Venice: May 1603, 16-31

Pages 28-42

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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May 1603, 16–31

May 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 41. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ambassador is supporting my representations on the subject of privateers. He has advised the Turks to send an envoy to the Queen of England. They have resolved to send a cavass with Imperial letters. Rumour represents the booty acquired by the Corsairs as something extraordinary, and I believe nothing like it has ever been known.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 17th May, 1603.
[Italian; deciphered.]
May 17. Enclosed in Preceding Despatch. 42. Orders from the Grand Signor to the Beglierbey and Cadi of Tunis.
William Piers, an English Corsair, has captured and plundered the Venetian vessel conveying the Consul of the Republic and many other rich merchants to Venice.
Orders to recover the goods and hand them over to the Agent of the Ambassador, who is the bearer. If the goods have been sold the officials are to extract from the English all the money accruing from the sale; and to punish the English, so that it shall not be necessary to repeat these orders.
May 17. Minutes of the Senate Venetian Archives. 43. Letters of congratulation to the “King of England and of Scotland” on his succession to the throne of England. Containing credentials for Secretary Scaramelli.
Despatch to Secretary Scaramelli, covering preceding letter. Motion to elect an Ambassador to convey congratulations and to reside in England for two years, according to the ordinary rules which govern the appointment of liegers. He may not decline to serve, he must set out when told to do so by the Senate, he shall have two hundred ducats of gold a month, of which he need render no account, but he must keep eleven horses, including those of his secretary, and four coachmen. Before leaving this city he shall receive in gift one thousand ducats of gold, and if he remains his full two years he shall, receive another thousand ducats of gold. For equipage, strong boxes, outfit, he shall receive three hundred ducats of lire 6 soldi 4 the ducat, and for extras another three hundred, of which he must render account, his secretary shall receive one hundred ducats, and the two couriers twenty a piece.
Ayes 37.
Amendment.—That an Ambassador Extraordinary be sent to England in addition. That his pay be six hundred ducats of gold a month, eight hundred ducats of lire 6 soldi 4 for outfit. He shall pay for his singers and musicians, but for that purpose he shall receive two hundred ducats, for which he shall account. He shall be bound to keep twenty-five horses.
Ayes 112.
Amendment.—That an Ambassador Extraordinary only be sent to England.
Ayes 11.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 8.
May 17. Minutes of the Senate Venetian Archives. 44. Prolongation of the time within which Anthony Sherley is to leave Venice, to twenty more days, in order that he may be enabled to pay his debts and to recover his health, which, as the doctor's certificates show, is very bad.
Ayes 86.
Noes 68.
Neutrals 12.
May 15. Files of the Senate. Secreta. No. 74. 45. Medical certificate.
That Anthony Sherley (Don Antonio Seerle) is suffering from disease of the kidneys and renal pains, on account of which he is obliged to make a radical cure, otherwise he runs an obvious danger to his life. In faith of which I, Hortensio Zaphi, have put my hand and seal.
May 14. As above. 46. Petition of Anthony Sherley for extension of the time within which he must leave Venice to three months, in order that he may pay his debts and cure himself of the stone.
May 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 47. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
I informed your Serenity that I had in my hands two Englishmen, who formed part of the crew of the ship which had plundered a Venetian cargo, belonging to Rimondo Vidali. While I was drawing up the charges against them I learned that the captain under whom they served had plundered another Venetian ship, and taken her in to Modon to sell the cargo. There he was arrested and sent to Gastuni, to the Sanjak, along with a companion. I thought he ought to be handed over to me, and I asked certain Athenian merchants interested in the case to endeavour to bring him here. They did so, and the Sanjak at once sent the prisoners to me with a letter. Soon after the Sanjak wrote asking for the prisoners to be sent back again. I thought it neither decorous for this Government nor advantageous in this affair to comply with his request without express orders from home. I have held an examination, and the English Captain and his companion both acknowledged their crime and the robbery committed. Were it not for the pretensions of the Sanjak, who asserts that he sent them here on conditions, I would proceed at once to their punishment, as I shall certainly do in the case of my first two prisoners, but I shall do nothing against the Captain until I receive instructions from you, which I beg you to send me as soon as possible, for as he is a person of some consideration in his way, the English merchants here are distressed at his capture, and I am obliged to keep careful watch over him. Meantime I will put off the Sanjak with formal phrases, but should he insist I will take the steps which justice requires. I have arrested two other Englishmen, one the actual, the other the late Consul at Patras They both fled from that place whenever they heard that the English Captain had been arrested at Modon, for they knew they were guilty. One is suspected of having had a share in the sale of the plunder, the other of being aware of all that was going on. I will place them on trial, and then with the assistance of my Council I will sentence them as justice points out.
