Venice: June 1608

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 11, 1607-1610. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1904.

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'Venice: June 1608', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 11, 1607-1610, (London, 1904) pp. 137-143. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

June 1608

June 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 261. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King and all the Court left for Greenwich. A few days later he came back with the Queen and the Princes to the city, where, from the Earl of Salisbury's house, he witnessed the procession of the Earls of Dunbar and Montgomery, who in splendid pomp were passing on their way to Windsor for their investiture. This extraordinary favour shown to the Earl of Dunbar is not taken in good part by the English, who ascribe it to a desire to advance the Scotch and to show that they are no whit inferior to the English. That is not far from the truth, and the King manages the matter in prudent fashion, for he knows that nothing can more contribute to the Union than the idea and demonstration of an equality of rank between the two nations. He is thinking of attempting to secure the end he desires in the new Parliament.
The affairs of Ireland occupy the sole attention of the King and his Council. From time to time we hear that the number of the rebels is increasing, that their leaders are growing stronger, that one of them has even proclaimed himself sovereign of that Kingdom. All the same they now think themselves so well assured that the Spanish have no hand in the business that they promise themselves to settle the matter in a short time and with a very simple remedy. They incline rather to believe that the Pope has a mind and intent to foster the rising, and so they keep an eye on his doings and endeavour to penetrate the movements of Tyrone and all that may depend on that quarter. (fn. 1)
As to the peace in Flanders, though they know now after the Irish rising that it must be dangerous for them, it becomes clearer every day that they will not be at much pains to hinder it. They will make the best they can of it, and will defer the publication of the league until the return of the Franciscan (Neyen) from Spain brings the end of this intricate negotiation.
One of the ships that sailed last year to Virginia has returned. It brings one of the chief inhabitants to treat with the King for some agreement about that navigation.
London, 4th June, 1608.
June 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 262. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
In the procession of the Corpus Domini the Earl of Tyrone, his son-in-law and other dependents carried the umbrella. (fn. 2)
Rome, 7th June, 1608.
June 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 263. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The rising in Ireland is continuing its course and they have resolved to send more troops and a new Viceroy, as his Majesty is persuaded that the mistaken conduct of the present Viceroy has had much to do with these events. He is resolved to meet the crisis by prudence rather than by force, for he fears that if he adopt the latter he will foment instead of remedying the evil. The son of Tyrone (fn. 3) is with the Archduke, in command of an Irish regiment, veterans and old campaigners; he intends, on the conclusion of peace, to come over to Ireland to fan the flame. The King has made representations to the Archduke with a view to hindering this plan. The Archduke took occasion to reply that if he allowed these troops to depart there would be no more ground to complain of him than he had to complain of the English, who, in many ways, but chiefly by making alliance with his enemies, encouraged his foes against him. This answer given to the King's minister in Brussels, has caused the Council to make representations to the Archduke's minister here, in the course of which they amply justify his Majesty's conduct throughout the war in Flanders, after he had concluded peace with Spain, and show that he was putting off the conclusion of the alliance solely to await the ratification of the peace between Spain and the Dutch. They laid the same observations before the Spanish Ambassador. I hear that both expressed themselves satisfied. The Archiducal Ambassador even said that he had heard nothing of the complaint made by his Master. In fact the conclusion of the Dutch alliance is being put off under various pretexts. Affairs in Ireland cause them to proceed cautiously.
The last news from Holland is that the truce is prolonged till the end of December, on condition that within two months the intentions of both parties as to peace or war shall be declared. The Franciscan (Neyen) is expected with the declaration about the navigation of the Indies. It is thought that the Dutch will now stand all the firmer for free navigation seeing that in an English port are two of their ships lately returned from that journey laden with seven kinds of spices and other goods to the value of a million of gold. (fn. 4) A third has been delayed by the weather. They intend to make good some damage and then to continue their voyage to Holland. The Dutch Agent takes occasion to point out to everyone how impossible it is for them to abandon this trade, in which resides the principal source of their maintenance.
The Queen is waiting the settlement of the date for the baptism of the Duke of Anjou. She intends merely to send an ordinary English gentleman to beg the Countess of Conti to represent her at the function.
