Venice: March 1612, 16-31

Pages 312-322

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

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March 1612, 16–31

March 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 462. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen received me on Monday under the baldacchino, where she was attended by a great company of Ladies and Gentlemen. I congratulated her Majesty on her good health after her recent indisposition. She asked me what news I had from Italy, and what they thought at Venice about the Franco-Spanish matches. I said I had nothing worthy of her Majesty's notice; and as for the matches I imagined that at Venice as elsewhere they were considered as settled; thus passing over the question as to what was thought about them. I added that the matches here were also on a fair way to conclusion. The Queen showed that she understood my allusion to the Palatine, and said that the King and the Council were greatly in its favour but did not express her own views one way or another. I said I heard there was a proposal of a sister of the Grand Duke for the Prince. The Queen replied, smiling, but showed that she did not approve of the idea as being not worthy of the Prince. I said that his qualities, in truth, merited a daughter of France or Spain. Her Majesty listened with satisfaction and showed particular approval of a Spanish Princess. She told me that de Bouillon was coming to apologise for the failure to give notice of the Franco-Spanish matches, and to assure the English that it was the firm resolve of the King and Queen to stand well with this Crown. She spoke very highly of the Marshal. Speaking of the sister of the Grand Duke for the Prince she said that “a man” was coming about it; that is the word she used. I have reported all this because though the Queen does not mix herself up in affairs, still she may sometimes know what is going on as the King tells her any thing she chooses to ask, and loves and esteems her. The rest of our conversation was on various topics, which I omit to report so as not to multiply words needlessly; and so after an hour or more, I took my leave. The Florentine Secretary has been to see me more than once; he has let me understand very clearly that there may be some negotiation with the Prince, but that as far as arrangements have as yet been made, no Ambassador will come here in spring. The arrival of the Marshal de Bouillon is delayed for a day or two. The French Ambassador tells me that by the 20th of this month two Spanish Ambassadors will be in Paris with all the details about the marriages, which will then be published, and the Duke of Mayenne will go at once to Spain. The Duke of Savoy continues his negotiations and is asking the second Princess of France for the Prince of Piedmont. The Queen has promptly listened to his prayer and has taken him under her protection, as was seen at the time when he was in strained relations with Spain and his Ambassadors were excluded from the Catholic Court. The Duke of Bouillon besides explaining about the Spanish matches will have some other topic to handle. Vendome, not Epernon, is to go to Rome. The Spanish Ambassador is informed that the Duke of Savoy is negotiating a match between the Prince, his son, and the second sister of the King of France; but when the French Ambassador heard this he said there was a vast difference between treating and asking, thus indicating that the Duke's proposals are not held in much account. Both Ambassadors agree that the Duke had urged the Queen to grant him the second Princess, as she had taken away from him the first. All this has come to the ears not only of his Majesty but also of many persons about the Court, and very likely from more than one quarter, and will most assuredly damage his Highness' chances of success in his negotiations here. An Ambassador Extraordinary is to go to Turin upon this business and will take a very doubtful answer and conditions that the Duke can hardly accept. Sir Henry Wotton, who has this appointment, has had long audiences of the King, and is beginning to receive his instructions; he will soon take his departure, as he himself has said.
The Earl of Salisbury is still ill, he has had a relapse and his condition is dangerous in a frame so weak and exhausted. Medical opinion varies. Swellings of the thighs disturb him greatly, and while he is thus harassed in body he is also forced frequently to toil with his brain, as the King relies solely on him even in this plight. He is visited daily by the King, the Queen and the Prince. His sickness has proved more clearly than ever how necessary are his great qualities for the good government of these Kingdoms. As a consequence all the more important business is delayed and can not be wound up till he is well, as his Majesty himself affirms.
The King of Denmark is urging the despatch of his supports, and in twenty days or so Lord Willoughby will begin to embark his men.
London, 16th March, 1612.
Postscript. Lord Salisbury has sent to thank me for my visits and to say that he is better. Please God that the improvement may continue.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 17. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Florence. Venetian Archives. 463. Giacomo Vendramin, Venetian Resident in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
A Frenchman has arrived here, who has brought into the port of Leghorn a vessel fully armed; he asks leave to fly the Grand Duke's flag as a privateer; but as far as I am informed his Highness is not disposed to grant it; and unless he is warmly supported by some powerful hand that is wont to favour that nation it is unlikely that he will get it.
