Venice: February 1611

Pages 112-121

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 12, 1610-1613. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1905.

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February 1611

Feb 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 171. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Monday morning I went to an audience of the King. This was granted me very promptly after his return to London. I spoke about the Ambassador Wotton's leave-taking and the presentation of Sir Dudley Carleton, in the terms of your Serenity's instructions, assuring him that the one was welcomed cordially as his Majesty's minister and as a gentleman who gives proofs of prudence and ability, the other was allowed to depart most unwillingly on account of the experiences your Serenity had had of his singular qualities. I took the opportunity to thank his Majesty for the honour done me by sending Lord Hay to me at the time that Viscount Cranborne was in Venice along with the son of the Great Chamberlain. The King was much pleased at the praise of his two Ambassadors and showed the special esteem in which he holds this friendship. As he enlarged on topics in honour of the Republic this gave occasion to his Majesty to dwell on a phrase of mine in which I assured him that the whole State, all the nobility and especially those who govern, are devoted to him and are convinced of his great prudence and excellent disposition. Of this he showed himself convinced, being confirmed in it by what his Ambassador, who reckons himself a Venetian, had reported to him. His Majesty assured me that he paid more attention to the Legation at Venice than to any other; and that is the case, for almost at every Court the English Embassy has been vacant for many months except at your Serenity's Court, and in fact Digby (fn. 1) was appointed to Spain, a year after the return of his predecessor (fn. 2); while in Flanders it is twenty months since there has been an Ambassador and yet one hears no one named, although the Archduke has appointed a gentleman to reside here.
At the same audience I recommended, in the interest of those poor people of Zante, the case of the “Red Camel,” which was cast away on these shores. I said that the Earl of Arundel, into whose hands the ship and cargo had fallen, standing with unwonted rigour by his claims, the merchants would consent to a legal settlement of the point provided that the cargo was so safely deposited that the Judge could at one and the same time declare ownership and put the owners in possession without further litigation. The Earl is a person of great quality, while the petitioners are foreigners, and they begged his Majesty to interpose his authority that they might be supported. The King appeared displeased at the Earl's hardness; he said he had spoken to him on other occasions, but he did not think it well to interpose his authority on a point which the Earl might feel to be prejudicial to his jurisdiction. On the question of warehousing the cargo he thought the request just and promised to call, that very day, the Judge of the Admiralty Court to see whether there were any reasons against it. Lord Salisbury repeated these same ideas to me a little later. He offered his aid in this matter in all that might depend on his Excellency.
As I have not been able, so far, to induce the three prisoners who are surety for ten thousand ducats for the plunder of the “Reneria e Soderina” to give satisfaction I have caused them, on an order of the Council, to be shut up in a bad prison, for hitherto by favouritism and bribes they have been living in the house of the jailer, and have enjoyed a certain freedom to go out secretly. I hope they will finally come to some decision in the matter. As yet they have discovered about 6,500 ducats, which they are trying to recover from the hands of a merchant who was entrusted with this money to trade in the Levant.
London, 4th February, 1611.
Feb 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 172. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Marshal de Laverdin arrived on Wednesday of last week. He was met at the King's orders by the Earl of Pembroke eight miles away with a following of about thirty carriages, and was conducted to his lodging, where he is nobly entertained with all his train. On Sunday he had audience in the presence of the whole Court. It was confined to mere compliments, nor, so far, has he given sign of being entrusted with any negotiation. The day after to-morrow his Majesty will swear the articles of the Alliance in his Chapel. Meantime the King wishes to have the Marshal with him at Hampton Court, and thither he has gone for a couple of days. Everything is being done to entertain these French gentlemen. I have not failed in due politeness to his Excellency, who has returned my courtesy so punctually that the very first day after he had seen the King he came to pay me a visit and to honour this Embassy, a step which was remarked by the whole Court.
