Venice: February 1607

Pages 461-475

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


February 1607

Feb. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 674. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Council, in the King's absence, is devoting its attention to the questions committed to it, and chiefly to the question of letters of marque. They incline to grant them in view of the fact that Spain is trifling with the English claims, and in order to justify such an act they appeal to an ancient law by which reprisals were legal, if after a year no redress had been obtained. Everyone holds that this may lead to serious consequences. There is a party, however, which favours Spain, and it is possible that any resolution may be put off on the expectations held out by the Spanish Ambassador that satisfaction will shortly be sent from Spain. The profit to be derived from letters of marque may, however, cause them to be issued.
London, the first of February, 1606 [m.v.].
Feb. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 675. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have gathered from members of the Council and from others that his Majesty holds firm to his resolve to assist and defend the Republic, though many of his advisers recommend him to cool down somewhat. The recent brief is taken as a learning to him to remain passive in this quarrel between the Pope and your Serenity. His Majesty makes little of this idea, and indeed on no other occasion has he ever shown himself so resolute. The secretary of the English Ambassador, who is here, has done all he can to confirm his Majesty in this attitude.
London, the first of February, 1606 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 2. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 676. Girolamo Corner, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
The Consul Biffis has been obliged to leave Modon without being able to obtain any satisfaction from the Turkish officials about the cargo of the “Liona,” which was burned by the pirates.
Zante, 2nd February, 1607.
Feb. 3. Collegio Secreta Lettere. Venetian Archives. 677. To the Ambassador in England.
Gives him information of what has passed between the Government and the Ambassadors of Spain and France on the subject of the proposed league, and instructs him to explain to his Majesty how matters stand.
Feb. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 678. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish, suspicious of the King of England's attitude, determined to break off negotiations with his Ambassador and to cause the Archduke to send a secret mission to effect a truce. The King of England took no heed of this till he saw six Commissioners of the States in Brussels; then he pointed out the dangers of a truce, and threatened that if they concluded it without him they would lose the support of England.
There are threats of an embargo.
One of Franquezza's favourites has been condemned to death; on the charge that he was in receipt of two hundred ducats a month from the Grand Duke for the sale of State secrets. He has not been executed, as he is required as a witness against his master.
Madrid, 5th February, 1606.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. Expulsis Papalistis. 679. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Peace or a truce with the Dutch is deemed imperative here if war breaks out in Italy; the King of England has shown himself but little favourable to either, and accordingly the Council of State has resolved to gratify his Ambassador in some of the demands he has made on behalf of his nation. In accordance with this resolve the Duke of Lerma sent to beg the Ambassador to come to see him, as he was confined to his house by indisposition. The Ambassador went, and immediately afterwards he came to this house to report to me what had taken place, which in substance was this, that the Spanish desired to avoid any cause of complaint on the part of the English, but that the King of England made a bad return for such goodwill by opposing the negotiations for peace with the Dutch; nor was any motive for such a policy visible unless he hoped in this way to enfeeble the Spanish support of the Pope. If that were so the King deceived, himself, for Spain was the strongest pillar of the Church, and as such would sacrifice everything to maintain the Faith. For that purpose levies of troops had been ordered and the formation of an army of nearly eighty thousand men, which would be employed to assist the Pope and to meet the needs of Flanders. The King of Spain would pawn his very person rather than allow the Vicar of Christ to be ill-treated. Forty-five companies of infantry (inseane di fantaria) were to be sent to Italy under the command of Don Fernando di Toledo, while the Viceroys of Sicily and Naples were also raisin g troops. Fuentes, too, was going to raise troops in Germany and Switzerland. His Majesty was convinced that had it not been for the King of England the Republic would never have shown so bold a front to the Pope; for she could never have resisted these two powers united, and from France she knew quite well she could, look for nothing but words, as the Most Christian Sovereign could not turn his arms against the Pope without outraging the ancient title of his Crown, nor could he embroil