Venice: March 1609

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'Venice: March 1609', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 11, 1607-1610, (London, 1904) pp. 238-255. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

March 1609

March 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 450. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador of Malta told me how a galley of the order had captured, by a ruse, a pirate manned by Turks and English in Barbary, and that this had caused the Turks to suspect the English. (fn. 1)
Rome, 7th March, 1609.
March 7. Minutes of the Senate, Roma. Venetian Archives. 451. That the papers on the question of the Abbey of Vangadizza be forwarded to the Ambassador in England.
Ayes 143.
Noes 6.
Neutrals 7.
March 10. Original Despatch. Venetian Archives. 452. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France to the Doge and Senate.
The King went on to talk about the King of England. He said that the departure of Don Fernando Giron from that Court had entirely reassured him as to his Majesty. The truce will be concluded in spite of the reports spread by the Spanish Ambassadors at various courts; for the main point, “Sovreignty,” has been conceded. The King said he did not know whether the Spanish had come to this resolution owing to want of money or whether they had other objects in view.
The King has various letters from President Jeannin. He reports that Richardot informed him that no mention would be made of religion and that the India navigation would be refused. Thereupon both Jeannin and the English Ambassador threatened to withdraw. Richardot begged for time enough to consult the Archduke, and came back with this decision, that the Dutch may sail freely as far as the Canaries inclusive, and beyond them to all places where Spain has not yet opened factories or holds dominion. On that the truce was extended to the 20th of this month. On the seventh the Deputies of all parties are to meet at Bergen. It seems that the chief difficulty lies in this, that the Dutch claim to trade everywhere or that at least the Spanish should name the places from which they pretend to exclude them. But this point is of far less importance than the general object, and so it is supposed that a truce will be concluded.
Paris, 10th March, 1609.
March 11. Inquisitors of State. Despatches from Constantinople. Busta 416. Venetian Archives. 453. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Inquisitors of State.
Hieronimo Meoli, Secretary to the English Ambassador, is known as a spy for Rome, the Emperor, Fuentes and the Grand Duke. He is very venal, and very false. He sends his letters to the Druggist Pompeo Sprechi, at the sign of the Two Moors.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 11th March, 1609.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 454. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
It may be six days ago an English galleon arrived with some small amount of cloth from that Kingdom, and sir thousand sequins' worth of tallow, which was paid for the moment it was unloaded at the Arsenal.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 11th March, 1609.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 455. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
No sooner was the King free from the fêtes of Carneval, which, by the custom of this country, terminated the day before yesterday, than I sought audience. To-day I went to his Majesty, and after congratulating him on the good health he had brought back from the chase, made a gentle complaint that while your Serenity had hoped that any claims of the Archdukes to equality of rank had been settled, their Ambassador was intent on keeping that claim as alive as ever. I insisted on the injury to your prestige and on your expectation that his Majesty would protect your reputation, which was dearer than aught else in the world. I expatiated on all the arguments which ought to remove any doubt on this point; and I cited many precedents from other Courts, in none of which had the Archduke's claims been admitted; among other cases I recalled that of the Flemish Ambassador at Paris where, at a dance given by the Queen, he took a place after the Ambassador Foscarini His Majesty listened to me quietly, although he was in a hurry to go to the cock-fight where he had long been waited for by many gentlemen, (tutto che havesse molta freta di uscir a veder l'abbatimento de' Galli dove era lungamente aspettato da molti Signori). He said that he was much more anxious to please your Serenity than to please the Archduke whose Court was the asylum of all his worst enemies. He enlarged on this, inveighing against the Archduke and asserting his good-will towards your Serenity. He then said that he could not interfere nor pronounce judgement on the merits of the case, as he had not been invited to do so. That supposing he did so he would be obliged to decide between France and Spain and between Savoy and Florence; that at other Courts the Archdukes did not keep “Ambassadors” and so the question did not arise. Their Agent at the French Court had not the title of Ambassador. If other Sovereigns would pronounce he would not be behind them in serving the Republic. I replied that your Excellencies had had so many proofs of the King's good-will that I was convinced he would not fall short now. I said that the case was clear in itself and declared by other Sovereigns; there was no need to judge. If his Majesty did not settle the question he himself would be diminishing his authority in his own kingdom. The Archduke did not keep Ambassadors at other courts only because it was made quite clear that your Serenity's place was to be kept intact for you. All the same his Highness had used every artifice to raise difficulties; he had selected as his Ambassadors persons of very high rank, in the hope that this would open the way, and it was only when they were frankly informed that their place would be after your Serenity's Ambassador that they dropped the style of Ambassador; therefore the fact that the Archduke had no Ambassadors at other courts made for me and settled the question. The King broke in saying that this was a plausible argument but not conclusive evidence. I replied that on the contray it was most stringent, for it was impossible to adduce any other even probable reason why they did not assume the title of Ambassador. I held it for certain that the Archduke's Minister in France was an Ambassador, and the proof was that he was invited along with the other Ambassadors to so important a function. I gladly accepted his Majesty's pledge to follow the example of other Sovereigns who one and all, without exception, keep the Venetian Ambassador's place for him. The King said he did not see how the County of Burgundy could give the Archduke this right for of fifteen provinces, he held one only, and that in dependence on his Catholic Majesty. He told me to put my arguments and examples into writing and to let him have them. I will take pains to draw up a good memorandum on the subject. I will write to France to obtain a declaration from the Ambassador Foscarini that the Archduke's Ambassador really bears that title in that country. I will, however, delay the presentation of the memorandum until I receive such instruction as it may please your Serenity to give me.
