Venice: March 1612, 1-15

Pages 298-312

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


March 1612, 1—15

March 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 446. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
An Ambassador from the King of Denmark arrived here this day week. On Sunday he had audience of his Majesty. He has two missions; one refers to the Imperial election, about which the King has written to various Protestant Princes in Germany and especially to the Elector of Brandenburg; the second point is that the Ambassador is not merely to hasten the succours but to procure a still larger number of men both English and Scotch, promising to pay them with Danish money from the day of embarkation. His Majesty is resolved to put an army of twenty-two thousand men in the field, as soon as the season will allow him, to be employed where circumstances may suggest. As regards the Imperial election there can be no doubt what answer he has received from the King, nor can the King's support be looked for; as to succours, there seems to be a favourable disposition, but nothing definite is settled. As I write, that is at two o'clock in the afternoon, the Ambassador is with the Council, to which his Majesty has referred him for answers to certain points. Later on he will again see the King, I know not whether on business or as a favour on this day, which is a fete at the Palace. He has seen the Queen and has presented her with a great mirror framed in gold, powdered with diamonds, pearls and jewels of great value. He also saw the Prince, who made much of him. I have not omitted to send to visit him, and I will go in person when he is a little freer.
The Archduke Albert is vigorously pushing his negotiations, and his Ambassador here has asked for audience, but is put off, as they do not wish to give him any answer at present. There are several expresses from Germany, but the most important affairs remain undecided, as Lord Salisbury has a tertian fever, intermittent, however, though accompanied by great weakness. May it please God to preserve him and free him from his sickness, for truly his qualities are marvellous.
The King since his return has seen Lord Salisbury every day once and even oftener. He has been present at medical consultations and shows most bitter grief for Lord Salisbury's indisposition. The Queen too has been slightly indisposed at Greenwich; but the day before yesterday she was in London, looking very well, and at once went to visit Lord Salisbury. Yesterday the French Ambassador had audience, which he had pressed for. I have not had time to find out what about. The English Ambassador in France writes fully and often, to the King's satisfaction. His despatch of the tenth declares that they were delaying the publication of the marriages owing to the annoyance expressed by the Princes of the blood, who feel excluded from the conduct of affairs. They intend to send the Duke of Bouillon here to give assurances that these matches will not in any way disturb the friendly relations with this Crown. There are hints of a financial disorder; and the actual terms of the marriage contracts are not known. Your Excellencies will have heard all this before now, but as it comes from the lips of one who knows, I consider it my duty to forward it by way of confirmation. Nor must I omit to report that the Duke of Bouillon has declared that he does not wish to come here with words only, but with some substantial offer.
Despatches from Spain give little satisfaction; and these last few days strange rumours have been current about the Spanish Lieger here (Velasco) even to the length that he was a prisoner in the Tower; this induced him to show himself about in the City, and delays his departure for the country in order to root out this report; all the same he is in very bad odour here, especially with the people; as regards the King and the great personages he has cleared himself by laying all the blame, without any regard, upon the Duke of Lerma, the Spanish Council of State and the King himself; but all this is not quite enough, and he goes about saying, openly, as he said to myself in particular, that he desires nothing so much as to depart from hence, and he asks no other grace from God nor favour from his King than leave to return home. Only a few days ago he sent a courier to insist on his recall, which he says he has asked for repeatedly and insistently. He vows that if his successor does not arrive before Autumn, he will leave. In the meantime he declares that he intends to spend the larger part of this period out in the country, some miles away from London. He has already taken a house there.
The French Ambassador has news from the Hague, via Calais, that the thousand Spanish troops, who, as I wrote, had arrived at Dunquerque, have been distributed among the various garrisons. The Archduke is slowly raising levies, and the Dutch have strengthened their forces on the frontier; and so there is suspicion on all sides. The Ambassador added that M. de Refuges writes to him that he has begun to unfold his mission to the States, but that he has to go cautiously if he desires to conduct it to a favourable issue, and it will take a long time. M. de Russi, the French Lieger to the States, is still lying at his house indisposed, so that the whole business falls on de Refuges. I do not know if he has yet brought forward the proposals for a peace with Spain and the Archduke. I am, however, informed that such proposals will not be entertained, especially if coupled with the condition that a Catholic Church is to be opened in each of the principal towns.
