Venice: April 1612, 1-15

Pages 322-330

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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April 1612, 1–15

April 1. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Savoy. Venetian Archives. 477. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
Rumour that Wotton is on his way here.
Turin, 1st April, 1612.
April 2. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives 478. Girolamo Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Rumours that the King of Spain may very likely marry the Princess of England.
Prague, 2nd April, 1612.
April 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 479. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France to the Doge and Senate.
An attempt has been made to sow seeds of suspicion in the mind of the Queen about the Due de Bouillon; certain letters from England are shown in which it is said that the Duke is eagerly awaited. It is urged that owing to uniformity of religion, the Duke's journey into that country may be perilous, for it is known that since the conclusion of these alliances the Huguenots of France have turned their eyes to the King of England, from whose valour they expect much, but on the other hand the King's pacific intentions are well known.
Casaubon's reply to the Cardinal du Perron has been issued from England.
Paris, 3rd April, 1612.
April 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 480. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In many parts of Germany they are holding special Diets in order to settle what is to be proposed at the Imperial Diet as regards reform of the Imperial Authority, and also as regards the claims of various Princes and Free Cities, proposals to which the New Emperor will be asked to swear. As I explained in my previous despatches the Protestant Electors are resolved on these reforms before coming to an Election; they hope that the Ecclesiastical Electors will adhere, as it is a question of their authority and the dignity of the Empire. Now that the Elector of Mainz has not only examined the Imperial Chancery, but even endeavoured to remove it from Prague to some other city, these hopes have become certainties.
Here, although Salisbury's ill-health delays all affairs, they have discussed the question of sending an Ambassador to the Imperial Diet. The question was easily resolved in the negative; the precedents of other times, and especially the action of Queen Elizabeth, had great weight. Those who send Ambassadors are, in a certain sense, dependent on the Empire. Such a position is repugnant to these Kingdoms which have never had any relations with the Imperial Crown. On this point a person of importance spoke to me at great length, declaring that no other great Sovreign can affirm this with such fulness of truth as this Crown. All the same they do not omit to consider what may be of service to their Confederates. The Federated Princes have sent the Count of Schomberg as their Envoy to the United Provinces. My last letters from the Hague inform me that he has had two audiences. His mission turns upon three points, first, to give an account of the position of the Confederates and their resolutions as to the levies of troops and their procedure during the interregnum, also as to their demands before the Election can take place; secondly, be begs them to hold their succours ready as the moment may not be far off when they may be required, and there is no method of treating more effiacious than when fully armed; thirdly, he specially recommends the interests of the Elector of Brandenburg, who seems to be making great advances. Schomberg was received by the States and by Prince Maurice not merely with honour but with every mark of confidence, as he had already been in the service of the States, and been made Colonel of a regiment under Juliers; at present he is Governor of the Palatine and General of Artillery. He did not omit to exhort the States to maintain their religion pure—referring to the affair of Vorstius. He received a favourable answer on all points. He was to leave immediately for Brussels, where he will find the Ambassador of Wirtemberg. The Archduke Albert has been ill lately. In Cologne there are serious discords fomented by the Jesuits. This causes disgust among the Princes “Possessioners” and all other neighbours and so that city runs the risk of being lost through internal and external discords.
The Duke of Neuberg has reached Cleves; up to now the brother of Brandenburg has been alone in command of those territories which desire to know who is to be their Prince. The Ambassadors of Sweden and Denmark have been to the Dutch, both of them seeking permission to raise levies. They had for answer that the States were friends to both Sovreigns, and therefore could not in any way feed the war. There was some talk of an accord, but nothing definite. In agreement with the Federated Princes of Germany the Dutch have appointed Ambassadors for this purpose and they must by now be on their way. The Princes have also sent an Embassy to beg both Kings to lay down their arms. The King besides making an appeal in the same sense to the Danish Ambassador has also written vigorously to the King of Denmark; and there is hope of some good result.
