Venice: September 1605

Pages 269-277

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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September 1605

Sept. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 413. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The friendship of England is held of such account by the ministers—for reasons already explained—that, in spite of great complaints of the introduction by English merchants of a large quantity of false coin, instead of protesting they have passed over the fact and endeavoured to correct the mischief by recalling coin of those denominations. The Spanish Ambassador in London has been instructed to take steps to avert the mischief and to call everyone's attention to the importance of Spanish good will, for there is not an Englishman comes here but in some way or other he draws great profits from the King. When the English Ambassador heard this he wrote to the King of England, declaring that it would be more profitable for the English to apply directly to the Crown for the despatch of their business than to make use of anyone else, however favourably regarded.
Valladolid, 3rd September, 1605.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 6. Consiglio Dieci, Processi Criminali. Venetian Archives. 414. That Zuan Battista Torricella, supercargo on board the galleon “Balbi,” in absence, be condemned to banishment for ten years.
Ayes 13.
Noes. 2
Motion made to proceed against Ser Nicolo Balbi.
Ayes 4. 2nd ballot. Ayes 4.
Noes 6. Noes 9.
Neutrals 5. Neutrals 2.
Sept. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 415. Nicolo Molin. Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have just been to Oxford On his Majesty's invitation. The King, Queen, Prince and Court made their entry with great pomp on Tuesday, the 6th inst. They stayed three days, which were entirely taken up with comedies in the evenings after supper and disputations during the day; for that city is one of the great Universities of the kingdom; it has sixteen colleges, so richly endowed that they can not only support the professors and public readers, but can give lodging, food and clothing to a large number of students. They number about three thousand five hundred. The King attended morning and afternoon at all the disputations, which were held by each of the faculties, and not only did he take a share in the debate, but filled the rôle of “moderator” with such elegance and finish that he proved himself no mere superficial smatterer, but a profound student of these matters. At the conclusion of the debates the King said a hundred words in Latin, praising the skill and ability of the disputants, exhorting them to study, and concluded that if they applied themselves to their studies, as he was sure they would do, he would, as their King, be constrained to grant them his support. He gave them this piece of advice, to live with the fear of God before them and to keep his holy word, as preached to them by the Church, flying and loathing above all things the perfidious and cursed superstition of Rome. These words caused great surprise in the audience, who were amazed that his Majesty should burst out like that without rhyme or reason, especially as he had near him two representatives of foreign powers, both professed Catholics, the French Ambassador and myself.
On Friday afternoon his Majesty and the Court left Oxford, and on Saturday they came to Windsor. They will return here some day this week, and will then continue their Progress through Essex.
Parliament, which was summoned for Michaelmas, has been prorogued till All Saints; some think it may be still further prorogued, for the King desires to weed out certain turbulent and seditious spirits, who right willingly thwart all his Majesty's schemes, the chief of which are first, to obtain a subsidy to pay off the debts contracted by these bonds under the Privy Seal, which I have explained to your Serenity, to this there is great opposition; and secondly, to effect the Union of England and Scotland. The King will not summon Parliament till he is sure of carrying his two points.
London, 14th September, 1605.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 416. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen's Chamberlain, called Lord Sydney, imagining that his services would not be required during the Progress, determined to ask leave of absence, in order to visit Flushing, of which place he had been made Governor during the late Queen's reign, though he had not seen it since her death. He easily obtained leave, and, with two of his sons, he took ship for those parts. A great storm drove him into Gravelines, a place held by the Archduke. He continued his journey by Flanders and Brabant, and so reached Zealand. His enemies, who are many and great, have suggested to M. de Caron that Lord Sydney's landing in Flanders was not a mere accident, but that before leaving England he had resolved to touch Flanders, in order to have an interview with some Spanish minister, and that he had cunningly availed himself of the storm as a pretext. Sydney's enemies hint that he intended to offer to give Flushing to the Spanish. De Caron took alarm and reported all to the King, and his Majesty was convinced that the affair really stood as it was represented to him. He flew into a rage, and ordered the Council to write to Sydney, commanding him on pain of death, confiscation of estates, and proclamation as a traitor to return without a moment's delay. He obeyed at once, and I am told he arrived yesterday evening. Meantime the poor gentleman has lost his chance of being named of the Council; his place has been filled by the Vice-Chamberlain. (fn. 1)
The Spanish Ambassador Taxis, when ho failed to obtain leave to transport the Spanish troops into Flanders, resolved to take over with him Lord Arundel, the man who had raised two thousand English troops for service in this war, as well as other officers. His idea is that if the leaders get across the troops will follow. They were accordingly told to wait for the Ambassador at Dover. But M. de Caron found out what was going on, and went to the King and said that he could not believe that his Majesty, after refusing to allow the passage of the troops, would now permit the leaders to be conveyed to Flanders on board the royal ships; the King answered that he had not the smallest intention of helping Spain; and that orders would be sent to Sir Lewis Lewkenor, who was attending the Ambassador, that he is to inform the Ambassador of the King's wishes that these officers should not go with him. The Ambassador professed himself amazed, and showed every intention of pursuing his course. Lewhenor then wrote to the King, and while waiting an answer he managed to retard the Ambassador's progress. The King sent express orders to Arundel, and the others to return to London at once, and to the captains of his ship that they were to take no one on, board except the Ambassador and his suite.