As to Vorstius, the King will be gratified, and the discourse which his Majesty has printed is intended to excuse himself from the charge of meddling; his Ambassador uses some phrases to urge the States to expel Vorstius from their territory, on the ground that he is not only a heretic but an infidel. No one can doubt the King's favourable disposition, on grounds of State he will always be closely allied to the United Provinces.
Three galleons will soon be commissioned for the new route to the Indies, which if it turns out to be what is reported, will, beyond doubt be a mortal blow to Spain. Great hopes are already built upon it, and the only doubt is lest a part of the sea through which they have to sail should be frozen for the larger part of the year, and therefore open only for a few months and those not certain, as the cold comes now earlier now later; in that case it would be difficult to send through ships laden with goods so exactly at the right moment that they would be sure of finding the passage open. The larger number of men of experience, however, do not feel this doubt, and give their reasons. A company is being formed among a number of leading merchants to trade with the Indies by that route.
London, first of March, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 447. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ambassador confirms what the Spanish Ambassador told me concerning the marriage of a sister of the Grand Duke to the Prince, and that an Embassy was to arrive in spring. The Prince was not disposed towards this match because the large dower which is offered would not come into his hands nor be applied for the good of the Crown, but would very soon be scattered by the King's profusion, besides which he thinks he need have no difficulty in finding money, as he is heir to so many Crowns. (Che la volontà di S. A. non concorri prontamente a questa trattatione perche li denari che vengono offerti in gran quantità per dote non caderiano in sua mano ne a profitto della Corona ma in poco tempo sarebbono profusi dalla singolar liberalità del Rè; oltre che considera non gliene poter mancare sendo herede di tante Corone.)
He says he would rather marry a subject, which makes people think there may be some particular one in his view. On the other hand the King and Council are not averse, and if his Majesty came to terms the Prince would have to bow to his father's will. The Grand Duke, already allied to France and to Spain, might easily, if united to this Crown, secure the title of King. The chief opposition would come from the Electors and the other Princes of Germany and this opposition would disappear if he became allied to the King of England, who has such weight with them. The King of Spain would be glad to have among the number of his “captives”—that is the word he uses—a King; while France would be favourable. I am told that this marriage was an old desire of the Grand Duchess dowager and of the late Grand Duke. They have now six millions of gold laid by and they would think the half of it well employed to make them King. The Ambassador went on talking to me about this for half an hour, just as though your Serenity were not an Italian Prince and as though it was nothing to you to see a King in Italy. He thinks the match may come off, as there is no further hope of Spain or France, and the Prince, with whom the Queen agrees, will not take a wife in England. There is no other quarter from which so much money could be got as that which the Grand Duke offers, and there is great need of money here on account of the expenditure by the King; moreover, on the sea both parties could seriously hamper one another; and so one can easily understand what I have heard from the lips of one who is in their councils and knows what is proposed, and resolved, that is, in order to remove all cause of difficulty about the pirates, to grant them a port where they can bring their goods without taxation, and this on the other hand would cause Leghorn to flourish much more than it does at present.
He then went on to speak of the Savoyard Ambassador who was here recently. This Ambassador had reported to the Duke that the French Ambassador had opposed his negotiations for the match with the Princess Elizabeth; whereupon the Duke had written to the Queen of France complaining that not only had she deprived him of the Princess of France, who had been granted to him by the late King her father, but she had wished to rob him of the English Princess as well; to which the Queen had replied by telling him the simple truth. The Savoyard Ambassador is in Paris. He has not yet asked for audience, and is waiting the return of a courier with instructions from his Highness. Over and above M. de Jacob there is another Ambassador Extraordinary of the Duke, so that he has three Ambassadors at once in Paris. In his opinion the Queen will take the Duke under her protection and will even defend him if threatened.
The French Ambassador complained of the conduct of the Savoyard while here, and laid more stress on a personal pique than on the express orders of his Highness to present letters to the French Ambassador. It seems that at first the Savoyard had intended to treat me with confidence, but the suggestions of the Spanish Ambassador prevented that, yet in spite of appearances there was not that confidence between the Savoyard and the Spaniard that there seemed to be. The Savoyard had not succeeded in making a single friend, and his method of conducting his affairs had ruined his negotiations. Sir Henry Wotton will be at Turin with excuses about the marriage, perhaps before the Ambassador himself gets there. The Duke is going to send another Ambassador very soon to the Queen of France. As to the Imperial Election he thought the only struggle would be between Mathias and Albert.
