Venice: August 1607

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: August 1607', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 11, 1607-1610, (London, 1904) pp. 18-28. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

August 1607

Aug. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 36. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In this serious business which, with the coming of the Dutch Deputies (Jehan Berkes and Sir James Maldaree), is now in progress and upon which depends the issue of peace or the continuation of the war, I am paying as much attention as I can to all the details so as to keep your Serenity accurately informed. After their audience of the King in which the Deputies were referred to Council, they laid before that body the reasons for their coming, which was to seek his Majesty's help for the war or his counsel for the peace. The Earl of Salisbury said that before going any further he found himself obliged to address some questions to them, upon which he begged that they would deal with him in all sincerity. He then put to them the three following interrogations:—
First, would they frankly tell him whether the negotiations for peace with the King of Spain and the Archduke were in such a position that they could be broken off, or were they so far advanced that it was necessary to carry them through. The Deputies replied that the matter was still intact, and that they were under no other obligation to make peace save the impossibility of carrying on the war without aid.
Second; supposing the King of Spain were willing to grant all the demands of the States save that of independence, would they make peace without it? The Deputies answered “No.”
Third; would they tell him what were the views expressed to them by the King of France; they answered that as yet his Majesty had chosen to keep to himself what he intended to do for them in case the war were continued and only told them that they would be informed at the right moment.
With these questions and answers that first meeting ended. The Deputies have recently had an interview with the Earl of Salisbury and were told by him that his Majesty, desirous of doing all he could for the service of the States, proposed shortly to send his Commissioners to Holland and would not only instruct them as to his wishes but would give them orders to co-operate with the French Commissioners in order to concert the steps that should be taken in this affair. After this the Deputies took leave of the King and had from his own lips confirmation of his intention. They profess to be highly satisfied, for although they must be well aware of the small inclination here to go to war, and that the despatch of Commissioners is only intended to maintain that dependence of the States upon England which the English endeavour to conserve, chiefly out of jealousy of the King of France, still all the same, finding that there is more inclination to peace than to the continuance of the war these Deputies consider that they have effected their true mission here, which was to gain the support of these two Kings for the observation of the terms of the peace rather than any assistance or promises which would compel the States to continue the war.
The King has named two Commissioners, (fn. 1) persons of skill and prudence—who are to go to Holland as soon as may be. Meantime their instructions are to be prepared; these will merely embrace the course of negotiations down to the present time; the subsequent steps are to be decided on the spot. The general opinion is, however, that peace will be concluded, both because the Dutch are inclined to it and because of the difficulties which are found in the way of bringing about a common action by these two Kings, who are really guided by conflicting motives, and are even openly diffident of one another. The French Ambassador resident here does all he can to remove these difficulties, and has sent his Secretary express to inform his master of the sentiments of the King of England. It is well known that he is absolutely inclined to peace, and will merely instruct his Commissioners to report upon the attitude of the Dutch and the French. And so it is impossible that this business can be settled before the expiry of the time within which the Dutch were to initiate the discussion of peace with the Archduke. The recall of the Dutch fleet will facilitate that negotiation; that was rendered necessary by the arrival of the ratification from Spain and also by the lack of provisions.
London, the first of August, 1607.
37. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Venetian The King returned a few days ago to the City. He went that same morning to dine with one of the Merchant Companies. He was sumptuously entertained, along with the Prince, his son, the Court and a great retinue of nobles. The Dutch deputies were present by his special order, (fn. 2) and sat along with the members of the Council, at a table in a separate chamber. That same day the Prince was admitted to the Guild with the same ceremony as the King himself had, a few days before, been associated to another Guild; and by these popular arts the King goes winning the love of his people, and more especially of the City, where he has been staying for a few days to wind up this affair of the Deputies. He has left to continue his Progress.
Before his departure he gave orders for the meeting of Parliament in Scotland. The Duke of Lennox has been sent to reside there as the King's Lieutenant. And to secure for his nation a just revenge against the malicious language used in the English Parliament he has assented to the same freedom being exercised in the Scottish Parliament. The Catholics are in a flutter here since the Archpriest has taken the oath of supremacy and has exhorted others to do the same, a step that is directly contrary to the Brief which was addressed to the English Catholics. Every one is in doubt about the matter, the more so as another imprisoned priest has refused.
