended the suitable encouragement given by his Majesty, who is so much interested in the misfortunes of Germany, implying that he would not cease giving assistance, being aware of the advantage proclaimed by the Ambassador Wake himself. As the Count of Mansfelt was now in the active service of the two crowns, your Excellencies could not but wish him success. I would not further arouse the remorse which they may reasonably feel for having deserted him. The same will undoubtedly happen to the Margrave of Baden as it actually has with the King of Denmark. I pointed out the part taken by your Excellencies and confuted the charge of alienation, owing to the disputes about the Valtelline treaty you were more than ever bound to advance rather than retreat, and had all the powers interested in the common cause acted like the republic matters might not be so near ruin. To remove all umbrage I vouched for the prudence of the Senate which never promises without performing and only retires because of more pressing engagements.
Of Wake individually I have always spoken in honourable terms, and in accordance with instructions I communicate such advices as may benefit the public service and satisfy the king, so that he assures me how much he values this and sends me word that after the holidays he will orally confirm his satisfaction to me, so one day next week I will go to receive his commands. In short he encourages me to uphold your Excellencies' reasons; so the refusal being thus justified will neither alienate the good will of this side nor diminish their affection, while with the other powers the arguments invented by the weakness of the ministers here will certainly produce no impression when compared with the well-known maturity of the Senate.
I keep on the watch for personal notices of Wyche, who is destined for Constantinople, and discover more and more prejudicial consequences, having been assured that he, being in straitened circumstances, received some assistance from the Spaniards for the money required to obtain the post, and that the whole affair passed through the hands of Cottington, secretary to the king when Prince of Wales, but now in disgrace, who sticks to the Austrian side not only in fact but in appearance. I have informed Soranzo at the Hague of all this to serve him when conversing with the Dutch ministers, and I think if their ambassador here could be induced to take some step towards attempting the ford it must do good, as owing to your Excellencies' vital interests at the Porte, any stir made by the republic, if not successful, might prove very injurious not to say impossible, as we must take into account that chain of gold which already binds the will of the Buckingham family, who being compelled to support Wyche will certainly prevail against all machinations including even the king's pleasure.
London, the 8th January, 1627.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
102. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Duke of Buckingham has sent part of his baggage, coaches, horses and attendants towards Dover, yet his journey still remains doubtful and becomes more remote instead of near at hand. Two gentlemen arrived from France, one sent by the Duke of Soubise, the other a fugitive because of a duel. They brought letters for the duke alone, their business being very secret and hitherto perhaps without the king's knowledge. Some tell me that the statements made by Bassompierre were not in accordance with his promises. He, on the other hand, pitied the imbecility of this government, the king's aversion to business, etc., though this minister is supposed to have more regard for the sincere union of the two crowns than for his own apparent honour, yet it is possible that being aware of the cardinal's intrigues, he was compelled to do this.
It is said at Court that Clerk, one of the gentlemen dispatched to France by the duke, as reported, is negotiating covertly through Frenchmen in the Spanish interest or by some other means, a certain agreement with Spain, and that the duke will not go on that embassy save to put a finishing touch when near the end, or else will not go at all, as many believe, or if he does go without having this object in view it will be for the sake of benefiting the internal affairs of this kingdom, although it seems that the king no longer presses him to make the journey as at first, but rather dissuades him from going unless certain to be well received. Thus are their plans changed from day to day, and I blush to report these perpetual fits of weakness.
Here they grow more and more apprehensive of the reported understanding between the French and Spaniards, from which, since the intercepted brief forbidding the English Catholics to take the oath of fealty, (fn. 7) they do not exclude the pope. Secretary Conway told me yesterday that they have even some hint of the terms in treaty, one article providing that the parties should not thwart each other's undertakings but rather help them.
It is certain that at the ports bordering on these seas orders have been received from the French Court not only that all Spanish ships shall be well received and treated, but especially those forty shallops which some while ago left Biscay with orders to proceed to Dunkirk, and which, it is supposed, have now returned.
