Venice
February 1629, 23-28

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1916

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548-556

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'Venice: February 1629, 23-28', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 21: 1628-1629 (1916), pp. 548-556. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89217 Date accessed: 29 November 2014.


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February 1629

Feb. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
757. To the Ambassador CONTARINI in England.
We enclose what Corner writes from Turin on the 16th about the two ships taken by Digby on their way to Venice from Cartagena and Alicante. We rejoice to hear the arrival of Digby in England confirmed, as it will make it easier to obtain what is due, and we are sure that you will expose the excuses suggested by Wake for Digby. As he seems to think that the matter must be decided by the Admiralty in England you will try to obtain a speedy and summary despatch by the way that you judge best. It may perhaps be best to have it all despatched by the royal hand, as between prince and prince. We only make the suggestion and refer everything to your prudence.
We have already expressed our satisfaction at the condition of the peace between the two crowns, and your letters of the 26th January which have reached us to-day confirm this. We have already written to France to urge a speedy conclusion, with express instructions to Zorzi to go forthwith to Valenza or where-ever the king may be, to do what is necessary, cutting short all delay so far as is possible, and we are eagerly awaiting a happy conclusion. Zorzi will also perform offices for an accommodation with the Duke of Rohan. To-morrow we will send the Ambassador Corner such parts of your letters as may help him, as those sent to him by way of France may be delayed by the closing of the passes.
In Italy they are daily expecting the French forces. The Spaniards are very short of money, munitions, food and troops, and in spite of their efforts they cannot meet all these requirements. Accordingly the Governor of Milan has recently decided to remove a large part of his forces from under Casale in order to guard his own frontiers towards the Cremonese. Thus there are only 2,000 paid foot and 4,000 troops of the ordinanza under Casale, and Don Gonzales has given an even greater proof of weakness by withdrawing his artillery. We hear at this moment that the Duke of Mantua has unexpectedly captured Casal Maggiore in the Milanese, with 2,000 foot and 500 horse. The inhabitants surrendered, saving their lives, honour and goods. At the same time we hear from France of the approach of the Most Christian with 20,000 foot and ample munitions of war and food, sent before the army, while the Duke of Guise was embarking his troops at Marseilles on the 15th inst., as well as flour and grain, France being fully determined to succour Casale, the Duke of Mantua and this province.
Ayes, 138.Noes, 0.Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Feb. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
758. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I have this week received four dispatches, from the 5th to the 26th January, the three first by way of Holland, the last by Antwerp, which brings me the most recent advices that can be received from Italy. I did what was proper with the ministers, especially with Carleton, who was very pleased, but it is impossible to obtain any satisfaction from them during the session of parliament, which keeps them very much occupied at all hours of the day, without breathing time.
I will do everything in my power about the ship of Pasqualigo, so that your Excellencies' commands may benefit the mart and the private interests of that nobleman. I have not yet been able to ascertain who bought those muscat wines in Barbary, or on what ships they were laded. It is true that my investigations must be made very warily, as if the parties concerned discover that I have been warned and am desired to remonstrate, they will find means to conceal themselves, so that I should have great difficulty to get hold of them, and I wish to make certain of preventing their escape. I am thus awaiting the information, and hope it will precede the publication of the fact, as it might be divulged here through the office performed with the secretary at Turin and Venice. I should also like to have copies of the decrees issued by the king and Council on a similar subject, in the time of Corraro, as they say, and with that precedent I should act with more vigour.
