Venice: November 1603

Pages 109-115

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 10, 1603-1607. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1900.

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November 1603

Nov. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 150. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Englishman, who came to Rome, is on business for the private Catholics; he has no connection with either the King or the Queen. Rome, the first of November, 1603 .
Nov. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 151. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Before parting from the illustrious Duodo in Brescia, we agreed upon the place where we were to meet, to cross the sea. The place chosen was Calais, the ordinary point of departure, whence the passage to England does not last more than six or seven hours. At Antwerp I found letters from his Lordship, requesting me to come at once to Calais. I did so with all speed, and reached it on the 26th. Both Signor Duodo and I informed Scaramelli that we were to be in Calais, and he, with his usual activity, made all necessary preparations in Dover, and his Majesty sent his gentlemen and ministers to receive and honour us. Scaramelli kept us informed of all this. Two Captains of men-of-war also arrived at Calais, on his Majesty's orders to escort us to Dover. Then suddenly, when everything was ready, I got a letter from the illustrious Duodo, telling me to join him at Havre de Grace (Vediaratz), two hundred miles off. In obedience to your Serenity's orders, and to oblige the illustrious Duodo, I resolved to set off for Havre, after informing Scaramelli of the change of plans. I wanted to go by land, but could not find sufficient horses for my suite, Calais not furnishing more than ten or twelve for the post. I, therefore, embarked on a small coaster, and set sail. During the day all went well; but at night the wind changed, and the weather became stormy; we found in the morning that it grew more threatening, and the sailors put the ship about, and driving before the gale we were carried into Dover. I wanted to start again, but the sailors declared I could not make Havre de Grace in this weather. So I have resolved to go by land to Southampton (Soptampton), there to await my colleague.
Dover, 4th November, 1603,
Nov. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian, Archives. 152. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
The English pirates are beginning to appear again, now that the season favourable to them is coming on. They are accustomed to keep the sea even in midwinter and in the roughest weather, thanks to the handiness of their ships and the skill of their mariners. On the 26th of last month one of these ships, with the crew of thirty-two English and eighteen Levantines, captured, off Cape Gallo, a berton of Chios, Captain Steffano Vuro, bound for Messina. They took all its cargo, artillery, anchors, cables, shrouds, everything down to the mariners' clothes and the water; they also carried off five people, three men, and two boys, leaving the ship derelict, with a few rotten sails, one anchor, and one cheap cable. With great difficulty and, one might say, by a miracle, she reached this port yesterday. After being captured the said Captain reports that he and his captor sailed for a while together, during which they fell in with two other great ships, which made a fine defence, and beat off the berton. She suffered a good deal from gun shots. After that they put into Coron and lay there for seven days, and sold the booty. They then both went back to Cape Gallo. There they sighted another vessel, and letting this one go they bore down on the other. The upshot is unknown. A Greek on board reports other acts of piracy. The name of the Captain is unknown. The Greek also declares that the Bey of Damietta arrested Signor Georgio Sumachi and sent him to Rhodes, where the Capudan Cigala took him and half his crew on board his own ship. I must humbly add that, as long as these pirates can take shelter in Turkish ports, and until a squadron of your Serenity's galleys is established here, it will be impossible to put down piracy between Cerigo and this island.
I have hired an English berton, lying in this port, to act as escort to a caramusale I am sending for corn. I have had to pay twenty ducats a day for it. The total will amount to upwards of five hundred ducats
On the 27th of last month I received your instructions about the English prisoners here. As in all this business I am in correspondence with Turks, I am in need of a secretary who is up to such work, as there used to be in Zante. I have frequently made use of Antonio Vale, and on the last day of last month he was elected to fill the post. I beg your Excellencies to confirm the appointment.
Zante, 6th November, 1603.
Nov. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 153. Maffio Michiel, Venetian Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday morning the berton, Marubin, cast anchor in this port. She is the same vessel as was plundered last year by the English Captain, at present a prisoner here. The supercargo reports that, on this voyage also, they were plundered of all their cargo by an English ship. I enclose his deposition. (fn. 1) I must again humbly point out that, as not a single man-of-war, belonging to the Republic, is cruising in these waters navigation is becoming not so much difficult as impossible.
Owing to the capture of Georgio Sumachi, now confirmed, I have notified all the sureties that the insurance money is due at the ordinary term.
Zante, 11th November, 1603.
Nov. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 154. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of England has asked his most Christian Majesty to pay the States the remainder of the sum agreed upon between them. The answer sent back was, that the money was ready whenever the receipt was sent. The King of England sent the receipt for one hundred and fifty thousand crowns.
The King of England assures the King of France that he will always observe the agreement upon which he has entered. He claims free navigation in the Indies and in all Spanish dominions; and the Spanish, in their desire for peace, will agree. The English Ambassador here, on orders from his master, has intercepted letters to certain Englishmen, from which it appears that they are being solicited to accept pensions from Spain. That goes to confirm the remarks made by the King of France, that Spain will never accept so disadvantageous a peace, except with the intention of raising civil war in England. Sir Anthony Standen, who is on a mission from England, writes to the English Ambassador to say that, when he was in Florence, he received proposals from the Pope to send, an Envoy, either ecclesiastic or lay, to congratulate the King of England, if his Holiness were once assured, that such a step would not disgust Spain and France, and Don Virginio Orsini, Duke of Bracciano, was mentioned. The Ambassador has forwarded Standen's letter to England.
