Venice
January 1628, 21-31

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1914

Pages

565-578

Annotate

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

Citation Show another format:

'Venice: January 1628, 21-31', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 20: 1626-1628 (1914), pp. 565-578. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89144 Date accessed: 30 October 2014.


Highlight

(Min 3 characters)

December 1627

Jan. 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
712. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The mole is utterly destroyed. The sea overcome the land. The king is tired of the siege and has gone to Marrans. They are making overtures for peace here, and that would present no difficulties either with the English or the Huguenots. That is the sole hope that supports these wretched people, which despairs of any good if these internal troubles continue.
The six or eight royal ships blockading the port suffered so severely that they will all need repair. One of them was caught by the wind and unable to gain the open sea. They cut away all the masts and it was carried into La Rochelle. At the same time three ships entered the port with grain, which is expected to tide them over until the greater succours arrive from England.
The fortune of the sea, which carried away the mole at La Rochelle, has also, we understand, wrecked a number of English ships in various parts. One was wrecked at Calais and two others on the coast of Britanny.
Paris, the 21st January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Costantinopoli.
Venetian
Archives.
713. SEBASTIANO VENIER, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Gabor's ambassador encouraged the hopes of the English ambassador here that before he left he would call upon him and tell him his commissions; but he left without doing so, muttering, in order that it should come to England's ears, that his prince's states join those of the emperor and he cannot alienate Caesar's friendship, especially as England and Flanders are so far off that he hardly knows where they are. This ambassador left last week. On the following Sunday in the church of Our Lady at Constantinople, I saw a companion of his, which astonished me greatly. On Tuesday morning the English ambassador came here early and told me that a man of this ambassador had remained behind on the pretext of private affairs, to make known various opinions of that prince against the wish and advantage of his subjects, who are tired of war with the emperor and want peace. He added that the prince has either come to terms or is about to, on the plea of being attacked by the emperor, in order to join him later and move against the Turks. For that purpose he had already sent a person to the emperor's Court, and had sent to fetch his nephew, a youth of twenty, from Flanders, to go to Spain and Italy on the pretence of seeing the world, for great negotiations. Two leading Turks knew about this. He told me that he was going to the Caimecan then. He did not see how to prevent it except by making him mistrust the Spaniards, by divulging these particulars, as the Turks are really very ill pleased with that prince.
I thanked England, and he neglects no opportunity of showing me courtesy and confidence. On returning from his audience he sent his secretary to tell me that the Caimecan had heard him gladly. He said he had heard it all but did not know what remedy to apply, asking for advice. England advised dissimulation and the sending of a leading Turk to see how things were going. He should also try to create distrust of Gabor among the princes with whom he treated and to maintain good relations with the most serene republic which could help a great deal. The Pasha approved and promised to send a person to Transylvania.
The Vigne of Pera, the 22nd January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Costantinopoli.
Venetian
Archives.
714. SEBASTIANO VENIER, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the DOGE and SENATE.
On Sunday morning Metaxa's house was set upon by the Caimecan's orders, his presses, books and other things seized and his servants arrested. Rumour said he had coined false money, forged the royal seal, slandered the Prophet, and that he was no Greek but an Albanian or Englishman, with things equally absurd. The English ambassador at his audience pointed out to the Caimecan how badly he had acted, as he himself had given the Patriarch license to print. He supposed it was owing to slanders brought by the French. (fn. 1) The pasha admitted this and said he would see the books. I have remonstrated, claiming Metaxa as a subject of your Serenity.
The Vigne of Pera, the 22nd January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
715. ALVISE MOCENIGO, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I saw the French ambassador this morning. He lamented what he called the impertinences of the English, and asked me if your Serenity would try and bring about a reconciliation between the two crowns. I told him of your anxiety for this, but you had not selected ambassadors, possibly because you had not been invited. He made a long speech on the subject and said your Serenity's offices would be highly appreciated.
Madrid, the 22nd January, 1628.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Savoia.
Venetian
Archives.
716. MARC ANTONIO PADAVIN, Venetian Secretary in Savoy, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Marini has letters of the 7th inst. from M. di Bousi at Brussels. He says a gentleman has come to ask a passport for Carlisle, who is expected in that city at the beginning of next month. He had seen in private letters that Scaglia was performing very bad offices against France in England. Marini told the prince that it would be necessary to know the views of the Most Christian about the peace so as to send at once to England, that Carlisle may come with his king's decisions. If he is leaving so soon as Bousi writes, there will not be time and Marini thinks it would be no good, as the French mistrust the princes here and Carlisle also.
