Venice: March 1611

Pages 121-128

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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March 1611

March 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 183. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The people of Geneva, who are under the protection of this Crown, have made appeals to the King of Great Britain and to the States. The Count of Ruffia is expected here this evening.
Paris, 2nd March, 1611.
March 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 184. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Three English ships have arrived laden with a quantity of cloth, metal, spices, logwood (verzin).
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 5th March, 1611.
March 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 185. Antonio Foscarini and Zorzi Guistinian, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On Saturday afternoon the Count of Ruffia arrived. He expresses surprise at not finding Wotton here, as they had arranged to meet and go on to England together. Talking of the delay in his arrival he laid the blame on his Highness's orders, which had kept him many days at Lyons.
Paris, 9th March, 1611.
March 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 186. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King before asking for a loan from his subjects has resolved to make a general regulation of the income and expenditure of the Crown. He has already sent to press certain orders forbidding anyone soever to petition for certain revenues, or products, ordinary or extraordinary, which belong to his Majesty, nor yet for augmentation of pensions or farmings of any sort of merchandize which could in any way inconvenience the people. At the same time the Chancellor and Judges and other officers are forbidden to give execution to any concessions which may have been unwittingly granted by his Majesty in contravention of these dispositions. On the other hand a very long list of such revenues as may be sought for by his Majesty's good servants has been issued. I do not send you a copy, for its length is so great that it could not be translated in time for this post, and besides it would be merely tedious to those who are not interested. The reform of the pay list and of the table expenses for the Courtiers is expected in a few days. Expenses will be cut down. This will be a benefit to his Majesty, a convenience to his servants and a relief to the general public, owing to the necessity for supplying the royal household at very low prices. There is no doubt that these regulations are designed rather to gratify his subjects than to bring any real advantage to his Majesty, who only a few days ago made presents out of his own pocket to the amount of thirty or forty thousand crowns each. (fn. 1)
The affairs of Saxony, Brandenburg, and Neuburg are not claiming attention at present; in German matters all eyes are directed to the people of Posen. The preparations of the Duke of Savoy give food for reflection and frequent couriers have arrived from France to the French Ambassador. The Lords of Council affirm that his Majesty is resolved to support the people of Geneva and the Vallais in every way, and if the Ambassador Ruffia has orders to broach this subject he will neither give nor receive satisfaction. It is not clear, however, what help those people can receive from this kingdom owing to the distance and to the fact that there is no communication by sea; also owing to lack of money, unless he make some assignment of the money owing by the Crown of France. True it is that much of the youth of this country is desirous of toil, and it would not be surprising if some of them should receive help from his Majesty for that purpose.
The Swedish Agent who came here about the controversy with Denmark went to Newmarket to see the King, and on his return yesterday to London he found a person sent on purpose from Holland to press this business. His Majesty showed himself very much inclined to oblige the Swedish envoy and has referred him to the Lords of Council, with whom he has had a conference to-day in order to take some resolution.
The Prince has abandoned the French dress and has taken to the Italian; in this he has been followed by the Duke of York and by the larger part of their households. He says he will always wear it, as it seems to him more modest and more convenient in itself and less costly for the suite, as he cannot endure the changes of fashion which come every day from France. The Spanish Ambassador, in conversation with his Highness, congratulated him on having adopted the Spanish dress, but had for his answer that it was really nearer Italian.
Thanks to the efficacious recommendations of his Majesty to the Admiralty Judge on behalf of the merchants of Zante, who had currants on board the “Red Camel,” his Lordship has shown himself so determined that the Earl of Arundel shall immediately make effective deposit of all that came into his hands that the Earl himself has come to a voluntary composition, leaving to the merchants two thirds of the said capital. I consider this a very great advantage, for I know how much a law suit costs, especially for foreigners, against a personage of such importance, besides the fact that the whole case was very doubtful.
I have also been approached by the sureties in the case of the “Soderina,” as they begin to find it unpleasant to live in such close confinement, but they make such demands as yet that I have not been able to make up my mind to accept their offers, as I hope that in a few days they will become more reasonable. The Spanish ship captured by the French and brought in here has been handed over to the French again on the deposit of a caution, and the question of whether she was taken beyond the Equator has been referred to the French Courts.
