Venice: November 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: November 1608', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 11, 1607-1610, (London, 1904) pp. 186-194. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]

November 1608

Nov. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 356. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
On the news of the suspension of truce negotiations in Flanders they are diligently preparing for war. They have sent a million of gold to Flanders, part of this year's flotta treasure. It has been sent through bills of exchange drawn in Genoa payable in Flanders. They say the whole of the flotta treasure will be applied to the war. I enclose a note of the total which amounts to about eleven millions of Venetian ducats. Of this about three millions belong to the Crown apart from the tenth to be deducted in Seville, which will be a little under a million, this has already been appropriated.
They are thinking of appointing the Constable to the command of the war; he would already have been sent off only they wish to make the appointment in a manner to satisfy the Archduke. They have therefore informed him and wait his answer. Some of the Council are keenly in favour of removing the Archduke and Infanta entirely from Flanders and placing them in Portugal.
Don Inigo de Cardenas is being urged to leave for his Embassy in France. Don Francesco de Castro, it is said, will succeed the Marchese de' Aituna as Ambassador in Rome.
Madrid, 3rd November, 1608.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding despatch. 357. Note of the contents of the Galleons of the flotta of the Indies this year 1608. They reached San Lucar on 21st October.
Belonging to the King, Pesos, that is Reals of eight, which amount to Venetian ducats, 2,841,331
Belonging to private owners 8,139,116
The following merchandize is included in the above total of eight millions:—
485 cases of cochineal (cremissi), valued at Ducats 333,437
1,808 cases of woad (guado) ” 423,750
94 thousand skins for shoe leather ” 376,076
565 quintals of sarsaparilia ” 28,250
265 cases of sugar ” 26,250
150 quintals of guaicum (legno santo=lignum vitæ) ” 10,000
Nov. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 358. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I have been diligent to find out whether his Catholic Majesty has raised the question of the immunity of Embassies, and I have not discovered that a word has been said about it so far. In the house reserved here for the Spanish Ambassador, which is occupied by a single secretary, there is at present a refugee from justice. (fn. 1)
Paris, 4th November, 1608.
Nov. 6. Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 359. To the Ambassador Correr in England.
The English Ambassador Resident has made the enclosed request on the subject of the reduction of the tax on currants. You are to inform us of all the deliberations taken on this subject indicating their motives.
Ayes 125.
Noes 1.
Neutrals 3.
Nov. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 360. Zorzi Giustinian and Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is so anxious to clear up the facts about the letters which are thrown in his teeth from Rome that he has given fresh and stringent orders to the Council about them. From the answers given by the Secretary who drafted the letters the opinion is being confirmed that the Secretary wrote at the instance of his relation the Bishop, and in order to obtain the King's signature he waited a certain occasion when his Majesty was so occupied with other affairs that he could not attend to the letters. The King means to use this confession (fn. 2) to rebut the rebuke of Rome in a public rejoinder which he is carefully drawing up and in which he will be assisted by two of the leading theologians of this Kingdom (dalle risposte del Secretario che le formà, si va confirmando che egli le scrisse ad instanza di quel vescovo suo congionto, et che per ottenere la mano di sua Maestà aspetasse certa congiuntura di tempo che essendo ella occupata in altro non potesse considerarle; della qual confessione disegna valersi il Rè per redarguire il rimproveramento di Roma con una publica risposta che con molto studio va preparando, nella quale s'impiegano insieme doi principali Teologhi di questo Regno).
The King has stayed his Commissioners at the Hague with orders that they are to exert themselves to unite the discordant aims of those provinces in this negotiation for peace or truce. Zealand is inclined to war, Holland to a truce; the one follows Count Maurice, the other the Secretary Barneveldt, a person of great weight and esteem in the government. The Commissioners of foreign powers are endeavouring to reconcile them, and it is thought that the matter will end in a truce such as has lately been proposed.
The Marchese Malaspina, Ambassador of the Grand Duke, is expected here in a few days. He has reached Brussels. They say that the opportunity will be taken to come to an understanding about the question of navigation and about the damage inflicted by the Tuscan bertons upon English shipping in the Levant; all the more so that they have news that does not please them from the Agent they sent to Florence.
The Queen came to the City from Hampton Court, and the King is expected on the 10th. After arranging for us he will return to the country. Parliament will not meet till some decision on the points about the Union is received from Scotland.
London, 7th November, 1608.
Nov. 12. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Milan. Venetian Archives. 361. Moderante Scaramelli, Venetian Resident in Milan, to the Doge and Senate.
The flotta is expected in Seville; it brings eleven millions, three for the King, the rest for private individuals.
