Venice: August 1608

Pages 154-164

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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August 1608

Aug. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 292. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Earl of Tyrone is ill. One of his relations has died in his house, and the Pontifical household attended his funeral. (fn. 1)
Rome, 2nd August, 1608.
Aug. 5. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives. 293. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet and spoke as follows:
He renews his petition in favour of release for Pietro Negri. Says he has served four years and the King, his Master, has allowed him to stay on two years more. He has always acted modestly in the past, and will cause no trouble for the future. He has the reputation in the City of having some weight with the Doge and Senate, he therefore prefers his request.
He then proceeded to touch on the question of the Queen of England's presence at the baptism of the French King's third-born and the point of precedence raised by the presence of Queen Margaret.
The Doge replied that the Republic did not feel any difficulty about having been asked to the baptism of the third-born. Ubi papa ibi Roma. Her Majesty's prestige could suffer in no way, and he hoped that it would be arranged. The city made no error in attributing great weight to the Ambassador, but it would be a bad precedent to release a criminal condemned so recently, a public official and in such a scandalous case. The Ambassador must attribute the unsuccess of his petition to regard for the law, not to any disinclination to please him.
Aug. 6. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 294. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador acknowledges receipt of despatches of the 10th ult., instructing him to inform the King that the Signory has received and lovingly responded to His Majesty's recommendations in favour of the Prince de Joinville. The King's absence prevented the Ambassador from having audience, so he carried out his commission with the Earl of Salisbury instead.
London, 6th August, 1608.
Aug. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 295. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Earl of Salisbury, after touching on the Royal baptism, proceeded to discuss the mission of Don Pedro di Toledo. He gave me an account of Don Pedro's reception, of the request he presented that the King of France would induce the Dutch to withdraw their claims to “sovreignity,” and of the proposals for marriage which he advanced. From the Earl's remarks I clearly gathered the suspicions they entertain about these negotiations. They think they are prompted and fostered by the Pope. There is a conviction, however, that the King will not allow himself to be induced to postpone so important an interest as the preservation of the States by any promises which the tender years of the children may easily dissolve. The Earl also told me that the Ambassadors of Spain and Flanders have complained to him about the alliance between the King of England and the Dutch; but as this is purely an act of self preservation, and will not, moreover, come into effect until the peace is concluded, they have no cause to protest.
In conclusion the Earl confirmed the defeat of the Irish rebels and the death of their leader. He hopes the whole movement will be crushed, though it is fostered from some quarters by entreaties and by money. By this remark he indicated Rome and Spain.
I touched on the question of the recovery of stolen goods, a business that, by the singular favour of his Majesty, I have not only put on its feet again, but, as I hope, carried through safely. For I obtained from him the appointment of commissioners to hear both parties, with orders to attend to the matter at once and to report their finding to the Council. They have heard the case and give it to be understood that they are favourable to our merchants; and so were it not that owing to the King's absence the Council is dissolved, the affair would be wound up. The Earl excused the delay on this ground, and congratulated me on the sure hopes of a favourable issue; he added that he was sure the King wished to give this new proof of his detestation of those piracies, and of his absolute goodwill towards the Republic.
London, 6th August, 1608.
Aug. 9. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Florence. Venetian Archives. 296. Roberto Lio, Venetian Resident in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Alidosi himself confirms his mission to Switzerland, Cleves, Lorraine, Flanders, and England. He is only waiting for money.
Florence, 9th August, 1608.
P.S.—“As I was closing this I was told that Alidosi was arrested last night by the Inquisition.”
Aug. 11. Collegio, Lettere. Venetian Archives. 297. To Cardinal Borromeo.
Letters of credence for Marc' Antonio Correr, Ambassador Elect to England.
Ayes 18.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 1.
Aug. 11. Collegio, Lettere. Venetian Archives. 298. To the Prince of Wales.
Letters of credence for Marc' Antonio Correr, Ambassador Elect to England.
Similar to
The Queen of France.
The Queen of Great Britain.
Count Fuentes.
Duke of Savoy.
The King of France.
Aug. 11. Collegio, Lettere. Venetian Archives. 299. To the King of Great Britain.
Letters of credence for Marc' Antonio Correr, Ambassador Elect. The chief object of his mission is to convey the affectionate regards of the Republic.
Ayes 18.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 1.