London, the first of August, 1607.
Aug. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 38. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador expresses a hope that the King will take steps to prevent privateers from sheltering in his ports of Marseilles and Toulon. The King said the Duke of Guise was to be appointed to deal with the matter.
His Majesty asked if the Ambassador had any news about the Grand Duke and his designs on Cyprus. He said he heard that the Turks had discovered the plot in Famagosta, had sent vigorous succours and had cut all the conspirators to bits. The plot failed. Two thousand infantry, all good and well trained soldiers, had been lost.
I expressed myself sorry if this were really the case, but said that as the Grand Duke was a prudent prince I could hardly credit it.
The King told me that the truce by sea between the Dutch and the Spanish was confirmed though he had not seen the terms, and was waiting further information.
Paris, 2nd August, 1607.
39. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Cavass has left for England, where he will deal with the subject of privateers.
Paris, 2nd August, 1607.
Aug. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 40. Francesco Pruili, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Franciscan friar from Rotterdam (John Neyen), he who negotiated the truce, has arrived here. It is thought that the truce at least will last for many years. The friar does all he can to induce the King to recognise the Dutch as independent, though feudatories. Further he endeavours to persuade the Ministers that it is much to their advantage to assist the States to recover the cautionary towns from the King of England. The majority are convinced and it is expected that to effect this purpose a large sum of money will be disbursed.
After Anthony Sherley's departure many frauds committed by him have come to light. In order not to disgust the interested parties, the King has sent orders to Naples to arrest him or at least to exact a minute account of his conduct. And so his commission as General may be considered as gone to the winds.
Madrid, 4th August, 1607.
41. To the Ambassador in Rome.
The Senate is very much displeased with the remarks of Cardinal Borghese about the subject of books, about our nobles, about the Theologians and about the English Ambassador. Our Theologians take good care not to frequent the company of foreign representatives. The English Ambassador knows our mind quite well; we have declared it fully to him. He is very frequently out of the City, and it is more than a month since he has been here. Our Nobles do not frequent his society, nor do others; we should punish them severely if they did.
Ayes 145.
Noes 2.
Neutrals 10.
Aug. 6. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 42. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Secretary of the Marquis Spinola reached Brussels about the 27th of last month. He brought with him the ratification of the truce by sea and by land. They have consented to treat with the States neither as rebels nor as subjects, but as free agents. Don Diego d'Ybarra has been recalled to Spain, and the Franciscan friar (John Neyen) to Flanders.
Prague, 6th August, 1607.
Aug. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 43. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch Deputies left on the 6th of this month with the King's answer, of which I gave your Serenity an account in my preceding despatch. They gave out, before leaving, that they had received despatches from their Masters, informing them that as the condition of independence was not clearly conceded in the ratification which had arrived from Spain, they had refused to accept it. The bearer of the ratification asked for six days' time to go back to the Archduke by whom he promised that the document should be returned in such a form as would give them full satisfaction. This news has not changed the resolution that was taken here; nay, the Commissioners will be sent off as soon as possible, but with no other instructions than to co-operate with the French Commissioners and to consult on the situation, although without power to take any final step. And so as far as England is concerned it is clear that if upon the basis of independence they can secure a sure and lasting peace they will not seek to upset it, for their real object is to protect themselves by the erection of a free state in that country which will not, therefore, ever fall into the hands of either Spain or France, an occurence which in certain eventualities might be a serious menace to England. But those who know the Dutch think such an event very improbable owing to the deep repugnance they have for that form of government.
The Dutch announce that unless the ratification is sent in the form agreed on they will keep their fleet at sea, and they are now assured that it can easily prevent the Spanish fleet from sailing to meet the treasure-flotilla; and to carry out this threat they have revictualled their own fleet.
