Venice: September 1606

Pages 396-405

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 1606

Sept. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. Expulsis Papalistis. 571. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassadors of France and England and myself sent our secretaries to the Escurial to inform the Duke of Lerma that we desired to present our compliments to the King on the birth of a daughter. We were told that the King would be in Madrid on the eleventh, when he would receive us all.
The English Ambassador, finding that he can obtain the execution of none of the promises made eight months ago by the Duke of Lerma in favour of English subjects, told me that as the Spanish do not observe the terms of the treaty of peace they must not be surprised if the same thing happens in England. He adds that as the Spanish will not restore English goods seized by Spanish and Sicilian vessels his master will be driven to allow privateering in reprisals.
Madrid, 3rd September, 1606.
Sept. 5. Collegio, Secreta, Esposizioni Roma. Venetian Archives. 572. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet and spoke as follows:—
“Serene Prince, I am wont to introduce my remarks with a small discourse, but on this occasion I shall omit it as superfluous, so clear and positive is the matter I am about to lay before you. My master has done well to use my simplicity as his mouth piece, for so the matter will be set forth with all sincerity and without any rhetorical adornment.” The Ambassador then announces that the Venetian Ambassador in London has had audience at a time when no other Ambassador was received on account of the fetes for the King of Denmark. The Ambassador has no doubt but that Ambassador Giustinian has already reported all most fully. “But I beg your Excellencies' attention to what I am about to say, for my master is pleased to consider himself bound on this occasion by my words.
“The King is convinced that the present attitude of the Republic represents not a group, but the whole state.
“He protests before God that he has no base motive for taking sides with the Republic. He is moved to do so by the universal interests of Princes.
“He is bound to support the cause of God, to whom, one may say from his mother's womb to man's estate, he owes such marvellous escapes from peril.
“He is bound, too, by the ancient bonds of friendship so happily renewed between the Republic and his Crown.
“These are the reasons which have led his Majesty to offer his support to the Republic. The publication or no of that offer he leaves in your hands.”
The Doge returned thanks for the reception of Ambassador Giustinian.
As to the publication or no of the King's offer the constitution of Venice requires that the question be laid before the Senate, and an answer will be communicated; but for himself he must say that it seemed to him that the Pontiff had discovered that he had gone too far in his haste, and was now showing some signs of a desire to come to terms. It will be time enough to display one's hand when negotiations have failed.
The Ambassador said that, as he was leaving Venice on a pleasure journey on Saturday, he begged for the Senate's reply before that date, in order that he might despatch it to his Majesty by the hands of a gentleman now at his house.
The Doge said that should be done if possible, but the question had to be discussed first by the Savii before being debated in the Senate. Any way the Ambassador would be informed before Saturday whether he could have an answer or no.
The Ambassador enquired whether meantime he was to keep the matter secret or to announce it to other Ambassadors.
The Doge replied that as the offer was made in behalf of the Republic it would be as well for the Ambassador to keep it in pett. and to allow the Government to act as seemed most expedient for its own interests.
Sept. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 573. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Some days ago the Ambassadors of Spain and the Archduke were present in Council when the: Earl of Salisbury vehemently pointed out to them the serious grounds he had for complaining of the numerous annoyances to which the English subjects were exposed in the territories of their masters. He presented a long list of grievances which had been submitted to the King, and stated that by his Majesty's express commands the Council were ordered to seek redress for past injuries and guarantees against their recurrence in the future, as they constituted a serious menace to the peace and amity existing between the two Crowns.
The Spanish Ambassador admitted that if the grievances, as presented, were founded in fact there was some ground for complaint, but he added that he was inclined to believe rather that they were invented by the people, owing to that desire for a rupture with Spain, which they openly professed. As his master was averse from such an issue he would certainly remove all cause for complaint, but the same must be done on the English side as well, for there were not wanting far graver grounds of complaint on the Spanish side, which he would expound in a subsequent audience.