On Saturday a courier arrived from Spain with despatches from the English Ambassador. He sends word that Don Pedro de Zuñiga—appointed Ambassador to this Court—is on the point of departure. He is to announce the conclusion of the Franco-Spanish matches. He will also excuse the errors committed in the recent negotiations here, throwing the whole blame on the resident Ambassador. He will endeavour by every method to pacify the King by making the widest offers. As regards the affairs of the merchants he also brings ample powers, and will give such promises as will satisfy the King. The King of Spain is well aware how easily his Majesty can hinder the Imperial Election, cause trouble in Germany, and by his mere tacit consent to his subjects, harass the Spanish coasts. (Viene benissimo conosciuto dal Rè di Spagna quanta facilmente possi sua Maestà impedir electione d'Imperatore, turbare in Germania, et con una sola et tacita permissions a' sudditi, anco le marine di Spagna medessima.) (fn. 1) In France, too, the Queen and her advisers are well aware of his Majesty's authority with the Huguenots and with the whole house of Guise, so that he could easily disturb the peace of that kingdom by his mere words alone. On this account both those Crowns, acting together, are sending complimentary missions to his Majesty, nominally to announce the conclusion of the matches, but really to remove all suspicion, and to guarantee security, in short to employ every art to quiet the King and to avoid those rubs which it is easily foreseen might arise. It is now known that de Bouillon's delay is due to the Queen of France's desire to await the decision of Spain. Now there is no doubt but that the Marshal is on the road, and the French Ambassador makes out that he must have left Paris the day before yesterday. On the arrival of these Ambassadors I will endeavour to discover the substance of their missions.
The instructions with which the Marchese Spinola has left Spain are two-fold; conclusion of peace with the Dutch, and an Extraordinary Mission, afterwards into Germany. As to the peace the Dutch display a unanimous resolve not to consent to it on the condition that a Catholic Church is to be opened in each of the chief cities, nor indeed with any conceivable modification of the terms of the truce, and so the instructions given to Spinola on this point are considered quite useless. As to his mission to Germany, it seems a grave matter to leave Flanders without his presence now that they are arming on all sides; all the same the Spanish Ambassador confirmed the information. General Cecil, after delaying as long as he could, left for Holland to-day. Several other officers, who were on leave, will also have returned.
London, 5th April, 1612.
April 5. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 481. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet, and the Doge congratulated him on the recovery of the Earl of Salisbury; the Ambassador replied that in truth the Earl had been very ill, to the great grief of the King.
The Ambassador went on to say that he had come that morning on account of certain hinderances which were placed in the way of British sailors trading in the Venetian State. To remove these would prove of service to trade. In the year 1444 an order was issued that British ships were to pick up a pilot in Istria, paying a fixed sum for being piloted into Venice, except in case of a storm. Of this law no complaint is made, as it is framed with a view to the safety of the shipping. In the year 1607 another order was issued by which British ships were obliged to pay the pilot whether they took him or not. This order is distasteful and rather severe, for there seems to be no reason why a pilot should be paid for if not taken. Finally the Judges of the Cataver and the Savii agli Ordini (fn. 2) have issued orders that British ships must go to Istria to pick up a pilot, bad weather or not; all who fail to do so are libable to a fine of sixty ducats. This order is very inconvenient for our sailors; for whereas it is very right that when they take a pilot on board he should be paid quia dignus est operarius mercede sua, so it seems just that they should not have to pay for a pilot when they have not employed one, nor is it fair that they should be forced to go to Istria in the teeth of a north-easter; and the sailors assure me on oath that if they wish to go to Istria they sometimes have to lose as much time as it has taken them to come from London.
Besides this, if these orders are to hold good the sailors are exposed to the inconveniences of informers. Sometimes they are forced to wait whole months. I need not dwell at length on this point, to impress on your Serenity the loss which our men and ships suffer, nor to beg you to make suitable provision, for I am aware of your great prudence and certain of your benignity, which you always show towards all his Majesty's affairs and towards myself, which is displayed in the favours I have received, and especially in the recent orders to your officers. I therefore confine myself to commending to your consideration the case of our sailors.
The Doge replied that these regulations were of long standing and always in force for the good of the service and the convenience of the ships themselves, and if they were sometimes harshly enforced that might be due to some individual interests of some special officer. But as the government has no information on the point in question such information will be called for, as they always desire to gratify his Lordship wherever possible, and an answer will he returned, such as is suitable. The government is well aware that British sailors have no need of pilots to enter the port of Venice. The Ambassador may rest assured that the subjects and interests of his Majesty are always esteemed like those of Venice herself.
