Venice: February 1605

Pages 215-223

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 1605

Feb. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 335. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Lennox, Ambassador of “Great Britain,” as he is styled by his master, has had his first audience. It was a solemn ceremony. There were perhaps as many as forty carriages. No business was transacted. He asked for a private audience, which lasted an hour; the only business done was that the Duke begged the King to give him the Marquise (de Verneuil) and her father. The King replied that he did not wish to interrupt the course of justice, but that he would remember the Duke's intercession when justice had run its course. The Duke insisted; and said that he as the King's most devoted adherent in England, and that he deserved this favour. He obtained no satisfaction, however, and left very ill-pleased.
Paris, the first of February, 1605.
Feb. 5. Minutes of the Senate. Venetian Archives. 336. To the Ambassador in England.
You will see from the enclosed the account of the robbery committed by an English berton, which plundered the property of Governor Michiel on board the “Morosini.” As yet only a single name of those who committed this outrage has been discovered. We have represented the matter to the Ambassador of England here resident. You are to keep a watch on all ships that arrive there, and to endeavour to find out which of them has committed this crime, and to procure indemnification for loss and punishment of the culprits.
We hear that Secretary Herbert has been appointed to conduct negotiations about customs dues. We sent you a list of those dues of which our subjects complain, and which have totally excluded them from England.
Ayes 152.
Noes 2.
Neutrals 0.
Enclosed in preceding Minute. 337. List of the custom duties, which Venetians find insupportable, and which exclude them from trade with England.
The ordinary customs are one-fifth higher for Venetians than for English, and amount to twenty per cent.
Currants ten ducats a ton.
Oil one ducat a barrel (barilla). (fn. 1)
Wine six ducats a hogshead (bote). (fn. 2)
Web of Kersey lire 5.16.
Venetians are bound to sell to London merchants only and to no others; and in London only and nowhere else; and the goods must be delivered within six months of sale, if not they are reckoned as lost and confiscated.
They are bound to pay a ducat a head per month to the parish priest.
While resident in the Island they are compelled to pay double tax and double tithe.
They are bound to invest all their capital in England, it being forbidden to take money out of the country.
Feb. 5. Minutes of the Senate. Venetian Archives. 338. Motion made that the English Ambassador be invited to attend, and hear as follows:
If we were to complain either to his Majesty or to you every time our vessels are damaged by Englishmen our complaints would be continual. But we are sure that this is quite contrary to his Majesty's intention, and we confidently await a remedy. We cannot, however, pass over this fact that quite recently an English berton, with one Captain Pule on board, under colour of acquaintance with Captain Abraham Lans, who with other English was navigating the “Morosini,” aboard which was all the property of the Governor of Zante, committed an outrage against the said property. We demand indemnification and punishment of the culprits.
We must further observe that these continuous outrages compel our ships of war to search every vessel they meet; and they expect proper treatment when performing their duty.
Ayes 152.
Noes 2.
Neutrals 0.
Feb. 7. Collegio, Secreta Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 339. The English Ambassador apologizes for the plunder of the vessel with the property of Maffio Michiel, Governor of Zante, on board. Enters upon a long discussion to prove that it is impossible for all English merchantmen to comply with the regulations when meeting Venetian ships.
Presents a petition from some English merchants that the Five Savii alla Mercanzia be instructed to conclude the suit, now pending for five years between the said merchants and the Government of Zante.