It is thought by some that these complaints advanced by the Council are merely a ruse to forestall Spanish complaints; for it seems that the petitioners were put up to complain and did not do so of their own accord. Any way the revived recollection of injuries has deeply stirred the popular emotion, and war is openly demanded; and the Council has been forced, in order to satisfy the people, to make complaint to the Ambassadors as publicly as possible. And so far have matters gone that at Hampton Court, where the Queen is, a letter has been picked up in which the King is urged to declare war, to leave the chase and turn to arms, and the example of his brother-in-law, the King of Denmark, is cited, who for his prowess at the joust has won golden opinions. (fn. 1) The Queen would not allow the letter, which came into her hands, to be shown to the King. The Spanish, aware of the animus against them and of the large number of English, as well as French recruits, who take service with Count Maurice—a sign, as they hold it, of a secret understanding between England and France to wage a covert war—though they do all they can to hide their resentment in the interests of peace, are quite unable to conceal it successfully. And this proof that Spain is obliged to keep peace makes the English more haughty, and the Spanish despair of any good results in the Flemish business, for the King shows more clearly every day that he recognises the interest he has in supporting the Dutch.
Spinola, after taking Grœnlo and another place of small importance, has sat down before Bergen-op-Zoom, with the intention of capturing it and so commanding the passage of the Rhine, which, when the winter ice comes, will allow him to carry the war into Holland.
The King is on his Progress, which is to end at Salisbury, sixty miles from London. The City is empty, the Court away, and the members of Council at their country houses (alle loro case di paes.).
There was a rumour that the differences between the Pope and the Republic had been accommodated. I traced this report to the courier just arrived from Spain, who said he had it from the Italian courier, whom he met in France bearing the news to his Most Christian Majesty.
The plague is on the increase. If it continues the Court will pass the winter out of London.
London, 6th September, 1606.
Sept. 7. Minutes of the Senate, Roma. Venetian Archives. 574. Motion made to convey to the English Ambassador our thanks for the offer made by the King of England. As to the publication or not of his offer we leave the matter entirely to his Majesty's prudence; but at the same time, speaking frankly, we consider it for our interest that the offer should be kept secret for the present.
Ayes 149.
Noes 1.
Neutrals 12.
Sept. 7. Minutes of the Senate, Roma. Venetian Archives. 575. To Ambassador Giustinian in England.
Informing him of negotiations with the English Ambassador in Venice; and ordering him to thank the King and Lord Salisbury.
Ayes 149.
Noes 1.
Neutrals 12.
Sept. 7. Minutes of the Senate, Roma. Venetian Archives. 576. Letter to the King of Great Britain.
Thanks for declaration in favour of the Republic as set forth by the Venetian Ambassador in England and by the English Ambassador in Venice, and the offer to form a league between the Republic, himself, and his allied Sovereigns. This “heroic” resolution deserves our best thanks. (fn. 2)
Sept. 9. Collegio, Secreta, Esposizioni Roma. Venetian Archives. 577. The English Ambassador, after hearing the resolution of the Senate, dated the seventh September, said that on this question of keeping the King's offer secret or of publishing it he had acted as he conceived in accordance with the King's intention. It had seemed to him difficult to maintain secrecy, as the King of England would himself have manifested his intentions to the Spanish Ambassador at his Court. The Ambassador will obey the wishes of the Senate, “and enough, for this is a passive, not an active audience; I am here to receive orders, not to submit proposals.”
The Ambassador then asks for some information about the Marquis of Santa Cruz's action at Durazzo; was it done on his own responsibility, or on orders from the King of Spain or promptings from the Pope?
Some say that this may be the firstfruits of the King's declaration in favour of the Pope, others that it is an insult from the Pope at sea, just as he has insulted the Republic by land. Durazzo lies inside the Gulf (i.e., the Adriatic), taking that term in its narrowest sense, which would be defined by a line drawn from Valona to the extremity of Apulia. Santa Cruz's action is therefore an infringement of rights.
The Ambassador then asks if the Republic would, in case of need, consent to English ships entering the Gulf. He pointed out that if Spain objected it might be answered that she had set the example. The Ambassador begged to be informed fully lest, in taking arms against the Pope, his master might find himself taking arms against Spain too.
The Doge replied that the Government was not sure as to the nature of the affair of Durazzo, but was inclined to believe that it was the result of independent action by Santa Cruz. It was true that Durazzo lay inside the Gulf, but the Spanish held many ports in Apulia inside the Gulf and might claim a certain right to cross it. The Doge minimizes the importance of the whole matter.
