Venice: April 1616, 1-15

Pages 165-174

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 14, 1615-1617. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1908.

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April 1616, 1–15

April 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives. 234. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary sent to the Low Countries, to the Doge and Senate.
Sig. Carleton, ambassador of the king of Great Britain, arrived at this place a week before me. He had his first audience yesterday. He waited a part of the time in order that Sig. Barnevelt might be allowed to take part, but seeing that the mischief was a long one, he decided to perform this first complimentary office without him, reserving business till after Easter.
I called upon him, gave him letters of the secretary Winwood, and told him the reason of my coming, asking for his assistance. He seemed most ready, and said he had instructions to support the representations of your Serenity. He said some had asked him what His Majesty would do. He told them he would inform them in the council, but they might rest assured he would give them a good example to follow.
The Hague, the 1st April, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives. 235. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary sent to Holland, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador Carleton, who has recently been continually meeting now one and now another of the chief men here, informs me that the greater part of their conversation concerns the affairs of your Serenity, and he found them very well disposed towards your service, and the sending of a mission here may prove of notable advantage. In the course of a conversation he said that if their troubles with the archduke do not cease, your Excellencies may easily draw advantage from these provinces, and if they do not have war in their own country or in Cleves, they may readily allow your Serenity to enlist among their people and even take some of the troops more ready and accustomed to war. If on the other hand they have war here and so cannot spare soldiers, your Serenity will obtain much greater advantages from the diversion and possibly the Austrians might lose all desire to fight else-where. That owing to the mutual services which these two republics can render each other, it might be well for them to have a good understanding.
The Hague, the 1st April, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 2. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 236. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king has returned to London, and on Tuesday I had audience to execute the commissions of your Serenity of last month. I thanked His Majesty for the instructions given to Sir [Henry] Wotton and the letters he had written to the princes of Germany, and his declaration of the justice of the cause of your Serenity. This was greatly valued by your Excellencies, who desired that he should be even better informed upon the events taking place. As a further expression of confidence they had desired their ambassador Gussoni, who is going to France, to travel through Germany, and in particular to visit the Elector Palatine, giving His Highness full information of what is taking place. Your Excellencies have been still more led to take this course because you understand that the archduke Ferdinand omits no evil offices against the interests and the justice of your Serenity's cause. That for the same reasons I had instructions to send my secretary to Holland to inform the States of this, and to report the whole to His Majesty, so that he might use his great influence with the States to lead them to take a favourable view of your Serenity's affairs. I had intended to state all this to His Majesty before the departure of the secretary, had I not awaited a time more convenient to His Majesty. I had instructions not only to prefer requests for your Serenity, but to thank him for the instructions which he had already given. I then went on to tell His Majesty about the negotiations at Prague. I pointed out in particular the unreasonableness of the Imperial ministers in demanding that your Serenity should withdraw your troops from those posts which you have occupied for your own defence before they have fulfilled the promises made so long ago, and how ready and moderate your Serenity will be to withdraw when that is done, within two months, as arranged by the promise made at Vienna in 1612. Thus His Majesty might readily understand the unreasonableness of the emperor and others in wishing to divert the question from its true channel; to give up speaking about the Uscochi and to complain that your Serenity has occupied the territory of the House of Austria, and say that on this account he is bound to arm for defence and to recover what your Serenity holds, using these pretexts to give an appearance of respectability to their action. Upon the matter of the Uscochi they cannot speak in any manner that would be decent; while the declaration of your Serenity, expressly promising restitution if the promises are fulfilled is perfectly straightforward.