In my last I wrote of Sir [Kenelm] Digby's return. Scarcely had his ships come into the river ere I was warned that two of them had been taken by him lately in the waters of Sardinia, having been laden at Alicant for Venice. Supposing our merchants to be interested I had them sequestrated, until I receive orders from Venice and the instructions of the parties concerned to their correspondents. I enclose copies of two memorials, the latter of which I did not present to the Secretary of State until this morning, and I have not yet received a reply. Digby is working with all his might, per fas et nefas to keep this plunder, as it forms the chief part of his profit. He has brought presents for all the chief lords of the government. For the king, a stone carved in low relief, brought from Greece, which is said to have belonged to the temple at Delphi, with some ancient statues, according to his Majesty's taste. He distributed a variety of delicacies among the ministers, some receiving wine from Crete and some other things. I observe that he is well looked on, and some of the ministers told me that they believed, on his return, my complaints of him would cease, as on this voyage he had become poor; the cargoes of these two ships belonged to Spaniards and Genoese rather than to Venetians, thus passing sentence before hearing the claims. Nevertheless, I must add that owing to the present conflagration in Europe, all those who trade in the Mediterranean, the Spaniards, French, Genoese and others, do so under the name of Venetians or Florentines, as neutrals. I really believe, from what I have seen, that there is much property belonging to those nations in the ships in question, under the name of Venetian subjects. I know that it is expedient to support them as a matter of policy, and for reputation, and I will do so, but I apprehend that if this mystery is discovered, they will not restore even genuine goods of the Signory's subjects. It is whispered to me that if these ships are declared the property of Venetians and not a lawful prize, the merchants of the Levant Company will demand their sequestration as damages for what they paid at Aleppo, when the English consul was imprisoned for the fight with the galeasses. I send warning so that you may give me precise instructions.
I will send the terms of those who wish to enter your service.
I have nothing to add about the peace. I am grateful for your appreciation, but the odds are too much against me to allow me to progress further. If I had delayed until Carlisle arrived, the whole affair would have been upset and England would not be pledged as she now is. He still says my treaty is indecorous for England, who, after such great losses, still wishes to treat on terms of equality. The French must not look so much to their own individual satisfaction, not to say passions, as their honour is safe, and it is already in their power to do much good and great evil. I might complain of the ailments of Zorzi, because the delay causes suspicion, which is but too readily entertained here, but I rejoice that your Excellencies have time to perform your efficacious offices, which will be of much greater value than my offices. There is no longer any general question, but only mere satisfaction claimed by the French in the queen's household. The king will never consent to this, happen what may, so that there is little or no hope of making further advance.
London, the 23rd February, 1629.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
759. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Parliament engrosses all the news of this Court, the foreign ministers at present having little else to do than to observe and write what is passing. In a whole week it is not possible to see one or two of the ministers here because they are constantly occupied, at one time in parliament, at another with the king, in consultation for its good guidance. Convinced that they would have nothing to do, the Dutch ambassadors extraordinary have decided to leave, although Joachim has not arrived. They have sent several expresses for men of war, and when these arrive they think of taking leave of the king immediately and embarking for the Netherlands. In the three points of their instructions, they will not have made much progress. With that about peace with France, which was the principal one, they suppose that my replies will announce that it is concluded or practically hopeless. The second about helping Denmark, they leave to the Danish ambassador and convey promises that it will be rendered, but without money I do not see how that can be. The third about reprisals at sea they refer to the ambassador in ordinary, as the business is a long one, the chief difficulty consisting in devising some punishment for those who make an ill use of letters of marque when privateering, by attacking both friend and foe indiscriminately. They also convey promises from the king and ministers that nothing will be done with Spain without them. But here again I do not know what to expect, as they have shown but scant regard for the promise given to Savoy about France. This is a compendium of their negotiations during the year they have spent in England.
Parliament is still involved in troubles. The king has permitted them to continue in general to regulate abuses in religion, but the people want the punishment of those who have introduced new sects. Some of these, who are bishops, foreseeing disaster, obtained a general pardon from the king before parliament met. It is now examining these pardons, and as the Attorney General whose office it is to draw up the patents, named the Earl of Dorset and the Secretary Carleton as the authors of the orders given by the king for the pardons, he was disgraced by his Majesty for having revealed things unbecomingly. He asked pardon, and the king has replaced him, as he erred more from ignorance than malice.
