Venice: July 1604

Pages 165-171

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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July 1604

July 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 237. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador here resident has just received news from certain English merchants in Leghorn that three English ships have burned seven Barbary galleots, which were laid up in the port of Bedda (Buggia), not far from Tunis, destroyed a small fortress, and carried off the Cadi and twenty-five Turks as prisoners. These English were banished from England two years ago, and took to piracy on the Barbary coast. They were, on orders from the Porte, arrested, but set free again on payment of a large sum to the Beglierbey of Algiers, and even sent out once more to plunder, on condition that they paid a certain proportion of their gains to the Beglierbey. This went on for a time, but the native Militia, whom they were always harrying, finally gave them such a rough handling that they resolved to offer themselves to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, as there was no chance of their being able to return to England, and promised, if he took them into his pay, to do some signal deeds. He gave them a large sum of money, and they set sail again for Barbary. They landed, on the strength of their old relationship, and on a fit opportunity presenting itself they carried out their promise. They then returned to the Grand Duke, and were handsomely rewarded. The Pasha complained to the Porte; and the English Ambassador went to inform the Porte that of his own accord he had obtained orders to arrest and execute these pirates.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, the first of July, 1604.
[Italian; deciphered.]
July 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 238. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Sunday night, by order of the King and Council, the Earl of Southampton, Baron Danvers, and five others were arrested, and each one confined in a separate house. Yesterday morning, after undergoing several examinations, they were set at liberty. I have not yet found out the real reason. As they have been set at liberty so soon it is to be supposed that the cause was the malignity of some of their enemies, who are numerous. Parliament will be prorogued on Tuesday next. The proposal to grant a subsidy was not favourably received by the majority, and so the King would not press the motion. He wrote a letter of thanks to Parliament, declaring that he was not in need of money; but he could not conceal his irritation, Andy indeed, the Lower House has always opposed his Majesty upon every point in such a disagreeable manner that people are amazed that his Majesty can stand it.
When Parliament is dissolved the King and Court will move to Windsor, where they will spend the summer. The King has been advised not to make his usual progress, on account of the plague, which is very bad in the country. London is now the healthiest place; last week there were only nine deaths.
The King, Queen, and Prince, with many noblemen, went to Rochester to review the fleet, which numbered thirty-seven sail. There were besides many ships belonging to private owners. There was a great display, as this is the first time the King has reviewed the navy.
The Florentine Secretary has at last been allowed to despatch the ship he had bought. Many of the Council were strongly opposed; but the King had pledged his word.
London, 6th July, 1604.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 239. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
When the Englishman was arrested the Count d'Auvergne sent to say that if the King would pardon him he would reveal the whole plot. The King promised; and d'Auvergne told the whole story, throwing the chief blame on the Marchioness (de Verneuil). But the King does not believe him.
Paris, 7th July, 1604.
July 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 240. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador, in audience, has satisfied the King, who was suspicious about the conduct of the King of England as regards Spain; also in the receipt for the money paid to the Dutch he insists on being styled King of France.
The French Ambassador in England declares that peace with Spain will be concluded, for the Spanish assent to everything the English demand.
Paris, 7th July, 1604.
July 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 241. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
A few days ago the men of one of the Northern Counties, who are almost all Catholics, rose and expelled the Calvinistic ministers, and insisted upon the public and solemn celebration of the Mass in the church. Nothing has been done as yet. The Lower House has passed severe measures lately against the Catholics, but they have not been carried yet in the Upper House. The King is well disposed towards the Catholics.
Negotiations for peace are not progressing as vigorously as was expected. The way to satisfy both parties has not been found; especially on the question of the admission of a Spanish fleet into these seas and ports. The English Commissioners cannot consent to this clause, which would oblige his Majesty to keep a number of ships and troops ready in each port at a vast expense. Nor can they come to terms about the navigation to the Indies; the Spanish wish the King to pledge himself to stop it; whereas the English say that they cannot do more than permit the Spaniards to punish all they may find at it. But the Spanish urge that this will compel them to maintain a large fleet. The Spanish also wish the King to forbid his subjects to take service with the States, but his Majesty maintains his original attitude of allowing them to serve wherever it suits them best.
Ostend is in extreme peril. The Marquis Spinola has manned three redoubts; and the besieged have constructed fresh trenches further inside the town in which they can hold out if the outworks are captured. Count Maurice is bombarding Sluys.