himself with Spain, for she was in a position to injure him and his successor after his death, which, on account of his age and his loose life, could not be far off. The King of England had no real cause to harass the Pope, who in the interests of Christendom desired that peace with him, should be maintained. The Duke enlarged on these views, and wound, up by saving that some opposition to the peace might come from England, but that nothing would shake the King of Spain's resolve to support the Church of Rome if she was harassed, and he begged the Ambassador to advise his master to desist from counselling the Dutch against the peace. To all this the Ambassador replied, that such a, recommendation was superfluous for him, for his whole, efforts had been directed to furthering the negotiations; but when he had the matter in hand reluctance was shown in this quarter, and it is not fair now to lay the blame on the King of England, but rather on the course of events which had shown the Dutch what they might hope for out of these Italian troubles. If there were difficulties now they had only themselves to blame. The Dutch would never abandon the English alliance, which was loyal, while they could not know what to promise themselves from Spain when they saw the daily injuries inflicted on the English; and so even if the Spanish agreed to leave them independent they would still hold by England. The truce was pernicious, for it would not be so easy to go to war again if they desired to. Peace would not be long in following if they would give Holland in dower to the Infanta and marry her to the Prince of Wales, instead of delaying the marriage ad infinitum. The kindly remarks attributed to the Pope were to be taken merely as an effort to detach her allies from the Republic, and were therefore to be considered as the indications of hatred for Venice, not of love for England. The Ambassador said he knew nothing about the assistance said to have been offered to the Republic, but his master was as just as he was intelligent, and if he had made such offers it was on account of the sound position taken up by the Republic, and not merely out of tenderness for her. The injuries he received in his own kingdom from the Pontifical agents were alone sufficient to turn him against their chief. Finally, the Ambassador declared that nothing was so inimical to the peace as the knowledge that Spain sets little store by alliances when weighed against her own interests.
I will not report some further remarks the Ambassador made, as I do not know what grounds he had for them, and indeed I have my doubts as to some that I have reported. I must not omit to say that in the course of his conversation the Ambassador let fall that neither peace nor truce would be effected unless five or sir of the strongest places were handed over to his master. This induces me to suspect that negotiations may be further on than he endeavoured to make me think.
Madrid, 5th February, 1606 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 680. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King cannot delay his return much longer. The weather is bad for the chase, many questions await his decision, and the meeting of Parliament is at hand. Though he is far away he is daily informed of the sittings of Council, and despatches by letter such business as cannot be delayed. Nothing is more present to his mind than the Union, in home, and the question of Italy in foreign affairs. The issue of affairs in Flanders is seen to depend very closely on the course of events in Italy; the Dutch being more inclined to continue the war, as they perceive the difficulties of their enemies. They are pressing forward the preparations for their fleet. The English, too, are thirsting for war, as they declare that since the peace they have deteriorated on every point. The Spanish are using their usual means to win over the support of those without whose consent it would be impossible to come to the resolution of war.
These last few days we have had a violent gale, which has not only destroyed many animals and villages, but has caused a flood, (fn. 1) which has submerged a large tract of cultivated land. Five Spanish galleons of the India fleet, while chasing some Dutch, are reported lost on the coast of France.
London, 8th February, 1000 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 681. Gian Domenico Biffi, Venetian Consul at Lepanto, to the Doge.
The case of the ship “Liona,” burned. The Turks are in league with English pirates, with whom they share the plunder. He recommends strong representations to secure the closing of the ports against the English, which would compel them to go elsewhere. “As a proof of the understanding which exists between the resident English and the pirates I must inform you that the English Consul in Patras, named George Buler, has bought a large part of the cargo of the 'Liona.' (Et aciò Vostra Serenità et la Illma. Sigria resti più certa della intelligenza che hanno questi inglesi che dimorano in questi mari con corsari non restaro dirgli come il Consule d' Inghilterra che risiede in Patraso, il quale e Zorzi Buler, ha comprato buon parte della mercantia che era sopra detta nave Liona.) I was very sorry about this, all the more so as I was quite unable to remedy it, though I hope the Ambassador at Constantinople will.
