Venice: September 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: September 1608', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 11, 1607-1610, (London, 1904) pp. 164-174. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

September 1608

Sept. 1. Minutes of the Senate. Venetian Archives. 315. To the Ambassador in Rome.
The Spanish Ambassador here resident has made the following representations (fn. 1) to us on the subject of the immunity of the dwelling of our Ambassadors in Spain; we enclose our reply. This for your information. You are to find out whether anything has been said to the Pope about the dwelling of the Nuncio in Spain.
Simili, mutatis mutandis:—
to the Ambassador at the Imperial Court,
to the Ambassador in France,
to the Ambassador in England.
Ayes 187.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 1.
That the Ambassador of his Catholic Majesty be summoned to the Cabinet and the following be read to him: Declare readiness of government to oblige his Majesty in all things; but this question of immunity of Embassy affects other Princes whom it is Venice's duty to follow not to lead. Venice must wait to see what other Soevreigns do. Must remind the Ambassador that Philip II had made a like request, but did not press it in view of the loss of reputation it would cause to Ambassadors if this privilege were taken from them. Promises that the Venetian Embassy in Madrid will never grant asylum to evil-doers.
Ayes 187.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 1.
Sept. 2. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi, Venetian Archives. 316. The Secretary of the English Ambassador came to the Cabinet and spoke as follows:—
Said that it was precisely four years since the Ambassador entered on his duties; on this occasion he desired to renew his offers of service to the Republic.
The Ambassador begs two favours; one, the release of Pietro Negro; the other, pardon for his importunity.
The Doge said the reports on the case had only just been sent in.
Sig. Alvise Barbarigo, Savio for the week, confirmed this.
They promise to do all they can to oblige the Ambassador.
Sept. 2. Collegio, Notatorio. Venetian Archives. 317. Motion made in the Cabinet; that to please the English Ambassador, who has made pressing request in the memorandum just read, upon which memorandum our law officers (Avogadori di Commun) and our beloved noble Gio. Maria Boldù, who had charge of the case, have now reported, Pietro Negro condemned to two years' imprisonment by the Criminal Court on last June 7th, be pardoned the remaining time of his sentence.
Ayes 14. As it required five-sixths of the votes in order to carry the motion it was put a second time, with the same result. The motion accordingly remained suspended.
Noes 3.
Neutrals 0.
Sept. 2. Minutes of the Senate. Venetian Archives. 318. The preceding motion amended and put in this form, in the Senate:—
Seeing that some decision is required as to the answer to be given to the Ambassador on his memorandum begging for the release of Pietro Negro, motion is made,
That to Pietro Negro be remitted the remainder of his sentence as far as imprisonment goes.
Ayes 95. As the motion required five-sixths of the votes in a meeting of 150 members and upwards, it was suspended.
Noes 73.
Neutrals 18.
The same motion was put and carried the same day in the Cabinet.
Ayes 16.
Noes 2.
Neutrals 0.
Sept. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 319. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The day before yesterday a courier arrived from Holland with despatches which were forwarded express to the King. They say the peace congress is dissolved, and Spinola has received leave to depart though he has not done so as yet. This rumour has the more manifestly displayed the desire the English have for the continuance of the war, and the readiness the King would find in his subjects if he could make up his mind to encourage it by aid in men or money. Those who know, however, do not credit the rumour so easily, for they know that the resolution the Dutch will take depends on the turn of events in France, and about that there is no sure news. A squadron has been seen sailing up Channel for Holland, and it is supposed that they are Dutch ships which in view of the tendency towards war, have left Spain for fear of an embargo; if that were true it would be taken as a proof of rupture.
For some days past there have been reports of frequent piracies committed in these waters near the Isle of Wight (vicini all 'Isola.') (fn. 2) A Royal ship (fn. 3) was sent out, but without any result. It seems that there are two pirates, followers of Ward, who have their headquarters in Ireland and are endeavouring to get ships with which to return to Tunis and to carry on their depredations in the Mediterranean. They have already captured some French bertons and they profess that they will not damage the English. One is called Captain Lusip, the other Jennings (fn. 4) (Gianins). I send this as a warning to merchants, nor will I fail to secure the suppression of these pirates before they become more bold.
The Spanish Ambassador has returned from his audience. I can not find out whether he has done anything to break through the joint action proposed by the French Ambassador, who, in fear of the Plague, has left the city and whose negotiations are therefore in suspense.
London, 4th September, 1608.