I have spoken to the Duke of Lennox to induce him to support me and will repeat my request. I will do the same with the Earl of Salisbury, who, after the audience, was not to be found in his rooms owing to the pressure of business. If the King would decide upon Lord Salisbury's advice without consulting the numerous dependents of his Catholic Majesty, I have little doubt but that he would settle the matter in a sense satisfactory to your Serenity. I must not omit to say that his Majesty seeks in every way to please and honour me. To-day while waiting for audience, the Master of the Ceremonies more than once endeavoured to find out whether I would like to go with his Majesty to the cock-pit, adding that Chevalier Molin sometimes went. I, however, thought it better to wait for compliments which would tend towards the solution of the question of precedence, and I cut short the conversation.
Expulsis Papalistis I have been asked by gentlemen about the Court how your Serenity stands with the Pope. I discovered that they know nothing about the question of the freehold of the Abbey of Vangadizza. In replying I followed your instructions.
London, 12th March, 1689.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 456. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have found much difficulty in the exaction of the money adjudicated to the parties interested in the ship “Soderina.” After trying every device to arrest the sureties—of whom I could only secure one, the weakest, and that by a ruse—I went to Lord Salisbury and reminded him that the sequestration of the goods had been removed on the distinct promise that if the goods were proved to be Venetian property, either they or their just value should be restored; now, however, that judgement has been given they refuse to pay; the surety, who is in prison, is hoping to get off with the lapse of time and to enjoy, meanwhile, the interest on the money; those who are at liberty are in hiding; and we are prevented from proceeding against their property—which was the ground of the surety—by the Common Law Judges, who declare that the Admiralty Court had no power to pledge the property of private citizens. I told Lord Salisbury that I now appealed to his authority in favour of the interested parties. He replied that neither the King nor the Council intended to meddle with such matters any further. It was a bad precedent, in virtue of which the Spanish Ambassador was claiming to recover a lot of sugar; and thus every one would take to appealing not to the ordinary Courts but to Council. His Majesty's first duty was to his subjects not to foreigners. He would, however, commend the case to the new Judge of the Admiralty, a person of worth, Member of the Council and who had succeeded to the judge lately deceased. I remarked that hitherto little enough had been obtained from that Court. However, it did not matter whence redress came provided it came. I begged to point out that as we were asking execution of orders already passed in Council, this could not be erected into a precedent. I could not see what harm could result from the favour granted by the King to the Ambassador Giustinian, to remove this cause from the ordinary Courts; for if the English parties to the suit really desired a just settlement this step has at one and the same time favoured the Venetians by sparing them the law's delay and the English by bringing the case before the highest authority in the land. If the Council were able to hear all private causes there is not a man who would not go before it rather than before the ordinary courts, nor would the legislature have had to establish Courts of Appeal—for Council cannot be suspected either of ignorance or of fraud. In questions between one power and another it was well that a procedure rather out of the common should occasionally be followed. The Earl of Salisbury replied that what had been determined would be maintained though he foresaw that it might all fall on the King; alluding to the appeal which has been granted. I handed him a note on the subject and he promised to speak to the Judge in such a way that I should remain satisfied. Three days later the Chevalier Paris and the Admiralty Judge, who are both Members of the Council, came to see me and in the Council's name informed me that it had been found that it was possible to proceed to execution against the goods of the sureties, and that I should be satisfied in this matter; also that all that was promised to the Chevalier Giustinian would be maintained. I begged them to render many thanks to the Council, and to assure them that I had always been persuaded that gentlemen of such prudence would surely arrive at a sound and just conclusion.
Two days later the English merchants who had paid the thousand pounds which were adjudicated on the condition of a negative proof, sent me a citation in appeal, to appear by counsel last Saturday before the judges delegated. I replied that I had nothing to do with their appeal and refused to accept the citation; nay, I sent to complain to Chevalier Paris, who is one of the delegates in this case, pointing out that as his Majesty desired that the assent of Chevalier Giustinian should be obtained before the case was concluded, as Paris himself could testify, for Giustinian had visited his house more than once, I did not see how the case could be a subject for appeal. I declined to defend the case or interest myself in it in any way. I, however, sent the agents of the interested parties to watch the case on their behalf, and they report to me that among other petitions was one that security should be given that the parties would abide by the judgement; it seems that the Court assented, and let it be understood that the original caution of both parties would be set free. Although the execution of the sentence would be secured in this way, still as this seemed to imply assent to appeal I sent again to complain to Chevalier Paris about this proposal, declaring that neither in this nor in any other way would I take any step that could imply assent to appeal. The appeal, as I knew, was allowed in order to give some satisfaction to the English, and not to make any change, as he himself had informed me in the name of the Council; and I always received the same answer, namely, that I might rest assured that whatever was settled with Chevalier Giustinian would be maintained.
