Venice: December 1611, 16-31

Pages 257-266

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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December 1611, 16–31

Dec. 16. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Corfu. Venetian Archives. 392. Girolamo Contarini, Governor of Corfu, to the Doge and Senate.
Enclosing report of the capture of a vessel of Curzola by a pirate berton, which came out of Vallona.
Corfu, 16th December, 1611.
Enclosed in preceding despatch. 393. 29th November, old style.
Costandui Sundra, of Santa Maura, master of the ship that has lately come from Valona laden with salted eels and small fish, deposed that on Friday last, the 15th, (fn. 1) there arrived at Valona a berton belonging to buccaneers. She had on board sixty Levantines and Turks and forty English and French. She put into Valona for biscuits. When victualled she sailed. On Friday last, the 22nd, we learned that the said berton had captured a Venetian vessel off Sasina. She was laden with wine and oil and cheese. Some Levantines boarded her and ran her into Valona, where she lies at present; but the berton has not been seen again. He left Valona on the night of Tuesday last, and the captured ship was still there untouched. The Levantines themselves declare their prize was a Dalmatian, and that on the appearance of the berton her crew had deserted her, going off in the ship's boat.
Dec. 18. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Savoy, Venetian Archives. 394. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
I have learned from a person of sense and position that the Marchese d'Orfè at first proposed to sail to the Indies towards Canada (sic), but that he gave up this idea, and now proposes to go privateering against the Turks. Neither design is considered likely to prove of profit.
Turin, 18th December, 1611.
Dec. 20. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Zante. Venetian Archives. 395. Francesco Donado, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
Enclose a report on the capture of the Venetian vessel “Bonoma e Valnegrina” in the waters of Sapienza by pirates from Tunis flying a flag with three crescent moons and three swords. The report is signed by Nicolo Cigala, merchant and passenger.
Zante, 20th December, 1611.
Dec. 20. Senato, Terra. Venetian Archives. 396. That the presents made by the King of England to our beloved noble, Marc' Antonio Correr, Cavaliere, on his return from that Embassy shall, in sign of our complete satisfaction at his good and right honourable service, be freely left to him.
Ayes 159.
Noes 7.
Neutrals 3.
Dec. 20. Senato, Terra. Venetian Archives. 397. That to the faithful Christoforo Suriano, retiring secretary to our beloved noble, Marc Antonio Correr, Cavaliere, late Ambassador to his Majesty the King of England, the present made him by his Majesty be freely left.
Ayes 169.
Noes 2.
Neutrals 3.
Dec. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 398. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have found out, in great part, what all these couriers-express have brought to the Spanish Ambassador, and as I am bound to furnish well-founded information to your Excellencies, I will begin by explaining what is necessary to make the matter clear. The courier sent by the King and the gentleman sent by the Ambassador reached the Spanish Court almost at the same time. The first conveyed instructions to the English Ambassador to make lively representations on the answer given to the request for the hand of the Infanta for the Prince of Wales, and the other took letters setting forth the serious resentment which was felt here against the King of Spain and the Duke of Lerma and stating the reasons which induced the Ambassador to reply as he had done to the Council and to the King. The letter closed with a declaration that it was now more than ever necessary to give some satisfaction to the King and to the Prince, and to scatter pensions and gifts among those who could to some extent lessen the disgust and foster goodwill.