The king has lately held three long conferences in his private cabinet with four or six confidential advisers, a style adopted solely for matters of importance. From what I have gathered they discussed the dispatch to France of Mr. Baret, destined as ambassador in ordinary there a long while ago. His general instructions are to be made out; the orders for his salary have been issued and he himself ordered to keep in readiness, though the departure is not yet settled, because on the one hand this young gentleman is a novice in diplomacy and not capable of negotiating such arduous business, and on the other they wish to await authentic news from France, where among other things he will promise the appointment of an ambassador extraordinary for the execution of what Bassompierre arranged, but without mentioning the duke or any other personage. I believe, indeed, indeed, that they are glad to delay this for a few days in order to profit by French prizes. Several very important ones have been taken lately and the government expects thus to facilitate the negotiation and the shipping business. The suspicion of this understanding between the French and the Spaniards accelerates not only the despatch but also the very stringent orders to fit out new vessels for the spring, though they will find it difficult to effect this without money, as even should the affair go well they cannot realise these subsidies for some months. The Spaniards, therefore, never had a finer game and first of all they would fain see these two crowns at war, or else be courted by both for their friendship, and meanwhile give the last blow to Germany.
The twenty men-of-war which put to sea as reported have had orders to seize all French vessels indiscriminately. I understand that there are already many in these ports, some very rich ones, bound from Spain, without any suspicion of this. The merchants tell me that by this time the value of these prizes might easily balance that of the English property sequestrated in France, and that the greater the surplus in favour of England the more will an adjustment be facilitated, as without doubt the French will suffer incomparably the greater injury in the long run.
The commissioners from Scotland have arrived and been welcomed. The duke introduced them to the king. Three of them have been sent by the Scottish nobility to obtain the repeal of the union of the Church property to the crown, a measure merely suspended by his Majesty, as I wrote. On being assured for ever against any innovation in this matter they offer the king an annual contribution through parliament, and as its meeting is deferred because his Majesty has not yet been crowned king of Scotland, the compact is to be confirmed at its first session. With this understanding they are expected to depart satisfied. Other commissioners from Scotland are also on the road, bringing remonstrances against abuses in the government and requesting inquests about the deaths of the late king, the Dukes of Lennox and Richmond, and the Marquis of Hamilton, which are generally supposed to have been caused by poison. This is moreover seen in print, being published at Cologne by one Eglinton, a Scotch physician, (fn. 8) a question already brought forward by the last parliament and fiercely maintained for the sake of obtaining their end, nor can the demand be disapproved by the king's filial affection and by the paternal love which he bears his subjects. The point is important and as it touches the duke's interests to the quick it may compel him not to absent himself.
Anstruther, the English ambassador in Denmark, has sent one of his gentlemen with very bitter complaints made to him there by the king, who insists on having 100,000l. by Christmas, with which he has to give three rates to pay all the troops before the 16th inst. at the risk of mutiny if delayed. To this they reply that the jewels have already been consigned to Calandrini to pawn, but I fancy the worthy merchants will prefer to secure first the pay and passage money of the 6,000 English now in Holland, whose voyage, being delayed, increases the debt. He also urges the levy of the 3,000 Scots already promised, for which some 8,000l. are required. They apologise here on the plea of the impossibility of obtaining the money at present. His Danish Majesty is indeed greatly in want of infantry, so much so that he has little more than 4,000 to bring into the field, including what are required for the garrisons, and this same gentleman reports having passed some of Tilly's troops within sight of Hamburg, alarming the burgesses there and in the other Hanse towns about designs against them. Intercepted letters from the emperor to Tilly conveyed orders for him to advance, laying waste the territory of Holstein, the patrimony of Denmark, as reprisals for what Weimar is doing in Silesia and other provinces of Caesar. This is the pretext, but in reality the Austrians think of taking root on the shores of the Baltic or the German Ocean, thus pressing the Dutch hard. At the same time they will bridle the English also by rousing their fears, this being one of the strongest links for lengthening the chain of servitude. The intercepted letters having been communicated to the nobility and peasantry of Holstein, they bound themselves to defend the territory at their own cost, much to the satisfaction of the King of Denmark. In conclusion, Anstruther suspects that his Danish Majesty, if not assisted, will make terms, as your Excellencies may have heard already from a better source.