London, 7th July, 1604.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 242. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Tuesday week the King left Greenwich for the chase; meaning to be at Rochester on Thursday to review the fleet. As he and the Queen were riding, the King wished to pass her Majesty, but he received a kick on the leg from her horse. They had all to go home, and the King was in bed for two days. The naval review at Rochester is put off. The King will adjourn Parliament in person.
London is the healthiest place in the kingdom. Only six deaths from plague last week.
The main points about the terms of peace have, I am told, been settled thus:—
The India navigation to be open.
The 30 per cent, on English, goods to be removed, provided the goods are certificated as made in England; and a certificate shall also be required that all goods imported from Spain are sold in England, not elsewhere.
Flushing and Brill to remain in the hands of the English.
Free trade between England and all Spanish and Archiducal possessions.
The English promise protection to all Spanish ships in English harbours and waters; but on the open sea each is to protect itself.
If Spain wishes to send a large fleet into these seas she must first give a detailed report of its strength, and then the King will decide as to whether he will allow it to enter his ports.
Free trade between English and Dutch.
Two points are still open; one is the question of the Inquisition in search of forbidden books, which the Spaniards claim to make; the other is, as to the amount of assistance England may furnish to Holland. The Spanish insist on this point. The King says that he would allow the Spanish to recruit in his kingdoms, but they would experience great difficulty in raising men; so intense is the hatred of the English for that nation.
The Spaniards wish to protract negotiations, for Ostend may full meantime; but the King's impatience to conclude the business compels them to attend to it. (fn. 1)
Ostend is in this position; Spinola has captured the two outer lines, and is now before the third and innermost. In order to make this more difficult, the besieged have constructed a double ditch, one inside, the other outside the lines, and have filled them with water. They have thrown up a half-moon behind this third line. Two engineers and a thousand sailors are hard at work. The Dutch hope to hold the place for three months more.
The reason for Southampton's arrest was the slanderous charge preferred against him by unknown enemies, that he plotted to slay several Scots who were much about the person of the King. On his release he went to the King and declared that if he knew who the slanderer was he would challenge him to combat, but as he did not he could only appeal to his Majesty. The King gave him fair words, but nothing else as yet.
His Majesty has just decided to go to Rochester to review the fleet.
London, 14th July, 1604.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 243. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King returned to London on Thursday evening, after being at Rochester. He spent Friday in examining the bills submitted to him, and on Saturday he went to the Upper House, where in a speech of an hour's duration he explaìned the reasons for dismissing them, the chief of which was the advanced season and nearness or harvest. They are to meet again on February 7th to finish business, chiefly about the Union, which the Commissioners shall meantime discuss. He has arranged that the Scottish Commissioners shall come to London. He praised their diligence in business, but could not refrain from saying that among them were ten or twelve flighty heads, that needed reform. The bills, with few exceptions, were approved. The Monopoly Bill was not submitted to the Crown because it had not passed the Upper House, no more was the bill affecting Catholics. The following day, Sunday, he sent for the Mayor and Aldermen, and knighted two; exhorting them to expel all priests. This was done to give satisfaction to these perfidious Puritans.
After the Mayor and Aldermen were dismissed Sir Henry Wotton took leave; he was knighted, and will start on Friday. He is a gentleman of excellent condition, wise, prudent, able. Your serenity, it is to be hoped, will be very well pleased with him.
M. de Caron is raising two thousand men for Count Maurice, who is before Sluys.
London, 20th July, 1604.
July 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 244. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen is anxious to push on the trial of the father of the Marquise de Verneuil. The Jesuit Father Cotton has been charged to quiet her. Besides the Englishman there is a Spaniard also in prison for this affair. The Marquise is to be sent to Verneuil.
Paris, 21st July, 1604.
July 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 245. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of England has reported to the King of France the articles of the peace with Spain; and has asked if the King of France would like him to mediate on the subject of free trade between France and Spain.
Paris, 21st July, 1604.
July 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 246. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has gone towards Windsor; the Constable of Castile is expected. The peace is now sure to be concluded. The King will come to London on the Constable's arrival. His Majesty is impatient to wind up the business, so that he may set out on his progress, in spite of the advice of everybody; lord no place is healthier than London, where there were only ten deaths from plague last week. The King intends to move northward, and to stay away till October.