Giovanni Antonio Valle acts as interpreter. I receive various reports of fresh depredations by the English.
Zante, 18th May, 1603. Old style.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 48. Letter from the Sanjak Of The Morea.
The Captain of an English ship which plundered some merchants of Athens and Venice, was arrested at Modon and sent here to me. I had him examined and sent for the English Consul at Patras, but he had left for Zante, nor was his Dragoman to be found at Patras, and the result was that I could discover nothing. I have therefore sent him on to you, relying on your good faith, and that you will cause him to be tried in the presence of the Consul, and the ship and goods to be restored, or, if that can not be done, that you will send him back to me that I may consult the Porte.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 49. Letter from the Sanjak Of The Morea.
I send you, under escort, an English buccaneer. You will send his companion at once to Tunis to recover the ship that he stole and the cargo. You will then send the said Captain back to me, for I have to send him to the Porte.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 50. Maffio Michiel to the Sanjak Of The Morea.
I was out of the city on business when your escort arrived along with the Athenian merchants, bringing the English buccaneer. I returned at once and opened an examination. I arrested both the present and the late Consuls in Patras, I am pushing on the trial and will use all diligence, so that the sufferers may be compensated. To carry the matter out fully will require time and repeated examinations of the Captain, and so I can not immediately comply with your request to send him back. I have reported all to my Prince.
Zante, 17th May, 1603.
May 17. Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 51. There was brought from prison to the room behind the Presence Chamber of his Excellency the Governor, a man, rather small, dressed in black velvet trousers and jacket, crimson silk socks, black felt hat, brown beard, and shirt collar embroidered in black silk, age about thirty-two. He said, “My name is Christoffalo d'Oloard of Dartmouth (?) (d'Artme), England. I am a soldier by trade, both on sea and on land. I was arrested by the Turks at Modon.” As he did not understand Italian the Governor sent for an interpreter. The Englishman continued, “I was arrested because they say my ship, a berton of Flemish build called the “Legion,” had committed a piracy. The ship is mine, I command her and fitted her out at a place called Dartmouth (d'Armet). The whole crew, which numbers forty in all, were English except three Greeks, I don't know from what place. I shipped them from a Venetian vessel on the high sea. It is five or six months since I left England. The Venetian was a small ship with a cargo of chestnuts, glasses, cloth.” He admitted having captured another Venetian vessel with a cargo of cotton, silk and oil, and said that while he was on shore his crew had sailed off with the ship in the direction of Barbary; he was not sure whether to Tripoli or Tunis. They went there to sell their booty to the Turks, Moors and Jews. He turned two Englishmen out of his own ship for insubordination. One was called Albert, but he could not remember the name of the other. When he dismissed them be had paid them in Venetian money. All be possessed in the world was on board the ship his sailors made away with. He knows no English merchants in Zante.
May 17. Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 52. Deposition of Nicolas Alvil, son of Richard Alvil of? (Demstem). Had been in service with another Captain, who had gone privateering, and handed him over to the man he is now in prison with. Had no post on board ship, for he was not used to the sea and was always sick. Confirms preceding deposition.
May 9. Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 53. List of the names of various English privateers, who between the dates of May, 1602, and February, 1603, have plundered French shipping and brought their prizes into Tunis. Furnished to the Consuls in Marseilles by Vice-Consul Antoine Berenger (Antonio Baringier.)
Richard Gifford (Rizzar Giffad).
Whewel (Huel).
Arnold (Arnoul).
Harris (Arice).
Holland (Ollant).
Perry (Perrê).
Faske (Faschi).
Pers (Piers).
Ferrers (Feris).