Milan, 12th November, 1608.
Nov. 13. Original Despatch. Venetian Archives. 362. Marc' Antonio Correr and Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King came to the City on Monday and the same evening he sent Sir Lewis Lewkenor to give me, Correr, welcome, and to excuse the delay in granting me audience, which was settled for the next day, though it was All Souls by the old calendar. I returned thanks and assured his Majesty that this trifling delay was of no annoyance to me as it was the result of his Majesty's pleasure, to which I was bound, by my duty and your Serenity's will, ever to conform my acts and deeds.
Sir Lewis Lewkenor made similar representations to me, Giustinian, saying that the King, Queen and Princes would bid me adieu the same day. I made a suitable reply.
On the Tuesday came the eldest son of the Earl of Suffolk, Lord Chamberlain, in the King's name and with court carriages, to take us and present us to his Majesty and their Highnesses, who received us with great pomp in the presence of the whole Council and the Ladies of the Court.
I, Correr, presented my letters. Compliments. The King desires to finish the business of the booty taken in the “Soderina” before Ambassador Giustinian leaves. I, Giustinian, took my leave. The King desired, before my departure, to knight me, both as a proof of his affection and that I might be armed to follow his second son, the Duke of York, who was a soldier in the service of the Republic, and who hoped one day to be seen walking in the Piazza of St. Mark. The King renewed his recommendation of the Prince de Joinville.
London, 13th November, 1608.
Nov. 13. Original Dispatch, Venetian Archives. 363. Marc' Antonio Correr and Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Marchese Malaspina arrived here last night. His mission is to announce the marriage of the Grand Duke's son. He was merely met a few miles out by the son of Sir Lewis Lewkenor, Master of the Ceremonies, and it seems that he will not get much satisfaction at this Court, on the question of the Florence bertons captured last year by the English ship. The King is little pleased that he has been to several minor Princes before coming here.
Since the King's return the Scottish President (Elphinstone) has been more closely confined. He can not now either go out nor receive letters, in spite of his having flung himself entirely on the King's mercy, declaring that if it were for the King's interest that he should die he would do so gladly. It seems that all his relations and friends have been forbidden to intercede for him. The King thinks of nothing else. The reply to one of the two books is finished and will shortly be published under the name of one of the two Bishops (fn. 3) who were charged to write it.
One of the Irish Presidents (fn. 4) has been sent back, prisoner, for having given shelter to Ward the pirate. He pleads that the pirate was far stronger than himself, and had seven hundred men against his own three hundred, who insisted on mixing with the others. It is thought that he will end ill.
London, 13th November, 1608.
Nov. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 364. Zorzi Giustinian, retiring Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although it is some time since I wrote to your Serenity anything about the goods plundered by Ward and brought to England, all the same I have not ceased to exert myself to bring the matter to a conclusion before my departure. That conclusion has only been reached by means of the singular affection which his Majesty bears to your Excellencies; and I feel it my duty to relate the matter in full so that you may rest assured that without extraordinary support from the King and the Earl of Salisbury, who have spent entire days about it in council, it would never have been possible to reach such a result; for, as a matter of fact, from the proofs furnished the identity of the merchandize was not so evident as to satisfy the mind of the Court. The King being resolved to settle the matter before I left, proposed this compromise: that the sum of twelve thousand crowns should be placed in the hands of a person to be named by me, as value for that part of the said merchandize which is proved to be ours; for the doubtful remainder a further sum of thirty-four thousand crowns—which makes up the sum at which the cargoes of the “Husband” and the “Seraphim” were valued. The English merchants are called on to prove within seven months that the goods are not Venetian, otherwise they will immediately forfeit the entire sum. As the proof is a negative one it is very difficult. Here every one takes this as an obvious demonstration of the extraordinary regard which his Majesty has for the Serene Republic. Throughout the whole business he has followed a course that he would not adopt with any other Prince; and this adds to your Serenity's prestige. The more appreciative of this affection your Excellencies show yourselves to the King and Lord Salisbury, the greater will be their efforts to increase their affection. The Earl told me that the King is going to publish an order forbidding his subjects to trade in Tunis or wherever pirates may take shelter along that coast. (fn. 5)
London, 13th November, 1608.
Nov. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 365. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the seventh of this month the Commissioners of France and England met at the Hague. The Commissioners of the German Princes and other Powers had already left for their homes. On the 8th the States met and proposals for a truce for ten years were made to them.