Another sentence has been issued by the Admiralty Court in favour of some Englishmen, who have brought to England a cargo with Spanish marks of sugar worth thirty thousand ducats. This they said they bought from the Viceroy of Algiers. The Ambassador denied that the sugar had ever been in Barbary, but not only has he received no support but at the very moment when his secretary was moving the Chancellor for leave to appeal a very curt answer was returned along with complaints of the justice meted out in Spain to the English race. This bitterness arises, as I hear, from a very bad report of the nature of the King's chief Ministers which the late Spanish Ambassador presented to his Catholic Majesty. The Ambassador is extremely angry and wrote to the King making great complaint; he received a smooth answer but expects no fruit. He is much mortified and goes about declaring that he will do a bad turn at the Spanish Court. This will add to the ill-humour.
Yesterday, while in audience with the Queen, who was pleased to keep me with her in her privy chamber, she touched on the religion of the City of Venice, and showed her belief that it had departed very far from the ritual of Rome; but I not only in vigorous language assured her of the contrary, but I affirmed that the Republic had at all times shown herself most obedient to the Pope in matters spiritual, while as a temporal Sovreign she had never yielded any of her rights; that reply was weighed by her Majesty, who showed her satisfaction with both parts of it. (Usci a parlarmi della religione della città de Venetia, mostrando creder che sia versificata grandemente dal rito di Roma ma io non solo con parole molto efficaci l'assicurai del contrario ma l'affirmai' che l'altretanto la Serenissima Republica si conserverà in ogni tempo ubbidentissimo al Pontefice nelle cose spirituali quanto come a Principe temporale non ciederà mai alcuna parte delle sue ragioni; la quale risposta fu pesata da sua Maestà che mostrò di compiacersene grandemente non meno per l'una che per l'altra parte.)
London, 10th March, 1611.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 187. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The new Persian Ambassador has arrived at Court with a suite of twenty-five persons. He is the same man who was in Venice six years ago with merchandize. He has in his special service an Augustinian Friar. He has had audience and been well received by his Majesty, who is at his charges at the rate of one hundred crowns a day. His intentions are not thoroughly known, but it seems that they are not very different from those of the other Ambassador, Sherley, who is still here without any definite answer. The gist of the business is the Persian's offer to send all merchandize from Ormuz to Lisbon—which would be a great gain to the Spanish Crown—on condition that the King of Spain should attack the Turk. He has brought two hundred bales of silk, as a sample; it is very fine and has been sold in Lisbon at four ducats the pound. I have endeavoured to find out whether this change of route is convenient. They found it longer but not costly. It is thought the King will give fair promises to induce the Persian to establish the route and will then settle as suits him best. If this route be established it will cause some injury to the market of Venice, where that silk usually arrives from Syria.
Madrid, 12th March, 1611.
March 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 188. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
They are delighted at the capture of El Arisch. From its position it will be a most important bulwark against the pirates.
Madrid, 12th March, 1611.
March 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 189. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Wotton arrived only on Friday of last week. He went on to Royston, where the King is at present, such was his Majesty's will. His Lordship has omitted no marks of regard towards this Embassy whereby he might prove the affection he feels towards the Serene Republic. I have done everything to confirm him in it by showing him all honour and by attesting to him the love and esteem in which your Serenity holds him, as I think it well to keep this Minister in a good disposition, especially as he alone has had long experience of the City of Venice.
The reason why the Ambassador of Sweden comes to this Court is because the Estates of the United Provinces have declined to interfere in the dispute with Denmark, except with the consent and assistance of the King of England, on account of his relationship to the King of Denmark. The Envoy has obtained letters vigorously urging the King of Denmark to abstain from violence and to submit his differences to the Estates of the United Provinces as Sweden has already offered to do. These letters will be conveyed by Dutch Ambassadors sent on purpose, who will be followed by another whom his Majesty promises to send as soon as possible.
The news that Saxony, Brandenburg and Neuberg are disposed to come to terms over the Duchy of Cleves give sure hope that this will take place. It will be joyfully welcomed by the Protestant Princes, who are not without alarm lest there may be great troubles on this score. Above all the United Provinces desire it because of the anxiety and expense entailed upon them by this neighbouring fire. The warlike preparations of the Duke of Savoy also keep these Princes very anxious. The Spaniards say it is a mere trifle and the King of Spain has no hand in it; but not much faith is placed in this.
