Venice: December 1616, 1-10

Pages 361-377

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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December 1616, 1–10

Dec. 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 530. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
This week the Count of Scarnafigi has been informed of the precise quantity of the munitions granted by His Majesty to help the duke of Savoy. It amounts to 20 lasts of powder, that is 48 thousand, twenty tons of matches for cannon and 20 of lead, orders being given that a merchant, Burlamacchi, shall pretend to buy them of the king and sell them to the ambassador, so that the Spaniards may not have cause to take offence. The ambassador is amazed that after such long negotiations, so many prolongations and consultations, they have arrived at such feeble results, which he calls the labour of the mountain. He has returned to the Secretary Winwood and spoken and complained to him, as your Excellencies will see by the enclosed paper, which he drew up and which was presented to the king. This representation has done this much—that the quantity of powder has been doubled and now amounts to 96 thousand, and with the lead and matches the gift may be worth about 20,000 ducats, a very small thing, considering His Majesty's obligations, his great promises and the needs of His Highness. But it has been obtained with great difficulty and by virtue of the labours and representations which your Excellencies have heard of before.
The individual whom the ambassador is sending to Piedmont has not yet started, and he is staying until they have got these munitions out of the Tower and they have begun to embark them, as owing to the ready changing of the wind here they fear that some fresh accident may prevent the carrying out even of this little assistance. The person whom he is using by the king's licence and who will set out on Saturday morning is the Signor Giovanni Francesco Biondi of Liesena, a gentleman pensioned by His Majesty but a subject of your Excellencies who remains whole heartedly devoted to your service. He told me all the instructions which he had received from the ambassador. In addition to taking word to the duke of all the negotiations up to the present, and of the little hope that there is for the future, he is to tell His Highness that the Spanish ambassador recently informed the king that no prince in the world can have more influence than His Majesty with the Catholic king for settling the differences with the duke. This has raised His Majesty's hopes that it may be so. Accordingly in his last audience of the count of Scarnafes he said that he was inclined to send a special person to Spain to treat for an accommodation, and, therefore, if His Highness really wishes for peace he will endeavour to obtain it for him, and if he does not succeed His Majesty will join with the princes of Germany and the States, so that all may do their part, and in this way form a good body of help to support the duke. The ambassador decided to inform His Highness of this at once and await his reply, so that the king may have time to act as he promises before he begins his journey to Scotland. Every day His Majesty wishes this to be considered as certain at the earliest opportunity, although many believe that he will not go before June, because if he starts before he will not find sufficient grass to provide fodder for such a quantity of horses.
Biondi also has orders to inform His Highness of the offices which I have performed with His Majesty and the ministers by the instructions of your Serenity, which the ambassador heard not only from my account but from His Majesty's own lips. This will increase the obligations of the duke to the republic, when he sees how your Excellencies are labouring for his service. He is also to press strongly for leave for the ambassador to return home. He tells His Highness that if leave is not granted to him by March he will leave of his own accord, as he has suffered so much in mind and body by all these vexations that he can bear it no longer; and what is more important, he is so weighted with expenses and debts that he no longer knows how to maintain himself, as during the two years which he has passed here he has never received any money from the duke, but has always maintained himself, thus supplying the need of His Highness from his own property, in the carriage of letters, the sending of couriers and other things.
His Majesty has recently written to Lord Roos in Spain, telling him, in addition to the first instructions which he took with him, to insist with the king upon the carrying out of the treaty of Asti. If this is not done, the king of England says that he will not be able to abandon the duke, but he will take steps to make war upon Spain.
120,000 ducats have been paid to the employés upon the royal ships, and His Majesty has directed that a good number of them shall be put in trim, so that they say that by Easter twenty of them will be armed.
London, the 1st December, 1616.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 531. Letter of the Count of Scarnafigi to the King.
I hoped when I received the munitions that I should have no further occasion to importune your Majesty, but my jealousy for your Majesty's honour and my own would render me culpable if I refrained. His Majesty knows that through his royal word, beyond all other obligations of the treaty of Asti, His Highness is involved in great dangers to which he would not have been exposed had not His Majesty declared that he would make war if the Spaniards did not observe the treaty of Asti.
His Majesty told me the same at Wanstead, when I asked him to advise His Highness upon the negotiations of M. de Bethune.
At Windsor His Majesty told me that he was awaiting Bethune's negotiations to make sure of the non-observance of the treaty. I gave two documents, which were shown to the Spanish ambassador. At Hampton Court His Majesty said that if M. de Bethune did not procure a good result, he would decide openly, but that he had given orders that the munitions should be consigned to me.
The Secretary Winwood, when I asked him, said that His Majesty thought this would be a matter of small moment, and he proposed to give royal help which he would discuss in the Council. He therefore begged me to have patience.
After this Council His Majesty told me that they had unanimously decided to help His Highness. I showed how advantageous it would be for His Majesty to send men to Piedmont and ships to our shores. He asked me to put my thoughts in writing. I did so and gave the document to the Secretary Winwood. I have received no reply.