Aug. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 300. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Council is meeting at Holdenby (Ombi) where the King now is. They are to discuss the conclusion of the alliance with the Dutch about which the Ambassadors of Spain and the Archduke complained. It is thought that the King will sign at once as the peace negotiations are involved in worse difficulties than ever, for the Spanish insist on the refusal to assent to the Dutch demands about the India navigation and “sovreignty.” But there is a continual doubt that by these Spanish offers to his Most Christian Majesty the States may be obliged to moderate their claims. They are keeping a most vigilant eye on his negotiations with Spain and desire to probe the object of Don Pedro's mission. No fresh news from Ireland after the news of the rebels' defeat. In Scotland, however, it seems that the feuds between some of those gentlemen are breaking out again. On the arrival of the Earl of Dunbar he began to restrict the power of some of those who have been seeking to concentrate all authority in their own hands. But as all these questions are merely private feuds they will easily be accommodated by the Royal authority and Dunbar's action.
London, 13th August, 1608.
Aug. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 301. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Describes audience which Don Pedro had of the King. Don Pedro began by saying that his Master had heard that the King of France proposed to “offer” his daughter in marriage; the King broke in saying that his daughter was well-born enough to be sought, not offered.
Don Pedro had also quarrelled with the English Ambassador on some punctillo.
Paris, 15th August, 1608.
Aug. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 302. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It has been found out at last that the Pope, supported by the Jesuits, arranged for Don Pedro's mission.
Paris, 15th August, 1608.
Aug. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 303. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Reports a copious fall of red rain (ha piovuto sangue) at Villa Franca, nine leagues from Burgos. The Doctors say it portends plague.
Madrid, 16th August, 1608.
[Italian, deciphered.]
Aug. 16. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives. 304. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet and spoke as follows:
Quotes the ancient phrase about Marcus Brutus “Multum interest quid Brutus velit, quod enim vult, valde vult,” as an excuse for his importunity on behalf of Pietro Negri. “I have spoken so much about this case that it seems to be no longer Negri's case but mine. I must tell your Serenity that during these five years that I have resided here, more than five hundred persons have said to me, 'Live happy and content, for the Senate listens to your discourses most willingly. You are much loved, not only as an Envoy of His Majesty' of Great Britain, a Sovereign so friendly to the Republic, but also on your own personal account.' Such words as these have have been said to me five hundred times. It is your Serenity's esteem that has conferred on me this reputation; if I loose this reputation I shall be of no account, and might as well stay at home at San Girolamo in retirement and neglect. To preserve this reputation I again supplicate your Serenity with folded hands to grant this favour to my most ardent prayer; and though the days are creeping in I know that if it would, the Senate could send me this man to my house this evening, a free man.”
He then passed on to another topic; he confessed that not all that Ambassadors might say was gospel truth, their food is news, and among the things reported to them some are true but sometimes they have to swallow flies (ingiottir delle mosche). “I learn that here in Venice a public servant in accord with the Inquisitor—I mean the friar—has induced a certain priest, Monsignore Benedetti, who was once with the Jesuits, to write a book against an Englishman who has published a work about the Papal usurpations. This book has been approved by the Inquisitor, and the author intends to submit it to the Secretary Maravegia that he may read it and give it the imprimatur of the Senate. I hear that in this book the author, discussing this subject, breaks out into an attack on King Henry VIII., Queen Elizabeth (Isabella) of glorious memory, and the reigning Sovereign's Majesty, in terms that are not decent. I have come to beg Your Serenity to order the Secretary Maravegia to refuse approval to this book and to prevent its being printed here in Venice. It would be too great a scandal that from this city should issue a book full of slander and insult to my King who is so attached to this Republic. But should it be thought well to grant the imprimatur I would only beg that leave be granted to print the answer, in that case I would not oppose the publication but would even bear part of the charges if only our answer might be printed.”
The Doge replied that the Ambassador need not excuse himself, rather he deserved praise for helping his friends. The case of Negri had been committed to the competent officials for information; they had begun their work and when the report was sent in the Cabinet would consider what recommendation they would make to the Senate for its final decision. This is all that can be said now. Should the decision of the Senate not prove all that the Ambassador desires this must be attributed to the necessity for a large majority of votes in a secret ballot, and not to any lack of good-will. If the Ambassador has been told by five hundred mouths that he is held in esteem that statement would certainly be confirmed by the whole people. The Ambassador is beloved for his Master's sake and also for his own singular merits.
