Venice
March 1627, 1-15

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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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134-151

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'Venice: March 1627, 1-15', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 20: 1626-1628 (1914), pp. 134-151. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89116 Date accessed: 19 September 2014.


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March 1627

March 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
157. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The secretary of the Queen of Bohemia (fn. 1) is about to leave for London. He will represent the urgency of her private affairs, which verge on absolute want, and will implore help, although generally that comes in abundance. It is said that he may stop as resident in place of Rusdorf, who has not yet arrived here. He would not be so adequate or so active, but he would conform more to the taste of the favourite, who does not like being under active scrutiny, especially as Buckingham is not on good terms with the queen here.
The Hague, the 1st March, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
158. MARC ANTONIO PADAVIN, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the DOGE and SENATE.
With respect to the quarrel between France and England, which seems likely to lead to an open rupture, they conclude here that the French will have the worst of it at sea and will therefore be compelled to unite with the Spaniards, which means that they will not oppose their affairs here.
Vienna, the 3rd March, 1627.
[Italian; copy.]
March 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
159. ZORZI, ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
They have told the deputies of La Rochelle that the king is satisfied with them and desires to maintain their peace. He was sending troops to their confines not for their hurt, but from suspicion of the English and Soubise.
This week a large number of merchants of Rouen have appeared at Court and noisily demanded that the king shall come to terms with England, as if the one who rules remains obstinate they are firmly convinced in France, seeing that the English command the sea and the mouths of their rivers, that their trade will very quickly be destroyed and all their merchants ruined.
Letters from England and a cipher to the Duchess of Rohan have recently been intercepted. The ministers here proposed to arrest her in order to find out the contents. But with equal address and courage the duchess disguised herself and went to safety at La Rochelle.
The secret negotiations between Richelieu and Olivares are certain, though the particulars are kept secret.
Richelieu, perceiving the serious damage done by the captures daily made by the English, realises that mathematical figures do not always work out in practice and sees how ill advised he was to reject Bassompierre's settlement. Leaving that minister aside he is now trying every other means, approaching the Dutch ambassador, Langerach, and conveying to the Abbot Scaglia that the Prince of Piedmont might win glory by reconciling his brother and brother-in-law.
I enclose his packets which have reached me from England this week.
Paris, the 4th March, 1627.
[Italian.]
March 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
160. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Gerbier, who was expected as I wrote, has arrived from France. He does not bring any hope of the adjustment of the present most important affairs, as the Most Christian insists upon the punctual observance of the clauses of the marriage contract and especially the advantageous terms for the Catholics, before making or hearing any other proposal. This obstinacy joined with the designs evermore combined and manifest of the nuncio, Richelieu and Mirabel, increases the suspicion of collusion and the proofs of projects against the Huguenots in general. Gerbier complains that the cardinal would only receive from him the letters, treating him more like a courier than a gentleman, and he announced that they will not admit any minister soever until they receive the satisfaction demanded. Here on the other hand they give no credit to the French secretary, so he has retired into the country. This is the worst result of all, as ministers alone can soothe the irritation caused by private passion, by individual interest and by the suggestions of those who rejoice to see this body politic disconcerted.
There has also arrived from France a certain preacher, Lewis by name, who having been some time agent at the French Court, was despatched thither for the private credit still due for the ships which years ago served the Most Christian against La Rochelle. He also was unable to obtain any satisfaction. With distrust increasing more and more I understand that Burlamachi's brother-in-law left for France last night, in order, so he said, to wind up his affairs there. If true this would not help a speedy adjustment because of his close intimacy with the chief favourites at this Court.
It is still reported that the Abbot Scaglia wishes to mediate in the matter, but I learn from some of the gentlemen here that they expect but little from his negotiations, though I have learned from more than one quarter that the Duke of Savoy would act as mediator for England either with France and Spain. This is attributed to good will mingled with some personal object difficult of attainment from either of the kings. They consider it a pretext for removing with some show of honour his minister from the French Court, where they look on him askance.
They have not yet begun to sell the goods belonging to Frenchmen, some difficulty having arisen from the segregation of the vessels, which are scattered about the harbours of the realm, where goods will not find a very ready sale. Should it be necessary to bring them to London the cost to the king for transport and insurance will exceed the value of the goods themselves, the order being limited solely to the sale of such articles as cannot last long without perishing and which are of little value.
I fancy despite these considerations and obstacles, they are determined to take this step, for the purpose of raising the mask and feeling the pulse of France, so as more clearly to comprehend her schemes with the nuncio and the Spanish ambassador, which being directed point blank against the Huguenots, as will be seen, should the Most Christian's journey towards Poitiers take place, this side will then employ all the resources of their party to spring a countermine, provided the English have sufficient credit with the French princes, who, having first been exposed to risk by them, and then abandoned, some are utterly ruined and the rest nearly so; the weakness of England being by this time well known, she doing the worst possible mischief by encouraging the pretensions of others and destroying the common cause.