London, 2nd March, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 448. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Rosenberg, Agent for the United Provinces, told me in great secrecy and confidence that he had certain information from England that the King of Spain in December last instructed his Ambassador at the English Court to find out from Lord Salisbury whether negotiations for a match between the Princess and his Catholic Majesty would be acceptable to the King; and that the Ambassador at an interview with Lord Salisbury received encouragement to broach the subject to the King himself. The Dutch are suspicious that the King, though very hostile to our religion, may yet be induced by reasons of State to give his daughter to his Catholic Majesty in order to unite himself to this Crown which is already united so closely to France, and thus to secure himself from molestation from one side or the other, and besides, such a step would prevent the variety of religions in his kingdom from breeding conspiracy, as has happened on other occasions owing to the hopes entertained by some that they would be protected from Spain under the guise of religious zeal. On the other hand the King of Spain will not be averse from such a match, in spite of the risk of increasing his progeny, which is apt to cause troubles, for if he secures the goodwill of England that would help on the peace with Holland, and even if he could not settle it after his own fashion he would at least tie the hands of both France and England, so that they could no longer give the Dutch that open assistance which they have hitherto been wont to do; and any way he would secure the main object of his policy, which is to preserve peace with the great powers, as the Spanish are content to enjoy their territories and to gather strength in times of quiet the better to advance when the opportunity presents itself.
The Dutch Agent affirmed all this so positively that I am inclined to believe it, knowing how vigilant are the Dutch in a matter that affects them so much. I do not place any reliance on the English Ambassador's denial, for he denied at first that there were any negotiations for the Prince of Wales.
Madrid, 4th March, 1612.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 449. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen has ordered M. de Rogi to get ready to take up his ordinary Embassy to Mathias, at Prague. The Duke of Savoy has ordered his Ambassador Alardo to return home, as he does not think it to his dignity to be represented here on the publication of the Spanish matches.
Paris, 6th March, 1612.
March 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 450. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Marshal de Bouillon is to leave for England on the 15th. He will convey an offer of the second Princess for the Prince of Wales. He is to endeavour to pacify the King on the subject of the Spanish matches, and to re-conduct him to that good will which he felt for this Crown at the death of Henry IV. Here the Queen and her Ministers have expressed themselves in very friendly terms to the English Ambassador. The Huguenots are watching all these steps, and hope to draw profit from them.
Paris, 6th March, 1612.
March 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 451. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate
I sought audience of the King the same morning as the Ambassadors of the Archduke and of France. The French Ambassador was assigned Wednesday the last day of February, I, Saturday the third, and the Flemish Ambassador, Monday the fifth, and so this time, too, matters have gone in the right order.
The French Ambassador merely assured his Majesty that the Spanish matches would not disturb nor change in any way the good understanding that there is with this Crown. That the Marshal de Bouillon would soon be here to explain matters. He then touched on the subject of a book on the Papal authority published by a Councillor of the Parliament of Paris and the representations of the Nuncio on the subject; but the real object of his audience was to announce the coming of de Bouillon to remove from the King's mind any suspicions aroused by the double match with Spain. On the main point he had nothing but a few brief words from his Majesty. As to the book the King showed he had heard about it and was pleased. While the Ambassador was explaining to the King the answer given to the Lords of the Council on the subject of the presence of English subjects at Mass, the King showed that he intended the observations of the Council, made on his behalf, to have effect. I know that his Majesty was not fully satisfied on this subject, nor had the Ambassador's representations much effect.