As to the affairs of Germany there is considerable doubt here, as they hold that the larger part of the Militia now in the Milanese will go to that country. They are not without hopes that Saxony will be satisfied by being made joint “possessioner,” and Neuburg with the administration of the Electorate, while Deuxpont will administer the State. This solution was proposed by his Majesty to the Prince of Anhault. At the Hague there is a rumour that Neuburg is about to go to that city, and after some negotiation there he would come over to England, but here I cannot find that they know anything about it. Suspicion about Germany prevents the Dutch from disbanding a part of their troops. They have thirty-five thousand infantry still enrolled. They seem inclined to break up the French troops first, as the Queen declares she will not continue their pay. The Swedish Ambassadors left Holland two weeks ago; after long negotiation they got nothing but words. The Ambassador of Morocco has started on his return to his Master. He is greatly impressed by the power of the United Provinces, which omitted nothing that could give him satisfaction, for they hold that his Master may very well be a useful instrument to hold in check the forces of Spain, and the capture of El Arisch was by no means well received, indeed they would not believe it, for that port is very well placed to trouble Dutch vessels trading to the East Indies.
The question of transit for Antwerp has come up again. The Zealanders have been offered certain recognition and are more favourably inclined. They know that if they do not yield the Flemish will make every effort to develope Dunquerque, which would be a great blow to the Dutch.
Lady Arabella is in bed so afflicted and ill that the King has been obliged to postpone her departure for Durham for another twenty days. She is relegated to Durham and her husband is a closer prisoner than ever.
The Queen of France on hearing that the Duke de Bouillon had begged to have near him Melville (Mulvino), who is a prisoner in the Tower, has sent to beg the King that he on no account should allow Melville to cross to France. She considers him a brain as unquiet as it is quick and sharp, and above all a most subtle Calvinist. But as there arrived at the same moment a person from the Duke to thank the King for the favour and to take possession of Melville, his Majesty feels that to refuse him after promising him would seriously affect his honour. Nor is he lacking in desire to set Melville at liberty, as he has at all times had great liking for his learning and ready wit.
London, 4th February, 1611.
Feb 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 173. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
They say a decree of the Sultan's has been issued ordering that in Moldavia they shall receive as Prince the person (fn. 3) who is now in the house of the English Ambassador. The Transylvanian and his Ambassador here are extremely desirous of this. The Ambassador says he will not present himself to the Grand Signor till the other has kissed hands for the principality of Moldavia. They, however, desire to wait the return of agents, who will inform them how things stand in the Moldavia; if both the Moldavian and the Walachian are quite out of the province, they will declare this favourite of the King of England and the Transylvanian.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 5th February, 1610 [M.V.]
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 174. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Confederation between the Princes of the Union, England, Denmark and the States will soon be stipulated; they say if they speak clearly from France to Spain there might be peace.
Paris, 9th February, 1611.
Feb 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 175. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the ceremony of swearing the treaty in the Royal Chapel on Sunday last, his Majesty kept the Marshal de Laverdin and the Lieger to dinner with him and the Prince, his son; and the day was passed in the usual dancing. Among the many topics of conversation at table, the King said that the Duke of York wished to be a soldier in the service of the Republic of Venice, that he had offered himself as such to my predecessor during the late differences with the Pope, and he always renewed the offer every time he saw me. He wishes to come to Venice to offer himself personally to your Serenity and to walk in the Piazza of San Marco, and much else in honour of that Serene dominion and its representatives. The Marshal is hurrying his departure, urged, as he says, by couriers express; nothing keeps him but the Queen's Masque, which takes place the day after to-morrow. The couriers from France have caused a rumour to spread that peace will not last long in that kingdom. Here they regret it, because they desire its continuance and because the renunciation of Sully causes alarm as to the suppression of the Huguenots. The Marshal has had many invitations from the King and the Prince to go hunting with the one and to engage in chivalrous exercises and the game of pall-mall (palea) with the other; but most of these have been put off owing to the death of the Earl of Dunbar, (fn. 4) a Scot, who was brought up with his Majesty and possessed his entire confidence, and was alone the partner of his most intimate secrets. By his death a seat in the Council and a ribbon of the Garter are vacant; also the posts of Commissioner General for Scotland, the Treasurership, Controllership, and another important office in that kingdom. He leaves to his two daughters, one married in Scotland, and one engaged to the son of the Lord Chamberlain, it may be forty thousand crowns of income, almost all amassed after the King came to this throne, besides a large amount in ready money. His Majesty has bewailed him tenderly, and spent the whole day of his death in bed, nor is he yet at all well. This makes the Court sad.