The English Ambassador declared that if they did not accept the truce they would act without his Majesty's approval, and his support would be withdrawn. The President Jeannin also has done his best to bring about the truce; he could not have done more had he been a Minister of the King of Spain. The King of France is not pleased at this fervour, and it is said and believed that as Jeannin is an old Leaguer he may possibly have been manipulated and won over by gifts and promises.
On Saturday D'Aerssens, agent for the States, saw the King, who asked him whether he thought the truce prejudicial to the States; he answered “Yes.” To-day, a courier has been sent to Jeannin, they say with instructions to upset the truce rather than to promote it.
The States are more divided than ever. Those who live on the seaboard will not hear of the truce; those inland who are more exposed to the miseries of war, having enjoyed quiet for a while, will not renounce it. On the whole the people and the lower classes desire the truce. Both Barneveldt and Count Maurice have sent their agents round to the cities.
The Secretary Orchina arrived to-day from Spain. They say he brings the King's decision about the truce, and bills for a large sum to pay the troops. By means of a confidential agent who has the entree to Don Pedro's house I have endeavoured to find out something positive, but as Orchina has been all day with Don Pedro, the Muncio and the Flemish Ambassador in consultation, I have not succeeded.
Last week there arrived some of the effects of Don Inigo de Cardenas, who is coming here as Lieger from Spain.
Last week a man called Morgan, an Englishman, shortly after leaving the residence of the Spanish Ambassador, was arrested and taken to the Bastille, which is a prison reserved for great personages arrested on political or very important grounds. Morgan has been arrested twice before, once under the late King, as a member of the League, and once under the present King.
M. de Varenne (Varena), who is high in the King's favour, has sent orders to Havre-de-Grace to build two great bertons, and has bought a great ship in Holland. This is to join the bertons and another vessel and all four are to sail for the Levant to plunder the infidels, he says, but one may reasonably believe and fear much worse. The commander is called M. Josef, a man of some experience. He promises great profit to M. de Varenne, who is thinking of sending one of his sons on board. The ships will fly the flag of Savoy. To-morrow, when I have audience of the King, I will make strong representations against so perfidious an operation.
Paris, 18th November, 1608.
Nov. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 366. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I had audience yesterday and enlarged on the mischief that would ensue from the ships which M. de Varenne was fitting out. The King replied that it was evident from the fact that they were going to fly the flag of Savoy that these vessels would go neither with his leave nor assent.
The King went on to remark that the King of England had declared to the States that if they would not accept the truce he would abandon them altogether, and had spread a rumour in Germany and Venice that the King of France would do the same. That was not true. What he had said was that he would not support them if disunited, but united he would never desert them. He had proposed the truce in order to unite them. He had said all this yesterday morning to the English Ambassador. He used such expressions and put out such ideas that I very well saw how little he liked the King of England. He called him a double-faced man. (un uomo di più facie).
As it did not seem to me that I had had a very satisfactory answer about the prohibition to the four bertons to sail, after dinner I approached the Ministers and this morning severe orders were issued forbidding them to put out.
Paris, 20th November, 1608.
Nov. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 367. Marc' Antonio Correr and Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Negotiations for a truce in Holland proceed vigorously, almost without a hitch, towards the conclusion. The Deputies of both parties are meeting in Antwerp. The President (Jeannin) on behalf of France and the English Commissioners labour with counsel, exhortation, even with protests. The one is determined not to be at the sole charges for aid, and perhaps may have been persuaded by Don Pedro di Toledo; the other is a lover of peace and parsimonious about money, and yet desires no accord to be reached without his intervention. The Earl of Salisbury says that if a truce is made the terms of the treaties of alliance with England and with France will come into force.
Prince Maurice after having passed through the provinces to encourage them not to abandon the idea of war, now appears to have given way. This is a slight loss to his reputation. A letter from the King of France stating his instructions to President Jeannin, which Prince Maurice had called in question, has seriously shaken the Prince's position.
These ocean waters are swarming with pirates. The King has declared that they may possibly number five hundred ships. Every day some of them must certainly enter the Mediterranean. The Royal decree prohibiting trade with Tunis and Algiers will be very helpful. His Majesty suspects that the officials of the Admiralty support the pirates; and so it must really be. There is great disorder at the Admiralty, and the King was aware of this some five or six months ago and appointed a Commission to examine into the working of that office. One of the Commissioners declares that they have discovered great scandals and, in his own words, “almost revolution.” Six ships have arrived from Zante and Cephalonia with one thousand six hundred sacks of currants, all contraband, from those islands. Only to-day was the Marchese Malaspina received in audience. The King treated him well in spite of his anger at the plundering of the English ship.