When I was expecting munitions in a quantity proportionate to the obligations of the treaty and a promise to declare war on the Spaniards, they were consigned in a furtive manner to Sig. Burlamacchi, so that His Highness can receive no advantage in prestige. The quantity accorded is so insignificant that I cannot believe that it has been given by the order of the king or the Council. I therefore beg your Majesty to provide a remedy without delay, so that your assistance may not be a jest among your enemies. I assure your Majesty that there is no more certain road to the peace of Italy than the aspect of your Majesty standing ready, to maintain the liberty of Europe and the security of your servants and friends.
Dec. 1. Senate, Secreta. Dispacci. Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 532. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
With regard to the orders given me to ascertain the monthly cost of having three or four armed ships to use for war in case of need, I have used every effort, and so far as I can understand the cost would vary according to the way in which your Serenity would use the ships, and according to the service in which they were employed. If you only proposed to use them for guarding the coasts or some parts of the sea, and only to fight with other ships of war without any other profit than their wages, and without liberty to molest the enemies of the republic and try their fortune by making prizes, the entire cost would fall upon the purse of your Serenity. But if your Excellencies should have open war with anyone, and especially with the king of Spain, and would permit them to attack their ships and shores, your Serenity would obtain ships in any quantity from these kingdoms, at little or no cost, but with the hope of considerable gain (quando l'Ecc. VV. habbino aperta guerra con qualcheduno, et in particolare col re di Spagna, si contentasscro di permetterli, che offendessero le sue navi et le sue riviere haverebbe la Serenità Vestra da questi regni vasselli in quella quantità che più sapesse desiderare con poca o niuna spesa ma anzi con speranza di gran guadagno).
The quality of the vessels to serve in the Mediterranean for war should be from 160 to 200 tons. If your Excellencies employed these in the first manner, paying them with your money, it would be difficult to find anyone here willing to hire, and even if you did find them it would be better worth while to spend 2,500 ducats in buying an old ship and 1,500 ducats in arming it with other arms and necessaries, than to pay the hire. In order to keep them in good order it is necessary to have a hundred men for each, of all ranks, whose food, wages, and all other necessaries would amount to 800 crowns a month or rather less, without including the munitions for fighting, which vary according to the occasion. In any case, whether the vessels are hired or bought, they would be cheaper at Amsterdam, where they would cost somewhat less, owing to the extraordinary numbers of ships always to be found in that port and the greater quantity of timber for building, and the English merchants and pirates themselves are accustomed to provide themselves in those parts.
If your Serenity chose the second manner and had war with the king of Spain, simply granting your flag, and freedom to come and sell the plunder at Venice, naming an English general to command all the ships, so many would hasten to your service that they would inflict great harm on your enemies, without your Serenity having to think about arming them or the expense of maintaining them, as they would observe their usual proceedings when this kingdom made war upon the Spaniards, which was to divide the expenses into three parts, and to divide the profits accordingly. Thus if your Serenity incurred one third of the cost, you would receive a third of the gains, and if you wished to have nothing to do with it, there might not be wanting those who would possibly take everything upon themselves, as this is the way in which the kingdom of England has become rich, and in which they would desire to continue to fight against the Spaniards, as private individuals are continually offering themselves to make war on the king of Spain if His Majesty will agree, without any expense or trouble to him (per il secondo modo di servirsene se Vestra Serenità havesse guerra col Re di Spagna, et volesse concedere solamente li suoi stendardi et Piazza libera per venir a vender a Venezia le prede, nominando un general Inglesc, che comandasse a tutti li vasselli, ne concorrerebbono tanti al suo servitio, che darebbono molto danno à suoi nemici senza che Vestra Serenità havesse alcun pensiero in armarli ò spesa in mantenerli, perche vorrebbono questi tener il modo, che si costumava quando questo Regno faceva la guerra con Spagnnoli, ch'è di divider la spesa in tre parti et applicar anco il guadagno pro rata, onde se Vestra Serenità volesse haver una delle parte della spesa, haverebbe anco quella dell'utile; et se non ne volesse saper altro, non vi mancherebbe forse chi prenderebbe il tutto in se, poiche questo è il modo col qual il Regno d'Inghilterra s'è arrichito, et nel quale desiderarebbono di continuare a guerreggiare con Spagnuoli, offerendosi continuamente li particolari sudditi di far essi la guerra al Re di Spagna, quando Sua Maestà se ne contenti, senza che essa faccia alcun spesa o ne senti alcun pregiudicio).