The differences between Denmark and Sweden on the subject of frontiers was to be arranged by Commissioners through the intermediation of the Duke of Brunswick; but as the Swedish Commissioners did not keep their appointment at Holstein the other Commissioners left in disgust and to the great wrath of their Sovereign. This has caused the greatest sorrow to the United Provinces, which did all that in them lay to bring about an accommodation. They wrote to the King begging him to omit no representations in favour of peace, and he has let the King of Denmark understand very clearly that he is not to count on help from England. A war between Sweden and Denmark would open the way for the aggrandisement of Poland, to which they are very much averse here.
Among personages contemplated for marriage to the Prince is the second sister of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The Queen favours this match more than any other. On the occasion when the Secretary of the Grand Duke (fn. 5) was presenting their Highnesses portraits, she even went so far as to let her wish be clearly seen, declaring that she had excellent information about the lady and asking for her portrait. In course of conversation she let it be seen that she was very much opposed to a French alliance, either because of some dislike conceived on this point, or because such is her conviction. The Secretary, after some deprecatory remarks, said that if such a match were really to be concluded, there was sufficient nobility of birth, quality of the person and a good sum of money, and his Master could satisfy their Majesties on all these points. He will do all he can to keep the affair alive and has good hopes of bringing it to a happy conclusion; for though his Majesty will be induced with difficulty to accept an alliance with one of another religion; still he will be forced to it by the want of anyone who professes his own. I have all this from a sure source.
In Holland they are continuing negotiations for the Antwerp transit. The conclusion is delayed by the serious illness of M. de Barneveldt, who, though with hardly any hope of sound health, has all the most important affairs in his hands.
The Dutch have at last executed some of the leaders in the rising of Utrecht. The King will leave for Royston the second day of Lent if the death of the Earl of Dunbar does not make him change his plans. He will remain at the chase till Holy Week.
I will await the arrival of Foscarini.
London, 11th February, 1611.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb 13. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Savoy. Venetian Archives. 176. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The Count of Ruffia left two days ago for Paris and England.
Turin, 13th February, 1611.
Feb 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 177. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir Henry Wotton, late Ambassador of England to your Excellencies, was here four days ago. To-day he has seen the Queen; nor are honours wanting both on account of the Sovreign he represents and because of his own merits. The Prince of Condé sent to visit him. The Duke of Guise has secured him honour by lodging him in his own house. His Majesty sent to see him. He will stay here some days, nor will I fail in such offices as are proper and due. I imagine that your Excellencies will have heard from the Ambassador Barbarigo that Wotton had three audiences of the Duke of Savoy; the first lasted half an hour, the second two hours and the third was much longer. The first was merely complimentary; the second to urge the Duke to draw close to and to come to an understanding with your Excellencies; the third dealt with reciprocal alliances and good understandings about marriages and so on. I will not dwell on what your Excellencies will have heard long ago; but I will conclude by saying that as far as I can discover both the King and Queen of England are much more inclined to the Prince of Savoy; so that match may be concluded.