Feb. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 340. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The merchants of the Levant Company, who are very anxious at being deprived of their patent for levying the new impost, because out of that fund they used to maintain their Ambassador and Consuls, went to the King some days ago and complained bitterly at the loss of this source of revenue. They declared that they would be obliged to abandon the Levant trade and navigation altogether, and they endeavoured to prove to the King that this would be disastrous, not merely to private individuals, but to the commonweal, owing to the effect upon the customs. They did all they could to persuade the King to renew the patent, and offered to pay him the same as the Chamberlain was now paying. The King replied that he did not rightly understand this business, and that they must go to the Council, which would take such steps as the public service required. The merchants went to the Council and repeated their arguments. Some of the Council favour the company, but the Chamberlain's friends, who are many and powerful, are determined to support him. Each party makes suggestions; the following is one of them; it is proposed to double the duty in the case of foreigners—foreigners meaning nothing else than Venetians—that is, in place of ten ducats the ton they shall pay twenty on currants, and so on wine. They justify their proposal on the ground that English merchants are subjected to the new imposts in your Serenity's dominions, as well as the duties here, and as the Venetians only pay the duties here this will throw the whole trade into their hands. This proposal recommends itself to some, but there is a party, and perhaps the abler party, which is opposed to it. They sent a merchant, an acquaintance of mine, to see me, and in course of conversation, and as though of himself, he entered upon the whole subject. I replied that his Majesty and Council could of course do as they pleased in their own country, but such a line of conduct would not correspond with the policy indicated by the English Ambassador in Venice, which leaned to a diminution rather than to an increase of duties, with a view to rendering trade free to the benefit of both parties. That your Serenity would always reply with further taxation, and so the affair would go on ad infinitum to the total ruin of the trade. “So your Lordship,” he said, “is of opinion that his Serenity would double the tax even if he knew that the tax was doubled here, only in order to put Venetians and English on an equal footing; for it is clear that as the Venetians only pay in England, whereas the English pay both in England and in Venice, they are far more heavily burdened than the Venetians.” I answered that Venetians did not pay duty in Venice if they laded in Venetian bottoms, but if they employ foreign bottoms they have to pay. “Well then,” said he, “the Venetians will employ Venetian bottoms surely, and thus secure exemption.” I answered that Venetian rates for freight were so much higher than foreigner's rates, that it would pay merchants to embark in foreign bottoms and to pay the duty. That seemed to satisfy him, and he said he would lay the matter before Council. He then went on to touch upon another point; namely, that your Excellencies ought to grant the English exemption from export duty on all Turkish goods, in return for which the English would pledge themselves to abandon the Levant trade entirely. He urged that this would be a great advantage to the Venetians, for the whole Levant trade would thus be left in their hands only, and should it appear at first sight that the revenue would suffer, this is not the case, rather the reverse, for at present the English carry direct from Turkey to England all Turkish goods, for which there is a market here, and the Republic draws no revenue from that; whereas by his scheme the import duties alone would go up at once. “Besides,” he said, “there is another way in which the revenue of the Republic would benefit, for as the law of Venice now stands no ship may lade there, unless she has brought a cargo of two-thirds of her capacity into Venice, and so English merchants trading in Turkey goods will be forced to enter Venice with kerseys, tin, lead and other English products, which at present they import direct to Turkey, and here again the import duties would rise at once; and in short the gain from adopting this suggestion would far exceed the loss.” I answered that at first sight these arguments seemed sound, but as I was not versed in such matters, I could not venture to reply; I offered, however, to write to your Serenity. “My Lord,” he replied, “this is an idea of my own that has been in my head for some time; if your Lordship would write to some private friend of yours in Venice for further information I should be deeply obliged. Then if the scheme appears feasible I will bring it before the Council, with good results, I trust.” I promised to write. I am assured that he was sent by Cecil, with whom he is in close correspondence, although he feigned to be talking of himself. I report the whole for your Excellencies' consideration, and if you see fit you will give me instructions thereon.
The King is expected to-morrow in London, to keep Candlemas, which falls on Saturday next, old style. As far as one hears he will only stay four or five days. I will ask for audience.
London, 10th February, 1604 [m.v.].