As to the opuscule, of which mention was made, the press laws of the Republic are excellent. Every book is revised by a Secretary of State, who is charged to see that there is nothing in the book “against Sovreigns.” Maravegia, who holds the post, is a person of intelligence and taste; and if the book is of the nature represented he, of his own accord, will not allow it to be printed; all the same he will have his attention called to the point. (fn. 2) If the general rule is thus, much more would care be taken in the case of a Sovereign to whom the Republic is so much obliged. As for the reply, it can be printed anywhere away from Venice; there is no need to mix the Government up in the matter to no purpose.
The Ambassador said he was sure the Republic would see that the dignity of the King of England was respected.
Aug, 16. Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 305. Commission to Marc' Antonio Correr, Ambassador-Elect to the Britain.
“Considering thy (fn. 3) prudence and ability, beloved noble Marc' Antonio Correr, prudence and ability proved in the offices thou hast filled to thy glory and our satisfaction, we are moved to elect thy person as our Ambassador in ordinary to the King of Great Britain, in place of our beloved noble Georgio Giustinian, to whom we have granted leave to return home. We are fully assured that thou wilt fully correspond to the opinion we hold of thy ability and zeal which thou hast displayed so far in the public service.
“We, therefore, along with the Senate, charge thee that in God's name thou shalt set out for England. On thy way thou shalt visit such Princes and Lords as to thee may seem right for our dignity and service. In the name of our Seignory and with the letters of credence we will give thee thou shalt make such communication to them as thou shalt think fit, according to the rank and condition of each one of them.”
“Arrived in England and having communicated to thy predecessor this commission and received from him the necessary information, thou shalt procure audience of his Majesty to whom thou shalt present thy credentials and, in the name of our Republic, thou shalt congratulate him on his good health in which we trust that thou wilt find him. Then thou shalt explain to him that we, continuing in our deep affection and regard for his serene person, have sent thee to lie as our Ambassador at his Court in place of thy predecessor. Thou shalt add that, although thy chief commission is to procure the perfect response of love and good-will between his Majesty and our Republic, all the same, considering the growing affection he ever shows towards us and thy knowledge of the love we bear to him, thou art certain that no difficulties can meet thee in the fulfillment of this part of thy mission, for it will be thy care to preserve and increase that good and true friendship which is ever growing closer between the Republic and that serene Crown.”
He is to pay similar compliments to the Queen when presenting his credentials.
He is to visit the Prince of Wales and to present letters, and also the other Prince and the Princesses his sisters; to visit and converse with the Lords of the Privy Council who are the chief ministers of that Court, and the Representatives of Sovereigns residing there, and this in the form and under the direction his predecessor shall indicate and he may deem right.
He is to study with all attention the daily movement of negotiations and of affairs and to report fully from time to time. With this object in view he is always to be as near as possible to his Majesty but only in so far as is agreeable to the King.
The Republic was besought by Pope Clement VIII., when it was sending Ambassadors Duodo and Molin to England, to commission them, wherever they saw convenient occasion, to favour the cause of the Catholics, but his Holiness recommended dexterity in carrying out this task. The present Pope, Paul V., has made the same request. The Republic replied to both Pontiffs that it greatly desired the preservation and increase of the Holy Faith, and would never fail to make the opportune representations. The Republic now informs the Ambassador, in order that he may be alive to the nature of the business and to the great reserve which must be used in this affair so as to avoid offending the King and doing harm instead of good. He is therefore to confine himself to representations in very general terms and only in cases where he is certain of doing good.
The English Ambassador in Venice has frequently proposed steps for relieving on both sides the bardens on commerce. The Ambassador in England is in possession of this and is to leave to his successor all papers relating thereto, and he is to pay special attention to the instructions to Ambassador Molin 30th December and 5th February, 1604; and the representations made by the English Ambassador in Venice and the Senate's answer; this for his guidance; and he is to report fully.
“For thy expenses thou shalt have every month two hundred crowns of seven lire each, without obligation to account. Of this sum we advance eight hundred crowns, the pay for four months; and one thousand crowns as a donative, in accordance with the decree of June 2, 1561. For horses, trunks, clothes three hundred ducats of six lire four soldi each, and other three hundred for extraordinary expenses; of these sums account must be rendered on return.
“To thy secretary we have made a present of one hundred ducats for outfit; and twenty ducats a-piece to the two couriers who will accompany thee. At the risk of the State thou mayest take plate to the value of four hundred ducats; the plate to be valued by the office of the Rason Nuova.”
Ayes 105.
Noes 2.
Neutrals 3.
Aug. 16. Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 306. To Ambassador Giustinian in England.