I must further inform you that on the 14th of last month an English berton plundered the berton, “The Compass,” from Nauplia, which had already been plundered by a Savoyard. The ship was subsequently taken to Barbary.
On the 5th of February three English bertons came into Zante; one from Sicily, and two from Leghorn. They have no cargo, and so I am obliged to suppose that they are all privateers, possibly of those who have an understanding with the Turk.”
Zante, 11th February, 1607. O.S.
Feb. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 682. Girolamo Corner, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
The berton “Carminati” left Nauplia for Venice with a cargo of acorns (valonie), gall-nuts, blankets, silk, grain, and other goods. She was driven under the cliffs of Milo, and on the 7th of January a Savoyard berton, flying the flag of Malta, hove in sight. They plundered the “Carminati,” and after that she continued her voyage. But on the 28th January, forty miles off land, an English berton, flying the Flemish flag, bore down on her and signalled to strike sail, which she did. The master, supercargo, crew, and passengers were put in a boat with a few biscuits and the “Carminati” was taken away westward. The berton had a crew of 110 men, including a few Turks, the rest were English. It seems that she is the same ship that plundered the “Rubi.”
Zante, 11th February, 1607. O.S.
Feb. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 683. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassadors of Spain and the Archduke have been again in Council to complain; though they did so very mildly the Earl of Salisbury gave them a very sharp reply, raising the question of English grievances and saying that it was time to seek redress by other means than protests. It is clear that the Spanish are extremely anxious to preserve the peace, while the English, knowing where their interests lie, have no cause to desire it. The Earl of Salisbury took all the higher tone because he saw the embarrassments which are before Spain.
I must inform your Serenity that for some time past the Spanish Ambassador has been in receipt of sums far exceeding his ordinary needs; and it is conjectured that he has instructions to use this money to prevent any resolution hostile to Spanish interests.
The news of Spanish preparations in Italy and of the English King's declaration in favour of the Republic, excite the popular mind, and I constantly receive offers of help, to which I reply as I deem prudent.
The King returned three days ago. They say he will not remain long.
I am to have audience on Saturday, the 17th. I had to overcome some opposition moved by the Flemish Ambassador, who claimed audience first; but the King named Saturday for me and Sunday for him.
London, 15th February, 1607.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 684. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ambassador (de la Boderie), with whom I am on intimate terms, reported to me a conversation he had had with the Earl of Salisbury, in which the Earl had sounded him as to the real intention of his Most Christian Majesty in case of a rupture, as the Spanish seemed clearly determined to extend their dominions in Italy. The Ambassador told me that the English Envoy in France had held similar language to the King, who in replying had, on the whole, confined himself to generalities. The Ambassador thought that in England there was a very ready will to go to war, but that they feared lest, after a composition had been reached with the Pope, they might be left alone to face the Catholic Princes who recognise his authority. I suspected that these were ideas that the Ambassador himself had put into the Earl's mind in order to find out exactly how far they could count on England. The Ambassador said that Spanish preparations in Italy were calculated to remove from his master's mind his scruples about the Pope and to induce him to proceed vigorously, especially if the King of England would do the same; that other Italian Princes might be counted upon, and that such a combination would remove all dread of Spain; while the peace between England and Spain could not last much longer, and the Earl's remarks had shown that the English are no more friendly to Spain than to the Pope. (fn. 2)
London, 15th February, 1606 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 685. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The severities against the Count of Villalonga and his adherents continue. In the house of Franquezza a great quantity of jewels, gold and silver has been found buried under ground, and hidden away even in the privies; among this treasure are many reliquaries and bits of the True Cross, and accordingly the Inquisition has demanded from the Secular Court the person of the Count; but it is not likely that the case will be taken out of the hands of Don Fernando Cariglio. The arrested and proscribed amount to a large number; among them are some clerics, who at the request of the Count came to his house and carried away to the Church of the Mercede a coffin filled with jewels, as though it had contained a corpse; and there it was buried with all the funeral solemnities, torches and orations, which accompany the interment of human bodies. The Inquisition made an inquiry and found that the story was true. Thus the crimes of Franquezza go on growing; though he keeps up his courage in his prison of Ocagna.