Sept. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 320. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On Monday an Englishman (fn. 5) was arrested by the Inquisition. He was tutor to two young Englishmen, grand nephews (pronipoti) of Lord Salisbury, who were in Rome as visitors. The reason was that while at Florence he had said something against the Catholic religion.
Rome, 6th September, 1608.
Sept. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 321. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Mantua is in Brussels. He will go to England to visit his Majesty for four or six days.
Paris, 9th September, 1608.
Enclosed in preceding despatch. 322. The letter of the States breaking off negotiations.
Sept. 9. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 323. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet this morning and spoke as follows:—
Last week one of my suite, whom I had sent to England some months ago, came back to Venice. The cause of his delay was an indisposition and other mischances which befel him in France. He brings instructions from his Majesty that I am to make certain representations to you about which your Serenity will doubtless have had news already from your Ambassador in England. The first point touches the question of the property stolen from the ship “Soderina” and bought by English merchants from that wicked and infamous pirate Ward. These goods your Ambassador claimed and his Majesty hopes that, as he has been satisfied in his demands, your Serenity will likewise be satisfied by the orders issued by his Majesty, who is following an unusual course in this controversy, in proof of the great importance he attaches to obliging you in your requests. The Ambassador Giustinian asked for a long period in which to get from Venice the proofs that the goods belonged to Venetian subjects. That period elapsed and his Majesty granted a second and a third. Although the parties interested threw themselves before the King and clasped his knees one day when he was going out to the chase, and implored him in the name of justice to remove the sequestration, none the less the King ordered the Privy Council to instruct the Magistrates to take no steps about the property without the knowledge and consent of the Venetian Ambassador. No proofs, however, appeared and the second and third periods elapsed; and so with the Ambassador's consent the Council decided that the goods should be restored to the interested parties on condition that they deposited caution money for the payment of the value should it be established that the property in the goods was as the Ambassador asserted. Throughout this affair the King, my Master, has been guided by the wish to favour the Ambassador, and the instructions he gave to his Council were that the business of the Ambassador Giustinian was to be dealt with like a tenderly beloved child; these are his very words. I am sure your Serenity will recognise in all this a most excellent disposition towards you. The affair was in this position, when my servant left England and so it still stands, I believe.
I will now pass on to another point. The Earl of Salisbury has been appointed to the office of Lord Treasurer. A revision of the revenue has been undertaken and the Company of the Levant merchants has pointed out that it would be well to diminish the duty on currants imported from your Serenity's dominions. Although this affected his private revenue the King at once consented because by removing a part of the duty the trade might be increased (perchè levandosi parte di quella gravezza si venga ad aungmentar maggiormente il negotio). But his Majesty is anxious that your Serenity should do the same on your side by diminishing the duty on export of currants, and thus by a reciprocal relief, the business of both English merchants in Venice and Venetian merchants in England would be augmented.
Further, for the benefit of the revenue, the King was advised to raise the duty on wines imported from Crete, but he would not consent although it would have been a great gain. He resolved to be content with the present position without making any innovation. This is a further proof to the world of the sincere friendship which exists between his Majesty and the Most Serene Republic.
My servant has brought me the latest news of the state of affairs in England and among our neighbours; and last week I received a long letter from Lord Salisbury. As he sends me many details for my information I take it he means that I should communicate them to your Serenity.
The King is in good health. Ireland is quiet. There had been a rising of some scamps who expected help from those other scamps who, like gipsies, (fn. 6) came over to Italy for that purpose. They failed. The King sent four hundred men, who easily cut the rebels to bits. Their chief has been quartered as he merited. It is not surprising that there should be risings in Ireland, as the whole country is wild and woody, the people easily roused. But the King as Sovereign of Scotland has easily sent his justice in from the north, and, having introduced beginnings of civil intercourse, has shown those people what they did not understand before, namely, that they were tyrannised by the Tyrones and other chiefs; and so now they have submitted to his Majesty, to the quiet of the kingdom and to their own benefit.
Again, Lord Salisbury informs me about the mine they have discovered in Scotland. The report is careful and so interesting that I have translated it literally, in order that your Serenity may fully enjoy it. The Ambassador handed the following to the Secretary to be read: (fn. 7)
“To this I must add that God has blessed his Majesty with another great gift in his kingdom of Scotland. You will now learn from me the undoubted truth of the affair, about which you may perchance have heard rumours from others. After various proofs and assays of the mineral discovered in Scotland, I can assure you that it is as rich as any in the world. Although up to now we have excavated upwards of one hundred and fifty tons the further in we go the further the vein extends and broadens. As to its quality and value, according to the assays made on entire tons, each ton yields us one hundred and twenty pounds sterling nett. There are two points where they are working, thirty feet apart from each other; each of these yields fourteen tons a week, that is twenty-eight tons every eight days at the above rate of output; but as the quantity increases day by day and many things are required for refining which do not exist in Scotland, the King has ordered all the material to be sent to England. As yet one hundred tons have arrived, and from time to time more will come. You see then what special blessings God showers upon our King. It seems that Nature would not reveal her hidden riches while he was master of one Kingdom only, but now that he is lord of three she brings her offspring to the birth.”
