Venice: October 1605

Pages 277-283

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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October 1605

Oct. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 428. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The disturbances in France caused great satisfaction here, especially on account of the relations which the King of England gave it to be understood that he held with heretics; but when everything quieted down upon his Most Christian Majesty's making a move, they understood that this was not the time to look for much. I am told that in the Council of State it was said the other day that the King of England was doing his best to delude everybody, and first and foremost the King of Spain. The chief proof of which is that he will not allow the Spanish, who have taken shelter in his ports from the Dutch fleet, to cross over to Flanders on the royal snips, but keeps them prisoners on board their own vessels. They say that while thus professing to remain on terms of friendship with all he will lose it with all, and deserted abroad and not beloved at home he will be exposed to the risks of rebellion, especially as he lacks the courage to make himself feared. I will endeavour to find out more when Don Juan de Taxis arrives; but the profound silence of this government makes it almost impossible for me to arrive at any certain information.
Valladolid, the first of October, 1605.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 5. Collegio, Secreta, Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 429. The English Ambassador, introduced to the Cabinet, said, “Most Serene Prince, I do not know how the ministers of other Princes fare in this august chamber, wherein resides the Majesty of the Republic; all I know is that from my own experience I may adopt the phrase of Tacitus, 'Ours is a thankless and inglorious task. I am always coming here to complain; that is the natural result of so many years of interrupted relations. But since my King has chosen me as an humble instrument to repair past ills, I must say that just as the object of war is not war but peace, so the best way to come to a thorough understanding is to complain freely one of another wherever the complaints are just. Contrary to my wont, which leans to brevity, I have ventured to preface my remarks this morning with a few words, for it is just a year since I took up my duties here, and I am not only desirous but ambitious to crown the year with some good result, for which the very occasion itself seems propitious.
“Three English ships have lately arrived in this port, and others will soon follow. The English community here have of their common accord waited on me, and begged me to approach your Serenity for the repeal of the anchorage tax. That tax is at the rate of four and a half per cent, on the value of the cargo. I told the deputation that this was one of the points especially commended to me by his Majesty, but I ventured to ask the reason for such hurry. They replied that within a few days the said tax was to be farmed out, and then it would be too late. This seemed to me a good reason for hurrying, but I pointed out to the deputation that the Cabinet was not like the Piazza San Marco or Rialto, and that before approaching it one must have solid foundations. I, therefore, asked them what persuasions and arguments they would advance, in order to induce your Serenity to grant their request.
“They replied that I was bound to intervene for two strong reasons, first, for the honour of my Sovereign, as no other subjects, French, Spanish nor Flemish, pay this tax, and that the English should have to was an insult to our Sovereign; second, that Venetian subjects in England pay only a ducatoon for anchorage, and it was only right that our subjects should be treated on a similar footing. These just and reasonable arguments have brought me here this morning.”
The Doge replied, “My Lord Ambassador, we little looked for the opening phrases of your speech, as we have always endeavoured to meet your wishes; witness the cases of Balbi and the Scotchman, who has been acquitted. As to the repeal of the anchorage tax we will examine the papers, and reply as soon as possible.”
The Ambassador said, “I do not, most Serene Prince, deny that I have found a promptness in the Republic to meet my demands, for which I render thanks. As for Thomas Seget I intended to thank you this morning, and I would pray that he be set free altogether and banished, as is usually the case when a foreign prisoner has served half his time.
“I must point out a danger which may arise over these new orders to English vessels meeting your galleys. Some of the English may have sailed before the publication of the orders, and may refuse compliance. I beg your Serenity to issue instructions for the careful treatment of our ships in such a case.”
Oct. 6. Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 430. Instructions to Georgio Giustiniano, Ambassador-Elect to the King of “Great Britain.”
You are to present your credentials to the King; to visit the King, Queen, Princes, Princesses and Ambassadors; to report fully to us; to live as near the Court as possible. When we sent Ambassadors Duodo and Molin to that Court, Pope Clement VIII. of blessed memory begged us to instruct them to support the Catholics wherever possible, though exercising great caution. The actual Pontiff, Paul V., has renewed the request, and we commission you to assist the Catholics where possible, but you are to do so cautiously and only when you are sure of obtaining a good result.
The English Ambassador here resident has often raised the question of lightening customs dues on both sides. You are to see the instructions we sent on the 30th December and the 5th February last, and follow them.