There is news that the Dutch and English are manning a large fleet.
Madrid, 18th February, 1606 [m.v.].
Feb. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 686. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 13th, as I was closing my despatch, I received despatches of the 27th January and 2nd and 3rd February. The despatches for London I forwarded at once by express.
I had audience of his Majesty and said that I was instructed to assure his Majesty that the Republic was ready to join in a League against Spain with France and England, as proposed by the English Ambassador.
His Majesty listened to what I said and replied very briefly, pleading a headache. He said he thought your Serenity desired an accord, but it was not enough to desire it, steps to effect it must be taken.
Paris, 21st February, 1607.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 687. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Villeroy remarks that the King of England is letting the States perish, and so the distant Republic could not place much reliance on his aid. The Ambassador replied that the King would not have come forward with this offer unless his resolve was taken.
The Ambassador begs for a definite answer about the League.
Paris, 21st February, 1607.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 688. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Rosny warns the Ambassador not to rely on England. M. de Fresne had proposed the League on his own initiative. That the accord should be made first, and then the League might be discussed. The King had spent four millions of gold in helping the Dutch. The whole of Spanish power depended on the Indies; once cut off from that the King could not hold out two years, as he had not two millions a year of revenue.
Villeroy, after three days' delay, informs the Ambassador that the King cannot give an answer about the League till despatches arrive from Venice and London.
Paris, 21st February, 1607.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 689. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I communicated to his Majesty, as instructed, your Serenity's reply to Don Francesco de Castro's proposal that your Serenity should suspend the execution of your laws for four months; and I dwelt on the justice of the motives which inspired that reply and on your firm resolve never to consent to any steps which would prejudice your freedom. The King, in the course of his answer, asked if I had any news of the departure of Don Francesco and the arrival of the Cardinal de Joyeuse, and if I knew what the Cardinal's mission was. I said I had no information, only I was sure that, as the King of France was so fully conscious of the justice of the Venetian position, he would never ask the Senate to accept any proposal which might be held contrary to its interests. “In France,” said the King, “they think the affair is concluded.” “That may be,” I replied,” for it may seem to them impossible that the Pope should not yield sooner or later to reason. All depends upon the Pope's turning a deaf ear to bad advice and to the councils of those who, under the guise of religion, are aiming solely at their own ends.” The King replied,
“If he does not it will be the worse for him. But it is a serious matter that the Spanish are so keen on the subject; however, he who grasps too much holds nothing. I hear he blames me for having declared for the Republic, but what better reasons, I beg you, are there, why the King of Spain should declare, in favour of the Pope? As I have frequently said this is no question of faith or religion, but of that independence which God has granted to Princes, and which every Sovereign is bound to defend with all his might.” I praised his right loyal and magnanimous resolve. He then asked me what I thought of the Brief the Pope had sent here, and he added that his Ambassador in Flanders told him that the Pope had written to the Nuncio there to select three or four hundred horse and three to four thousand foot, all Italians, for his service in Italy. For this purpose the Nuncio had received money sufficient. This pleased the Dutch very much, who looked for good results next year from this weakening of the enemy.
A courier has just arrived with your Serenity's instructions that I am to communicate to the King what his Ambassador has advanced on the subject of a League and the answer given him.
The King has left on a hunting expedition. I would follow him in order to execute your Serenity's instructions did I not know that in dealing with Princes it is advisable to choose the right moment. I must, therefore, abstain for the present, as I know that the King is very much put out if his own Ministers, and much more foreign Envoys, dare to mention business to him at such a time. He desires to enjoy the chase in the company of very few and with a most private freedom. I shall wait his return, which is expected in two days.