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 54. Deposition of the master of the ship, “Mema e Constantina,” plundered by the English Captain Bower (?) (Buer).
May 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 55. Giovanni Carlo Scaramelli, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have received your Serenity's despatches, enclosing a communication from the parties interested in the ship, “Speranza,” setting a limit to my expenses, declaring that they are satisfied, and that as far as they are concerned I may return home.
The King has been here four days in a monastery at one time belonging to the Carthusians. Yesterday he made his solemn entry into the Tower, without passing through the city. He will stay there all to-morrow for the ceremony of taking possession, then he will move to Greenwich, a pleasure-house of the late Queen on the banks of the Thames. The six men-of-war and the two armed pinnaces, which, at the moment of the Queen's death, were commissioned to harass the Spanish, have received orders to move down to Greenwich, as the King wants to see them. The King will amuse himself with the chase and other pleasures, and will set his household in order, then he will begin to grant audience to Ambassadors. I have been assigned for my audience the day after the French Ambassadors. I have resolved after compliments to endeavour to raise the case of the “Veniera,” which I have so much at heart, owing to your Serenity's earnest recommendations, all the more so as it has been already settled by the Council.
Upon the King's entry into the Tower all the prisoners of whatsoever quality were set at liberty, including some Jesuits even and others, called here traitors and guilty of laesa majestas. There is talk of a general pardon, and on this account I will see that the orders about the “Veniera,” which were granted by the Council during the last days of the Queen's life, are carried out before the Coronation.
Baron du Tour (fn. 1) (Turs), who was Ambassador for his most Christian Majesty in Scotland, and has accompanied the King to London, claims to continue his Embassy, but the other Ambassador. M. de Beaumont, here resident, has been too quick for him, and has received the confirmation of his office with a salary of six thousand crowns a year. Du Tour is summoned to France to furnish some information relative to the mission of M. de Rosny, who is coming here as Ambassador Extraordinary, and left yesterday by post. His wife, the daughter of Hieronimo Gondi, stays behind; she is seven months gone with child.
The assembly at Court amounts to upwards of forty thousand persons of all conditions, and it is held for certain that by the date of the Coronation there will be more than one hundred thousand extra mouths in London. Two weeks ago the plague suddenly broke out here. Last week there were fourteen deaths, and this week, as far as it has gone, eleven, in the six infected parishes. There are one hundred and three uninfected parishes, where the mortality from other diseases is about one hundred a week, and there are more than that number of births, as is proved by the registers carefully kept to be sent to Court. The King has named five Scottish Lords as members of Council; the Duke of Lennox,—who has also been appointed President, a post never held by anyone during the late Queen's reign,—the Earl of Mar, Lord Kinloss, who has received a post (fn. 2) worth twelve thousand ducats a year; his own Secretary (fn. 3) and the Treasurer (fn. 4) of Scotland. The Treasurer has been associated with the Treasurer of England in the management of affairs, and consequently in the profits of his office, and now there are two Treasurers and two Secretaries, to the no small chagrin of the English ministers, not merely because the supreme offices are bestowed upon Scots, but because every day posts are taken from the English and given to the Scotch. All these changes the King carries out in that highhanded manner which was recommended to him by the English Lords themselves. Indeed, they are charged with having sold England to the Scots, for no Englishman, be his rank what it may, can enter the Presence. Chamber without being summoned, whereas the Scottish Lords have free entreé of the privy chamber, and more especially at the toilette, at which time they discuss those proposals which, after dinner are submitted to the Council, in so high and mighty a fashion that no one has the courage to raise opposition. The King has named of the Council a son and also a brother of the Duke of Norfolk, (fn. 5) and two other English Lords, all three malcontents and, survivors of the condemnations pronounced on those who followed the party of the Queen, his mother.
