Venice: May 1604

Pages 148-154

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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May 1604

May 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 215. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Villeroy's Secretary (Tes), who drowned himself when flying from the King's officers, has been embalmed, and is to be tried as though he were alive. He kept the Spanish informed of the contents of M. de Rosny's first letters from England. They were taken to M. de Villeroy's house, but cannot now be found. M. de Villeroy is in great anxiety, and declares he would pay any sum so as to have the secretary alive, that he might establish his innocence. The King treats him with his usual confidence.
The King is chiefly anxious about letters he had from the States, declaring how hard pressed they were.
Paris, 11th May, 1604.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 216. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Monday week, the 3rd of this month, but April 23rd old style, on St. George's Day, a chapter oil the Garter was held. The King, the Prince, and the knights, to the number of eighteen, ail in their robes, went to chapel, where prayers were said in the vulgar tongue, in place of the Mass which used to be celebrated according to ancient usage; each knight made his offering of gold and silver Then the procession was formed, and they all entered a great hall where the banquet took place. His Majesty and the Prince sat at one table, the rest of the knights at another. The Ambassadors used to be invited, but owing to the question of precedence between France and Spain, his Majesty issued no invitation, he merely gave the Ambassadors a convenient place whence to view the ceremony, and afterwards caused dinner to be served to each of us in separate rooms. But as the banquet lasted a long time, as is usual in this country, an innovation was made; for no sooner had the Ambassadors finished their dinner than they were summoned, one by one, into the royal presence. Prance was called first. He entered the hall and approached his Majesty's table; there he stood paying compliments and offering congratulations for the space of about half a quarter of an hour (per il spatio di mezzo quarto d'hora), and then went to the Prince, did the same, and took his leave. The Spanish Ambassador was then called; as he entered by the door he met the French Ambassador, who was coming out, and there being a great crowd about, their suites charged each other violently, partly because they could not help it, partly because they wanted to; for one wished to leave the Chamber, the other to enter it, and neither wished to seem to yield. The Ambassadors passed close by each other without saluting. All this has given rise to much gossip about insults, and hands on hilts, and high words, which is all false. The Spanish Ambassador went through the same ceremony as the French, then I followed, then the Ambassador of the Duke of Neuberg (fn. 1) (Neuburgh) and the Ambassador of Wirtemberg; the latter was charged to return thanks for the Garter.
Presents of horses, mules, &c, for the King from the Grand Duke, from Wirtemberg, and from M. de Caron in the name of the States.
The English merchants interested in Turkey are very anxious about the burning of the galleys off Algiers; they fear it was done by an Englishman, though at the instance of the Grand Duke, and that the Turk may make reprisals on English property. They are doing their best to secure the despatch of a courier express with letters from the King and presents. Meantime they have stopped two ships laden for Constantinople, and think of giving them orders to sail straight to Venice without touching any part of Turkish dominions.
Two days ago there was arrested, in a house, a priest almost robed to say Mass; his congregation also was all arrested, but subsequently liberated. The priest was condemned to death a few days later, but the King pardoned him.
London, 11th May, 1604.
May 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 217. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish Ambassador went to his Majesty a few days ago to say, that the Constable writes that he is so ill and his malady will take so long to cure that he cannot say when he will be able to cross the sea. As the conference cannot be put off much longer it is suggested that d'Aremberg, Richardot, and other Councillors should conduct the negotiations. The Constable offers to send his powers by the hands of the Envoys; and begs the King to send his ships to convey them as soon as possible. The King and his ministers are not only surprised, but displeased and suspicious as well. The plea of health is held to be a mere excuse. The King was highly pleased at the prospect of receiving the Constable, and had already gone to great charges in preparing a lodging, but now they feel that they are being trifled with and openly show resentment. The Spanish Ambassador, aware of this, now declares that the Constable will make every effort to come, but that it is impossible to defer negotiations any longer. The Ambassador has further begged the King to urge the States to send an Envoy here during the negotiations, with a view to concluding peace. The King answered that last year, at the instance of Count d'Aremberg, he had written in this sense to Holland, and that in reply the States declared that they could take no steps as long as Count Maurice was still in the field. Subsequently they sent answer that they would only treat on the basis of an independent state, and declined discussion of any other attitude; and in face of such an answer the King thought it useless to renew the proposal. In Parliament nothing is being decided; they debate continually. His Majesty grows daily more and more eager for the union, but every day fresh and unsurmountable difficulties arise, so that no one believes that the King can possibly accomplish his intent. He does not cease to labour, argue, plead, but all, as yet, in vain; for in truth these two nations nourish an inextinguishable hate for each other. (fn. 2) The King thought that the concession of full liberty to the constituencies to choose their own members, and his abstention from the methods of his predecessors ought to have disposed his subjects to meet his wishes. But it is obvious now that the policy was a mistaken one, for the Parliament is full of seditious subjects, turbulent and bold, who talk freely and loudly about the independence and the authority of Parliament in virtue of its ancient privileges, which have fallen into disuse, but may be revived, and this will prove a diminution and abasement of the royal prerogative.