London, 12th March, 1609.
March 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 457. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
President Richardot has lately left Antwerp for Brussels to report to the Archdukes the course of negotiations between the French and English Commissioners and the Presidents on behalf of their Highness on the point of the India navigation. The Ambassadors on their return to Antwerp at once sent the ships that brought them to fetch the Deputies of the States to Bergen-op-Zoom from the Hague, which they had refused to leave till they had learned the course of the negotiations. The truce, which every one holds for concluded, will be published in Bergen; details are not known yet about the India navigation.
The Archduke's Confessor (Brizuela) has arrived from Spain, but he brings nothing more than the courier who preceded him.
Yesterday week the King came back from Royston to show himself during the last four days of carnival. On Tuesday last, to please the Prince, he accepted a challenge to tilt at the ring with five gentlemen on each side. The Prince won, though it cost him dear, for he lost a diamond of value out of his hat.
The obligation to build a fort within two years causes many to draw back from the plantation of Ireland. They are delaying to send out the colonists, but it is supposed that the difficulty will be easily surmounted.
The death of the Grand Duke of Tuscany will relieve the King and Council from the difficulty they were in owing to the necessity to make some demonstration about the captured English vessel. For all they had studied the question they could not hit upon anything that would injure that Prince to any extent.
There are frequent reports of damage done by pirates in these waters. Quite lately some English captured two ships laden with sugar for Holland. Orders have been issued to arrest them if they put into any English port.
Judges going circuit have orders from the Council to deal dexterously with Catholics who, as far as I see, would not be viewed unfavourably in this kingdom were it not for the fear of the instigations of the King (fn. 2) their chief.
The King continues to work at his book in reply to Rome. Yesterday he had a long talk with some Bishops, with whom he had other business touching the great spread of Puritanism, which not only robs the Prelates of their authority, but greatly diminishes that of the King.
London, 12th March, 1609.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 14. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Roma. Venetian Archives. 458. The Nuncio came to the Cabinet and spoke on a Memorial which he handed in.
He inveighed against the sermons of the Servite Friar Fulgentio in S. Lorenzo. “I say nothing of meetings of English, Germans, Heretics, Jews that take place in that church. I am told that that church stands open to everyone and receives everyone. I point out the bond that binds them. Even in the public square these sermons are styled schismatic.”
March 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 459. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador of Malta gave me information about a berton fitted out in Tunis, which was on the point of sailing on a buccaneering cruise. She was fully armed and had provisions on board for 250 men for one year; she would have done much damage, but by a ruse which was adopted she is now seized. He begged to be excused if he did not say what the ruse was, for it was intended to use it again. She sailed from Tunis, where two hundred Turks, who were to form her crew had landed. Forty English, six French, one Ragusan and four Turks brought her to Malta. The captain was left ashore and we know nothing about him. He went on to point out the great importance of this operation, for not only has it upset many plans for damage which they could have inflicted, but it will breed suspicion between the Turks and English, who will not act in concert so readily for the future. But what was of more moment was this that the Turks would not now learn how to handle these bertons, which had they done, they would have been able to do what they liked, and to have sailed Christian waters with impunity; for this kind of vessel if properly armed and handled is able to hold its own, owing to its handiness, against any force. The Ambassador developed his remarks with great intelligence, as he is a sailor bred. He maintained that with a certain number of bertons one could command the seas; and cited the example of Prince Doria and the Turkish fleet which never attempted anything against him. He said that two of his order were out at present without the smallest fear of being injured.
Rome, 14th March, 1609.
March 14. Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 460. To the Ambassador in England.
We consider as very grave the news you send us that the Archduke's Ambassador should continue his pretensions as to precedence. We are fully satisfied with your action in the matter. You are to continue the same, applying to the Earl of Salisbury and to all others whom you may consider able to assist. If the representations of the Duke of Lennox prove ineffectual we authorize you to appeal to the King. We enclose for your guidance copies of correspondence with your predecessor.
Ayes 160.
Noes 1.
Neutrals 2.
March 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 461. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador here does not think the truce so sure as it is generally reckoned.
If quiet follows in Flanders the fleet will undertake some enterprise; where is not yet known. They are raising four millions of gold from the Fuggers; the interest of 400,000 is to come out of the Maestrazghi, (fn. 3) and half a million a year out of the eighteen millions voted by Castile is appropriated as a fund for the extinction of the debt.
Madrid, 15th March, 1609.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 17. Minutes of the Senate. Roma. Venetian Archives. 462. That the following reply to the Nuncio be forwarded to our Ambassadors abroad.
Express surprise at the Nuncio's complaint of Fra Fulgentio's sermons; have caused enquiry to be made; find that Fra Fulgentio has always preached “good, sound, Catholic, Christian doctrine;” had the Nuncio taken his information from “respectable, intelligent, impartial persons” he would have found the same.
We complain of the false report that prohibited books are imported into Venice.
Ayes 145.
Noes 7.
Neutrals 26.