London, 22nd February, 1606 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 690. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Besides what I have reported in my preceding despatch, the King asked me if the Ambassador (fn. 3) of the Grisons was still in Venice. I said I had no news of his departure, and the King went on, “This question of the Grisons will give the King of France an excuse for declaring himself openly; there can be no question now of regard for the Pope; the whole point is the observation of an alliance he has recently made with the Grey Leagues, which has exposed them to notable prejudice at the hands of Spain, and so the King is in honour bound to assist them. I declared for the Republic against the Pope in support of the authority of Secular Princes, let him now declare himself against Spain in support of his confederates and his own good name; everything will go well; his scruples about the Pope will be saved. His Ambassador in Venice (de Fresne) tells mine all sorts of things, but when my Ambassador in France broaches them there he finds nothing but a desire for an accord. This changeableness is painful to me, in good sooth, for I have only one heart and one will, nor can I fit myself to any but a clear and simple line of conduct. The King of France has the very best reason in the world to declare himself for the Grisons, unless indeed he is afraid of Spain. I will declare for the Republic on the excuse of the Pope, let him come in, too, on the excuse of the Grisons. But shall I tell you something? I see him so given over to scruples about the Pope and affection towards the Jesuits that I hope for little. I hear he intends to introduce them into Rochelle (nella rucella). Just look at that; as if he had not in his own life had sufficient proofs of their machinations and treacheries.” All this the King said with great heat of voice and countenance. I replied in general terms, as I had no instructions from your Serenity, and I framed my remarks to meet two objects, one to keep his Majesty firm in his favourable attitude towards the Republic, the other to persuade him that the fact that his Most Christian Majesty had not declared himself for the Republic was to be attributed not to any want of resolution on his part, but to the inevitable consequences of his position as mediator. But should he fail in that attempt it was not to be supposed that he would neglect the great interests at stake for himself, his realm, and his posterity in the preservation of the Republic and resistance to Spanish designs, as his Majesty had on other occasions acutely observed.
Your Serenity will gather in part from the above conversation what are the sentiments of the King. I should not venture to affirm anything for certain till I have expressly broached the subject of a League both with the King and with the Earl of Salisbury, without whom one cannot count upon anything for certain in the conduct of affairs here. I have not been able to see him yet, as he is slightly indisposed. But having obtained the above from the King's own lips and compared it with what I gathered last week from the French Ambassador, who had an audience of the King the day after mine, I went to visit the Ambassador, and I find that he has seriously discussed the question of a League with both the King and the Earl of Salisbury, though I cannot be quite sure from which side the proposal originally came; for on the one hand the Ambassador assured me that Lord Salisbury was the first to broach the subject, on the other he also says that the English Ambassador in Venice approached the French Ambassador there. This makes me think that he probably has instructions from horns to find out something positive as to the attitude here. From the trend of his remarks I seemed to gather that he divines two different objects in these Sovereigns; France wishes an accord with the Pope and an alliance against Spain, while England is willing enough to enter the league against Spain, but under cloak of attacking the Pope, and both would act on the plea of the defence of their safety. It is very true that the main object of the French in making these advances is to assist the Dutch, in whose defence they wish to engage the King of England, and, taking advantage of the delicate position of affairs in Italy, they hope to draw Venice into the scheme. By bringing about an accord with the Pope they would leave Spain as the sole opponent I gather, however, from the French Ambassador that the English do not see the matter in this light. Their object is to traverse Spanish designs under the guise of protecting the authority of Secular Princes in this present disagreement between your Serenity and the Pope.
London, 22nd February, 1606 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 691. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King came back to the city on the evening of Saturday, the 5th of last month, (fn. 4) and I immediately, in obedience to your instructions of the 3rd, took steps to obtain an audience, which was granted me on the morning of the 6th. (fn. 5) I informed his Majesty how matters stood about Rome, and communicated to him the representations made by his Ambassador in favour of a League and the answer returned to him.