The English Ambassador in Spain carried out his orders with great warmth and with good results, as he found the minds of the Spaniards disturbed by the vigorous report of the Spanish Ambassador in England. The English Ambassador loudly complained on behalf of certain subjects of this Crown, with protests and threats. He was promised every satisfaction on that point, and the courier was despatched, who reached England on Saturday, the 28th of last month, and who brought some instructions on the subject of the match. Soon after the gentleman sent by the Spanish Ambassador was re-despatched to England. He made the journey in eleven days, and reached this country on the 2nd of this month; he followed the Ambassador who, two days earlier, had set out for the Court, and caught him up on the way. This gentleman brought instructions that the Ambassador was to open negotiations for a match, and this he did in the long and secret audience he had. It is said by those who know that he broached the question of a match with the Prince, and suggested the Princess for the King. (fn. 2) He enlarged on the esteem in which this Crown is held, and declared that the desire to bind both by an alliance was still alive; as a further proof he showed his instructions; he added that if an accord could be reached on the question of religion all the rest was easy, and lay in the hands of his Majesty himself. On the seventh the Ambassador was back in London, and the day following he sent to Spain a report of what he had done, and a statement that the King of England was ready to negotiate, and perhaps some other secret point. That same day he received orders to distribute some pensions. The day following he promised to the Council every satisfaction in the case of the merchants; he said that a special Envoy would be sent, and meanwhile he would not say a single word in favour of his Master's subjects, who demand a large sum. After the Council the Ambassador had a secret interview with Lord Salisbury and Lord Northampton on some of the points submitted to the King, and then he despatched a courier to Spain. There is talk of sending an Ambassador Extraordinary on the excuse of conveying condolences for the death of the Queen. It is said that Lord Southampton has excused himself, and perhaps to avoid talk they will content themselves with commissioning Secretary Cottington, (fn. 3) who was for long in Spain with Cornwallis and then alone, and is very fully informed. He will leave by the post in a couple of days. It is rumoured that he is going in the interests of the merchants and will stay some time at Court, and will then go to reside at Seville with the name of Consul but with greater authority.
I am told by a person of quality that the English Ambassador in Spain, at the same time that he received orders from the King to speak with resentment, also had a letter from the Prince in his own hand complaining, though quite gently, that he could not have the Infanta as had been promised him; but my informant added that sharp language from the King and soft language from the Prince had produced a lively result.
The Spanish Ambassador here has reported current talk very fully. He has not concealed the fact that the King of England, continuing his sports and pastimes, could easily, with three or four hundred thousand crowns, levy war on the States, fleets and subjects of his Catholic Majesty, and his subjects would willingly vote him seven and eight hundred thousand crowns, as they did in the days of the late Queen. If leave for reprisals were granted an infinite number of English would fit out ships at their own expense. It seems that these considerations, which are fully realized by his Catholic Majesty, have brought about the reopening of marriage negotiations. He exalted the forces of this Kingdom. The same person pointed out to me that if a matrimonial alliance took place between these two Crowns, France would have to look to herself, and if it does not it will be difficult to keep the peace. This is the opinion of many persons in authority and is based on weighty reasons. The Spanish Ambassador, who came to see me on Sunday, told me that his master would take every opportunity to gratify the King of England; he said a union of blood might quite well take place and that his Catholic Majesty, who refused to treat of a French match unless the French agreed that the Infanta should renounce her claims to the succession, would probably use different language here.
London, 23rd December, 1611.
Dec. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 399. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Savoyard Ambassador has continually sought audience of the King and the Earl of Salisbury, but has not had either. It is said that the answer will be deferred until the courier comes back from Spain, and they desire first to have something definite from that quarter; besides the representations made by Maurice and Bouillon on behalf of the Palatine retard the proposals of the Duke and raise much opposition. On Sunday the Chevalier Badata was here from his Highness to inform his Ambassador first of all as to what passed with Lesdiguières at their meetings. He says that the Marshal first informed him in the Queen's name that the reciprocal matches between France and Spain were concluded, and then proposed for the Prince of Piedmont a daughter of the Grand Duke or a daughter of the Duke of Mantua. His Highness added that if he had to bow to accepting a lady not of royal blood he would certainly choose the daughter of Mantua, as she was proposed by the Queen of France, with certain places in the Monferrat for dowry, which would suit his Highness very well, as they lie in the middle of his States. Orders are sent to conclude the matter here as quickly as possible, and to send full accounts of the negotiations. The Ambassador has sent the gentleman back, and I am told that he has informed the Duke that from the Spanish Ambassador's manner and from the fact that he does not communicate all his steps, a doubt arises whether his Catholic Majesty—just as he wanted the Princess of France for his son—may not want the English Princess for himself.