March 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 463. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
We are hourly expecting to hear that the Deputies of the States have arrived in Bergen-op-Zoom; Count Maurice ought to be with them. The general opinion is that they will accept the proposals about the India navigation, though there are one or two other points of small importance to be settled, which will not, however, upset the accord. The Archdukes express a desire that the truce should be published in Antwerp and it would seem that the French and English Ambassadors are inclined to meet their wishes; all the same should the States stand firm in insisting that the publication shall be made in Bergen they will be satisfied on this point too.
On Monday the Earl of Salisbury and other Lords of Council met the Mayor to arrange for the third subsidy voted by Parliament. The prorogation of Parliament was partly due to the fact that the third subsidy had not been collected.
The delay in the publication of the reply to Bellarmin's Chaplain is caused by the trial of the President of Scotland (Elphinstone). This will soon be concluded as the Earl of Dunbar, who has been sent on purpose to Scotland, is giving it all attention. The President makes no defence but throws himself on the royal clemency, affirming that he is ready to die if that be for the King's service. When in England, however, he confessed before the Lords of Council that he did write those letters to Pope Clement though the King had refused him permission to do so, because he deemed it necessary to conciliate the Pope at the moment when the King mounted the throne. (fn. 4) The Lords of Council are opposed to the King's resolve to print this book under his own name and they complain that they are unable to move him.
Although Catholics are tolerated in this kingdom at present, still they have recently arrested an English priest, of whom there are large numbers here in hiding, and a gentleman said to have had much correspondence with Jesuits. On the other hand two ribald Italians who have arrived in England with a view to changing their religion—from any other motive than conscientious scruples—have been set to publish something against the Papal authority. They have received some assistance in money and have hopes of regular employment. In Scotland they proceed much more rigorously against the Catholics. The Earl of Dunbar on his arrival there published three decrees; one, that sons cannot succeed to their paternal estates without a certificate from their Bishop that they are not living as Catholics; two, if a nobleman wishes to leave the kingdom he must take with him a governor or master of the Protestant religion; three, that all recusants, that is all who do not attend their parish church, are to be outlawed or imprisoned and their goods confiscated.
This week there has been much talk about the difference with the Pope over the Abbey delle Carceri.
Fine cold weather since the middle of February has diminished deaths from plague by more than half. All the same two cases have occurred at Greenwich. This has caused the King to go to Hampton Court.
On Saturday last the King gave a right noble supper to the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Court. He and the Queen and the Princes were present. This is the first since he came to the throne. The occasion was the jousting match which the King lost with the Prince this Carnival. At it the Marquis de Marigny was on the King's side and the Baron de Brescius on the Prince's, both Frenchmen, in whose honour the supper was given.
The captain who intends to make Ward a prisoner has recently told me he would be content with a suitable reward after the deed is done, and asks for a reply. Pray God that if he does not succeed he take not himself to piracy. When I receive your Serenity's instructions I will endeavour to exact from him security that he damage no Venetian or Christian vessels.
London, 19th March, 1609.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 20. Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia, busta, 836b. Venetian Archives. 464. Report of Maffio Michiel and Geronimo Correr, late Governors in Zante, on the petition of Zante (fn. 5) for leave to sell currants to foreigners.
Arguments against the law of 1602 forbidding such sale to Westerlings.
The law is injurious in itself and does not achieve its end.
The Westerlings and especially the English, finding themselves excluded from Zante, have transferred their business to Patras, where they have a Consul and correspondents. There they send their cargoes of kerseys, londons (li londri (fn. 6) ), tin and other goods that used to be discharged and sold in Zante, to the benefit of the export and import customs; and so all the gain that used to accrue to your Serenity is now transferred to Turkey. The currant trade of Patras and the Morea is thus augmented. The English have advanced money to enable the inhabitants to grow and prepare currants, and have endeavoured to induce dressers to come over from Zante, and the business is now established at Patras, Lepanto, Mattolico, Vassilica and Corinth. It is clear that this will increase shortly; and it rests entirely with the English, who will very soon be indifferent to the Zante crop; already it is well known how small a quantity of currants they have bought in Venice since the passing of the law. This is cruel for the inhabitants of Zante, who see the gold that ought to come to them carried into Turkey.
Again the grain that came with these vessels used to keep down the price of grain from the Morea.
Your Serenity loses the 36 to 40,000 ducats a year which the new duty brought in from Zante and Cephalonia.
Foreign ships frequent the Levant more than ever; they do not come to Venice with their cargoes, as was intended to result from the operation of the Act. They go to Patras, lade with currants from the Morea and make up what is wanting by the contraband currants sent over from Zante to Clarentza at night. No police regulations are of any avail, for the islands are open and the inhabitants have a perfect understanding with the purchasers.
The whole trade of Zante suffers, for there is no cargo to be got there now for Venetian ships.
The English and others do a carrying trade between Patras and Messina and Leghorn. They ship oil too from Coron and Modon; this oil used to be brought to Venice.