The duke has heard that the English and Dutch have taken to privateering at sea and plunder everything; that fourteen Spanish ships which were going to Hamburg have been captured by them.
Turin, the 23rd January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Savoia.
Venetian
Archives.
717. MARC ANTONIO PADAVIN, Venetian Secretary in Savoy, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Twelve English ships have arrived at the port of Villefranche on the way back from the Levant. They will replenish their stores of food, but I fancy they will discharge but few goods. Pedagnino, general of the finances, who manages the business of the port, has gone post to Nice with Baronis, Caselli and other merchants, taking the orders of the port and its privileges and to try and induce them to buy goods.
They are expecting the English fleet for Constantinople, which will consist of thirty-four or forty ships. It is said they will replenish in the said port and will leave some goods, making arrangements to take others on their return. I have heard that some one at Constantinople maintains that your Serenity will do everything in your power to prevent the development of this new trade, but that is not the opinion of the duke or of the Count of Verua.
The French ambassador has remarked that so many ships in that port will make the Genoese uneasy, but one understands that he is uneasy for France. They say that the twelve ships last arrived will wait for the fleet for Constantinople, in order to get information, as they know the passage is very insecure.
Turin, the 23rd January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Signori
Stati.
Venetian
Archives.
718. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The French ambassador has been again to the assembly and made some protest. They hold fast to their decision that the ambassadors shall go. Seeing the French ambassador so active, Carleton has not been able to forbear taking a part in the scene. He therefore appeared recently in the assembly and remarked that he had heard of some office performed by the French ambassador upon the relations between the States and his king. He tried hard to get them to declare themselves, saying that in any case the mistrust of France towards them seemed to be united with a lack of respect, and they could not be any worse off. He neglected no device to stir them up against the French and make them decide to adhere to his side, enlarging upon the affection and esteem of his master for them. In evidence of this he has assured them that wherever the ambassadors go they will have the best reception. He remarked to me lately: Your Excellency thinks I have not done well to have a tilt myself. I do not know which of us two will have proved his valour (imbrovato). I replied, Neither, but the Spaniards would certainly carry off the prize. He agreed that might be, I told him that he was largely in the right, but he must pardon my speaking freely; he would find that in the long run only the enemies of the public liberty had won. I referred to the new Mantuan troubles, which exercise them greatly here, though far off, as the French are unlikely to help Nevers. The French ambassador himself told me this. He persists in saying that the ambassadors will certainly not be welcome and they will see La Rochelle taken before their eyes. It is reported here that the work on the mole there is far advanced. This time the king means to take the place. Provisions are to be sent from England for the 15th of next month, but this will be of no use if it is true that the work is already so far advanced that they have planted a battery with which they are beginning to make the entry of ships difficult though not to prevent it altogether. This progress has been made in a week because last week the Prince of Orange told me that ships passed in and out freely. They say the work costs several millions of florins.
The Prince of Orange showed me letters from Langarach that after they had thrice examined Montagu about his proceedings and he always refused to answer their questions, they began to open his letters and examine his papers. It is announced that in these they found negotiations for a league between England, your Serenity, the Dukes of Savoy and Lorraine and the Countess and Count of Soissons against France. I told the prince that this was one of the usual chimaeras, and it is probably a pretext to justify their union with Spain. The prince listened attentively to see if I spoke frankly. He said he believed it was all an invention.
The Margrave of Baden has arrived here. The French ambassador has decided not to call or send to pay his respects, but the English ambassador has visited him.
The Hague, the 24th January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian Archives.
719. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I forward the enclosed from the Ambassador Contarini. I try to second his able offices in the service of the cause. I regret that I do not know whether I fear or despair of a good issue here, as I only negotiate with the queen mother, and when I pay my respects to her it seems easy to convince her of the right, while on the other hand Cardinal Berulle impresses on her his most harmful principles with equal facility. There is another difficulty, insuperable for the moment, namely, that while England aims by the negotiations to relieve the Huguenots or La Rochelle, and they can hardly do less, France on the other hand is determined that the world shall fall sooner than they yield on this point about others meddling in their house.
