Venice: February 1604

Pages 130-134

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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February 1604

Feb. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 187. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The time for the execution of Piers is approaching. He originally offered to Scaramelli three hundred crowns for his freedom, but hoping to be included in the general pardon he subsequently withdrew the offer, and spent the money. He has strong support in the Council, and many members have begged the King to pardon him; but his Majesty replied that he had passed his word, and that the whole question now lay with your Serenity's Ambassador. All the Councillors now turn to me, assuring me that I will greatly please the Council and the King himself, and will be acting in the best interests of the injured parties; for, apart from the thousand crowns Piers now offers, he promises to disclose the names of many mariners, his companions in crime, from whom three or four thousand crowns at the least may be recovered, and that this will be much more valuable than the death of this man; the execution of six mariners in Southampton being sufficient for an example; and they urge a thousand other considerations besides. I report all this in order that your Serenity may instruct me. Piers will be reprieved for two months. The interested parties can consider what is best; I have replied that I cannot interfere directly in the matter. I must say that the interested parties show little care for their own interests. There is no one here authorized to act for them; and though I am in duty bound to protect the interests of Venetian subjects it is not becoming for me to appear in courts to ask for warrants. It is true Sig. Martin Federici holds a power of attorney for them, but on condition that he acts on their orders only. Those orders have never been received. I report all this in my own defence, for if the affair goes to ruin they will only have themselves to thank.
The conference on religious matters has been holding its sitings before the King. The debate has been acrimonious; one minister had the audacity to say that, if they were to obey all these prelates, they might as well obey the Pope at once. He was nearly put in prison for it. The King wound the matter up by a declaration, to which all have had to bow.
London, 4th February, 1603 [m.v.].
Feb. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 188. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate
Ten days ago there arrived at Court Sir Anthony Standen and James le Sieur (Suer). The first comes from Italy, where he visited your Serenity and the Grand Duke, the other comes from Denmark and the German Princes. He is blamed because, without any orders from the King, he urged the German Princes to assist and protect the Duke de Bouillon, the contumacious subject of his Most Christian Majesty, and declared that the King would do the same. There is not evidence enough to justify the Council in proceeding against him, but he has not been able to see the King yet. Standen is charged with too open a display of his Catholic sympathies; he attended Mass and all other religious functions, without recollecting that he was the representative of a Prince of a different Creed. They further say that, when he was in Florence, he was in the closest relations with a Secretary of Cardinal Aldobrandino, and that he corresponded with the Jesuit Father, Robert Perons (? Parsons) in Rome, a man who is suspected of being ill-affected towards his Majesty. The Jesuits gave him a pamphlet to prove that sound government and reasons of state require that the King should embrace the Catholic faith. Standen is said to have pledged himself to secure the spread of the Jesuit Order in England, and has promised to report to the Jesuits in Rome all that takes place. In return his Beatitude has promised him the hat and large revenues, and he has already received a very considerable present. All this is based on information from a confidential servant of Sir Anthony's. In order to obtain further proof of tins the Government sent to Paris a friend of Standen's to await his arrival, and then to lodge with him, and to pretend that it all came about by chance. This was done and succeeded capitally, for, on his friend telling Standen that he was bound with all speed for Florence on business, Sir Anthony begged him to take charge of a packet of letters addressed to Rome, and to post them in Florence. The friend promised and took the letters. Next morning early he mounted his horse, but instead of going towards Italy he set out for England, and handed the letters to his Majesty in person, who, on perusing them, was fully convinced, and obtained all the information he desired. These letters served to convict Standen, who had at first denied everything. But on the production of the letters he confessed all, and declared that he was worthy of death. He was instantly consigned to the Tower, and he will not come out alive it is thought.
The Spanish Ambassador has replied to the Constable about the Commissioners to treat for peace in Emden.
Baron Buccleugh (Baclu) is preparing to take command of the two thousand troops he raised to assist the Dutch. Fresh troops also are being raised in Scotland.
The plague has greatly decreased this week, there were only fifteen deaths.
London, 5th February, 1603 [m.v.].