I first congratulated the King on his good health. I found him more anxious and reserved than usual on account of the Earl of Salisbury's indisposition, and the amount of work which falls on him. I then said that the Council had already communicated his Majesty's desires as regards the admission of Englishmen to Mass in the Embassies, and the reply I had made, and I thought it now my duty to repeat this to his Majesty, so that he might know what were your Excellencies' wishes in the matter. I accordingly began to repeat to his Majesty what I had said to the Council. At the point about the promise to refuse admission to the church to English subjects or to allow the officers to do their duty, I paused and observed that there were two things to be considered, one affecting his Majesty's service, the other the dignity of your Serenity. As to the first, he would always receive satisfaction; as to the second, I remarked that the Ambassadors of the Serene Republic are every where treated on a par with Ambassadors of great Sovreigns, and this treatment could not under any conceivable circumstances be altered, and on this point I dwelt at abundant length. The King replied that the whole difficulty arose in the first case from the conduct of the Spanish Ambassador, who caused more than one Mass to be said daily and invited attendance by ringing of bells, causing a universal scandal that could not be endured. At the time of Don Pedro di Zuñiga there was a solemn procession in the garden of the Embassy and a great crowd of people. At the French Embassy there is not such a concourse, and the attitude is more modest and circumspect. The King did not conceal from me the annoyance he received at the last audience when the Ambassador pointed out to him that his position was different from that of the rest, for in France his Majesty's Ambassador has sermons preached and admits freely to the Protestant service all those who wish to attend, and so it is not fair to deny to him in England the same freedom which is conceded to his Majesty's Ambassador in France. His Majesty pointed out that there was a fallacy in this argument, for in France there was professedly liberty of conscience, which was not the case in England. The King told me little about the Flemish Ambassador's audience, but showed small satisfaction. He remarked that it was impossible to say that peace would continue in France, for every day some new trouble sprang up. The Queen had chosen to conclude the matches against the advice of the great nobles, and relying solely on the views of Villeroy and the Chancellor. Her leanings are Spanish, so too are those of Villeroy who belonged to the League. He dwelt on the importance of these matches, and observed that the alliance between France and Spain was far advanced. Bouillon has openly said that he did not intend to come here with mere words, but with sure basis for his proposals; this, he said, was an honest man's course, for if what he promised was not maintained his honour was at stake.
He then went on to speak of the Protestant Princes at present met in Heidelberg in large numbers to discuss two points, the Union and the Imperial Election. After they have come to some resolution they will send an Ambassador here to give a full report to his Majesty. Talking of the Election, I gathered that he thought Mathias was far ahead, as he was Master of the Imperial treasury, King of Bohemia and Hungary, supported by the three Catholic Electors and by his own vote. As he is an old man, with a young wife who is never from his side, he may possibly not live long. He told me of the Archduke Albert's request for support in the election of King of the Romans; he had on another occasion of a similar request, informed the King of France. He said not a word about the King of Denmark, nor about the mission of Wotton to Turin. In short, I seemed to gather three things from his Majesty's conversation, annoyance at the Franco-Spanish matches; an opinion that as regards the Imperial Election matters are undecided, but, so far, appearances are in favour of Mathias; and very great annoyance at his subjects for attending Mass at the Embassies, and more especially at some Embassies; he thinks the results may be very pernicious. He declares that if he were a subject and a Catholic he would attend Mass any where but at an Embassy.
London, 9th March, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 452. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Danish Ambassador has got leave from the King to enrol as many foot and horse as he thinks fit. They are to be paid with Danish money, and his Majesty is to be at no charges. The Envoy continues his negotiations, but the illness of Lord Salisbury, which still goes on though he is out of danger, delays his complete discharge. It is said that the Envoy will not leave yet, but will wait till the arrival of the Ambassador from the Princes assembled at Heidelberg.
Three days ago Sir Henry Wotton's instructions were under discussion. He had a long interview with the King and will set out in a very few days. Your Excellencies shall be duly informed of the nature of his orders.
The King has visited Lord Salisbury daily and has stayed whole hours with him. He is fully aware of the value to himself of this great Minister.
My last news from the Hague, dated the 15th of last month, report all quiet. The Secretary of the States General returned without any satisfaction on the points which he discussed with the Council of Brabant. The same day, the 15th, the French Ambassador had an interview with the States General and with Count Maurice; the result was unknown as yet to my correspondent. The Ambassador was still waiting an answer from France. It appears that Imperial administration during an interregnum devolves on the Elector Palatine in virtue of the Golden Bull of Charles IV. The Protestant Princes are advancing steadily.
The Spanish Ambassador shows that he thinks there may be some difficulty about the Election of an Emperor, but that Mathias will succeed. He is keeping his eye on the negotiations of the Protestant Princes at this Court, and thinks if they cannot carry Denmark they will endeavour to sow dissension between Mathias and Albert, and so procure delay.
The King of Sweden is treating for a truce with Poland.
London, 9th March, 1612.