It is not my business to say which is right. Reason has no place where facts are opposed and men are determined to have their own way. The idea that a foreigner may stir up their own subjects incenses the king and the ministers to such an extent that it is vain for any one to broach the subject. If La Rochelle continues to defend itself, so that their fervour and hopes die away, if the king grows tired and the ministers disgusted, if the sick and dead increase and the scarcity of money makes itself felt, which is inevitable owing to the bad management of the government, there is no doubt that, with a general change in the aspect of affairs, they would listen to reason and moderation.
All these difficulties will not hinder me from carrying out the state's commands of the 1st inst.
Paris, the 25th January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
720. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Danish ambassadors who arrived at St. Denis from England at the end of last week, entered this city to-day. The queen mother, who assured them of a welcome before they crossed the sea, has accorded them their first audience. On the other hand some assure me that this is only in order to lull the English to sleep and delay the arming of the new fleet, thus retarding the succours that La Rochelle may speedily require. For the capture of that place they require time here for the completion of the mole, cutting it off from the sea and compelling it to surrender by famine. This is the opinion of many good Frenchmen, in spite of all the fair words and promises of the queen mother.
M. de Meos, or la Rame, as they call him, has returned to Paris at the same time. He arrived on Wednesday evening. So far we do not know what he imparted in secret. It is freely stated that he found a favourable disposition on that side also. The king and people were not ill disposed, and the differences arose more from pique and private punctilio rather than interests of state. The queen regrets this war between her husband and brother. From its outset she denounces the complaints as false, accuses the one who disseminated them, Tillières, and those who have always fomented them, Berulle, Marigliach, as most false, as on the contrary she enjoys complete liberty and satisfaction in her civil and moral life as well as in matters of faith and worship.
In spite of the courier sent to the Hague to stop the Dutch ambassadors the queen mother gave audience to Langarach yesterday and gave him the placet for them to come and that they should be well received, sending word of her decision to the Court forthwith, as settled by her and irrevocable. Some, however, think this is done by arrangement, devised by the cardinal for the sake of saving his face, making it appear as the queen's act.
Paris, the 25th January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Savoia.
Venetian
Archives.
721. MARC ANTONIO PADAVIN, Venetian Secretary in Savoy, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The secretary whom the Ambassador Wake keeps at this Court, (fn. 2) came to-day to tell me that he heard on excellent authority that a league had been arranged in Spain between that crown, the emperor, France and possibly Poland against England, Denmark Sweden, Norway, Venice and the Swiss, which will soon be signed in France. It will then be published, declaring all the above named powers Hostes Imperii. They had arranged the division of the states, but he did not know it. They had decided where they would employ Tilly, Wallenstein, slich and the other commanders in Germany. Leopold was entrusted with the enterprise against the Venetians and Swiss.
Turin, the 29th January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Jan. 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
722. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The seizure of my packets at Dover was only too true. The one had been sent from France, the other was consigned to the Danish ambassadors, with the usual passport of the Council. They are not free from blame, as they ought to have returned it to me; but the duplicate crossed a few days later, through the good management of the Secretary Agostini, who was on the spot. On receiving the news I first of all sounded some of the confidants, to learn the reasons for this step, and why the jus gentium and the rights of ministers had been so openly violated. I was assured in confidence that neither the king nor Council knew anything about it, and they disapproved; but it is grist from the duke, owing to his suspicion, after the many reverses witnessed daily.
On hearing these particulars I addressed myself to him, because as Warden of the Cinque Ports he commands at Dover. I related what had taken place, complained and requested him not only to return the packets, but to punish the culprits, although I well knew that the Lieutenant of Dover was one of his most slavish dependants.
He answered me that he knew nothing about it, but he would write and I should be satisfied. As I was warned by Agostini on his return from Dover that it was said there that the arrest took place by the duke's order, and a confidant from another quarter had told me that the packets had been sent to London, and the letters opened even those of your Serenity, and that the decipherers were cudgelling their brains to make them out, as well as those of Zorzi from Paris, I returned to the duke, repeating my complaints even more forcibly, adding that I knew for certain that the packets were in his hand, so that he might restore them to me. He reflected and replied that it was true, and they had taken this liberty from suspicion that the French might write and receive letters with advices under the name of the republic's ministers.