The Ambassador of Savoy after the arrival of Badata has announced that he has a fresh commission and pressed for an audience, and it is thought that finally Lord Salisbury, after having excused his Majesty on the ground of his being so far away and insisting that it was not suitable to grant audience to Ambassadors of quality in a little room such as that in which the King was at present confined with a cold, will give the Ambassador an opportunity of seeing the King. The Spanish Ambassador says he does not understand why the Savoyard is pressing for a final answer; he says that the marriage of a daughter is a serious matter and that great Kings should not be hurried over such affairs, but that all should go quietly and orderly, and he implicitly approves the delay that is taking place here. The Lords of the Council have pointed out that the King is deeply attached to the Princess, his only daughter, and would have to think well over the matter before he let her go to Italy; and on the point of religion and the freedom to exercise it, greater security is required than the word of the Duke. The Ambassador replies that as the Duke has asked for the Princess without asking any dower but the protection of this Crown, to break his word would be to lose that protection, to render this Crown hostile and to bring about results quite contrary to what he intended in asking the Princess' hand. The Ambassador will certainly see the King one of these days, but I am informed from a sure quarter that he will get no definite answer, and if he presses for it he may get a negative or little satisfaction. Yesterday the Ambassador went to the Prince and presented him with some horses in the Duke's name. He is also making presents to various gentlemen, and is still entertained at the King's charges, at an allowance of eighty crowns a day to those who supply him.
In the interview between the Duke of Savoy and Lesdiguieres, his Highness received some satisfaction in the promises made by the Queen that she would hold him dear and would support him in his need. This was the main cause of the interview, for the Duke thought that the enterprise of Sassello should warn everyone what Spanish designs were. The Savoyard Ambassador, either on orders from the Duke or on some suspicion which he has conceived about the Spanish Ambassador, would not now be unwilling to reconcile himself with the Ambassador of France.
London, 23rd December, 1611.
Dec. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 400. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the death of the King of Sweden, which took place on the 17th of last month, we have no further news from that Kingdom, nor from Denmark, but only confirmation of my last news. They are anxiously watching the turn of events.
The Spanish Ambassador tells me that the Spanish Ambassador in Germany is endeavouring to induce King Mathias to renounce the Crown of Bohemia to the Emperor as the sole way to remove all roots of disagreement. This would not injure Mathias in any way, it would merely be an act in appearance, for he will immediately or very shortly be elected King of the Romans. The three Catholic Electors are already resolved, and the hope of having gained even Saxony is great; but even if that hope vanished, all Bohemia in conjunction with the three Electors would be sufficient to put Mathias in the saddle. This will be done soon, so as to prevent the possibility of an heretical Prince, who is aspiring to the title, from gaining strength and prestige. From all this one can easily see that the Spaniards are aware of the King of Denmark's designs.
The support which the King will give to the Confederates of Hall in time of need, turns out to amount to four thousand foot and five hundred horse. Information has been sent to Holland, so that the States General may also settle the amount of their support, which they were to do only after the King of England had declared his. The King has instructed his Envoys that if the Diet which is to be held in Holland should be transferred to Heidelberg, they are to carry out their orders. The Dutch have sent an Ambassador to the Archduke Albert to complain of certain disorders on the confines, and to declare that if remedy is not applied at once they will take it as a hostile act.
Fourteen great ships are lying at Amsterdam ready to sail to the East Indies. They are resolved to fight all the Spanish ships that they find in those parts, and to inflict all the damage they can upon them. The Archduke with the Infanta, is at Marimont and enjoys the quiet.
The Secretary of the French Ambassador came back three days' ago from Scotland, where he paid the hundred men-at-arms, to whom he made promises of further pay in a few months.
The Viceroy of Ireland (fn. 4) is here. The vessel that was sent after the pirates with a pardon has at last caught them up off the Spanish coast. Some goods were recovered, and it is hoped that fifteen ships belonging to pirates will be induced to return, but this is not certain, and the means are held to be of no very good example and of doubtful consequence.