Announces Correr's proximate arrival; orders to hand over papers. Leave to return. Expresses satisfaction.
Ayes 105.
Noes 2.
Neutrals 3.
Aug. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 307. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to Doge and Senate.
Since the arrival of Don Pedro di Toledo at the Court of France the French Ambassador here has, on his master's orders, redoubled his efforts in the negotiations which I have already reported; and such is the suspicion aroused by these relations between France and Spain that the English now show themselves much more ready to discuss the question of alliance and of league. The Ambassador in a conference with the Earl of Salisbury has induced him to consent to a defensive league between the two crowns. This is an affair of high importance, and in the past the English have always shown themselves very much averse to it. But since the Secretary of the French Embassy returned from France the chill settles down again because the King of France wishes to include the Dutch in such a way that if the negotiations for peace should fall through both parties would be bound to support them. On the other hand the English are unwilling to pledge themselves to war. They have nailed themselves to the resolve not to disturb the peace. The negotiations for the league are accordingly suspended and the result is very uncertain owing to the diversity of aims. The English hold that his Most Christian Majesty wishes to commit them to supporting the Dutch, and this they are resolved never to do because they are persuaded that the King of France cannot in any circumstances abandon the States. The French Ambassador combats this idea and gives out that if the Spanish refuse the conditions now proposed the Dutch will be forced to make peace as best they can, for his Master declines any longer to bear alone the burden which ought, on all accounts, to be common to the two countries.
The arrival of a courier from Spain has caused the Spanish Ambassador to seek audience of the King, although he is far away on his Progress. It is supposed that his orders are to complain about the alliance with the Dutch, but they have always an easy answer at hand, namely that the alliance is of no validity until the peace is concluded.
London, 21st August, 1608.
Aug. 22. Collegio, Lettere. Venetian Archives. 308. To the Noble Zuan Maria Boldu at Este.
We enclose a memorandum presented to us by the English Ambassador in which we are earnestly implored to pardon Pietro Negro the remaining time of his imprisonment. You are to report your signed and sworn opinion on the case, informing us of his crimes. This you are to do at once, so that we may despatch the affair.
Ayes 19.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 1.
Aug. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 309. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has given orders to pay over one hundred thousand crowns to d'Aerssens for the use of the States. D'Aerssens has already had sixty thousand paid him and will have the rest in a few days. This is highly disagreeable to Don Pedro and all the more so that the ministers do not deny the fact but say the money was due from last year. The Cordelier (Neyen) is at Burgos waiting the completion of his instructions. It is thought here that all negotiations for peace are broken off.
Paris, 26th August, 1608.
Aug. 26. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 310. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet and spoke as follows:
“Most Serene Prince there came to my house the other day a gallant gentleman who made me laugh at an impertinent question he put; 'Why, Sir,' says he, 'does the grass grow before your door?' I know not the meaning of his demand, but it comes pat to my purpose to excuse the importunity I have used and am going to use on behalf of that poor fellow Negro; for if my prayers are not heard by your Serenity and their Excellencies, I see the quarter of San Girolamo abandoned, my house deserted, the grass growing not merely before the door but under the arcade and up the stair. I implore you to grant me this favour and to send that poor fellow a free man to my house.
I have no orders from my Master upon any business. That is always a good sign among Princes, a proof that there exist no troublesome questions between them. Having nothing to say from my Sovereign I will touch on another, that is Prince Christian of Hainault, who sent a gentleman (fn. 4) here some days ago and has honoured me with special letters begging me to support his request and to offer his service to your Serenity. I have not made any representations as yet, because this gentleman, having been presented by the Ambassador of France, did not seem to me to require other support, but as he is leaving in a few days I have resolved not to postpone any further. This Prince is not to be highly regarded on account of his territory, for he is not very rich, it being the custom among the Princes of Germany to divide the revenue when there are many brothers; but he is to be greatly esteemed for himself and for his qualities. He has commanded armies, has seen service, and is one of those who are capable of undertaking great operations. He is of the noblest blood, and closely allied with various German princes; he manages all the affairs of the Count Palatine who, to tell the truth, does nothing without his advice and orders. These are reasons why your Serenity should embrace his offer, especially as it will cost you nothing. I beg you, if the occasion occurs, to inform the Prince's Agent that I have supported his negotiations.”