London, the 8th January, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives.
103. MARC ANTONIO MORESINI, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Count of Verua told me that the recent display of affection for his brother (fn. 9) on the part of the cardinal was because he wished to employ him to bring about a complete adjustment with England. Bassompierre had not settled everything; he had returned as usual, covered with glory at the completion of his negotiations, but they are not expected to prove more successful than the others, especially as the cardinal is beginning to observe his good fortune and to fear him. For that reason the cardinal is anxious before everything to have that matter settled.
Turin, the 10th January, 1626 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
104. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Countess of Levestein (fn. 10) arrived here from England three days ago. She brought the Queen of Bohemia a warm assurance of her brother's good will and his desire to see her consoled and raised, but little hope of anything effective, as they do nothing beyond paying the yearly pension which this princess receives from that quarter, and that is not done too punctually, though it is the more necessary as it is the principal fund on which she relies for her support.
Thirty-six shallops (scialuppi) sailed recently from Biscay in two fleets, with 700 foot on board for the Dunkirk fleet, so they say. One of these fleets fell in with two English ships. A sharp fight ensued, in which the English captured a shallop. The rest took to flight in disorder. We do not hear where they have arrived (fn. 11) .
The Hague, the 11th January, 1626 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 12.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
105. The ambassador of the States came into the Collegio and said:
In continuation of my recent office with your Serenity about Denmark, which is a really public matter, and in fulfilment of your commands, I assured his ambassador of the entire good will of the republic towards his king.
My masters will not fail to confirm the contribution of their assistance to the King of Denmark and they have also agreed to the four regiments of English whom they keep in garrison going to reinforce him, and I expect to hear of their departure in my next letters. The King of Great Britain readily consented to this and also to assign a million florins, that is 100,000l. sterling, in aid of Denmark, notwithstanding internal distractions, and he feels sure that other princes equally concerned will supply help in proportion, so as to set on foot another large force; and in order to make an immediate levy of eight other regiments he has sent to ask for that subsidy from your Serenity, which you have never refused to public necessity, and he expects a categorical reply whereby he may be able to judge of the intentions of your Excellencies, which will decide whether his Majesty will continue to act with the vigour he has shown hitherto, to the great advantage of all those concerned, or whether he will embrace a peace which has special advantages for himself and abandon the public cause. There is no middle way. If your Serenity cannot fully satisfy this great king you can at least give him a part. I offer my services in a matter of such importance, and suggest that your Serenity shall hand to me such sum of the monthly payments due to my masters as you see fit, that I may dispose of it as your Excellencies please. This would serve to keep the war in Germany on foot, without any fuss, and would bind a great northern king not to accept peace without the consent of the most serene republic.
[Italian.]
Jan. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives.
106. To the Ambassador at the Hague and the like to England.
The Danish Ambassador Hilarach (fn. 12) has passed a new office, using the same arguments. We replied more briefly but to the same effect. We send a copy of this and of the advices from Germany. You must keep on the watch about the truce which is rumoured, especially as it is said to originate with the French ministers in order to evade their contributions.
To England add:
Seven packets of your letters reach us, full of advices and offices, which all afford us the fullest satisfaction.
Ayes, 157.Noes, 0.Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
Jan. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
107. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
They continue to dispute about Bassompierre's arrangement with England. The private desire to discredit that minister prejudices the public cause and the welfare of the two kingdoms. The king has written to the king and Bassompierre to Buckingham to the same effect, that the duke is not to come, as he cannot be received here fitly until both sides release what they have taken. Upon this pretext of honour they have stopped his coming, and by letting him know in other ways how little they like him here, they will prevent it completely.
Paris, the 14th January, 1627.
[Italian.]
