Venice: December 1603

Pages 116-126

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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December 1603

Dec. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 164. Piero Duodo and Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the despatch of our former letters the King, learning that we were still uncomfortably lodged, gave orders that some of his officers were to be imprisoned, also twenty citizens of Salisbury, who had denied us lodging in their houses; he gave Sir Lewis Lewkenor full authority to take any steps against anyone soever, in order to secure for us without delay the best accommodation the city affords; nor content with this, his Majesty sent us Baron Danvers (fn. 1) (Danars), a gentleman of great importance, to carry out his orders, and to say that his Majesty could never rest while such things were going on, and until we had sent him our pardon, so he said. We have at last found beds and lodging, but scattered about in different houses, which is most inconvenient.
Yesterday we were granted audience. Lord Henry Howard, brother of the late Duke of Norfolk, came to accompany us; he is a member of the Council and a great personage. With him was Sir Lewis Lewkenor, with five and twenty state carriages. We were conveyed from Salisbury to Wilton (Wilthon), a village two miles out of Salisbury, where the King is lying in a palace belonging to the Earls of Pembroke. We reached Wilton at three in the afternoon, and after resting a little in a chamber which had been prepared for as, we went to meet his Majesty. The King, Queen, and Prince stood at a window to see us cross the courtyard on the way to his apartments; all the other windows were full of ladies and gentlemen. We believe that our suites must have made a fine show, both for numbers, for variety of livery, for the robes of silk and gold, the crowd of gentlemen, not merely from Venice, but from other cities, all sumptuously dressed. The Presence Chamber was crowded. At the threshold we made our first bow, and repeated it again in the middle of the room. The King was dressed in a cloak, lined with zibellini, and, for the rest, was habited as in the picture your Serenity has of him. Surrounded by the Prince and his Council he came down the steps of the daïs, hat in hand, and came to meet us two yards away from the canopy, gave us welcome, took our letters, and listened to the discourse I, Duodo, made, as brief as possible, for it was nearly night. The King listened with attention, then covered and bade us be covered. He replied to us in French. He concluded by saying that he heard that your Serenity had taken a copy of his portrait from the one Sir Anthony Standen brought with him to Venice, and had added it to your precious collections (ne aggiunse di haver inteso, che la Serenità Vostra havea fatto pigliar copia del suo ritratto da quello che il Cavalier Standen inglese havea portato in Venetia et che lo havea riposto fra le cose da lei più stimate). After that the King again apologised for our bad lodging. He placed the citizens of Salisbury, who had been arrested, at our mercy; we begged him to set them at liberty, as we had no desire that our coming should be a burden to any.
We then presented your Serenity's letters to the Prince, and added a couple of words. The King turned round laughing to his suite and said, “Why, the letter is bigger than the Prince.” After that we presented our suites, and then took our leave.
Of the eleven conspirators six have been condemned to death and one acquitted. The rest will be finished off this week. The members of Council, who came over from Winchester for our reception, have gone back there. The course of the trial has shown that their object was to kill the King and to make Arabella Queen; they asked the Ambassador of the Archduke for six hundred thousand ducats to divide between them, and he promised three, and said that on his return to Flanders he would procure the other three. Lord Cobham, the principal conspirator, as long ago as August last, wrote to Arabella, urging her to write to the King of Spain, promising freedom of conscience, peace with Spain, abandonment of the States, and pledging herself not to marry without the King's consent. That letter of Lord Cobham's Arabella handed to the King, without even having broken the seal, and this act of loyalty has saved her life now, though she had to go to Winchester to be ready to answer if called upon; but Walter Raleigh, one of the conspirators convicted and condemned to death, has borne full testimony in her justification. (Nella trattatione delle colpe delli predetti, si è fatto palese che la loro propositione fosse di levar la vita al Rè et di far Arbella Regina; et che havendo ricercato all' Ambasciatore dell' Arciduca Alberto ducati seicentomille da divider fra loro ne haveva egli promessi tre-centomille, con promessa di ottener anco gli altri trecento mille col suo ultimo ritorno in Fiandra. Et il baron Coban, principal auttore delta congiura scrisse una lettera ad Essa dama Arbella fin quest' Agosto prossimo passalo, ricercandola di scriver una lettera al Rè di Spagna, et con obligarsi di dar al Regno la libertà della conscientia, la pace a Spagna et a Fiandra, abbandonar i stati, et di non maritarsi senza il consenso di Sua Maestà Catholica; la qual lettera essa Arbella appresentò al Rè sigillata senza haverla ne anco aperta, dal qual atto di sincerità dipende hora la salvezza della sua vita; havendole non dimeno convenuto andar alla riduttione de' Giudici in Vincester, per giustificarsi se fosse stato bisogno; ma da Valter Rali, uno de' principali congiurati doppo esser rimasto lui convinto et giudicato a morte, ella è stata molto giustificatamente discolpata.)
