Venice: February 1613

Pages 488-497

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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February 1613

Feb. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 758. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The day following that on which I had audience, the Ambassador of the Archduke was received. He had only two persons in his suite, and after a few phrases of condolence, and without presenting letters, he departed, making no attempt to conceal his chagrin at having been received after your Excellencies' Envoy. The fact that he presented no letters has caused surprise, as we know from his own lips that he received them many days ago. He intended to obtain the honour which has been bestowed on your Ambassador by the King as regards exemption from custom duties on a par with Crowned Heads, but on better thoughts he resolved to give it up. Thus he is very ill-pleased and remains silent.
The Queen continues in bed and the Spanish Ambassador is ill; as soon as her Majesty is better he will have audience after France, who is seeking it but in quiet terms.
The suspicion that the Spanish fleet is destined for Ireland grows; and so in addition to the orders issued for the protection of that kingdom, many burdens have been removed, which is a relief to the people, and many have had their houses changed, the more trust-worthy being put nearer to the shore and the suspects inland. The Irish Parliament is to be summoned and Sir John Davys, the King's Attorney, is to go over as Speaker of the Lower House, (fn. 1) which is composed of the nobles and the people. Their intention is that all measures proposed by the King shall be carried in the Upper House, and to that end they are going to create sufficient new Barons to form a majority when united with those who are already dependent; this can easily be done, as there are in Ireland a large number of Bishops and four Archbishops, all of whom vote. It is forty years since an Irish Parliament sat, nor would one have been summoned now except as a necessity.
They are pressing on the despatch of two ships to Virginia, as they rely not merely on garrisoning the four forts, but on their naval forces in conjunction with the Dutch. Barneveldt has instructed the Ambassador of the States to find out where the Spanish mean to strike, and he is to do this in such a way as if he had something to communicate. The King has despatches from his Ambassador in France reporting that, two days earlier, he had had a very long talk with Villeroy on the subject of the marriage of the second Princess with the Prince. The Queen, too, has mentioned the subject to him. The French Ambassador here has caused Lord Hay to mention the matter to the King, and then placed the affair in the hands of Viscount Rochester, who has done nothing but report. The Queen of France is ready to send an Extraordinary Embassy here, and M. de Praslin is named. The English Ambassador reports this and the French Ambassador did not deny it to me the day before yesterday, but said it was a mission of condolence, which is most unlikely.
In France they are much alarmed about the Huguenots, and hope that this match may secure that the King of England will not encourage them. Here there are some who favour this match in order to make Spain anxious and to cause her to go slowly in her enterprises against Ireland and Virginia. Fresh news from Rochelle that all the population is with the Duke of Rohan, and had not the Magistrates quieted them they would have come to some violent resolve. An Envoy from Lübeck has come to the Hague to report the Imperial orders not to proceed further with the alliance; the people of Lübeck, however, intend it to take place, and in March ambassadors to ratify the treaty will arrive, and levies will be raised at once. Meantime, in the present month, they will proceed to provide money and other necessaries. Peace between Denmark and Sweden does not advance; but the truce continues.
The death of the Duke of Mantua so quickly after that of his son, his father, his mother and other Princes of his house, moves the King's pity, and had he lived the English Ambassador in Venice would undoubtedly have been sent on a mission to him. The Diet of Erfurt still continues, while the Diet of the Confederate Princes will meet in March. Then it will be settled whether the Elector Palatine and Brandenburg are to sit in the Imperial Diet which will deal with the question of the Chamber of Speyers. The point is raised by the Ecclesiastical Electors and by Saxony, and if they insist an appeal may be made to arms. It is five weeks since the King heard from his Ambassador in Constantinople, and the merchants are in the same plight; which causes much talk and murmuring. In France they receive despatches; the French Ambassador tells me that he has their contents in letters from Villeroy. The brother-in-law of the English Ambassador in Constantinople and who was in his company, says that when Sanci was at Constantinople a year and a half ago, he found means to send letters via Cologne and Germany. M. de Plessen assures me that the Turkish peace causes and will cause anxiety in Germany. On Friday, Glover, who has returned from Constantinople, arrived.
London, the first of February, 1612. [m.v.]
Feb. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 759. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I enclose letters from the second son of Modena. The question of leave to raise troops in the territory of Mantua. The death of the Duke of Mantua destroys all hope of Don Vicenzo.
London, the first of February, 1612. [m.v.]
Feb. 2. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Florence. Venetian Archives. 760. Domenico Dominici, Venetian Resident in Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
At Leghorn an English ship with a cargo of herrings has arrived, and another with grain from Sardinia.