This is one of the chief reasons why Lord Dingwall came to offer himself, as he proposed to take advantage of ships, if your Serenity desired any, to take him out of the kingdom, to do harm to the Catholic king, scattering his people outside Spain, in the strait, in Sicily, Naples, and the dependant islands, against merchant ships, and attacking them under the flag of your Serenity, so that the damage would have been very great. The king, so this nobleman assured me, had promised to shut his eyes and pretend not to see anything, as he could easily excuse himself to the Spaniards by saying that they were the men of the republic who were living on its pay. For this reason His Majesty was greatly astonished that your Excellencies did not accept so good a chance of advancing your affairs with your enemy, who is seeking to consume you by degrees, as the only way to make them walk more circumspectly in their affairs is to occasionally take the fire to their own house, make them feel the evils of war and not wait for them to be always the first to begin war and initiate peace when it suits them (quest'è una delle principali sintentioni con che era venuto ad offerirsi a Vestra Serenità il Sig. Baron Dinguen, poiche haveva in animo di prevalersi, se Vestra Serenità havesse voluto delli'vasselli, che conduceva fuori del Regno a danni del Re Cattolico sbandando le sue genti in Spagna fuori et dentro del stretto in Sicilia, in Napoli et nell 'Isole suddite, contra navi di mercantia, et offendendo cosi gagliardamente con li stendardi di Vestra Serenità che il danno sarebbe grandissimo, et il suo Re, per quanto il detto Barone m'hà conferito, haveva promesso di chiuder li occhi, et mostrar di non avedersene, potendosi assai bene iscusar con Spagnuoli, che quelli erano genti della Serma Repca, et che viverano a suo soldo, et per ciò, Sua Maestà si è molto meravigliato che dall Ecce. VV. non sia stata accettato occasion cosi grande di far ben i fatti loro con quell' inimicio, che cerca di consumarle à poco à poco, perche l'unica strada di farlo caminar più circonspetto ne'suoi affari è di portarli tal volta il foco in casa, farli sentir il danno della guerra et non attender ch'egli sia sempre quello che promovi le guerre et componi le paci, quando le torna a conto).
The baron added that in future His Majesty will not be so easy in granting to any of his subjects such authority as he conceded to him. But if matters between your Excellencies and the king of Spain should come to such a pass, as I pray God they may not, that you should decide to discharge your own ills upon the head of your enemy, I hope that you would always be able to enjoy this advantage even without the consent of the king and his council, because if your Serenity, without letting your intentions become known, should, take a certain number of ships from this kingdom under the pretext of conveying men to Italy, with a general to command them, and should grant your flag and a free place to all others who might join them, there would be a great rush both from England and Holland among merchants and others who would try to advance their fortunes, and the king and council would be powerless to prevent them. A royal fleet would be formed, which would create a considerable diversion for the attention of the king of Spain, since they would enter his own dominions and would make them experience the ills which the people here know how to inflict by the experience of past wars. Your Excellencies may judge how great would be the profit of our city and of all the other subject sea towns, as the booty would be sold there at an extremely low price. Some of these persons are already disposed to come, and before receiving the flag of St. Mark they would give excellent security in London to render the most complete obedience to your Serenity and your general and not to attack any but those whom they are ordered to attack. I have discussed this with the person who has spoken to me in such a way as not to excite suspicion of the slighest inclination, but if your Excellencies should think of it, I might go more deeply into the affair and send further particulars.
London, the 1st December, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 2. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 533. To the Secretary Lionello in England.
Your last letters of the 4th November have reached us. From one you will see that peace is despaired of and war necessary. Such is the condition to which the Spaniards have reduced Italy. We send you a copy of what we propose to lay before His Majesty's ambassador here. We direct you to obtain an audience as soon as possible and, by using the information which you have, to urge His Majesty to a strong declaration and effective action, which are required by his dignity and the general good, which he is bound by his promise in the treaty of Asti to give help to the duke of Savoy, whose cause is the common cause and whose fall would gravely prejudice every one, even the greater and more distant powers.
In this connection you will say that the States well recognise the importance of these affairs to the generality. They show great friendliness towards the duke of Savoy and our republic and our obligations towards them are greatly increased. Of our confidence in His Majesty you will say whatever you think will put him in the humour to do something useful. As the duke of Savoy has decided to send an extraordinary ambassador, you will have a good understanding with him when he arrives and will support his requests for help.
If there are any ministers or ambassadors of the Elector Palatine, the king of Denmark or other princes whom you think likely, you will inform them of current events, as a sign of confidence and to obtain what advantages you may, expressing our determination to defend our liberty, since the Spaniards are determined upon war.
We are gratified at the offices performed by Lord Dingwall with you, and we highly value his offers. When you see him we desire you to thank him, express our esteem and say that we shall be glad to take advantage of his services when need arises. We would inform you also that when he came to Venice to offer his services, we understood that he would not bind himself unless there was an effective levy of 6,000 foot and he would be under no obligation either for the ships or the voyage, and consequently nothing further was done.
Ayes 166.
Noes 0.
Neutral 2.