March 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 453. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The King speaking of one of the Theologians of your Serenity called Marsilio, who is dangerously ill, expressed his sorrow, saying that Marsilio wrote very well, that he had read Marsilio's writings; and then he added that a certain friar when confessing Marsilio had raised as a point of conscience his support of the arguments of your Excellencies, and urged him to retract; but Marsilio after insisting on the force of those arguments reaffirmed what he had written, saying “quod scripsi scripsi.” His Majesty then said that he was doing all that lay in him to imitate the primitive Church, and complained of being called heretical. All this he said very briefly. He then went on to speak of the book recently printed in Paris on the subject of Papal authority, and the opinions of the Jesuits. He said that Bellarmin's early writings are different from those he published as Cardinal, nay, almost contradictory. He remarked that the Blessed Virgin is called by the Jesuits Dea, but I observed that this could not be said, for it was neither Catholic nor sound doctrine. The King replied “Let it be said that the Pope does not approve of certain opinions of this nature which are absolutely and palpably contrary to the truth, yet one sees books published which contain them, and I think it all one whether a person says a thing or allows it to be said. The Jesuits are gradually building up a religion according to their own wishes; and truly anyone who takes up the doctrine and faith as expressed by the Sorbonne and compares it with that taught by the Jesuits, will find an infinity of differences and incompatabilities between one and the other.” His Majesty showed that he approved of and associated himself with the opinions of the Sorbonne, and going on about the “Jesuits” he blamed their impertinence in taking such a name, saying that “Christian” is the proper style according to the teaching of Christ Himself. “I know not what grace or virtue they have above their fellow faithful that they should appropriate the name they do, calling themselves 'the Company of Jesu,' as if by some privilege they were superior to other religious bodies, who, as is fitting, take modest names such as 'Servites' and 'Minorites' and so on.” He blamed Jesuit interference in matters of State; and then turning to the discourse he had recently published against Vorstius, he said that he had defended therein the faith that is called Roman quite as much as any other creed of Christians; I replied that in truth his Majesty could not have spoken in more Catholic terms nor with greater piety; and that is actually the case. I praised his eloquence and lively style of presentation; his profound ideas. This pleased his Majesty, who, for a while, went on to discuss with me the substance of his discourse, which I, foreseeing some such occasion, had looked at several times. His Majesty declared that I proved my understanding of the matter, and I amplified my praises of him.
London, 9th March, 1612.
March 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 454. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador of the Archduke Albert, who at his first coming showed a desire to be on good terms with me, soon began to display the vast pretensions of his Master to take precedence of your Serenity. Knowing how fruitlessly for many years the other Ambassadors of your Excellencies had sought to secure a decision from the King on the subject, and deeming it an indignity to the Serene Republic to call in doubt a point so certain as that of your pre-eminence over the Archduke and all other Princes who are not Crowned Heads, I came to the resolve to ignore the Archduke's pretensions and to insist that your Excellencies shall be treated here on all occasions as the equals of Crowned Heads, as is done at all other Courts. In order to open the matter I made use of the help of Sir Henry Wotton, late Ambassador to your Serenity. I was aware that the whole success of this matter depended on secrecy, which would defeat the representations of those who are jealous or ill disposed, and so without consulting any one except him whom I thought likely to be of assistance towards a favourable issue, I sought audience of Lord Salisbury and the 20th of January was named for me. I began to deal with his Excellency, knowing full well how necessary it was at the very outset to inform this most important Minister and to gain his goodwill. I said that it was the custom in Rome and Spain and all other Courts, not only of Christendom but also of the Grand Turk, to treat the Ambassadors of your Excellencies on a footing with the Ambassadors of Crowned Heads in all respects, and so they ought to be treated here, starting from a certain exemption from the duties on wine, an exemption granted to the representatives of Crowned Heads but not of other Princes. His Excellency entered into a long conversation with me, and asked me many questions and raised many points. He assured me that as a fact in granting this exemption the King and his Council had taken into consideration the greatness of the Princes and had made a difference between Crowned and Uncrowned Heads. In fine he concluded by saying that a matter of such importance could not be settled without the knowledge and the orders of the King, before whom Lord Salisbury promised to lay my request. He asked me, if, supposing the Ambassadors of France and Spain should object to your Excellencies' representative being put on an equal footing with them, or if the Archduke's Ambassador should complain of this innovation and demand a like concession for himself, I would take this as an insult. I replied that the Envoys of Kings were accustomed to have as companions the Ambassadors of the Serene Republic, and as to the Archduke the King could easily reply, without offence, that he was only doing what other Sovreigns did; I enlarged upon the treatment your Ambassadors receive in other Courts of Christendom, and I wound up by saying that the Republic was a Prince so great, so friendly, so powerful in the kingdoms and states which it possessed that there was no possibility of comparing it to the Archduke nor to any one else. If there were a doubt in the mind of his Majesty let him take information as to what was done elsewhere; and in any case I did not intend to be associated with any one. And so after upwards of two hours' discussion, I took my leave without having got anything more than what I have written. I can see quite well that your Excellencies' most cogent reasons do not convince the well-disposed mind of the Earl of Salisbury, though they had their effect as the issue showed. Some days afterwards Sir Henry Wotton came to say that it was necessary for me to put into writing the nature of the treatment of the Venetian Ambassadors in Rome and Spain. I replied that it was the treatment shown to Crowned Heads, and I put down the particulars in writing, a copy of which I here enclose. The most excellent results came from this; nor have I omitted to gently press his Excellency from time to time; and on the King's arrival I asked for audience in order to conclude the business. This was granted me on Saturday the third of this month. I laid my case before him, and your Serenity will gather the nature of the answer from the enclosed.