Florence, 2nd February, 1612. [m.v.]
Feb. 3. Senato, Secreta. Despatches from Savoy. Venetian Archives. 761. Vicenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
Gabaleone came to see me and told me about his negotiations in England. He declares that he met with every courtesy from Foscarini. They are now settling who is to be sent as Ambassador to England. The Duke leans to the Marchese Villa, who is at present with the Prince of Mantua. The King of England's letter to the Infanta Maria has been presented at length. It contains expressions of affection; and shows the King's readiness to have her as a daughter-in-law. It seems that the proposal may still be made for the young Prince.
Turin, 3rd February, 1612. [m.v.]
Feb. 4. Minutes of the Senate. Constantinople. Venetian Archives. 762. To the Ambassador in Constantinople.
Approving his joint action with France, England and the Dutch in the matter of the Casaplick.
Ayes 161.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 4.
Feb. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 763. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Agent of the Prince de Joinville has returned from England, and has filled the Court with such a good report of the young Prince that everyone desires the match.
Paris, 5th February, 1612. [m.v.]
Feb. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 764. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Earl of Northampton told me that in Dover, of which he is Governor, a person had been arrested on the way from Spain to Ireland, and on him were found letters of a very bad nature. Also several sets of letters from Ireland have been intercepted on their way to Spain. They contain notice of the orders issued by the King, and of the attitude of affairs in that island. On these grounds, and owing to news sent by the Ambassador in Spain, they have resolved to man four men-of-war, to act as guard-ships off the Irish coast, and also as escort for the Princess when she crosses to the Hague. Next month all the royal ships are to be put in commission. There are a great number of them, and it will be quite easy to fit them out, as two years ago full provision was made. There is an intention to regulate the usual expenses in these royal ships. He begged me to keep all this secret. The Earl of Exeter, speaking with me about the Spanish Armada, pointed out that there are now at Dunquerque a larger number of ships than in '88. He seemed to think little of them. All the militia will be called out, and there is to be a general muster. As Ireland is sufficiently protected, it is thought by those who know, that when all this movement is known in Spain, it will produce a great effect, and some half resolves may vanish. The Ambassador reports that most depends on the statements Zuñiga makes on his return, and on the relations he has established in Ireland. The majority here desire war, and as the merchants declare that they have not received justice in Spain, they frequently make reprisals against Spanish shipping. The King is informed from various quarters that there are people here who are plotting his death; the Palatine has received a like warning. The King is very anxious, and elaborate pains are taken for his safety. Many are in prison, and weapons are removed from houses that are under the Jesuits and those who had a share in the Gunpowder Plot, or are suspect on any other conceivable ground. Extra guards patrol the city at night. The Lord Mayor has begun to make the round; the next night, which was last night, one of the Aldermen took the duty, and so they will go on from night to night. (fn. 2)
London, 8th February, 1612. [m.v.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 765. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Both Northampton and Exeter, who are Councillors of State, inform me that the negotiations for a match between the Prince and the second daughter of France are quite certain. They will continue to treat on both sides, but will not for the present conclude the match. I am assured that the King has resolved to put aside every year the two hundred and eighty thousand crowns which were assigned to the Prince, and also what was allowed to the Princess. If the marriage were concluded now the French Princess would come over here to be brought up along with the Prince Charles and it would be necessary to set up a household for them, and that would use up the money they desire to lay by. All the same an Ambassador is expected who will conduct the affair. He will be well received.
The Palatine has begged that the marriage may take place on the Sunday in Carneval, and he will be gratified. They are using all diligence so that the spectacles should be got ready, even those on the water. The Scotch Parliament has voted one hundred thousand crowns for the marriage; they have also restored three Bishoprics whose revenues were seized by certain nobles. The King finds it to his interest to restrict the government of that kingdom to as few hands as possible and chooses those on whom he can rely. He has distributed a certain portion of his patrimony in that country and so has bound a certain number to him, many Scots who were here are going back to Edinburgh. The hurrying on of the wedding and the Irish Parliament delay the assembly of the English Parliament.
The Spanish Ambassador points out to me the importance of the resolution of the Hanseatic cities to join the Dutch in spite of the Imperial fulminations. He added that the Emperor has gone so far that he cannot go back now, and will be forced to go to war, which he has always professed to hate. Count Furstenberg, in spite of his threats to the new Magistrates of Aix-la-Chapelle, has gained nothing; accordingly, he has gone back to his Master after drawing up a declaration that the Imperial orders have been disregarded.