As to the consent of the Republic to the presence of English ships in the Gulf, if a rupture ever took place the Republic would be glad of any help in any way; but they hoped no necessity would arise.
The Ambassador asked how the Republic defined an armada, eighteen ships, or more or less? Also had Spain right by convention to enter the Gulf, and if so could other Sovereigns enjoy the same?
The Doge said no armada, large or small, had any right in the Gulf.
The Spanish claimed a right to be in the Gulf at Apulia without the consent of Venice. But Philip II. was well aware of the truth and kept his armed ships at a distance.
Sept. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 578. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ambassador, resident in Rome, has recently written to the French Ambassador here, informing him that Baron Magliana, who was sent to this Court some time ago by the Duke of Lorraine to announce the marriage of the Duc de Bar and to congratulate the King on the discovery of the gun-power plot, is really a domestic of the Pope, and was commissioned to sound the King on the subject of religion. The Ambassador added that he had sure indications of a brief addressed by the Pope to the King, (fn. 3) to which, however, no answer had been sent as yet. As I know how the Pope is scheming against the Republic, it is possible that he may be attempting to secure that the King of England shall not be overtly hostile to him should matters come to a crisis over religion. I have used all diligence to discover the truth. I found no signs that any such steps had been taken, though I approached the subject frequently in my many interviews with the King; but then I was in ignorance myself and could not touch on the subject in a manner calculated to extract information, as I will now do, so soon as his Majesty returns from his Progress and as soon as I can see the Earl of Salisbury, who has taken the advantage of the King's absence to go through with a purge. The King is expected shortly at Windsor, a castle twenty miles out of London. It is thought that he will soon come to the neighbourhood of this City, for some of the Bishops who are to deal with the question of Ecclesiastical Reform in Scotland have already arrived. The King is desirous of introducing into Scotland the same form of religion as obtains here, as a preliminary step to a union of the two kingdoms, which is his Majesty's dearest wish. He is endeavouring to render the Ecclesiastics, who have great weight in civil matters, more amenable to his will, so as to approach the subject of Union with better chances of success in the coming Parliament, which is to meet in November.
Almost all Catholics have made up their minds to take the oath. This is quite contrary to the expectation of the Council, who could never persuade itself that the Pope would ever consent to any step so derogatory to his authority and contrary to this new doctrine of universal supremacy, which he has been sowing so carefully abroad. A fresh proclamation has been issued, but I have not read it yet. I will send details about it in another despatch.
London, 13th September, 1606.
Sept. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 579. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
An emissary from the Count of Emden has arrived. Seeing that the Spanish are not able to fulfill their promise, made at the opening of this year that they would recover the city, the Count has again had recourse to his Majesty's intercession, and now seeks nothing else than to be allowed to live quietly in that city.
The other day the Dutch fleet, to the number of thirty sail, was sighted in these waters on its way to the Spanish seas.
The Dutch merchants have formed a company with a very large capital and mean to send a squadron of twenty ships to the West Indies this year; their object is not only to divert the trade to themselves, but also to attempt some settlement there such as they effected last year; and so if the questions which are now open between the Spanish and the English are not settled Spain will be exposed to serious difficulties on all sides.
News that the Duc de Rohan with one thousand two hundred men has relieved Bergen-op-Zoom and has crushed a detachment of the enemy on the road. As I am closing this the rumour is spread that Spinola has captured the castle of Bergen at the third assault and killed seven hundred Scottish troops that were in it. The city is in great danger of falling; but as the rumour comes from the Spanish Embassy it is not much credited.
London, 13th September, 1606.
Sept. 15. Minutes of the Senate. Roma. Venetian Archives. 580. That the English Ambassador be invited to attend in the Cabinet and the following news from Rome be communicated:—
The Pope urged on by the promises and instigation of those about him has summoned a congregation of thirteen Cardinals all ill-affected towards us. To this congregation the Pope has announced his intention of proceeding against us; he has begun to raise horse and foot and to collect a large sum of money, which is the cause of the sudden promotion of eight Cardinals.
In view of this we leave it now to the pleasure of his Majesty to publish his offer of support, if in his wisdom he thinks the moment come. We leave it to your Lordship also to act as you think fit; and we beg his Majesty to use his good offices for us with other Princes, his allies.