They say there is some talk of marrying her to the Duke of Savoy. All this disturbs the King, who cannot make up his mind whether he should lean to the side of rigour or of clemency. Lady Arabella, too, though innocent and highly honoured by the Queen, is in great perturbation.
An Ambassador from the King of Poland has arrived.
Salisbury, the first of December, 1603.
Dec 6. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 165. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Pope complains of the Venetian dealings with the English, and says he fears it will end in a second German exchange house. The English are in great numbers in Venice, and there is a woman who keeps an English lodging-house. He said, “Take care what you are about; league with Grisons, dealings with English; all heretics; and all for reasons of state; without consideration of aught else. This is a bad road. I promise you that, if you let the English open a change house in Venice, I will never submit to it, even though I ended by being flayed alive in that city.”
Rome, 6th December, 1603.
Dec. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian, Archives. 166. Piero Duodo and Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Last Tuesday we had audience of the King, and although it was private, his Majesty, to do us honour, sent Lord Sanquhar (Baron di Saccar) to accompany us. The King came half the length of the room to meet us, and then preceded us into another room. He seated himself on a chair covered with velvet, and placed us on two crimson covered stools close to him; we were all three on the same level. I, Duodo, said that Secretary Scaramelli had informed us of his Majesty's orders for the imprisonment of certain English pirates and the restoration of the stolen goods. For this I returned him thanks, and begged for the thorough execution of these orders; and more especially, that William Piers and Thomas Tomkins should be compelled to a complete restoration of the booty, and punished as law breakers; and 1 remarked that such an execution would serve as a visible demonstration of the friendly relations which existed between his Majesty and your Serenity, would prevent the recurrence of similar scandals, and would open the road to reciprocal commerce. I said that it would be quite easy for your Serenity to sink these vessels when they came into your seas and harbours, but they fly the royal ensign and come under the guise of friendship, though their actions are quite other than friendly, and out of the great respect your Serenity bears to his Majesty you prefer to apply to him first before employing the means in your power.
The King replied in substance that none detested such actions more than he did; that while he was King of Scotland his subjects had never committed deeds like this; that he was of the same mind now, but he was still new to the Government of England, and compelled to employ the old ministers, and, therefore, was unable to attend to everything at once, the more so that he feared his naval officers were somewhat interested in the matter; he added, in great confidence, that he had been obliged to give the Lord Admiral something out of his own purse, as the Admiral complained that he was unable to keep up his office, owing to the failure of revenues of this very nature. The King further said that hitherto these pirates had put to sea as naval officers to fight the Spanish, and this excuse served to cover all their deeds. Now that peace with Spain was probable the pirates might take to worse courses still, but that he would do all that in him lay to check, suppress, and punish. As to the two pirates who had plundered the “ Veniera “ and the “Balbiana” he would issue fresh orders for the satisfaction of your Serenity; in the case of Tomkins he had already issued such an order as had never been seen in this kingdom. We said we hoped his Majesty would order the punishment of the offenders as well as the restitution of the booty, for if they suffered no personal punishment they would not be deterred by the mere confiscation of the goods, as they would always hope to retain a portion. More especially we prayed that Piers should be punished, for he was going about boasting that he had obtained a pardon, and showed no intention of restoring the plunder.
The King said he would mention it in Council, and asked for a memorandum; as to Piers he had not pardoned him. We said that Piers considered himself included in the general amnesty; the King said “No,” that he had pardoned two only, whose names he quite well remembered. We thanked his Majesty, and begged to recall to his attention two points, one was his promise to Scaramelli that he would send a ship especially for the purpose of recalling the twelve pirates, now inside the straits; the other, that he would insist upon adequate caution-money being deposited by all ships sailing from England, as guarantee that they would not injure allies, and that if they did they should suffer confiscation of goods, and, if without property, that they should forfeit their lives. The King said this sum was exacted now; we replied that it was too small to act efficaciously. This the King admitted; said he would consult his Council, and asked us for a memorandum. We had brought one with us, and handed it in. The King gave it to Scaramelli to give to Cecil. The King said he intended soon to send an Ambassador to Venice, and this brought our audience to a close. It had lasted a little less than an hour. We lay stress on the King's declaration that peace with Spain is considered as concluded here.