Dec. 2. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 534. That the English Ambassador be summoned to the Cabinet, and that the following be read to him:
To our representations to His Majesty upon the events in Italy the Spaniards have always cunningly opposed the idea of negotiations, raising hopes of a near peace. But matters are now in such a state that even they cannot deny that all prospect of an agreement is hopeless, and it is necessary to resist their ambitions by war. Don Pedro made such exorbitant demands that the ambassadors of the mediating princes did not venture to show them to the duke. The governor of Milan opposed the excellent idea of M. de Bethune to come and mediate between the republic and the archduke, saying that he did not wish the French to interfere in any manner. They do everything to lull to sleep the other princes and prevent them applying that attention to the affairs of Italy that is urgently required, as the Spaniards wish to rule alone, so that all may be dependent upon their wishes, and instead of working for general peace, they disturb negotiations, threaten war everywhere and use every effort to induce M. de Bethune to return to France.
Affairs are therefore in such a desperate condition that a remedy must be applied without delay. We beg your Excellency to represent this state of affairs to His Majesty, who certainly will no longer allow himself to be deluded by vain hopes of peace, and who, we feel sure, will not allow the Spaniards to oppress the duke of Savoy, and, after him, the rest of Italy. For our part we are doing what we can to help Savoy, although we are occupied elsewhere at a very heavy cost, and we recognize that the assistance of His Majesty is necessary for that prince. We are sure that there is no longer time for delay; and representations must be accompanied by acts that are worthy of the influence and greatness of His Majesty.
Ayes 166.
Noes 0.
Neutrals 2.
Dec. 2. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 535. To the Secretary in England.
We have to tell you that the governor has tried to persuade Bethune to return to France and not come to Venice to arrange an agreement. Bethune has related all this to Their Most Christian Majesties, and is awaiting orders. The duke of Savoy had taken Moncuco in Montferrat, recovered Salizuola in Piedmont and acquired some places in Montferrat. Don Pedro has withdrawn to Montferrat, with some confusion. They are much displeased by the agreement between Savoy and Nemours, knowing what vigour this will give to the duke. We hear in letters of the 26th that the troops of prince Vittorio and succours from M. Lesdiguières continue to arrive in Piedmont, and the duke has gone to assemble them and make some attempt. His Highness is sending ambassadors to France and England, to give any account of the state of affairs in Italy and ask for help.
Our troops in Friuli have had a skirmish with the enemy, who were repulsed. In Istria our general has destroyed a quantity of the enemy's stores. This is for information to use as you see fit.
We have told that, on hearing how the governor sought to separate the peace of Savoy from our accommodation, we resolved to send an express courier to Spain to our ambassador there, to represent the true state of affairs to His Majesty and ask him to instruct his ministers in Italy to have a general conference to treat for a general peace.
The like to the Imperial Court, Rome, France, Spain, Turin, Mantua, the Hague, Zurich, Padavin, Milan, Naples, Florence, Constantinople.
Ayes 160.
Noes 0.
Neutral 0.
Dec. 3. Senato, Secreta Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives. 536. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday the pope said to me, We believe that your masters have an ambassador of England for negotiating with that king, and not to subvert and seduce their subjects, especially bishops, making them fall into apostacy, as in the recent case of the Archbishop of Spalato, whose flight he had a hand in, as he was accompanied by an Englishman. We beg your masters to speak seriously to that ambassador, that he desist from such improper action and that he do not circulate the books of that de Dominis. His Holiness spoke with great heat, and I promised to do as he requested, assuring him of our devotion to religion.
Rome, the 3rd December, 1616.
Dec. 4. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costant. Venetian Archives. 537. Almoro Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Imperial ambassadors were very dissatisfied because none of the other ambassadors here had called upon them. They made representations to the Pasha, who sent a buginodi and a chiaus to all the ambassadors, bringing word that the Imperial ambassadors were about to leave and we ought to conform to the ancient custom and call upon them. This order created no little astonishment, as it were forcing an act of courtesy by violence. We sent to ask the reason, and the Pasha replied that the ambassadors said it was a custom never omitted, and they would be disgraced if it were not observed, so that he was compelled to oblige them. I was in some doubt, but decided finally to follow the example of France and England.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, the 4th December, 1616.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 4. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives. 538. Piero Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Secretary of England has been to tell me of the offices he has performed for Savoy and the reply he received from the duke of Lerma. He first spoke of the requests of the duke to His Majesty for assistance, which he was obliged to render by the treaty of Asti, or else to ask the Catholic king to order his ministers in Italy to cease from the great preparations for war which they are making against him, and remove the cause for fresh conflicts. He afterwards begged His Majesty to order his ministers to give complete effect to the treaty of Asti, and so relieve him of the necessity of helping His Highness, as he is bound to do by the treaty.