London, 11th June, 1608.
June 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 264. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King will cause the Queen of England and your Serenity to be informed of his wish that you should be sponsors for the Duke of Anjou.
Paris, 17th June, 1608.
June 18. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Milan. Venetian Archives. 265. Girolamo Carlo Scaramelli, Venetian Resident in Milan, to the Doge and Senate.
An English priest here, who was in Tyrone's confidence, is spreading the report that the Earl's relations have risen in Ireland. The Spanish take note and are pleased.
Milan, 18th June, 1608.
June 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 266. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have reported from time to time the steps I took in the matter of the recovery of the cargo of the ship “Reniera and Soderina,” which was brought to this kingdom. My negotiations were chiefly conducted with the King and with the Council. I must now report what has been decided on after the expiry of the two months, and a few days more even, which were granted in order to allow the production of proof. The interested parties have not furnished the proofs they promised, nor have their agents here completed their side of the case, relying, perhaps, on the others. The Admiralty Judge informed the Council of this, and the merchants here made a great outcry for the fulfillment of the promise and restoration of their property, out of which they have been kept for seven continuous months without the production of any evidence. The Council, three days ago, sent for my Secretary and told him that the injury to the merchants could be endured no longer, every limit for the production of proof was passed, and they had accordingly resolved to restore the merchants to their possession, but under the obligation to deposit sufficient security, so that the Venetians interested, if they proved their property in the goods, would always be able to recover the value. My Secretary did all he could to hinder such a resolve; but in vain. The Lords of the Council consider that in the desire to favour the interests of the Republic they have been tempted to injustice towards their fellow countrymen. This is an issue that I have always foreseen. I am sorry that coldness has caused the loss of all the fruit of my labours. Had the promised proofs been received last week I was safe. All the same, by means of my Secretary, I appealed to the Earl of Salisbury; but in vain. His Lordship declared, and truly, that he had done more to further this cause than if it had been his own, and he complained that the Council and the London market flung the fact in his face. When I heard this I resolved, so as to leave nothing untried, to speak to the King himself; and although I have been ill for many days I asked for audience. The King sent back to say that I need not take the trouble to come to Greenwich as he was coming to London next morning, and would see me. I went in the afternoon, and began by thanking him for his continual enquiries after my health during my indisposition. I then entered on the business. I found him fully informed and already convinced by the Council. Still, as I unfolded the reasons which made for us, he showed hesitation. As to the appointment of a special bench which I asked for, he said, “Although this is a matter which is difficult, as it may be erected into a precedent which other Ambassadors will quote, still as it is a question of gratifying the Republic which has so often gratified me, I am disposed to do for her what I could not do for others. When the Council pointed out to me this difficulty I told them to reply freely to Ambassadors who might quote this as a precedent, that when their Sovereigns treated me as the Republic does I would treat them as I treat the Republic. I do not take this to be a binding precedent in dealing with Sovereigns. I intend to be guided by the nature of my obligation to them and not to treat all alike.” I thanked his Majesty, and insisted by strong arguments that since he was pleased to grant me a special bench he should also suspend the order in Council about the possession of the goods, so that both points might be settled at one and the same time. The King showed that he had grasped my arguments, and said, “I will speak to the Earl of Salisbury, and rest assured I will do all I can to oblige you. I am this moment going to the Council for this very purpose. I will let you know the result.” I begged him to recommend my suit to Lord Salisbury, who for some cause or other seemed to have grown rather cold. The King walked towards the Council Chamber, and I took leave. This took place two days ago. As yet I have no answer. I fear that the Council has changed his kind intent and is resolved that the order shall take effect. The caution money deposited will always allow the Venetians to pursue the suit, and when they furnish proofs I will protect their cause as I have ever done.
No news from Ireland. Troops are being despatched, though in very small numbers. This shows, not so much that they make light of the rising, as the difficulty there is in persuading troops to fight in that country where they are sure of suffering for no profit.
London, 18th June, 1608.