It is true that they are hastening to the utmost the outfit of a certain number of ships, government policy and the determination to defend themselves requiring this, though I know not how the requisite funds can be obtained. At any rate nineteen merchantmen and the king's ships will be ready within a week, his Majesty being content to victual them all for the sake of not overburdening the parties concerned. Some of these vessels will convoy the recruits destined for the English regiments in Denmark and will blockade Hamburg to prevent ships coming out of the river there with munitions and naval stores for Spain. Others will do the like by the Lubeckers at the Sound, the greater part remaining as the coast-guard in the British Channel, now greatly infested by four Dunkirk vessels, who even entered the mouth of the Thames. This bravado happened only a few days ago and increases the suspicion of the aforesaid collusion with Spain. This squadron will be commanded by Pennington, who cruised lately off the coast of France and will again receive the same orders to stop all vessels of that nation if not prevented from doing so by what is requisite for the defence of the realm.
They also announce their intention to prevent the passage of the vessels purchased by the Most Christian at Amsterdam; but it seems to me they are acting like those who with a small capital form projects requiring vast expenditure. It is also determined within three months or a little more to have sixty other ships. I dare not as yet vouch for the result, although whatever funds now reach the Treasury are applied to this purpose, all payments being suspended without any exception. Some persons believe these preparations to be announced for the purpose of facilitating the payment of the subsidies and causing suspicion to France, just as they announced that the Earl of Salisbury and some other councillors were to go to Brussels about some treaty of agreement, thinking thus to stimulate the Puritans to pay the subsidies, as being more averse to them than the rest, as they are also to the reconciliation with Spain, supporting the party of the Countess Palatine.
An English sailor, prisoner at Dunkirk, has acquainted the duke with the preparations making there, twenty-two vessels being in readiness each with an additional 200 foot. It is reported that they expect further reinforcements from Spain and that they contemplate an attempt on some port or coast towards East Friesland or Germany, though there is some apprehension about this island also. All this has added somewhat to the impulse towards naval defence, at least in appearance; and also with regard to the land forces, orders having already issued for all the officers to remain with their regiments, especially those in Ireland, and a month's pay has been given to all of them with the determination that this much must satisfy them; the king having deprived of his company the one who in the name of all made the last demand for money, nor has he yet allowed him to come out of prison.
In the place of the late Lord Chief Justice, degraded for refusing his subscription to the subsidies, they have appointed a councillor of the duke, who sat in the last parliament and defended him very openly. (fn. 2) Other judges go softly, adapting themselves, and without fuss, which more and more confirms the king's aversion to parliaments and his resolve to elicit from the lawyers here some public decree in favour of this project, so that the present loan may afford an example for the future.
The king, notwithstanding the very important current affairs, has gone into the country to Newmarket, over fifty miles away, intending to remain there until Easter unless recalled by urgent business. The queen remains here, their Majesties being well reconciled to each other so far as one can judge by appearances. The Court is breaking up, as will be the case throughout the approaching good season, during which as the second-hand advices are hardly trustworthy and negotiations are very slack, owing to the hunting, I would fain have some confidant about the king so as to give your Excellencies better and more punctual intelligence at this extraordinary and most important crisis.
Veis, the ambassador appointed to Constantinople, anticipating the complaints of the merchants, who disapprove of his appointment for the reasons given, is urging his departure to the utmost, so as to go out with the Levant fleet, which sails usually in April, hoping, as I hear, to receive his commission on the king's return from the country. I keep quiet merely because I suppose such to be the wish of your Excellencies.
The letters from Italy have not yet arrived. I respectfully notify this fact.
London, the 5th March, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 5.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
161. The secretary of the ambassador of Great Britain came and spoke substantially as follows:
His Excellency has been much distressed at being prevented by indisposition from coming to pay his respects at the recent festivities, and since his recovery he has not wished to trouble your Serenity, as he was expecting advices from his Majesty to communicate. Meanwhile, he wishes to explain about the Count of Mansfeld, recently deceased, in this memorial which I present.
After it was read the senior councillor, Garzoni, in the doge's absence, said: The creditors of the Count of Mansfeld have taken the usual steps to recover their debts. The Signory will consider the matter. With this the secretary made a reverence and departed.
Most Serene Prince.
Colonel Pebitz, commissioner general of the late Prince of Mansfeld, writes from Spalato to Sir [Isaac] Wake, ambassador of the King of Great Britain, declaring that before his death the prince charged the said colonel, Colonel Ferenz and M. d'Olbier to see to his burial, dismiss his household and to try and induce the princes concerned to preserve his army. These three executors, on reaching Venice, attended to their master's wishes, recommending the burial of the body to your Serenity and then awaiting the Senate's decision. They, secondly, paid off the prince's household, so that no one had need to complain. On the third head they sent to their companions in Hungary, but encountered obstacles in Venice which seemed hard to them. Accordingly, the three executors by common consent renounced all the remaining effects of the prince into the hands of the English ambassador for the service of the King of Bohemia, but being set upon by some who pretend to claim against the prince, they turned to the English ambassador for protection. As this is a matter of state, your Serenity is besought to order a stay of process for all who may have claims against the deceased by private interests and to sequestrate all the residue of the prince's possessions in this state until it is known what the King of Bohemia directs thereupon, as set forth in the paper signed by all the executors.