Peace is, one may say, concluded in the terms I have already reported. The two open points, about the Inquisition and about aid to Holland have been settled thus: In the treaty itself nothing shall be said to lessen the authority of the inquisition, but the King of Spain shall promise privately that the English shall not be examined or molested, provided they make no public scandal; the King of England shall forbid his subjects to carry into Spain any other than the necessary books, that is the Bible and the Psalms, and shall order them to live decently without scandal. As regards aid to the Dutch the English shall remain free to take service where they please.
London, 21st July, 1604.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 247. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King intends to write to the King of England to warn him that under these favourable terms offered by Spain may lurk some treachery.
Paris, 26th July, 1604.
July 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 248. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Tuesday last the Ambassador Wotton came to visit me. He was to leave for Venice that same afternoon. His route is France, Lorraine, Augsburg. I understand that he has been fully informed of various events, with a view to his making some slight complaints, when the right moment arrives, about the ill-treatment of English merchants in Venetian territory; but more especially to point out the injury inflicted by the prohibition on the export of currants from Zante, and the obligation to come to Venice if they want them. He will strongly urge your Serenity to modify, if not to annul, these orders. But the complaints of ill-treatment are merely meant as a counterpoise to the complaints against the English. The English wish all that is past to be forgotten, and they think that the execution of six or seven men and the restitution of seven or eight thousand crowns out of all the hundreds of thousands they have stolen, is satisfaction enough.
I must tell your Serenity that while I was engaged in trying to make out the name of the Giovanni Bianchini, who is charged with having insulted the Governor of Cittànuova, a certain Giovanni Chin (John King), Captain of the ship “ Royal Merchant,” which was lately in Venice, came to me to complain of a report that he was the person in question. He admits that he visited the Governor and received many favours from him; so much so that he invited his Excellency on board. The Governor came just as the sailors were weighing anchor, for the wind was fair. Nevertheless the Governor was received, and entertained him with comfits. Some of the officers, laughing, asked if the Governor would like to come to England, but no thought of violence entered their heads. When the Governor left, in sign of honour, two guns were fired; it is true that they were loaded with ball, for the guns were always loaded; but the shot fell into the sea more than the length of the Piazza San Marco away from the Governor's boat. He added, “They say I meant to carry off the Governor, but just tell me what object could I have for doing that, when I knew that once in England I would swing for it on the smallest complaint your Excellency might make to the King? I have a good position here and am respected “ (that is true enough), “ and have a wife, family and substance; would I go and ruin them and lose my life for nothing? They are very wrong who spread such rumours, and the Governor, most of all, if he has really made such a report, which I don't believe, for I treated him as I would have treated my sovereign; I have eighty men on board my ship and a young Venetian, journeying for his affairs; examine them all; if you find the matter other than I have represented it, I put myself in your hands for any punishment you may choose to inflict. Nay, more, I am going back to Venice this September, and if I have, in the smallest degree, injured a subject of Serene Republic I shall be in the hands of the Senate to punish me as they please.” I replied in general terms that considering the excellent treatment accorded to the English it seemed to me that their conduct ought to be very different. He said he was not responsible for the conduct of others, for himself he was innocent; and with that he departed. I sent for and examined the young Venetian, whose name is Tomaso Lancillotto. He confirmed the Captain's story in every point. Before taking any further steps I thought it well to report all to you.
The Commissioners for the Peace are beginning to draw up the terms already agreed upon between them. They are as I have reported. There are a few questions of slight importance still to be settled; chiefly respecting the India navigation. That will be concluded on the arrival of the Constable. He will soon be here, and they are making preparations to receive him with all honour. The King is at Oatlands; and will move to Windsor.
The Commissioners and the Ambassadors of France and Spain, as well as d'Aremberg and Richardot, have had a meeting. Richardot shows great unwillingness to come to terms over the tax of thirty per cent., which was imposed at his suggestion. He insists that the King of France shall first suppress the Calais dues.
The siege of Ostend is in the same position as before. Sluys is hard pressed, and they have resolved to send Spinola with twelve thousand men and provisions to relieve it. Meanwhile the Count de Bucquoy will press the siege of Ostend.
Nine deaths from plague last week.
London, 28th July, 1604.


  • 1. See Gardiner, I., pp. 208–212.