While advancing the Scotch and those English, to whom he says he is under obligation, the King shows small regard for the rest. He has deprived Secretary Cecil, head of a powerful party, of the Wards in Chancery, which brought him, at a moderate computation, forty thousand crowns (fn. 6) a year, besides the fees to the Crown, which were twice as much again, taking one year with another. And as he is seen every day to deprive some one of his office, and never lets a day pass without lamenting that his mother's head fell, at the third stroke, by a villainous deed, all those who, even by relationship are stained with that blood, grow fearful, not merely lest they should lose their appointments but lest their end be a bloody one. To the people and the private nobility he endeavours to give every satisfaction in general terms; for besides the declarations he causes to be made from all the pulpits that he is not going to change the religion from its Evangelical purity and Christian liberty, phrases most dear to the ears of this people, he by royal proclamation announces many reforms for the general weal and the alleviation of the poor; but above all he professes strict justice, and so wherever he goes he is received with cheers and plaudits. There are not wanting those who say that this policy of disgusting and alarming the ministers of the late Government may throw them over into the arms of the Catholic party, should this party revive some day, and during the interregnum it was only held down by its lack of leaders; moreover the King's inclination towards peace with Spain will certainly rouse the suspicions of the King of France, and will induce him to support the Catholics in England, so as to have that faction on his side, whatever may occur, and this in view of the claims which the English Crown is beginning to advance, not merely on the remote questions of Normandy and Guienne,—the ancient patrimony of the English sovereigns,—and of all that the English seized by force of arms in the bowels of France during the long struggle between the two Crowns, but also on account of recent loans, for which they now demand repayment, and which amount to about three millions of gold between subsidies and loans, not counting free gifts.
The States, whose Ambassadors give out that they have come here to place the decision of peace or war in the King's hands, after making their very important statement, will meet with no small difficulty, for his Majesty very freely and almost in public discusses and debates their position, and has already condemned them. But this may be of service to them, for Barneveld, one of the Ambassadors, endeavours to encourage the belief that what they lose here in favour and in aid they will gain on the other side of the water, meaning that they know they can count on the King of France. Lord Kinloss, upon whom, as being the most prudent and powerful minister, they impress these views, has said that since the King of France cannot undertake the protection of the States without engaging in war with Spain, the King of England will let them go to war, and in the meantime will endeavour to secure for his kingdom a breathing space, in which to recover from the ills bequeathed by the late Queen, and thus to make the English, who have been more than men on the sea, live now for a while at home, as if they were softer than women. And briefly both he and the other Lords of the Council declare that they know for certain that the King of France will neither accept openly the protectorate of the States nor will he make the smallest objections to continuing his peace with Spain, for in fact he lives in terror of a rupture.
London, 22nd May, 1603.
May 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 56. Giovanni Carlo Scaramelli, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King had not been two hours in the Tower of London,—in sight of which, and hard by, I have my lodging in a house in the borough, quite new, with a great Italian garden, belonging to a merchant of Lucca,—when his Majesty sent one of his gentlemen to wait on me with expressions of great affection for your Serenity, and kindliness towards your Secretary and servant. He informed me that he was well informed about my business and about myself, and he excused himself for not having summoned me to audience, but promised to receive me after the French Ambassador and before Nassau, the States and all other Ambassadors, and to speak to me more in private than in public. I returned thanks, and assured the gentleman that his Majesty might count on the sincere affection of the Republic.
I thought the exchange of compliments had ended the interview, but the gentleman added that his Majesty had a great esteem for Sir Anthony Sherley (Signor Antonio Giarles), who is now a prisoner in Venice. Sherley had always been of the King's party, and had not returned to England after his voyage to Persia for no other reason than that as a relation and dependent of the Earl of Essex, he would have been exposed to persecution by the opposite faction after the Earl's death; that he is not the bad subject he is represented to be, nor was he ever a dependent of the King of Spain, except in so far as the service of the King of Scotland, now King of England, required; his Majesty therefore begs your Serenity, unless Sherley is a prisoner for plotting against the Republic, which cannot possibly be, to hand Sherley over to him to answer for all other misdeeds, as the King would have the greatest pleasure in seeing him once more, in order to recompense him. He added that the King's request did not end here, but that he begged your Serenity to instruct your Ambassador at Constantinople to do nothing hostile to Thomas Sherley, Anthony's brother, who is a prisoner in an island of the Levant, (fn. 7) but to exert his great influence with the Porte in order to secure Sherley's liberation.