London, 9th March, 1612.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding despatch. 455. Information given to the Earl of Salisbury.
The Ambassadors of the Serene Signory are treated in Rome and in Spain on a parity in all respects with the Ambassadors of Kings.
Royal Ambassadors at Rome have audience in the Sala Regia, those of the Archduke, the Grand Duke and all the other Dukes, without distinction, are received in the Sala Ducale. The Pope gives Royal Ambassadors the title of Excellency and usually causes them to be seated.
In Spain when Royal Ambassadors enter the presence the King raises his hat and then causes them to be covered. They have a seat in Chapel. By royal command everyone is obliged to give them their title.
None but Grandees may have as many horses to their carriages as Ambassadors do; nor have lacqueys. They are not under the Pragmatic. The King does not raise his hat to the Ambassadors of Archdukes, or Dukes or Grand Dukes, nor are they invited to be covered; they have no seat in Chapel, nor are they addressed by their style; they have not the same number of horses as the Royal Ambassadors, from whom they are different in all respects. I kiss your hand.
From my house in London, 18th January, 1612.
March 10. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Savoy. Venetian Archives. 456. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
No news from England as to when Sir Henry Wotton will start on his mission. The Duke is little pleased with the result of Count Ruffia's mission; he might even show anger did he not think it would injure his own interests to do so. Any way Ruffia is less about the Court than he was.
Turin; 10th March, 1612.
March 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 457. Simon Contarini and Cristoforo Valier, Venetian Ambassadors in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassadors of France and England are still quarrelling; and on the subject of the covering flag for the Dutch (Fiamenghi) they are back at the same point, neither being willing to abide by the agreement of their predecessors.
Stefan Bogdan, who became a Turk, not content with the Sanjak of Pistrina, was given the Sanjak of Brusa. He is supported by the Capudan Pasha.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 10th March, 1612.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 458. Simon Contarini and Cristoforo Valier, Venetian Ambassadors in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The question of pirates. Complaints made by the Venetians that an English pirate, a renegade, had captured a ship, the “Valnegrina,” bound for Alexandria, via Candia, and was supported by the Turks in Tunis and Modon. This is a violation of the treaty of peace. The Turkish officials assist the pirates and their agent is a certain Jew resident in Constantinople, who acts as middleman for the sale of the plunder, in the profits of which the Turkish officials share. It is now impossible to distinguish between times of war and of peace. The Ambassadors begged for the restitution of the booty and the punishment of officials in Tunis and Modon. The Vizir paid close attention to these remarks, and asked who it was that had captured the “Valnegrina”; the Ambassador said it was Ward (Guart) an English renegade, who was received and supported in Tunis by Turkish officials. The Pasha asked if I was sure, and I replied that I was certain, as I had the information from the commander of our squadron. The Pasha replied “It is all your own fault; you insist on the general term Christians; and yet sometimes it is Christians under the guise of Turks who do the mischief. In the past there were none of these. galleons, and cursed be he who introduced them. In the old days a caramusale (fn. 1) without artillery went and returned alone from Alexandria; now the galleons must sail fully armed and in company, nor is that enough, they must have an escort of galleys too. He said it was this that made Sultan Selim think of capturing Cyprus. He said that now that there were in Constantinople Ambassadors of France, England and Venice, they should come to a common understanding for the suppression of piracy. I replied that this would be very much to the purpose if each of the parties did its duty as Venice did, for she always kept a large fleet at sea; but the pirates continually took shelter in Barbary where they were at home, or under the guns of the fortresses of Modon, Coron and Santa Maura, which opened five on our ships, and therefore it was necessary not merely to attack the pirates but to punish the Turkish officials. The Pasha replied that when he was in Cairo he sent a caramusale home with goods belonging to him, she was captured by bertons and run into Crete, where the Christians were set free. I replied that this could not have happened under the walls of a town, but perhaps on some deserted shore. The Pasha said “No, they went into port and were feasted.” I begged him to believe that in no port and under no fortress of the Republic was shelter given to pirates, the Governor-General of Candia, Capello, sent to Turkey a large number of captive Turks, and even received a robe in acknowledgement; Venetian officers always executed pirates if they caught them, as for examples, Lorenzo Venier and Francesco Moresini, the one caught and hung, on a reef off Zante, two pirate captains and their gang; the other hanged twelve pirates from the yard of his ship in sight of Milos, and all the subjects of the Grand Turk rejoiced. The Pasha seemed somewhat convinced, and then said “Why have you changed the build of your ships? Why do you send out bertons that look like buccaneers?” I said that all Venetian ships were still built on the old lines, and if there was a berton found among them she was merely one captured from the pirates. The Pasha declared that the ships which infest the sea are manned by Spaniards, French, English and Venetians.