The Ambassador returned thanks, and then went on to say that he had to lodge a complaint, namely that his last despatches from his Court were all cut about and mishandled by the health officers. These despatches did not deserve such treatment, for they brought good news, not only that Lord Salisbury was in good health likewise his Majesty and all the Court, but that London was free from the Plague; and therefore as the cause for this treatment of the despatches had ceased the effect ought also to cease, and the despatches should be allowed free entry.
The Doge replied that in the matter of health, which was so important, it was impossible that the Sanitary Officers should omit the necessary precautions, not by opening or mishandling post packets, especially those of Ambassadors, but to see whether they contained thread or silk or other stuff, as sometimes happened. It is, however, true that it is the custom, and indeed, the intention of the Government, that in the case of the Embassies a Secretary or some one of the household should be present at the operation so as to make sure that nothing was done but what was required in the interests of the Board of Health. This is the custom adopted towards the French and other Ambassadors when their despatches come from suspected districts. We regret the incident, which may be merely due to the carelessness of the officer. We will send for the Sanitary Officers and warn them to proceed with due care. The Ambassador replied that in truth hitherto he had been treated in this matter with all regard, and that the present incident might be excused, perhaps on the ground that the packet was not addressed to the Ambassador but to a merchant in the City of Venice; but as the Plague had now ceased in London the Ambassador would be glad if his letters were allowed to reach him direct without this delay.
The Doge enquired what good news the Ambassador had of the King of Denmark, and said that he did not believe the rumour of his death. The Ambassador said he had news from England and Holland from which it was clear that that rumour had no foundation.
April 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 482. Simon Contarini and Cristoforo Valier, Venetian Ambassadors at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Having news that a large number of Barbary bertons and other pirates were out in the Archipelago, Contarini thought it the safest plan to give up his intention of sailing on board the ship “Pigna” in company with the berton “Colombo;” they had a cargo to the value of three hundred thousand ducats. It was resolved to find some vessel to sail with them, and with the approval of the Council of Twelve, an English berton called the “Royal Exchange,” which was very well manned and armed, was hired for two thousand dollars to accompany the two ships to Corfu. Her captain was Thomas Rainsbrough, and the money was to be paid him at the completion of his bargain. All precautions were taken that the Englishman should do his duty. The English Ambassador was asked to pass his word for the good service of the captain, who was also called upon to furnish full and adequate security.
They sailed yesterday morning after having their arms and munitions inspected. It was thought better to let them go than to keep them waiting on here for months to the damage of their cargo. A copy of the contract with the English captain has been sent to the Cinque Savii sopra la Mercantia.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 6th April, 1612.
April 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 483. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Saturday evening arrived Chioli, Secretary to the Grand Duke. He seems disposed to visit no one till he has seen the King, but I know that in company of the Secretary Resident (Lotti) he has been several times to the house of General Cecil, who, I am told, is the person entrusted with the negotiations for a match between the Prince and a sister of the Grand Duke, the second. I have not yet found out what the Secretaries' instructions are; all I know is that General Cecil has delayed his departure for Holland on account of these negotiations, about which and about Chioli's mission he has several times seen Lord Salisbury. Twice I have had long talks with the Prince's Chamberlain (fn. 3) from whom I have gathered various particulars of the negotiations from the beginning down to the present time, and I will briefly rehearse them to your Serenity. The Grand Duke Ferdinand opened negotiations with the King while he was still in Scotland, with a view to giving one of his daughters to the Prince, whom he foresaw as heir to this Crown. The proposal pleased the King and in a few words the