Ayes 139.
Noes 4.
Neutrals 26.
Sept. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 581. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The news sent here by Don Pedro de Zuniga that he has refused to receive the Irish man at the hands of the English officers upon the conditions that they wish to impose, has caused displeasure, for by his declaration that he desired to consult his master he has injured the position of the accused and has involved his Majesty, who professes to be absolutely ignorant of the whole affair. As matters stand they have resolved not to send back the courier and to put off as long as possible, so that the Ambassador will find himself obliged to take some steps on his own responsibility, and that, however bad it may be, must prove, they think, preferable to showing that they were consenting parties to the plot.
Madrid, 16th September, 1606.
Sept. 18. Collegio, Secreta, Esposizioni Roma. Venetian Archives. 582. The Ambassador of England came to the Cabinet, and after hearing the resolution of the Senate, dated the 15th inst., spoke as follows:—
He expressed himself glad at what he had just heard, for he always expected matters to reach this point, and to him it had always seemed a diminution of his master's glory to keep his offer hid. He will now inform all Envoys in Venice of his master's offer to support the Republic, and will put it about by letters in various parts.
It is now for the Republic to consider the way in which effect is to be given to the offer. Hitherto the King has been obliged to confine hmself to general terms. The Republic will find the King has an open and well-disposed mind to accept suggestions. The King will declare himself to the Envoys resident in England, and will instruct his Envoys abroad to use good offices with the Sovereigns to whom they are accredited. The Ambassador himself is ready to follow the Doge's instructions, and it is for the Republic to enter on details.
The Ambassador said that he, too, had heard rumours from Milan that the Pope was arming. The Ambassador presents a request from two English officers of great courage and experience in war to be taken into Venetian service. They had come to Italy expressly for this purpose, and are the first fruits of English help. They have open letters (fn. 4) from the King. They had come with him to the Palace that morning and were outside the door desirous of being presented. He had had some doubts about making this request until he heard that the King's offer was no longer to remain secret.
He also presented and supported a petition for a safe conduct.
Doge replied that as regards the details of carrying the King's offer into act it seemed to them sufficient for the present to publish the offer. He doubts the rumours of troops raised in Milan, the Pontifical States being ample to supply all the Pope needs. Promises kindly consideration of the request for a safe conduct. Note is taken of the offer of the two English officers, but it is considered better for the present to put off a public reception.
On taking leave the Ambassador again recommended the case of the English merchants against the Loredan. The minister for the week, Zuan Giacomo Zane, replied that he was informed that the Loredan had deposited the entire sum due. The Doge said that the sum owing from the treasury would also be paid and thus the incident would be exhausted.
The names of the two officers are—
Averio York.
Nicolo Pinner.
Sept. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 583. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The royal Progress which was to have ended at Windsor will come to a sudden conclusion at Hampton Court, where the Queen now is. They will soon leave that place on account of the plague. This will make the Court keep far away from London this winter. The place where the Court will stay is not settled yet. At Hampton Court the Ambassadors will be admitted to audience.
The King of France has found to his great annoyance that the King of Denmark, seeing that the question of precedence between France and Spain is still open at the English Court, refuses to grant precedence to France at his own Court. His Most Christian Majesty, aware that this irresolution on the part of the King of England is prejudicing his position, has instructed his Ambassador to make lively representations on the subject both to the King and to Lord Salisbury. Meantime the French Ambassador (de la Boderie) has learned that, in spite of the promise made, the Queen has admitted the Spanish Ambassador to audience, and in great wrath is preparing to carry out his instructions with heat, and I am preparing to back up the representations I have already made, in the hope that this double stimulus may lead to some decision at last.
The Duke of Kronland, a near kinsman of the Queen, is here to beg the King to intercede for him with Duke Charles of Sweden that he may be allowed to resume that part of Lithuania from which he was driven for having sided against Duke Charles in his war with the King of Poland.
The printed discourse of master Father Paulo (Sarpi), the Servite, in defence of the Republic in its contest with the Pontiff, has arrived here. Everyone appreciates and praises it, and it is especially lauded by the Earl of Salisbury, who has received a copy from Venice. On the other hand the Spanish Ambassador has the copy of a certain letter written, it seems, by the Republic of Genoa to that of Venice, full of impertinent falsehoods. The Ambassador is ashamed to publish it.