[Italian.]
We, the undersigned, in conformity with the wishes of the late Prince of Mansfeld etc., declare that after the satisfaction of the servants everything shall be remitted to his Majesty of Bohemia, who will be humbly requested to protect the army gathered solely for his service, and to take upon himself to discharge what is due, so that the assignments made to various officers and servants may be paid and the rest employed for the maintenance of the army and fresh levies to reinforce it.
Venice, the 15th January, 1627.
G. J. REBLIS.
TH. FERENS.
J. DALBIER.
[French.]
March 5.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives.
162. To the Ambassador in England.
One cannot fail to argue signs of a disposition for a reconciliation with France from what the ministers have said, and from the request for the interposition of our ambassador at the French Court. You will express the desire of the republic for the welfare of both crowns, and say how we have more than once sent express orders to that ambassador to do everything in his power; while you also have helped in various ways.
Your letters, so full of advices, call for no reply in other respects, except to commend your industry in that responsible charge.
That 300 ducats be given to the ambassador for the carriage of letters and couriers, for which he shall render account.
Ayes, 145.Noes, 0.Neutral, 6.
[Italian.]
March 6.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives.
163. To the Ambassador in France.
An English minister, as if speaking on his own responsibility, has given some hints to our Ambassador Contarini about a reconciliation with France. If any opportunity occurs, you will not let it slip, with the caution we have enjoined before, as it would be more beneficial to the public cause than any other thing.
Ayes, 140.Noes, 0.Neutral, 5.
[Italian.]
March 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
164. PIERO CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the DOGE and SENATE.
At audience yesterday I let fall some remarks about the differences between France and England, to find out what his Holiness thought about them. He seemed much aggrieved because the King of England had not kept the terms agreed on with France in favour of the Catholic faith, because he would never have granted the dispensation for that marriage except on the assurance that these would be carried out. He told me that they did not approve of what Bassompierre had arranged in France, and had sent other proposals from the court, more advantageous for religion. He thought these difficulties would finally be adjusted, as neither crown contemplated war.
Rome, the 6th March, 1627.
[Italian.]
March 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives.
165. GIOVANNI ALVISE VINCENTIO, Venetian Secretary in Savoy, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Cardinal Richelieu displays in appearance the best sentiments towards this house, and has expressed himself in that sense to the Ambassador Scaglia. It is known, however, that his Highness avoids telling him that his interests require him to be mistrustful. The French ministers announce that a union has been formed to his hurt between the King of England, this house, the Count of Soissons, the Duke of Rohan, Soubise and the rest of the Huguenots, and they do not disdain to treat covertly on the matter with the nuncio and the Spanish ambassador. The cardinal is contemplating a reconciliation with Spain in order to counterpoise this intrigue. Such matters have to be conducted very secretly.
Turin, the 7th March, 1627.
[Italian.]
March 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
166. GIROLAMO SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The rupture between the French and English disturbs them greatly here, and one can never discuss the matter but they speak of the great advantage the enemy derives from it. The King Palatine is extremely distressed, and had a long conversation with me about it. He said that if some friendly power did not intervene things would be in a bad way, since the negotiations of approved ministers had been disowned, referring to Bassompierre. I asked if he had heard anything. He said that he had heard from France that they had asked the Savoyard ambassador to get his master to intervene. I consider this is unlikely, however. Some of the ministers here have suggested that the duke might intervene, others have declared that the office would become your Serenity. They think that England would listen readily and France might also.
Meanwhile hostilities proceed on both sides, and a naval fight took place recently. They say that one French ship was sunk and another captured. These are an unpromising introduction to an accommodation, but such resolute orders have been issued that fire and sword will be active on every possible opportunity.
At Amsterdam they are going on with the building of the ships for the Most Christian. The work is well advanced, but more delay is expected now. Gistoieux, a gentleman of the Most Christian, has been sent to supervise and hasten matters. The employment of these ships cannot please them here, as it will be either against the English or La Rochelle; but they cannot refuse the accommodation.
It is stated here that the King of England has declared Soubise general, and he is to help the Rochellese with a number of ships. This is not credited; but they fear it may come if things proceed as they threaten to do.
The Hague, the 8th March, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 9.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives.