I assured the gentleman that I would at once comply with his Majesty's request and would write instantly. The gentleman took his leave, saying that the King hopes for a speedy and favourable reply. The house of Sherley is really noble in this kingdom, and Thomas may be said to have ruined himself by fitting out a squadron of seven ships at his own charges and at a cost of one hundred and twenty thousand ducats, with the intent to sail to India. When about to pass the Straits of Magellan he discovered that he had been cheated by his agents and had not provisions enough, and so was compelled to return home; from that moment he began the downward course. He who, as I am informed, went down on his knees to the King at Theobalds and called to his mind the loyalty of the three, Henry, who is in Persia, Anthony and Thomas, is still in the same plight as when I wrote on the 27th of February last.
London, 22nd May, 1603.
May 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 57. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
I am continually receiving news of fresh acts of piracy committed by the English, and I enclose the depositions of a Frenchman plundered in the port of Paleocastro in Candia. I resolved, accordingly, to allow no English ship to leave this port without depositing caution money against any damage that may be inflicted on your Serenity's subjects. In execution of this resolution, I exacted from William Brown, Captain of the “Salamander,” a surety of ten thousand ducats before I would allow him to sail for the Levant to fetch a cargo of grain. This sum was paid down by Jasper Roll, an English merchant, who has been for long resident here, and has a large business. I shall continue this policy.
I enclose a statement as to the capture of two privateers by the Commander of the Galleys.
The marciliana, “Mema et Constantina,” which was stripped of all her gear by the English, has been unladen and the wood stored. The master and supercargo of the “Salvetta” have asked me to give them some soldiers on board, on account of these perpetual robberies. I and the Council of twelve have agreed to permit them to hire twenty-five arquebusiers.
Zante, 23rd May, 1603. O.S.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 58. Deposition of Francesco Buso, and John, a sailor, as to the plunder committed upon them in the port of Paleocastro in Crete by English pirates, who took all their money to the amount of twenty-five thousand reals, as well as carrying off the Captain and seven others. They do not know the name of the ship nor of the Captain, but the ship is a small one of about two hundred tons burden, and the Captain a young man of medium height, fair complexion, and budding moustache. The ship had about eighty men aboard and much artillery.
May 20th.
Enclosed in. preceding Despatch. 59. Paragraph from a letter written by Don Anastasio Ruchani to Don Richard Pearson (Person), English merchant in Zante, reports the capture of two privateers by the great galleys on the 12th, after a chase.
Enclosed in. preceding Despatch. 60. Meeting of the Council of twelve, under presidency of the Governor and officials.
Order made to unlade the marciliana, “Mema et Constantina.”
Order to the Captain of the English ship, the “Salamander,” to find surety for ten thousand ducats.
Jasper Roll, English merchant, voluntarily offers himself as guarantee for the above sum.
May 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 61. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is entirely occupied about the question of a peace with England, and has abandoned for the present all other business. They are waiting to see what kind of an answer the King of England will return to an Ambassador, who is shortly to go to England from the Archduke. His Catholic Majesty will be guided by his report. His Majesty has given orders to all his ships that if they fall in with Englishmen they are not to molest them; also that if any English ships arrive in Spanish harbours with passports signed by the King of England or by the Archduke they are to be well received. I am informed that the King of England is also much inclined to peace, and that he has prevented certain privateers, fitted out to harass Spaniards, from sailing. His Catholic Majesty will shortly send an Ambassador to congratulate the King and to deal with questions in dispute between the parties. Here they show great relief at the death of the Queen of England, and they declare that affairs in Flanders are already looking more favourable for the King than they were some months ago. They believe that Ostend will soon fall. And in very truth, owing to the Queen's death, a few days have sufficed to change the aspect of matters from one of despair to one of hope.
Valladolid, 24th May, 1603.
May 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 62. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has appointed Taxis (fn. 8) as Ambassador to England, he is to take a suite of eighteen persons between gentlemen and servants, and has received twelve thousand crowns. He is to go to Flanders first to learn what the Archduke's Ambassador reports of the king's disposition, and to regulate his conduct accordingly.
Some Jesuit Fathers, belonging to Madrid, after an interview with the King, have left for England.
The French Ambassador tells me that he is ordered by his master to inform his Catholic Majesty that the King of France will grant free passage to troops for Flanders, and will do all he can to maintain the peace.
Valladolid, 25th May, 1603.