The French Ambassador informed the Venetian about the arrival of an Ambassador from the United Provinces, and suggested that the English and Venetian Ambassadors should act in concert with him for their common interest. Both the English and the French had been, separately, to the Grand Vizir, who replied that the Porte was open to all.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 10th March, 1612.
[Italian, deciphered.]
March 10. Capi del Consiglio de Dieci, Notatario. Venetian Archives. 459. The Chiefs of the Council of Ten, having received from the Riformatori dello Studio di Padova a certificate based on the report of the two Examiners, namely the Reverend Father Inquisitor and the “Circumspect” Secretary of the Senate, Giovanni Maraveglia, who declare on oath that in the book called “Calepinus Parvus, additions” by David Colville, a Scot, additions made to another book called “Dictionarium Cæsaris Calderini” printed in Venice by another printer, there is nothing contrary to the laws, and that it is worthy of being printed, grant licence for the book to issue in this City.
Marco Trivisan, Chief of the Ten.
Andrea Contarini, Chief of the Ten.
Giust. Antonio Belegno, Chief of the Ten.
The book was presented for examination on March 11th, 1611.
March 10th, 1612.
March 12. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 460. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of Denmark is a candidate for the Imperial throne he is warmly supported by the King of England; but the Spanish hope to settle the business favourably to themselves.
Prague, 12th March, 1612.
March 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 461. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In the audience I had on the 3rd, seeing his Majesty in a good humour while discussing his pamphlet against Vorstius, I praised him in terms of admiration, and then took up the point of your Excellencies' greatness, upon which I paused and dwelt on purpose, and I proceeded to say, “Sire, I have told your Majesty that the Serene Republic is treated both at Rome and in Spain and elsewhere, in the person of its Ambassadors, absolutely on an equality with Crowned Heads, without the lightest distinction; I must now add that as what I affirm is strictly true, it is only reasonable that the same course should, without any further delay, be pursued here; this is called for by the love which the Republic bears to your Majesty, and every principle of equity and friendship combines to urge it. I ask this at your Majesty's hands, and I declare that at the present moment the exemption which is conceded to the Ambassadors of Kings constitutes a distinction between them and the Envoys of other Princes. Let your Majesty begin by placing the Venetian Ambassador among the former; let your Majesty this very morning act as do all other Sovreigns.” The King replied that he esteemed and loved the Republic as much as it was possible to do, and he desired to do me a favour, but that the Ambassador of the Archduke would be sure to come straight to him and make the same request in strong and violent language; implying that it is necessary to find some answer to give him, and showing that it was on this point that there arose a doubt and an obstacle; for granting that your Serenity is the peer of Sovreigns, as I affirmed, and the superior of the Archduke, the Ambassador will say that the Archduke is also the peer of Sovreigns, for he is styled “brother,” both by the King of England and by those of France and Spain, and is given the title of “Most Serene.” Moreover, before sending his Ambassador here he insisted on assurances that the Envoy would be treated as such. The King went on to take the example of the King of France and a small King, and said that as Kings they were both in the same rank and enjoyed the same royal dignity. I replied that your Serenity had nothing to do with the Archduke Albert; he is among the number of Princes, while your Excellencies are in the rank of Kings, and so there is the difference of species, nor did I know anything of the claims he might put forward. My claims had nothing to do with the Archduke or with anyone else. The position of your Excellencies, as a Prince with one thousand two hundred years behind him, was quite well understood by the whole world. Then passing from this universal consideration I came to particulars, and proved that your Serenity is among the number of Kings while the Archduke is classed with all other Princes; I pointed out that at Rome there are two audience chambers, one for Ambassadors of Kings and one for Ambassadors of Princes, and your Excellencies' Envoys are received in the former, while the Archduke's Envoys are received in the latter. Here the King made signs of approval, both in gesture and in word, and I went on to say that the Envoys of Kings and of