167. To the Secretary Grattaruol in Spain and the like to the other Courts.
Zuan Antonio Gardar, who for several years has kept a tailor's shop in the Ruga di Oresi at Rialto, was recently arrested by the Council of Ten. Although the charges against him are very grave, the Council has decided merely to banish him from our state. The Spanish ambassador has claimed him as a Milanese by birth, and has offered to make him leave. We have remained firm to one decision, especially as the man has made himself our subject by a residence of fifty years and more. You know the orders of the republic forbidding relations between the embassies and our nobles, yet in this manner the ambassadors have their creatures scattered about the city and frequently the houses of our nobles; a thing that may lead to most serious disorders as in this particular case, especially if they claim exemption from our laws. As the ambassador may write home on the subject, we send you this for information, so that if any one raises the question you may show the real grounds of our decision; but you will not say a word if you do not hear anything said.
Ayes, 121.
[Italian.]
March 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
168. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I have had several visits from the Dutch ambassador about an affair of great importance, which I must narrate step by step. At our first interview he told me that Lord Carleton had been to see him in the name of the duke and some other members of the Council, most intimate with the king, representing to him how the duke himself having some weeks ago bargained for certain statues and pictures with Rubens of Antwerp (a painter, certainly, but of high station, since he holds an office in the magistracy of that city) desired his servant Gerbier, when last returning from France, to confer with him about private matters of this nature. With this opportunity Rubens expressed to Gerbier a most ardent wish to initiate overtures for peace or a truce between England and Spain through the medium of the Infanta and Marquis Spinola, with whom he had access and had broached the topic, finding the Infanta excellently disposed, her sex inclining her to prefer quiet with her neighbours to turmoil; while the marquis, being now stricken in years, renowned for his victories and enjoying a good name, had the same bias. So that if they inclined here towards peace or a truce Rubens was sanguine of success, but secrecy and speedy decision were requisite.
The duke and councillors listened to these proposals with due regard to the present critical events and the proceedings of the French, but there still remained a difficulty, namely, the interests of the United Provinces, to whom the king had pledged his word and meant to keep it. For this reason, his Majesty being away and as there was not time for much delay, Carleton in the name of the duke and Council went to him not merely as to an ambassador, but as his private friend, to hear how this overture could be transmitted to the Netherlands with such secrecy as the affair requires and without creating confusion in the government there, adding that if the proposals were admitted they would not slacken their naval preparations from fear of the usual tricks of the Spaniards, for the sake of making better terms and as a guarantee against all such frauds as might be concealed under the mask of this negotiation.
The ambassador, according to his own account and from what I know of his intentions, was exceedingly perplexed, not so much by the affair in itself, which he has foreseen for many months on account of the duke's behaviour in his determination to hold office at any cost, as by seeing the king, under pretext of hunting, removed to a distance at a moment when such business is on foot, the time allowed them being so brief as not to allow of his sending a messenger to his Majesty to learn his will. He replied that neither as a minister nor as a private individual could he utter one word about a matter of such great consequence, as a minister because he had no commission, as a private person because it was not fitting, but seeing this inclination in the duke it would be well for his Excellency or the king to write to the Prince of Orange, the ambassador pledging himself to give an accompanying letter couched in such form as might be deemed best.
For the rest he remarked that England ought not to do what the Spaniards wished, who urged dispatch and secrecy, instead of acting maturely with the participation of all the confederates. He was astounded, not merely that they should listen to such overtures, but even think of them, as if the English, more than other nations, had not experienced the deceitfulness and detriment of treaties and did not know how much profit the Spaniards derive from this their peculiar merchandise, the capital of which consists in breaking promises and not keeping them when it answers so to act. At no time ought they to be trusted, but chiefly when the powers, from their private interests, weakness or necessity, allowed themselves to be thus cajoled with the certainty of being oppressed in the end as well as openly ridiculed by everybody.
He demonstrated the interests of Germany, for whose repute and that of his kinsfolk, for the Protestant faith and in virtue of the obligations incurred by the last agreements with the King of Denmark, not to negotiate any treaty without his knowledge, especially as it was not difficult to warn him, the ambassador undertaking to obtain the replies in a month or a little more all for the sake of gaining time. Lord Carleton added that so much consideration about Denmark was unnecessary, as for several months that king has been negotiating an adjustment without ever giving notice here so they might treat him similarly; but assistance would be continued for the interests of Germany and the Palatine. As the least difficult, a truce for five or six years might be granted, during which there would be better opportunity for negotiating advantageously for friendly powers and in order not to lose the chance of keeping Rubens' proposals alive, it would not be amiss to thank the Infanta and marquis for their good will, but as they were unable to promise for the principal, namely, the King of Spain, they might first of all procure a power from him, in virtue of which they would also declare themselves here.
The ambassador, clearly perceiving a violent inclination to rush into this business, but to keep up confidential relations, especially with Carleton, to learn the sequel through a sure channel said he would not write to his masters until after he heard the duke's decision; and the first conference ended with a promise from Carleton to acquaint him with it.