May 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 63. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of England has written to say that as his Majesty of France intends to continue to keep a lieger at the Court of St. James, he would prefer that it was someone other than M. de Beaumont, on the ground that M. de Beaumont had meddled in the affairs of the kingdom and had acted contrary to the orders which M. du Tour held, namely, to assist the King's succession. The English Ambassador fulfilled his task and the King of France showed some annoyance, declaring that he was no novice of a King that he should require someone to teach what he ought to do, and added that he would send his answer by M. de Rosny. Some think it possible that on the death of the Queen M. de Beaumont may have made some remarks not wholly favourable to the King of Scotland. No one believes that the Baron du Tour is responsible for the incident. No one entertains for a moment the idea that the King of England can have a good understanding with Spain. Ten Catholics have presented to the King of England a petition demanding liberty of conscience. But they recalled the death of the King's mother, a painful memory, and alarmed some members of the Council, and, accordingly, in place of being gratified in their demands, they were ordered to leave the kingdom.
Paris, 25th May, 1603.
May 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 64. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has had a brief but very severe attack, they called it colic, but it really was pain in the kidneys with retention of urine for some hours. So intense was the pain that he twice fainted. There remained a slight tertian fever, from which he is now free, and as there is nothing the matter except the exhaustion caused by his malady he will soon be in his wonted health. During the crisis M. de Villeroy and M. de Rosny were summoned, and his Majesty lamented bitterly that he would leave the Dauphin so young.
The English Ambassador (fn. 9) has been confirmed in his appointment. In five or six days M. de Rosny will leave for England. The Baron du Tour has arrived, and was received the very day of his coming. M. de Rosny's chief duty is to establish a good understanding between these Crowns; that is the substance of his mission; and as no alliances are held to be solid at the present time, unless cemented by a common interest, he is, therefore, to arrange not only certain commercial treaties but he is to settle the manner in which these two Crowns are to deal with the question of Holland, which is treated everywhere as a most delicate affair. If the States made submission to his Catholic Majesty they would arouse the greatest suspicion in France and in England as well, for both these kingdoms would be exposed to serious trouble from Spain; on the other hand, it would be to the interest of both Crowns to come to some agreement, by which an acceptable form of Government might be established in the United Provinces under the name of the States of Holland, and for this purpose a certain amount of assistance should be rendered to them, which is what they are asking for. The States, having once tasted the sweets of self-government, are resolved, unless driven harder, to submit themselves to no foreign Prince. To carry out this policy M. de Rosny cannot be in London less than fifteen days, and in order to be nearer him his Majesty will very likely move into Picardy, towards Calais. The King is assured of England's friendly attitude, but he cannot help being anxious, as the Spanish are leaving no stone unturned, and openly show that they have no anxiety from that quarter, basing their opinion on the new King's inclination towards peace.
Paris, 25th May, 1603.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 65. Maffio Michiel, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
I informed your Serenity that I had in my hands two English Corsairs. They freely confessed their crime, and were, moreover, identified by the Captain, the crew, and the merchant on board the plundered ship, further their own Captain qualified them as pirates. Convicted and confessed as guilty of this crime, I, with my Council, condemned them to be hung by the neck, and the sentence was carried out on a high tower of this castle, where their bodies remain in sight of the city and of the port until they be consumed, as a terror to all such evil doers. I have also condemned to a like punishment the English Captain and his companion, but respect for the Sanjak of the Morea has caused me to suspend execution.
Zante, 28th May, 1603. O.S.
May 28. Original. Despatch, Venetian Archives. 66. Giovanni Carlo Scaramelli, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I was received in audience yesterday at two o'clock, at Greenwich. I went there and found such a crowd that I never saw the like even at Constantinople in time of peace. There were upwards of ten or twelve thousand persons about. All the efforts of the guards hardly enabled me to reach the first, let alone the inner chamber, owing to the throng of nobility. At length having arrived at the chamber where the King was, I found all the Council about his chair, and an infinity of other Lords almost in an attitude of adoration (quasi in atto d'adoratione). His Majesty rose and took six steps towards the middle of the room, and then drew back one, after making me a sign of welcome with his hand. He then remained standing up while he listened to me attentively. At the opening and at the close he held his hat in his hand a while. He was dressed in silver grey satin, quite plain, with a cloak of black tabinet reaching to below the knees and lined with crimson, he had his arm in a white sling, the result of a fall from his horse when out hunting, which occasioned more danger than damage; from his dress he would have been taken for the meanest among the courtiers, a modesty he affects, had it not been for a chain of diamonds round his neck and a great diamond in his hat; they say it is the one Don Antonio of Portugal pledged for eighty thousand crowns, but is now valued at two hundred thousand. As to the appearance, height, and complexion of his Majesty let your Serenity recall the late illustrious Federico Nani, ten years before he died, and you may say that you have actually seen the King of England; I never remember such a striking resemblance.