The week before last tèn, in the last, nineteen deaths from plague. Alarm is felt at the approach of the warm season.
London, 12th May, 1604.
May 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 218. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
I hear that an English corsair has brought a prize into Modon. He was chased right up to the castle walls by the Admiral. The Admiral demanded from the Turkish commander the prize and also the pirate. But the Turk replied that he could do nothing without orders from the Sanjak of the Morea.
Zante, 17th May, 1604. O.S.
May 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 219. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
Four westerlings attacked two English privateers. They fought for half a day. One of the English ships was boarded by seventy men, when the crew set fire to the ship and the powder magazine, and burned and blew them all into the sea. The other Englishman went to the bottom, riddled with shot, and all her crew were killed as they struggled in the water.
Zante, 18th May, 1604. O.S.
May 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 220. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After long efforts to persuade Parliament to carry out the union, and finding that fresh and insurmountable obstacles are constantly arising, the King has limited his request to the demand for a commission of Scottish and English to discover the way to overcome the difficulties. This proposal, which was introduced in the lower House, was rejected in terms which were far from cautious, and showed but little respect for the royal power and authority. This is a proof that the real opposition lies in Parliament, not in the nature of the proposal itself. When the King heard what had taken place he was greatly incensed, and taking a pen he, with his own hand, wrote a somewhat sharp letter to the Commons, a copy of which I enclose. The King ordered the letter to be read at a sitting of the House, and that a copy be given to any who might ask for it. When the letter had been read the House hesitated for a while, but after debate they assented to the appointment of the Commissioners. They will number about thirty, and four-fifths are necessary to a quorum. If the Scottish are to elect a like number and in the same way, heaven only knows when they will meet. The King is very anxious, for at first he thought the opposition was confined to the lower House, but he finds now that the upper House shares the feeling, and though they do not openly display their sentiments they privately urge the Commons to stand firm, and furnish them with arguments. The Commissioners will soon be named, and then Parliament will be adjourned till Michaelmas.
Count d'Aremberg and the other Envoys have landed at Dover. They are expected here to-morrow or the day after. The King and Council are very angry at what that Englishman has done in Bar- bary, at the instance of the Grand Duke. They are afraid of complications with the Turk; and an Envoy is ready to start for Constantinople. They merely wait further particulars. The King has written to the Grand Duke to complain.
The French Ambassador, on the occasion of his daughter's baptism, to whom the Queen stood sponsor, gave a breakfast, to which he invited the Ambassador of Spain, and thus a reconciliation took place.
I have received your despatches of the 17th April, enclosing the Governor of Zante's letter. I have asked for audience, and am to be received on Friday.
Last week twenty deaths from plague. They fear that this week the number will be much greater.
London, 19th May, 1604.
May 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 221. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The audience I ought to have had on Friday was put off till yesterday. I informed his Majesty that I was commanded to call his attention to acts of extreme insolence committed by English sailors; that the Senate could easily have found a way to punish and suppress; but that they did not wish to take any step which might possibly throw a doubt on the affection which they feel towards his Majesty; that they thought it better to report the matter to his Majesty, in the confident hope that he would duly punish the culprits, and order the indemnification of the sufferers.