To me in confidence the ambassador added that he had seen the Secretary Conway, and in conversing about the affair found that he was utterly ignorant of it, so much so as to complain to him that Carleton took his office out of his hands, and he was hurt by the duke's mistrust. He added that he could not believe the thing, but if true it must be negotiated together with the confederates both for repute and advantage; if not, there was a Judas, meaning the duke, whose ruin first of all, and then that of the king, the kingdom and all Christendom would be the sequel to such a resolve. He promised to remonstrate to the king against it, as he was to leave for the Court a few hours after the interview, and did so.
To tell the truth Conway is so much in the duke's confidence that I can scarcely credit such freedom of speech, though the ambassador repeated it to me several times, even after I spoke of the secretary's dependence on the duke. But considering his mortification at not being summoned to the colloquy and his great aversion to the Spaniards, it is not impossible that something may have escaped him, especially as he loves to talk. The ambassador also told me confidentially that on the same night he sent an express desiring all the men-of-war on these coasts to convoy him to the Netherlands. He wrote but two letters, to the Prince of Orange and il Duc, (fn. 3) who now occupies Barnevelt's place, requesting both to be circumspect by reason of the dangerous effect such important news may produce among the Dutch, who are practically deserted by the French also, especially as they wish for peace, so that it may well occasion disturbance and confusion. He went on to tell me of the peril in which his masters would find themselves were the affair to proceed with the same ardour as at the outset, being assured that in order to thwart, if possible, the present collusion between the French and the Spaniards, the duke will throw himself headlong into their arms, to save himself by any means, however unseemly, from the ruin with which he is threatened by the king's present needs.
He went on to ask my help by suitable offices and suggestions, urging me to write to the Ambassador Soranzo, that he might allay the confusion that the publication of this affair would cause in France also, so as to convince the ministers there that they must act with reserve in dealing with the Spaniards, who make promises to all parties in order to ruin them all with a single blow; or else, should France choose to ally herself with them, she must do so speedily, to deprive the English of any hope from these artifices, which lull them to sleep, and because, if they lose that anchor, they may once for all take serious thought for the welfare of themselves and their friends.
I thanked the ambassador amply for the confidence, assuring him of your Excellencies' regard for the welfare of his masters, as equivalent to your own, especially owing to their services to the common cause. I urged him to act guardedly about attaching importance to this business, as I considered it had been broached to render the French suspicious and induce the Puritans to pay the subsidies, rather than for the results alleged. I spoke of the character of the promoter and the seconders, so bound up with the Spanish party that their mediation must necessarily be suspect. I assured him that your representatives at all foreign courts will uphold the common cause, which consists in the union of the two crowns, which alone can counterbalance the predominance Once the Spanish tricks are known, making similar overtures at both courts, it may open their eyes once for all and extract an antidote for the poison as very often happens in such cases. Above all I recommended him to represent the affair mildly in the Netherlands, with due consideration for popular feeling. Soranzo would gladly render him every assistance and it would be well to gain time in order to dissipate this cloud, that being most important for the public service; to do otherwise would betray great fear or scant judgment.
On the ambassador's departure I thought it advisable to see Carleton, not only to make suitable remarks, but to obtain some corroborative hint. I began by discussing current affairs, adding that I understood that Gerbier on his return from France passed through Brussels, it being reported at Court that he had negotiated there. I said this was the true game for the Spaniards, as the mere report, even if untrue, discouraged everybody. I touched on the interests of Germany and the emperor's aiming at complete dominion there in the next diet of Nuremberg, and he wants nothing better than to see the Protestants separated from England, so that not daring to oppose him they may all bend the neck to servitude. I referred generally to their obligations to Denmark, the States and other powers, the king's sister and nephews, who always suffered in negotiations, and such matters.
Carleton did not deny them in substance, but merely expatiated on the behaviour of France, which brings everything to ruin; and of the cardinal, who bound by his dignity more to the pope than to the king, is determined to exalt his memory by some remarkable act against those of the religion, having no posterity which compels men to have more regard for their natural sovereign. He did not deny that Gerbier had passed through Brussels and spoken to Rubens, but added that these lively bodies always manage to get themselves talked about, and they could not check irresponsible speculation. He did not explain the scheme clearly to me, but from what I know it was taking the same course but I could not press him further for fear of losing his confidence if he found that Joachim had told me all.
I believe the object of the business is to bring matters to a crisis. The king has no money and can procure none save, as of old, through Parliament. He desires its destruction, but cannot manage this at a time of need when the subject becomes more arrogant and the sovereign less arbitrary. The king will not hear of parliament, and the bare mention involves ruin on those who name it, in order to save the duke from destruction. He now avails himself of the king's ingenuousness and obstinacy, his two fixed stars, and commands despotically, his yes and no admitting of no rejoinder. He has estranged the country, ruined friendly powers by hopes without deeds and rendered his proceedings so questionable, that even the queen's sterility, his own unpopularity and the hatred borne him by the Countess Palatine cause his command of seaports and of all the most essential prerogatives of the realm to be regarded with suspicion (il duca impatronito hormai della simplicita et ostinatione del Re, che sono sole sue stelle fisse, comanda senza replica con libera prepotenza del si e del no, ha digustato il Regno, rovinati i prencipi amici con le speranze senza effetti e portale le speculationi delle sue procedure tant' oltre che anche nella sterilita della Regina, nell'odio del popolo et nel poco affeto della Palatina si commenta non senza sospetto il suo comando dei Porti del mare, et d'ogni prerogativa piu essentiale del regno).