My discourse was brief. I said that though the causes which induced your Serenity to send me to England were displeasing, and were still lying in obscurity awaiting the light of his Majesty's judgment, yet it was a matter for congratulation to your Serenity that the occasion now offered after fifty years to despatch a representative of the Republic, who had the good fortune to be witness of his Majesty's happy succession to the throne. And I took the occasion to present congratulations in the name of the Republic, until such time as your Serenity could openly prove your affection.
The King replied, “I know that you speak French, and so I will employ that language so as to dispense with an interpreter, for I cannot speak Italian as I could wish. I am sure that the Republic must rejoice at this right, which God has bestowed on me, for everyone who ever came from Venice assured me of the goodwill the Republic bears to me, and it is only distance which has prevented certain relations between us. Assure the Republic that I desire to respond to these sentiments. The affairs which you could not discuss with the Queen I am ready to conclude with you.” He stopped a moment, but seemed desirous of saying more, then he added, “Assure the Republic of my regard, and that will do for the present.” I returned thanks and presented a memorial on the case of the “Veniera,” which his Majesty received. I then took my leave, and the Ambassadors of the States were called; they had arrived before I did, but the King insisted on granting audience to me first.
The Queen, whose father was a Martinist, and who had always been a Lutheran herself, became a Catholic, owing to three Scottish Jesuits, one of whom came from Rome, the others from Spain. Although in public she went to the heretical Church with her husband, yet in private she observed the Catholic rite. With the King's consent the mass was sometimes secretly celebrated for her. He is much attached to her, and she has obtained leave to bring up her only daughter, a girl of eight, as a Catholic. In order to secure the Protestant education of Prince Henry, the Bang has kept him far away from his mother; and on his departure he left the Prince in Stirling Castle in charge of the Countess of Mar, whose husband is the Prince's governor. The King intended later on to bring the Prince in state to London as Prince of Wales. The Queen, however, was desirous to have her eldest son with her in Edinburgh, and went, accordingly, to Stirling; but as she could not induce anyone to carry him off, she conceived a violent repugnance to seeing him. In support of the refusal, the Prince's governess told the Queen that if he went with her the Catholics would certainly abduct him, in order to have a hostage in their hands when they rose in revolt. And in fact many of the Scottish guard in France openly declared that the Scots should not let the young Prince leave the kingdom, otherwise they would lose all chance of ever having a Scottish King. The Queen flew into a violent fury, and four months gone with child as she was, she beat her own belly, so that they say she is in manifest danger of miscarriage and death.
On receipt of this disagreeable news, the King despatched the Earl of Mar post haste to Scotland, and to-day the Duke of Lennox has left for the same destination to take what steps may be necessary. The Court has shown itself hostile to France, and declares that peace should be concluded with Spain. The King is so well disposed towards this peace that he is thought to be resolved on it. When speaking of the States he uses the term rebels, and declares that such a bad example should not be encouraged, nor would it ever have occurred had not the States found support; he blames the King of France, who, in violation of his good faith and purity of spirit, which every man and much more every King should preserve intact, has fostered, not even secretly, the States in their rebellion, hence the irritation of the Kings of Spain, which induced them to encourage plots inside the kingdom of France; nor does he blame the late Queen any less for mixing herself up in affairs which brought her Crown to the verge of ruin. The King shows a desire to be asked to arbitrate between the States and the Archduke, and this in opposition to the opinion of many of his Council. This tendency keeps everyone in suspense, and the Ambassadors of the States begin to say that the King shows this hostile opinion about them in order to force them to offer him the Protectorate of the States. There is no doubt but that Queen Elizabeth might have had it if she chose, but she declined it for a variety of reasons. The glory of that Queen, which they pretended to have buried along with her body, having even gone the length of removing her effigy, now becomes, in such circumstances as these, greater than ever.