Jan. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
108. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
On Monday last, the first day of the new year as reckoned here, I went to his Majesty, accompanying the office with the usual courtesies of the new year. The king received me very graciously and more than once expressed his special obligations to the republic because his interests profited by the confidential and sincere communications made as by a true friend, and insisting amiably in their continuance. He assured me he rejoiced to confirm personally what his ministers had frequently told me, promising constant reciprocity in whatever concerned the service of your Excellencies. The opportunity proved propitious as shortly before the audience I received letters from Spain with particulars about the arrival of the fleet, the naval reinforcements prepared, the moneys dispatched to Germany etc., advices which I owe to Moro. Besides assuring his Majesty of your Excellencies' perfect disposition towards his welfare, I surveyed the present fluctuations taking advantage of this news and the death of the Count of Mansfelt, to which the king referred sympathetically more than once, the news being published here through scurrilous prints from Cologne. I said that Mansfeld's loss would be appreciated when no longer remediable, as is generally the case with famous men. and the bad course of public affairs had facilitated this catastrophe. I praised the king for having always supported him zealously, because reproof for deserting him, which might have applied better, would not have been opportune. I said it was impossible for the affairs of Germany to receive a greater shock unless a steady and united effort were made to assist Denmark, the sole prop of this falling fabric, as since the last rout of Denmark by the Imperialists the freedom of Germany would vacillate between hopes of disadvantageous agreements and fear of fresh defeat, both equally disastrous. Here, in conformity with his Majesty's last letters from Denmark, I alluded to Tilly's designs on the Hanse towns, the shores of the Baltic or German Ocean, now discovered, by which means, besides hemming in the Dutch, the good friends of his Majesty and the public cause, these realms also would be exposed to anxiety and peril. England is assailable only by fleets, which, in the present state of open rupture with the Spaniards, can only be apprehended from Spain, who is unable to equip them save with naval stores, which she can only receive from Hamburg and the neighbourhood, and this achieved would constitute one of the highest steps of Austria towards universal monarchy. By assisting Denmark Weimar's forces would necessarily gain strength, the only ones now remaining on foot in the heart of Germany, and owing to the secession of the peasants and the negotiations of Gabor they required support. I hinted at the negotiations of Transylvania and the obligation of his Majesty to give that prince valid assistance at Constantinople, after expatiating on the good qualities of the English minister there and his thorough knowledge of the Porte, where just now the Imperialists are doing their utmost to make sure of peace for the purpose of turning their forces against the princes protected by the British crown, as shown by Tilly's troops quartering in the Brandenburg territory, while by their intrigues for a truce the Spaniards disclosed the intention to send their naval forces in the Levant to the seas of England, especially against his Majesty, perceiving the profit to be made out of the misunderstanding with France, upon which they kept their eyes fixed so as to avail themselves of an open rupture and turn to certain victory in whichever quarter the greatest advantage presented itself. In short I tried to stimulate his Majesty to vigorous resolves for his own sake, for the relief of the common cause, for the encouragement of his friends, all which results have no greater obstacles than time and delay.
The king seemed thoroughly to approve my remarks. He said repeatedly: I rely on the most serene republic's friendship; those senators are sincere and friends of friends. He said briefly that I had touched the core of his most vital interests, what he was bound to do for honour's sake, and he was determined to think solely of the naval force, being of opinion that this would be his best security against the imperial designs on the German Ocean, against those of the Spaniards on his own realms, against those of the French on La Rochelle and the means of making himself respected while helping his friends at the same time. I must add, however, that when I goaded him several times about the designs of the Spaniards he always answered me coldly, so I gathered that his blood did not boil so much against them, whereas the slightest hint against the French made him quite heated; and the naval preparations probably concern that quarrel.
I do not know what to promise about Germany. The monthly subsidy of 30,000l. for Denmark certainly cannot be managed by him, even were he without debts and other engagements, as the residue of the ordinary revenues would not suffice for this, after paying expenses, though Danish affairs may benefit if he fits out the fleet. The Danish ambassador tells me that if they cannot continue to help Denmark, it would be better to make terms rather than collapse, and I observe that the Dutch would like to do so, if they thought thus to compel Tilly to withdraw his forces beyond the Circle, far from their borders.