The tricks played on him in Spain prompt him to go to war with the Spaniards; the repeated refusal of permission to go to France wounds his affections, as that kingdom still retains the hottest ashes of his amours; he is offended with the cardinal; he sees the king's necessities and the difficulty of relieving them; he promotes this adjustment to make the French jealous and advocates the project for a truce as of more easy arrangement, to anticipate their collusion with the Spaniards. It is not very clear what the result will be, nor do I as yet rely much on it for the reasons assigned and because the king knows nothing about the matter. The Spaniards are too wary to sacrifice without some great advantage so fine a position as that which leads both England and France to seek their friendship, who, instead of being their rivals, barter their dependence at the cost of the liberty of Europe and self-destruction.
The overtures of Rubens, which in my opinion proceed from this side, will be represented to the king, that they may weary him less as very friendly, and should Abbot Scaglia or the Duke of Savoy have a hand in the matter, each of them will take care of his own personal interests. Meanwhile although England talks of fitting out a large fleet, nothing is said about a Dutch contingent, which is not a good sign.
London, the 9th March, 1627.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
169. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
When I was despatching my foregoing letter, by way of France, to reach Venice quicker, the Dutch ambassador came back to say that the duke and Council had informed him through Carleton that they had decided not to take any further steps for the present, considering the matter important and requiring deliberation. To prevent any confusion or disturbance in the Netherlands they proposed if they listened to the proposals to send a special envoy to the Prince of Orange, requesting the ambassador in the meantime to keep the whole a profound secret, and not to write anything at all about it; all a mere pretext and invention for the purpose of withdrawing with honour on perceiving that they had gone too far in a matter of extreme importance which might throw all Christendom into confusion, being introduced by an insignificant person, seconded by powers too much interested in the business, and what is more, it being still unknown to the king. The ambassador commended the delay and the prudence displayed by the duke and Lords of the Council, and expressed the hope that the more deeply they pondered the matter the more averse would they be to carrying it into effect. He added that he had already written to his masters, owing to the haste indicated at the outset, and he could do no more than countermand, as he did that same night, sending his secretary to get back the letters if they had not crossed the Channel, or to have them followed by the second changed resolves. Joachim said something about his interview with the Secretary Conway which was not at all relished, Carleton fearing that he may already have impressed the king unfavourably, as Conway's politics are already known to him. This very morning Carleton returned to Joachim for the third time, telling him that the duke was displeased with him on two counts, first, because he had shown distrust by speaking to Conway, who knew nothing of the affair, instead of applying to him; secondly, because he had written in such haste to the Netherlands, at the risk of the Princes Palatine and others becoming acquainted with this move before the King of England himself. To prevent such an irregularity he had ordered all the ports of the kingdom to be closed, intending to go to to-morrow to the king to hear first of all his will. For this I understand that relays of coaches are already prepared, so that he may change and travel more expeditiously.
The ambassador, though aware of what is really the case, that everything done hitherto proceeds from the duke alone, and that the king, absurd as it is, knows nothing about it and he foresees the danger of some clash, expressed his resentment at this unusual violence in forbidding him to write to the ambassadors; but being apprehensive lest under pretext of closing the ports the duke might by some artifice detain and read his letters, he promised to have them brought back if not already out of England; and came to me immediately in a great rage, making remarks on the duke's ascendancy, on his inclination and power to make the king share it also and asking me to forward his despatches to his masters from fear lest the affair proceed without their knowledge and consequently without his remonstrances to thwart it, just as it has already been brought forward and negotiated, unknown to the king. I readily obliged him, foreseeing that the best way to embroil the business was to acquaint the friendly powers and let them consider it, so as to deter the king before the formation of any resolve, or at least to make the French jealous and suspend their proceedings by exposing the double dealing of the Spaniards.