June 23. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 267. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet and spoke as follows:
An English sailor, (fn. 5) one of the best of the nation, has reached Venice from Tunis, where he had occasion to obtain information about that corsair Ward. The Ambassador made him write down this information, which he now handed in to the Doge, who returned thanks.
Cited in preceding document. 268. John Ward, commonly called Captain Ward, is about 55 years of age. Very short, with little hair, and that quite white; bald in front; swarthy face and beard. Speaks little, and almost always swearing. Drunk from morn till night. Most prodigal and plucky. Sleeps a great deal, and often on board when in port. The habits of a thorough “salt.” A fool and an idiot out of his trade.
In his youth he was an East-coast fisherman. Then he came to Plymouth, and rose through all ranks of the service in our wars with Spain. Finally he had a post in the Channel squadron (hebbe carico nelle Navi Regie che stanno per guardia ordinaria di nostro Golfo). He and some other sailors made a plot, and one night they stole the ship's boat, and came to the Isle of Wight. There they surprised a French ship, and with her they went buccaneering, finally taking shelter in the Port of El Arisch (Alaraca) in Barbary. That was the beginning of the life he is now living.
At El Arisch he fell in with two English captains, one called Bishop, the other Michael. Michael went home to England, and left the larger part of his crew with Ward, including his lieutenant, Anthony Johnson. Bishop abandoned his own ship, which was rotten, and joined Ward, and these two, Bishop and Johnson, have been his constant companions in drinking and plundering; though recently the Turks have separated them from him and they carry on their trade on their own account, the one going out to plunder and the other staying behind in Tunis as hostage.
At Tunis there was a certain Osman bèy (Osmondè), (fn. 6) Captain of the Janissaries; he began by being a very poor tailor and has grown into an extremely rich and powerful personage through the patronage of certain pirates, especially of Ward. To this Osman, Ward sold the cargo of the “Soderina” for barely a half of what is was worth. Osman has two intimate ministers, Amurat, the Genoese, and Hasan, the Genoese; in Hasan's house in Tunis Ward lodges, and while Hasan is away he looks after the money on Osman's account. About the middle of last December Ward went out in the “Soderina,” with thirty Christians, English, French, and Flemish, and three hundred and fifty Turks. He had on board the ship fifty-five bronze cannon and great quantities of ammunition. In his company were two other ships manned by Turks; an English renegade, named Binny, was Captain of one. They say she was lost in a storm off Porto Farino or Carthage.
On this voyage Ward's vice-admiral, after attacking two English vessels and taking from one of them four thousand crowns, captured a ship from Marseilles with twelve thousand crowns on board, and twenty-nine Frenchmen, who were made slaves in Tunis. She was a ship of medium size, with 22 guns. Ward transferred himself to her, and abandoned the “Soderina,” as she was leaky and rotten, for which reason almost all the Turks and some of the English who were in her, went to the bottom. Ward went back to Tunis without the Turks, and was nearly torn in pieces by the Janissaries, who heard what had happened from five Turks who were saved on some planks of the “Soderina.”
With the assistance of Osman, Ward pacified the Turks, and prepared to put out again. He sailed from Tunis about last Easter, with two other ships. On board his own ship he has twenty-four pieces of artillery and fifty men, English and Flemish, not a single Turk, owing to their suspicion of him after he abandoned the other Turks aboard the “Soderina.” Of the second ship a Turk called Mehemet Rais is captain. He has one hundred Turks and twenty-six cannon on board. The third ship is very small, not having more than thirty-five Turks on board and from ten to twelve pieces.
His notion was to sail out of Gibraltar and try his fortune further off. But it is impossible to count on this, for he is naturally very changeable in his plans. Certain it is that he has promised Osman to spare no one whom he can defeat, for he is now completely under the protection of the Turks, and has given up any hopes of returning to England.
In April last Captain Bishop too fitted out. He had forty men with him, chiefly Flemish, who had fled from the ships lately captured by the great galleys of Venice at Modon, and had gone back to Tunis on a Marseilles ship.