The king heard me graciously, and replied that the moderate intentions of your Excellencies to defend your own and not occupy the possessions of others were so well known to all that they did not seem open to question. You were acting very prudently in retaining those posts, because it was an advantage to hold something which the others are obliged to ask for, and it leads more easily to a settlement. It would be wise to keep a sharp look out, and guard against attack, and was better than relying upon the first document for a suspension of arms. It was good to allow some alteration to be made subsequently and finally to offer the restitution of the places held if the archduke does what he ought. He added that he would always be the same towards your Serenity, and will willingly do everything which can please and serve you. He afterwards asked me how your Serenity stood with the prince of Savoy, and what was being done with the forces held by the governor of Milan. I replied that your Serenity stood exceedingly well with the duke, and that the governor continued to arm as usual. I know nothing of any desire on his part to disarm, but I heard some reports that he pretended he was keeping his troops because of your Serenity. This was entirely wrong and unreasonable, because your Excellencies had always been good neighbours to the state of Milan. With regard to the affairs of the archduke, you desired the fulfilment of the promises made as a greater security for peace, and you gave no occasion to anyone, least of all the governor of Milan, to remain armed. Just as the emperor had written to say that it was necessary to be in readiness to do what had been ordained, so His Majesty should use his great influence to let it be freely understood by the Catholic king and others whom it might concern that he recognises the reasonableness and the good intentions of your Serenity and the justice of your cause.
London, the 2nd April, 1616.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 2. Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 237. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador of the duke of Savoy had audience of the king on Wednesday. He represented the state of affairs in Italy, the intention of the Spaniards to maintain an army in the state of Milan to intimidate all the world thereby and afterwards to do whatever they might please for their own advantage, without having the smallest intention of executing the treaty of Asti; all to the detriment of the safety of His Highness and of the reputation of those princes who intervened in that settlement. From this he went on to press His Majesty to take some resolution which should put an end to these continual alarms, and to act in this in close union with your Serenity. His Majesty replied that so far as he was concerned he was ready for every good work and to perform every good office with your Excellencies; he had intended at my last audience to say something about the duke of Savoy and had begun to do so, but I had gone on to deal with other particulars and subsequently he had not-thought it fitting to introduce similar proposals at the moment. The ambassador of Savoy told me this last particular with the very words used by His Majesty. I replied that I had asked the king about His Highness and about the forces preserved in being by the governor of Milan in the course of conversation upon other affairs of your Excellencies with the archduke Ferdinand; such as the pretension that those forces were kept in being on account of your Serenity. Upon this I had informed His Majesty that this was no reason as the state of Milan was not in the slightest danger from any attack by your Serenity and they were bound to dismiss those troops before there was any dispute with the archduke at all; that it was simply a pretext, and various other particulars, which I calculated would keep His Majesty well disposed, not only towards the general peace of Italy but towards the safety of His Highness himself, whose interest your Serenity has as much at heart as your own. After this the ambassador went on to say that the Spaniards wished to render all princes dependent upon them, and they took the liberty of making promises without keeping any of them, as it might happen to suit their interests. That with the forces which they have in being and those which they can easily collect they have no other purpose than to inflict some notable damage upon the state of your Serenity upon the occasion of these difficulties with the archduke Ferdinand and with His Highness, and yet it is necessary to make provision that we may not be worn out by continual delays and at length fall under their subjection. It is necessary at all costs to ensure that the governor of Milan shall disarm according to the treaty of Asti, as in doing so he will release His Highness from danger and your Serenity would certainly obtain what you so greatly desire in the matter of the Uscochi, as it is quite certain that neither the archduke Ferdinand nor the Emperor would undertake a war alone against your Serenity, without being backed by Spain. The king understands this very well; the princes of France are excellently disposed, and by means of the accommodation with His Most Christian Majesty they will obtain the control of the government, and the queen mother, since she has become aware of the plots against her authority, will in the future see eye to eye with the prince of Condé. That for their own interests or because of his own control over them, the king will also induce the States and the princes of Germany to join in. His Majesty had previously proposed some alliance to your Serenity, but your Excellencies had thought it better to maintain a good union of hearts than by too warm a demonstration to risk disturbance elsewhere. He added that it was necessary to urge most strongly the demands upon the Spaniards to disarm the state of Milan, as they are bound to, setting them a fixed time in which to accomplish it, as in this way only is it possible to obtain complete security. If it is necessary to have recourse to force one must do so with the assistance of many other powers. If matters go on as they are now doing, we shal all be consumed by the continual uneasiness and the constant attacks.
I replied that I was exceedingly glad to hear of the continued disposition of His Majesty towards the common good, and in particular towards the liberty of Italy and the safety of His Highness, and that the States, the United Princes of Germany and the kingdom of France concurred in this feeling, as this desire for the peace and security of Italy and especially of His Highness was uppermost in the mind of your Serenity, who had judged it better not to enter upon this too suspicious name of alliance not from any lukewarmness of affection, but upon general considerations of expediency. To His Highness you are bound by ancient friendly relations and interests as well as by the documents of the treaty of Asti, which proved with sufficient clearness your excellent disposition towards him. I enlarged upon this point, in conformity with my instructions.
In addition to this the Secretary Winwood made a long disquisition to me saying that the determination of the Spaniards to maintain an armed force in Milan was apparent, that is to say in the very heart of Europe, to create suspicion and unrest among all the Christian powers, and to be able easily to damage whichever one might be most advantageous to them. Thus they keep the duke of Savoy on tenterhooks, wish to threaten your Serenity, and command all the other powers of Italy. They can then proceed easily to France, turn thence to Germany and Flanders and in a single flight set all the world by the ears. Accordingly, although His Majesty is further away than any of the others, yet, for the sake of the general good and especially of Italy, your Serenity and the duke of Savoy, he will not fail to employ all his strength upon this affair when he knows that this will be agreeable to his friends. He has frequently made representations in Spain for the execution of the treaty of Asti and the disarmament of the state of Milan, but these representations being unsupported by anything else, had proved fruitless. If they had been accompanied by some firm resolve, they might possibly have been more successful, and everything might have been peacefully settled as desired. If things remain as they are, the duke of Savoy will be exposed to constant danger, and your Serenity will also be exposed to war with the archduke Ferdinand and unable to avoid the hostility of the king of Spain, who may attempt to enter the territory of the republic to make war in the state of your Excellencies. With the same forces which would be necessary for defence in such case the Spaniards can be compelled to disarm, or war can be carried into their own house with the assistance of the duke of Savoy and the help of His Majesty, France, the States of Holland and the princes of Germany, with the hope of speedy termination and a successful issue. That procrastination simply affords the enemy an opportunity to attack; that all this ought to be considered by the prudence of your Excellencies and kept duly secret. You must recognise the good intentions of His Majesty and decide what you judge to be best for the general advantage.
I thanked him warmly for the care and concern of His Majesty, and his ministers for the liberty of Italy and the interests of your Serenity. I enlarged upon this and assured him that your Excellencies were deeply indebted. That you desired quiet and security, and were far from coveting the things of others, though you were resolved upon preserving your own, and you would always be ready to take any resolution which was clearly for the general good.
He told me that the Spanish ambassador had not spoken to the king, but had complained loudly to him about the districts of the archduke Ferdinand which your Excellencies had occupied. With regard to them, I said that His Majesty and the secretary could render great service to the interests of your Serenity upon such occasions by roundly pronouncing in favour of the justice of your cause and your good intentions. I enlarged upon various other particulars, in accordance with my instructions. He replied that neither the king nor his ministers would fail in anything which might concern the interests of your Serenity, and this had led him more than anything else to speak to me as he had done.
Sir [Henry] Wotton left here on Monday. He took some instructions upon these same affairs. He has orders to treat with the Elector Palatine for the duke of Savoy, to introduce him into the Union of the princes. I hear by way of the merchants that His Highness has remitted 90,000 crowns to Nürenberg.
Some days ago there was a good deal of talk that the States would redeem the places which are in the hands of His Majesty, paying the debt due to this Crown, which at the present time may amount to a million and a half. I hear from a fairly good source that such negotiations may take place. (fn. 1)
London, the 2nd April, 1616.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 2. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costant. Venetian Archives. 238. Almoro Nani, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Last week I called on the English ambassador. He said he had been to see the Captain of the Sea, with whom he had the following conversation. When he arrived the Captain said: I imagine you have come to complain about the people of Algiers. The ambassador replied: I have not come for that, but to give you certain particulars so that you may not have reason to complain in the future. He went on to say, your Excellency must know that some hundred of our ships have been taken at the mouth of the strait in the space of one year; they were certainly small ones (fn. 2) Although I have several times complained about this and have received promises as well as vavious commissions, they have been of no use. The French and the Flemings are also concerned in this, and as no remedy has been applied in so many years after the numerous representations which we have made, they propose to avenge themselves and will come accompanied by all manner of Christians, who desire nothing better. If they take possession of some part of your seaboard you will have no cause to complain to the ambassadors. I am not here to protest but to warn, as I believe you will soon see the consequences. The Captain said: We will send commissioners. The ambassador replied: I want no more commissioners or Chiaus, because with all your commissioners I could not release a French valet of mine who was at Tunis, but the galleys of Florence afterwards got this for me. The Pasha said: I do not know what to do, they will not hear me and they are all my enemies. With this the ambassador took leave. I report this to show that your Serenity is not alone in suffering from the attacks of these bertons, and that previous experience of commissions shows that they are useless.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, the 2nd April, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 4. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 239. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
A courier arrived yesterday from England with letters of the 24th ult. sent by the ambassador of His Highness, who has had lengthy negotiations with His Majesty. The letters speak of the beginning of a great war about Juliers and the preparations on both sides. The king there is becoming quite active and proposes a league, suggesting that Sir [Henry] Wotton shall come and negotiate it. He displays the greatest zeal for the defence of the duke and his cause and has given the ambassador as many words and promises as heart can desire. But Verua says that they do not place much reliance in him; and that when it comes to the push, he breaks down, as was the case at Asti when he promised to give money to His Highness. With regard to this league, the duke will not make it unless your Serenity enters also.
Turin, the 4th April, 1616.
April 8. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Signori Stati. Venetian Archives. 240. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary sent to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador Carleton, who in addition to the charge of ambassador is also councillor of His Majesty in the Council of State here which decides war, has been to-day to take up his office. He told me that they discussed the affairs of your Serenity at length, and he recognised their great concern for your prosperity. They are not a people to stand upon ceremony, they do not value compliments, but it is better to deal freely with them, as they do with others. That they especially desire an understanding with your Serenity. He had experience of the king his master, of your Serenity and of the States here, and he recognised that all three powers have the same objects, the only difference being in the means; your Excellencies prefer neutrality, while here they desire an understanding. He had thrown out hints about this when he was in Venice, but without any results. However, he prayed God, that it might come about in the future, as it was the sign of a wise man to change his opinion, and your Serenity had a good opportunity to do so now, without the possibility of anyone taking offence. I confined myself to general terms, expressing the goodwill of your Serenity towards the States.
The Hague, the 8th April, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 8. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives. 241. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary sent to the Low Countries, to the Doge and Senate.
I find that if there is no war here, it will be easy to get men here, but if there is war, it may not be easy. The States will ask for Germans, French, English, Scotch and other nationalities to help them, and they would not grant their own men to other powers, and even if they did it would not be easy to obtain anyone worth having, as in order to serve under Prince Maurice they more readily take low wages here than high wages elsewhere.
A caralier of considerable standing has been to offer two or three hundred horse to your Serenity. I thanked him, but neither refused nor accepted his offer. He could levy 1,200 to 1,500 foot, who would be picked men and well disciplined. They would cost rather more than the English, because the English could be got together in one place and could come by sea, whereas these could not be obtained from one province alone but from all together.
The Hague, the 8th April, 1616.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 9. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagua. Venetian Archives. 242. Pietro Vico, Venetian Secretary in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Secretary of England has made strong representations to the king and the ministers here for the restitution of Oneglia to the duke of Savoy. They told him that His Majesty gave orders for this many days ago, but the delay was caused because His Highness would not disarm or restore to the pope or the emperor the places which he holds. However the treaty would certainly be executed, although the marquis of Ynoyosa granted much more than he had instructions to do.
Madrid, the 9th April, 1616.
April 12. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 243. Piero Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador of Berne, who has recently returned from England, has told me of some conversation which he had with the king there in three or four audiences with regard to a close understanding and a union between all those princes who are threatened by the power of Spain. Among others he named your Serenity. He discussed various ways of doing this, either by a bond to render mutual assistance, or to create a diversion if any one was attacked.
I knew from the ambassador of that king that negotiations about this have been carried on with the prince at Londun (Luddun) and that the duke of Savoy also is treating to a similar purpose.
Tours, the 12th April, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 12. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 244. Piero Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Huguenots seem dissatisfied with what the prince has arranged with the king's deputies, and have chosen special persons to make their remonstrance. They wish compensation to be given to M. de la Force, and that the Council be reformed before they proceed to any accommodation. The English ambassador and the duke of Sully have set out straightway for la Rochelle to try and remove these difficulties so that they may not break off the peace, of which everyone is greatly desirous.
Tours, the 12th April, 1616.
April 12. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 245. Vincenzo Gussoni, Venetian Ambassador designate for France, to the Doge and Senate.
Pietro Rubino, a subject of your Serenity, moved by zeal for the public service, has left England to come and offer himself, and has asked me to write these few lines in his favour.
Frankfort, the 12th April, 1616.
April 14. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 246. To the Ambassador at Rome and the like to the other courts except France.
The ambassador of His Most Christian Majesty has made representations to us for settling the present disturbances, offering his own services and those of a special minister. We replied as you will see by the enclosed copy, and we have written in conformity to our Ambassador Contarini to report our good intentions to their Majesties. This is for information. We also inform you that we have chosen Ottavian Zen to be Ambassador Extraordinary with His Most Christian Majesty upon these affairs. He will leave in a few days.
Ayes 163.
Noes 1.
Neutral 0.
April 14. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives. 247. Pietro Vico, Venetian Secretary in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spaniards have released an Englishman who was taken prisoner three years ago in the East Indies. (fn. 3) The king of England had answered by keeping two Spanish captains in custody. The Englishman was handed over to the Secretary here, and the Spaniards in London are to be delivered to the Catholic ambassador. The Englishman immediately set off post, and as he is a first-rate man at sea they say that his king will give him the command of a ship to go to the Indies.
Madrid, the 14th April, 1616.
April 15. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives. 248. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary sent to the Low Countries, to the Doge and Senate.
The States have resolved to take the field this spring and they have sent to France and England to recall their captains. Some even propose to break with the Spaniards at the first move made at Berg, but others advise more temperate action. It seems that the English ambassador has several times advised the States not to make war unless they are provoked, and this is the growing opinion of the majority of the people, although many think otherwise. They have secret information about a league made between the king of Spain and the ecclesiastics of Germany, engineered by the Elector of Cologne. They know no details, but think it is directed against the Protestant powers. The elector despises them, as being so ill-united and irresolute and so unprepared to do anything effective, not one of them having money, and therefore all thinking of their own interests, attending to everything except what they ought to, and relying entirely upon hopes from the Dutch.
The Hague, the 15th April, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 16. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 249. To the Ambassador at Rome and the like to the other Courts.
Although we have, out of consideration for the representations of the powers, slackened the progress of our arms, we understand that the archduke continues to increase his forces and they have raided a village of Istria. This shows, with other things, their disinclination for peace. Accordingly we have decided upon the levy of 4,000 French offered to us by M. de Asaz in the name of M. de Chatillon, and have directed our ambassador at Turin to arrange the details.
The ambassador in England shall be charged to tell His Majesty of this resolution.
Ayes 167.
Noes 4.
Neutral 5.


  • 1. Negotiations for the redemption of the cautionary towns had been in progress as early as February. The States owed the English crown eight millions of florins, equivalent to about 750,000 crowns. The sum actually offered by Caron to James was 250,000l. Motley: The Life and Death of John of Barneveld, ii., pp. 71–73.
  • 2. Between 1609 and 1616 the Algerines had captured 466 British ships and reduced their crews to slavery. Oppenheim: The Administration of the Royal Navy, p. 198.
  • 3. Probably Robert Ridge, whose case was recommended to Cottington's charge. State Papers, Foreign, Spain. Cottington to Winwood, 26 March. 1616, o.s.