The Doge replied that as regards Pietro Negro, the Avogador who is the magistrate entrusted to report, is not in Venice, and without his opinion nothing can be done. The Cabinet has written to him to come at once or to send an opinion in writing. He is at his Villa at Este “a place well known to your Lordship, who is now thoroughly acquainted with this Country.” When the report comes in the business will be taken in hand. The issue in a case where a large majority of votes is required can not be foreseen, but the Ambassador may rest assured of the desire to please him. “We must inform you that by a law of the Republic it is forbidden to seek the intercession of foreign Princes or their Ministers; the breach of this law entails a doubling of the penalty.”
As to Prince Christian of Hainault, his Agent had been to the College on certain business to which an answer was being prepared. If he came again he would be informed of the representations made by the Ambassador.
The Ambassador said that as the Doge had begun by favouring his suit as regards Pietro Negro by calling for a report from the Avogador, he trusted all other difficulties would be overcome. As to the law cited by his Serenity he could not say he was not aware of it; he could only declare that Pietro Negro had never approached him on the subject; it was but compassion that had moved him, and also the intercession of some friends of Negro's who were his own close friends. He therefore begged that this other sin might not be laid on the shoulders of Negro.
Aug. 28. Collegio, Lettere. Venetian Archives. 311. To the Prince of Hainault.
From Signor Christopher, Baron von Dohna, and Councillor of your illustrious Lordship, we have received your letters of recommendation on his behalf. We should have always been favourable to him on account of his merits and for the sake of that just cause upon which he has been sent here, but we shall be so all the more readily now in reply to your recommendation as we desire to please you. We pray God to grant to your illustrious Lordship health and all other happiness you may desire.
Ayes 20.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 1.
Aug. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 312. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I can add nothing further about the league with France. The King and his Council are far away on Progress. When the Earl of Salisbury returns it is expected that the negotiations will be renewed. The Spanish Ambassador has been to the King in Northampton and the fact that he stayed there some time gives rise to the conjecture that difficulties will be cunningly placed in the way of the league. On the other hand English interests and the French Ambassador's activity favour the conclusion of the alliance.
In this absence of Ministers all other business is suspended. After the suppression of the Irish rebellion anxiety about that kingdom is considerably relaxed, although they still keep a vigilant eye on the movements of Tyrone. As the most important questions now depend on the course of affairs in Flanders, the meeting of Parliament is put off until something certain is to hand.
All eyes are turned to the negotiations in France, as they will determine the nature of the peace.
The King will soon begin his homeward journey on his Progress. I will fulfill my orders about the Prince of Joinville and, with the Privy Council, I will continue the affair of the stolen property.
London, 28th August, 1608.
Aug. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 313. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
There are many English pirates in the Mediterranean. They are joined to Turks and have their rendez-vous in Algiers. On the coast of Valentia they have made great booty. In a few days' time they plundered fifteen rich ships. They say that since the Venetian government chased these wretches from her waters they have gathered here.
In the ocean, off Lisbon, is an English pirate with fifteen big ships, and every day he is growing stronger, being joined by the Dutch. They fear for the safety of the fleet. Recently an English ship left Lisbon with a cargo of sugar to the value of 100,000 crowns. Leghorn was her destination, but she discharged in Barbary.
Madrid, 31st August, 1608.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 314. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Franciscan Commissioner (Neyen), after having his business finished in Valladolid and receiving the despatch containing his Majesty's final resolution about the peace in Flanders, was stopped at Burgos and the despatch sent on to the Archduke by special courier. The Archduke informed the States of his Majesty's resolve which was that they should be debarred from the India Navigation; that throughout all the islands liberty of conscience must be allowed and the free right to exercise the Catholic ritual, that they shall pay tribute in recognition of his Majesty's superiority. The States are highly displeased and let it be known that they will assent to none of these terms.
The Friar is accused of double dealing, and of representing many things as easily realisable in spite of the truth; and so his management of affairs has proved most fallacious.
Madrid, 31st August, 1608.
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. See Cal. S.P. Ireland, 1606–1608, pp. 667, 668. Tyrconnell died in Rome, a page of his as well, while Tyrone's son and others of his company fell sick, all as the result of a riotous journey to Ostia. Tyrconnell was buried by the Spanish in S. Pietro Montorio. He was attended by the Pope's physician.
  • 2. As a matter of fact the register of the Senate, Terra, for this year contains no mention of this work.
  • 3. Ambassadors Elect were addressed as “tu,” Ambassadors on service as “voi”: Resident-Ministers were addressed as “tu.”
  • 4. Christopher von Dohna. See below, Aug. 28. Also Moritz Ritter “Die Union und Heinrich IV.” pp. 75–89.