The Ambassador has not embarked yet, but the Spanish troops, after being in Dover for four months, will be sent home to Spain.
London, 14th September, 1605.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 15. Collegio Secreta, Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 417. The English Ambassador having taken his seat the Vice-Doge, Constantin Renier, said, “The resolution of the Council of Ten will now be read to you.”
September 6, 1605. In the Council of Ten. That the money belonging to the late Nicolas Pert, which was deposited in the Mint by the factor for the noble Nicolo Balbi, be consigned to the heirs of the said Pert or their assigns; so, too, all the money, plate and effects of the said Pert, now lying in the Chancery at Corfu. The Council desire to know from the English Ambassador where it will be most convenient for the said heirs to receive the property, which is to be consigned free of all cost.
The Ambassador replied, “I understand that Signor Nicolo Balbi is absolved. I am glad, and I shall be able to report to my master that in the opinion of so grave a tribunal as the Council of Ten Nicolas Pert died a natural death. I am glad, too, for my own sake, for my nature delights much more in the dance, the festival, the comedy, than in tragic and terrible spectacles. I regret that the friends of this gentleman should go about saying in public that what I have done I have done of my own accord, and not on orders from my master. That is not true. Three times have I received orders, as the Ambassador Molin must very well know. I regret this, as damaging to my position as Ambassador. But no more of that. Signor Balbi is acquitted, and acquitted be it, and there's an end on it. But the charge was a double one, criminal and civil. On the criminal charge he is absolved; but on the civil I must say that the evening before Pert's death his money was seen in his safe, but after his death it was no longer there. I ask what became of that money, and press for an answer; for I can and do most positively affirm that Balbi took it. It may be said, ' How do you know this; and how can we believe you unless you prove it?' I reply I know it's true, and I prove it by Balbi himself; for Lorenzo Zanoli, sent by Balbi's friends, stated that the money and the papers which belonged to Pert were in possession of Balbi. There is no doubt on the point, and I ask your Serenity to come to judgment on this second count, as a civil suit only.”
The Ambassador then communicates the royal orders as to the behaviour of English ships in Venetian waters, and the Lord High Admiral's proclamation thereon. He asks for orders to Venetian commanders to treat English ships well.
He further informs the Council that that morning a gentleman had arrived from England on purpose to press a suit very well known to the Serene Republic from the days when Secretary Scaramelli was at the English Court. The Ambassador presents a memorandum, setting forth the grounds of the suit, and adds that he has positive orders from the Earl of Salisbury to complain, in the King's name, both on private and public grounds, for the matter touches the honour of his crown, and is based on a maxim of international law that capta ab hostibus sint capientis. The Ambassador begs for the decision in the suit.
The Vice-Doge, Constantin Renier, replied, “As regards this suit about the corn landed at Zanthe the Council will deliberate.”
Files of the preceding. 418. Memorandum on the case of Hugh Whitbrook of London and the ship “Thomas,” which off the coast of Sicily captured two ships, one from Messina, the other from Trapani; one had a cargo of wood, the other of grain. On coming into Zanthe the grain was bought by the Governor. But while it was being unladed six Venetian galleys sailed in. The Spanish Consul appealed to the Commander, but after one examination he held the grain ship was fair prize. Next day, however, he and the Governor resolved to take all the corn. This they did. Whitbrook sues. The ship and its cargo are valued at 2,000 sterling, that is about 10,000 ducats.