After this we had audience of the Queen; she was under a canopy, covered with jewels and strings of pearls. Our remarks were purely complimentary, and after that we asked leave to salute the ladies of her Court. That done we retired.
Salisbury, 8th December, 1603.
Dec. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 167. Piero Duodo and Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
We must report a singular honour which the Prince of Wales has done us, to the great surprise of all at Court. Yesterday, I, Duodo, invited the Ambassadors of France and Tuscany and some other gentlemen about Court to dine with me, as a return for a similar invitation. In the morning I was informed that the Prince of Wales wished to join the party. I enquired of my host, who is a Doctor and in attendance on the Prince, (fn. 2) and I found that it was true. I immediately gave orders for increasing the banquet, and that a small table should be laid for his Royal Highness. Soon after one of his gentlemen arrived, and noticing the table apart he insisted that there should be one table only, for so he informed me the Prince desired. I assented, and as dinner hour came on I sent Secretary Scaramelli and our gentlemen to accompany the Prince. He arrived with his suite, and attended by the Lord Admiral and the chief officers of state. He was received by us Ambassadors outside the door in the street, and conducted upstairs, there his governor (fn. 3) said that the King, aware of the great injury done by his officers in giving us so poor a lodging, had wished to make amends by sending us his son as a prisoner, though he was confident that he would easily get him back again. We protested that no harm had been done, or if harm there was we were glad of it, for it had procured us so gracious an amend. We stood for half an hour exchanging compliments, and then went to table. The Prince was placed at the head of the table, and two feet away from him sat the French Ambassador, then I, Molin, then the Tuscan Ambassador, and about thirty other gentlemen, English and Scottish, among these I, Duodo, took my seat as host, etiquette requiring this while it was sufficient that Signor Molin retained his rank as representative of your Serenity. God be thanked it all passed off in perfect order, to the great honour of our State and with references to your Serenity, to whose health the Prince drank, rising to his feet with hat in hand. After the first table had been served many other places were laid for the rest of the suite. Everyone says the Prince has never taken a meal in the house of strangers before, and that when the Spanish Ambassador sent him an invitation he refused. The esteem shown for your Serenity is, therefore, very great; all the more so at this time of conspiracies, when the life of the Royal family is menaced. I am informed that twice the King himself was on the point of getting into his carriage to come to, us, but the fear that he might incommode me detained him.
This morning I, Duodo, had audience to take leave, and I, Molin, to present credentials as lieger. We were invited to stay to dine with his Majesty, along with our suite. As the Lord Admiral accompanied the Prince to dinner at our house we did not fail to make suitable presentations to him on the subject of the disorders committed by English pirates. He made all sorts of apologies, and laid the blame upon the war between England and Spain, and promised for the future that the mischief should cease; as to the past we are aware that the whole question is full of difficulty, precisely on account of the Lord Admiral's interests.
The trial of the conspirators is finished. Ten of them are condemned to a felon's death, that is, to be dragged to the gallows, hung and quartered. But it is supposed that the two Barons (fn. 4) will, by the King's clemency, be beheaded only. The execution of the two priests and the less noble conspirators is thought to be near at hand.
The plague is decreasing in London, on account of the great cold. The Court will shortly move to one of the Royal palaces on the Thames, not far from London. It cannot stay on here much longer, because of the dearth of all things. An Ambassador from Savoy is expected shortly.
Salisbury, 9th December, 1603.
Dec. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 168. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
There is opposition to the Cavass's journey to England. The English Ambassador has not visited him. I have visited him and invited him to dinner.
The agent of the United Provinces has arrived. The English Ambassador is to accompany him to audience, in order to insist upon the complete payment of the amount agreed upon. M. de Rosny wished the English Ambassador to hand him the receipt, declaring the States to have been paid in full. The Ambassador declined, as he surmised what was really the case, namely that, as the agent of the States affirms, two hundred thousand are still wanting.