Paris, 16th February, 1611.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb 21. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 178. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet, and spoke as follows:—
“Most Serene Prince, so well based and so solid is the good understanding between the King of Great Britain and your Serenity that it needs no further confirmation, and I need not come here to take up your time in the midst of your other heavy occupations; nevertheless I am here to give you an account of my Master's health and prosperity, and to congratulate your Serenity that your negotiations in Constantinople have terminated as was for your service and as his Majesty's Ministers desired. He is delighted that the secret enemies who have sought to disturb the quiet of this Serene Dominion are left without the fruit of their evil designs, and of the discord they were striving to create under the specious appearance of good. By God's grace they have not achieved the end they proposed. And speaking on this point more clearly, I will, by your Serenity's leave, declare that his Majesty when he first came to the throne of England, neglecting the laws already passed by his predecessors, directed against both the life and the property of the Roman Catholics of the Kingdom, endeavoured by clemency and benignity to preserve his subjects in quiet and peace; nor did he seek from them aught else than due obedience and proper respect, which is the right of all Sovreign Princes. He governed his conduct by the three principles—fear of God, Peace, and Justice, by means of which the just Sovreign preserves his States in tranquillity and splendour. But finding that some under cloak of religion plotted and schemed against his own person, the weal of his Kingdom and of his States, he availed himself of the right conceded by laws divine, civil and human, and was forced to adopt remedies to prevent the progress of the enemy, and convert to their damage the plans designed against him. In doing so, however, his Majesty has displayed his singular clemency, for during all this time in such numerous occasions he has handed to the secular arm only a few, out of the many whom he might have consigned. Yet all the same I hear from Rome and elsewhere that these very people defame the King, seek to obscure his clemency, and endeavour to impress upon the popular mind ideas quite at variance with his Majesty's goodness, with a view to feeding bickering and discord. On this account some days ago, on receiving news that a book had been printed in Bologna by these people which in appearance attacked the King's Majesty but in fact impugned the sovreign authority of all Princes, I begged your Serenity to make such order thereon as seemed to you reasonable. I am quite sure that his Majesty will be highly pleased with the orders you have given, both as a sign of regard and also as a proof of your singular prudence in not permitting in your dominions books of such a scandalous nature, so pernicious and directed to the division of kingdoms. His Majesty, too, has taken and will take good order to render vain any such designs.” The Doge replied that truly the good understanding between his Majesty and the Republic required no confirmation, but his Lordship's presence, with or without business, was always acceptable. As to the affair of Constantinople it was settled as reason required. He returned thanks that his Majesty and his Ministers found satisfaction therein. The conviction at the Porte and elsewhere that there was a loyal and sincere good understanding between his Majesty and the Republic was of constant service.
As to his Majesty's clemency, this was universally known; he was aware that when his Majesty found himself obliged to consign a priest to the secular arm he felt great repugnance in doing so, and only consented unwillingly in the interests of good government. It was a new and scandalous procedure, this of these days, that under the cloak of religion persons sought to introduce discord into kingdoms and to plot against the lives of Princes; it was a course of action detested by all the Saints and abhorred by good men, not ordained by God and contrary to all laws human and divine, and dangerous to the object of such laws.
When they had news of this book they used all diligence that it should not be divulged. They were assured that only four volumes had been brought into Venice; two had fallen into his Lordship's hands and two into the hands of the magistrates, and in this way they were suppressed. Steps are being taken that no more shall be introduced. The Ambassador may rest assured that the State will always show its regard and respect for his Majesty. His Serenity dwelt on the bad effect such books produced on the Catholic Religion itself, which it was their object to amplify; and by this means to obliterate in the minds of the people that respect which they bear towards secular Princes.
The Ambassador replied thanking his Serenity for his wise reply. Then passing from public to private affairs he said that the Earl (sic) of Cranborne (Clambur), an English baron who was here with the son of the Earl of Salisbury, Lord High Treasurer, had fallen ill at Padua, but was better and had come to enjoy the liberty of Venice and to offer his services to his Serenity. The Doge inquired as to his health, and promised all facilities which the said Earl might require.
Finally the Ambassador returned thanks for the courtesy of the sanitary officers in passing some of his property. The Doge said they had done well, and wherever his person was concerned he would always receive courtesy.
Feb 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 179. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir Henry Wotton, the English Ambassador to your Excellencies, is still here awaiting the Count of Ruffia, appointed as Ambassador to England from the Duke of Savoy. They had agreed to make the journey together. This delay pleases Wotton but little, and the rumours flying about make him suspicious. He has dwelt at length to me on the favours shown him by the Duke. He did not conceal from me that when speaking to his Highness about your Excellencies he bore witness to the high esteem in which you hold the Duke. I have found out that the Duke would like the Garter which his father had, and Wotton holds for certain that if his Highness deals sincerely he will meet with all favour from the King.
Paris, 23rd February, 1611.
Feb 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 180. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Many books attacking Bellarmine's have been published. The English Ambassador tells me that there, too, they are writing; and so both the beginning and the progress of the affair is displeasing to the good; for the one injures the safety and the rights of Sovreigns, the other does not benefit the Pope.
Paris, 23rd February, 1611.