Sept. 22. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 419. The English Ambassador said, “Most Serene Prince, this morning I am here upon four or five points; but first I would know whether we are quite agreed upon the question of the conduct of English ships in Venetian waters, and whether Ambassador Molin understands the arrangement in the same sense as I do. I ask because I do not speak this tongue quite freely and, in expressing myself not without some difficulty, I would not wish that my defect should injure the course of the negotiations.” As the Doge was absent at the last audience he declared that he could not say, but he was sure that if any doubt existed in the minds of the Council they would speak now for their entire satisfaction. “Quite so,” said the Ambassador. Then the Savio for the week, Marco Quirini, in the name of the other Savii, replied that the two points agreed on were that when English ships met the galleys of the Republic they were to strike their foretopsail and send their boat aboard. “Yes,” said the Ambassador, “those are precisely the terms of the agreement which came into force on the 26th July last.”
The Ambassador then asked whether the Council of Ten, in their judgment in the case of Nicolas Pert, had taken into account the money advanced to Balbi by Pert before they sailed from Ragusa; and begged for a reply before proceeding further.
The Doge replied that the Council of Ten had done all, and more than all their duty, and no question as to their judgment could be raised. The councillors Sagredo and Zane assured the Ambassador that the money deposited in the Mint covered the loan from Pert to Balbi. The Ambassador declared himself satisfied, and again put in a word for Thomas Seget.
The Doge promised a speedy termination, even if the new Council should have been appointed for the year, which would happen in the course of eight days.
The Ambassador presented two petitions, one from Captain John King, the other from Captain Robert Brazzo, both banished from Venetian territory, on the charge of lading goods at Zanthe without paving the customs.
The answer was that a safe conduct had already been issued for John King, and the other Captain's case would be taken into consideration.
The Ambassador then touched upon the question of burdens upon English merchants. The Doge promised that the papers should be examined, and everything done in favour of reciprocal benefits.
Sept. 23. Minutes of the Senate. Venetian Archives. 420. That the English Ambassador be summoned to attend the Cabinet and hear what follows:
Express satisfaction on orders issued by the King, commanding all English ships to submit to examination by galleys of the Republic. The Republic promises all good offices.
As to the grain landed in 1597 by Hugh Whitebrook (Vutbroot) we have given orders to arrange all papers concerning the affair, and will take steps.
We have granted John King a new safe conduct for two years.
In the instructions to be given to our beloved noble Georgio Giustinian—Ambassador Elect to England—we shall bear in mind your recommendations.
Ayes 124.
Noes 1.
Neutrals 5.
Sept. 24. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 421. The English Ambassador expressed satisfaction at the way in which the Republic had received the orders issued by the King, as regards English shipping in Venetian waters. Assures the Cabinet that the merchant Giosepo (Geoffrey?) Luterio is fully authorized to act for the heirs of Nicolas Pert, and to receive all moneys due to them. Begs that the existing Council of Ten should conclude the trial of Thomas Seget, and that it should not be put off till the new Council is elected at the beginning of next month.
The Doge promised that he himself would see to it.
The Ambassador retired; and a Secretary was sent to the Chiefs of the Ten to press for the immediate conclusion of the trial, which they promised, in spite of urgent public affairs.
Sept. 24. Minutes of the Senate. Venetian Archives. 422. To Ambassador Molin, in England.
You are to take occasion to thank his Majesty for the orders given about English ships in these waters meeting Venetian galleys.
We have granted a new safe conduct to John King for two years.
Ayes 166.
Noes 1.
Neutrals 5.
Sept. 26. Consiglio Dieci Processi Criminali. Venetian Archives. 423. Motion made to pass sentence on Thomas Seget.
Ayes 7. 2nd ballot. Ayes 7.
Noes 4. Noes 5.
Neutrals 4, Neutrals 4.
Sept. 27. 424. Same motion.
Ayes 7. 2nd ballot. Ayes 7.
Noes 6. Noes 8.
Neutrals 3. Neutrals 1.
Neither carried.
Sept. 28. 425. Same motion. Resolved to ballot once only, and not to count neutral votes.
Ayes 7.
Noes 9.
The “noes” had it, and Seget was acquitted.