Feb. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 341. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I hear the King has written a letter to the Council, in which he tells them that having been recently for nearly three weeks in London he finds this sedentary life very prejudicial to his health; for in Scotland he was used to spend much time in the country and in hard exercise, and he finds that repose robs him of his appetite and breeds melancholy and a thousand other ills. He says he is bound to consider his health before all things, and so he must tell them that for the future he means to come to London but seldom, passing most of his time in the country in the chase; and as he will thus be far away from Court he cannot attend to business, and so he commits all to them, relying fully on their goodness and ability. He then goes on to expatiate on justice, equity, religion, and concludes by announcing that he will approve all their resolutions. In this way the King has virtually given full and absolute authority to the Council, and has begun to put his plan in practice; for many who went to him with petitions and grievances have been told to go to the Council, for they are fully authorized to deal with all business public and private. This is the cause of indescribable ill-humour among the King's subjects, who in their needs and troubles find themselves cut off from their natural sovereign, and forced to go before Council, which is full of rivalry and discord, and frequently is guided more by personal interest than by justice and duty.
In the place where his Majesty is at present staying there are, they say, a number of people possessed with the spirit of prophecy, it is a rare thing in England to find people afflicted with this infirmity, and so it is held as a portent. One of these possessed has declared that the King cannot live a year; that the country will suffer great adversity and such like things. He has been clapped into prison, and the King himself has examined him closely.
This fact added to the news which the Ambassador in France furnishes and confirms in three or four despatches, sent over here in great haste, news, that is, that a great revolution is on the point of breaking out in this kingdom, and, that there are people who are vigorously plotting against the life of the Sovereign and of the State, all cause the ministers to live in anxiety and suspicion, for they do not understand from what quarter nor from whom the blow is to come. The Ambassador does not enter on particulars; he only says that in the French Court and among the most eminent persons there is this firm conviction. The consequence is that the Council meets almost daily, and frequently sits till midnight conducting many examinations. Three or four gentlemen have been arrested on suspicion of having relations with the Archduke in Flanders. But as a matter of fact I gather that the strongest suspicion falls on the Puritans, who are deeply offended at the edict against their ministers, especially as his Majesty insists upon its execution, though he has granted an extension of time. It seems that the Puritans announce their intention of doing all they can to prevent the departure of their ministers. They are in close relations with the Puritans of Scotland, whose ministers are very powerful, and actually declared to the King's face from the pulpit that unless he showed himself favourable to their religion they would have to remove him and elect a regent, and such like impertinences. From this the King conceived a violent haired for the Puritans, though in Scotland he was never able to show it, owing to the numbers and the importance of the sect. (Questo aggiunto all' aviso che han questi Signori del Consiglio dal loro Ambasciatore che resiede in Franza, confermatoli per tre o quattro man di lettere spedite qui in grande diligenza, cio è che di breve habbino a succeder gran rivolutioni in questo Regno, et che vi siano persone che machino grandamente contra la vita di Principi, et dello Stato, fa che questi Signori vivono molto sospesi et con molta gelosia, non sapendo loro da qual parte et da chi debba venir questa rovina, perchè l'Ambasciatore non descende a particolari, ma dice solamente che nella Corte di Francia, et ne' soggetti più eminenti è questa ferma opinione, il che è causa che questi Signori quasi ogni giorni si riducono in consiglio, et bene spesso vi stanno fin meza notte, facendo molte inquisitioni. Sono stati ritenuti anco tre o quattro gentilhuomini per haver sospetta intelligenza in Fiandra con il serenissimo arciduca; ma in effetto intendo la maggior sospetione cader sopra li Puritani, li quali restando disgustatissimi dell' editto fatto contra i loro preti essendo massime risoluto il Rè, che in ogni maniera sia eseguita, anchor che le habbia concesso una proroga, pare che si lasciano intender di voler fare ogni cosa perchè questi loro preti non partano. Si sa che questi hanno stretta intelligenza con il Puritani di Scotia i quali sono in grandissimo numero et hanno in quel paese grande autorità, poiche loro ministri nelle prediche usavano di dire in facia del medesimo Rè che se S. M. non si fosse mostrata favorevole alla loro religione era necessario per servitio publico levarli il governo et l'autorità, creando un governatore del Regno, et molte altre simili impertinenze, da ch'è nato nell' animo di S. M. un odio grandissimo contra questa setta; ma in Scotia non ha potuto mai dimostrarlo per respetto del numero et autorità grande di quelli.) The English Puritans were never able to acquire such weight, for the late Queen suppressed them. But the Union of the two Crowns has given them strength, and they are growing insolent and imperious; and some Puritan members of Parliament let it be understood that the first question to be handled must be the appointment of a Regent, as the King will not attend to the business of the kingdom. The Council look for the attack from that quarter, and are endeavouring to discover the leaders of the party, in order to apply the necessary remedies; but as yet fruitlessly.