The King listened attentively, and then after some compliments he said, “My Lord Ambassador, I have heard what my Ambassador has proposed and what has been answered on the subject of a League, and I wish to declare myself on this point. The justice of the cause, my relations with the Republic, my declaration in her favour, all lead me to assist and aid her in this crisis with all that lies in my power, precisely as though I were bound to her by an oath of alliance. If we are to come to an alliance it will be necessary first to sound the Princes whom it is proposed to include, and above all his Most Christian Majesty. When I am once assured of his determination and when he has declared himself so unequivocally that he cannot draw back, I am ready to enter the league and to bind myself to all that the power and condition of my kingdoms will permit me. Write to the Republic to secure the adhesion of the King of France in such a form that we can entirely rely on his not withdrawing; and that can be done by discussing with him the terms of alliance, for one Sovereign may make one set of terms, another another, according to the nature of his dominions. As for me, as soon as I am assured of his resolve and that he will not draw back I am ready to enter the League and to do all that my kingdom permits me. I say this to you because I do not seem to discover in the King of France such determination as is necessary, nor has he so far made any demonstration, far less declaration such as I have made, and yet his relations with the Republic and also his own interests, which counsel him not to allow Spain to grow too great, called for some such demonstration” Here the King stopped and I said, “Sire, I understand all that you have been pleased to tell me and I rejoice to see your growing resolve to assist the Republic, a resolve upon which the Republic relies most absolutely, as indeed does the whole world. As to the League, which was suggested by your Ambassador, the Republic replied in the terms it has adopted in order to show that, as the time for the effectuation of promises is approaching, she is ready to offer every facility for carrying into act the promises and offers made by your Majesty. It was necessary for the Senate to be sure of your Majesty's mind on this point, which has been raised by one of your Majesty's Ministers, and also because, as your Majesty was the first to draw near to the Republic by your declaration, it was only right that she should not enter on an alliance with others until informed of your Majesty's views. I gather that there is no doubt about these, for your Majesty says that you will enter the League when once assured of the intentions of his Most Christian Majesty. About those intentions I hold that there can be no sort of suspicion, although, of course, Sovereigns are governed by their interests. As your Majesty will remember pointing out to me on another occasion, the King of France cannot help taking our part vigorously. Your Majesty says that as yet he has shown no signs of it; but I would ask how could he while he has the negotiations for an accord in hand? How could he who condemns the Spanish for having first declared for the Pope and then come forward as mediators, declare himself for the Republic without laying himself open to a similar condemnation. If the King of France is not with us he must be either with the Rope or neutral; on the Rope's side he will never be, for the Spanish have already taken that place; and how can he be neutral in a question which embraces his entire interests, and when the very safety of himself, his kingdom, and his posterity is at stake. I can see no reason why he should stand neuter; nay, seeing that his Ambassador has made the same suggestion to our Cabinet as was made by your Majesty's Envoy, I am sure that the King, as he began to treat for an accommodation, now begins, in face of the Papal obstinacy and Spanish fomentations, to show his real idea, which was to keep such violent attempts in check, on the ground that they were prejudicial and dangerous to his interests.” At this the King broke in and said, “That is very true, but pray answer me this, if the King had really had an accord in view as his object would he not have succeeded far more easily by plain speaking to the Pope, telling him not to meddle in such affairs with others, otherwise he would find the King opposed to him? You will say that he owed something to the Pope and could not, in an affair which he hoped was well advanced, adopt such a tone. But I answer that he had the excuse of the Spanish to his hand and more especially in this request put forward by the Grisons so opportunely.”
