Venice: February 1606

Pages 317-323

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 1606

Feb. 5. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 476. The English Ambassador returns thanks for the communication of news from Constantinople.
Feb. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 477. Ottaviano Bon, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
As to the cargo of gunpowder found on board the English berton, I must send you full information, in case you should deem it advisable, in company with other Sovereigns, to address some complaint to England on the subject. The English Ambassador is much confused, and does not know how to excuse this ugly business except by urging that gunpowder is a commodity in which England abounds, and that there is no harm in exporting it to friends like the Turks. Florence has also had some, and this is no sin, for England is not in obedience to the Pope and the Church of Rome. The Ambassador said he had reported to the King, who, he hoped, would not submit to this injury, as he had no reason in policy to continue his friendly attitude towards the Turks; that up to now it has been the Company of Levant merchants, who have secured these relations, but now that business is reduced to such small proportions and so enfeebled by the losses they have suffered, he is in hopes that he will receive definite orders and be able to retire honourably. On the other hand the ministers, in the presence of the Mufti (Sheik ul-Islam) and the Kadaleskier (chief judge), moved by the very great damage they have suffered this year, have held long consultations as to the way in which they can provide for the safety of the sea and also upon the whole question of friendly relations with England. Most of them, including the Sultan, are disposed to break them off, but the Hoggia (Seaddedin) and Haider Pasha have brought forward sound arguments against such a course, pointing out that if they suffer loss just now, while friends, what will happen when they are foes. They also urge the advantages derived from the importation of powder from England, and also to some extent from the English trade. England, too, lies so far off that she could never be touched by the forces of the Sultan. These considerations have convinced the Sultan, and it has been resolved to wait and see what the Capudan can effect this year. They have decided that, as Alexandretta is an open roadstead, it is a veritable temptation to pirates, and that its business shall be removed to Tripoli in Syria, where it first was established.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, the first of February, 1605 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 4. Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 478. Letter to the King of England.
Acknowledging receipt of news about the gunpowder plot.
Feb. 4. Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 479. To Ambassador Giustinian in England.
Instructions to congratulate the King on the escape of himself and his family from peril.
Feb. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 480. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I enclose a letter from the King obtained by the English Ambassador in reply to his representations on behalf of his fellow-countrymen.
Valladolid, 4th February, 1605 [m.v.].
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 481. To the Count of Benevento, my cousin, Viceroy, Lieutenant and Captain-General in my kingdom of Naples.
Orders for the strict observance of all the clauses of the peace with the “King of Great Britain.”
In all cases pending for contraband, etc., the goods and ships shall be restored to their owners on their depositing caution-money for their appearance before the Court and their surrender to its decision. The ships and cargoes to be inventoried. If they cannot give caution-money the ships and goods are to be sequestrated, but not disposed of in any way. If they have only sufficient for partial caution-money an equivalent part of the cargoes is to be set free.
All cases are to be tried within a month, unless they ask for a remand, in order to secure witnesses beyond the seas. All papers of the cases to be sent to this Court, to the hands of Count Villalonga for sentence to be passed by officers to be appointed by me.
Valladolid, 24th December, 1605 [m.v.].
I, the KING,
Don Pedro Frangueza.
Feb. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. Expulsis Papalistis. 482. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Here they freely discuss the quarrel between the Pope and the Republic. They are pleased at this disaccord, for they consider that one of the principal supports of the Holy See is the reverence and devotion of the Republic. The Queen herself asked eagerly for information how matters stood. We answered that we had no information on the subject from your Serenity, that we did not believe the question stood as it is represented here, and that very often, especially at the beginning of a reign, small questions about frontiers might easily arise between the Pope and your Serenity. As to yielding to Papal pretensions, as we did not know what these pretensions were, it was impossible for us to say anything, except that the Republic would always continue in her ancient devotion to the Holy See, with the same constancy, that she would maintain her rights as an independent Sovereign.
The King asked if the Republic was shocked at the plot. We made a suitable reply.
London, 10th February, 1605 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 483. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Monday last, in the presence of a vast crowd, sentence was passed upon eight of the conspirators. Wednesday morning and this morning the sentence was carried out in two different parts of the city, and in sight of an infinite multitude of men. The object of this division was to feed the eyes of the mob for a longer period. The people were ablaze with fury and rage against the culprits, and this was fanned by the constancy which they displayed; for though the death was a most cruel one, being first hanged and then, while still half alive, quartered, they showed that they endured it out of zeal for the Catholic faith, and without sign of penitence for their deed. All this adds to the hatred in which our religion is held, and it is expected that the Parliament at present sitting will pass very severe laws against it. And not only do they oppress the Catholics in their substance, but, in order to extirpate the religion, they propose to take their children from them and consign them for education to relations favourably disposed to the Protestant persuasion, and so to stamp out every spark of Catholic faith in this kingdom.