I answered that my packets certainly contained no such letters, which is the fact, as they are always sealed in my presence, and I supposed it was the same with those from France. To prove this in a way becoming the confidential relations between our masters I would willingly cut their laces in his presence, and if there were any such letters I would hand them over to his Majesty, since neither I nor Zorzi wished to countenance rogues. It was no business of ours to interfere in such matters. I made this offer, not as affecting my freedom, but because I knew their curiosity. He answered that this was unnecessary, and I might rest assured that the Secretary Coke would bring them to me that same evening. Perceiving the pretext to gain time I took occasion to protest at such acts of violence being used against friendly and confidential powers. There were other designs against other people's letters, which might have been read in two hours, more or less, giving me back those of your Serenity and Zorzi. I was confirmed in this belief as when enquiry was made in my name of Secretary Coke about these packets, he vowed, as was the fact, that he knew nothing about them. Perceiving that the object of their action was solely to unravel the cipher, an attempt never, until now, I believe, made so openly, even by a declared enemy, I thought it well to confer with the two brothers, the Earl of Pembroke and the Lord Chamberlain, who are certainly much attached to your Excellencies, and among the chief personages of the Court and the king's Cabinet. I acquainted them with the business, expressing the resentment it deserves, and remarking that it was worse than any other outrage whatever, even than an attempt on an ambassador's life. They were astounded and amazed and said that such a thing had never before been done in England, that Buckingham meant to quarrel with everybody, thus helping none but the Spaniards, and so forth. Accordingly I decided to ask for audience of his Majesty, which was fixed for the next day. The two brothers also told me that the king was determined to give satisfaction, and if I required the punishment of those who seized the packets at Dover, I should obtain it. The next day they sent me word that the audience was deferred for a day, at the duke's request, who sent me word that he would send me the letters before it. He did this in part, sending my letters addressed to Venice dated the 28th December and 2nd January, as they were almost all in cipher, that being my custom, as I know it is unintelligible. I have followed all the phases of this business closely, and shall continue to do so. The letters from Zorzi still remain in the duke's hands. I was in great doubt about receiving them seeing that they had been opened and patched, but on account of the cipher I retained them. It was evident that the interval of one day before giving me audience was in order to inform the king, who previously knew nothing of the matter, and arranging with him about the reply he should give, as happened.
I went to audience at the appointed hour. I complained of the seizure of the letters guaranteed by a passport from the Council, by his royal word and the prerogatives of ambassadors. I observed that all sovereigns respect them and so all are offended, and will not trust this Court any longer, or English ministers anywhere. I pointed out the importance of this, especially to our republic, whole principal supports are the secrecy and punctuality of advices, which this proceeding violates, as well as constituting an example, should it be tolerated. If his Majesty distrusted your Excellencies, I besought him to speak out, and I would undeceive him. If he distrusted your ministers and their necessary correspondence he might apply to Venice, as they were not answerable elsewhere. I ended by requesting the full restitution of the letters and open satisfaction by the punishment of the culprits as the matter deserved after so notorious an affront to all the foreign envoys at this Court, which offended his Majesty himself, as it was an offence against his friends and the law of nations. I added that from individual passion many rejoiced to witness this rupture of the confidential relations between his Majesty and the republic.
The king replied that for some months he had been informed by advices from France that the French Court is punctually acquainted with the closest secrets of his Council and its designs, and they did not know from what quarter this intelligence proceeded. It was suspected that these Frenchmen or others availed themselves of my name or the convenience of my boat, which crosses once a fortnight between the two kingdoms, for conveying the advices, especially as certain intercepted letters from France state that replies are expected in this way, so that in such suspicious times he thought he might act thus confidentially, and ascertain the fact by seizing my packets. He added other complimentary phrases which are irrelevant.