On the King's orders the Council has informed the Ambassador of Spain and of the Archdukes of the drift of the negotiations between the Dutch deputies and themselves, and has assured the Ambassadors that out of regard for the peace and friendship between their Masters and himself, the King has desired that they should be informed. But I hear that when the Ambassadors endeavoured to penetrate his Majesty's more secret intentions they were told that he would keep those in his own breast, and that as he had not laid them bare to the Dutch he was not called upon to communicate them to the Envoys, but he added that he was always minded to preserve the peace he had with those two Princes.
The Cavass who left the Porte a few months ago and passed through France has arrived here. Yesterday he entered the city and is being entertained by the Company of Turkey Merchants. It seems that his mission is to deal with the question of the damage inflicted by the English bertons on shipping in the Levant and to secure the export of powder and arms for the Turks. I will find out accurately, and I will so act that he shall take away with him a deep impression of the esteem in which the Republic is held here, and of the great support which she can promise herself from the friendship she possesses in this Kingdom. The King is at Windsor, whither I believe the Cavass will go.
London, 8th August, 1607.
Aug. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 44. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the receipt of the news that the ratification of the peace sent from Spain had been rejected by the Dutch, there is no sign of any change of the policy originally resolved on, except that they seem to be a little more reserved about sending their Commissioners, and are acting more cautiously than they openly show. For they conjecture that this event may quite easily upset the whole negotiations for peace and in that case they would rather not have their Commissioners present, so that the rupture may be attributed by the Spanish to any one rather than to the English. I understand that the suspicions of the French Ambassador are roused by this caution; I do not hear, however, that he makes any show of them, not because the Court is so far away, but from a desire not to emphasise the anxiety which they are persuaded that his Most Christian Majesty feels in the present crisis. Indeed some think the King of England's luke-warmness may be entirely explained by this fact; and had not the French shown themselves at the first so anxious to upset the negotiations the English would have been much warmer.
All this proves that his Majesty is resolved not to interfere actively with arms in the prolongation of the war; and that the mission of his Envoys is intended not to hinder the peace but to secure that it should not be concluded without his assistance, both with a view to rendering it surer and also to maintain his prestige with the Dutch, which is also the object of the French King's ambition. This attitude in so grave a matter begins to disperse the clouds of Spanish doubts and the Ambassadors of Spain and the Archdukes are putting it about that by a matrimonial alliance and on the death of the Archdukes the States might well come under the dominion of the King of England. They hint at the Duke of York, and say that if the States were assured that they were never to be absorbed in England it would be more easy to induce them to accept the Duke than any one of the House of France.
London, 15th August, 1607.
45. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King and Court continue the Progress. He has some of the Council with him. Others remain here, but in too small numbers to transact business of moment. Accordingly the question of retrenchment in the expenses of the Crown, which exceed the revenue, is deferred to a moment when more Councillors can attend, and that can only be on the King's return. Indeed this might be called the Court holyday-time. And so the Cavass, who is still in the city, cannot get his business done. It is confirmed that his mission deals with the subject of privateering. The answer is thought to be easy, namely that as the Turk is incapable of restraining his subjects so the King of England finds it impossible to restrain his, especially as they are already outlawed for their acts. I will pay heed to note whether he passes to any other topic. I must add that on receipt of the news that an English ship has been captured by the great galleys, the merchants interested therein have been in a commotion. They declare that they will first lodge a complaint with me and if not satisfied they will appeal to the King. As I am persuaded that this occurence has been caused by the neglect of the ship to render the signs of respect and to give security that she is not a privateer which were imposed upon the English by royal decree of August 1605, I will not only defend the action, but will demand the punishment of the offenders.
London, 15th August, 1607.
Aug. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 46. Francesco Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
As the Franciscan friar of Rotterdam (John Neyen) was on the point of departure came news that the Dutch refused to accept the ratification of the truce in the terms sent from Spain. The friar has delayed his departure and is endeavouring to induce them to sign the peace without any more cavil. He says the moment the peace is signed the Dutch will be submissive in the hopes of sharing in the King's bounty They have given the friar bills for one hundred thousand crowns to be used in bribing the more vigorous opponents.