All these disorders might easily be removed if the Government would return to the original conditions, allowing free export from the two Islands for the West, subject to the new duty on currants. For if it were intimated to the English that your officials would allow no vessel that had discharged at Patras to load currants in Zante, they would be so eager to deal freely in currants at Zante that they would give up Patras, to which they only took in order to wait for the currant crop and because they were resolved on no account to go to Venice. Trade would return to Zante, and grain would flow in, for the English prefer to trade there rather than to trade in Turkey. Customs would go up and your Serenity would not lose as you have since the Act was passed.
It remains to meet the objection that if the currant trade is revived in those islands the fields will go out of grain culture, the islands will become dependent for grain on foreign countries and risk being lost. But your Serenity has recently forbidden further vine planting under pain of forfeiting a third of the crop. If this rule is observed there will be no fresh planting. Secondly almost all the currant lands are sandy or clayey, and therefore as unfitted for grain as they are adapted by nature for vines and currants. Nothing would be more odious to the inhabitants than to be compelled to cultivate in grain land suited to vines. Third, there is a fund of fifty thousand ducats in the exchequer of Zante especially for the provision of grain. Any way if the ports were full of ships the Governor could always send some of them for grain to the Archipelago or Albania.
Venice, 20th March, 1609.
On oath.
March 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 465. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
In the course of an interview with Cardinal Lanfranco on the subject of Fra Fulgentio's sermons at S. Lorenzo in Venice, the Ambassador admitted that it was true that a certain Biondo, who was to send certain heretical books from Paris into Italy, and especially to Venice, had gone to England as a heretic. The Ambassador said that some of these books might quite possibly reach Rome, yet no one in Venice would suspect Rome on that account.
Rome, 21st March, 1609.
March 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 466. Marc' Antonio Correr, Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassadors of France and England went to Bergen on the 11th of this month; on the 12th the Deputies of the States arrived, and Count Maurice, William of Nassau and the Prince of Orange (fn. 7) and his wife were expected two days later. The latter will go to France after the treaty is settled. Here in Court they think the treaty is virtually concluded. It is held that the States will assent to the suppression of contributions on both sides (che siino levate da ogni parte le contributioni). The Commissioners have given it to be understood that they think the Archduke's contention is very reasonable. I am informed from a good source that the Dutch will not lay stress on the point. The question of transit of goods remains. The resolution will be governed by the interests of both parties. The ship the “Black Lion” has reached England. She made the voyage from Venice in six weeks. She is the second that has arrived since I came here. On the other hand not one has sailed from England for Venice. This is a proof of a weak trade which as a fact has greatly fallen off with other parts of Italy as well. The proof is the small number of Italian merchants at present in England (come fa fede il poco numero de 'mercanti di quella natione che si trova al presente nel Regno), and those very dissatisfied with their small gains. The reason for this is that the English themselves are taking more to trade, and especially since the peace with Spain do they trade to the East Indies. Quite recently a vessel has arrived from those parts after overcoming some difficulty in the way of trade raised by a Portuguese Governor. Her voyage has been so lucky that whereas she took out cargo to the value of 36,000 crowns she brought back goods to the value of 150,000. They are so deeply engaged in this trade that they even supply spices to the very Portuguese who, partly owing to dread of the Dutch, partly owing to the shipping being employed elsewhere during these last years, have not been paying much attention to that traffic (onde un Vassello venuto questi giorni da quella parte, dopo supperata certa difficoltà messagli da un Governatore Portughese nel dargli comercio, si è così ben trafficato, che di m/36 Δdi di ralsente che portò seco ha riportato merci per l'ammontar di circa m/150. Et si sono talmente internati in quel negotio che di qua mandano delle speciarie alli medesimi Portughesi, li quali parte per timore de' Vasselli Holandesi, parte per esser stati impiegati altrove gli'anni passati, non hanno atteso molto a quel viaggio).
The ships destined to Virginia in the West Indies are three. The King although he has frequently told the Spanish Ambassador that he would take no steps in this business, yet has this time made up his mind to confer the title of viceroy on the commander, and has given him patents for the distribution of lands subject to his Majesty's authority. Those who have embarked their capital, however, are afraid that the Spanish will end by making the same slaughter of these as they did of the French in the same Indies; nor are they confident that, if the necessity arose, the King would show himself openly in their defence. All the same they are pushing forward the building of a fine town called St. James after the King.
A general change of Ambassadors is being arranged, but it is not known yet who is destined for Venice. (fn. 8) All I have heard is that more than one Chevalier has offered for the post. They make great count of Ambassador Wotton and he will not be left idle; indeed they are thinking already of employing him elsewhere both on account of his natural worth and because of his very noble blood. He is a brother of Lord Wotton, one of the most highly esteemed of the Royal Council.
In Scotland they continue their severity against Catholics, on the King's orders. A few days ago the Marchioness of Huntly (Omblin), who is a near relation of the King, brought up with the Queen and much beloved by her, sent a special messenger to the Queen to beg her Majesty to intercede on behalf of the Marquis, her husband, who was in prison on account of his religion. The King himself drew up the answer in the Queen's name, declaring that she could not offer any opposition to the royal orders on this point, but would rather do all she could to see that they were carried out and confirmed.