In sympathy with this tone I replied with moderation: Sire, if your Majesty's counsels transpire in France I am sorry for it, but on mere suspicion to affront a friendly power under the guise of confidence, is something new to me. If rascals choose to make use of my name, I wish them to be punished, but the confidence which your Majesty is pleased to show would be much more evident if you informed me before you took action. No other letters besides those of the republic and its ministers are ever enclosed in my packets, the sealing of which always takes place under my own eyes. I suppose the same thing is done with those from France, but as they pass through the hands of merchants and others, who are not the republic's ministers, I have offered if there is any suspicion, to open them in the duke's presence, as we do not wish to favour such iniquities, which are at variance with the sincerity of the republic's proceedings. But even if your Majesty meant to take this precaution, why not cause the letters of the republic and of his Excellency Zorzi and all the others which are not on affairs of state to be returned. Why keep them so many days and then restore part of them, openly endeavouring to unravel the cipher. This has nothing to do with suspicion of others, but is mere curiosity. I assure your Majesty that my letters contain nothing but considerations and offices for the advantage of this kingdom, always united by political ties and affection to the republic, as your Excellencies will have seen by the despatches of the 23rd December and the 2nd January which are those intercepted.
The king reflected on these points, which he left unanswered, and replied that he was sorry, but they had not acted with malicious intent, but some over zealous servant had exceeded his duty. On this point and about the restitution of the letters I kept this pledge in hand, and said I expected it to be sufficiently ample to satisfy your Excellencies and such as the nature of the offence deserved, it being now notorious to everybody. As regards the seizure by his order, I would report it, as on my own authority I could not admit it. Although I intended to ask for the punishment of the people at Dover, I omitted to do so, seeing that the king declared they had executed his orders. It is evident in this affair as in many others that he has taken upon himself the offence committed by the duke. For the rest I shall not accept satisfaction except provisionally, leaving the rest to your Excellencies, and I have thought it best for many important reasons to leave you free to form such decisions as you think best.
Already with regard to the seizure the king says that he meant to convince himself about his suspicions, and as regards opening the letters, of which the king disapproves the culprit is the duke, who committed this enormity without thinking, for he communicated it to no one, and in my opinion is incapable of correction. So your Excellencies must devise such remedies as you can supply yourselves, without expecting them from this side, as otherwise your service is at an end, the dignity of the state destroyed, the example formidable, epistolary freedom shattered, and consequently the foundations of the republic's decisions annihilated.
I had determined to absent myself from the Court, as it seemed that no other occasion could deserve more bitter resentment than this, which saps the foundations of liberty, and I had already found a house at Greenwich. But subsequently, reflecting on my audiences and the important ramifications of the affair, I abstained from doing so before receiving your commands, as his Majesty's declaration may render summary satisfaction difficult, and to return to Court without it would be a double injury, especially as the Lord Chamber lain has given me to understand that his Majesty wishes to satisfy me. For the rest, throughout the changes of this scene and the appearances of these personages on the stage, I have always regulated my discourse so as never to mention the duke, well knowing it to be a violent caprice, gratified at a venture, as otherwise he might have done like other princes, who, when they wish to know anything, intercept letters in such a way that the ministers cannot complain, and thereby they avoid disputes. I believe the cause of this act is a blind curiosity to know what I wrote to your Serenity and to France, and what Zorzi wrote to me with regard to the inclination towards peace, in consequence of what I said and endeavoured to elicit at the time of my audience. But after all he neither found nor understood anything, and damaged the interests of his country very considerably, while offending your Serenity by subjecting your ministers to risk. So I leave it to the public wisdom to decide to what extent their prerogatives should be maintained, especially in these parts. It is true that this body politic is weak as shown by the effects of its constant paroxysms, so that they deserve pity rather than reproof and I would willingly have followed this maxim, but the public affront offered in the presence of the ministers of other powers, manifest to everybody, and affecting the essence and dignity of your service, by reason of the precedent established, where more important interests are concerned, compelled me to lay aside every other consideration, and undertake to maintain the point with heart and soul. This was my object in the offices I performed, and I do the same in conversation, although I do not mean to appear at Court until I obtain reparation of some sort, to be given as an earnest like the restoration of a part of the letters. In the meantime I await your commands, with the anxiety which has constantly harassed me of late, both by day and night, the affair being so important, knotty and unusual, by reason of the persons concerned in it.
In conclusion I might say something in my own justification, but if they mean to excuse the outrage on the plea of their suspicions, and I do not think they can do otherwise, I may remark that if it were so your Serenity's letters would not have been ransacked to learn their contents, still less those of Zorzi from France, and this all proves their inquisitiveness. If the statecraft of England is divulged, they ought to keep it secret. If I discover it, I do my duty, and if it gets published elsewhere I am sorry for it, though I do not cool in the least in your service, and there is the question of my own credit. I trust to God that it will not be injured by others, and if in this affair I have not properly interpreted the republic's wishes, I implore kind consideration and warning, as in such frightful storms even the best pilots sometimes find themselves at a loss.