The duke, whom I also saw lately, spoke in the same strain as the king and he knows that all mental energy is wasted in private punctilio and interests, as if the present indolent delay of the Spaniards was not forging mortal strokes, the more sure as they are unexpected. I report everything, as the nature of the case requires and the opportunity afforded one by eliciting from the king himself such additional particulars as appearances and passion allow, which are more easily manifested by one less accustomed to dissemble them. Throughout the interview, notably as regards Germany's needs, he said nothing to me about the Margrave of Baden, nor did he drop the slightest hint of the help refused to that prince by your Excellencies. This confirms my belief in the private collusions I mentioned. I did not add anything further on this subject nor yet about Venetian affairs, as the good turn they have taken only encourages demands. There is also the unfortunate difficulty with the French, as they consider themselves bound to make diversions and incur expenditure in those parts.
In conclusion I referred unaffectedly to affairs at Constantinople, pretending to know nothing about the sending of a new minister, speaking of the good service rendered by the present one, to gain time if possible, until the arrival of instructions, being more than ever confirmed about the pernicious opinions of the person named in his stead and his dependence on the Spaniards.
London, the 15th January, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
109. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Clerk and Gerbier, the two gentlemen sent to France by the duke have returned. The duke himself told me that Bassompierre wrote to him that he had not been at all well received nor were his negotiations here approved. The king had previously seen Father Sansi, who conversed with him showing that little had been gained for the satisfaction of his sister; the gentlemen who remained here in her service were inexperienced, and so forth (che il Re havea prima di lui veduto il Padre Sansi, trattenuto lo et mostrato che poco si fosse avanzato per le sodisfattioni della sorella i gentilhuomeni rimasti qui in servitio di Lei poco habili et cose simili). It seems that here they do not believe Bassompierre to be quite sincere, and that his sole object was to acquit his engagements with the duke as he said. Be this as it may, since the return of these gentlemen and their report the duke has determined no longer to go to France, all the other reasons, especially that of his own interest, having dissuaded him long ago.
The ambassador in ordinary, Barret, has not been urged further since the orders given him which I reported last week. I believe that if the reprisals on French ships continue, with consequent advantage to England, the whole affair will reduce itself to punctilio, that is to say which of the two kings will move first to adjust the shipping question. In conversation I tell every one freely, and especially the members of the Council that between friendly sovereigns related to each other these insidious cavillings ought not to be countenanced, increasing difficulties by delay; the goods which have been seized deteriorate and on the award of damages a still more difficult phase will follow when settling the final adjustment.
The duke told me that the queen mother and the cardinal had informed him covertly, that if he would give them certain satisfactions, which he called private, without expressing himself more clearly, they would invite him to the French Court. He also said something to me in praise of the Abbot Scaglia. I do not know if the overtures for negotiating are to be made through Savoy. It seems that in several respects the interests of that duke and Buckingham are identical. If there is anything his Majesty certainly knows nothing about it, though I perceive that the Spaniards have no thought that way, as if the Kings of England and France received a monthly salary from them those two crowns could not do more for Spain than at present. The Dutch ambassador has some idea that in France Clerk saw the Ambassador Mirabel. As he only returned last evening I will endeavour with time to obtain confirmation of this, but you will get more certain information earlier, though when the king was spoken to about the matter he did not choose to declare himself.
A certain Frenchman, a lute player, Gotiers by name, who was in the queen's service, has been put in the Tower. It seems he proposed to murder the duke, as they say they found a pistol on him. Really, however, he traduced the king himself and the duke and boasted that by the dulcet tones of the lute he could make his way even into the royal bed and he had been urged to do so in a manner that became well-nigh nauseous. This fellow will not escape lightly, as the king himself has examined him, assisted solely by the duke, extreme rigour and secrecy being observed owing to the nature of the charges.
The naval preparations of Spain, the Dunkirk reinforcements and yet more the steps taken by the French, have caused the king to do the like, exactly as he said to me. Twice yesterday did he sit in Council declaring that in the spring he meant to have 80 men-of-war ready, namely, 20 royal galleons and the rest merchantmen. The duke will go one of these days to Rochester to select the first and commissioners are already appointed for the others. Some assure me that jewels have been taken from the crown to raise money for this purpose, as without it consultations are but loss of time and repute. Above all he called attention to supplies of victuals. If these are made during the cold weather something may be expected, otherwise it is but a castle in the air raised for intimidation.