The Queen herself yesterday sent to Hampton Court, where the King is, to intercede for the President of Scotland. There is news that he has been condemned to death for lœsa majestas. The King replied that he had already written to Scotland to carry out the sentence. The Queen was very ill-pleased, as the President had always professed to be of her party. There is hope of saving the property for his heirs.
London, 26th March, 1609.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 27 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 467. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After sending off my despatch of yesterday evening the Agent for the States resident at this Court came to inform me of the complete conclusion of the truce. It is to last twelve years although ten only were proposed. It has been accepted by the Deputies of all the Provinces and Chief Cities assembled in Bergen to the number of one hundred and upwards. The point about the India navigation has not received that complete adjustment that they desired, but there is a supplementary promise which the Kings of France and England are to take that they will join with the Dutch should that navigation ever be denied them, in which case Spain shall be held to have violated the truce. The Prince of Orange is to receive free possession of all his ancestral lands and goods, both in the Provinces under the Archdukes, which embrace the larger part, and in the Provinces under the Dutch. The widowed Princess of Orange is to receive twenty-five thousand florins a year in execution of the late Prince's will. Couriers have been passing continually between Bergen and Antwerp for the better clearing up of certain points raised by the Ambassadors, but the present despatches bring no further details. I will forward them as soon as possible. The Deputies have already demanded their passports for Antwerp, and it is thought that by this time they are in that city, to the number of seven or eight, for the ratification and publication.
London, 27th March, 1609.
March 30. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 468. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet and after he had taken his seat and before he began to speak, his Serenity congratulated him on the recovery of his health. The Ambassador returned thanks for the compliment, for the official visits paid by the Secretary during his illness, and for the universal testimony of regard. The Doge declared that this feeling was perfectly genuine, and made a very courteous speech to which the Ambassador replied with effusion. He then went on:—“Most Serene Prince, I am especially charged by his Majesty, the King of Great Britain, to touch on certain topics, partly affecting his subjects, partly concerning his neighbours. I will begin with the former; although it is an old and, one might almost say, a stale story and though the saying runs 'quod a malo habet principium tractu temporis non potest convalescere,' all the same the affair is so clear that I doubt not I shall receive from your Serenity the just satisfaction I look for.
The question is that of the ship 'Corsaletta' captured by your Serenity's galleys and taken into Canea. You were kind enough to order its restoration, but that order has not been carried out. The interested parties make continual outcry at Court, and I have received positive orders on the subject. They advance three points in their favour, all worthy of consideration. But first I will recall what must certainly be in your Serenity's memory, namely, that for the avoiding of incidents it was agreed that when English ships met your Serenity's galleys in your waters they were to vail the fore-topsail and send the ship's boat with four or six of the equip-page of sufficient authority to establish the nature of the craft; that done they were to be free to continue their voyages.
In the case of the 'Corsaletta' she cannot be said to have been met in your Serenity's waters; for although the might of Venice may be held to extend throughout the Mediterranean yet as this ship was met beyond Strivali and off the Turkish shore, it could be maintained that she was taken in Turkish, not in Venetian waters; accordingly when our men sighted the galley which was in company with a great ship, they sought to escape on a fair wind, but the galley fetched them up, and they made up their minds to comply with the convention, that is to vail and to send the ship's boat aboard with sufficient of the equippage, among them being a merchant from Schio; when they came aboard the galley they made their statement, but the commander declined to be satisfied with it and suspecting that there was artillery on board with the stamp of St. Mark upon it, which had been taken out of Venetian vessels, he insisted that the captain should come on board. The captain declined on the ground that the request was unusual and contrary to all the rules and custom of the sea, which forbid a captain to leave his ship. Hence it came about that the galley opened fire and the English defended themselves, but being overmatched they were obliged to yield to superior force. On their side it is quite clear that they satisfied the requirements of the convention and of respect, for they vailed and sent the boat. That is the second reason why they neither merited capture nor should have been captured. The third point is the strongest. At my request your Serenity issued and repeated an order that the ship and cargo were to be restored in the condition in which they were when captured. This order, I know not by whose fault nor for what reason, has never been executed. Though I have received very vigorous representations on the subject I will not touch upon the treatment meted out to the crew of the vessel, I merely beg your Serenity to order the restitution of the ship and cargo in their pristine condition, and to name some gentleman to hear the declarations of the interested parties who have sent an agent here on purpose with full information to throw light upon the incident.”
The Doge replied that he remembered that the Senate, condoning many errors on the part of the crew and as a special favour to his Majesty, had ordered the restitution. Inquiry would be made as to why that order had not been executed. The illustrious Nicolò Sagredo, Savio of the Council, lately returned from the Governor Generalship of Crete, was present and asked leave to say a few words as being well informed on the subject. This was granted and Sagredo said: “I received the order and was most ready to obey it. It was brought me by an Englishman, a certain Noter Giermer; I told him I was quite willing and that all the cargo was stored in a warehouse. He examined it, and finding that certain parcels of currants had suffered by lapse of time, he refused to accept consignment for fear of exposing himself to loss on the caution deposited in England; the sureties would be freed from all obligation if he accepted consignment in that state. He made the same observations about the ship which was in need of overhauling. Experts estimated the cost at about five thousand ducats. I replied that the consignment would be made whenever they liked; that I had nothing to do with the crew or the insurers; that they should erect a Council of XII. (fn. 9) and settle what should be done. I had no concern in that, only I declared myself ready to consign. The delay was caused by them, not by me. The men were well treated.”