The King has been informed that a certain Raleigh, one of the chief conspirators, has been convicted of having received a promise of 12.000 crowns from Count d'Aremberg. The English Ambassador confirmed the news; and added that he knew that Raleigh was in relations with the King of France, whose Ambassador in England was pleading for his life, and the conclusion was that either France and Spain are working together or that Raleigh was taking money from all quarters.
Paris, 10th December, 1603.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 169. Piero Duodo and Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 9th we had audience. Lord Henry Howard came to conduct us to Court. His Majesty was waiting us, and led us into an inner room. The Prince was there, and the King said, “ There is your prisoner. I wanted to come myself, but business detained me. I would not have sent the Prince to any other house, but to yours I sent him quite securely.” We thanked him. He then told us that he had just been talking to the Admiral about the pirates, and the subject is to be brought before the Council. The King then went on to recommend to your Serenity the person of Signor Aitonio Dotto, a Paduan, who is living outlawed here; he said that if Dotto's crime was either political or scandalous he begged his request to be considered as not made, but if were merely a private affair he would be obliged if your Serenity would grant him this grace. We replied that his Majesty's recommendation would always receive attention.
The Lord Chamberlain then announced dinner. A table about sixteen feet long had been laid across the room on a dais; it stood away from the wall sufficiently to allow a free passage to the servants all round. His Majesty's seat was on the inner side, under the canopy about the middle of the table; no other cover was laid on this table but his Majesty's. Before sitting down, he laid aside his cloak and sword, and the Lord Admiral brought him water for his hands, making three deep obeisances before approaching his Majesty; he then drew near, kneeled down, and kissing the bowl he first tested the water, and then gave it to the King, with like reverences the Duke of Lennox handed him the towel. That done they retired, and two other nobles of less degree did a like service for the Prince, and two others for us Ambassadors, with the same ceremony save the kneeling. Then the King's Almoner (fn. 5) stepped forward and said grace, while the King remained on foot. Then the King moved towards his seat, but did not sit down until covers had been laid for the Prince and for us, for the Prince at one end of the table, for us at the other end, not at the head, however, but outside; the Prince was to the King's right, we to his left. When our places were laid, we all sat down. The banquet was sumptuous and abundant in the variety and quality of the food; with such a crowd of nobles waiting upon us that they could hardly do their duty. His Majesty, with great affability, spoke at length about the Government and the laws of the Republic, and about the splendour of Venice. He praised the wisdom of the Senate, which had preserved the State through so many centuries, and showed profound knowledge of our history. He frequently invited us to drink, but in moderation as each one chose. Twice he drank to us in honour of your Serenity, on foot and uncovered, and once in honour of ourselves. He excused the absence of the Queen on the score of health, and in short from the beginning to the end of the banquet, which lasted upwards of two hours, he did all that lay in his power to show his gracious desire to honour us. Among those present were secretaries of the French, Spanish, and Tuscan Ambassadors, who carefully noted all that took place. While we were at table Lord Crichton (Sanquhar), by the King's orders, took Scaramelli and our suite to dine in another chamber. That dinner was soon over, for everyone wanted to get back to watch ours. When the banquet was over, water was again brought and grace said as at the beginning; and the King, assuming his cloak and sword, led us into a private chamber. There I, Duodo, took my leave, and I, Molin, presented my credentials as Ambassador-in-Ordinary. The King replied that if I, Duodo, could have prolonged my stay it would have been a pleasure to him, and that I, Molin, would always be most welcome. We then presented Secretary Scaramelli, who, in few words, took his leave. In confidence his Majesty said to me, Duodo, that he wished me to inform your Serenity direct from him of a certain point, which rumour represents in various lights, namely, that the King of France was his oldest and dearest friend; that when his Majesty came to the throne of England he found many difficulties with Spain; that his desire was to live at peace with everyone. He was expecting a cavass from Turkey, via France, and was not at all pleased, as he did not approve a Turkish alliance, though the present position of affairs would compel him to receive the Turk. We then took our leave.
Salisbury, 11th December, 1603.