You are to have two hundred crowns a month, for which you are not called on to furnish any account. We have ordered payment for four months in advance, and a donative of one thousand crowns in accordance with the order of the Senate 2nd June, 1561; also three hundred ducats to buy horses and trappings, and another three hundred for extraordinary expenses, for which you must present accounts on your return.
Ayes 134.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 1.
Oct. 6. Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 431. Letters of recall to Ambassador Molin in England.
Orders to hand over to his successor, Georgio Giustinian, all necessary papers.
Ayes 134.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 1.
Oct. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 432. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
It is at last quite certain that Lord Arundel passed over to Flanders on board the royal ships. In this way he has transgressed his Majesty's orders both in not presenting himself in London and in having embarked on board the royal ships. M. de Caron, the Dutch agent, has made loud complaints, declaring that his masters, relying on the King's word, repeatedly given, that no one but the Ambassador and his suite would be taken on board the royal ships, abstained from even approaching or searching those vessels, as they most surely would have done had they imagined that his Majesty's orders would not meet with due respect. But now that Lord Arundel's disobedience was manifest they begged that he 'should receive such punishment as should serve as a warning. His Majesty was enraged when he heard this, and promised to recall Lord Arundel, as he has in fact done. But the Ambassador of the Archduke and the party in Council favourable to Spain have made such representations that his Majesty is calmed down, and if Lord Arundel conies over voluntarily to explain his conduct he may look for a favourable issue.
There were many priests lying in prison here, and it seemed certain that, in execution of the law, they would be put to death; but the King, who has frequently declared that he will touch neither goods nor blood of any for religious opinions,—although the goods have for some time past been seized quite as rapaciously as ever in the late Queen's time,—has adopted instead another plan, to send them all to a place about sixty miles away, where they are so closely guarded and so badly treated, that they die of want. Two or three are already gone, and the rest will follow unless God aid them. In this way they claim that they do not proceed to the blood penalty, but the execution takes place all the same, and perhaps with even greater cruelty. A few days ago two Catholics were put to a sharp and cruel death in York, one for having written a letter to a friend, exhorting him to embrace the Catholic faith, the other because he would not acknowledge the King as head of the Church. And so these poor Catholics are driven to despair, all the more so as they see that Rome and his Holiness do not lend that assistance which they think they ought to receive from the Pope. His Holiness has written to the Archpriest and other clergy that he is greatly displeased at the Welsh rising, as he is firmly resolved to deal very gently and cautiously with this question of religion. With this object in view he has issued orders to them to exhort, and warn all Catholics to live quietly and without sedition or tumult; praying God to enlighten the King's mind and the minds of his ministers that they may learn the truth and justice of his cause; and announcing that at least for some time to come his Holiness will not adopt any other attitude than this. Although this resolve of his Holiness is recognised and praised by the wiser heads as very prudent, still those who are touched in their property and person, torn by cruel rage, and wounded by the government, cry aloud to heaven that they are abandoned. And so all about us are groans, and complaints and tears of blood. They live in a perpetual dread of losing their property to-day, their liberty to-morrow, their life the day after, as has happened to many.
London, 12th October, 1605.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 433. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King came to London on Monday, and yesterday morning he went to Royston. He will stay there for his hunting, as usual, till the middle of next month, when Parliament will meet. The question of the Union will, I am assured, be dropped; for his Majesty is now well aware that nothing can be effected, both sides displaying such obstinacy that an accommodation is impossible; and so his Majesty is resolved to abandon the question for the present, in the hope that time may consume the ill-humours. The only subject before Parliament will be that of subsidies, which the King desires, but difficulties are expected here also. Perhaps the abandonment of the Union and the King's vigorous representations may avail to gain him his desire.
Before his departure for Royston the King had a most troublesome business to arrange between Bishops and ministers, or preachers, as they are called, in Scotland. The ministers refuse positively to submit to the Bishops even on the smallest points. The Council in Scotland, in order to end the struggle and avoid a scandal, put some of the preachers in prison, though they allowed them to send a deputation to his Majesty, as also did the Bishops. After hearing them his Majesty ordered the ministers to obey the Bishops, as he was resolved to have only one religion in his kingdoms. The preachers are mighty ill-pleased, and this may breed some trouble in Scotland, where the people are attached to their ministers. (fn. 1)
The Danish Ambassador has returned home without having concluded anything. He was told that it was necessary to examine the causes which, induced the late Queen to revoke the Hanseatic privileges, in order to see whether they still exist. That was only an excuse to get rid of him, for they knew he could not stay long here. The Ambassador was very ill-pleased, and so were the King and Council; for he raised that troublesome question of the Orkneys, which, the Danish say, were pledged to England as security for the dower of a Danish Princess married to a King of Scotland. Denmark now proposes to pay the dower and recover the islands. No answer was given on the matter.