However, I would not send one of my own attendants to the Netherlands, as he desired, my object being to act secretly and maintain a good understanding with both sides; but as I was about to send a despatch to the Ambassador Zorzi in France, my intention was confirmed, seeing that letters of this sort pass safely, while the ordinary might be detained should the ports remain closed. I have therefore sent a packet for the Prince of Orange with your Excellencies' letters, which will be consigned to the Dutch agent at Calais and he will send it express to Holland by a man of war, the ambassador having previously adopted similar means to avoid being anticipated. I also give the Ambassador Soranzo all possible light to enable him thoroughly to understand and prevent the ruin which might result from this minister's displeasure, fomented by the Palatine's agent, who recently went back ill satisfied because of the feebleness of the present negotiations, guided as they are by personal interest. It is true, however, that the Prince of Orange alone will receive the intelligence and communicate it as he thinks best. From what I gather he is urged to have a letter of credence sent to the king, under pretence of his having heard of the treaty through Brabant and desiring the ambassador to make his own remonstrances. I have told Zorzi of everything, requesting him to forward my despatch to Venice immediately in order that your Excellencies' commands may not have to await the Italian ordinary for six weeks, as usual, and that I may know how to regulate myself in a matter which although newly born and still weak, may in my opinion, on gaining strength, rise to be the most important in all Christendom.
London, the 9th March, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
170. To the Ambassador in England.
Our zeal for the reconciliation of the two crowns could not possibly be greater. We have directed our Ambassador Zorzi in France to lose no opportunity with the ministers, and the only thing requisite is that they should meet his offices and hints half way, in which case we shall certainly do all that the occasion requires. If you are provoked, you will testify to our good will. For the rest, we recognise how costly it is to live at that Court at the present time, and we will provide for your relief, while we are fully satisfied with your constant and copious advices.
Ayes, 97.Noes, 1.Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
March 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
171. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
During the last three days, since my express to France, I have been in quest of corroborations, which so far all point in the same direction as the first events I reported. The duke left the day before yesterday, travelling post, so as to reach the king at Newmarket that same evening. Carlisle, Carleton, and some other members of the Council accompanied him, who cancelled the communication made to the Dutch ambassador, as reported. The duke has used extraordinary diligence to avoid being anticipated in an affair of such great importance, carried so far without the knowledge of the king, who has always been averse to negotiations with the Spaniards. The authority and interest of this favourite might even turn his Majesty's will and with it the wheel of the ruin of the state. In consequence of this business, Calvert, sometime secretary of state, has returned from Ireland. He managed the entire business of the Spanish marriage, and being an acute man who foresaw the duke's vexations on his return from Spain, he resigned of his own accord, withdrew from the Court, declared himself a Catholic and was provided by the king with some Irish place. He also went to Newmarket yesterday, it being reported that should this new scheme obtain the king's assent, he will be employed in it, because they consider him a staunch Spaniard. I also hear that the most secret negotiations of this sorcery pass through the hands of the duke's mother, who acts by the advice of the Jesuits, of whom she generally has some in her house; if they direct the counsels of the greatest sovereigns how much more easily may they sway the passions of a woman bent on gratifying her personal ambition and supporting her son and family.
I also hear that certain young gentlemen, wishing to obtain commissions in the Scottish regiments now being raised for Denmark, the duke dissuaded some of his chief confidants from this, telling them that the whole might dissolve into mere probability; in short if the Spaniards know, as they certainly will, how to take advantage of their opportunities, they have never had better openings than now.
In these great straits, as there is no time to wait for instructions, I shall try to find some confidential person to follow and watch the Court, from which they are certain to send some important missions out of sight of the foreign ministers. It is already reported that the duke's creature, Montagu, is to go to Piedmont, or to France according to others. I feel sure that your Excellencies will not allow me to be crushed by the very heavy expenditure which I am obliged to incur for your service under these circumstances.
They are vigorously hastening the equipment of the ships the more difficulties increase, whilst from lack of pay the sailors refuse to serve, and run away. Many have already been detained in France with the wine ships, and others, in great numbers embarked on board the East India fleet.
The Dunkirkers perceiving that the king here has not a single armed ship at sea, a truly absurd situation at a time of open war, take advantage of the opportunity, having plundered a number of vessels, especially one loaded with wine, which was already up the Thames; and attacked a small village off the Downs, burning two vessels and carrying off some male prisoners.
An order has been issued for the sale of the property belonging to French subjects, at any price, notwithstanding the difficulties raised by the merchants, as reported; and the king has allowed the Scots to seize two vessels laden with the goods of Frenchmen; all signs that the distrust and disagreements increase. It is true that the Abbot Scaglia has made some proposal for a conference at Amiens, or some neighbouring city, between the two favourites, Richelieu and Buckingham, in order to settle all disputes through their full power; but I do not hear of any intention on Buckingham's part to cross the Channel, and probably there are inventions and pretexts to keep the French ministry in suspense and so prevent their closer alliance with Spain, that the English may have time to advance their new schemes, it being well known that Scaglia and perhaps the Duke of Savoy himself will do anything for revenge on France for their pretended grievances. The French secretary, Moulins, tells me that by the last letters from France he has not received any orders on current affairs, but merely to watch the movements of M. de Soubise, who has had it proclaimed in France that the Scottish regiments for Denmark will be placed under his command for the support of the Huguenots. Of this I have as yet no confirmation and believe it to be an invention of this individual to create jealousy and keep himself in repute, though for the rest he is dissatisfied because the pension assigned to him by the king here is unpaid, as is the case with all the others. However, he remains here and I know no more about him.