All the same, as the action of France and England is well-known they are very much afraid that war may be continued, a thing they would abhor; and so they are really resolved to accept any terms in order to bring it to a close. They declare that so great is the distance of rank between the Flemish rebels and the Spanish King that the latter can suffer no diminution of honour by yielding to the former. The main obstacle is that the States are unwilling to bind themselves to pay the burdens due to the Counts of Flanders and the Dukes of Burgundy. But they claim, besides the title of Sovereign States, to recognise his Majesty's superiority for only an infinitely small portion which they cannot in justice deny that they have usurped.
Madrid, 18th August, 1607.
Aug. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 47. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador is informed by Villeroy that the Audientiary of the Archdukes (Verreyken) had taken the ratification of the truce to Holland, but the Dutch had refused to accept it; they complained that the form was unusal, and that it was signed “I, the King,” which greatly disturbed them, for that is a form he uses to subjects but not to independents. They claim that the subscription should be “Philip, King.” The Audientiary informed them that the King would alter the form of the ratification. Villeroy thinks peace is certain to be made.
Paris, 20th August, 1607.
48. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
There seems to be some doubt whether the ratification of the truce has been sent from Spain in its proper form.
Prague, 20th August, 1607.
Aug. 22. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 49. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet and spoke as follows :—
I am expressly ordered by his Majesty to beg your Serenity to free his subjects from the anchorage tax.
The Doge replied that the question might reasonably be reopened, and an answer would be returned to the Ambassador.
The Ambassador went on to mention the case of an English vessel seized by the Venetian commander of the great galleys. The reason was not clear, for the English ship had conformed to the regulations in vailing her fore-top-sail and sending the ship's boat aboard the admiral. He read a memorandum on the subject and added that he spoke much against his will, as he had heard only one side of the case. It seems that his Serenity's officers were not satisfied, but insisted that the master of the Englishman should go aboard as well. He admitted that there were English privateers, but this was not one of them. But going further he enquired the reason why the Venetian officers had pursued this vessel. That could only be justified if the ship were a privateer or if she had contraband on board. Presumably she was not a privateer, for she conformed to the regulations. As to contraband, it was true that there was a certain quantity of currants on board, but these had been bought not in Zante but in Turkish territory at Clarentza; and if the people of Zante sold them in Clarentza that could not bar an Englishman from buying them.
The Doge replied that the Ambassador knew quite well that these waters were swarming with privateers. It was a very serious matter that every one who owned two palms of sea board should issue letters of marque. But this particular case had fallen out far differently from the way in which it was represented by the Ambassador. The Venetian ship had fired a salute of blank cartridge to which the Englishman had replied with ball; nor had she vailed her fore-top-sail nor sent her boat aboard. On the appearance of other two Venetian ships the Englishman finally sent a little boat but without an officer or any one of importance. The Ambassador declared that if the facts were really different from those set forth in the memorial, he would take steps. He then proceeded to recommend Captain John King, and renewed his petition in favour of Alberghin Alberghini.
He informed the Doge that Sir Anthony Sherley, who had been expelled from Venice for his bad conduct, had gone to Spain, where the King had given him a command in the fleet. He had come to Naples and was going to the Imperial Court; on his way he would pass Ferrara, and thence would send a gentleman of his suite to Venice to show his importance.
50. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The members of Council easily perceived that the delay in sending Commissioners to Holland was wakening suspicion in the mind of the French Ambassador. They accordingly instructed the Commissioners to take their leave of the Ambassador before starting on their mission in order to remove this impression. This had the desired effect. The Ambassador was satisfied and convinced of their sincerity and hoped for good results from their joint action with the French Commissioners. But I am informed from another quarter that all this was only done to remove suspicion and that the English Commissioners will continue to delay, as they still desire to find out what has happened in regard to the ratification received from Spain. Contrary to common opinion I hold that difficulties may arise, especially as one is constantly hearing of infractions of the terms of the truce on either side.
In the complete quiet which reigns here this is the sole topic which occupies their thoughts. A Prince of Moldavia (fn. 3) came to this Court a few days ago. He is one of those many persons who claim a right in the government of that country. He has before this availed himself of the support of the Crown when negotiating with the Turk, and it is thought he is come here now because of the presence of the Cavass. The latter has not been granted audience yet, as the King, who knows the nature of the Turk, wishes to receive him in a place where great pomp can be displayed.