The English Ambassador informs me that a French pirate is in the Levant flying; the English flag.
Paris, 12th November, 1603.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 155. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Pope has granted safe conduct to English merchants trading in Civita Vecchia, even though heretics. He is in hopes of considerable profits.
Rome, 15th November, 1603.
Nov. 17.Enclosed in Despatch From Corfu, November 23rd. 156. Gianbattista Badoer, supercargo of the “ Marubbin,” deposed: “We left Canea eighteen days ago. On the first of this month, old style, when off Venetico, sailing with a north-west wind, being afraid of being carried too far out to sea we put about for land, in the hope that towards evening the wind would serve us better. About two o'clock of the night, with bright moonlight, a berton, that we had not noticed, bore suddenly down on us. She came out from behind Venetico, where she had been lying in wait. When we saw her we tried to escape to sea, but she was so close upon us that she opened fire from her harquebusses and artillery, and her crew cried, “ down with your sails.” We had to obey, for we were not strong enough to fight. They came on board us, and thrashed us all for not taking in sail fast enough. About thirty of them swarmed on board, using great violence and foul language to us. They took all our artillery; sent us all below and fastened down the hatches. They then proceeded to help themselves to everything, including thirty casks of wine. With great cruelty they kept us under hatches for four days and four nights, and sailed our vessel along with theirs up and down, looking for more prey; but finding none they let us go. The first thing they did when they boarded us was to ask if any Venetian nobles were on board, as they intended to hang them straight off, in revenge for the hanging of the Englishmen at Zante, and they said they meant to cruise there till they had caught a Venetian. They robbed a French passenger of five hundred sequins. We could not find out the name of the ship nor of the Captain, but she is a vessel of about three hundred tons, well armed with twenty-six guns. The Captain is a fair-bearded, red-faced little man, thin, dressed in purple satin and English breeches; about thirty years old. We were all in terror of death, for they bullied us, and went so far as to put the noose round our necks every day.
Nov. 17. Original Despatch. 157. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I came on here by post at great cost and inconvenience, and reached it on the 8th; so that I have been here nine days without a word from the illustrious Duodo. It is true the sailors declare that the weather has been very bad for crossing. Signor Scaramelli came to see me the day after my arrival, and the same evening Sir Lewis Lewkenor (Lugner). Both tell me that the King and Court are much put out by the change of route, and they are extremely angry with the lieger in Paris, for giving such advice and for saying he had it by courier from the King. Nothing was further from his Majesty's intentions; indeed our journey from Dover to Court had been planned, so as to bring us through the most lovely parts of this kingdom, with a retinue of gentlemen, who were waiting us in Dover, with an escort of three to four hundred horse, and hunting parties on the way in many royal demesnes, and lodging at the country houses of the nobility. Scaramelli had spared neither pains nor money to arrange everything. The King has sent a man-of-war to escort my colleague, but not very willingly.
Southampton, 17th November, 1603.
Nov. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 158. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King on his accession did not find any large store of money, and the plague has caused the greatest difficulty in collecting the taxes; accordingly, a few days ago, the King resolved to ask the City for a loan of 40,000 pounds sterling (that is, one hundred and sixty thousand ducats). He met with a refusal; asked for thirty, then for twenty, finally for ten thousand, but always had “No” for answer. The City declares that the plague has brought traffic to a standstill; but ill-will is also suspected as the cause.
The conspirators are being brought to Winchester, where lodgings for the Lords who are to try them, are being got ready. It is generally thought that all will be found guilty of high-treason and executed, unless the King exercise his clemency, which is unlikely.
The Ambassador of the Grand Duke still refuses to visit the Spanish Ambassador, and he now says, in excuse, that the Spaniard had been heard to declare that the house of Austria had put the crown on the Grand Duke's head, and was able to take it off again.
The conference upon the subject of religion, summoned for the first of this month, has been put off till February.
The Levant merchants are informed from Constantinople that the agent of this Crown is out of favour and badly treated by the Grand Signor and his ministers; the reason is that the Sultan has been informed that the King of England is thinking of making peace with Spain. They intend to recall all their capital in view of possible dangers there. This would be of great help to the Venetian merchants.
Southampton, 17th November, 1603.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 159. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I left Havre on Sunday, the 16th, and after twenty hours at sea, landed at Portsmouth; there not being water enough for the great galleon to get into Southampton.
On Saturday, the 22nd, we are to move towards the Court.
Southampton, 20th November, 1603.