The India Company and the Turkey Company are treating with Sherley about trade.
On Saturday I had an audience of the Queen at Greenwich. She kept me a long time in conversation; and in discussing the marriages she told me some of the things I have already reported. To-morrow I will visit the Prince, who returned the day before yesterday, and then the Duke of York; the Princess is with the Queen, and the King will be in London this day week.
London, 23rd December, 1611.
Dec. 26. Senato Secreta. Despatches from Corfu, Venetian Archives. 401. Girolamo Contarini, Governor in Corfu, to the Doge and Senate.
Reports the capture of Venetian ships off Sapienza by Barbary pirates. The Castle of Zante has also sighted two other very big bertons belonging to pirates. Nothing can be done, as the commander of the squadron is ill of fever.
Corfu, 26th December, 1611.
Dec. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 402. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador told me that the real cause of annoyance to the Earl of Salisbury and the Princes was that the French should have gone so far with the Spanish match without informing them. The English Ambassador attempts every means to break off the Franco-Spanish match; he has pointed out what a gain it would be to the Catholics in England to have a Catholic Queen. He told me that Count Ruffia's negotiations are proceeding without much hope of success. He was staying on merely till the courier came back from Savoy.
Paris, 28th December, 1611.
Dec. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 403. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Monday the 26th the King was at Theobalds, and the next day he told the Savoyard Ambassador that he would have audience to-day at Theobalds; but late yesterday he recalled the instruction, and said that to-morrow he would be here and would gladly see the Ambassador. The answer he will get will be thanks to the Duke for the esteem in which he holds this Crown, and that in a short time an Embassy will be sent with a fuller reply; and thus the King will endeavour, by flattering the Envoy, by keeping him to dinner and by giving him presents, to send him away satisfied as far as may be. They will await what may come from Spain and perhaps from some other quarters, and in Spring they will send an Embassy to Turin with the instructions they may think most advantageous. This is what they intend at present, but it is not so definitely settled but what it may change.
The French Ambassador discoursing to me about the relations between the King of Spain and the Duke of Savoy told me that the Duke was doing all he could to attach himself to France, and at his interview with Lesdiguières he sought for a pension and to be bound to France. For certain he received a favourable answer. His Catholic Majesty is not satisfied with the Duke, he objects to the Duke having had dealings with other Princes to the disadvantage of Spain. He added that while the Duke was treating here for the hand of the Princess, he was treating also for a daughter of Mantua. The negotiations with other Princes to the disadvantage of Spain refers perhaps to the representations which the Duke made upon the Spanish occupation of Sassello, at which period M. de Jacob spoke vigorously to the Queen, and obtained the interview with Lesdiguieres, in which he was bound to touch on the subject of defence only.
The couriers that arrived from Spain also brought news about the dismissal of the Savoyard Ambassador. But at this distance from Court it is very hard to arrive at the truth.
London, 30th December, 1611.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 404. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ambassador told me that during these last few days the Archduke Albert has begged the King for his support with the Protestant Electors in the election of the King of the Romans, which is to take place in the Spring. The Earl of Salisbury did not say what answer, if any, was returned. The answer given on other occasions is known. The Spaniards have certainly raised the Archduke's hopes by sending the Marquis of Lancester to Brussels. On the other hand the Spanish Ambassador told me that his Catholic Majesty greatly desired the election of Albert, as that would have the effect of making his only sister a Queen, though he would also be satisfied by the election of Mathias, whom the Spaniards have induced to renounce to the Emperor the Crown of Bohemia and Silesia, and that with the firm intent of making him King of the Romans.
The King of England's answer to the Archduke Albert will be delayed for some days, and then constructed in the way that best suits the interests of this Crown. Perhaps they may desire the King of Denmark's opinion.
The Dutch Ambassador or Deputy has arrived in Brussels, and must have had audience by now. I hear of some discord and even words which passed between Prince Maurice and Barneveldt, but they have made it up.
The English Ambassador in Holland is much put out because the States first promised to dismiss and to punish that Professor of Leyden (Vorstius) who published the book condemned by the King, and now leave the matter in doubt. He has used some strong language; but this too will be settled.
No news from Sweden. Gustavus, son of the late King Charles, is thought to have a good chance of succeeding to the throne, as he is loved by the army. The Prince in Council has dealt with the reform of the Navy and proposed some new orders on which he has several times spoken at length. His Highness every day adds to the number of his servants. He courts those of the King's Chamber and his Majesty's greatest favourites; he looks graciously on everyone and so everyone is his most devoted servant, and he can manage the King's most intimate and make them speak to the King just as he thinks best (accarezza quelli della Camera del Rè, et i più favoritti della Maestà sua nè guarda alcano che di buon occhio ande ogn' una le è devotissimo, et potrà disponer et far parlar i più intimi al Rè come le torna meglio).
Every day lately the Virginia conmission has been sitting to carry out the despatch of people and new ships.
The Prince as Patron (fn. 5) of the North-West passage intends to send out four ships to explore. Hopes are very high, and it is thought that it will be a blow to Spain. There are those who tell the Prince of the discovery of a continent much more handy and much richer than Virginia. The Prince listens graciously and guides all his actions towards lofty aims. (Pensa il Principe come quello che ha la sopraintendenza nel viaggio breve trovato ultimamente per passar nell' Indie, di mandar quattro vaselli per accertare, come seguirà; le speranze sono grandissime et tengono debbi esser un colpo importante alla Spagna. Vi è chi ha detto a S.A. di haver scoperto un continente più oportuno et ricco della Virginia. Ascolta il Principe gratamente et incamina tutte le sue attioni ad altissimi fini).
There are new seeds of ill-will in France, especially among Huguenots, but if their prayers are granted all will end peaceably.
London, 31st December, 1611.
Dec. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 405. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
A new Ambassador has arrived from the King of England. He took eighteen days from Venice. As far as I understand, the King is not pleased that his Ambassador here should make such long insistence at the Porte for the restoration of Prince Stephan to Moldavia, as this disgusts the Grand Turk and his Ministers. The King of England has taken this step at the request of the King of Poland on behalf of the Prince Constantine's interests in that Province. I have visited the new Ambassador and he seems to me very courteous and desirous of a close connection with your Serenity's Ambassadors. On my departure he told me that his Master had said “I have nothing to do with the King of the Turks; I send my Ambassador to him solely for the protection of the merchants my subjects residing in his State. Although I am not a Papist I charge you to assist in every way the needs of Christendom.” The late Ambassador is loaded with debts and greatly dejected, both on account of the pressure from his creditors and because he has been dismissed from his post.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 31st December, 1611.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 31. Senato, Secreta, Despatches from Zante. Venetian Archives. 406. Francesco Donado, Governor in Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
Reporting the presence of Museli Rais, the pirate, off Coron, where the Venetian ship “Vidotta” is lying under the fort, but in dread of a night attack, as appears from the letter of her master asking for succour.
Zante, the last day of December, 1611.


  • 1. He means Friday fortnight.
  • 2. See Birch, op. cit., I., 152. Chamberlain to Carleton. “The cause of his (Spanish Ambassador's) journey to Newmarket . . is not thoroughly discovered, only it was to commune somewhat to the King's own secrecy. Yet there is some little light given that we should not be too forward in the match with Savoy, for somewhat might be propounded hereafter touching that lady, which were not yet fit to be treated of.”
  • 3. See Cal. S.P. Dom., 1611–1618. p. 86: Grant to Francis Cottington of the office of Consul for Seville, Andalusia and Granada, p. 99: “Dec. 10. Warrant to pay 100 pounds to Fras. Cottington, about to be sent into Spain.”
  • 4. Sir Arthur Chichester.
  • 5. Birch “Court and Times of James I.” p. 153. “The Prince is become Patron and Protector of this new discovery.