Venice: March 1604

Pages 134-140

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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March 1604

March 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 192. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I reported the Levant Company's petition to Council for the restoration of their Charter, and the appointment of a committee of six. The committee met serveral times, and heard both the merchants of the company and the others. It then reported in favour of the continuance of the company, and, in order to give some satisfaction to the outsiders, they have arranged that any who chooses may enter the company on payment of two hundred ducats. The company is to maintain the Ambassador and Consuls in those parts, and to meet these charges, which are said to amount to twenty thousand ducats a year, it is proposed to levy duties on goods. The nature of the new impost is not known yet, and they entertain hopes that none may be levied if your Serenity will make a like concession in Venice, Zante, Cephalonia, and Crete. Others wish to renew the Charter as it stood; the company to levy the tax and to pay four thousand sterling per annum to the Crown. Others again would like to see the tax levied in the King's name, as they hope that the Crown revenues would thus be greatly increased. I shall keep you informed of all that takes place. Meantime numbers of vessels are being got ready for the Levant, and although the recommendations of the committee have not been approved as yet by the Council no one has any doubt but that they will be.
Antonio Perez reached England at last; but, arrived at Dover, he was met by an order from the King, bidding him remain there till further commands. He several times sued humbly for an audience, but unsuccessfully. The Spanish Ambassador suspects that Perez has been sent over here by the French to upset his negotiations. After waiting some time Perez has gone back to France.
The King and Court are at Westminster, that is in the very City of London. They are pushing on the preparations for the solemn entry, which is fixed for the twenty-fifth. On the twenty-ninth Parliament meets. They say it will be long for there is much to decide.
The last week sixteen deaths of plague, and this week only twelve. This gives hope that the scourge will soon cease.
London, 4th March, 1604.
March 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 193. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Constable has begun to discuss the question of the retirement of the Archduke and the Infanta. The Crown of Valencia is held out as a bait. The Infanta shows some indecision, but the Archduke is resolved not to move. In order to induce him to accept their proposals the Spanish are more dilatory than usual in sending supplies. Count Maurice must be in the field with sixteen thousand men and four thousand horse. Their Highnesses have sent Don Rodrigo Lasso into Spain to represent the risk there is of some disaster unless vigorous support is given at once. The Constable has sent Don Vlasco d'Aragona to tell the King that the Archduke is resolved not to move, and everything is going ill, owing to his incapacity for government. Don Vlasco is also to report that the King of England will not send Commissioners to negotiate for peace outside his own kingdom.
The Polish Ambassador has obtained leave for his master to raise eight thousand infantry and twenty ships if necessary.
The King has ordered the release of many ecclesiastics, who were prisoners, some of them for upwards of eighteen years; in a few days it is hoped that all will be at liberty. This inspires the Catholics with hope, and it is thought certain that the question of liberty of conscience will be debated in the coming Parliament. It would be a notable triumph; but heresy has struck such roots in this country that many hold it unlikely that liberty will be conceded.
Secretary Cecil has made strong representations to me on the subject of the five hundred ducats due to Paul Pinder.
London, 4th March, 1604.
March 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 194. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
About the middle of last month there arrived in this port the English ship, “Little Phœnix,” Captain, Robert Olet, from Venice with currants, and the English ship, “Greyhound,” from Smyrna and Chios, with cotton, silk, &c, both bound for England. I am told that by night, secretly, currants were carried on board both ships illegally. As it is impossible on this open coast to employ force, I planned by a ruse to get the two Captains up to the castle, so that, while holding them as hostages, I might freely search their vessels. My scheme succeeded as regards the “Little Phœnix,” but a search revealed nothing amiss. The Captain of the “Greyhound,” however, refused to come into my presence, alleging various excuses. I, therefore, sent my officer along with the Admiral to search the ship one day when the Captain was not on board. There, among the bales of cotton they found some currants, and immediately tried to unship the “Greyhound's “ rudder, so as to arrest the ship. The crew, however, rose and drove my officer and the Admiral out of the vessel. They weighed anchor and drew out of range at once; and for six days they lay off the city with the signal for battle flying. As I had no force with which to punish this insolence I proceeded to proclaim, try, and sentence the Captain and a merchant, who had bought currants.
Zante, 8th March, 1604. O.S.
March 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 195. Zacharia Gabriel and Agustin Canal, Governors in Corfu, to the Doge and Senate.
About four months ago a Maltese privateer fell in with a Turkish caramusale, laden with corn. The privateers captured it, and putting twenty of their number on board they sailed as consorts, intending to carry their booty into Malta. A storm separated them, and on the third of this month the caramusale ran on to the shoals of Alestimo in this island. Just at that moment, in spite of the high sea that was running, a small English berton pursued the caramusale and overtook her. The English, under colour of helping her, went on board, and by a ruse they seized, and bound the crew, and clapped them under hatches. They then threw their own cargo of planks and hoops into the sea, and filled their vessel full of the corn, etc., which formed the cargo of the caramusale. They then set sail, and the storm carried them down the channel and out into the open. The crew of the caramusale stayed there in their wrecked and derelict ship, while the people of Alestimo helped themselves to a certain amount of the remaining corn, until in a few hours she sank.