Nov. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 160. Piero Duodo and Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Percy, brother of the Earl of Northumberland, was appointed to receive us in Southampton. He came with two royal carriages and four mules (chinee), and took us to Salisbury to rooms prepared for us by Sir Lewis Lewkenor. Our train consisted of one hundred horse, and we reached Salisbury at night, for the roads were bad, owing to the incessant rain. We found such wretched lodgings, that nothing we have experienced on the journey could surpass them. We complained gently to the officials, who laid the blame on their subordinates, and subsequently came to us to say that his Majesty was extremely annoyed, and had arrested and imprisoned and deprived of his office the marshal who had been charged to take the rooms, and that we should be properly attended to at once; but so much delay occurred that for the public honour we gave orders to pay without demur all that the Court marshals ask for decent lodgings.
The King sent to inform us that he had appointed Sunday for our audience, St. Andrew's Day, and that, if we wished for an earlier date, he would grant it; but that, as some of the Council were absent, he desired to wait their return, in order to do full honour to so important an Embassy.
The Ambassadors of France, Spain, and Tuscany have been to visit us.
The greater part of the Council is gone to Winchester for the trial. The common opinion is that all of the accused will be beheaded.
The Earl of Devonshire, (Devenzer) Lord Mountjoy, has been appointed Ambassador to Spain; Lord Pembroke to France; to Flanders Robert Sidney; and Lord Sanquhar (Saccar), whom the King had promised to send to Venice, fears, it seems, that the jealousy of the English will upset this mission.
Salisbury, 25th November, 1603.
Nov. 26. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 161. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After informing your Serenity of the substance of the accord between England and France I have always felt that I should not fulfill my entire duty unless I sent you a copy of the document. Hitherto I have not been able to do so and at the same time to maintain my good faith, for they never would give me a copy, with leave to forward it. The English Ambassador has finally consented, and even helped my Secretary to translate it, as he is a first-rate Italian scholar. I rely on the Senate to preserve profound secresy.
A cavass, on his way from Turkey to England, has arrived. His mission is to complain of English piracy.
The King of Spain keeps near his own person an Earl of Bothwell (Boduel), a rebel Scot, represented to me as a second Marshal de Biron, that is, of vast personal bravery, with a large following, but most imprudent. With him is Colonel Sempill (Semple), a sagacious Scot. He has lately passed into Flanders, with money to bring Bothwell's adherents into the Archduke's service.
Paris, 26th November, 1603.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 162. Terms of treaty agreed upon by the King of England and Scotland through M. de Rosny, Grand Master of the Ordinance and Gran Viador of France, his most Christian Majesty's Ambassador.
All the ancient alliances between France and Scotland shall be renewed, confirmed, and observed; also all alliances made between France and the late Queen Elizabeth, and these shall be strengthened by a new defensive alliance.
All allies of either party, named by either party, are included in this new alliance
The United Provinces of the Netherlands are named, and efforts shall be mode to induce the King of Spain and the Archduke to leave them in peace; or at least to recognise them as subjects, either of Spain or of the Empire, with such reasonable conditions as will constitute partial freedom, and shall not awaken suspicion in France or England, which must be aroused by the absolute sovereignty of Spain.
As the Spanish may endeavour to drag out the negotiations, while massing troops, both contracting parties shall at once assist the States with a good sum of money and a sufficient number of men, all to be raised in the dominions of the King of England, while the cost of them shall be entirely borne by France. For this purpose his most Christian Majesty shall place the necessary funds in the hands of the States. Two-thirds are to be a free contribution by his Majesty, one-third is to go towards payment of his debt to the English Crown. All this in the greatest secresy.
This action, may eventually induce Spain to declare war on England and France; in that case their Majesties agree that—if England is attached, the King of France shall give his vigorous support, with an army of not less than six thousand men, and shall pay the King of England within three years and by three equal rates the entire amount of his debt :—
If France is attached openly at any point by Spain or her allies, the King of England shall come to her aid with a powerful fleet or army, as the King of France may select; the army shall not number less than six thousand men, and the King of England, during this period, shall not demand payment of his credit:—
If both France and England are simultaneously attached by Spain, or compelled to declare war on her, each shall conduct his own war, but in a vigorous manner, worthy of the dignity of their Crowns and sufficiently seriously to secure the entire freedom of the United Provinces, that is to say, the King of France shall enter the United Provinces with an army of fifteen or twenty thousand men, while he holds Guienne, Languedoc, Proven¸e, Dauphine, la Bresse, and Burgundy with a sufficient force, and with a sufficient fleet inside the Mediterranean, with a view, not merely of protecting his dominions, but of threatening Spain as well, and consequently diverting some of her troops. On the English side the war shall be conducted with two great fleets, capable of brilliant operations in the Indies and on the shores of Spain, and with a land force of not less than six thousand men, all at his own charges. During the period of war the King of England shall not press the King of France for payment of his credits.
Neither sovereign may make peace, diminish his forces, cease hostilities, except with the consent of the other.
The defensive part of this alliance shall be embodied in a public act, the offensive shall remain secret.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 163. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Complaints by the King of England that, in the Spanish credentials, his Majesty is styled of England and France, but not of Ireland. I am told this title was omitted out of regard for the Pope.
Valladolid, 27th November, 1603.
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. The Deposition is missing; but another taken before the Governor of Corfu will be found enclosed in Despatch 23rd November from Corfu.