News from Brussels informs me that in the Spring there will be levies of Walloons, and the garrisons in various places are being augmented. In Liege there is provision of arms for upwards of eight thousand infantry and great stores of corn; and in the Archbishopric of Cologne as well. On the other hand, the places belonging to the “possessioners” have scanty supplies of troops and munitions; without the support of the United Provinces and the Confederate Princes they would fare ill. The Prince of Neuburg has left Dusseldorf to join his father. The ship which the Dutch are sending as a present to the Grand Turk is lying at Texel ready to sail for Constantinople, as she would have done ere this had it not been for the continual storms which for the last three months have been raging at sea and causing great loss of men and ships. The ship from every point of view is worthy of so great a monarch as is the Sultan.
The King of Sweden has entered into an alliance with some of the Hanseatic towns, and so aspires to a vigorous offensive war against Denmark. The King's General on the Muscovite frontiers has passed the border, and in a very short time, without encountering serious obstacles, he has reduced that part to obedience to his Master. The general is called Pont-la-garde, born of a French father; an officer of some repute; after long service under Charles, father of the present King, he received as wife a natural child of the house. It seems that fortune is now smiling on him.
London, 8th February, 1612. [m.v.]
Feb. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 766. Piero Priuli, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I seem to gather that the Spanish, since the death of the Prince of Wales, in order to upset the marriage with the Palatine, have shown some inclination that his Majesty should marry the Princess. But the English Ambassador affirms that his Sovereign would never consent to marry his daughter into Spain, not merely not to disgust his subjects and to alarm his allies the Confederate Princes, but also to prevent the Spanish from ever getting a footing in England. It suits the King far better to oblige a great Prince of the same religion who will be sincerely attached to England.
Madrid, 11th February, 1612. [m.v.]
Feb. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 767. Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from Savoy excusing the delay in the arrival of the Marchese Villa, the Duke's Ambassador, to condole and to negotiate. The cause is the absence of Prince Victor. It is quite certain the Marchese will bring proposals for marriage and for an alliance, which his Highness' Secretary thinks may be easily accomplished. The Ambassadors of Neuburg have made two demands, one is that the King should undertake the protection of the common cause against Saxony, who is supported by Austria; the other is a request in which Brandenburg joins; the King replied that the times require Neuburg and Braudenburg to be closely united, and if they act thus he will not fail to support both. A similar answer will be given by the Dutch and by the Confederate Princes. The timidity of Neuburg is due to the fact that he is inferior to Brandenburg in forces, and he fears lest, after the affair with Saxony is over, he may be forced to accept the terms which Brandenburg may choose to impose. The Palatine has asked for the King's commands as to whether or no he should attend the Imperial Diet in person. The King has discussed the matter in Council, where the general opinion is that neither the Palatine nor Brandenburg ought to appear in person; because as Saxony stands in with the Ecclesiastics they could not outweigh them, whereas any decision taken in their absence would lose in authority. The Palatine is intending to leave in the middle of next month and to return in autumn with the Princess, who would remain here a couple of years until Prince Charles has grown stronger. Last Monday week Prince Maurice received the Garter, and to-morrow Count Henry will be here to take the oath, and to assist at the wedding. The Dutch have assigned him five hundred crowns a day, and he will be lodged by the King and receive presents.
Yesterday the Court went out of mourning and to-day his Majesty has gone to Windsor, where the Elector and Henry will take possession of their stalls and hang up their arms. In three days they will be back and will continue in jousts and fêtes for the remainder of Carnival. The Queen is rather better but not quite well enough to grant audience.