London, the 30th January, 1628.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
723. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Nothing is thought of but the raising of money. The Council meets every day, and the king there made one of the secretaries of state give an account of the affairs of Europe. I understand that he laid much stress upon the ruin of Germany and the peril of the United Provinces. This they did in order to press the necessity for reinforcements and facilitate the means of affecting them. Both these points raise difficulties. There were also many schemes on foot for raising money. For the preparations they talk of compelling every parish in the kingdom to keep three men in readiness at their own cost, which will not amount to a considerable number. They also talk of raising a few cavalry for such need as may occur, and there is talk of a large fleet, which is more needed than anything else, though I do not know what to promise unless funds are found. The ships which were employed for the last expedition need considerable repairs, a large supply of victuals, much tackle and a quantity of sailors. The reports which arrive from every quarter about the naval preparations of the Spaniards, deserve attention, as since Spinola's departure for Spain good treatment and pay are given all along the coast of Flanders, to mariners of any nation whatever, and at Lubeck they reckon that more than four hundred builders of ships and galleys from Provence and Italy have passed through that place.
The ambassadors from Holland are expected daily, although we hear from elsewhere that those for France have stopped short; so possibly these also delay their journey for the same cause. It is said that they are accompanied by a minister from Denmark, who clearly foresees the impending ruin and is wise not to fail in doing what is due to himself. But matters are at so bad a pass that they are irremediable so far as the human intellect can judge. I wrote that in Holland it was deemed undesirable for the peace that the interview proposed by the Dutch minister here should take place, to avoid causing suspicion to the French. He spoke to the duke, intending to depart, but subsequently gave up the journey, owing to these orders. Thus do opportunities slip. The assent indicates a bias towards peace, but no one urges it as would be necessary, and the proposals are mostly such as I mentioned in my despatch of the 2nd inst. Some say that this business might be adjusted by leaving out La Rochelle, as England formerly did with Spain over the West Indies, where hostilities were allowed; but I do not think this would suit two kingdoms so close together, whose material antipathies are so strong, and therefore such patchwork would be more injurious than the rupture itself. As for the common cause, they say that the Most Christian is more than ever bent on taking La Rochelle and the Spanish party in England maintains that he cannot in honour retreat. In short, they would keep this flame alight, as they have always tried to do. But the answer to this is that if the English for the sake of the common weal forget the blow they have received, with so much the better grace might France defer to another season her attack on La Rochelle, which does not take flight.
From the case of the two English ships which went to Dunkirk some time ago with merchandise, the Infanta lays claim to their returning empty, and that her subjects are to send vessels. It becomes more and more clear that there is connivance for trade, as I have written. The Dutch ambassador opposes this and hopes the goods will be confiscated. But I do not know what he will ultimately obtain.
Mons. de Meaux, who brought the English prisoners hither, has at last recrossed the Channel. The French are leaving to-morrow in the same way, much offended at the long delay. For reasons I have reported they will no longer be in charge of Dulbier, but of Achis, who was the king's agent at Paris at the beginning of these misunderstandings. They are dissatisfied with him because he is of inferior rank to Meaux, so they think they are held in small account. The victuals for La Rochelle are still here and there is now a talk of sending with them 600 infantry, namely 300 French already sent by the Rochellese to the islands, and as many more English. Everyday's delay compels them to augment their preparations, which proceed slowly because of the opposition they might meet with.
Veis, the ambassador appointed to succeed Sir Thomas Roe, has left for Constantinople. For his part and politics, I refer to what I wrote last year.
London, the 30th January, 1628.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Jan. 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
724. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
After I had sealed the foregoing letters, Coke, the Secretary of State, came to me see in his Majesty's name. He told me that the king was very sorry for what had happened about my packets; the seizure took place by his order in consequence of what he heard from France, but after due reflection it was possible that the French themselves had promoted these suspicions on purpose to destroy his confidence in the republic. He had already ordered the full restitution of my letters. The opening of them took place contrary to his wish and knowledge. After a rigorous investigation he found that the secretary of the Lieutenant of Dover was guilty of having opened them and therefore he had written to have him brought prisoner here, so that he may undergo exemplary punishment. He added that as the matter occurred by accident and not from ill will it would be best for me not to write about it lest it alter the mutual good understanding, as otherwise they would be compelled to write to their ambassador at Venice charging him to complain that the republic's ministers wrote for the advantage of the enemies of the crown.