June 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 269. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
There is news that Don Pedro di Toledo is ordered to pass through France, on his way to Germany; he to raise the question of alliance between the two Crowns. This rouses great suspicion here, and the subject has been broached to the French Ambassador. He has used the opportunity to heighten the suspicion, with a view to inducing the English to accept the proposals he had already made to them about the affairs of Holland. He, however, has found them more determined than ever to avoid mixing in anything that could cause annoyance to Spain, especially now that the rising in Ireland compels them to act with reserve, and in truth for some time past they have treated the Spanish with much more respect than heretofore.
We have good news this week from Ireland that Tyrone's nephew, who had seized the two forts, has abandoned them on learning the movement of the Royal troops against him. He and all his following have taken shelter in some woods, where he is being joined by the rebels from other quarters. (fn. 7) His Majesty is delighted at the news, but has ordered that the massing of troops and other munitions shall continue, as a precaution against any schemes that may be hatched inside or outside Ireland.
As for Flanders the English are far from pleased that the Dutch have extended the truce without informing them of their intention; they are pacified, however, by the assurance that no notice was given to France either. The question of the exchange of fortresses was only raised by the Commissioners merely to pass the time till the consent should arrive from Spain. Meantime the Dutch had begun to settle their Militia, a sure sign that they were bent on peace; they are beginning to quarrel among themselves, and that is fostered by the Spanish Commissioners and especially by the Marchese Spinola, who, in view of the Franciscan's delay, is talking of going himself to Spain, in the certainty that he would bring back the assent.
The Earl of Salisbury wishing, on his entry on the office of Lord Treasurer, to return his Majesty's favour by some signal service, has used his influence to induce the merchants of London to submit to a new impost on exports and imports, which will increase the Royal revenue by upwards of four hundred thousand crowns a year. I am told that this will fall more heavily on the foreigners than on the English; the tax on currants will be decreased a little. As soon as I have positive information I will inform your Serenity. At present I can only say that it seems to me that this was the reason why the sequestration of the cargo of the “Soderina” could no longer be maintained; for the Earl of Salisbury, requiring the assent of the merchants to his proposals, resolved to gratify them by releasing the merchandize. Salisbury promises swift and sound justice in the suit of the interested parties. I will not fail to support them, and will make full use of the evidence which reached me this week.
London 25th June, 1608.
June 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 270. Ottaviano Bon, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The French who are serving in the Turkish Army, about sixty in number, holding themselves insulted by one of the English Ambassador's household, who, as they declare, carried off two of their women and fled with them from Constantinople, are so incensed against the English that they went about in armed bands looking for Englishmen to slay them. But the English kept the house, and accordingly the French resolved to attack the Embassy in considerable numbers. That they did this evening. They used force, and fired many shots in their efforts to effect an entrance. While defending the Embassy one of the French was killed. This made matters worse. The French retired for a bit, and sent over to the pavilion at Scutari to summon the rest of their band. The English Ambassador is shut up in his house and very anxious as to what will happen, as he has to do with the wickedest and most villainous set of people that you could imagine; desperadoes, licentious, insolent, fearing nor respecting anybody; they permit themselves anything, nor is there anyone who withstands them; nay, the representations made by the English Ambassador to the Capudan and the Lieutenant Grand Vizir have been of no avail as yet.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 26th June, 1608.


  • 1. Wotton was reporting to the King and to Salisbury on the reception of Tyrone by Fuentes at Milan and by the Pope in Rome. He also reports an offer made by an Italian to assassinate Tyrone. See Cal. S.P. Ireland, 1608, pp. 651–670.
  • 2. See S.P. Ireland 1608, No. 898. “Also at the procession on Corpus Christi day, the Pope ordained that only the chiefest of these Irish should carry the canopy over him, which eight of them did.”
  • 3. Henry O'Neil, Tyrone's second son. See Cal. S.P. Ireland, 1606–1608, p. 631.
  • 4. Part of Matelieff's fleet. Motley, op. cit. p. 391.
  • 5. Probably Henry Pepwell. See Cal. S. P. Ireland, 1608–1610, p. 279.
  • 6. O'Dogherty, on the approach of Wingfield, set fire to Derry, and retired to Doe Castle, on Sheep Haven.
  • 7. This is the Crosomond of the Cal. S P. Ireland, 1608–1610, p. 279.