Venice: November 1604

Pages 189-193

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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November 1604

Nov. 2. Original Despatch. Venetian Archives. 291. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King, Queen, and Prince came to London to-day week, the 26th of last month. They were met by the Mayor, Aldermen, and citizens with great pomp. The King will go into the country again to course hares. I demanded audience, and it was assigned to me for Sunday at three p.m. I offered congratulations on the peace. 1 wished to hear from his Majesty's own lips how he read the clause about the India navigation, and I said, “Sire your subjects may trade with Spain and Flanders, but not with the Indies.” “What for no?” said the King. “Because” I re plied, “the clause is read in that sense.” “They are making a great error whoever they are who hold this view,” said his Majesty; “the meaning is quite clear.” I then went on to tell him of the arrival of his Ambassador in Venice, where he had been heartily welcomed as the representative of a beloved Prince and for his own merits as well. The King replied that he had received despatches from the Ambassador, relating the honours rendered, and for which he felt obliged. He said that he had chosen Wotton because he had known him long ago in Scotland, whither the Grand Duke had sent him as being a discreet and prudent gentleman, who had lived so long in Italy that he was master of its manners and its tongue.
Only six people have died of the plague in the last fortnight; and as that is nothing out of the common I will not make any further reports on this subject.
London, 2nd November, 1604.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 292. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The question of free trade and the thirty per cent, tax has been settled between France and Spain in Paris. The King of England is very well satisfied.
The Earl of Moray (Moret), a great Scottish nobleman, has been summoned here on the charge of having urged the Scottish Parliament to swear never to accept the Union. The Earl found great difficulty in speaking to his Majesty. He received but little satisfaction, and the Council has forbidden him to approach within fifteen miles of London or to go further away from it than thirty, until he has cleared himself of the charge against him. The Scottish Commissioners have almost all arrived. The Marischal and another are still wanting. They say they cannot come, as four small boats containing all their luggage have gone down at sea, and they declare that they cannot possibly arrive in London unless the King helps them. But as a matter of fact this conduct on their part is attributed to disinclination rather than to anything else. The King is much annoyed; and in spite of the absence of these gentlemen he insisted on a meeting of the Commissioners on Saturday last. Nothing was settled except that three copies of the agenda should be taken; one for the King, and one for each Parliament.
This morning the King resolved to issue a proclamation to be published in the presence of the Mayor and Aldermen, ordering all officers and ministers of the Crown to style the King for the future as “of Great Britain, France, and Ireland;” to use that style in all documents where his Majesty is mentioned, and to coin money with that legend.
Many of these English corsairs have, since the peace with Spain, taken service with the Dutch. The Spanish Ambassador complains loudly of this. The Ambassador told me that he would endeavour to persuade the King to insist upon the payment of the two millions in gold due from Holland within a year's time. If he succeeds I have no doubt but that this will be the death blow to the Dutch; for if they pay up they cannot go on with the war, if they do not the King will dispose of the cautionary towns as he pleases; that is, he can hand them over to Spain, who would willingly pay the two millions and more for their possession.
London, 3rd November, 1604.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 293. Giovanni Mocenigo, Francesco Contarini, Ottaviano Bon, Venetian Ambassadors in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate
The French Ambassador, though invited, did not attend the banquet; the English Ambassador excused himself on the point of precedence.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 12th November, 1604.
Nov. 15. Collegio, Secreta Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 294. The English Ambassador presents a note on the subject of the merchants of London, with whom he had had a conference, in which they stated their grounds of complaint. On his arrival in Venice he had had consultations with the English merchants there resident. He finds that all that has taken place since 1580 to the prejudice of Venetians in England or English in Venice is entirely due not to any lack of good will, but to the want of ministers resident at the respective Courts. He presents the following suggestions:—
1. That English merchants, who are constantly molested by the officials detaining their lighters with cargo for their ships, shall for the future enjoy the privileges of the German Exchange House, as regards the detention of cargo.
2. That English merchants for the future shall not be subject to a heavier anchorage tax than the subjects of other Princes, who pay as the Venetians themselves pay.
3. As the law forbids the vessels of English merchants to reload in Venice unless they have discharged two-thirds of their cargo there, should it happen that there is not in Venice a market for such an amount, they shall be allowed to ship what remains on board their own or Venetian vessels for other ports.
4. That English merchants be at liberty to hire out English vessels in the Levant or in the West to all who ask for them.
5. That English merchants be at liberty to invest capital as they choose.