I then detailed the facts of the attack made by the sailors of the 'Greyhound” (Levriera) on the Governor of Zante's officers, who were searching for contraband, and their expulsion; and also how the “Greyhound” drew out to sea and lay for six days in sight of the town with the signal for battle flying. I added that Captain Bower (?) (Bour) in April, of 93, seized the marciliana, “Costantina,” and carried her into Modon, where he sold the cargo of wood and grain, which was the property of your Serenity, He tried to sell the ship too, but the Cadi, though a Turk, had more respect for the Ensign of St. Mark than the scoundrel Englishman, and took the ship into his own keeping. The King listened with great attention, and showed his displeasure at such acts; he said that this was the outcome of the war, during which they had issued more letters of marque than, perhaps, was justified. He promised exemplary punishment if the culprits came into his hands, and told me to inform the chief Secretary, Cecil. I took the occasion to mention my own private loss, which I suffered through the robbery of my effects, on their way from Venice to England. After great difficulty I succeeded in capturing two of the culprits, but law here is very different from that in other countries, and, I think, not quite reasonable, for here, if you proceed against the person of a thief you may not proceed against his property and vice versa. I told his Majesty that I thought such a law too favourable to robbers and something like an invitation to become such, for they have only to restore the stolen goods or a part of it to save their lives. “Quite true,” said the King. “They are barbarous laws, unworthy of a civilized people and contrary to the jus gentium; but what can I do? I found them in force when I came to the throne.” I replied, “Sire, my case is very different from that of others; for it is a case not of merchants and merchandize, but of the Envoy of a great and friendly state, and of his private property.” The King told me to bring this matter, too, before Cecil, who would see to it that I received every satisfaction. All the same I have very little hope, for the two prisoners are poor wretches with no property, and if they were hung that would not cover me for my loss. All ships that sail with letters patent pay caution money of three or four thousand crowns, but that is of no use when they can rob to the value of a hundred thousand. I will try to secure that the caution money be raised.
London, 26th May, 1604.
May 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 222. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After the discovery of Tes' treachery the King has been in consultation as to whether he had not better declare war on Spain. M. de Rosny recommends peace, Villeroy war.
Paris, 26th May, 1604.
[Italian; deciphered.]
May 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 223. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Turkey merchants have finally resolved to despatch their ships, but with orders to inform themselves as to the state of affairs in Barbary before landing there; if the attitude is hostile to the English they are to go on to Constantinople. The Secretary of the English Ambassador in Constantinople goes with them. He had been sent to England for credentials from the new King. They have good hopes of all success, relying in part on the present; in part on the unsettled state of Turkey.
The Scottish Parliament has met. It differs from the English Parliament in this, that in the latter all members take part in debates, in the former they select among themselves a committee of thirty or forty for dealing with all public affairs. On the election of this committee news was brought that the English were raising difficulties about the union. This roused disgust and anger in the breasts of the Scottish. The whole Parliament met again, and charged the committee to listen to no proposals whatever regarding the union. The Scottish pretend that the English should sue for union, and should beg to be accepted by the Scottish.
Count d'Aremberg and the other Commissioners arrived a week ago, the 19th. Among them is Alexander Roveda, arrived from Milan at the instance of the Constable. He lodges with the Spanish Ambassadors. These two are to represent the King of Spain, while d'Aremberg, Richardot, and the Grand Audientiary (Louis Vereiken) are to represent the Archduke. They have been received in audience to present credentials; on Saturday the Court goes to Greenwich, and in July the Royal progresses will begin.
Deaths from plague, twenty last week in London.
London, 26th May, 1604.
May 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 224. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
The Admiral is still off Modon, in the hope of recovering the marciliana, “Vidala,” which the English pirate ran into that port. I wrote to the Sanjak of the Morea, demanding restitution of the ship and the cargo. He replied he would willingly give me all that was Venetian, but that he was informed there were Spanish on board, and these he meant to keep as enemies of the Porte.
Zante, 29th May, 1604. O.S.


  • 1. Erected into a Sovereign Duchy at the beginning of the 16th century in favour of one branch of the Palatine family. La Martiniere, “Le grand Dictionnaire géographique.” S.V.
  • 2. On April 15th the King ordered Popham to apprehend certain “people of the damned crew of swaggerers who seek to create disturbances against Scotsmen.” Cal, S. P. Dom.