Count Maurice seems disposed to offer battle; his masters' instructions and the incitation of the King of France, who had lately supplied two hundred thousand crowns and wished to see some result, led the Count to this decision. News is expected from hour to hour.
London, 20th September, 1606.
Sept. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 584. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I received your Serenity's instructions of the 20th of last month, and also some printed pamphlets, setting forth the case of the Republic in its differences with Rome. I have taken care to send them to the King and the Prince. The Earl of Salisbury, when I saw him, praised the work highly and begged me to let him see all that I received from Venice on the subject. The other Ambassadors here resident have also received copies. The French Ambassador expresses agreement with the attitude of the Republic, the opinion of the others I do not know yet. I am sure your Serenity will be pleased to learn that Lord Salisbury has recovered his health; he tells me he was much more seriously ill than was reported. Lord Salisbury repeated to me in substance what his Majesty had already said and I have already reported; namely that he offered every support to the Republic, not as an enemy to the Pope and desirous of stirring up strife between him and the faithful, but as a just Prince resolved to maintain the Sovereign rights of independent Princes against the violence of those who, under the cloak of religion, sought to overthrow them; that he regretted he was not nearer at hand, so as the more effectually to assist the Republic. I returned thanks for these friendly expressions. I find no confirmation of the rumour about the Baron Magliana's mission as reported by the French Ambassador in Rome to the French Ambassador here.
London, 28th September, 1606.
Sept. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 585. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Count of Vaudemont, (fn. 5) General of the Serene Republic, has sent one of his gentlemen from Calais to announce his arrival. He is coming with a large suite, and as a relative he will be welcomed and entertained at the King's charges. I will wait on him and report. The King is still some way off, but is expected here, though he will stay for a short time only, and then will leave again for some hunting lodge.
I never omit to press the question of precedence when I am with either the King or the Earl of Salisbury. And I have lately complained that during the visit of the King of Denmark matters were made worse, for I was compelled to forego an audience of his Majesty. Lord Salisbury repeated the usual expressions of friendship towards the Republic, and then went on to say that the King had long ago instructed his Ambassador at Venice to complain of the anchorage tax, to which the English alone among foreigners were subject. In spite of every effort the Ambassador had failed to obtain any satisfaction, and they now wished for a statement which would enable them to reply to complaints advanced by English subjects. I answered that Ambassador Wotton had no sooner arrived in Venice than he began to open negotiations, with a view to facilitating commerce between the two nations by the reciprocal abolition of burdens. To this advance the Republic lent itself most cordially, and Wotton informed the government that Secretary Herbert had been charged to conduct negotiations with the Venetian Ambassador in London. But no further steps were taken here, and so it is not the fault of the Senate if the affair has not been brought to a conclusion. For the Senate could not be expected to extinguish an ancient and universal tax before a proper treaty had been established between the two nations.
London, 28th September, 1606.
Sept. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 586. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I proceeded to explain to his Majesty, as instructed, that if the Pope attacked the Republic the King of England had promised to support her openly with all his power. The King replied that he was always glad to hear anything that was for the advantage of the Republic, but that not much account was to be made of the words of the King of England, for he himself had proved it by experience both in Flemish affairs and elsewhere. He was ready of promise, but backward in fulfilment, especially where the Spanish, in dread of whom he stood, were interested. That was the result of his natural temperament, fostered by his ministers, the larger part of whom are corrupted by Spain.
Moretta, 30th September, 1606.


  • 1. This was meant to be “a nasty one” for James. Dudley Carleton, writing to Chamberlain from London. August 28th, reports the success of Christian IV. and the failure of James at tilting. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1603–1610, p. 329.
  • 2. Nothing is said in this letter about the publication of the King's offer.
  • 3. See Cal. S.P. Dom., Sept. 12th, 1606, “Bull of Pope Paul V., prohibiting the English Catholic from taking the oath of allegiance or resorting to the service of the Church of England.”
  • 4. A copy is in the files
  • 5. François, Count of Vaudemont, son of the Duke of Lorraine. Cal. S.P. Dom., Sept.15, Oct, 5, and Oct. 9, 1606