The parties interested in the ship taken by your Serenity's galleys are making no further complaint.
London, 22nd August, 1607.
Aug. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 51. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Pope complains that Master Paolo's portrait has been sent to the King of England (fn. 4) and his works to Frankfort.
Rome, 25th August, 1607.
Aug. 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 52. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King continues his Progress accompanied by the Court but by few of the Council, most of whom have taken the opportunity to go to their country places. Nothing is being done nor will be done till his return. He is at Salisbury just now, a place three days' journey from here, nor is it likely that he will go any further. These Progresses, which were started with the object of studying and alleviating the needs of the subjects, have now become a great burden to them. His Majesty, therefore, wishes to get through with them as soon as possible, and wherever he goes he does not fail to scatter his benefits and largess. On his return it is said that vigorous steps are to be taken to raise money and to restore and increase the numbers of the fleet. This causes conjecture in the minds of those who do not know that both the King and his Council are entirely bent on peace.
About Flanders I have little to say. The two Commissioners have not left yet. It is said they will start presently. Meantime they are waiting the correctly worded ratification, which the Archduke promised to get from Spain within a month. Don Diego (d'Ybarra) has not left the Flemish Court yet. He is waiting the return of a courier he sent to his Master upon receiving his recall to Spain.
Here they entertain some hopes that peace will not be concluded. These hopes they base upon this difficulty about Spanish consent and also upon the movement in the garrisons, because that may bring about important events in those parts (the Valtelline) and the Dutch would be less inclined to make peace if they saw the Spanish embarassed elsewhere. Finally, as the King of France has lately sent the Dutch some money they take it as a proof that he has no intention of allowing peace to be concluded.
The ships that sailed some months ago for Virginia, a district in the West Indies, have returned. They report that they landed men and after easily repelling the natives, they built a little fort, proceeding from which they began to spread out. They say the country is very fertile and suited to various kinds of cultivation; nor do they doubt that they will find there gold and silver mines, and they bring back some of the soil to have it tested here. These expeditions and plantations of the English in those parts may very likely go on, for I am told that they are supported by the richest and most powerful gentlemen of the country.
The Duke of Lennox reports from Scotland that he has opened Parliament; but he fears to find in it as much opposition to the Union as exists in the English Parliament.
London, 29th August, 1607.
53. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Grand Duke continues to develop his naval designs, and seeks to draw all he can from this kingdom. His agents have just despatched a great ship to Leghorn; she has a very full complement of men and takes out many pieces of artillery and fittings for other ships. Under guise of passengers go a number of English shipwrights, the Duke's object being not only to employ them to build ships but to start in his own country a school of naval construction. All these exportations, though quite contrary to the King's intent, are very easily effected by the usual means. The Grand Duke spares no pains to accomplish his aims; and although the Turkey merchants see quite well how serious the danger to them must be if the Grand Duke employs Englishmen in his operations against the Turk, still as they know that these concessions could not be obtained without the consent of some person of great importance, they do not dare to attempt to hinder them. They would like to egg the Cavass on to complain to the King if they thought they would escape the charge of having given him the impulse. As he is to deal with the question of English privateering it is thought he might easily enter on this other topic. He is not of such importance as he tries to make out. I believe that this employment of the English by the Grand Duke may some day embroil them seriously with the Turk.
The plague is making some way in this City.
London, 29th August, 1607.
54. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Negotiations in Flanders are suspended for the present. When the Audientiary found that the States resolutely refused to accept the ratification in the form in which he brought it, he held out hopes and promises that within six weeks he would return with another signed by his Majesty. Before leaving Holland he drew up a form of ratification, which the Dutch approved. The limit of six weeks expires on the 24th of next month.
Paris, 29th August, 1607.


  • 1. Winwood and Spencer. See Winwood, Memorials, II. p., 329.
  • 2. Cal. S.P. Dom. July 20, 1607.
  • 3. Cal. S. P. Dom. Oct. 26, 1607.
  • 4.