The duke of Lerma replied that the decision to make war on the duke did not arise from any desire of his king to enlarge his dominions in Italy, as he knew that he would have to restore them to the sons, but simply for his honour's and interest's sake. His Majesty would have preferred a peaceful way as he is far from desiring war, least of all with Christian princes of his own blood. He said how great prejudice His Majesty had suffered from the duke who obliged him to keep an army in Italy for three years running, which he could have employed more profitably elsewhere. The duke had always been an unquiet spirit, continually disturbing the world, and the Venetians were now egging him on and helping him to ruin himself.
Here the secretary remarked that the republic was always considered to be a power desirous of peace, that your war with the archduke was for a just cause because of the help his ministers gave to the Uscochi, and because he had never executed the treaty of Vienna. He said that as you were helping the duke it was probably to prevent His Majesty from helping his cousin.
The duke of Lerma replied that the help was beyond question, but he hoped the affair of your Excellencies would soon be settled. The secretary said that according to his information, although the republic has always been inclined for peace, you have not been met by the archduke. I thanked the secretary for the confidence he had shown to me. I afterwards suggested to him that the hopes they throw out about peace are a simple artifice to divert his king from thinking of measures for the general welfare, as the duke knows well how much His Majesty will be angered that the ministers of the Catholic king do everything to prevent the republic from obtaining help, while the Governor of Milan has a large armed force, which is only intended to make you how to the will of the Spaniards, even if they have not still greater designs, as their last levies of Swiss were definitely stated to be to serve against the republic. The latest news from Italy did not give the slightest promise of peace.
Madrid, the 4th December, 1616.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 4. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 539. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The gentleman has left for England with the dispatch of which I wrote on the 25th. God grant that it may produce good results.
Turin, the 4th December, 1616.
Dec. 6. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Svizzeri e Grisoni. Venetian Archives. 540. Agostino Dolce, Venetian Resident with the Swiss and Grisons, to the Doge and Senate.
The baron of Spietz writes to me from Berne that an ambassador has arrived there from the duke of Savoy to negotiate a league between His Highness and the Bernese. A favourable result is expected, although there are difficulties. The present necessities of the duke may induce him to remove his pretensions to the pays du Vaud, because by this means he will open an uninterrupted path for the men whom he desires from Germany, the Low Countries and England, who could pass through the states of Protestant powers only to Savoy.
Zurich, the 6th December, 1616.
Dec. 7. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives. 541. The deliberation of the Senate of the 2nd inst. was read to the Ambassador of England. He said:
I thank your Serenity and your Excellencies for honouring me with this information upon the state of your affairs. Since the first occasion I have not ceased to make lively representations to His Majesty concerning them, and I will do so again. The king's Secretary, who has charge of the affairs of state, wrote to me by the last courier that the king was away from London, but that the matter would be specially laid before him on his return and a resolution taken worthy of him. I, therefore, hope that your Serenity will receive the reply as from a true friend. With regard to the negotiations in Piedmont, I say that the matter itself is difficult and the materials suspect. Bethune was suspected by the Spaniards and the cardinal by the duke of Savoy. Thus as the armies in the field were very costly and had drawn blood, it did not seem to me that success was probable. As matters now stand, if we cannot have peace we must prepare for war. If my wishes count for anything, I should call to mind what I have insisted upon at other times, that there can be no better method than a balance of power; I should advise or rather wish your Serenity to join with the princes of Germany. A good foundation has already been laid in the friendship with the Low Countries. And indeed the Count John Ernest of Nassau is a worthy man. If I had to choose a prince of the House of Nassau I should hold up my hands for him. I have had the opportunity to know him intimately. He is brave and good, not rash like some others, but prudent and discreet. He comes with excellent troops and full numbers, as each captain will bring 12 or 15 additional men to supply the places of those who fail by the way. Among his principal officers is an English gentleman, acting as sergeant major of all the troops. He belongs to the family of the earls of Oxford (Ossogna), one of the principal houses of England and one of the principal councillors of the crown. (fn. 1) My friends write that there will be other Englishmen among the other officers, who have obtained leave to come, and I hope that they will bear themselves so well that your Serenity will have cause to wish for more English, in which His Majesty will always be ready to oblige you.
I remember at this point that I have heard that the duke of Mantua has become suspicious of the Spaniards, because negotiations have taken place between Giovanni Vives, ambassador of Spain at Genoa, and Don Alfonso Davalos, Governor of Montferrat. But I think we shall need considerable craft to augment that feeling. When the king, in sending me here, honoured me with his instructions for the affairs of Germany and Italy, he told me that he considered the reconciliation of the houses of Savoy and Mantua to be an essential point, which ought to benefit both. He gave me letters of credence for both of them. I presented those to the duke of Savoy on my way here, executing certain commissions there. The credentials for Mantua were given under the reserve that the duke of Savoy should consent, and that I should rule myself in accordance with the state of the negotiations with Mantua. They are still in my hands, and though they are old and it would be good to procure new instructions from His Majesty, yet some good may be hoped for. I am ready to spend my poor voice if it be any good. I know that there has been much bitterness and the passions of the friends have been stirred, but perhaps they may be more easily reconciled now, since a common danger obliterates private passions. But I leave this to the prudence of your Serenity.