This plan of writing to Moulins indicates some idea for an adjustment on the part of the French also, and is a convincing proof that all worship this all-powerful deity, in order eventually to be destroyed and fulminated, incurring most grievous ruin.
Many persons tell me that your Excellencies ought to prevent this flood tide by mediating between the two crowns, as a sovereign equally allied with both of them and less prejudiced than all the rest. But as this does not reach me from persons dependant on the favourite, I consider it merely the effect of amiable zeal. At any rate I hope to receive your instructions that I may know how to regulate myself. Several weeks have elapsed since I wrote the news. This is the second ordinary which brings me no news from Italy; the delay occurring precisely when least wanted, as is usually the case with mischances.
London, the 12th March, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
172. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Bottaro, secretary of the French ambassador at the Hague, who arrived recently with the refusal of the States to accept the new proposals about a league, is returning with other commissions. I understand that the French have added a clause to the article providing that they shall have the same friends and enemies as this crown, aimed at La Rochelle and the English, "if that shall be their greater interest." The Ambassador Langarach has written home expressing the desire they have here for Holland to act as mediator for a reconciliation between this crown and England, and his fear lest the States, in agreement with the English, may not prevent the junction of the French and Dutch forces.
Orders have reached the Danish Ambassador Rosegran to go back to England. The sole reason for this is to pay 6,000 Scots, for whose enlistment the money is ready at London, where their officers await them. He leaves without having arranged anything by his long negotiations. Cardinal Richelieu foresaw the return of this influential minister to England, and proposed to employ him as a means towards a reconciliation. He sent for him again and persuaded him to take up this matter, promising him, in case of success, not only the 500,000 livres in six months, but all that France can effect, as once relieved from the damage wrought by England, France will be free to help his king and the common cause.
Paris, the 12th March, 1627.
[Italian.]
March 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
173. That the secretary of the ambassador of Great Britain be summoned to the Collegio, and that the following be read to him:
With regard to the burial of the Count of Mansfelt, the republic has decided that the body shall rest at Spalato until something worthy of his merits can be arranged. We also wish to show our good will to his captains, but despite our good will for the interests of the King of Bohemia and our desire to satisfy the ambassador, we must allow free course to justice with regard to the claims made upon the estate. We feel sure that his Majesty and the ambassador will see the reasonableness of this.
Ayes, 119.Noes, 0.Neutral, 6.
[Italian.]
March 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Costantinopoli.
Venetian
Archives.
174. ZORZI GIUSTINIAN, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I had a long conversation with the Captain Pasha about the pirates. He recognised the necessity of punishing them, but it would be better to stop the outrages.
I spoke to him afterwards for the release of the man from Zante taken by Pervis at Tenedos. He said an Aga had taken him not Pervis; he was on a ship considered to be a pirate, on which they had taken some Englishmen also. He had directed Pervis to bring them all here. If they were found blameless, he would set them free.
The Vigne of Pera, the 13th March, 1627.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Signori
Stati.
Venetian
Archives.
175. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Some time ago Mons. Catz was chosen to go as commissioner to England to ask for the restitution of forty ships, which have been detained under various pretexts. He left only four days ago. They hope but little from his mission, as the ordinary ambassador, Joachim, though very active, has had no success, as before hearing the case of the parties they have decided to unlade them. It will now be a law of necessity to make up their minds to accept the ships and bring them back to these ports, reserving their claims, with little hope of any further satisfaction.
News has also arrived from England of their decision to help La Rochelle, in case of need. This would make the breach irreparable, and the worst is feared, especially with the private animosity between Richelieu and Buckingham. The States have therefore directed their ambassadors to procure the interposition of some prince friendly to both kings, to prevent the threatened understanding of France with the Spaniards, which disturbs them greatly. They also fear that Denmark will come to terms.
It is not thought that the [Spanish] fleet can do anything of moment for the present. They expect its efforts will be directed against England, in conjunction with the French, especially against Ireland, where a sudden rising might most easily take place at the mere sight of the Spanish fleet.
Rusdorf is expected, but the Palatine is not sorry for the delay. I have spoken in his favour, knowing the need for him to have a good minister with his brother-in-law. But the one who has obliged him to remove Rusdorf, will possibly force him not to make any other provision. However, the queen's secretary has left and some think he will exercise the office, though he goes for the needs of her household.
The Hague, the 15th March, 1627.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]

Footnotes

1 Sir Francis Nethersole.
2 The Chief Justice, Sir Randel Crew, had been dismissed on the 20th November. Sir Nicholas Hyde, who succeeded him, was sworn on the 19th February. Birch: Court and Times of Charles I, vol. i, pages 168, 191.
3 Anthony Duyck, councillor and pensioner of Holland and West Friesland.