The English merchants, who are styled the Levant Company trading in Constantinople, are in great alarm at the news that an English berton has captured a Turkish galleon in those seas. The berton was flying the ensign of the Grand Duke; besides capturing great booty they slew a large number of Turks, and others were taken as slaves to Leghorn. In expectation of reprisals at Constantinople and in other Turkish ports the Levant merchants have applied to the Council, who have ordered the arrest of the owners on the charge of fitting out privateers for service with a foreign Sovereign. They also complain of the conduct of the Grand Duke, in availing himself of English subjects for his attacks on the Turk, which may some day be the cause of serious disorders. I am informed from a trustworthy source that should the company suffer some losses it would not be at all surprising if they—in view of the great privileges they enjoy in the Levant—should turn their attention to negotiations with your Serenity, which have been laid before you on other occasions. And on this topic I must report that when I had an audience of Cecil he touched upon the question of the negotiations undertaken by the Ambassador Wotton, in regard to the burdens laid upon English merchants in Venetian dominions. To which I replied by calling attention to the far heavier burdens our merchants are subject to in England. I added that your Serenity would always give a ready attention to any proposals for the alleviation of our merchants and the expansion of reciprocal traffic.
I shall take care, with the help of the papers on the subject, which my predecessor has left me, to collect as much information as I can, and should the matter advance I will advise your Serenity, and will deal with it to the best of my ability in your Serenity's interests, as I am commissioned.
I am informed by M. de Caron that a Dutch fleet of forty ships is ready to sail to harry the Spanish coast, and that it is only waiting fine weather. The Dutch hope to make great progress this year both by land and sea, and they expect to receive open help from his Most Christian Majesty, to the extent of four thousand infantry and a thousand horse. But I have this from a source which is not absolutely sure.
London, 10th February, 1605 [m.v.].
Feb. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 484. Zorzi Giustinian and Nicolo Molin, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Congratulations to Leonardo Donato, the new Doge of Venice, elected 10th January.
London, 10th February, 1605 [m.v.].
Feb. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 485. Ottaviano Bon, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador has recovered most of the crew of the galleon that was burned, and hopes to have the rest.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 22nd February, 1605 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 486. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I asked for audience to present your Serenity's letters to the King. His Majesty sent to say that if my business was not urgent he would beg me to wait till he returned from the country, whither he was going next day for his usual diversion of the chase. I replied that my instructions were merely to afford a further proof of the devotion of the Republic towards his Majesty, and that I should always be ready, when it suited him, to discharge my commission. His Majesty returned the day before yesterday, and Sunday has been named for my reception.
Here they attend to nothing else but great preparations for the annihilation of the Catholic religion. New laws are being framed every day with the fullest resolve to root that religion out, and in short there is no other topic of discussion at present. They have, at last, captured the two Jesuits, who had already been proclaimed as guilty of conspiracy; they had taken shelter in a cave in the country, and were besieged there, and finally driven out by the hunger and suffering which they had endured. (fn. 1) One of them is the Provincial of the Jesuits in England, and it is thought that in putting him to death with cruel torments they will wreak all their hatred of his religion and of himself. But he will not be executed in public, for he is a man of moving eloquence and vast learning, and they are afraid that his constancy and the power of his speech may produce just the reverse of what they desire. Indeed some other outbreak is so confidently expected that on the smallest rumour in the city one hears of reports and of deeds which indicate a deep-rooted suspicion and mistrust of the Catholics. I am informed that in Parliament they will enforce an oath to be taken without exception by all, that they do not believe the Pope has authority to depose or excommunicate a Sovereign. If any refuse he will be held for a Catholic forthwith, and they will proceed against him not for the eighty crowns a month that recusants have had to pay up to now, but for the entire two-thirds of his income. This will render the position of the Catholics intolerable. These and other provisions will have one or other of two results, either the Catholic religion will disappear entirely or the Catholics, driven to desperation, will attempt something similar to the recent plot. I am told that this argument was advanced in Parliament by some who are favourable to the Catholic religion, but it was rejected by the majority, not without raising suspicions against those who advanced it. On the suggestion of the King himself, however, they have granted permission to all priests and persons in religious orders to leave the kingdom within a given time, but if found, after the expiry of that period, they will be hung forthwith, without any trial and without any further charge being brought against them. These provisions will be published immediately.
Ambassador Molin left yesterday; he will go by way of France and Avignon, and cross over to Genoa.
London, 24th February, 1605 [m.v.].
Feb. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 487. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Council, being convinced that one of the chief conspirators was an Englishman, who had seen much service in Flanders, and was now in the pay of the Grand Duke, with whom he enjoyed high esteem for his skill in military matters, have induced his Majesty to ask the Archduke's Ambassador to request his Highness to consign this person to the King. The Archduke has excused himself, on the plea that the man is a soldier of the King of Spain, paid by him and lent by him, and that the King of Spain must first be consulted. The King of England is but little pleased with this answer, and shows it by placing difficulties in the way of the levy of troops for service in Flanders. Nor has the Spanish Ambassador been able to obtain satisfaction about the sugar, captured fraudulently by an Englishman and brought into an English port. The Ambassador wished the King to settle the question, but he has been referred to the ordinary Court of Judges, where there is no doubt but that the inclination is in favour of the Dutch against Spain.
In Parliament the opinion has been openly expressed that the ministers and agents of Spain should not be allowed to raise levies, which will become so many enemies of this Crown. For the troops, which take service there, are obliged to swear allegiance, not only to the Prince they serve, but to the Pope as well. Moreover, they say that when the proposal to compel all children of Catholic parents to be educated as Protestants was made known a vast number of children were sent over to Spain.
The Marquis de San Germano is expected, and will be able to furnish information on these points.
In Scotland and Ireland there are disturbances on the ground of religion. Some Calvinistic ministers have been arrested and imprisoned for their insolence, but they are so warmly supported by the people that it is doubtful if the sentence can be carried out without an uprising. In Ireland the son-in-law of the Earl of Tyrone has taken arms, on account of severe sentences against priests.
London, 24th February, 1605 [m.v.].


  • 1. Garnet and Oldcorne, alias “Hall,” captured at Hindlip by Sir Henry Bromley, Cal. S.P. Dom., 30 Jan.–8 Feb., 1606.