The Ambassador went on: “This only was wanting to make my Master entirely happy. Sovereigns when they come to the throne are apt to be lavish in their gifts. My Master fell below no prince in this, and God has been pleased to compensate him.
To turn to foreign relations; the States will either make peace or a long truce.
Coming to my private affairs; I have often implored pardon for that poor fellow Pietro Negro. I hear that your Serenity did me the favour to lay my request before the Senate, where it failed to command the necessary number of votes. I thank your Serenity, those who voted for me, and also those who voted against, being convinced that this was due to no ill-will towards me, for each man is free of his own opinions. I do not intend by asking for a second ballot to place my reputation in fresh danger, and so I will do nothing more; only I trust that if the occasion offers your Serenity will repair my reputation, which on this occasion has been damaged. For my part I will continue to serve your Serenity as I have served you for four years and six days to-day, which is precisely the length of my residence.”
The Doge replied; excusing the delay in sending proofs on the ground that robbery on the high-seas required great care in proof and took time. Hopes his Majesty will, at the proper moment, see that the value of the goods is repaid to their owners. Thanks to his Majesty for his friendly attitude in this affair; will retain a grateful memory of all the Ambassador has done. Very pleased to hear that his Majesty is studying how to relieve the subjects of both States from a part of their burdens; this is a point to be studied by Venice also with a view to extending commerce. But it will be necessary for the Ambassador to come to particulars, as yet he has merely dwelt on generalities. Perhaps the Ambassador Giustinian on his return will bring some definite proposals upon which the Cabinet can discuss. “At present we are able to say this much for ourselves, that it is with great pleasure that we see his Majesty entertains such ideas, as that is a guarantee for the successful issue of the negotiation. That his Majesty refused to listen to proposals for augmenting the tax on wines from Crete is a sign of his prudence, for it is pretty certain that if the wine was too heavily taxed it would cease to be exported to those distant parts, to the loss of his Majesty's kingdom, which does not abound in wine; whereas we should have reaped the advantage, as for some years past there has been a scarcity of wine here, and our revenue would have gone up as our duty on wine is heavy. It is therefore just as well that, for his own sake, his Majesty should not alter the duty.”
Thanks God for his Majesty's health and success in Ireland; also for the rich vein found in Scotland; hopes it may prove as copious and continuous as are the mines of the Indies. Thanks for news about the peace with the States; but his own information is that difficulties have arisen; the Cordelier Friar (Neyen), instead of returning in person, has sent the King's decision in writing.
“We intended to speak to you about Pietro Negro even if you had not addressed us, but from your remarks we see that you are informed of the state of the case, and so we can be brief. The Cabinet, in their desire to oblige your Lordship, adopted an easy way to carry the motion, namely that Negro should be released from prison only, without touching the rest of his sentence; it was hoped that the Senate would vote this motion without difficulty, but it did not command the necessary votes. The Republic has established, by very severe legislation, that such motions shall not be carried at a small sitting (passino non per mano di pochi), but in full Senate. It has been thought that as it is only two months since Negro was condemned the ink of his sentence is hardly dry yet. We are well pleased that your Lordship should have taken the matter as you have, and that you are convinced of the goodwill of the Senate.”
The Ambassador replied in a very low voice. As to the peace with the States, the opinion was not his but that of experts. The Friar was not the foundation of the peace, was not capable of concluding it; able only to initiate; the King of Spain had found out “that at certain hours of the day the Friar is unable to keep a secret.” Again and again the Ambassador affirmed that the Friar was incapable of concluding a peace, and that everything depended on a Spanish personage (Don Pedro di Toledo) who had gone to France.
He then added that by his Serenity's leave he proposed this evening or to-morrow morning to go on a holyday to the Lago di Garda, he proposed each year to visit some part of Venetian State. He would always be ready to return to Venice at a call. The Doge praised the Ambassador's plan of visiting that lovely and delicious district. He spoke at length of Garda and its shores, recommending the Ambassador to see certain places of note for the pleasure and delight they would give him; wishing him “buon viaggio” and offering all help that might be required on the journey. The Ambassador then took his leave.