dower and all the more essential points were settled. His Majesty then reported the whole matter to Queen Elizabeth in England, she approved the King's intention and made herself the intermediary for the conclusion of the affair, making use in this matter of my informant; but just at that crisis the Queen was attacked by the illness that killed her. The King sent a gentleman (fn. 4) into Italy to announce his succession to these kingdoms; this gentleman was at the Grand Duke's Court but said not a word about the match, as the King under change of fortune had changed his plans, and therefore gave his Envoy no instructions or orders. The Grand Duke understood this and was disgusted, but as it suited him to conceal this, he wrote to his Majesty recalling to him the negotiations in the past, negotiations which were all but concluded. This was of no avail, and so matters rested in suspense or rather in rupture. Later on the Dowager Grand Duchess began again to throw out some hints to Sir Robert Dudley who calls himself Earl of Warwick; the offers were large, and all has been carried on by means of letters to the Prince's Chamberlain, to whom promises have not been wanting if he would dispose the Prince to the match; recently, seeing that all chances of a Spanish match are at an end, the Secretary has formally opened negotiations. (Il Gran Duca Ferdinando fece trattar con il Rè fin quando era in Scotia di dar una sua figlia al Principe prevedendolo successore di questa Corona; piacque a sua Maestà la propositione et in poche parole restò accordato la dole et tutti i punti più essentiali. Mandò la Maestà sua a dar conto di lutto ciò alla Regina Elisabetta d' Inghilterra che aprohò la inclinatione del Rè et entrò di mezzo per dar l'ultima mano al negotio servendosi della stessa persona che m'ha conferito tutto ciò. Ma in quei giorni fu la Regina sopragiunta da indispositione che la levò di vita. Havendo poi il Rè spedito in Italia un Cavaliero a dar conto della sua assuntione a questi Regni, fa anco al Gran Duca, al quale non mosse parola del matrimonio perchè il Rè mentre mutò fortuna mutò anco pensiero, et però non le diede alcuna istruttione o ordine, il che scoperto dal Gran Duca con qualche suo disgusto, quale giovandole di dissimulare, con lettere recordò a sua Maestà la negotiatione passata et quasi del tutto conclusa, ma fa senza frutto. Così resto per all—ora sospesa anzi, rotta ogni trattatione. Poi si è ritornato gia qualche tempo a gettar qualche parola dalla Gran Duchessa madre con il mezo di un Cavalier Dudle, che si fa chimare Conte di Veruick con molte offerte et il tutto è passato con mezo di lettere al Ciamberlano del Prencipe al quale non sono mancate promesse perchè disponga il Prencipe. Et ultimamente perchè si ride perduta ogni speranza dell' Infanta di Spagna, il Secretario ha introdotto formatamente le sue trattationì.) My informant continued, pointing out that the Prince might have had half the dower down; that negotiations for matches between other Princes of Wales and Portugal, Aragon and various countries had taken place, and it was usual for the King to send an Embassy apart from the Prince; but his Highness cares little for dowries, and in conversation a short time ago had said he did not desire to be either bought or sold. My informant has not discovered what message the Secretary Chioli brought nor yet what General Cecil said to the Earl of Salisbury.
The day after I despatched my last the Prince ran a match with marvellous grace. The Duke of Lennox, Lord Hay and other gentlemen of the Court when honouring this house informed me that his Highness would be glad if I could be present. I accepted, and was received by the Princess, and at the close of the joust I was welcomed by the Prince, and spent the whole day in waiting on their Highnesses. The morning of the day before yesterday, Ascension Day, I kissed hands and paid the proper compliments. His Majesty expressed his gratification, and as there was to be a joust that day among the gentlemen of the Court he made me dine with them so that I might see it if I wished; and thus I have received a favour not common to any other Ambassador. To-day I have had audience of the Prince, upon whom I waited after their Majesties; this is my duty in your Excellencies' service not merely with a view to the present but also to the future, as I promise much from his Highness in due course. I assured him of your affection, and he declared that he desired to live always in union with the Serene Republic. I expressed myself in similar terms to the Duke of York; and certainly it would be impossible to find a better disposition or a greater determination to stand with your Serenity than exists in this Royal House.