A gentleman who sits in the lower House with two of his brothers, (fn. 1) being concerned in a ship, which came from the Levant, to the amount of 7,000l. sterling, refused to pay the duties, claiming exemption until parliament granted them to his Majesty. When the goods were unloaded from the ship, the customers sequestrated them in the lighter which was to bring them on shore, so that they were damaged from being exposed to foul weather in the river. This person complained to parliament. The king took it amiss and wished him to be punished by the Council, but parliament, being displeased, would not prosecute, and so the affair remains in suspense. On these accounts complaints revive on both sides. Good men wish to suppress them, and the king helps by forming good resolves. But there are those who in their own interests would like parliament dissolved, just as in parliament there are many rigid individuals, who would like to abolish all the king's prerogatives.
With these disputes nothing advances, time passes, and whatever happens I do not see the possibility of promising much for next spring. In spite of this both ships and troops are promised to the King of Denmark, though I know that the ambassador expects but little until they find money, and sufficient money for everything cannot be found without parliament. It is quite certain that if the emperor abates the harshness of his terms, Denmark will make peace, but as yet there is no appearance of this, because the imperialists demand too much, and perhaps feel sure of making themselves masters of the whole of that kingdom next year, unless diverted by the affairs of Italy. I am assured on good authority, and by the Dutch ambassadors themselves, that Bavaria was so dissatisfied with the emperor as to point out to the princes of Germany the approaching slavery of all of them, but they are unlikely to move or declare themselves against the House of Austria. Saxony, who has so far followed that party, betrays fear, and has some cause to do so, because of the emperor's claims on the bishoprics he has held so long. I believe that many are discontented, and it may be that is why the emperor is so slow in assembling the diet which is to declare his son king of the Romans. It does not seem that the Infanta of Spain will care to come without it, suspecting that the princes mean to treat the affairs of the empire therein before those that concern the emperor's private satisfaction. But no one dares declare himself, because when one joins the dance, all the others will withdraw, so that they are ruined, one after the other, and never make the combined effort which is requisite.
A courier has arrived from Spain after having been detained at Brussels for six or eight days, and then sent here by Cardinal della Cueva. It is said to be about Scaglia's negotiations, for whom he has certainly brought letters for several persons of the Court asking that the ship for his passage to England may be sent forthwith. It is impossible lo learn anything authentic about this despatch, as one cannot converse with the ministers for any length of time. I will try hard to ascertain the facts. Meanwhile it is credible that the Spaniards will make any proposal, to break the peace with France, as they have done before, but when it comes to the execution, the English will find their hands full of wind. The French alone can keep England bound, if they care, and once for all dispel these suspicions, not to say frauds. Meanwhile I avail myself with great profit of the fair hopes that the Duke of Savoy may make terms with France, although Barocio, his minister here, says quite the contrary. But he has no news since his departure from Turin, and princes change according to their interests. I hope that in the end I shall prove the most veracious of any, and I comfort myself because the orders sent from here to Wake after Carlisle's return will prove very opportune as well as advantageous, provided that minister, who is so bound to Savoy, carries them out.
I am sending all the advices to Zorzi, but I am not sending the usual copies.
London, the 23rd February, 1629.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
760. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
In virtue of a grant made to him some years ago by the late king, on the duty of currants imported from Zante and Cephalonia, the Earl of Arundel enjoys an annual revenue of about 3,000l. sterling. On the last occasion when he was put in the Tower, and in disgrace with the king, this revenue was suspended, so that for three years he received nothing on that account. On his return to favour, he regained this source of profit. But the Levant Company, which bears the burden of the whole affair, has refused to continue that contribution, for two reasons, first that the king cannot levy duties which are not granted by the people, on which one of the chief discussions of the present parliament turns; the other, that even if parliament grants the king the customs, the currants cannot bear the burdens to which they have hitherto been subjected, because of the frequent new duties laid on them by your Excellencies, besides the very high prices of the currants themselves, which, together with all the other expenses, renders their cost here exorbitant. The earl, displeased with the merchants for their firm refusal to continue to supply him with the revenue, has returned the patent into the hands of his Majesty, who had met with the same disputes and refusals from the merchants. The king is now incensed with the Company for this harshness, and stimulated by the earl's interest, he is devising remedies, of which I have only heard covertly, though the earl confirmed the fact to me in the course of conversation. So far there are three proposals: one that for some years the king shall prohibit the importation of currants entirely; second, that his Majesty might take them all for himself, as he does the tobacco, contracting direct with your Serenity; third, that in conformity with requests made by my predecessors, the Venetians or Zantiots should be allowed to bring them in Venetian or English ships, giving them some privileges.