In the reign of Elizabeth there was an individual, (fn. 3) who told her Majesty that in Scotland there was a mountain with a splendid mine of gold. She instantly ordered him to be arrested, so that he should not go to Scotland. He has now repeated his story to the King, who sent him to Scotland to prove his words, and helped him with the cost for tools and men. He has now returned with twenty-five ounces of the finest gold, which he says he has found in that mountain; but to get it he spent four thousand crowns; and so as the cost so far exceeds the profits the work will be abandoned, although he declares that for the future the expense would be much less. He has some supporters, but most are against going any further.
An English ship, but sailing with a patent from Count Maurice, has captured a Spaniard with a cargo of wine. She and her prize have been driven into a harbour of this kingdom. The Ambassador, on learning this, has secured the restitution of the prize, in virtue of the terms of the peace; and not content with this he demands the execution of the men of the English ship, as having contravened the obligation to give no help to the Dutch. M. de Caron protests. He is raising four thousand infantry.
London, 18th February, 1604 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 342. Ottaviano Bon, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Salignac, the French Ambassador, will kiss the Sultan's robe, after Bairam. M. de Breves is going to Jerusalem.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 14th February, 1604 [m.v.].
Feb. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 343. Anzolo Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament has condemned to death the Count d'Auvergne and the father of the Marquise (de Verneuil). The King has stayed execution in order to please the Duke of Lennox. The King has invited the Duke to a banquet, and after that he will have his audience to take his leave. M. de Rosny complains of the clause in the Anglo-Spanish treaty which he says is unfavourable to his Most Christian Majesty. Lennox admitted this, but defended the clause. There are causes of friction between England and France: The seizure of cloth at Rouen; a libel on the King of England; the exclusion of the French Ambassador from the Court festival in London.
Paris, 15th February, 1605.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 344. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King came to London on Friday last. He intended to pass these few days of carnival here and then to go back to the country. The Queen is to go to Greenwich till her confinement. I asked for audience, which was granted me yesterday. I told his Majesty that his Ambassador in Venice had made pressing representations in favour of Antonio Dotto, a Paduan gentleman, subject of your Serenity, who is an outlaw. I said that your Serenity, out of an ardent desire to gratify his Majesty, had ordered the Council of Ten to deal with the whole subject. The sentence of outlawry had, however, been passed by a very large majority, and that is a proof the matter is a very grave one, and so they held that without violating all the laws of the Republic it would be difficult to gratify his Majesty. At this point the King broke in, saying, “I did not at first recall this Dotto, but now I remember. Many people asked me to intercede for him, among others the Ambassador of France, who told me his master was going to write on Dotto's behalf; also the Tuscan Ambassador. But what crimes has he committed?” I answered, “They are many and grave. He has ravished women; thrashed men; wounded and disfigured many people; deflowered virgins.” The King said, “Don't go any further, for I am a King and rule over subjects, and I am glad when justice is done. Deeds of this nature I cannot bear to hear of, nor can I defend them, for then I would be held for and would actually be an unjust man. I cannot desire to see in my neighbour's house people I would not tolerate in my own. Seditious disturbers of the peace and brawlers are not worthy to dwell upon earth nor to mix with their fellowmen,” and in this strain he continued for a great while, and wound up with these words, “I have been deceived, for I was told he was in prison for simple homicide, and would soon have been released had he not had powerful foes, who delayed the pardon of his Sovereign. It seems to me that such cases as that are very easily condoned and deserve pity, because under the first impulse no one is master of himself, and therefore I readily let myself be induced to recommend Dotto to the Republic; but now that I am informed of his crimes, even had the Republic pardoned I would beg her to cancel it.” (Questi casi par'a me che si possono assai facilmente condonare, et che siano degni di compassione, perche nelli primi impeti nissuno è padrone di se medesimo et però io assai facilmente mi lasciai persuader a raccommandarlo alla Republica, ma hora che son informato delle sue colpe se la Republica le havesse fatta la gratia la pregherei a non gliela mantenere.) He then took your Serenity's letter, opened it, and read it. Then he said, “Tell their Lordships that I am perfectly satisfied with all they have done.” Further compliments followed, and then I took my leave. (fn. 4)
London, 16th February, 1604 [m.v.].