Shortly after the Secretary of the Ambassador came to the antechamber and told a Secretary of the Cabinet that his Excellency had sent him to say that in case he had not expresssed himself clearly about Pietro Negro he had meant to declare that he gave up the affair to avoid putting his reputation to the risk a second time and begged that the motion should be dropped.
Sept. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 324. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
We have here confirmation from Holland that the peace congress is certainly dissolved. The States have published the reasons, which are that they will not abandon the India navigation nor will they consent to the free exercise of the Catholic rite. (fn. 8) They told Spinola he might retire when he liked; but instead of doing that he opened, by means of the French Commissioners, fresh negotiations for a twelve years' truce. We don't know, so far, whether the States are disposed to accept it. The English Commissioners promised their co-operation, but unwillingly, as they hoped that with the dismissal of Spinola all negotiations would cease. From this it becomes ever clearer that the King of France has made up his mind to an alliance with Spain, for as he knows that the abandonment of the States will be a necessary condition, he is doing all he can to bring about an accord. They are very anxious here to know how the States are disposed towards a truce. It is thought that they may accept it, while continuing in their present attitude towards the India navigation and the question of religion; but those who look further doubt whether they will lay down their arms, as they might be ruined by a long truce.
The King is at Windsor and in a few days may be at Hampton Court, twelve miles from this. The Council will soon meet again for the discharge of business.
London, 10th September, 1608.
Sept. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 325. Ottaviano Bon, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador was prevented from visiting the Ambassador of the Archduke Mathias by the Cha'usch on duty. The Ambassador insisted and the Cha'usch went to the Divan to ask if he might allow the Ambassador to pass, but the negative order was confirmed. The Ambassador complained to the Grand Vizir, but in vain. He is now the most disconsolate and most mortified man in the world.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 11th September, 1608.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Sept. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 326. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The result of the attempt of the Armada (on El Arisch) has in no way differed from all the other expeditions to Africa and Algiers. The fleet (fn. 9) arrived off El Arisch, where a sea was running. There were some horsemen on the shore and a tower near the port opened fire. Whereupon the whole fleet sailed back to Cadiz. The Count of Miranda is dead.
Madrid, 12th September, 1608.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 327. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Don Pedro writes that he does not know what more to do in Paris, where they do not even give an answer to his proposals. His negotiations everywhere are of little service.
Madrid, 12th September, 1608.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Sept. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 328. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Council is meeting at Hampton Court, where the King has arrived to-day from Progress. In two days he intends to go further off and has summoned Council to meet him for the discussion of of current business and especially the alliance proposed by the French Ambassador, who is pressing Lord Salisbury for a reply. The whole question is full of difficulty on account of the variety of their objects and because they are so suspicious of his Most Christian Majesty; and it is believed that they will put the time off and off, all the more as the Ambassador's proposals do not coincide with the deeds of the French Ministers in Holland, who are acting as intermediaries for the conclusion of a truce. On this point we have no news this week, for the bad weather has stopped the courier.
On the other hand there is news from Ireland that the rebellion is dying down, for the rebels are without support inside or out. The King wishes to keep the troops still in Ireland in order to extirpate after crushing the rebels. Affairs in Scotland are causing most anxiety to his Majesty. The union of the two kingdoms is impossible unless greater conformity is achieved between them. The Earl of Dunbar, his Majesty's most confidential servant, writes that he is making every effort to effect this. The meeting of Parliament is being delayed on this account, as it does not suit him to convene it without certainty of success.
I hear that the pirate followers of Ward about whom I wrote are growing stronger every day. A rumour is spreading to-day that they have sunk a Royal ship that went out against them. If this be true it will make their extirpation all the more imperative.
London, 18th September, 1608.
Sept. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 329. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of France urges Venice to consider the question of regaining Cyprus, and offers to make proposals to the Turk to restore the island on payment of a certain sum and an annual tribute.
Paris, 23rd September, 1608.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Sept. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 330. Marc' Antonio Correr and Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 27th of last month President Jeannin, the English Ambassador, and the German Ambassadors proposed to Spinola and the other Commissioners a truce for twenty years on the basis of the full acknowledgement of the Dutch independence and the suspension of discussion on the other points; each party enjoying what they possessed. Jeannin pressed the acceptance. On the 30th his scheme was laid before the Dutch Deputies. He pointed out that on the recognition of their independence the alliances with France and England would come into effect.