Having read the above the Ambassador went on, “Most Serene Prince, before I left England my master ordered me to recommend to you a case for the exercise of clemency in the person of a Venetian subject banished from his country; the recommendation is supported by this letter, which I beg you to cause to be read.”
Letter from King James in favour of Antonio Dotto. Dated “from our Palace of Winchester, 21st November, 1603.”
The letter having been read the Ambassador proceeded to say that “the King refused to assist Antonio Dotto until he had read the sentence of outlawry; but after examining it he found that it contained no indication of deeds infamous or atrocious, nay, that it mentioned the payment of a small sum to the injured parties, a sign that the offence was not serious. My master wishes to limit his request to a safe conduct for three years, in order that Dotto may get his daughter married.”
The Doge replied on the first point that the English had always been treated the same as the Venetians, and would be so for the future; as to the case of Dotto he recalled a certain man of that name banished for very heinous crimes. The whole question, however, belongs to the Council of Ten, and there it shall be raised.
The Ambassador returned thanks, and expressed hope of some benefit. He assured the Doge that if the English merchants were reasonably treated they would in a few years abandon the Levant trade and concentrate at Venice. The Ambassador then rose to his feet and said, “I give you news that their Majesties are well; the Queen is with child, and will soon present us an English Prince.” The Doge replied, and the Ambassador departed.
Nov. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 295. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King wanted to go to Royston for hunting, but the Commissioners for the Union remonstrated with him, and so he stayed, though against his will. The commission meets three times a week. All the Scottish members are present except the Earl Marshal and another great nobleman, both of whom have been banished by the King for this conduct. As yet nothing of moment has been done except the abolition of certain reciprocal prohibitions, about the marriages of Scottish and English, and about the traffic and trade between the two countries. They have agreed upon a common coinage. They are now coming to the more difficult points. The King has ordered the payment of ten thousand pounds sterling to the Scottish gentlemen, who lost all their luggage on four boats that went to the bottom. The treasurer raises difficulties, either because there is such a scarcity of money or because of the ill-humour of the English at these large presents to Scots. The King insists.
The King is considering the suggestion of farming out the customs. His objects are to know exactly how much he has and to put an end to the continual frauds on the revenue. He struck the average of the last ten years, and put the customs up to auction; Secretary Cecil took them over at a rise of twenty-nine thousand pounds. It has also been suggested to his Majesty to levy a tax on salt, which even at a moderate rate would bring in upwards of a million of gold. The King is in doubt, as he fears that the people may complain of increased taxation when peace has been concluded with Spain. But many think it will be levied; for the King is very hard up for money; his income is only a million and a half of gold per annum; if indeed it touches that sum; that is, not counting subsidies, of which no account can be taken, as Parliament is not sitting, and if it were its temper is well known. Recently the King has farmed out the tax on currants for 22,000 crowns; it used to be conceded to the Leyant Company for 16,000 crowns The Lord Chamberlain (fn. 1) has taken it. The merchants are disgusted; they threaten to dissolve the company and to abandon the Levant trade altogether.
Yesterday, after the sermon, which the King attends every Tuesday besides the feast days, his Majesty touched a number of sufferers from scrofula; it remains to be seen with what result.
The Duke of Holstein, the Queen's brother, has arrived. He is going to raise ten thousand men for service in Hungary.
London, 17th November, 1604.
Nov. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 296. Simon Contarini and Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassadors in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
On Sunday last the peace with England was proclaimed from several platforms throughout the city; but without much ceremony.
Valladolid, 23rd November, 1604.
Nov. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 297. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 18th of this month an English ship arrived in port. She hailed last from Chios, and had on board Ismail, a son of the late King of Morocco, the King, I mean, who fell in battle against Don Sebastian. This son is now twenty-eight years old. After his father's death he fled to Constantinople, where he lived till the present time; the throne of Morocco going to his uncle. He has now been secretly invited back to Morocco by the chiefs, who are sick of the bad government and disunion among the four sons of the late King, cousins of Ismail. To Ismail they promise the throne, and assure him that there are ten thousand outlaws in the mountains, all of whom will be for him. He is to have the support of the Viceroy of Algiers, who is also a passenger by the same ship, and holds a commission from the Sultan to place Ismail on the throne. He has no more money than will suffice for this journey. The ship sailed to-day.
Zante, 25th November, 1604. O.S.
Nov. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 298. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
Pirates continue to infest these seas, and I do not fail to exact caution-money from all English ships which touch here, that they shall neither molest your Serenity's subjects nor smuggle.
Zante, 26th November, 1604. O.S.


  • 1. Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk.