Venice: February 1612

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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'Venice: February 1612', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 12, 1610-1613, ed. Horatio F Brown( London, 1905), British History Online [accessed 13 July 2024].

'Venice: February 1612', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 12, 1610-1613. Edited by Horatio F Brown( London, 1905), British History Online, accessed July 13, 2024,

"Venice: February 1612". Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 12, 1610-1613. Ed. Horatio F Brown(London, 1905), , British History Online. Web. 13 July 2024.

February 1612

Feb. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 427. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Shortly before the last audience which the Spanish Ambassador had of the King, a person arrived here from the English Ambassador in Spain with news that he had had an interview with Lerma and Don Juan Idiaquez, and that both had assured him that the Spanish Envoy in suggesting the eldest Infanta had spoken for himself and without orders. In the course of conversation, however, they let fall some words that neither actually cut off hopes nor yet gave hopes of negotiations as to the question of the Princess for the King. The Duke of Lerma, in discussing it, treated the question as one far off and by no means resolved on; and so here in in England they are quite convinced that all these proposals for marriage were intended merely to hold them in play with a full determination to conclude nothing.
As to the just claims of these merchants for indemnification, they had received fair promises and orders had been issued, but in their verification and execution vigorous opposition was encountered.
At the last audience of the Spanish Ambassador, as he did not say anything about matches either for the Prince or for the Princess, the King himself opened the question with some agitation, declaring that the Ambassador had spoken and pledged his word without orders, for so the Duke of Lerma and Don Juan Idiaquez had informed his Majesty's Ambassador; the King spoke with the greatest resentment. The Ambassador replied by declaring that he had always spoken on express orders of the King his Master, and that he had letters in his hands that would prove it. He uttered strong expressions against Lerma and Idiaquez, declaring that others might be great Lords but that he, as a knight, was as honourable and as truthful as any of them. He said he regretted to have to use such language about persons who were far off, whom he respected, and whom he could not challenge to maintain the truth at the sword's point. He grew hotter and hotter, and positively asserted that he would demand his recall, as he could not endure that those who issued instructions should deny them and throw the blame on him after he had carried them out with all prudence and punctuality. He concluded that he had no doubt but that his Majesty knew the true state of the case, as on other occasions he had shown to his Majesty and to the whole Council original instructions which had been repudiated in Spain; then seeing the King somewhat quieted, he went on to say that in truth he could not see how it was possible to treat of marriage when not one nor a few but almost all preachers exhorted their congregations publicly to pray that no match might take place with idolaters, a word that was improperly and unworthily applied to a great Prince and a Catholic, in fact he did not know what worse could be said of an Indian King or a Blackamoor.
When the King showed annoyance over the question of the Merchants the Ambassador did not hesitate to say that the Spanish too had cause to complain of similar acts, and yet they never said a word. The sea was swarming with English corsairs, who upset trade and commerce everywhere; these were not subjects of his Master—and yet they kept silence. English merchants sail to the East Indies in violation of the terms of the peace, and yet they closed their eyes, as well as to other breaches of the treaty—and yet full and swift justice will be done in Spain, and soon the Merchants will be satisfied and his Majesty gratified on this score. He then touched on the proposal of the Council to recall all pirates on a general pardon, pointing out that this might easily cause worse mischief; for in a very short time pirate ships would multiply again under the command of other captains, encouraged by the same principals who keep touch with them here, and the hope of recovery would be entirely lost. The Ambassador received a sharp and vigorous reply on all points save that which touched on the preachers, which the King said he had not heard of. The Ambassador pressed the point home, saying that perhaps the King had not been told it, but all the same he might quite well know the truth. At length he took his leave, having given and received no satisfaction. Almost at the same time the messenger sent by the English Ambassador in Spain arrived here, there came a courier sent by Lerma to the Spanish Ambassador informing him that the King had granted him a pension of two thousand crowns a year for his life. This makes more evident the finesse of Lerma and Idiaquez in speaking to the English Ambassador in a sense contrary to that adopted by the Spanish Ambassador here when speaking to the King.
Six days ago a courier arrived here from Brussels with despatches from Spain to the Ambassador. He told me that the Duke of Savoy is returning to favour with the King of Spain, whose policy it is to hold him. As to the marriage of the Princess to the Prince of Piedmont, his Catholic Majesty will not hear of it unless the Princess declares herself a Catholic before leaving England; it is evident that the Spanish Council is fixed in its desire to see the Prince married to someone who is absolutely dependent on Spain; and the Duke, unsupported, is therefore compelled to throw himself into their arms, as they say he has already done; though he keeps up his negotiations in France and with Protestants in Germany, as I am told by a personage who belongs to the Council of State. This gentleman also holds a pamphlet dealing with the marriage of the Princess of England to the Prince of Savoy; it is known that this was issued, in French, by the Ministers of his Highness. Next week I will send it along with a translation. The Ambassador did not conceal from me that the fact that the Savoyard Ambassador conducted his negotations here without imparting the whole to the Spaniard, showed that they were ready to receive the Princess as a Protestant and to allow her to live as such in Turin. If the Duke had desired to negotiate as a Catholic should, he would have accepted the offers of the King of Spain, and allowed his Majesty's Ministers to manage it all. The Ambassador has refused to negotiate with the Council, and insists on dealing direct with the King in order to conceal from the Spanish Envoy the fact that Savoy was prepared to leave the Princess a Protestant.
The Archduke's reply to the Savoyard Ambassador was that his Highness had no other wishes than those of his Catholic Majesty; so that the Savoyard might now take his departure as there was nothing more for him to do.
As I informed your Excellencies all the Ambassadors are to be summoned to attend the Council. To-morrow the French Ambassador and I are to go.
London, 3rd February, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 4. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 428. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
This day fortnight I visited the Earl of Salisbury and paid him my respects on the recovery of his health. He assured me that the Republic could always count on his Majesty. He did not conceal from me the great disorder which arises from the number of Catholics who frequent the Mass at the various Embassies, and he mentioned the Spanish Embassy and the Flemish Embassy in particular. I replied that, knowing as I did your Excellencies' wishes, I had always proceeded most circumspectly. The Earl seemed satisfied at this reply.
Council has resolved to grant an universal pardon to the pirates subjects of his Majesty, as has been asked for in their name by ten of them who are now in Ireland. The Prince has lent his authority to this scheme as he wishes to see the mariners of this Kingdom augmented by those who are now buccaneering and whose number is put down at three thousand men. There seem to be two chief reasons which have moved the King and Council to adopt this course, one is the offers of protection held out by the Grand Duke to those who seek refuge in Leghorn; the other is that they have so grown in power that it appears difficult to overcome them by force, while the damage they are doing to everyone is almost unendurable. The merchants who have been plundered agree on this course. In a few days the pardon will be sent by the hands of the Captain of the ships. (fn. 1) What effect it will have is the subject of various opinions. In the Straits there are twenty-six pirate ships which plunder every one, and no ship can pass except at great peril.
On Monday week, a courier arrived from the Grand Duke to his Secretary (Lotti), who at once sought the Earl of Salisbury and said that in the vigorous letters of complaint addressed by the King to the Grand Duke his Highness saw clearly that the interested parties had conveyed to his Majesty an impassioned account of the permission the Grand Duke has given to corsairs to seek shelter in his State; the Grand Duke had granted permission but on certain conditions, formulated by them, which hurt no one; and with that he took them out of his breast and handed them to the Earl. The essential point is that the pirates promise to live as Catholics and beg for some one to be appointed to instruct them in the Catholic religion. If the Grand Duke desired to employ them against Turks or others he is bound to pay them. They are to be free to buy real estate and to live where they choose. They are to be allowed to hire out their ships or to sail them themselves. The Secretary, noting that Salisbury looked little pleased, concluded by saying that now, thanks to the pardon, all disagreement would cease and the pirates would return to this Kingdom, nor would his Highness offer any opposition. There is a rumour that the ships that put out from Amsterdam to worry the Spanish have captured a place in Brazil and slain the Spanish garrison, and have seized a quantity of gold that was collected there. It seems that the Spanish have some vague confirmation of this news. A courier brings news from Spain that in Seville the English are forbidden to own houses of their own, and are obliged to live in hired apartments; also English who are not Catholics are excluded from giving witness in suits.
Sir Henry Wotton, appointed to Savoy, is getting ready and will leave in fifteen days. To-day his instructions will be discussed.
London, 4th February, 1612.
Feb. 4. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Florence. Venetian Archives. 429. Giaconio Vendramin, Venetian President in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
At Leghorn arrival of another Englishman with a very rich ship. It is rumoured that when Guadagni arrives other ships may be manned by these English.
Florence, 4th February, 1612.
Feb. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 430. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King and the other Protestant Princes, in face of the suspicion aroused by the union of France and Spain in bonds of reciprocal marriages, will wait to see whether these alliances are publicly announced, and whether the Infanta goes to France and the Princess to Spain. In the meantime Prince Maurice will be active in Germany, and it is said that in spring he will come to this Court along with the Elector Palatine and the Prince of Anhault and many other German Princes. If the matches are really published and corroborated on both sides, as rumour says they will be, then the Protestants will proceed not merely to give effect to the union already resolved upon under the auspices of the King of England and with the presence of the King of Denmark and other Princes, but to a Union of an even closer nature.
While these Franco-Spanish matches are being discussed and even higher importance attached to them than facts warrant, a personage of high rank and long experience said to me that it is well to prevent dangers by remedies and to abound in precautions, but he did not believe these marriages had any ulterior object save to secure peace in France during the King's minority, and in Spain to permit them to amass riches and spread out in Italy where they already hold so much. The effects of this policy are already visible in the seizure of Sassello in the territory of Genoa, and of Piombino in Tuscany and other places in Elba. It suits the Duke of Lerma not to embroil the King of Spain in war so as to allow himself the opportunity of turning to account a large part of that money which would otherwise be spent on the army, but on the other hand he has to maintain the reputation of so great a Prince, and this he does by small and safe conquests. He will therefore lend his approval to a policy of aggression against the weak, and pressure where occasion serves, for the Spanish arms in Italy are extended more by craft and money than by force, which they will not employ unless tempted thereto by some very great advantage to be gained. As this was all said by a person of quality, I have considered it my duty to report it fully to your Excellencies.
London, 7th February, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 431. Zorzi Guistinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador of Savoy, on learning the conclusion of the Spanish alliances, protested; but Villeroy let him speak and stood firm. Eight days ago Count Ruffia passed through Paris on his way back from England. He stayed two days. He has no hopes of success in his negotiation, though he gives out a different tale.
Paris, 7th February, 1611 [m.v.].
Feb. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 432. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Archduke Albert, on orders from Spain, has secretly sounded Barneveldt and some other magnates of the United Provinces on the subject of peace. He declared that if he met with a favourable disposition he would send the Marchese Spinola with ample powers to treat in company with the Admiral of Aragon. On the discovery of opposition from Count Maurice he intends to act through the Kings of England and of France. I must now add that his Catholic Majesty broached the subject to the Queen of France, and through her the proposal for peace was made by M. de Refuges, her Ambassador. M. de Refuges' instructions contain two clauses, first, to notify the States that the matches are concluded and established, and therefore there is no need to maintain the two regiments of Chatillon and Bethune; the second, to propose a formal peace with Spain and the Archduke on one sole condition that in each of the principal towns there should be one Catholic Church; for the rest the clauses of the peace are to be the same as those of the truce. M. de Refuges fell ill on the road, but either by his mouth, if he recovers, or by that of some other Ambassador, the proposal will be made. The Ambassador of the States assures me that his Masters will never make peace except on one of two conditions, either that his Catholic Majesty grants the establishment of as many Protestant Churches in Spanish Flanders as there are to be Catholic Churches in Holland, or that the peace is to be concluded on the identical lines of the truce, without mentioning religion. As to the first of these the Ambassador himself recognises that it is an impossible condition; as to the second it does not seem so difficult, especially if the King has aims elsewhere, as seems to be the case, since he has proposed a peace at this early date while the truce has nine years to run. Here there was doubt, recently, whether the States would accept the peace on the terms to be proposed by Refuges; that helped and still helps to allay some annoyance caused by the question of Vorstius (Vestrius); but everything will end quietly. The Dutch Ambassador is in high favour with the King and not less with the Earl, who shows a particular regard for the United Provinces, as he knows their strength and the advantage of their friendship to this Crown. The fact that Spain agrees to leave in perpetual peace the United Provinces without insisting on the Catholic rite, except in some few of the chief cities, leads people to think that the King may easily waive his other pretensions which alone stand by in the way of peace.
London, 9th February, 1612.
Feb. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 433. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On the fourth I was at the Council, and Lord Salisbury turning to me began to speak as follows: “My Lord Ambassador, you may imagine that the King holds his own religion in as high esteem as any other Prince holds his; accordingly on learning that many of his subjects attend Mass at the Embassies and are confessed by Embassy Chaplains, he has considered how to remedy this and at his departure he left us this charge and express orders; you, therefore, must pardon me if we have given you the trouble of coming here. You are aware in what esteem the King holds the Republic, an esteem he is ever ready to prove. He desires that the Republic's Ambassadors would themselves open their eyes and take such steps as every head of a house can take in his own dwelling, for otherwise he will be obliged to employ his own officers to his great regret, as he wishes that the necessary diligence should come from the courtesy of the Ambassadors themselves, and not from the police officers at the doors of the Embassies with uproar and clamour.” I replied that there could not be a happier day for me than that on which I could serve the King or their Excellencies, the great Ministers of this Crown, for I should thus at a single stroke satisfy my duty and my desire. “I am sent here to preserve and to increase the friendship between this kingdom and the Republic, if I acted in any other way I should be greatly lacking. My church is a small chapel in my house, destined for the use of my suite and of some chance subject of your Serenity or a friend of mine, not a parish church capable of holding a large concourse of English. My chaplain knows no language but Italian and I brought him from Venice on purpose to be sure of having someone who was known to be prudent. As to his Majesty's goodwill, I had already borne frequent testimony to it. As to his desire that the Ambassadors should prevent the English from frequenting Mass otherwise the officers would make an uproar at the Embassy doors. I have two things to say, first that in France the Venetian Ambassador is treated on a footing with the Spanish, in Spain, on a footing with the French; I therefore suppose that similar representations have been made or are about to be made to the French and Spanish Ambassadors, and secondly, that the King will never receive greater satisfaction from France and Spain than from Venice.”
I was heard with approval and applause, and as I ceased the Earl of Salisbury spoke to the Council in English, and after taking their opinions he turned to me with a smiling countenance and said that I was quite right in asserting that my chapel was for the use of my household, some subjects of your Serenity and friends of my own. He assured me that the other Ambassadors had been or would be addressed in the same terms. The Archduke's Ambassador had found the matter somewhat of an innovation and asked time to write for instructions. The French Ambassador thought it would be difficult to use vigilance sufficient and felt disposed to keep the Embassy doors shut during Mass. The Spanish Ambassador was still to be spoken to. The King will be informed by letter of the various answers. I could see that when Lord Salisbury spoke to the Council he was conveying my answer and enquired whether I should be told the substance of the Flemish and French replies. They did not conceal from me the fact that the Flemish Ambassador employed some vigorous language and so too the French Ambassador, but far less so.
On the sixth, the Spanish Ambassador was with the Council, which touched on three topics; the indemnification of English merchants; the new rule in Seville forbidding two English to lodge together or to own houses; and the presence of English at Mass and confession, which they handled with energy and a great display of warm language. The Ambassador replied that as these merchants were now united in a corporation, and excellent orders had been issued by the Spanish Court, they would obtain full justice and speedy execution. The Seville decree was necessary because the English had circulated a large quantity of false money and had so infected the town that a remedy was called for. As regards Mass and confession he had already written to Spain as soon as the King had spoken to him on the subject; he therefore could say nothing, save that he was awaiting his master's orders. Meantime, to avoid disobliging them, he would rather if so commanded leave the city; this he said in reply to a suggestion that he might keep the doors shut, to which he had answered that he could not assent to this nor to any other innovation. He concluded by a declaration of his humble devotion to the King and the Lords of Council. As he was standing up to take his leave he said to the Earl of Salisbury, aside, that his Catholic Majesty had given orders for the Ambassadors of Savoy to return to Court, and the Duke of Savoy was quite restored to his Majesty's favour. This news he had imparted to many others and also to me. The Council has taken no further action, and so the Spanish Ambassador and all the others nourish a belief that it will all end easily and quietly. To-day the French Ambassador assured me that he had never said a word about keeping the door of the Embassy closed either at Mass or at any other time.
London, 10th February, 1612.
Feb. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 434. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On the conclusion of my conversation with the Council, Lord Sailsbury informed me that the Emperor was dead, and asked me my opinion as to who would succeed him; he remarked that in the present juncture of affairs most people thought Mathias would. He extolled the power of the Elector of Brandenburg, who has now been aggrandised by the possession of the Duchy of Prussia and a little earlier by the possession of a large part of the Duchies of Juliers and Cleves. He quite understood that the Emperor's sudden death is considered a great stroke of fortune for Mathias and a blow to the others. In conversation with the Spanish Ambassador he told me that the late Emperor had an understanding with the King of Denmark and other Protestants to prevent the election of the King of the Romans from taking place in the Spring; that in order to divide the brothers and the House of Austria he had encouraged the Archduke Albert, and intended to be present at the Diet to upset and subvert everything; such action God had permitted once, twice and even more times, but has now put out His hand and applies the remedy as has just befallen; concluding that in no other way could great divisions and difficulties in Germany have been avoided, and they would have proved a serious detriment to religion. As to the pretensions of Albert he did not know how they would stand after the death of the Emperor, and he held the election of Mathias as certain.
The day before yesterday the Archduke's Secretary left on his way back. This death of the Emperor comes very inopportunely for the King of Denmark, whose object it was to delay the Election of the King of the Romans, to finish his war with Sweden, and thus, augumented in power and weight, to endeavour to secure the title for himself. There is news that the Archduke has pushed his Court on towards Cologne, in order to meet the Archduke Maximilian. He himself has gone to Namur, forty miles from Brussels; Maximilian it seems has turned back on learning the death of the Emperor. The Savoyard Ambassador, who was at Brussels, is in secret treaty about the vote of Brandenburg at the Election; this vote Albert has for long been endeavouring to secure, having even gone the length of promising two small provinces which Brandenburg greatly desires. The Archduke is raising troops in Luxemburg and the Elector at Cologne, both on account of the quarrels in Aix-la-Chapelle. The Dutch have pushed forward six companies of infantry to those frontiers where there were four companies already. The Election of Emperor they say will take place three months after the decease of his Cesarean Majesty—so the Imperial Constitution decrees—and meantime the candidates will canvass.
The Florentine Secretary sent back the courier, and two days later another express arrived, I do not know whether about the pirates' business or not. A courier from France brings news that on the twenty-eighth the Queen, in a sitting of the Council with all the Princes of the blood, announced the Spanish matches and the reasons that had led up to them. The Duke of Guise and all the Princes of the House of Lorraine approved, and so gradually did almost all the rest. The Prince of Condé and the Court of Soissons offered a vigorous opposition, and on leaving the Council Condé said that if these matches took place, in less than a year the larger part of the Council would be pensioners of Spain. All the same the Queen moves forward and the Duke of Mayenne is to go as Ambassador Extraordinary to Spain to give and receive the promise of marriage, and to secure that the Infanta shall come to France and the Princess pass into Spain, as the French wish though Spain is not so sure about it.
The French Ambassador when visiting me said that now that these matches were published there would be no further question of England treating with Spain, and this seemed to please him. There is an Ambassador from Savoy arrived at the French Court, on the pretext of condolence for the death of the Duke of Orleans, but in reality to beg the Queen to take the Duke of Savoy and his affairs under her protection. The Spaniards want to ill-treat the Duke, who is a Prince of a great heart and will not endure it, and so desires to be bound to France. The King of Spain has recently made him offers to win him back. It is clear that the French are endeavouring to please everybody, but especially Spain, from which, during the King's minority, they can receive most harm. Several personages of weight have lately remarked to me that although these Franco-Spanish matches are actually carried into effect it will still be impossible to modify the differences of national temperament during the King's minority.
London, 20th February, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 435. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English galleon that brought the new English Ambassador from the King of England brought also a large quantity of sword-blades unmounted, and a great deal of steel besides. I can do nothing with foreigners here in this matter.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 11th February, 1611 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 11. Senato, Secreta, Despatches from Florence. Venetian Archives. 436. Giacomo Vendramin, Venetian Resident in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Orders have been received in Leghorn to push on the work on the galleasse, the invention of Warwick.
Florence, 11th February, 1612.
Feb. 12. Original Despatch. Venetian Archives. 437. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A rumour is abroad that the King is to marry the Princess of England on condition that she becomes a Catholic, and that liberty of conscience is permitted in England. When that came to to the ears of the English Ambassador he, on a visit to me showed indignation and disgust at the Spanish, who for their own ends spread about such reports; the King, his Master, sooner than consent to such conditions, would rather lose his kingdom. He begged me, if occasion offered, to state this positively. He added that now, that the union of France and Spain was accomplished, other great Princes would have to look to their safety.
Madrid, 12th Februry, 1611 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 438. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Saturday the eleventh, the Ambassador of the States visited the Earl of Salisbury and told him that in order to please his Majesty the Dutch Government had ordered Vorstius to quit Leyden. Salisbury praised this step and dwelt upon the benefit which the United Provinces can receive from a good understanding with England. The Ambassador then went on to inform Salisbury of the vigorous demands for help sent from the people of Aix-la-Chapelle as the Elector of Cologne was arming, and so too the Elector of Saxony to carry out the ban of the Empire. The answer was that the death of the Emperor suspended the ban and all similar acts until the new Election, to which all the Princes of Germany will now be giving their whole attention.
Salisbury reports everything of moment to the King by letter. The expulsion of Vorstius will give him great satisfaction. It seems that the King is not pleased with the new Elector of Saxony; he has caused it to be said to the Elector that he apparently does not appreciate the greatness of the King of Great Britain, for he merely sent a courier to the English Court with letters while to France he sent an Ambassador Extraordinary. These letters contain two points, his resolution as regards Aix-la-Chapelle, and his resolution as regards the “possession” of Cleves. On this point the King shows that he desires what is reasonable and not what was urged in favour of Saxony on other occasions. I have various letters from the Hague. M. de Refuges has arrived as Ambassador Extraordinary from France, and has been received by Prince Maurice and the States General, with every honour. He has not yet had audience, as his health is not good.
The Commissioners of Lübeck, Brunswick and Bremen have obtained what they desired from the States and have set off home. Count Maurice, on the orders of the States General, has commissioned several captains to get ready their companies of infantry to succour Aix-la-Chapelle. M. de Refuges' ill health is a serious drawback to business.
His Catholic Majesty has offered to Don Emmanuel of Portugal, brother-in-law of Count Maurice, a present of six thousand crowns a year, and another of two hundred every month to Don Christoforo, his brother, who is in Paris. This act is interpreted as being prompted by a conscientious feeling on the part of his Majesty.
The Bishop of Ypres, for so they call the Cordelier, (fn. 2) who originally attempted to negotiate the peace and then the truce, is at Breda, a fief of the Prince of Orange; whether by accident or on purpose I know not.
London, 16th February, 1612.
Feb. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 439. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the remarks of Lord Salisbury to the Ambassador in the Council, on the subject of admitting English to Mass, not a word more has been said, nor has any unusual vigilance been adopted. The Spanish Ambassador has taken a house some miles out of town, and there is a rumour that if difficulties arise he intends to avoid them by going there for a while. It seems that the Archduke Albert is aspiring to the Kingship of the Romans at least, and the Spanish Secretary told me that his object is chiefly to give the title of “her Majesty” to his wife rather than for any other purpose; for the Archduke is so far advanced in life that he is quite close to his brother Mathias, and he is, moreover, childless, so that his election would not prejudice any of the other Archdukes who are his juniors, while Maximilian aims at nothing save the welfare of the House of Austria. All this is quite clearly grasped here, and its obvious intention is to secure the Empire to the House of Austria. Since the Emperor's death there has been no news from the King of Denmark, and so all speculation is suspended until there is some certainty as to his wishes. Lord Salisbury has had some conversation with the French Ambassador on the subject of the Imperial election. The Ambassador has written to France, and when he knows the candidates the ground will be firmer. News from Sweden that Gustavus has been crowned king. He is very popular. He is arming for the defence of the country, and John is not proving a disturber of the peace, as Gustavus' humanity robs him of any pretext. The Danish Agent (Charisius) confirms this news; he has already embarked the hundred small cannon for the service of his Master. The King of Denmark is fully occupied in military preparations, and seeing that the war will prove much more difficult than he at first supposed, he will hardly be able to give his attention to his candidature for the Empire. The Duke of Wirtemberg's brother leaves to-day for Germany. He will go through France, and as he has been some days with the King he may possibly be charged with some mission; any way, he is leaving earlier than he intended. The French Ambassador tells me that M. de Vic has had an interview with Sully, and afterwards wrote to the Queen and to Villeroy to endeavour to restore Sully to his Majesty's good graces. Sir Henry Wotton, appointed Ambassador Extraordinary to Savoy, tells me that he is only waiting the King's return in order to start. That will take place this day week; I seem to gather that he himself does not know thoroughly what his exact mission is to be.
There is news that the Dutch fleet which was sent out against the pirates fell in with the Spanish fleet off the coast of Spain. The commander of the Spanish squadron was not content that the Dutch should simply vail their fore-top-sail, but insisted that they should dip their standard. Numerous shots were exchanged, and the Spanish came off very badly, especially the flag ship. The royal officials continue to call in the loan of one million six hundred crowns, and are finding some difficulty, but nothing of moment.
The Grand Duke's Secretary, after interviews with Lord Salisbury, the Queen, and the Princes, sent off the second courier, who had been sent here from Paris by the Marchese Botti immediately on the receipt of an express from Florence. The subject of these negotiations remains a profound secret, but I hope in time, and may be by the next post, to send your Excellencies full information.
London, 17th February, 1612.
Feb. 19. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Savoy, Venetian Archives. 440. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke is discontented and anxious over the report he has received from Count Ruffia as regards the King of England's intentions. He strongly suspects that his Catholic Majesty intends himself to marry that Princess.
Turin, 19th February, 1612.
Feb. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 441. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Last week a courier express passed through from Spain to England. There is a rumour of negotiations for a marriage between the Princess Elizabeth and his Catholic Majesty, but most people think this is merely a ruse to interrupt the match with Savoy. In a few days the Duke of Bouillon will go to the English Court to conclude the match with the Count Palatine as it is said, but in reality he has a secret mission from the Queen which I have not discovered yet. I know that after the death of M. de Vitry, (fn. 3) the Queen has always been thinking (fn. 4) of sending someone to be by the King's side as Vitry was. The Duke will endeavour to soften the mind of the King and to dissipate the suspicions aroused by the Spanish matches; and if he sees an opening he will propose the second daughter of France in marriage to the Prince. The Queen thinks that such a proposal coming from a personage of the same religion and highly esteemed by the King will have the effect of dispelling the shadows, although those of his religion, after his action at Saumur, gave him no more credit, and openly say that he is bought by Spain, and declare that in England he will serve Spain rather than anyone else.
I have seen letters from the French Ambassador in England in which he says that although the King is annoyed at the Spanish matches, yet if fresh proposals were made to him from here they would receive attention.
Paris, 21st February, 1611 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 442. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Sunday the Spanish Ambassador visited me and told me that M. de Refuges, Ambassador Extraordinary of France to the United Provinces, will declare that the Queen, after the death of the late King, has spent much money, and the Crown is in difficulties, and as Great Britain is pressing for large credits, the States will have to pay back a third of the money advanced to them by the late King. For the same reason the Queen finds herself unable to pay the two regiments of infantry and the squadron of cavalry in this present time of peace, and when France and Spain are now one body. For sound considerations it has been resolved to conclude the reciprocal matches, and in view of this it would be as well that peace between the Spanish and the United Provinces should be proposed. This, the Ambassador pointed out to me, was a proof of the King's disposition towards peace, when he is disposed to grant it to his rebellious subjects. In the course of conversation he let it be seen that he thought the States have no hope of being safe under any kind of promise from Spain, for pledges to subjects do not bind; he indicated that in his opinion this dread was well founded, and that as a matter of fact such pledges need not be kept. Speaking of the couriers arrived recently from Tuscany and what their business might be, he said that some months ago the Secretary of the Grand Duke had offered a large amount of gold to a great personage if he would support a match between a sister of the Grand Duke and the Prince; the dower to be very big. He received encouragement and ample promises to advance the affair; but the Prince would not hear of it, declaring that if the Grand Duke was not good enough for the Princess, no more was the Grand Duke's sister good enough for him. As a fact, the Princess' hand has been sought through a special Embassy, but here they would not lend an ear. Afterwards when the Grand Duke married the sister of the King of Spain he sent to announce the marriage to the King of England for no other reason than to say tacitly “You would not ally yourself with me and now here the greatest Sovereign in the world has done it.” The Spanish Ambassador is of opinion that the couriers have come with instructions about a match, and if a Florentine Ambassador arrives, as is rumoured, his mission will be to carry on the negotiations. If the Prince continues to decline to listen to the proposal then they will propose the second sister of the King of France. Talking of the Savoyard proposals the Ambassador said that the King consulted no one but Lord Salisbury and the Archbishop of Canterbury. They hesitated to give the Princess in marriage, because though they were promised that she might remain a Protestant they feared the Duke would not keep his word.
I have a certain confirmation of the fact that the Secretary of Florence, some time back, did actually treat on this subject. I am told from a very good quarter that the affair is going on, and that in spring a Florentine Ambassador may be expected.
In conclusion, I must add that as far as strained relations over the question of the pirates is concerned things are quieting down. I am told by a person of experience that the affair of Leghorn, which has already assumed large proportions, will go on increasing much further, thanks to the correspondence addressed there by these merchants and the Dutch traders too. I will keep my eye on these proceedings and report to your Excellencies.
Three days ago some ships with a thousand Spanish infantry on board stayed for some hours at Dover, and then moved on to Dunquerque. They say that more are to follow, to fill up the ranks of the Spanish force. The King of Spain prefers these troops to all others, as he thinks they are more dependent on his nod.
London, 23rd February, 1612.
Feb. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 443. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the Dutch Ambassador had told the King that his Masters had caused Vorstius to leave Leyden, the King received despatches from his Ambassador in Holland telling him that Vorstius had left Leyden, but had gone to the Hague, the capital, and that he did not lack supporters. This news has greatly disturbed the King's mind, which was not quiet before; and so three days ago he caused to be printed a discourse in which he condemns the said Vorstius, recalls his efforts to secure the expulsion of Vorstius from Holland, cites the reasons which moved him to this step, and concludes with the expression of a hope that the States will punish Vorstius in their Assembly of the coming month, (fn. 5) as they have promised to do and ought to do on every consideration of State and of Religion. The Ambassador went three days ago to the Court.
On his departure from London the King left orders for the Council to carry out. He is not quite satisfied with what they have done, and on his return he will alter some things and will proceed with greater rigour. There is among other things the capital punishment of one charged with being an Arian (fn. 6); and it seems that there is a doubt as to whom jurisdiction properly belongs. The King insists that the execution shall take place as soon as possible, for the position of this man is very similar to that of Vorstius; his Majesty would be the better pleased if the sentence issued from the Archbishop, as it is more easy for him to command the Archbishop than to command Parliament.
Also on the point of the presence of English subjects at Mass in Embassies we shall hear something further, but more, it seems, in the nature of an order to the subjects than of any innovation as regards the Embassies.
Every diligence will be used in calling up the loan without delay. Besides these matters, which touch home politics, foreign affairs will receive attention. There will be Wotton's commission to Savoy; the reply to the letters from the Elector of Brandenburg and to others; the consideration of the proposals of the Grand Duke, and other matters that have been left unsettled, although the King, even when in the country, spends a good part of the day in the discharge of business, and does not work so hard at the chase as he did.
My news from the Hague is that M. de Refuges has had audience and has asked for the payment of a third of the money already lent by the late King of France during the past wars, which third is destined by the Queen of France in payment of the debts due to the Crown of England. The Ambassador also announced the Franco-Spanish matches, adding that this would not hinder kindly relations between France and these provinces. As yet he has not presented his proposals for changing the twelve years' truce into a peace; perhaps he desires to sound the ground first. At the Hague they have also some news of the combat which took place between their ships and the Spanish squadron, though here there is no further information. After the Emperor's death the military preparations against Aix-la-Chapelle have been suspended. The Elector of Cologne is said to be moribund and even dead. The death of this Elector will not cause any delay in the convocation of the Diet, nor will it make any possible difference. There is the Coadjutor, his nephew, who will succeed him. During the life of Henry IV. this Coadjutor was in his pay and dependent on his nod; then on the death of Henry the Queen cut down pensions and policy to the limits of her own Kingdom; and so rumour says the Coadjutor has drawn towards Spain. It is generally thought that Mathias will be Emperor.
Letters from Denmark to the King and Queen. The King of Denmark can not possibly think of the Imperial throne. The late Emperor would most certainly have prevented the election of the King of the Romans; all the Protestants were with him, and so Denmark felt sure of having time to conclude his enterprises.
A Diet is summoned at Stockholm; and many leading Swedes are of opinion that Gustavus ought to buy peace from Denmark by leaving him the places he has won. This with a view to preparing to defend himself against Poland. The King of Denmark is anxious for peace. The King's return, fixed for to-day, has been put off for one or two days, which he will spend at Theobalds.
London, 24th February, 1612.
Feb. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 444. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
After the new English Ambassador had seen the great personages of the Porte I sent my secretary to visit him and to wish him a good beginning and prosperous progress in his Embassy, with such other expressions of friendship as are suitable to a like occasion. The Ambassador was much pleased; he is a very humane man; he said to the secretary that he was waiting to kiss the Sultan's hand and would then come at once to tell me all that had taken place, as he held me in high esteem for your Serenity's sake. He informed my secretary that he had been to the Lieutenant Grand-Vizir to arrange about his audience; he told the same that he had been sent here by his King to deal with matters very different from those which his predecessor had handled; meaning to refer to the affairs of the Prince of Bogdan, which had proved a failure, and to some other point; that he wished to lay fresh foundations for the interests of the English, and to secure, as far as he was able, the maintenance of the Capitulations. He remarked that his Master was not an immediate neighbour of the Turk, and was in close alliance with all Princes of Christendom; that although on the point of religion there was some slight divergence get the friendship remained always firm. The Ambassador said that the Pasha had civil and courteous words for him, but he did not know whether in the result facts and words would correspond. He repeated that he was here for no other purpose than for the maintenance of the Capitulations if the Turk chose; if not, his Master would know what to do.
The day before yesterday the Ambassador himself came to see me. For the most part he repeated the foregoing observations. After some further conversation, showing great confidence towards me, and almost making a complaint, he told me that the French Ambassador had been very rude to him, for when his predecessor went to visit the French Ambassador his Excellency said “How is it that your successor has come here so quickly and without any warning? I hear he is a bankrupt merchant. Take care he does not cozen you; look closely at the letters he brings.” The English Ambassador said that he knew his successor for an honourable gentleman, and the true Ambassador of his Sovreign; and that his letters were perfectly good. Sir Thomas Glover reported this conversation to Paul Pindar, the new Ambassador, who was deeply grieved; and as he had to visit the French Ambassador, after some general terms of politeness, he said that besides coming to give his compliments to his Lordship, he had also come to make himself better known; for, seeing that his Lordship had uttered the above words, he showed ignorance of Pindar's true condition; Pindar therefore informed his Lordship that it was quite true that he was a merchant, but an honourable and loyal one, that he had been for long in Venice, and that of all his nation he was the first who had made a contract for the supply of grain with the Corn Office of the Republic, and his name would be found honourably inscribed in the books of that office. It was true that bills for perhaps forty thousand piastres had been returned from England dishonoured; but it was also true that he went to London straight by post and satisfied the two merchants, one a Ragusan, the other a Florentine; so that he did not merit the name of bankrupt nor any other term of reproach.
The French Ambassador feigned the greatest astonishment at this discourse; declaring that if he had ever said such a thing, not in Turkey only but in all Europe, he would not be safe from Pindar's revenge; and on this he dwelt for long. The Englishman replied “Sir, don't say that. A person who heard you use those words and reported them to me, will tell you to your face that you used them.” The French Ambassador persisted in his line of excuse and threw the blame in general on others. The Englishman replied that he was the Ambassador of a great and highly honoured Sovreign and should be recognized as such; and in any case he would value others precisely as they valued him. And here the conversation and the visit ended; and the episode in the hands of any one less temperate might have led to a more violent resentment. It will be well for your Excellencies to keep silence on the subject. (E stato avanti hieri poi lo stesso Signor Ambasciatore a vedermi; per la maggiore parte mi replicò le cose soddette, et dopo altri ragionamenti vari mostrando gran confidenza meco lamentandosi quasi, mi disse come era stato tenuto da questo Signor Ambasciatore di Francia un mal termine seco, et fu che sendo andato il precessor suo avisistare esso Ambasciatore di Francia havergli sua Sigria Illma detto, come è venuto così presto, et senza alcun aviso questo Vostro successore? intendo che egli è un mereante falito, guardate che non v'inganni considerate bene le lettere ch' egli ha. Risposegli l' Inglese conoscerlo per un gentil huomo honorato, per vero Ambasciatore del suo Rè, et che le lettere sue d' indivizzo eran buonissime. Queste parole dal Signor Tomaso Glover recchio Ambasciatore, e riportate di poi al Signor Paolo Pinder, nuovo Ambasciatore Anglo, il contristorno assai, et havendo egli a render visita al francese, dopo qualche termine universali d' ufficio gli disse che oltre il complir seco era anco andato da sua Signoria Illma per darlesi meglio a conoscere stante che havendo ella detto le parole sopra considerate parea and conoscesse, et pero gli facea intendere esser verissimo ch' egli era stato mercante ma honorato et leale molto sempre, che in Venetia era stato lungamente, che della nation sua fu egli il primo che facesse partito coll' ufficio Illma delle Biade di gran somma di grani, et che il suo nome stava scritto ne' libri di quell' ufficio honoratamente. Esser vero che alcune lettere di forse 40m piastre le tornaron in dietro d' Inghilterra non accettate ma verissimo esser stato anco che presa la posta si fu di lungo a Londra, et sodisfecene due mercanti un Roguseo, et un Fiorentino onde ne di falito ne di altro mal nome gli convenira. Fece grandi le merariglie il Signor Ambasciatore di Francia circa queto proposito, dicendo che se egli potesse imaginarsi o penetrar ma che cio s' havesse detto che non che in Turchia ma non sarebbe in tutta Europa sicuro dalle sue mani, immorandosene in questo termine assai; et facendosi lontano d' ogni' altro. Risposegli il Signor Ambasciatore Inglese “Signore, non dite così, che da persona che ha sentito ciò dire a voi et che a me le ha riferto, vi sarà affermato in faccia.” Riprese il Signor Ambasciatore di Francia il modo che si usa, gettando generalmente in altri la colpa, onde l' Inglese soggionse che sendo egli Ambasciatore d' un Rè grande et stimato era dovere fosse per tal conosciuto, et ch' in ogni caso quel capitale ch' altri di lui faccesse, farebbe egli anco d' altri. Et qui mi disse terminasse la visita, et il ragionamento di quest' accidente, il quale in soggetto men temperato harebbe facilmente potuto capitare a più severo risentimento.)
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 25th February, 1611 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 445. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
They say that a Nuncio from the Dutch has reached Chios; his business is to sound the Turks on the subject of a treaty. The English Ambassador tells me that this person will sign the Capitulations and then a regular Ambassador will be sent. I shall not neglect to attend to our interests and to work covertly with the other Ambassadors, who do not approve of this new comer. Yesterday as the Sultan was going to the old Serraglio, Stefan Bogdan, the man who was so much supported by the late English Ambassador, approached, and in the formula these scoundrels use, he professed himself a Turk; a step which shows the kind of fellow he always was. The Sultan gave him the Sanjak of Pistrina in Albania.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 25th February, 1611 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. Captain Roger Middleton. See Cal. S.P. Ireland, Jan. 31, 1612.
  • 2. Neyen.
  • 3. Decipher reads “Vidi,” but cipher reads n43 n33 = Vitri.
  • 4. Decipher reads “penetrato,” but cipher reads b2 z11 b41 n54 = pensato
  • 5. See Birch, “Court and Times of James I,” vol. 1, p. 159. “The King is expected here on Friday. His book is finished the last week but not published till this day, and only in French, the English and Latin copies being yet in press. A hundred of them were sent away with all speed on Saturday to Sir Ralph Winwood.” The book was called “Declaration sur les actions, devors les Etats Genereaux des Pays Bas unis touchant le fait de Conrad Vorstius.”
  • 6. Bartholomew Legate. The question was as to the jurisdiction of the Consistory Court of the Bishop of London. Coke maintained that a conviction in the Court of High Commission was necessary Bacon supported the Bishop's Court.