The day before yesterday the nephew of the Flemish Ambassador, who shares in all negotiations, came to see me, and talking of Archduke Albert's pretensions to the Imperial throne, he remarked that his Highness was aware that the Electors are just and are bound by oath, and yet he continues in his claims notwithstanding the representations of King Mathias and the efforts of the Spanish to make him desist and leave the house of Hapsburg united to the exclusion of any other candidate. They had hoped to please both King and Archduke by the election of the King of the Romans, but there are insuperable difficulties and Mathias himself does not wish it. All Spanish efforts are at present directed to maintaining the Imperial dignity in their own house; they supply money and think of raising troops; they employ all their arts and even propose to send Spinola into Germany, removing him from his command in Flanders, while the United Provinces are augmenting their forces and the whole neighbouring country is arming. There is news that the Elector of Treves is not only indisposed but is in danger of his life. Nothing certain can be said about the Elector of Saxony although he appears to be leaning towards Spain, but when it comes to acting the Protestants hope his conduct will be different. Brandenburg and the Palatine continue to be closely allied. In Flanders there is a great dearth of money, and if it ever should be necessary to place the army in the field it would mutiny to a certainty. On this ground too his Catholic Majesty desires peace with Holland, while the Dutch who know the state of the case abhor the idea and will not speak of it. I repeat this though I have frequently reported it, for it is a point of essential importance. The smallest disturbance in Germany would cause the greatest trouble to the House of Austria. The Protestants are very vigorous.
London, 6th April, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 484. Cristoforo Valier and Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassadors in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Nuncio of the United Provinces (Stati di Fiandra) continues his negotiations. He is strongly opposed by the Capudan Pasha, and openly and vigorously attacked by the French Ambassador. The issue is very uncertain, though the Nuncio does not fail to employ presents.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 7th April, 1612.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 485. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Catholic Ambassador resident in England has sent news that the conclusion of the Franco-Spanish matches has caused no small displeasure to his Majesty both because negotiations had been on foot for an alliance with the Prince of Wales and because he is suspicious about the union of the two Crowns. The King of Spain has resolved to send as an Ambassador Extraordinary, Don Pedro de Zuñiga, a person who understands the affairs of England, thanks to experience acquired in the course of an Embassy there. His commission is to remove from the King's mind the suspicion about these matches. There are not wanting those who sag that Don Pedro is also commissioned to foster the project of marriage between his Catholic Majesty and the Princess. Don Pedro's departure is hastened and he will leave in eight days. He has received from the King twenty thousand crowns, the title of Marquis of Flores d'Avila and two thousand crowns of income for three lives.
Madrid, 7th April, 1612.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 7. Senato, Terra, Venetian Archives. 486. Copyright for thirty years to the Brothers Piero and Giambattista Combi, in the Compendium of the Lives of the Saints, by Father Lodovico Zacconi, of the Order of St. Augustine, and the notes of David Colville, Scot, entitled Calepinus parvus.
Ayes 120.
Noes 1.
Neutrals 3.
April 8. Senato, Secreta, Despatches from Savoy. Venetian Archives. 487. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
Wotton arrived at Orleans and was delayed there by slight indisposition.
Turin, 8th April, 1612.
April 11. Senato, Secreta, Despatches from Florence. Venetian Archives. 488. Giacomo Vendramin, Venetian Resident in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Domenego Gannazeri, who has been in Barbary to ransom Venetian slaves, makes the accompanying report.
Florence, 11th April, 1612.
Enclosed in preceding despatch. 489. Armament in the Kingdom of Tunis, Algiers and Tripoli.
Tunis, at Biserta, six galleys, three belonging to Ossman Bey. All bench galleys, 3 of 26 and 3 of 25. Five men to a bench. In the galley-way a petard gun of 60 lbs. Fighting men 140; at the oar 260.
12 frigates, 3 belong to Suliman, 3 to Jussuf and six to private individuals; they are of 15, 12 and 10 benches, manned by Moors. Galleons 4, 2 belong to Jussuf, 1 to Suliman and 1 to Ward, an English renegade, they carry 30 iron guns, 250 and 300 men, armed with harquebusses, bows and arrows. Gunners, and artificial fire. They are English, Dutch and slaves of other nationalities.


  • 1. Corbett. “The English in the Mediterranean.” Longmans, 1904. Vol. 1, passim.
  • 2. The Revenue Collectors and the Ministry of Marine.
  • 3. Sir Thomas Chaloner; his son was well received at the Tuscan Court. See Birch “Life of Prince Henry,” pp. 218–322. “It is strange how they make their court here to Sir Thomas Chaloner's son, but yet it is not strange, for they build upon his father for a chief foundation of this match.”
  • 4. Sir Anthony Standen.