The Count of Embden has agreed with the burghers to refer his claims to the King of Great Britain and to the United Provinces; and to settle the question the Ambassador resident at the Hague and the Dutch Commissioners will go to Gröningen (Croning).
The Dutch Embassy to Constantinople was on the point of departure; its mission was to convey an answer to the invitation, sent by the Grand Signor, requesting, in courteous terms, an alliance with the Dutch, an alliance which he says he would esteem the more that the Dutch are hostile to Spain and to the Grand Duke. The occasion of this was the present which the Dutch made to the Port of the slaves found in the galleys at the capture of Sluys.
The Queen left last Tuesday for Greenwich; she will stay there till the King's return, which will not be till Holy Week. Meantime the Court is quite empty.
The King has ordered that Lady Arabella shall leave London for Durham before his return. She has been relegated there and I hear the order will be carried out one day next week; the delay has not succeeded in securing a revocation of the order.
The complaints of the Spanish Ambassador have prevailed so far that appeal has been granted in the case of the sugar brought to this kingdom by English seamen. His Lordship desired that his cause should be heard not by the ordinary Courts, but by the Council; but in this he has not succeeded.
Baron Fenton, (fn. 2) Captain of the Guard, has been appointed to the Privy Council, in which there were only two Scots left; and the King has conferred the Archbishopric of Canterbury on the Bishop of London. (fn. 3) The Catholics complain extremely, as he is held to be their bitterest persecutor; just as his predecessor was held to be inclined to our faith.
A few days ago a work by Father Capello, of the Order of the Minorites, was sent to the King. It was printed in Rome. It attacks the errors of this sect and the writings published in England these last few years. Capello's book is thought to be deficient in learning rather than in modesty.
Casaubon is writing on this topic and especially against the opinion of the Jesuits; he claims to do so skilfully and with great moderation. As a matter of fact he is not of a mind far removed from the Catholic faith, and shows a great desire for some accommodation, which would allow the heretics to draw near to Rome.
London, 17th March, 1611.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 190. Zorzi Giustinian and Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Count of Ruffia left for England on the day we named. He will propose marriage alliances.
Paris, 22nd March, 1611.
March 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 191. Zorzi Giustinian, retiring Ambassador to England, and Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A joint representation from both that the cost of both the English and the French Embassy is excessive.
Paris, 22nd March, 1611.
March 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 192. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Ruffia, Ambassador of the Duke of Savoy, reached London yesterday. He is lodged and entertained by the King's orders. This unwonted honour is attributed to the honours which were shown to Wotton in Turin when he was on his way back from Venice. I am assured by a very great Minister that Ruffia's mission is to ask the hand of the Princess, and perhaps to suggest one of the Princesses of Savoy for the Prince of Wales. On this second point I understand that for certain he will find but little inclination; on the other point it is not certain which way the King leans. His interests are far away from Italy; nor is there wanting a suspicion that the Duke of Savoy may have other more recondite ends. There are no small difficulties; a Princess with a large following of a different religion would not be easily received in Italy, nor would the Pope be readily induced to give his assent. At the same time representations in favour of the Count Palatine, who earnestly aspires to this marriage, are not neglected. Many support this match on the grounds of religion. The Count will come himself in a few months; the Duke of Bouillon would have come over in the meantime had there not been some slight difficulty; the King is greatly inclined to this match. The Savoyard Ambassador will be all the more welcome if it really turns out that it is true, as Lord Salisbury heard two days ago, that the people of Geneva are quite sure of the intent of his Highness. This is a point they are anxious about here; England had been asked for and had promised help in case of an attack. From conversation between members of our suites, I gather that the Ambassador intends to stay here some weeks, awaiting, as he says, orders from the Duke his Master. The Spanish minimize the idea of negotiations for a marriage, and refer the mission to the mere continuance of negotiations in France and Spain. On the other hand the French show great suspicion. They exclude any idea of a match between France and Savoy, nor would they like to see one between England and Savoy. They will oppose such an issue.