And who assures your Majesty,” I said, “that this request was not got up by the King himself to open a way for him? But to reply to your Majesty's question. I consider that the King of France desires to effect this accord with the Pope and to have the honour of being mediator; and had he declared for the Republic it is true he might have frightened the Pope, but he would also have enraged him to such an extent that he would have entrusted to others the mission whose glory the King so ardently desired. But just as there is no reason for any declaration on the King's part while negotiations are on foot, so there is every reason, nay, necessity for such a declaration if the negotiations fall through, and, therefore, I think we may count upon his intention.” I dwelt especially on this point that we could safely count on the King of France, not merely because his Majesty had mentioned, the subject, but because my audiences with him showed me that he was deeply suspicious of the movements and the aims of his Most Christian Majesty in this affair, an attitude of mind which of itself is enough to place difficulties in the way of the conclusion of the League. In fact the King repeated many of the remarks he had previously made, for example that the statements of the French Ambassador in Venice are at variance with the King's remarks in France; that he himself was incapable of aught but transparent frankness; that he was not such a subtle statesman as others; that the Republic must assure herself of the attitude of France, as to his own there could be no doubt, for he had never shown any signs of wavering. Then, the French Ambassador having been mentioned, his Majesty said to me, “The day after your last audience the Ambassador waited on me, and in course of conversation I said to him, 'Well, my Lord Ambassador, how go things in Italy?' He answered at once, 'Sire, an accord will inevitably be reached. As soon as Don Francesco de Castro leaves Venice the Cardinal de Joyeuse will arrive, bringing with him the terms of the agreement.'” The King went on to say he was glad, for he desired the peace of Christendom, and the Ambassador then endeavoured to extract from him what he would do if occasion arose, but the King perceived his drift and answered that if an accommodation was secured there was no need to discuss ulterior action. I remarked that perhaps the Ambassador was endeavouring to bring to his Majesty's notice some fresh proposal. “I don't know,” replied the King, “but what is the use of such ruses?” From this your Excellencies will gather that there is great jealousy and suspicion between these Sovereigns. I think that the King of England suspects France of desiring to land him in a war with Spain, which would be a gain to French designs.
The conversation continued for some time on these lines, I constantly endeavouring to bring it back to the original point, the League, and to extract from his Majesty some more definite statement of his intentions. The King asked if the courier recently sent from Venice to France for information on this proposal had returned yet. The King said he calculated that he must have got back a few days ago and that shortly we should have news on the point, and if the answers were satisfactory as to the King of France's intentions then he would enter on a discussion of what he himself would do. That is the substance of my audience with the King, from which I gather that he is willing enough to form a league, but requires first to be assured of the intentions of the King of France and that he will not draw back at the last moment. As to the nature of the assistance he will render, I think he stands firm to his original design to render it in accordance with the nature of his kingdom.
The King then went on to remark the affection of the King of France for the Jesuits and his trust in them. He understood that the King was endeavouring to secure their return to your Serenity's dominions; but that the nobility was ill-affected towards them, and rightly, for besides their bad qualities they were, he said, a race of men who never failed to attempt revenge on those whom they deemed to have injured them; though in this case they were the injurers, not the injured. He said he heard that there was some division of opinion, though the Senate was very firm (fn. 6) in its resolve to suffer no diminution of its freedom. I replied, pointing out to him that such variety of opinion was habitual in the Cabinet, nay, absolutely necessary because from the conflict of opinion there arose the choice of the better line of policy to adopt. The King then went on to praise your Serenity personally, and then told me some story about certain priests arrested in Venice as conspirators. After that I took my leave. I must not omit to mention that the Duke of Holstein (Osden), the Queen's brother, having written to the King to say that he had been offered service with the Spaniards, but desired, before accepting it, to know the King's will, his Majesty replied that he was on no account to enter Spanish service, but to wait a little, for possibly the King himself would employ him in a more satisfactory manner in this Italian business.
I must add that while I was in the ante-chamber, waiting to he introduced to the presence, the King sent out his second son, the little Duke of York, with an harquebus on his shoulder. He came right up to me and said he was thus armed for the service of the Republic. I answered that the Republic would be very proud of so big and brave a captain, and that under his leadership she was sure to win a great and signal victory.