It is reckoned as one of her most remarkable achievements, that, although she never had the smallest intention of taking Alençon for a husband, she led the French to that most momentous step of making him Protector of the States, and she spared no amount of gold, in order to establish a balance, by throwing France into open war with Spain; her second and not less remarkable action now comes to light, for at the very height of the Spanish preparations against England in 1588, she, of her own initiative, despatched into Flanders Robert Cecil, a little hunchback, and then in private life, but very wise; and he, in simple traveller's garb, but with credentials from her, whispered to the ear of Alexander Farnese that the Queen would give Arabella as wife to his son Ranuccio, and with her the succession to the throne; the whole world has seen the results of that step.
For the conclusion of the peace a certain person called Corso has arrived from the Archduke, he was at one time in Scotland, and he brings letters from his Highness asking for a safe conduct for the Count d'Aremberg, his Ambassador. The safe conduct has been already despatched, together with another safe conduct for Taxis, who is to represent his Catholic Majesty at this Court.
At the audience granted to the French Ambassador the day before yesterday, the King spoke of the King of France, a title which the late Queen never employed in order to maintain the ancient pretensions of the English Crown. She always spoke of the King of France as his most Christian Majesty. The Ambassador told me that the King used expressions which seemed to him to be exaggerated.
Two Ambassadors from Denmark have arrived with apologies from the King for his inability to cross the sea just now, and to announce the birth of a son. Ambassadors also from Dantzig, and others are expected from all quarters.
The King on learning the discontent among the English has suddenly created four Barons from among those whose support it is prudent to secure. One of them is Secretary Cecil, to whom he has also restored the guardianship of Wards. He has also created one hundred and forty knights. The King is convinced that the security and peace of the kingdom depend upon the question, of religion and has resolved, in order to put an end to all doubts, to declare himself head and governor of the Anglican Church, although in the proclamation of Accession he was purposely not called such. He proposes to exact the oath from all servants of the Crown, even if they are Catholics, and none has had the courage to refuse, though there is a Bull excommunicating those who take the oath. Nay, old Howard, who has lately been appointed to the Council, and Southampton, who are both Catholics, declare that God has touched their hearts, and that the example of their King has more weight with them than the disputes of theologians. They have become Protestants, and go to church in the train of the King. He declares that he does not want the recusants to pay money for not going, but he wishes all to go in the same spirit as he goes.
At Waterford, and Cork, and elsewhere the Catholics have made processions for the accession to the throne, and have expelled the heretics from the churches which they have washed; they have incensed the altars and restored them to the ritual of the Roman Church, whose vassals they say they are.
On hearing that Tyrone and other Irish leaders thought of coming to England to confer with him, the King said that if Spanish influence were banished he would undertake to conclude all else peacefully.
Lady Arabella, who is a regular termagant, came to visit the King on Sunday last with a suite of ladies and gentlemen. She has returned to favour, and they say that should the Queen die she would be wedded and crowned at once.
The plague progresses. In nine infected parishes last week thirty-six died of plague and one hundred and twelve of other illnesses. As the day is nineteen hours long here, and the season unusually hot, there is dread of the disease spreading, especially as no steps have been taken as yet, except to kill the dogs and mark the houses by fastening upon them a great printed paper with these words, “Lord, have mercy upon us.”
London, 28th May, 1603.


  • 1. See Sully's “Memoires,” edit. cit. II., 162–166.
  • 2. Master of the Rolls; worth £3,000 per annum. Gardiner 1.95.
  • 3. Sir James Elphinstone.
  • 4. Sir George Hume.
  • 5. Thomas and Henry Howard.
  • 6. 10,000 pounds sterling.
  • 7. That is Zea. Cal. S. P. Ven. 1592–1603. Preface. Part III.
  • 8. Juan de Taxis, Count of Villa Mediaua. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1603, p. 27.
  • 9. Sir Thomas Parry.