Dec. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 170. Piero Duodo and Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After we left the King, the Council met. Secretary Scaramelli was present; he handed in our memorandum, and explained its scope. The Council replied, head by head, as follows:—If Piers came under the general pardon granted at the Coronation, whatever promises the King might have made to the contrary it was not the King who had pardoned, but the ancient laws of this country, under which he had come to the throne, and which he had sworn to respect. That being so the King had in no way failed of his royal word, as that could only apply to special graces, not to general pardons. The Council, however, reserved the right to examine the law and the terms of the pardon, and to take legal opinion before pronouncing on the validity of the act. They promised that under no circumstances shall Piers quit his prison till he has paid or made terms with the injured parties. They instructed the judge of the Admiralty, who was present, to proceed against the parties who had fitted out Piers, and against all who had bought the plunder. The judge pleaded the great difficulties caused by the plague, which had suspended all executions for so many months, and thrown everything into confusion. As regards the case of Tomkins, they allege that the booty was far less than had been represented, for it was proved that some of the ship's own crew fled on shore at Cyprus with two barrels of gold; and that the royal proclamation was a proof of the King's earnestness in the matter. About the contents of this proclamation we need say nothing, as Scaramelli has forwarded it. The Council promise that the culprits shall be severely punished, and Tomkins, too, if he falls into the hands of justice, and that all goods that may be recovered shall be restored to their rightful owners, on their representatives producing power of attorney, which has not yet been done. As regards the despatch of a ship inside the straits to recall or coerce the pirates, the Council insist that the King will send it, though they add that among these pirates must be some desperate characters, who have little intention of ever seeing England again; that the true remedy is that your Serenity should induce the Turks to refuse the pirates shelter in Tunis, Biserta, and other harbours of Barbary, and thus to cut them off from their source of money, and compel them to change their practice and profession. As to the request that the caution money should not be fixed at one or two thousand ducats, but should run to the sum total of the damage done, the Council answered that, as peace was now virtually concluded with Spain, all privateering is forbidden under pain of death, and so all caution money ceases to be due; but should privateering ever be renewed they promise that as far as Venice is concerned the caution shall be commensurate with the damage, and the offence shall be capital in case of failure to pay.
On the other hand Secretary Cecil complained that certain matters had been commended to your Serenity's attention before the late Queen's death, but they have never been wound up, nor has any of the debt of only five hundred ducats due to Paul Pinder, been liquidated by order of the Senate.
The Council then rose, and the above reply was reported to the King, but he was not satisfied, and the following day he attended Council himself, and the whole matter was debated for two hours, his Majesty insisting upon entire satisfaction being given to your Serenity. It was finally decided that Piers' pardon was of no value, and the Judge of the Admiralty was instructed to condemn him to death, and the accomplices and guarantors to their just deserts; as Piers is not head of the family no mention was made of his property. This decision the King caused to be imparted to us before I, Duodo, left Salisbury. Thanks be to God that we have obtained all that your Serenity desired.
A deputation from Southampton waited on us at the beginning of this week to point out that there used to be a lively trade between that port and Venice, but that it has been broken off for many years to their great loss. They said they intended to petition the King to exempt Southampton from the operation of the new imposts, but would not take any step until they were assured that your Serenity would make a similar concession in their sole favour, so that free trade with Venice should be confined to the inhabitants of Southampton only. We replied that anything which facilitated good relations between Venice and England was sure of your Serenity's support; but as to the particular point we had no instructions, though we promised to lay the subject before your Serenity.
The King has just sent to say that the pirate who plundered the “Ima” (?) has arrived at Plymouth, and a warrant for his arrest is out; also for the arrest of Tomkins, who is said to be in Wales.
Salisbury, 11th December, 1603.
Dec. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 171. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen sent to inform me that she is too indisposed to grant me audience, and that, as it might continue for some time, she took my visit as made, and wished me a pleasant journey. To-morrow I leave for Southampton.
The Queen's indisposition is, they say, pregnancy. The doctors dissuade her from dressing in her usual way, and so she declines to receive any strangers.
Salisbury, 12th December, 1603.
Dec. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 172. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Ambassador Duodo left here on the 13th inst. Lord Cecil has informed me that the Ambassador destined to represent England in Venice has been appointed; he is Sir Henry Wotton, brother of Lord Wotton. He has been for long in Italy, and some years ago the Grand Duke of Tuscany made use of him on a mission to Scotland. At the present moment he is in Paris on private business, and he is to come over here at once.
Of the eleven conspirators one only has been acquitted, all the rest condemned to death. The two priests have already been executed, and on Friday the rest will suffer except Raleigh. He was Captain of the Guard under the late Queen. He will be taken back to the Tower, but after a few days he, too, will be executed. They hope in the interval to extract something from him, for he is considered the best informed of all the conspirators. (fn. 6) I leave to-morrow for London, so do the other Ambassadors. The King, in four or six days, moves to Hampton Court. The plague has almost disappeared.