Sept. 28. Original Despatch. Venetian Archives. 426. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Several weeks ago a gentleman arrived here from the Emperor. To the surprise of everyone he stays on, though his business is not known. He has had several interviews with the King and with Cecil, but all is kept a profound secret. This gentleman is known to be of the Imperial Council, in high favor, discreet and able. He frequents the Spanish and French embassies but little, and is more with the Ambassador of the Archduke, but comes most to this Embassy. He hears Mass here, and often stays to dine with me. He is devoted to the Republic, and was for long at the University of Padua, where he received great kindness. I have often sounded his, but he professes to be here for his private affairs. I am informed, however, from a very sure source that his business refers to the election of the King of the Romans. The electors are said to intend a meeting on St. Bartholomew's Day, and the Emperor is afraid that they may then discuss the subject; he, accordingly, solicits the King's interest with the electors, who are joined to his Majesty by ties of blood and of religion, upon which point his Majesty has great influence, so that the choice may fall upon some member of the House of Austria. The assembly has been postponed, however, or even put off altogether, and the gentleman now begins to talk of leaving, which confirms the conjecture as to his mission.
The Ambassador of Spain, Taxis, has left. (fn. 2) As he was going on board, he said these words, “Is it possible that I can submit to it that my master, before whom the whole world quakes should receive this insult from four Dutch fishermen, who are so bold as to prevent these troops from crossing over to Flanders, and to compel then to return to Spain? I won't let them more from here. I will go to Spain and report to my master the ill-will, not of the King, who is only too good, but of those who rule him. I was the author and the mediator of the peace, but now I see they do not intend to observe in, save in appearance, and it may be that I shall be the cause of my master making reprisals in kind” and much else. He is indignant because Lord Arundel has been refused leave to accompany him to Flanders. And because he has failed to obtain from the King that the Dutch shall allow free passage to Spanish subjects; he is convinced that had his Majesty seriously approached the Dutch they would not have refused him. He has written letters of a similar tenour to friends of his, with the intent that they should he shown about, as has happened. But here they only laugh, and remain firm in their resolution.
The Spanish meantime will still remain at Dover till orders come from Spain or until the long nights will let them pass over to Dunquerque, which they can easily do in seven or eight hours.
The Lord High Admiral is exculpating himself from the charges brought against him by the lieger in Spain. All will be accommodated.
The Scottish gentleman sent by the King to the Emperor to beg grace for a German gentleman, favourite of the Duke of Holstein, has returned. The Emperor's answer is that he cannot grant it at once.
London, 28th September, 1605.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 28. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 427. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
A Danish Ambassador has arrived. His mission is to receive, in his master's name, the robes of the Garter; the Order had been conferred some considerable time ago. The Ambassador went to Windsor, where, as usual, the ceremony was held. As a mark of regard the King himself was present. The Ambassador is also instructed to touch upon the question of trade between the two countries, which used to be flourishing, but was almost extinct in the late Queen's reign. The relationship between these two Sovereigns makes it possible that it may now be revived, though there are some who think otherwise, for the English will do all they can to prevent the recovery of their ancient privileges by the Danish. Formerly foreign merchants were willingly admitted in England, and very few English traded abroad; now they apply all their attention to traffic, and all trade and all gain is concentrated in their hands. They will do all they can to thwart this Ambassador. He has had a long interview with the Council.
The question of the Levant Company has also been settled. They are not only going to keep up the company and its Consul at Constantinople, but they are going to enlarge its numbers, and extend the field of its operations; Italy is now included. There has been some talk of forming a French Company, but a slight opposition from the French Ambassador has caused it to be abandoned.
The Queen's Chamberlain, Lord Sydney, has almost succeeded in clearing himself. He has shown that it was sheer necessity that caused him to land in Flanders, nor did he see or speak to any Spanish minister, but continued his journey straight to Flushing. Everyone now says that M. de Caron was too easily alarmed, and induced to suspect a gentleman who has always been friendly to the Dutch and hostile to Spain, as is easily proved, for everyone of the Council and of the Court, except Sydney and three or four others, received presents from Spain.
When Lord Arundel received the royal commands he asked Sir Lewis Lewkenor if they meant he was not to go to Flanders at all or only not upon royal ships. Lewkenor replied that the letter of the Council said, “Not upon the royal ships conveying the Ambassador,” then Arundel hired a merchantman, put on a false beard and went aboard. He crossed over in company with the Ambassador. (fn. 3) Any way he is in Flanders, has seen the Archduke, and will go to join Spinola.
London, 28th September, 1605.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. Sir John Stanhope, created Lord Stanhope, May 4, 1605.
  • 2. He sailed on Sept. 1st. Cal. S.P Dom., Sep. 2, 1605.
  • 3. See Birch's “Historical View.” London, 1749, p. 226.