The Ambassador replied that it was admitted that Sagredo was ready to restore the cargo, indeed he wished to do so the moment the ship reached Canea. But he had no business to meddle in the restitution at all, as that was a matter which depended entirely on the Senate. As to the crew he affirmed that they were put on board the galleys. He had been told that they would be paid, but as yet they had received nothing. But he did not wish to exasperate any one. He merely asked for restitution in pristine condition.
Sagredo rejoined that he could not say what happened before the vessel was brought to Crete, but he could answer for what happened while he was there, namely that the restitution was promptly offered and the men were well treated.
The Doge said it was clear from the remarks of Sagredo why the restitution had been delayed. The question of injuring the insurance was a serious one, but it was a private affair with which Venice had nothing to do. The restitution was ordered to be made in the way it could be made and that they were ready to carry out most promptly.
The Ambassador begged for the nomination of someone to hear the parties; he asked for this favour to his Majesty, who was molested at home by those interested in the matter. He insisted, however, on restoration in pristine condition.
The Doge said the College was now informed of all the facts and would give a reply.
The Ambassador then went on to recommend the master of an English vessel, a small one of eighty tons, that had come to Venice from Candia. He was an honest, simple man. At Ragusa he had discharged twenty-four bales, that is the fortieth part of his entire cargo. When he desired to lade in Venice the Savii alla Mercanzia stopped him in virtue of the law which forbids relading for anyone who has discharged goods at foreign ports. The Master was not aware of this, and he might very fairly plead ignorance for the Ambassador himself was not aware of this provision; he believed that anyone who discharged a third of his cargo in foreign ports came under the operation of the law, but not those who had discharged so small a portion as one-fortieth.
The Doge promised to speak to the Savii with a desire to oblige the Ambassador.
The Ambassador then went on “I have spoken about his Majesty's subjects, I come now to his friends.” He recommends the Prince de Joinville. He knew that the Republic being at peace at present had no immediate need of assistance. Wishes to make an observation of his own, namely that although politicians expect a disturbance in Italy now that Flanders is quiet, yet he can not believe that so prudent a sovereign would have granted peace to distant provinces merely to stir up troubles nearer home. Is of opinion that the accommodation in Flanders is the result of necessity rather than of policy. The man who yields to necessity is not likely to embrace fresh embarassments. Is afraid that the legitimate and open war may be converted into a piratical war, for he does not see what is to become of all the armed vessels, part may go to the Indies but the rest will take to the Straits, and God grant they come not into the Mediterranean; “it is too sweet a morsel to steal other people's property, take it into port and enjoy it.”
Recommends the Prince de Joinville. He then proceeded to explain the reason why the French Ambassador alone had been invited to the Queen's Masque, it was to return the compliment paid to the English Ambassador in France who had alone been invited to a dance at the Queen's.
The Doge replied that the Ambassador had written something on the matter, he did not well remember what. Any way the whole Cabinet was persuaded that the King would never do anything to prejudice the right of the Republic to precedence over the Archduke.
The Ambassador cited in proof of that conviction the fact that the Ambassador Giustinian had frequently been invited to Court festivities, the Archduke's Ambassador not once.
In conclusion the Ambassador presented Lord Roos, nephew of the Earl of Salisbury, and returned thanks for the favours shown him, favours bestowed on a grateful recipient. This young gentleman both out of curiosity and as he is very rich, intends to visit the Courts of the Archduke Maxmilian, of Bavaria, of King Mathias, and will eventually reach Prague. He knows no one there, and as there is no Ambassador of Great Britain in that city, he begs his Serenity to give him four words of recommendation to Ambassador Cavalli. This would be a great favour and a notable sign of a good understanding that Englishmen should go to the Venetian Ambassador in the absence of their own.
The Doge replied that this would be done very willingly though he. imagined that Ambassador Cavalli would have received Lord Roos without any special orders to do so. This was a mere trifle in face of the great desire they had to oblige.
March 31.cinque Savii alla Mercanzia Busta 836 b. Venetian Archives. 469. Report of the Savii on the petition of Zante against the prohibition to sell currants direct to Westerlings, a trade which forms the chief sustenance of the thirty thousand inhabitants of that island, and by which they are deprived of the grain which was imported from those nationalities before the promulgation of the prohibition.