The Irish Parliament is to meet soon. The matter dealt with will be religion. Almost all the Irish are Catholics, except a few descendants of the English whom the late Queen sent there as colonists, on purpose to spread the Protestant religion. In the hands of these all the chief offices are concentrated. The King now sends the best preachers to advocate Protestantism.
London, 12th October, 1605.
Oct. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 434. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador (Cornwallis) complains loudly of the way business is conducted here; but they pay little heed, relying upon English ministers nearer the Crown, who are in the pay of Spain.
Valladolid, 14th October, 1605.
Oct. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 435. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is in the country at the chase; the Queen at Hampton Court. But they are beginning to get the royal apartments ready, for the time for the meeting of Parliament is coming on. That is settled for the fifteenth (fifth O.S.) of next month. There has been some question of proroguing Parliament, on account of a renewal of the plague during these last two weeks, but that has now been recognised not as plague, but as small-pox, which is very common here. Things are better now; only twenty-two died last week, so Parliament will not be prorogued.
I am told that were it not for the King's great desire to obtain a subsidy the Parliament might quite easily be dissolved, for various troublesome and pungent (aromatiche) subjects are to be raised; among others both foreign and native merchants—who had hitherto been well-treated by the customs—intend to call the attention of Parliament to the fact that the King, having farmed out the customs at a rise of one hundred and twelve thousand crowns (£28,000) a year, this augmentation is not effected by the care and diligence of the customs officers, but by the imposition of increased dues. The great Lords of Council, who have a deep interest in the customs, are ill-pleased at the prospect of this question being raised, and would be glad to hear that Parliament was dissolved. The King, however, is bent on getting his subsidy, and stands firm for the meeting. Further there are many monopolies in London, wherein these Lords have an interest. Beyond a doubt they are illegal, though permitted by grace of the late Queen. Parliament wishes to abolish them.
I have received your instructions, and will tender thanks to the King for his orders to his ships as soon as his Majesty returns from the country; he does not like to be disturbed when there. I tender my humblest thanks for the honour done me in naming me of the Senate. Though it is not unusual to bestow this honour on Ambassadors to Crowned heads, yet the terms in which it has been voted and my own merits so inferior to many other Ambassadors render this honour all the more conspicuous. It is all the greater comfort to me, as I can assure your Serenity that from the day I left your feet, now twenty-six months ago, I have had nothing but misfortune and bad news from home, loss of relations, friends, property. But now that I see your Serenity's favour and benevolence are still mine my consolation is very great; for this I hold to be the greatest of earthly blessings after the grace of God, whom I pray to grant me strength, equal to the will and desire I have to spend my life in your service.
London, 26th October, 1605.
Oct. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 436. Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Strong representations have been made to his Majesty in favour of Lord Arundel by his friends. They beg the King to pardon the error he committed by crossing over to Flanders against his Majesty's wishes and orders. The Ambassadors of Spain and of the Archduke also intercede for him. They say that they are sure his Majesty does not mean to recall Lord Arundel, but that he has only issued these orders with a view to pacifying M. de Caron. In fact Lord Arundel cannot return just now, as he has the charge of about two thousand English troops, raised with his Majesty's consent. On the other hand M. de Caron and his friends, who are powerful, urge upon his Majesty that, unless he takes vigorous steps against Lord Arundel, all the others will venture to follow his example, to the ruin of that obedience due from subjects to Sovereign. Moreover, they urge that it is not desirable that a Prince should have his subjects dependent on another Prince for their pay. As matters stand his Majesty seems inclined to chastisement, and the fact that Lord Arundel is very rich is prejudicial to him, for there are always people on the look-out when some rich person is to be deprived of his property or fined in some large sum to beg the King to grant them the confiscated property, and this is a very common way of rewarding services in this country.
Meantime the King has sent orders, through his Ambassador in Flanders, that the Baron is to return at once. The Captain of the ship (fn. 2) that took him to Dunquerque has been arrested, cashiered, and may receive a heavier punishment.
Count Maurice, on the 16th, attacked and slew Count Teodoro Trivulzio; but the Marchese Spinola arrived to visit the Count; attacked Count Maurice and defeated him, slaying about six hundred, mostly English.
London, 26th October, 1605.


  • 1. See Cal. S.P. Dom., Oct. 23, 1605.
  • 2. Captain Broadgate of the “Adventure” Birch “Historical View,” loc. cit.