Glover, who is back from Constantinople, was at Court six days ago. The King, through the Chamberlain, told him to address himself to Council, in which he has endeavoured to clear himself of the charge of having had dealings with Spain. It is said he spoke most eloquently. (Il Gloufer ritoi nato Ambasciatore in Constantinopoli fu già sei giorni a Corte. Il Rè gli fece dire dal chiamberlano che doresse dricciarsi ad Consiglio col quale ha procurato scolparsi dell' imputazioni dategli che havesse haruto qualche relatione con Spagna, et vien detto habbia parlato con molta cloquenza.) He has given in private conversation some account of the affairs of the Porte. There are still no letters from Constantinople, and the cause is the subject of much talk. The Spanish Ambassador discussed with me at great length the subject of Turkish armaments, which he holds for certain will be turned against Germany. The Persian Ambassador has set out to return to his Master. He goes by sea. He has only one ship with him; the merchants who trade to those parts being opposed to him, as they found out that the ships that were to have accompanied him would take to piracy, as I informed you was their firm intention. (L'Ambasciatore di Persia è partito verso il suo Signore; fa il camino per mare, et ha seco una sol nave, essendosegli opposti i mercanti che trafficano in quella parte per haver presentito che i vasselli che dovevano andar seco si sarebbono volti al corso, come avisai eran rissoluti di fare. (fn. 3) )
Londra, 16th February, 1612. [m.v.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 768. Zorzi Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
All these last days they have been in earnest consultation with the Ambassador of the Dutch to settle their accounts with regard to the French debt to the English Crown. The French are endeavouring to saddle all on the Dutch, and Villeroy finally threatened that if they did not come to terms the Queen would disband the regiments she keeps on foot for their service. This is a point that the French are anxious to see settled, as they wish to press on the negotiations for a match.
Paris, 19th February, 1612. [m.v.]
Feb. 22. Collegio, Secreta, Lettere di Rè e Regine, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 769. King James I. to the Doge, Marc Antonio Memo.
Announcing the marriage of the Princess Elizabeth to the Prince Palatine. The Ambassador of Venice was present at the betrothal and will report all details. We have instructed our Ambassador in Venice to return thanks for the honour shown us; especial thanks for the promptitude with which you arrested the accomplice in the plot against our life.
Westminster, 22nd February, 1613.
Feb. 25. Collegio, Secreta, Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 770. The English Ambassador came to the Cabinet and spoke as follows:—
As Carneval is over I have come to report to you what is going on in England about the marriage of the Princess to the Prince Palatine. There was no truth in the rumour that the death of the Prince might have broken off the match. I will not go into details, which are perfectly well known to you through your Ambassador, who, I hear, has by his dexterity completely captivated the mind of the King. I am also informed of the noble qualities of his new Secretary, Signor Giulio Muscorno, (fn. 4) who owing to his gracious manners is beloved and esteemed by his Majesty and all the Court.
My previous despatches ordered me to go to Mantua on a mission, but I was prevented by the death of Duke Francesco. I mention this to show your Serenity that my Master keeps up relations with Princes who are far away from him, though near neighbours and friends of yours. I congratulate your Serenity on your happy intervention in the affair of the Cardinal, which threatened to disturb the peace. (fn. 5) Francesco Moresini, senior Councillor, made a formal reply.
The Ambassador then went on to give thanks for favours received and especially that the ladies of his family had been admitted to audience by the Doge. “Moreover, recently, when on a visit to Padua, of which I am a citizen, for the fêtes, I was most honourably treated by the Rectors, as indeed is all our nation. And the other day, when a question arose between some English scholars and those of other nations, the Podestà issued orders as just as they were favourable. I have recently had news from a gentleman who was at Padua University, and who journeyed back to England and all but lost his life in a storm. He now says he will return presently to Padua and bring a number of others with him. I must also highly praise the formation of an Academy whose members are so high-spirited that your Serenity will never lack lances on horseback and swordsmen on foot. Though I have seen many similar displays in various parts of the world, I have never seen one that could equal this. I will take this opportunity to beg you to allow me to speak to you on a matter of high importance.” Here he took out of his pocket a paper, and said: “This is addressed to me by the young man who is a prisoner, and who found means of conveying it to me.” He then read the following passage: “As to my imprisonment I have nothing to say, for I cannot imagine at whose instance it took place. I am told they have written to Rome and are waiting news.” The Ambassador went on: “Though I don't think they are such saints in Rome, still I cannot believe they would mix themselves up in such an inhuman and barbarous action as the murder of kings. I beg leave, therefore, to send a dependent of mine, who, under the pretext of conveying him some relief, may find out if he still sticks to his story. I will leave my Secretary outside here to receive whatever orders you may be pleased to issue.” Moresini replied that the Cabinet would take the request into consideration; and with that the Ambassador withdrew.