Florence, 17th March, 1612.
March 18. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Savoy. Venetian Archives. 464. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
After the return of Captain Giovanni Alardo, who was sent on a mission to Paris in the train of Lesdiguières, to ask for the conclusion of the match, and his report that he had received no promise on the subject, the rumour is going round that there is some negotiation on foot to marry the second Princess to the Prince of Wales. I do not know if this is really the case or invented by Alardo to put forward an opinion different from M. de Jacob's.
Turin, 18th March, 1612.
March 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 465. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Alardo, Envoy Extraordinary of Savoy, has left without having gained any of his points. To Villeroy's answer that outside the questions of the Princess, of war and of territory, the Queen was ready to help his Highness, Alardo asked “In what way, then?” and Villeroy replied that it was for the Duke to make a suggestion; as neither would go further, the matter dropped. The Duke recalled his Ambassador and said he would send another Envoy to Jacob, with instructions. His intention was to ask the hand of the second Princess, but he perceived that, owing to the Queen's preference for the Prince of Wales, his design met little favour; and Alardo, at his audience of leave-taking, declared that the House of Savoy would always preserve the document creating the alliance by marriage which Henry the Fourth had granted to the Duke.
Paris, 19th March, 1612.
March 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 466. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Guise is making great preparations to celebrate the Spanish matches, and the English Ambassador could not refrain from reproaching him for this after he had assured the Ambassador that the marriages would not take place; and he dwelt on the close connection of Guise to his Sovereign.
Paris, 19th March, 1612.
March 24. Senato, Secreta, Despatches from Florence, Venetian Archives. 467. Giacomo Vendramin, Venetian Resident in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
The Frenchman has obtained leave to fly the Grand Duke's flag, on condition that he does not molest Christians, and especially Venetians. He is to deposit sufficient caution in Leghorn. It is supposed that this was done to please the Duke of Guise who was interested on his behalf. They have made this concession in the firm belief that the Frenchman cannot fulfil the condition about the caution money.
Florence, 24th March, 1612.
March 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 468. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I continued to press the point of precedence in such a way that on Sunday, the 19th, orders were given to another Secretary to carry out the King's commands. To-day they have brought me the exemption in precisely the same terms as it is conceded to France and Spain, and altogether different from the Archduke. I will ask for audience to-morrow, when the King will be here. The day before yesterday he was at Hampton Court. I will thank his Majesty and also Lord Salisbury as soon as his health permits. I do not know whether his Majesty has instructed his Ambassador to give you an account of all this or to wait till he be thanked by your Excellencies.
London, 24th March, 1612.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 469. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
It is clear that before proceeding to the election of an Emperor, the Protestant Princes desire that many disorders should be regulated and the Imperial authority reduced with the limits which at one time confined it. They desire the enforcement of the Imperial Constitution. It seems natural that the Ecclesiatical Electors should concur as it affects the dignity of the Empire and also their own authority. The Protestant Electors wish to modify the Imperial authority in such a way that the Emperor, in all more important matters, can not come to a decision without the opinion of the Electoral body, as was the custom years ago. The French Ambassador said to me that this was a necessary reform which must be made before they proceeded to Elect an Emperor otherwise it would meet with too serious opposition from the new Cesar. His Most Christian Majesty and the King of England will both support the Electors. Your Excellencies will easily grasp the importance of these ideas and the readiness with which they may be made the subject of important divergences. The Spanish Ambassador fears that the affairs of Germany cannot remain quiet as the Protestant Princes continue to raise troops, though each is acting separately in this. It is doubtful whether the Coadjutor of Cologne can have a vote at the coming election, as there is a clear rule on the subject that he who votes must have had the Imperial confirmation, a condition which the Coadjutor does not fulfil. The Spanish Ambassador is in hopes that the Duke of Saxony has been entirely won over by his master, but the other party does not give the Duke up for lost, and there may be a doubt about his vote if Mathias in any way helps his own Election, and that in virtue of the resolution taken by all the Electors at the Diet of Nürenburg. There are also signs of discord in other quarters. From all this one may gather that either Mathias will be elected immediately or that the Election will be drawn out for a long time, with all sorts of unexpected surprises; and this is the opinion of those who know best.