The armed ships continue to plunder the French, to such an extent that some of the Spanish partisans declare that the king ought to pay himself the residue of the dower due to him by the Most Christian, to facilitate disasters on the plea of necessity and further seek to indemnify the merchants who have suffered through the sequestration of British property in France.
The armed galleons mentioned before have made two entries into Dunkirk; the first with fifteen prizes, the second with six, mostly Dutch and laden with wine. Besides the ordinary vessels in that port, four have been fitted out lately, orders being issued for eight more. The Spaniards are certainly inclined to reinforce their navy in every direction, and on the arrival of the fleet they ought to be watched very narrowly, and indeed, to benefit the Dunkirkers, especially in the Netherlands, it has been decreed that they alone may export merchandise by sea and exercise the carrying trade from Spain to Flanders.
The duke continues his reconciliation with the leading men as shown lately with the Bishop of Lincoln, who mediated for the alienation of certain estates belonging to Westminster Abbey of which he is dean. The duke purchased them at a moderate price and then resold them for treble the amount. The Earl of Exeter has lately been promoted to the Council, some say for the purpose of employing him in negotiations with the Spaniards, but I understand it is rather to facilitate the exaction of the subsidies in the provinces of his government, many of the lords lieutenant having returned into the country, especially Lord Carleton, who, as reported, came back the first time with but little success. Nothing more is said about the subscription of the judges, the undertaking having proved very arduous, and declares that of those who hold the purse he does not require the hand which was merely wanted to facilitate its opening when acting against the recusants.
The Earl of Bristol, a prisoner in the Tower ever since the last parliament, has but little life left in him (e ridotto in margine molto restretto di vita). Some say that with the removal of this chief hindrance to Buckingham's accusations and his making his peace with many others of the chief grandees, hopes of a parliament may revive, though I am of opinion that the king is still very averse from such a step.
I, this week receive the packet from Italy with the letters opened. Many have been abstracted, especially those from the state. The postmaster at Antwerp writes to me that the courier who left Venice on the 18th December, was robbed above Bassano. By my own letters I learn of this felonious act, but as they were separate from those of the merchants which all reached their destination, I suspect that the incident is due to immoderate inquisitiveness, and your Excellencies should apply a remedy by ordinary duplicates of the missives under that date, so as not to leave me in the dark about your will.
London, the 15th January, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]

Footnotes

1 These despatches are printed in the Negotiations of Sir Thomas Roe, pages 547, 559. With respect to Cassin Pasha see Conway's letter to Roe of the 28th Dec. and Roe's reply thereto on the 21st April, Id., pages 586, 638.
2 Hugh Rosse of Ballamouchy. His instructions, dated the 10th January, are signed by Buckingham. S.P. Foreign, Flanders.
3 Sir James Catz.
4 See pages 65, 66 above.
5 Nicholas Boet. See pages 47–51 above,
6 Pallas Rosencrantz.
7 The brief of Urban VIII, dated the 30th May, 1626. There is a copy in the State Papers, Dom., vol. xxvii, No. 35.
8 The reference is to the Prodromus Vindictae of George Eglisham, published at Antwerp. See the previous vol. of this Calendar, page 416.
9 The Abbot Alessandro Cesare Scaglia, Savoyard ambassador in France.
10 Elizabeth Dudley, who married Ernest Casimir, Count of Lewenstein. She attended the queen since her marriage. The Count had died in 1624.
11 By his instructions dated 24th Dec. o.s. Pennington was directed to intercept 30 or 40 "pataches," which were reported to be bringing 4,000 men from Biscay to Dunkirk. Warwick's ship, the Jonathan, fell in with the whole fleet, apparently by accident, and captured one of the "pataches," which it brought into Plymouth. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1625, 6, pages 493, 504. Id. 1627, 8, page 5, Birch's Court and Times of Charles I, vol. i, page 181. These shallops or pataches were light flat-bottomed boats.
12 The name of the Danish Ambassador at Venice was Dr. Joachim Kratz.