your Excellencies are honoured by the Pope with the style of “Excellency,” and are asked to be seated; that in Spain the King uncovers to the Ambassadors of Kings and of your Serenity, and causes them to be covered, whereas he does not uncover to the Ambassadors of the Archduke or of other Princes, and causes them to address him uncovered. Your Serenity's Ambassadors are allowed four lacqueys and the privileged number of horses, which is refused to the Envoys of Princes. The Ambassadors of Kings and of your Serenity are not subject to the Pragmatic and have a seat in Chapel; the Ambassadors of Princes are excluded, and altogether are treated differently. All this I had laid before the Earl of Salisbury. I concluded that surely his Majesty, who loved the Republic so, and had come to her assistance in her straights, would not now treat her worse than she was treated by the Pope and his Catholic Majesty, who is so closely connected with the Archduke and the House of Austria. The King listened with the closest attention and continually approved; he showed that he grasped my remarks as unanswerable. He said that all this was new to him, nor had he ever been informed of it. He showed astonishment at the Archduke's pretensions, saying, “If what you tell me is true I am amazed at the Archduke's claim.” I then drew up and changing my voice I said, “Sire, these are matters of fact; you have an Ambassador in Spain and the means of finding out what is done there; make enquiries and if it be not as I say, never trust my word again, nor ever grant my request; but if on the other hand you should find it true then pray do this honour to the Republic that so loves you and to me who am your devoted servant.” The King said that he felt profoundly the force of my arguments and gave me every hope, but added that of course I was aware that Princes did not pledge their word; this was the first time I had told him all this, and owing to the Earl of Salisbury's indisposition he had not been able to get information. As I was taking my leave the King again showed that he was struck by the arguments in your Excellencies' favour, and he told me that he would that very day see Lord Salisbury so as to conclude this affair. I was accompanied by the Chamberlain and by the brothers Lord and Sir Henry Wotton, and by Lewkenor the Master of the Ceremonies. I am aware that I have made a strong impression on the King's mind, and I have good hopes that the case is the same with the Earl of Salisbury. After making my compliments as was due, to the other gentlemen, I went for a walk in the Park with Sir Henry Wotton alone. I told him what had taken place, assured him of the King's favourable disposition, and begged him to seek his Majesty and to urge the conclusion of the business. I requested him to lend his aid, and he promised to do so. The King kept his chamber all morning and dined there, then spent a long time in Lord Salisbury's chamber, and so Sir Henry could not give effect to his promise till evening. He discovered that his Majesty had spoken on the subject to the Earl of Salisbury as he promised to do, and Lord Salisbury had given a very favourable answer; so that a happy issue may be looked for. I am certain that his Majesty also showed some specially good will towards me. On Monday the King promised to treat the Ambassador of your Excellencies on a par with Envoys of Kings, and began by giving orders that the Venetian Ambassador should be differentiated from the Archduke's Ambassador and placed on an equality with France and Spain; this was carried into effect the next morning, and Sir Henry Wotton at once sent his nephew to tell me of his Majesty's orders. Actual effect has not yet been obtained nor has the order been entered in writing owing to the indisposition of the Secretary whose duty it is. Sir Henry Wotton urges that another Secretary should be employed; I shall not desist until I see the matter ended.
Yesterday when I had audience of the Queen she frequently employed the title of “Excellency,” which has never happened to me before, nor I believe to any other Ambassador of your Excellencies, and so this must be an express order from the King. I will make sure on this point and also whether the title is always to be given to your Serenity's Ambassadors. I must not conceal from your Excellencies that at my interview with Lord Salisbury he said to me that I had gained such points over the Archduke as none of my predecessors had been able to gain. I replied that I was well aware that whoever is numbered with Sovreigns takes precedence of the Archduke and all the rest.
London, 14 March, 1612.
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. Gugliemotti “Vocabolario marino e militare,” describes a caramusale as a merchant ship of three masts, very high poop, long, fine lines, about four hundred tons burden.