The French Ambassador told me that the Spaniards are trying for the simultaneous Election of the Emperor and of the King of the Romans, and the competitors will be numerous; but King Mathias will always be opposed and for other reasons it is not likely that it will take place. The Danish Ambassador is still here. He has received some money and is hastening on the levy. He will not leave till an Ambassador arrives from the Federated Princes with the resolutions adopted at Heidelberg, which will lay down the policy to be followed in German affairs and those related to them.
It is thought that the Franco-Spanish alliance has its roots in the desire to maintain the tranquillity of France during the King's minority, and to allow the King of Spain to rest secure as regards French arms, which at all times have counterbalanced him. The Spanish Ambassador said to me that he did not think much of the alliance between England, Denmark, Holland and the Protestant Princes provided the alliance between Spain and France was sincere and there was no cowardly intent hidden beneath the cloak. From these and other remarks it seems that the union is more specious than real. The Pope and the Grand Duke will follow the wishes of the two Kings. France's object is to prevent Spain from advancing.
The two Spanish Ambassadors who are to go to Paris on the subject of the marriages are the Marchese Spinola and Don Rodriquez de Calderon. Both will pass on to Flanders, the first to take up his duties as Master of the Camp, and he is much pleased at having been made a Grandee and Member of the Council of War, the other as Ambassador Extraordinary to the Archduke, to give an account of the reciprocal matches. Spinola may go to Germany, and Calderon, perhaps, has some instructions touching the Archduke's election as King of the Romans.
The Earl of Salisbury is still indisposed, but even in this plight he is master of himself; all the same as every act receives its impulse from him, all business proceeds very slowly.
The position of the Spanish Ambassador continues as I have described it; and he will soon withdraw from the city.
London, 24th March, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 25. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Savoy, Venetian Archives. 470. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The Count de la Motte has returned from his Embassy in Spain; the Duke enquired with great curiosity whether the King was likely to marry the English Princess; he thought the point of religion insuperable. De la Motte replied that if reasons of State demanded it a way would be found; he thought the other English condition, that the marriage should carry succession to Flanders, a greater obstacle. The English Ambassador is in such high favour at that court that it is impossible to form any opinion on the situation, though he only receives words and promises, no actual results.
Turin, 25th March, 1612.
March 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 471. Christoforo Valier and Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassadors in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
At Valier's landing he was saluted by the French and English ships on the orders of those Ambassadors.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 26th March, 1612.
March 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 472. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
To-day, at length, Sir Henry Wotton has left for Turin. He sent on ahead the horses which his Majesty is presenting to the Duke. Wotton will also give the Duke a sword (fn. 1) all studded with beautiful diamonds and of great value. He will declare that the King has a great regard for the Duke, and desires to live on friendly terms with him. As to a matrimonial alliance he will dwell on the difficulties, and will add that when a way to remove them has been discovered his Majesty will be very ready to conclude the match; and in any case his Majesty desires to be as closely bound as possible to the Duke. And so this negotiation will vanish, for it is not in the Duke's power to remove the obstacles. Wotton will pass through France, but will not touch Paris. He has a noble and a numerous suite. He told me that this mission, including the present, which is of the richest, will cost the King a very large sum, larger perhaps than could be readily believed.
The Queen told me that “a man,” so she calls him, from the Grand Duke would soon be here; and I learn from a good source that there is at Calais one of the Duke's Secretaries (Chiolli). He at once sent a courier to the Secretary here resident (Lotti) who instantly sent him back, and will go to meet the new-comer some miles away. As far as I have discovered as yet, the Secretary who is arriving is the one most in employ after Vinta, whose creature he is. At Paris he was with Botti for some days. I will use diligence to discover what his mission is and how he conducts it. The departure of the Marshal de Bouillon from Paris is being delayed. Besides his Mission from their Majesties, he will also negotiate on behalf of the Elector Palatine, who, it is rumoured, is coming to this Court in spring in the hope of winning the Princess.
The Dutch have recalled from abroad the officers in their pay; and General Cecil, who is one of them, will leave for Holland as he himself told me when he came to take his leave.