Feb. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 189. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King lets it be understood by his intimates that he has discovered that the Spanish are every day winning over some English minister with gold; for quite recently the Marshal of England, who was thought to have French leanings, said that he did not despair of crowning his master King of France in the Bois de Vincennes, where the English used to live when they were masters of a large part of France.
The King has assigned a pension of one hundred crowns a month to the Duchess of Lennox, (fn. 1) a French woman, whose husband, a Scot, has great weight with the King of England.
Paris, 17th February, 1604.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 190. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The merchants of the late Levant Company used to levy the dues upon currants and muscats, and pay the Crown four thousand pounds sterling, that is, sixteen thousand ducats, a year, and also provided for the Ambassador in Constantinople. During the first months of this reign they renounced their patent, and dissolved the company, alleging that they were unable to pay the four thousand a year, and could only meet the charges of the Ambassador. But when they saw that the King merely proceeded to levy the four thousand pounds on his own account, without vouchsafing any other reply, they met again and presented a petition to the Council, earnestly praying for the renewal and confirmation of their Charter upon the same terms as before. All the other merchants offer the liveliest opposition, declaring that the trade of Venice and of the Levant, which is so important, ought not to be restricted to a single company, depriving all outside it of their right to trade, to the great injury, not merely of the King's subjects, but of the King himself, for the more merchants there are in the kingdom the greater revenue will the customs naturally yield. After a long discussion the Council named a commission of six to make a thorough inquiry and to present a report, upon which the Council will arrive at that decision which shall seem most consonant with the public weal. I hear that the merchants, not of the company, are in hopes that, if the Charter is not renewed, the impost may be entirely abolished, provided a like concession is granted in Venice. (fn. 2)
Some ships that had voyaged to Barbary to sell or barter their cargoes, finding that country torn in pieces by the quarrels of the three sons of the King of Morocco, each of whom claims the throne, have had to return home with their cargoes unsold. This is likely to cause two heavy failures.
A fire recently broke out in a Doctor's College (un collegio di Dottori), which destroyed a number of public and private documents.
The Florentine Ambassador is leaving to-morrow. He is highly content with his reception. With him goes Lord Burleigh (Baron Burlei) (fn. 3) on a mission to Italy to report upon Sir Anthony Standen's proceedings. A document has been found upon Sir Anthony's person; it sets forth the reasons which should induce the King to embrace the Catholic faith. Standen at first declared that the Grand Duke had given it to him, but he subsequently admitted that this was a lie.
Twenty-seven deaths of plague this week in the city only; the returns for the suburbs are not yet to hand.
London, 18th February, 1603 [m.v.].
Feb. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 191. Nicolo Molin Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish Ambassador has again approached the King on the selection of some neutral place abroad for the discussion of peace negotiations, supposing that Emden does not please his Majesty. He urges the great age of the Constable and the inconvenience of passing the sea in winter time. He concluded by saying it did not become so great a sovereign as the King of Spain to send to the King of England's Court to treat of such an important matter as peace. The King replied that, if the Constable had sufficient strength to reach Brussels, he could quite well come on to England; spring was coming on, and a month, more or less, made little difference; as to the dignity of the Spanish Crown, if only Spanish subjects were to be discussed, and no mention made of either the Archduke or of Flanders then hr would gladly send to meet the King of Spain's Envoys. The Ambassador pointed out that the affairs of the Archduke could not be distinguished from Spanish affairs. “Then,” replied the King, “If the Archduke wants anything let him send here, for I will not send Commissioners to him.”
The Ambassador then referred to the rumour that English ships were fitting out for the voyage to the Portuguese Indies, and said that this would suggest doubts as to the sincerity of the King's desire for peace. “No,” said the King, “This is an obvious sign of good-will, for when the subjects of two sovereigns traffic freely with one another then we may say that a true peace exists; and if your master takes this in another sense I don't know what I am to think of his intentions.” This answer alarmed the Ambassador, who now begins to doubt if it will be so easy to conclude peace.
The French Ambassador has, in his mistress's name, presented to the Queen of England jewels to the value of twelve or thirteen thousand crowns. In the King's name eight of the Council were offered one thousand crowns a piece. Some of them made a difficulty about accepting the gift, and the question was discussed in the presence of the King of England, who declared himself content that each should take all that was offered him.
London, 19th February, 1603 [m.v.].


  • 1. Catherine de Balsac, wife of Esmè, first Duke of Lennox, and aunt of Mdlle, d'Entragues, Marquise de Verneuil.
  • 2. Cal. S. P. Dom., Feb. 20, 1604. p. 79.
  • 3. Michael Balfour of Burleigh. Cal, S. P. Dom., Jan. 28, 1604.