Before I leave I have a commission to fulfil for the duke of Saxony. By some carelessness or the negligence of his friends, he is left here without provisions, awaiting the return of a gentleman sent for them. Thus he remains at anchor with his hands bound, as it is not possible to voyage without sails or to travel without money. He is zealous for the service of your Serenity, and his request seems reasonable to me, as I have heard that when you accepted the service of the Count of Levestein, he was to have so much for each soldier coming by sea and so much by land. The duke asks for the same.
The doge replied: Although you received the news from other quarters, yet we judged it good to impart it to you as a sign of confidence. With regard to what your Excellency has said, when anything happens we will take it into consideration. This council will also consider the matter of the duke of Saxony.
With that the ambassador rose and took leave.
Dec. 8. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 542. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The young merchant from Constantinople only reached England at the beginning of the week, by whom the Ambassador Wotton was to send post, as he said in the Cabinet, to the king here the offices which he recently passed with your Serenity. The reason for his delay is that he was detained for some time in Heidelberg. As soon as he reached London he took Wotton's letters to the Secretary Winwood, who at once sent them to Newmarket, where His Majesty now is. This morning he set out thither himself, and I cannot know anything about what Wotton has written before his return, and I do not know when that will be.
The same merchant gave me a packet from your Serenity with duplicates of letters of the 28th October, which I had received long before. When Winwood returns to London I shall take the opportunity of answering or informing, and shall regulate everything I say in accordance with the reply of the Senate to the Ambassador Wotton.
The merchant also gave me a packet from your Serenity for the Secretary Surian at the Hague. I have had to keep it until to-day, as the courier of Flanders had left. I am sending it to Antwerp with this despatch; your Excellencies will know the reason of its late arrival.
This week I have also received your Serenity's letters of the 11th November, with a copy of two paragraphs from the letters of the Ambassador Giustinian upon the negotiations of the Cardinal and of the Ambassador Bethune, with news of Friuli and Savoy and three documents of the negotiations between Milan and Savoy. Two days after the same news the count of Scarnafigi heard from the duke arrived by way of France, with two of his own letters. These I have been permitted to read. His Highness seems to have little hope of a satisfactory issue, but speaks vigorously of his determination to defend himself, and directs the ambassador to try once again what can be hoped from the king here, as he does not wish to be left any longer in suspense, but to know yes or no in the matter of assistance, so that he may be able to know what course to pursue and what measures to take. These are his very words so far as my memory serves. He adds that he has received some help in money from the Venetians under the obligations which they have by the treaty of Asti. From France he obtains great levies with the hope at present of something more, but from England he receives nothing but words and promises without any deeds. He had sent M. de Monthou (Montiu) as ambassador to the princes of Germany, and was minded to send another to the States to ask for help, although they are under no obligation except their interests and the general good. But these things are long and uncertain, and his principal hopes should rest upon the king here, who is bound by interest and by his word.
The count went three days ago to see Winwood and repeat his offices, but the secretary excused himself from a long interview, owing to his many engagements, so the count left the letters and papers he had received from the duke to be shown to His Majesty.
I will observe your Excellencies' instructions to have a good understanding with the ambassador of Savoy, as I have done in the past, following the example of the ambassadors Foscarini and Barbarigo in their incomparable zeal for the public service.
London, the 8th December, 1616.
Dec. 8. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 543. Giovanni Battista Lionello, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
They are expecting to charge a ship with the 100 thousand of powder, 20 tons of matches for cannon, and 20 of lead granted by the king to the duke of Savoy, and as there is no reserve of lead in the Tower of London, His Majesty has ordered it to be bought, and owing to the scarcity of money in the royal purse, the merchant Burlamacchi has been obliged to lend His Majesty the necessary sum.
Sig. Giovanni Francesco Biondi left London on Saturday morning on his journey to Piedmont to the duke, for the count of Scarnafigi, as I wrote the other week; but he had to wait at Dover until Tuesday owing to the very strong winds now prevalent, owing to which the couriers are often unable to cross, and letters do not arrive when they should.
The Spanish ambassador here, who has habitually spoken very haughtily about His Highness of Savoy, pretending that he ought to humble himself before his king, has now become rather quieter and speaks with greater moderation. He now praises peace, saying that the Catholic king desires it greatly, that all his actions are directed to this end, and when it can be arranged satisfactorily he will not need asking. At the same time this is clearly due in great measure from their not perceiving the great results which they promised themselves from the governor of Milan and the royal army, because I know that at the outset Don Pedro wrote to the ambassador that he was going to work miracles, destroy the duke at first sight and take Piedmont in a few days, and above all that he would not be like the marquis of Inoiosa and allow the reputation of his king's arms to suffer in Italy.