The levies for the King of Denmark are almost quite ready and the troops in large numbers begin to move down to the port of embarkation. Their pay is four dollars a month, and Pikes, Muskets and Harquebusses are counted as equal. The Captains, Lieutenants and Sergeants receive thirty, fifteen and twelve dollars a month. The pay begins from the day they go on board; the King bears all the expenses of the voyage, and payment is made weekly. The difficulty in raising these troops was due to two causes, the poverty of Sweden, where they are to be employed, and the cold which endures there almost all the year round. I have dwelt on these details as it may be of some interest to your Excellencies to have information of the terms on which you could raise troops here.
I saw Sir Henry Wotton before he left. He told me that after orders had been given to the temporary Secretary to issue the King's commands, the ordinary Secretary being somewhat recovered, undertook the duty. Wotton had met him in the antechamber of Lord Salisbury, and the Secretary had said he was quite ready to obey, but he wished to point out the drawbacks, for the French and Spanish Ambassadors would certainly complain that your Serenity's Ambassador was placed on a par with them while the Archduke's was left in so inferior a position. To this Wotton had replied that it was evident that the Secretary had been ill up to now, for he was not aware that his Majesty's order was intended precisely to honour the Venetian Ambassador as on a footing with Crowned Heads and that on account of the arguments brought forward and on the analogy of other Courts. The Secretary accordingly entered Lord Salisbury's chamber and the affair was concluded. This much I think it my duty to report, for I had first announced that the order was drawn up by another Secretary than Norton (Nort).
London, 29th March, 1612.
March 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 473. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On the morning of the 27th I had audience of the King. “Sire,” I said, “I tender most humble thanks to your Majesty for the honour it has pleased you to show to the Serene Republic by resolving to treat her Ambassadors on a par with those of Crowned Heads, which places me under particular obligation,” and I made a profound reverence. The King embraced me and said these very words: “I have done more than I promised you, for I first of all made myself sure of the facts in order to proceed with sound reasons and maturity of judgement.” He added, “You have fully proved your assertion.” I said that his Majesty had done a signal favour to your Serenity by proceeding with this caution for now he would employ the same method if anyone else endeavoured to make a similar claim, and he could always say “prove as much” and that would offend no one. The King agreed and said that to honour the Ambassador of the Republic as the Ambassadors of Crowned Heads are honoured could not cause offence to anyone, for he was only doing what other Sovereigns did. He let me understand that should anyone advance a similar claim he would employ the answer I suggested. I again tendered respectful thanks and begged him to take from his Ambassador in Spain and from Rome by any means that seemed good to him confirmation of what I had asserted; and further, in order that his Majesty might perceive that not only in Christendom was your Serenity treated with royal honours, I implored him to cause his Ambassador at the Porte to inform him whether your Representatives were not invited to banquet in Divan and treated in all respects on a par with the Ministers of Crowned Heads. The King promised to do so that very day when he was to see Lord Salisbury. I did not conceal from him that I thought it likely that your Excellencies would send letters of thanks for this favour; the King said he thought you would on the receipt of my despatches; and I venture to suggest that such a letter from your Serenity would be of great service in preserving the goodwill and excellent resolve of his Majesty. I went on to say that I was sure his Majesty must gladly have recognised your Serenity as a Sovereign more eminent than was believed. The King answered that he was aware that the Republic had owned and owns Kingdoms, and he mentioned Cyprus, but the particulars I had given him were quite new to him and of the highest importance, for he had thought that the first place after Crowned Heads belonged to your Excellencies but not more. I said “Sire, not after Kings but with Kings.” The King said he was glad that I had been the instrument of this and it would prove to your Excellencies my favour with himself, and that the arguments I adduced had been proved by him, and if any one else makes a similar claim he will have to prove as much as I have done. I again urged his Majesty to obtain from his Ambassadors confirmation of what I had adduced.
I asked for this audience with the double object of thanking his Majesty and of closing the road to any attempt on the part of others to advance a similar claim, as I know has been done at other Courts. In both these objects I have succeeded, and I thank God.