I, Giustinian, must delay my departure till Sunday, for though the King was kind enough to allow me to take my leave before all the Royal household at once, yet I know the Queen expects a demonstration of particular respect to herself and I cannot neglect this duty.
London, 20th November, 1608.
Nov. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 368. Zorzi Giustinian, retiring Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I must add on the subject of the plundered goods that in drawing up the sentence our interested parties were put down for 3,500 ducats more than the sum reported; so that, so far, the sum recovered reaches nearly 16,000 ducats. Their representatives hope to draw that sum within six days.
London, 20th November, 1608.
Nov. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 369. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The ill success of the Grand Duke's galleys in the Levant has given small pleasure here, for it proves that the Turks are not so weak as they are painted. All the same the Duke of Lerma is bent on an expedition against the Ottoman, and he is to be invested with some of the captured countries.
The English Corsair who recently passed the Straits is reported at Algiers, putting together three great ships. The King of that country has furnished him with much artillery. His intentions are not known.
Madrid, 20th November, 1608.
Nov. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 370. Ottaviano Bon, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The wife of the English Ambassador (Glover) is dead of the Plague.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 27th November, 1608.
Nov. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 371. Ottaviano Bon, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
English bertons reported from Gallipoli as infesting those waters.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 27th November, 1608.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Nov. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 372. Zorzi Giustinian, retiring Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I left London on the 23rd and on the 26th, after a fair passage, I reached this city. M. de Vic, the Governor, visited me. Tomorrow, please God, I will continue my journey through Flanders.
Before leaving London I waited on the Queen, who begged me to convey to your Excellencies the assurance of her attachment.
Here there is no news. There is the usual variety of opinion about Flanders. They say that in Spain there are preparations which indicate a continuation of the war.
Calais, 27th November, 1608.
Nov. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 373. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The illustrious Chevalier Giustinian left on Sunday after mass. He was accompanied as far as Gravesend by the royal barges. Praises Giustinian.
According to the latest advices from Holland the Deputies of the States had not yet left the Hague for Antwerp. It seems that they wished the meeting to take place in Breda or Bergen. Further news can not be long in coming; the head winds have prevented any post from arriving this week. Your Serenity will, however, be more fully informed by your Ambassador Giustinian who will be passing through that very country.
The King has finished the reply to the book by Cardinal Bellarmin's chaplain, and has handed it to the Bishop of Chichester to refute certain authorities cited from the Fathers and Doctors by the Chaplain. It will then be sent to press.
The president of Scotland has been deprived of his rank as Councillor of State and his case has been remitted to Scotland in conformity with the privileges of that Kingdom (fn. 6) and perhaps to save his life, for he will be further away from the discords of the Court and of the world. The Queen has greatly exerted herself on his behalf, as he is her servant and has always been of her party. There is no hope, however, of his retaining his offices nor all his possessions, as the case will be managed by the Earl of Dunbar the President's most bitter foe. It is against him that he is a Catholic and that the King's interest is engaged, for if he were absolved his Majesty would be condemned by the Court of Rome.
I heard that some weeks back a certain John Gibbons (Ghibens), a Scot, had taken to Scotland the cargo of wine that he had brought from Crete, intended for London and the property of Giovanni Antonio Tizzoni, meaning to make money out of it. I at once applied to the Duke of Lennox, High Admiral of Scotland, and obtained an order for the arrest of the crew, the vessel and the contents that had been landed.
The pirates who are swarming off the Straits of Gibraltar have lately seized and brought into Ireland a Spanish ship of great value, laden with sugar from the Indies. At the instance of the Spanish Ambassador the King has issued orders for the arrest and punishment of the pirates, against whom he is very bitter.
London, 28th November, 1608.


  • 1. Morgan See despatch of November 18th.
  • 2. See Cal. S.P. Dom., Nov. 8, 1608, “Confession of Lord Elphinstone that he obtained the King's signature by fraud.”
  • 3. Lancelot Andrews, Bp. of Chichester. The book was called “Tortura Torti.” See Reusch, “Der Index der Verbotenen Bücher,” Bonn. 1885, Vol. II., pp. 329, 330.
  • 4. Henry, Lord Danvers, who pleaded that he was forced to come to terms with Robinson and the other “sea sharkers” as they were far stronger, and because the “Tramontana” is “outsailed by every pirate.” Cal. S.P. Ireland 1606–1608, pp. 550–559.
  • 5. See Cal. S. P. Dom. Nov. 24, 1608: “Two petitions of the Levant merchants, one against the sentence in favour of the Venetians, the other for ships to suppress the pirates at Algiers.”
  • 6. See Cal. S.P. Dom., Nov. 18, 1608.