We have opened proceedings against the people of Alestimo, and have fed, clothed, and embarked the crew of the caramusale on a ship of Naples.
Corfu, 10th March, 1604.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 196. Deposition of Claude della Motte, of Paris, a soldier by profession, embarked on board a galley of the Grand Master of Malta, to sail on a privateering expedition under command of M. Sambier. Sailed for Alexandria in the Levant. Off Cyprus fell in with a Turk, laden with corn. Fought all day. The Turks abandoned the ship under cover of night. Found eight dead Turks on board. Our Commander put twenty of us on board, and we sailed for Malta. We were caught in strong south-westerly gale, and lost our rudder and sails. We parted company, and were driven on to the shoals of Cape Blanco eight days ago. A berton bore down on us, and cried to us to keep up our courage. Seven men got into one of her boats and came aboard us, and with fair words they took us to the salt pans of Lestimo. There they dropped anchor, and made us do the same. Then they all came aboard, and ordered us below, on pretence of saving the ship. They took our clothes, arms, all that we had; and began to lade their ship with our corn, after unlading their own ship of its cargo of staves and hoops. They lay there a day and a night, and then sailed away towards Corfu with four Frenchmen out of the caramusale. After that ten or twelve boats, with many people on board, put out from Lestimo. We begged them for help, and they boarded us. When they saw that by reason of the holes in her the ship might sink they began to unlade the rest of the corn as fast as they could, and carried it off in their boats. When we saw that instead of helping us they were plundering us, we jumped into the boats as well, in order to save our lives, as the ship was in danger of going down; she would have done so had not the men cut her cables and let her drift to destruction on shore. We were taken to the salt pans, and the Captain locked us into a warehouse and gave us food and drink; and sent us on to Corfu by land.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 197. Depositions of Pier Andrée, of Avignon. Repeats the story told in the preceding depositions.
March 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 198. Maffio Michiel, Governor of Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
In spite of orders, forbidding the export of currants, both the English and the inhabitants continue to smuggle. There are twelve islanders waiting trial, although some severe sentences have already been passed. The other day I sent an English ship out of port, but she lay hard by till the inhabitants had smuggled a load of currants on board. The same day, towards evening, my customs officers found a boat with twenty-six sacks of currants lying at the door of a warehouse—most of these warehouses are very handy for smuggling. In the boat and about the warehouse were sixteen men all armed with halberts, swords, and other sorts of arms, who used force to prevent the officers from seizing the boat or entering the warehouse; this they could easily have done, but the Captain of the harquebuseers arriving on the spot, they were forced to yield, and the officers seized the boat, and closed and sealed the warehouse, inside which was another boat all ready laden with currants to go on board the ship. I have proclaimed, as criminals, two of these citizens, the names of the others I do not know yet. I shall proceed to punish them according to the law. Your Serenity will gather from this that I am quite unable to check this smuggling altogether. The reasons I have already explained, and will not repeat. Unless the supreme authority takes steps its orders will not be obeyed.
Zante, 10th March, 1604. O.S.
March 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 199. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Just as the Catholics were beginning to hope for a satisfactory solution of the religious question, encouraged by the liberation of so many ecclesiastics, which they attributed to a good disposition on the part of the King and Council, a Proclamation was issued, ordering the Jesuits and priests to leave the kingdom by the 19th-29th of this month under pain of the laws already in force against them. Some think that this step is taken against the priests because in all recent conspiracies they have had a great share, and that the King will use rigour with ecclesiastics only, and will treat the lay Catholics gently. The tone of the Proclamation makes this clear; besides the King has remitted the recusancy fines, which were an insupportable burden, amounting to thirty per cent, of the income. Others think that the King and Council, knowing how many Catholics there are in the country, do not wish to drive both lay and ecclesiastics to desperation at one and the same moment, but that after the clergy have been expelled the laity will gradually be crushed.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who is seventy-four years old, was last Sunday struck with apoplexy when preaching before the King, and last night he died, to the grief of all. It is generally thought that he was a Catholic at heart. He never would marry, and was always a bitter foe to the Puritans, the most pestilent sect in this kingdom. There is great competition for the see, which has an income of six thousand pounds a year. As yet it is thought that the Bishop of London or the Bishop of Winchester (fn. 1) will be translated.
The agent of the Archduke has hired a house for Count d'Aremberg, who is expected soon on peace negotiations.
An agent from Duke Charles, uncle of the King of Poland, is here.
This week sixteen deaths of plague.
London, 11th March, 1604.