I promise your Serenity that this protest of intimidation irritated me as well it might; but putting it on the crupper with the other extravagances I answered without passion. I said that your Serenity would never believe that it was his Majesty's intention to violate the confidence, love and union which reasons of state policy ought rather to augment, as they always had been hitherto. I had already told his Majesty that I must report the seizure by his order, since personally I could never consent to such a breach of privilege. I should await the restoration of the other letters. I would accept any demonstration against the person charged with having broken the seals of the republic's packets, as an earnest of such further satisfaction as your Excellencies might desire for so barefaced and offensive an insult offered to all sovereigns in general. I added, it was not in my power not to inform your Serenity, as all other foreign ministers, the merchants and everybody had already sent the news abroad, imparting it to your Excellencies among the rest, and I should deserve punishment if I suppressed it. I assured him that I represented the matter as mildly as his Majesty himself seemed to wish, as I wanted to augment good relations and not to destroy them, provided I had opportunity by acts indicating esteem and good will and not contempt and injury.
Scarcely had Coke departed when a post from Dover reached me with advice that other letters addressed to me from France had been sent to the duke. I immediately sent the Secretary Agostini to him and his Excellency returned them to me intact, and sent one of the secretaries to hear whether they were letters addressed to Frenchmen. I cut the packets in his presence. They were all letters from Italy, despatched on the 31st December, collected by the postmaster at Antwerp, who informs me that the courier had been plundered; so there was no occasion to investigate further. I notice that route generates confusion and suspicion, so I reserve it for extreme cases and ask your Excellencies to be content with receiving notices when the wind is fair. These particulars confirm that the king knew nothing, that he is displeased about it, and chose to take it on himself to save the duke. If, besides the imprisonment of this unfortunate innocent, but pronounced guilty because his Majesty deems him so, some apparent punishment should ensue, it will serve to make reparation for the reports in general circulation, although all, both great and small, disapprove of the outrage, and exclaim against it, even the favourite's own dependants. They declare that if parliament were sitting this would be a great grievance. Meanwhile, I await your Excellencies' commands, as I have sent full details, leaving the rest to your infallible prudence.
I will endeavour to obtain the orders forbidding English vessels from acting hostilely to those of your Serenity's subjects. I will announce the result at the first opportunity, as ordered on the 28th December, knowing that you will have understood how all the other nations are treated in these parts, the reason being that as they give letters of marque to privateers, allowing them to cruise, the owners fitting them out at their own cost, they choose to remunerate them, let the cost fall on whom it may.
London, the 30th January, 1628.
Postscript.—At this moment the packets from France have been brought to me, so no letters remain for restitution, though there are other amends in arrear.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 31.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Signori
Stati.
Venetian
Archives.
725. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The ambassadors have left here, as the wind was favourable. Aerssens has remained behind because he hurt his foot. His colleague, Vosbergh, made difficulties about going alone, but was ordered to go. However, things remain as before, as when he went to Brill with those destined for England, they were prevented from leaving the port by the ice, so they all returned here. The interruption has excited comment, as some say that they have not dared to send two to England and only one to France, and Carleton himself suspects it. Others call it want of resolution and lack of foresight, because the ice did not stop the ships in the port.
The report persists that they will start soon, when the weather becomes favourable again, especially as the people are much excited because the preachers have gone so far as to say that they mean to let La Rochelle perish, when they could prevent it. This is pure ignorance, but it makes a great impression on the populace.
Everything depends upon this mission, upon which they gave the enclosed reply to the French ambassador. Meanwhile they are devoting their attention here to their own security.
The Hague, the 31st January, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Roe attributed the attack on Metaxa to the French ambassador, who was "seeking to create a Jesuitical monarchy over all these poor Christians," for which reasons the Jesuits brought a false accusation against Metaxa. Dispatch of the 12 Jan., o.s. S.P. Foreign, Turkey. Roe sent a long account to the king, which is printed, Negotiations of Sir Thos. Roe, pages 760–3. For the other side see Mercure Français, ed. Richer, vol. xiv. pages 448–54.
2 Anthony Hales.