London, 27th February, 1606 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 692. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After my audience with the King I sought an interview with the Earl of Salisbury. I repeated in substance what I had delivered to the King, but said nothing of the King's reply to me, leaving Lord Salisbury to answer, in order that by a comparison of what he said with what the King had said I might gather some light as to their real intentions on the subject of a League. He told me that he had not spoken to the King since my audience, but he gave me the same answer as the King had done, namely that assistance would be forthcoming, but that it was necessary to be assured of the intentions of the King of France. He said that if the King of England was once assured on that point he would open negotiations.
I seemed to discover in the Earl a considerable inclination towards a league, and I allowed him to embark on remarks connected with it, only answering where necessary. I will not weary your Excellencies with the prolixity of the dialogue; I will merely resume the chief points.
First, he told me that this proposal made by the King to the Republic was first of all discussed by the French Ambassador in England and himself, but that on fresh orders from France the French Ambassador drew back. I showed, surprise, and he sent for severed of Ambassador Wotton's despatches to show me the passage, but failed to find it. He went on to give me the reasons why it was unlikely that at the present juncture the King of France would take up arms; his general desire of peace; his eagerness to act as mediator; his regard for the Pope; the ecclesiastical leanings of some of his advisers; his natural caution. The Earl went on to remark that even if the intentions of the King of France were assured the interests, religion, and aims of the three principal members of the proposed League were so diverse that the natural consequences could not be avoided for long. I replied that the question of self-defence was quite sufficient to overcome such diversity. He went on to say that his opinion was and always had been that an accommodation would be reached, though for some time past he had not dared to say so to the King, for he was so warm a partisan of your Serenity that he flew out at any who differed from him in opinion. He gave me many reasons for his views, the most remarkable being that the Spanish sincerely desired an accommodation, and that in no other affair had they ever acted so straight forwardly. Their reason for this conduct was the hope that they would successfully conclude the Flemish business, and in order to do so they did not desire a disturbance in Italy. I replied that this was partially true, but we must bear in mind that the Spanish, being complete masters of a vigorous and restless Pope, were sure to wish to extend their authority in Italy; and that although an accommodation was to be desired still we must prepare for a rupture, especially in face of the present armaments. The Karl concluded by saying that it seemed to him advisable to negotiate for this League whether an accommodation were reached or not, for it would be of great service to the Princes who entered it. For this purpose he had, the other day, taken the opportunity to rouse the suspicions of the Archiducal Ambassador by telling him that in view of these rumours of general armament the English Government intended to muster their militia and concentrate a large part of their fleet; and when the Ambassador said to him, “You mean war with Spain, then?” he had answered, “No; but as we support the Republic and Spain supports the Pope it is possible that it might come to war.” The Earl said that he had used this expression on purpose that it might reach Spain, where the effect would be excellent. I asked if the preparations in France were really going on. He said he was informed that they were. I pointed out that this was another proof of the favourable attitude of the King of France towards the Republic, to which he answered, “Enough; we shall soon know the truth; and, as I have said, I think it wiser not to abandon this idea of a League.” I confirmed the affectionate disposition of Ambassador Wotton towards the Republic, a point he touched on, and then took my leave and departed.
From all this your Excellencies will gather what is the bent of English opinion on the subject of the League. They seem to me to be ready for it, but to suspect the King of France, and are deeply impressed by the withdrawal made by his Ambassador in Venice. His Majesty desires, however, to continue the negotiations.
London, 28th February, 1606 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. At Bridgewater and Bristol.
  • 2. The meaning of this is explained by a passage in Sir Henry Wotton's despatch of December 29, 1606. R. O. State Papers, Venice. The scheme was that James should support Venice, provided he was asked to do nothing hostile to Spain, and Henry IV, was to support Venice, provided he was asked to do nothing hostile to the Pope. Giustinian thinks that de la Boderie intended him to understand that neither of the provisos was to be now considered as rigid.
  • 3. Hercules von Salis.
  • 4. The decipher reads 5th, but the original ciphered despatch reads 25th, which is undoubtedly right. “Of last month” “del passato” should really be of this month “del presente.”
  • 5. Original cipher reads 26th.
  • 6. See Wotton's despatch of 2 February, 1606. R. O. State Papers. Venice.