March 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 200. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Lord Balfour of Burleigh and Count Alfonso Montecuccoli have passed through. The former is on a mission to Venice and Florence to enquire into the conduct of Sir Anthony Standen.
The Spanish Ambassador in England has begged the King not to give shelter to Antonio Perez, and so he has returned to France.
The King of France has not only completed his payment of 450,000 crowns to the States, that is 300,000 for his share, and 150,000 on behalf of the King of England, as agreed, but he has begun to pay next year's rate as well. He has, with the King of England's consent, already disbursed 105,000, for which he has drawn a receipt. The King of England has again urged absolute secrecy on this matter. No one here knows anything about it but the King, Rosny, Villeroy, and Sillery. Will your Serenity order absolute secrecy in Venice?
Paris, 16th March, 1604.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 201. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Monday at about the hour of twenty, the King, Queen, Prince, Council, and Court left Westminster by river for the Tower. They were accompanied by a large number of boats, and on landing they could only climb the stairs with difficulty, owing to the crowd which had gathered to see their Majesties. There was bull-baiting and other sports. All the prisons in the Tower had been thrown open, and the prisoners set free, but a few days earlier the four conspirators, whose lives had been spared by the King's clemency, were moved to another prison. The same was done to Sir Anthony Standen, who had been sent to the Tower on his return from Italy.
On Tuesday the King created two Earls; one the Treasurer, who became the Earl of Dorset, and the other, Lord Henry Howard, created Earl of Northampton. Thirty knights of various conditions were also created. The City looked for the creation of twelve Barons and one Duke; the latter is exceedingly desired, for there is no English Duke, though there is one Scottish, Lennox, and the English cannot bear to see the first rank held by one of that nation. The King, however, declined to do any more, though they hope to secure this favour from him before Parliament, which is to meet on Monday, is dissolved. “Wednesday was spent in the usual sports. Yesterday morning, at eleven o'clock, the King left the Tower. He was preceded by ail the magistrates of the City, the Court functionaries, the clergy, Bishops and Archbishops, Earls, Marquises, Barons and knights, superbly apparelled and clad in silk of gold, with pearl embroideries; a right royal show. The Prince was on horseback, ten paces ahead of the King, who rode under a canopy borne over his head by four-and-twenty gentlemen, splendidly dressed, eight of whom took it turn and turn about. The Queen followed twenty paces behind; she was seated on a royal throne, drawn by two white mules (chinee); in a richly furnished carriage behind her Majesty came the Lady Arabella, with certain maids of honour in attendance; behind her again about seventy ladies on horseback, all splendidly dressed. In this order the procession moved from the Tower to Westminster, a distance of about three miles all through the City. There were eight triumphal arches; six raised by the citizens of London, one by the Dutch, and one by the Italians, which certainly came first, both for the excellence of its design and for the painting which adorned it. This was his Majesty's entry, which should have been made at the time of his succession, but which was put off till now because of the plague.
None of the Ambassadors were present at any of these festivities, owing to the quarrel for precedence between Prance and Spain. The King has declined as yet to pronounce on the point, nor will he accept the usage of other Courts, for he does not admit that they have any weight with him. He resolved to invite no one, though he gave a house apiece to France, Spain, and myself, whence each of us had an excellent view of all that took place.
Fifteen deaths last week from plague; only ten this; a good sign when we remember the crowds gathered to see the show.
London, 26th March, 1604.
March 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 202. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Envoy of the King of Poland's uncle has not been received as yet by the King. It is thought that he will not be admitted, as the King very openly declares that he does not approve of rebellious subjects.
His Majesty has recently sent a gentleman of his chamber, called Hay (Hei), to condole with the King of France on the death of his sister, the Duchess de Bar.
The Spanish Ambassador has returned no reply from the King of Spain on the subject of the peace negotiations. In conversation he has suggested building a house on the very confines of France and Flanders, and of using a round table to surmount the difficulties of precedence. The King stands firm in his resolution to send no Commissioners over seas. It is thought the Constable will take no steps till he has an answer from Spain. He also wishes to see how the siege of Ostend will terminate; they declare the city is at its last. They say they have found out an easy way to make a harbour capable of sheltering a large number of ships, and this will enable them to put a bridle on the English in these waters. But there is a rumour that Ostend is not as badly off as the Spanish affirm, and that it has recently been revictualled.
London, 26th March, 1604.
March 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 203. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of England has sent a gentleman (Hay) of his bedchamber, a Scot and prime favourite, under pretext of condoling for the death of Madame, but really to tell the King that his master has always refused to send Commissioners to negotiate for peace outside England, and to promise that, if the matter comes to a head, the King of England will send the terms of the treaty here before taking a final step. This Envoy has been received to-day, so I do not know yet what answer he has obtained. All this in the strictest confidence.
Paris, 30th March, 1604.
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. Dr. Thomas Bilson.