Feb. 16. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 345. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Lennox, who was sent as Ambassador to France, writes to say that he has not been treated as becomes the representative of so great a Sovereign. He went to audience, and found the King in a chamber, with four Princes of the blood on his right and many nobles, among them the Duke of Guise, on his left; after saying a few words he covered, as usual, and he complains that instantly all the others did the same. This act is interpreted here as an affront to the Ambassador. This and the late quarrel with the French Ambassador at this Court adds to the friction between the two Crowns. The French Ambassador, who usually is the first to visit his Majesty on his coming to town, has not been yet, although the King has been here six days, perhaps he fears to meet with some affront.
The Marshal of Lithuania, of the house of Radziwil, sent one of his gentlemen to the King with letters and a present of six horses. This gentleman took ship in Hamburg on board a Dutchman. She fell in with a ship from Dunquerque, and was boarded. The gentleman was asked who he was and where he was going. He answered that he came from the Marshal of Lithuania, and was going to the King of England. They did not believe him; in spite of the fact that he showed his letters. They searched him, and finding five or six thousand Hungarian coins upon him they took them and threw him into the sea, and he was drowned. The servants of this gentleman and the horses were sent to Rotterdam, and thence crossed to England, where they reported what had occurred. This has caused much annoyance. They intend to make a searching enquiry, and if it is true they will complain to the Spanish Ambassador.
Two ships of Dunquerque, on hearing that a Dutch ship was lying in an English harbour, entered the port at night and cut her out quite easily. The Dutch crew were taken by surprise and escaped. The men of Dunquerque plundered the Dutch ship, whose cargo was not very valuable. The Council are very angry and have complained to the Spanish Ambassador, who has promised to restore all the plunder, though he has not done so yet.
Secretary Herbert came to visit me; it was a visit of simple compliment. I expected him to mention the subject of the ship attacked by your Serenity's squadron and the subject of the pretended oppression of the English merchants, and I gave him an opportunity; but he said nothing; and this confirms me in the opinion that they have no proofs of what they allege; and that the matter will die away of itself.
London, 16th February, 1604 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 346. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The day before yesterday a courier arrived from Don Juan de Taxis with news that the High Admiral of England will not set out till after the middle of March; and will land in Corunna, not in Biscay. As to raising troops Taxis thinks it would be more useful to prevent troops going into Dutch service. And as the English are avaricious he will not miss the occasion to win over some of their great men.
Valladolid, 19th February, 1604 [m.v.].


  • 1. Barilla: 64'385900 litri.
  • 2. Botte: 751'170000 litri. Martini, Manuale di Metrologia. Torino, 1883. p. 818.
  • 3. George Bowes. Cal. S. P. Dom. April 4. 1604. pp. 90, 114, 123. The mine was on the lands of Closeburn. July 18, 1604. Bowes obtained 200 pounds sterling on Oct, 11, 1604.
  • 4. Con. X. Crim. reg. XIX. 1600. March 12. Antonio Dotto banished in perpetuity. All his property to pass directly without fine to his sons. This outlawry cannot be annulled, nor may he receive safe-conduct under twenty years. The sentence was voted by the Ten nem. con. See also Inquisitori di Stato. Minutè e memorie. Busta 201., p. 4vo., “1604, 5. Genaio Antonio Dotto fu rilassato con una buona amonitione,”