I see very clearly that all this stir proceeds from the Earl of Arundel, to avenge the affront which the Turkey Company seeks to put upon him, and to recover so considerable and safe a revenue by any means possible. But while parliament is sitting no decision will be made, because of the strong party the Company has, and because of the privileges they derive from it. A general prohibition of currants cannot be made without exciting universal discontent. This people consume a greater amount of currants than all the rest of the world, and are so accustomed to this luxury and so fond of it, that men have been said to hang themselves because they had not enough money to buy them, on certain popular festivals, when they are customary. A contract between the rulers might easily be effected, but as the company's privileges have been confirmed by parliament, there would always be difficulties whenever it met. On the third point, I would to God there were many in Venice who would take up the trade, but as I see that they do not do so, when they are allowed to import currants either in Venetian or English bottoms, I infer that it does not answer. I suppose this is because first, currants sell very well without further risk, as here they cost 13 Venetian soldi the pound, then because there are no Venetian ships, thirdly that the English ships depend for the most part on the Turkey Company, fourthly the insecurity of the voyage, owing to numerous pirates of all nations, and lastly, because it is a perishable commodity and because of the privileges of the Turkey Company, a licence for its sale would always have to be obtained as a favour, though this last might be managed.
I reply in general terms to all who speak to me on the subject, and to the earl himself, without in the least disputing the merits of the case or any of these points, that your Excellencies have made no alteration in the duties for many years, that the merchants always receive the best treatment possible and although currants have been increasing in price for some years owing to bad crops, the Company, having a considerable capital, buy up beforehand the produce of the poorest of the inhabitants of those islands, much to its advantage, accommodating them with money or anything else in advance, so that for them the prices are almost always the same. I argue from this that the cause of this trouble lies not in any change in the commodities themselves, or in the proceedings of your Excellencies, but possibly in the disaffection of the people towards the king. If they try to remedy this by prohibiting currants altogether, it seems to me that they would increase the disorder, through the dissatisfaction caused to the people, and by the loss to the king and others who are concerned in the duties. I warn the state beforehand of what is as yet mere talk, so that when they come to act I may be armed with instructions, to resist the assault.
London, the 23rd February, 1629.
[Italian.]
Enclosure.761. Memorial of the Venetian Ambassador.
Sir: Among the very rich prizes brought to this kingdom from the Mediterranean and elsewhere by Sir [Kenelm] Digby, are two ships seized by him lately in the waters of Spain, which were laded at Alicant with wool and other merchandise belonging to subjects of the most serene republic, bound direct to Venice. So far as I have been able to learn these ships are Hamburgers, one called Longboat, the other Jonas. As I have not had time for the particulars or instructions, I beg your Majesty to command them to be sequestrated with some merchant, as you have done before in similar cases, so that nothing may be touched on board the ships until the necessary information has arrived from Venice. I ask for the same courteous treatment for Venetian subjects as the English receive in Venetian territories, owing to the Signory's respect for your Majesty, and as a mark of honour.
[Italian.]
Enclosure.762. Second Memorial.