Feb 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 181. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Count Ruffia, who is expected here as Ambassador from the Duke of Savoy, is charged with a mission about the marriage of the Princess which had already been suggested by the Spanish Ambassador. This I am told by a person who penetrates all secrets. The Ambassador will be welcomed by their Majesties, who have always thought that the French marriage would never take place on account of the many obligations under which the Duke of Savoy is to the King of Spain. All the same the negotiations for this match are not looked upon as easy, for it is thought that the Duke has ulterior objects, while all Spain wants is to upset the match with the King of France's sister.
I understand that the Count Palatine, who also aspires to the Princess' hand, is sending an Envoy here, having changed his mind about coming in person. His Majesty advised him to suspend this visit, which is a sign that he wishes first to hear what his Ambassador, who lately left Venice, had negotiated in Turin, and also what Ruffia will bring with him. This mission from Savoy has roused great suspicion in the Secretary for Florence, who is afraid that they will discuss a marriage between the Prince of Wales and a Princess of Savoy. Nevertheless some favour recently shown to the Secretary and the extraordinary attention of the Earl of Salisbury lend colour to the belief that her Majesty's conversation with the Secretary about the second sister of the Grand Duke is based on the will of his Majesty and of his principal ministers.
Another Swedish Ambassador has arrived in Holland about the controversy with Denmark. He has been advised to send an Agent over here, who along with the Dutch Ambassador would urge the King to send a special Envoy to Denmark, a step the States are also disposed to take. It seems that every day there is a greater danger of open war between those two Sovreigns.
Among other difficulties the King of Denmark claims general dues of all vessels passing from the German sea to the Swedish. This, besides bringing in an ordinary revenue, would induce much of the merchandize to discharge in his own ports. Sweden threatens, if Denmark insists, to levy a similar rate, as she, too, holds places on the Straits. This is a point that interests the United Provinces no less because of their trade, for they have perhaps six hundred of their ships in those parts, than for the opening these discords would give to the advance of Poland and the hinderance to the union of the Protestant Princes. The United Provinces are very well supplied with troops, and they are filling up and preparing their companies rather than reducing a single one. They intend, however, to relieve themselves of this burden as soon as they are assured of the quiet of Germany. By last advices they were not without a doubt lest the disbanded troops from the Milanese should slip through to join the troops in Posen.
The readiness of the Margrave of Brandenburg to admit the Duke of Saxony to the “possession” of Cleves makes for quiet. They do not think much of the pretensions of Neuburg, for they imagine that finding himself unsupported he will be forced to bow to necessity. All these considerations are felt here, but the case is less urgent for them in that they are further off and have as bulwarks the United Provinces and the sea.
The question of transit for Antwerp has again been abandoned without any conclusion, for what would be given to Antwerp—which is now reduced to a very modest trade—would be taken from the other cities and especially from Middelburg.
The Marshal de Laverdin left last week. He received from the King upwards of four thousand ounces of silver-gilt plate, and from the Queen a diamond of great value. Last Monday the King and the Prince departed; they are to stay Holy Week at Royston for the chase. I paid my respects to them before they left. In conversation with the Earl of Salisbury about the excellent qualities of these Princes the talk fell on the Duke of York, and his Excellency said: “He will be a lieutenant in your service”; I am of opinion that his Excellency desired me to give him an opportunity to go further, but I thought it better not to face it.
At the departure of Marshal de Laverdin, M. de Bisseau (fn. 6) (Bisseo), the new French Ambassador, arrived and had instant audience of the King. I have omitted no steps to ensure the continuance of that good understanding which I enjoyed with his predecessor, who leaves this highly honoured and with a reputation for singular prudence.
London, 24th February, 1611.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb 26. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Florence. Venetian Archives. 182. Giacomo Vendramin, Venetian Resident in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Launch of the Earl of Warwick's galleon.
Florence, 26th February, 1611.


  • 1. Sir John Digby; see Cal. S.P. Dom. 1611–1618, p. 22.
  • 2. Sir Charles Cornwallis.
  • 3. Stephen Bogdan.
  • 4. George Hume; see Cal. S.P. Dom. 1610. Dec. 9.
  • 5. Antonio Lotti.
  • 6. See Winwood. Mem. III. 232.