The matter was then discussed and they resolved to take time over it, and that a Secretary should endeavour to get from the English Secretary the actual paper from which the Ambassador read. This was done and a copy taken, and the original returned to the Secretary. The copy runs thus: “My most Illustrious and Excellent Lord, it is fourteen days to-day that I was imprisoned. I was arrested by an officer of the police with constables early in the morning at daybreak, when I was in bed. I was taken away a prisoner on a warrant from the Chiefs of the Ten. The officer told me I was not wanted by the Justice of Venice, and I don't know at whose request I am a prisoner; he would not tell me. All I know is that I am told they have sent to Rome and are waiting information. I am not a bandit, nor have I done any wrong. I can only conjecture that there must have been a spy about me, and that they have caused me to be arrested before I revealed the secret. It must be so. Now your Excellency knows that I spoke the simple truth, and I implore you to help me in some way. I have to pay fifteen lire for my food. Your Excellency will know when the answer which they are expecting from Rome will arrive, and, if I am asked whether I have revealed the secret to anyone, will answer, `No.' Your Excellency might send someone secretly to whom I could furnish all explanations when the information comes from Rome. He could say he was a friend of mine. I commend myself to your Excellency. I am in the deepest want. With this I bow to you.
In prison, 31st January, 1612.
Your Excellency's humble and obedient servant,
Giovanni Vicenzo Gaetano.
As I shall say I have revealed the secret to none, they may let me out; but they are waiting news from Rome.”
Feb. 26. Minutes of the Senate. Venetian Archives. 771. In view of the Ambassador's petition just read, motion is made that the Ambassador may send whenever he likes to speak with Giovanni Vicenzo Gaetano, the prisoner who was arrested and is detained at his request, as the resolution of the Senate of the 24th of last month declared the prisoner to be held at the disposition of the King of England. Orders in this sense are to be issued by the Cabinet, so that when the Ambassador sends anyone to interrogate the prisoner, none of the jailers are to be present, nor even the person in whose custody the prisoner is, in order that our Government may not be in any way mixed up in this affair. That the Secretary to the English Embassy be informed of this.
Ayes 160.
Noes 2.
Neutrals 12.
Feb. 26. Senato, Secreta. Communicate Venetian Archives. 772. That the note just read, addressed to the Chiefs of Ten, anonymously and without date, which is understood to have been written by the person who was arrested at the instance of the English Ambassador, in which he says he has made use of false names in every city that he came to between Naples and Venice, and that he had come to Venice to reveal a great plot, shall be sent to the Cabinet for action.
The oath administered as above.
No date. Senato, Secreta. Communicate. Venetian Archives. 773. For no other purpose have I come to Venice save to lay bare the great secret revealed to me. Had I not been imprisoned on Sunday, on Monday I would have revealed the secret, which is of such importance to your Signory. I have frequently endeavoured to speak to your Lordships and have sent to beg the Capitano Grande to come to me; not only that, but I have written to him to beg him to tell your Lordships that I have something of importance to impart. This secret was revealed to me on the 20th of October last, and on the 29th of November I set out at the great risk of my life. However, as soon as I was outside the kingdom of Naples, I changed my name and surname in Rome, in Florence and in Bologna, also in Ferrara and in Venice, as this person, as he told me, has relations also in Venice. Therefore, most noble Lords, I promise to give into your hands and reveal to you that gentleman or Count of the Venetian State, who gave him seventeen persons, and to tell you where he raised soldiers, and where the person who revealed the secret to me was sent in order to carry out the plot. And so I, inspired by God, by the glorious Virgin, and by Saint Mark, am come to reveal the secret to your Lordships; and what I have to say is the pure gospel truth. By order of the Illustrious Lords, Captain Mark came to arrest and imprison me when I was in the lodgings of Iseppo di Rossi.
Feb. 26. Consiglio de' Dieci Parti Secrete. Venetian Archives. 774. That the note without name or date sent to the Chiefs, and supposed to be written by the person imprisoned on the request of the English Ambassador, be sent to the Cabinet, for action in conjunction with the Senate.
Ayes 13.
Noes 1.
Neutrals 3.


  • 1. See Cal. S.P. Ireland, 1611–1612. pp. 347. 348.
  • 2. See Cal. S.P. Dom., Feb. 11, 1613.
  • 3. See Cal S.P. Dom. Sept. 1612. Northampton to Rochester. Compromise with Sir Robert Shirley, the Persian Ambassador, about his return to Persia, so as to avoid sending him with English ships and sailors, who so often turn pirates.
  • 4. See Cal. S.P. Dom., Jan. 14, 1613. Giov. Franc. Biondi to Carleton. “Is intimate with Giulio Muscorno, Secretary to Foscarini, the Venetian Ambassador, and wishes Carleton to speak a good word for him privately at Venice.” March 30th. Abbot to Carleton. “The Venetian Ambassador's Secretary complained falsely before the Recorder of London that his Master was plotting his assassination.”
  • 5. The Mantua succession and the question of the possession of Monferrat, which could descend in the female line.