I hear that the ships which are conveying your Serenity's powder have been seen near the Strait in company of ten others, in good condition, so that I hope they will soon complete their voyage happily. I have arranged the bargain with the merchants as much to the advantage of your Serenity as I could, and I finally settled for 90 Venetian pounds of good money for every 100 pounds on the light side brought to Venice at the risk of the merchants, as I already reported to the Proveditore upon the artillery. I am sure that no one can at present obtain it more cheaply here, and I could only manage it because of the supplement to the 50 thousand granted by His Majesty.
The king's journey to Scotland is certain unless some unforseen accidents occur to prevent it. His Majesty is determined upon it, although neither the Scotch nor the English really desire it; the first are moved by the great expense which they must incur to receive the English in their houses, and even more because they do not wish the English to see too closely the nature of their country, which is decidedly poor and inconvenient by comparison with England. The English on the other hand are reluctant to see the king leave England. However, all these sentiments are decently covered and every one speaks about it with a joyful countenance.
It is not known what commands His Majesty proposes to give to the ambassadors and ministers of princes here, whether he wishes them to accompany him or to stay here. It is true that none of them desires to go owing to the inconvenience and the great expense and they are therefore very undecided. The ambassador of France recently sent a gentleman to Paris for this cause alone so that His Most Christian Majesty might command what he should do if the king invited him to go, and at the same time asking that if he did not go he might have a turn in France to look after his affairs, which need attention. The ambassador of Savoy also, in his request for leave, sent to the duke by Biondi asking that at least he may depart if the king goes to Scotland. I myself, if I was spoken to upon the matter at Court, should not know what to reply, for various reasons, and therefore I beg your Excellencies to command me.
I wish to add that it cannot help the preservation of a good intelligence with His Majesty to leave this charge any longer without an ambassador and it will be too long to wait until the king's return from Scotland, which will be in September, for the coming of the ambassador Donato, whose arrival is eagerly awaited. If the ambassador is to accompany His Majesty, it will prove much more advantageous for your Excellencies that the ambassador should be here by the end of April, before His Majesty's departure.
The king is now hunting at Newmarket, and will come to London for Christmas, when I pray God for all happiness for your Serenity and your Excellencies.
London, the 8th December, 1616.
Dec. 9. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 544. To the Secretary Lionello in England.
Enclose the reply of the English ambassador to the office read to him here. This is for information. With regard to what you write us in letters of the 17th ult. about what His Majesty said in reply to the representations made to him, that there ought to be a truce and the affairs of Italy settled, our letters will have shown how little ground there is for this, and you will continually assert that all hopes for peace are vain and they are fostered by the Spaniards for their own purposes.
Ayes 156.
Noes 2.
Neutral 2.
Dec. 9. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 545. To the Secretary in England.
The latest news from Turin, of the 2nd and 4th inst., states that the duke is indisposed, but hopes soon to be well again. At the same time he does not neglect his affairs, and prince Vittorio is carrying out the arrangements with great vigour, showing himself a worthy son of his father. The troops of the prince and of Lesdiguieres begin to arrive in Piedmont. It is said that they will amount to 10,000 foot, 600 cuirassiers and 600 carabineers. The Spaniards have withdrawn to quarters in Montferrat and only hold San Germano in Piedmont, which it is expected they will abandon, as they fear these new forces of His Highness.
There is nothing fresh in our affairs. Don Giovanni de' Medici left yesterday for Friuli to take up his charge. Prince Luigi of Este has come to this city.
The augmentation of 100 crowns a month voted for you is a solatium and also a matter of justice, so that you may not be deprived of the emoluments granted to others.
The like to the Imperial Court, the Hague, Rome, Spain, France, Milan, Naples, Florence, Zurich, Padavin, Mantua, Constantinople.
Dec. 10. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Roma. Venetian Archives. 546. To the Ambassador at Rome.
Our deputies upon heresy have been asked by the papal nuncio to publish an index of some books published by the Congregation of the Inquisition of Rome. After taking the opinion of Father Paolo we have decided as you will see by the enclosed copy.
With regard to the complaint made by the pope against the ambassador of England resident in this city, you will assure His Holiness that he lives very quietly, both because it is his nature and from hints which we have given to him at other times, and he creates no scandal of any kind. We are very careful in this particular.
With regard to the archbishop of Spalato we are certain that it was not a suggestion of the ambassador, but his own evil thought, rooted in his mind. We inform you for your own use that we hear that the archbishop arrived at the Hague on the 20th ult., and was received in the house of the English ambassador there.
Ayes 77.
Noes 0.
Neutral 0.
Dec. 10. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Venetian Archives. 547. To the Lieutenant of the Country of Friuli.
The Congregation of the Inquisition of Rome has asked the inquisitor of this city to prohibit some few books. We direct you, if asked about this, to reply in the form of our answer to the nuncio. With regard to the manifesto of the archbishop of Spalato, you will prohibit it.
The like to Padua, Vicenza, Verona, Bressa, Bergamo, Crema, Rovigo, Treviso, Feltre, Cividal, Chioza, Capodistria.