The Deputies of Zealand replied that they had no authority to treat of anything but peace or war, and that they would withdraw, as they did. The majority remained, and on the 9th of this month the Archduke's Commissioners accepted the continuance of the truce for seven years; they desired that the independence should be taken for granted (che la sovranited si supponesse) otherwise a fresh consent would be required from Spain and that would not be so easy to get as the Spanish are not so anxious as the Archduke to finish the war. The trade to Spain and the Indies to be conceded. The Archduke pledges himself to secure ratification from Spain for the length of time the truce lasts.
We are waiting a courier from the Hague with the Dutch answer.
Paris, 23rd September, 1608.
Enclosed in preceding despatch. 331. Reply by the Archduke's Ambassadors to the proposal for a truce put forward by the Ambassadors, &c., of other Sovereigns and Princes.
Sept. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 332. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Holland is persistent that the truce will be concluded; for although it is damaging to the Dutch still the corruption introduced among them by the Spanish and the persuasions of the French Commissioners will bring it about. The English, though opposed to it, will not stop it. That being so they are returning no answer to the proposals of the French Ambassador who, seeing that their mind is being made up, ceases to press them. The King is at Theobalds, twelve miles off; he is attended by a large number of gentlemen who are assembled for a certain ceremony with which they close the chase. The German who has brought back the collar of the Garter, vacant by the death of the Duke of Wirtemberg, is also there. He is petted by the King. At Court they are talking about the coming of the Duke of Mantua, who is said to be going first to Holland. If the visit takes place it is thought that the negotiations for the marriage of the Princess to the Prince of Savoy will be brought on and that the Duke of Mantua may be the very instrument for bringing it about. At Michaelmas they will begin to levy the new taxes; on almost all imports the taxes have been doubled at a single stroke. But as I wrote the tax on currants has been reduced. They used to pay twelve ducats, one lira, six soldi the 10 hundred weight (fn. 10); for the future they will pay seven ducats, two lire, nine soldi. This is done to please the farmers who have this matter in hand. I have been approached on the subject of the possibility of diverting English commerce from Turkey to Venice, but as yet I have nothing to build on.
London, 24th September, 1608.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 333. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A large number of English ships have reached Holland; they will join the Dutch and go to meet the flotta. This news has caused great disgust here, both in view of the possible damage and because they see how readily the English move, under the royal permission, against this crown. The English Ambassador says that it is impossible to express the desire every English subject has to attack Spain. If his Master would go to war he would make money out of it instead of spending money on it, and owing to the ease with which the English can mobilise their fleet, where they spent a million the Spanish would have to spend ten.
Madrid, 28th September, 1608.
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. On August 11th the Spanish Ambassador presented a note on the right of Asylum in Embassies.
  • 2. Cal. S. P. Dom., July 4, 1808. “Condemnation of two persons for piracy committed at Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.”
  • 3. The King's pinnace “Merlyn.” (?) Cal. S.P. Dom., Aug. 23, 1608.
  • 4. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1608. Aug. 27. “Certain goods belonging to Bristol merchants have been captured by Captain Jennings, a pirate, and carried into Baltimore.”
  • 5. Wotton reported to Lord Salisbury the arrest of a Mr. Mole. See Cal. S.P. Ireland, 1606–1608, p. 656. He was travelling tutor to one of the Paulets, Lord St. John and to William Cecil, Lord Roos. See Cal. S. P. Dom., Oct. 21, 1608. Mr. Mole was still in prison on Jan. 3, 1610 (see Cal. S. P. Dom.) “the Pope answering appeals for his release, with assurances that he shall be well treated and efforts made for his conversion.” Wotton's Letter to Lord Salisbury is not dated. Contarini's despatch places the date at sometime later than Sept. 6th. See Birch, “Court and Times of James the First,” 1. p. 77. Chamberlain to Carleton “there is great means used for Molle . . . . But it will go hard with him for that he hath translated and set out some piece of Plessis in English.”
  • 6. It was Sir John Davys' phrase for them. “Doubtless they will be taken for a company of gipsies.” Cal. S. P. Ireland, 1606—1608, p. 273.
  • 7. This report is in the files, not in the register.
  • 8. On Aug. 25th the States published their response to Philip's refusal on the points named, and declared that the document was a sovereign resolution, not a diplomatic note. Motley, op. cit, p. 429.
  • 9. It was under the command of the Marquis of Santa Cruz. See Original Despatch from Spain, Sept. 24th.
  • 10. Migliaro = 1,000 libbre = 476 kilos.