This matter is of high importance, and there are various resolutions of the Senate thereupon, taken after full discussion, though they have not been observed, possibly owing to the negligence of the petitioners. The lack of grain in Zante is due partly to the nature of the soil and also partly to the fact that a large part of the land that used to grow grain is now planted with vineyards. A law was passed to prevent the extension of the vine-yards. The new impost was introduced in 1580, not so much with a view to augmenting the revenue as to drive the Westerlings from trade with Zante and to restore that trade to Venetians. This act did not produce the desired effect, and in 1602 the law was passed forbidding the export of currants from Zante for the West, the object being to compel all the currants to come to Venice, where they could be shipped for the West on the payment of the new impost. This provision was considered prudent and fruitful, but no more did it attain its object, and the impost that was levied in Zante and Cephalonia has been lost, while the amount exacted in this city has fallen off. Nevertheless, with a view to protecting the public dignity, and at the same time drawing the benefit, your Serenity on Aug. 20, 1608, added several clauses to the orders of 1602 and 1605, with a view to meeting the question of contraband. Whether your Serenity has attained your object by these provisions we are unable to say, as the decree was issued too late to affect the crop of last year. We would only remark that, should your Serenity consider it for the dignity of the law to make no alteration till further trial, then if, as we fear, the law prove useless there will always be time to take other steps.
The want of grain is most serious and requires attention. We cannot see how grain is to be provided without having recourse to foreign governments, except by uprooting a large part of the vineyards or by establishing vast granaries.
The proposal to uproot we do not say is impossible, for your faithful subjects would obey, but we are convinced that this would alienate the regard and devotion of the inhabitants and, by depriving them of the advantages they have acquired thanks to long industry and the grace of God,-who has made the grape crop so rich, would breed a want of all that those lands do not produce, and would bring their opulent citizens to poverty again. It must surely be your Serenity's desire to see your subjects happy in their homes and blessed by fortune, so that they may be ready with life and property at your nod.
Should your Serenity resolve, as we imagine you will, not to uproot, then it remains to open granaries on a sufficient scale. The sum available is not adequate, nor do we see whence it is to come. For if the prohibition on export is maintained it will be difficult to increase taxation or to raise more money from the inhabitants.
Should your Serenity resolve to drop the late regulations, then we would humbly advise that the lesser evil and greater gain and satisfaction of the inhabitants would be secured by farming the impost on currants, as was originally done, without any modification for the exporter. The vendor for foreign markets shall pay for each thousand pounds of grapes sold, one sequin; and everyone, without distinction, shall pay fifteen gazette for every tun of wine manufactured; it being only fair that those who reap the benefit of the granaries should contribute to the cost. No foreign vessel shall be allowed to have grapes unless it has brought four stara (fn. 10) of grain for every thousand pounds of grapes it takes. We are of opinion that the sequin will be gladly paid, so anxious are they to recover free export. Although the impost appears to affect the vendor the purchaser will really feel it. The impost on wine will be willingly accepted because it is reasonable and also light. This ought to yield about 5,000 ducats a year from Zante and little less from Cephalonia. To avoid fraud we would farm out this impost. We should recommend that the income of the first two years be advanced immediately as a loan, to meet the pressing want and to establish the granaries at once.
We must point out the injury which results from the non-observance of your orders of 29 April, 1589, and 25 Sept., 1601, against the further planting of vineyards. The island will soon be without grain, hay or straw. We conclude by saying that our intelligence is so feeble that it cannot persuade us that if Westerlings are debarred from Zante they will not use the Levant ports, nor that, at present, the Western trade can be replaced in Venetian hands, neither as a carrying trade nor yet for those goods which are affected by the heavy dues imposed by the late Queen. To harass foreigners may only drive riches from your islands to the Morea. We consider it a maxim of good government to grant what cannot be avoided. That the trade-of Venice is falling off should warn us to nurse our customs until such time as the change of circumstance allows us to restore it to its pristine condition.-From our office, 31st March, 1609.
Domenico Lion.
Marco Gradenigo.
Ferigo Dandolo.
Andrea Parutta.


  • 1. See Pepwell's report. Cal. S.P. Ireland, 1608–1610, p. 279.
  • 2. So the original decipher; but the cipher reads N6 = Pontefice.
  • 3. Masterships in the Orders of Chivalry.
  • 4. See Cal. S.P. Dom., March 10, 1809. St. Andrews. Proceedings at the trial of Lord Balemerinoch.
  • 5. The petition was presented by the “Ambassadors” from Zante, Emmanuel Volterra and Emmanuel Blassò, on Feb. 13, 1608–9. The Senate ordered the Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia and the last two Governors of Zante to report thereon.
  • 6. Londrina; a kind of cloth. See Boerio, Vocab. Veneziano.
  • 7. William was Prince of Orange. ?dele “and.”
  • 8. See Birch. “Court and Times of James I.” 1.82, Chamberlain to Carleton, Dec. 16, 1608. “If this next summer (as report goes) Sir Ralph Winwood leave the Low Countries, Sir Thomas Edmonds go to France, and Sir Harry Wotton for Spain, you must omnem movere lapidem to step in upon those removes.”
  • 9. See Rezasco, Diz. Stor. ed. Ammin. Firenze, 1881. s.v. Dodici. “A college of twelve merchants which every Venetian Consul or Bailo in sea ports was obliged to consult on affairs of the Consulate.” Established 11 Aug. 1498. See Cal. S.P. Ven. 1503. Jan 4. “Regulations enacted by the Venetian Factory in London,” where the action of the XII. is explained.
  • 10. = 83 litres.