The King then proceeded to touch on other topics. The Marshal de Bouillon is to set out at the end of this month and to this the King seemed to attach much importance, as he desires to know what foundation there may be for the continuance of the old relations with France in view of the new alliances and confederations, I asked if this delay in the arrival of the Marshal might be attributed to the Queen's desire to await some decision in Spain or elsewhere. He said it might be so; and if the League which they propose between France, Spain, the Pope and Florence and perhaps some other Prince, comes into being he would no longer consider himself a friend of France, for he knew quite well that such a League was directed against him or some of his friends, which was the same thing. Speaking of the marriages between France and Spain he said they were usually tragic and bloody. He said he would give every consideration to the formation of an alliance with the Princes of Germany and the States and other friends. The Marchese Spinola is going to Flanders to negotiate a peace which de Refuges has not ventured to suggest as he knows that it is abhorred, upon the condition of allowing a Catholic church in each of the chief towns; the Queen and Villeroy sent him orders not to move further in the matter.
His Majesty went on to talk of Vorstius and said he was certain he was supported by Spain and perhaps by the Jesuits in particular, in order that they might be able to urge that if a sect so iniquitous and not merely heretical but actually infidel, were tolerated by the Dutch, there was all the more reason for admitting the Catholics. He remarked that he had touched on this point in his discourse where he points out that Vorstius may receive support from three kinds of people, and names as the third those who are little friendly to a good understanding between the States and this Crown, the second are those who are interested in the Catholic Faith, and the first are infidels like Vorstius himself. Spain wants peace with the Dutch and is seeking it in order to ruin them by treachery as she could not do so by force. He dwelt on the slippery (untuosa) truce concluded with them by his Catholic Majesty under the pressure of weakness. He told me that one day talking in that very room to the Archduke's Ambassador, he had asked why his Master and his Catholic Majesty as well had desired so unfavourable a truce and the Ambassador replied that this was the only alternative, as they had found war to be fruitless and so an accord was the better policy; there would always be at any rate the gain in time and they could take up arms later, and then seeing that he had gone too far he added that he was not speaking as Ambassador but as a private individual expressing his own private views. The King, on the Flemish Ambassador's departure, at once told the Dutch Ambassador all that had taken place.
As regards the Imperial Election, the Elector of Cologne will not have a vote as he succeeded after the death of the Emperor and therefore lacks the Imperial confirmation, without which he cannot take part in the voting. Thus the number of Electors being five the voting cannot be equal, and so Mathias cannot exercise his vote, which is available only in the case of a parity of votes. All the same Mathias is far ahead, though his life may not be a long one. I told his Majesty that at Calais there was a Secretary of Florence who, as rumour ran, was coming to negotiate for a marriage between the Prince and one of the sisters of the Grand Duke, with offers of a very large dower. His Majesty appeared to be unaware that the Secretary was at Calais; he added that the resident Secretary (Lotti) had, in fact, spoken to him about such a match, but had not made it clear that he was charged to do so.
His Majesty renewed his protestations of regard for the Republic, and your Excellencies may count on his support, for he holds your interests and his own to be identical.
As I was waiting in the antechamber one of the King's most intimate told me that de Bouillon's delay was displeasing; and that if the League of the Pope, France, Spain and Florence advanced further it would be necessary to think about it. At de Bouillon's arrival, which is eagerly looked for, the point will be cleared up, for he will come well informed.
London, 30th of March, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 31. Minutes of the Senate. Venetian Archives. 474. To the Ambassador in France.
Orders to find out the truth of the rumour about an offensive and defensive alliance between the Pope, France, Spain, and Tuscany.
The same to the Ambassador in England.
Ayes 129.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 2.
March 31. Minutes of the Senate. Venetian Archives. 475. To the Ambassador in Rome.
The news about the rumoured league between the Pope, France, Spain and Tuscany is so important that you are to continue to find out and report to us all you can about it.
Ayes 138.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 1.
March 31. Senato, Secreta, Despatches from Florence, Venetian Archives. 476. Giacomo Vendramin, Venetian Resident in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
It is conjectured that great negotiations are afoot for the marriage of one of these Princesses in England. A courier has been sent to his Highness' Agent in England. They say that the King is thinking of the widow of the Transilvanian, sister of the late Queen, and of her Serenity the Archduchess. This would not be displeasing here if there is no chance of the match for one of these Princesses.
Florence, 31st March, 1612.


  • 1. See Nichols op. cit. Vol. II. p. 438, note 3. “Sir Henry Wotton went away this day se'enight with the rich sword, which by good chance, he kept better than his own which was stolen out of his chamber the night before he went away, with full appearance, as it would seem, that it was the right one.”