Salisbury, 15th December, 1603.
Dec. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 173. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Last night the Sultan died suddenly without any preceding illness. It was kept secret. A solemn divan was ordered for this morning; and suddenly the new Sultan, Achmet, was seen seated on the Imperial throne, and by his side his father's coffin.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 21st December, 1603.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 174. Piero Duodo, retiring Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
While I was at Southampton a judge came down from the Admiralty to try the sailors who had a share in plundering the “ Balbiana.” They were all sentenced to be hung, and should be to-day, unless the King pardons them. I was asked to intercede for them, but thought well not to interfere.
Havre de Grace, 22nd December, 1603.
Dec. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 175. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador in Constantinople has sent his Secretary home to say that, after the death of Queen Elizabeth, he is badly treated by the Sultan and his ministers, who decline to recognise him as Ambassador, and refuse to observe the capitulations made under Elizabeth. The Sultan had inquired if it was true that the King intended to make peace with Spain. This rumour was brought to the Sultan's ears by the French Ambassador. The English Ambassador has sent his Secretary for instructions. The King openly shows that he has no affection for the Turkish alliance, and that he thinks all Christian Princes ought to unite for the destruction of their common foe. In Council, however, where everything is weighed in the scales of material interests, the opinions are very various. Some hold that it is necessary to maintain a good understanding with the Turks, on account of English trade in the Levant; others affirm that this Levant trade is of little moment—an opinion held by some of the Turkey merchants, who maintain that both general and private gains were greater when the whole cloth trade passed through Venice, and they confess that they are unable to conduct their business properly in the Levant, for they are selling kerseys at fourteen and even at thirteen dollars the piece, whereas they used to get eighteen, nineteen, and even twenty in Venice, The whole question is at present undecided.
Last Saturday, (fn. 7) in obedience to the King's orders, the conspirators were taken, one by one, to the place of execution. The first was Lord Cobham; he mounted the scaffold, and, after briefly commending his soul to God and asking pardon of the King and of many others, he kneeled down and laid his head on the block to await the fatal stroke. The headsman had lifted the axe to strike off his head, when there sprang upon the scaffold two emissaries of the King, and raising the body of Lord Cobham, an inert mass, more dead than alive, they carried him into a neighbouring house. Then came the second Lord, Baron Grey; he ascended the scaffold under the firm conviction that Lord Cobham was dead, but received pardon in the same fashion. A like scene was enacted with the others. His Majesty resolved to grant them grace, but in such a way that they may be said to have looked death in the face, and will retain for ever a memory of the danger they were in. Thus of the eleven prisoners only the two priests and another (fn. 8) have been executed, one has been acquitted, the others granted their lives.
The quarrel between the Ambassadors of Spain and Tuscany goes on increasing. Last Wednesday Spain had audience of the Queen, Florence of the King; neither knew of the other's visit. Spain arrived first, and as he was descending the stairs into the courtyard, where carriages pass, he saw Florence entering. He immediately stopped, and turning his back upon Florence pretended to make some remarks to his suite; Florence passed on without saluting or being saluted, and so the suites. Florence is anxiously expecting the return of the courier he has sent to the Grand Duke.
I got to London on Friday evening. No one ever mentions the plague, no more than if it had never been. The City is so full of people that it is hard to believe that about sixty thousand deaths have taken place.
To-morrow Secretary Scaramelli leaves for Holland.
London, 25th December, 1603.


  • 1. Lord Danvers and Sir Lewis Lewkenor had made the arrangements for the reception, of the Spanish Ambassador in August. Cal. S. P. Dom. August 29, 1603.
  • 2. Perhaps Dr. John Hammond, who was confirmed in that appointment for life. Cal, S. P. Dom. 24 Feb., 1604.
  • 3. Sir Thomas Chaloner. Cal. S. P. Dom., 9 Aug., 1603.
  • 4. Lords Cobham and Grey. Clarke and Watson were executed on Nov. 29-Dec. 9. Brooke on Dec. 6–16. Gardiner, 1, 139.
  • 5. Anthony Watson, Bishop of Chichester; appointed May 17th, 1603. Cal. S. P. Dom.
  • 6. But see Gardiner, 1. 139.
  • 7. December 10th–20th.
  • 8. George Brooke, Lord Cobham's brother.