Ayes 70.
Noes 0.
Neutral 0.
Dec. 10. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives. 548. Christoforo Surian, Venetian Resident in Holland, to the Doge and Senate.
The king of Great Britain has always had in hand the negotiations touching Cleves and Juliers, as your Serenity knows. He has frequently sounded the States to induce them to withdraw their troops from Emmerich and Rees. Seeing that they would not or could not do this for various reasons or under various pretexts, his ambassador finally went into the assembly of the States General last Saturday. I enclose a copy of his exposition. They made a general complimentary reply, reserving their answer until after they had deliberated upon so important a matter.
The ambassador subsequently communicated everything to the resident of the Margrave of Brandenburg, and when I called on the ambassador, he told me also. He further promised to let me know the reply of the States immediately it was given. He felt sure that it would be in conformity with their desire for the execution of the treaty of Zanten, that if there has been some hesitation in the past, now the Spaniards are profuse in their promises to the king to carry it out. I could not refrain from asking him if he really thought that the Spaniards meant this, as it would be quite in accordance with their nature, when February was gone, to protest that they would never restore anything. He replied that he could not say. The Spanish ambassador had indeed made large offers to his king, but he was bound to confess that the Spaniards were crafty. They propose negotiations when it is not convenient to act, and he had observed that they begin negotiations in December and carry them on until March, when they take the field. They act during the summer. If their designs succeed, well and good, if not, they take up negotiations again. He said that other powers should do the same, and now it is winter they should be countermining, but it seems that they never agree except to wait upon necessity when a remedy could not so easily be applied. He added that he hoped the States would decide in accordance with their prudence. He went on to say that while things are in their present state, the king, his master, the States and the princes of Germany chiefly concerned are obliged to consider what may happen in these parts, and they cannot apply their minds to Italy or the service of the republic unless the places are restored mutually to the princes claiming them.
I told him that I had noticed that he had spoken about Spanish methods, and therefore it was necessary to beware of being deceived by offers and hopes.
The States have always tried for the carrying out of the treaty of Zanten, and this sudden proposal of the Spanish ambassador will rouse their suspicions, and they will examine the affair very carefully before they answer the English ambassador. It is considered certain that they will not do so before the resident of Brandenburg returns from Cleves. He left last Monday, and before starting he came to tell me what had happened. He was sent for by the prince of Brandenburg, son of the Elector, probably upon the matter contained in the enclosed paragraph from a letter of the king of Great Britain, and a more recent letter from the same.
The Hague, the 10th December, 1616.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 549. Copy of a Letter from the King of Great Britain to George William, Margrave of Brandenburg, written on the 10th October, 1616, old style.
We beg you to persuade your son (fn. 2) to restore Juliers and the other places occupied, as the king of Spain, by his ambassador, and the Archduke Albert constantly assert that nothing but their detention keeps them from restoring what they occupy and executing the treaty of Xanten.
Your kinsman and friend,
James R.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 550. Proposals of the English Ambassador to the States.
I am charged by my master to speak to your Excellencies upon an important matter. You are aware of his efforts to procure a satisfactory settlement of the difficulties touching Cleves and Juliers. Matters have continually changed aspect, and nothing definite has been reached, which has led your Excellencies to persist in demanding the execution of the treaty of Zanten.
His Majesty, some months since, became convinced that the execution of the treaty is the only way out of this maze. The Spanish ambassador has been to him recently and told him that His Catholic Majesty desires nothing so much as the restitution of the places of Cleves and Juliers, which are now occupied by the archdukes and your Excellencies, to the claimant princes, and consequently that the treaty of Zanten should be carried out. The ambassador, therefore, begged His Majesty to intercede with you and the other powers interested to arrange a day for the restitution. In order not to hurry unduly a matter of such moment, His Majesty suggests the last day of February next, old style. If you cannot consent to this, the ambassador declares that his master will hold for ever the places which he now occupies; the fortification of Juliers justify his king doing the like at Wesel, so he says, and he does not propose to incur that expense for the profit of others, and when he has fortified it he will never restore it.
These are the proposals of the Spanish ambassador which I am instructed to lay before you. I hope you will take a resolution worthy of your prudence, as it will be to your advantage to accept such an opening, while a refusal will involve war in the unhappy country of Cleves and Juliers.
Delivered in the assembly of the States of the United Provinces of the Low Countries on the 23rd November, old style.
Dudley Carleton.


  • 1. Sir John Vere.
  • 2. John Sigismund, margrave of Brandenburg and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire, was the father, and George William, the claimant to the duchies, was the son. There is an obvious confusion here, probably due to the Venetian transcriber. Such confusion is not uncommon in these despatches, and when they mention the margrave of Brandenburg it is not always easy to decide whether they refer to the father or the son. Sometimes it is obviously George William who is meant, though the title of margrave properly belonged to his father only.