Sire: My Lord Dorchester has given me to understand that in conformity with my petition your Majesty ordered the sequestration of the ships Longboat and Jonas, taken by Sir [Kenelm] Digby, so as to preserve the claims to them which may be urged by Venetian subjects. I am now informed that Digby has obtained an order for the Jonas to be unladed, under the pretence that the merchandise would suffer by remaining in the ship, and that the goods be shut up in some public warehouse, one key to remain in his hands and the other with some deputies of the Admiralty. I do not object to this, and the same course might be adopted with the other ship. I claim a share in those ships in right of the republic's subjects, who laded them, no less than Digby by whom they were plundered. As your Majesty has acknowledged my right by the sequestration, I ask that I also may be allowed to appoint a person to be present when the ship is unladed, and to have a third key of the warehouse where the goods are stored, so that, the rights of the parties being equally secured, I may receive instructions and the particulars to follow up the affair, as otherwise my offices would be vain if these changes are made without my having a share in them. I am sure that your Majesty will couple with even handed justice a due regard for the most serene republic, which is always ready to show the like to the subjects of this realm, as it is more joined with your Majesty in affection and esteem than any other state.
[Italian.]
Feb. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
763. ALVISE MOCENIGO, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Abbot Scaglia was hastily summoned to the palace one day recently. All this time he has frequently visited the Count of Olivares, and I learn that he has remonstrated strongly with him for not embracing the proposals for an agreement with England in the way proposed by him. He told him that the duke his master was ready to resist the French.
Madrid, the 24th February, 1629.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 24.
Collegio,
Secreta.
Esposizioni,
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
764. The secretary of England came into the Collegio and spoke substantially as follows:
The ambassador has communicated to me the representations made to him by the Ambassador Corner about the prize taken by Sir [Kenelm] Digby. His Excellency has sent letters which he believes will effect what is proper.
The doge replied: We thank the ambassador for his concern for our interests, corresponding to our goodwill towards him. The secretary continued: I must further tell your Serenity that his Excellency had a letter from Sir Digby telling him all the circumstances of the capture. In the first instance a ship, flying the king's flag approached the Hamburg ship and ordered it to salute. They at once replied by firing their guns and some of them dared to utter insulting words. Finally they dismasted the English ship and damaged its hull, so that it was forced to withdraw without having fired a single shot. Digby's ship being near hastened to the rescue and soon captured the Hamburger, capturing the Ragusan at the same time. He found from the bills of lading that they were the goods of Genoese, naturalised denizens of Spain, directed to Sig. Bentio, Mazza and others at Venice, who had hired that ship with orders from Spain; and he found that the Ragusan ship had long been employed in taking wheat for Naples, and had taken the said wheat to Spain. The Hamburger also had taken prohibited goods; but these goods would not be disposed of before a regular judgment had been delivered in England. He had taken the captains there to serve as witnesses and support the cause of their owners. He gave the Ragusan his ship and some goods which he had previously. He gave the German captain the small ship to return to Italy. Such is the substance of what his Excellency wrote to me to communicate to your Serenity. Last week and yesterday I wrote to various ministers and to the Lord High Admiral designate, in accordance with the commands of your Serenity.
The doge said: Our purpose is to help our own people. These pretexts may prove to their advantage. We can say no more on the subject. We feel sure that the ambassador will do what he considers proper and fitting as he has done in the past. The Secretary made some remarks of a similar character, took leave and departed.
[Italian.]
Feb. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Savoia.
Venetian
Archives.
765. FRANCESCO CORNER, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Rohan writes to Wake from Nimes on the 8th inst. that for four months they have been expecting the king to attack that place, and they are awaiting it with courage.
A gentleman arrived on Sunday, sent from England to his Highness. (fn. 2) Wake did not say anything to me about what he brought, but I fancy he is acting with reserve, and I have not met him these last two days. Before I seal the despatch I will try and learn some particulars.
The English ambassador has sent me word that he will impart to me the reason for the journey of his gentleman from London after he has seen his Highness, and apologises for not telling me before.
Turin, the 28th February, 1628 [M.V.].
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 This must refer to John Rolle, member for Callington. The only other person of this name given in the Return of Members of Parliament for this house is Henry Roll, member for Truro.
2 Mr. Edward Dacres arrived on Sunday 25 Feb., n.s. Wake to Dorchester, the 4th March, S.P. Foreign, Savoy.