The affairs of the King of Poland are progressing favourably in Russia. For after the capture of Moscow the whole country began to take the oath to his son; and the besieged of Smolensk seem disposed to do the same. The King himself wishes to be recognised as sovereign until his son is of an age more fit to govern; for there is great doubt of the faith of that population, which is reckoned insincere and prone to ruses. Demetrius is amassing fresh troops with the help of the Tartars, but the Polish General has sent a part of his army against him. Basilewski, lately Lord of Muscovy, his wife and two brothers, Demetrius and John, have been brought to Poland. The disorders in Bohemia have so completely eclipsed the affairs of Germany that no one mentions Cleves.
The Swedish envoy has left. He confirmed his master's readiness to submit his difficulties not merely to the Dutch but even to his Majesty, in spite of his being brother-in-law to Denmark. This will greatly facilitate the accord. The King of Sweden has given his daughter to his nephew, brother of the King of Poland, who as a Calvinist has always lived with his uncle.
The Queen will return to London to-day and the King and Prince to-morrow, to pass Easter.
London, 24th March, 1611.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 193. Marc' Antonio Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Bishop of Lincoln, preaching a few days ago in the Royal Palace, praised very expressly auricular confession, invocation and fasting, things entirely removed from the practise of religion in this kingdom, and greatly abhorred by the purer of the Calvinistic sectaries called Puritans. Everyone remarked the fact, but the Puritans were indignant, and made observations showing it; nor would it be very strange if one day, should the King live, these practices should be introduced and put in use.
The priests in this kingdom are negotiating with a view to the appointment of four or five Bishops by the Pope. They have drawn up separately various memorials on this point, as they have found opportunity to meet five or six together. In these memorials they name the persons they hold most fitted for the office, and they put forward the reasons for their wish, especially the greater veneration the English Catholics would show and the great effect their death would produce should any be condemned by the law. The Jesuits on other occasions have opposed such requests, and the successful issue of the petition is now all the more eagerly desired in that those fathers have in their hands the whole management of Catholic affairs in this kingdom and by their rules are debarred from accepting the episcopal dignity. (Il Vescovo de Lincon predicando pochi giorni sono nel medesimo Palazzo del Rè, lodò assai espressamente la confessione auriculare, l'oratione, et il digiuno; cose in tutto lontane dall'uso della Religione in questo Regno, et grandemente abhorite dalli più puri setatori di Calvino, chiamati puritani: ogn' uno vi ha fatta reflessione, ma questi in particolare lo hanno havuto grandemente a male, et proferte parole di gran sdegno, nè sarebbe gran cosa che un giorno vivendo il Re presente siano introdotte, et poste in uso.
Li sacerdoti di questo Regno trattano al presente che il Papa li concedi quattro o cinque Vescovi, hanno formato a parte a parte diversi Memoriali, secondo che hanno havuto commodo di ridursi cinque o sei insieme, nelli quali nominano quelli soggetti che stimano più atti a questo Ministerio, et rendono molte ragioni di tale loro desiderio, specialmente per maggior veneratione dei Catholici, et il grande effetto che farebbe la loro morte in oceasione che siano condannati dalla giustitia.
Li giesuiti altre volte si sono opposti a simile instanza, tanto maggiormente è hora desiderato il buon suo esito, quanto che essi padri al presente hanno in mano il governo delle cose appartinenti al buon indirizzo della Religione Catholica in questo Regno, et non sono per le loro costitutioni capaci della dignità episcopale.)
London, 24th March, 1611.
[Italian, deciphered.]
March 26. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Florence. Venetian Archives. 194. Giacomo Vendramin, Venetian Resident in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
I have been told in confidence that they are preparing a portrait of the second of these Princesses to send it to England. I don't know if there is any closer negotiation.
Florence, 26th March, 1611.
March 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 195. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
It is many months since the English Ambassador left without a successor being named. They are now pleased to hear that the King is sending an Envoy, and he is expected here in a few days. (fn. 4) They will treat him with all courtesy, to keep up a friendly appearance at least with that Crown.
Madrid, 27th March, 1611.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. See Cal. S. P. Dom., Feb. 1, 1611. Warrant to pay £8,000 each to the Earl of Montgomery, Viscount Fenton, Viscount Haddington and Lord Hay, and £2,000 to Sir Roger Ashton.
  • 2. Thomas Erskine. Viscount Fenton.
  • 3. George Abbot.
  • 4. Sir John Digby. See Cal. S.P. Dom., Ap. 8, 1611.