Venice: October 1615, 16-31

Pages 43-55

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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October 1615, 16–31

Oct. 16. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 62. Antonio Foscarini and Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In accordance with what I, Foscarini, wrote, the Master of the Ceremonies took the royal barge to Gravesend to fetch me, Barbarigo. He expressed his satisfaction at my arrival in the realm, in the name of His Majesty, and how readily he would always see me, saying that His Majesty regretted that he was not in London at the time of my arrival, but many miles away, so that I must necessarily incur some pains to go and see him in so distant a place. I replied to all this in a suitable manner, saying that I had never felt any inconvenience in serving His Majesty in any place, and it was an honour which His Majesty conferred upon me from so distant a place. He stayed with me, and on the following day we proceeded together in the same barges towards London, meeting on the way, some miles out, my Illustrious predecessor with a distinguished company. When we reached the coaches, we mounted the royal one, and I was taken to my predecessor's house. He pressed me to stay there to dinner with all the company, in particular some gentlemen of the ambassadors of France and Savoy, who had brought their carriages. The king is at Royston, two days away, and it is not yet known whether he will proceed to Newmarket or to Huntingdon, so one of the Masters of the Ceremonies said. It is quite certain that he will not be in London before the 5th or 6th prox. However, we hope to have audience within eight or ten days, during which time I, Barbarigo, shall be putting my affairs in order, as I must find liveries for my household and clothes for my children and myself, as during the two years which I have spent in the service of your Excellencies, since my departure from Venice, I have worn out elsewhere those which I had prepared for this embassy.
The queen remains at Greenwich under treatment and the prince is with the king. We shall pay ceremonial visits to them after seeing the king, which we shall do as soon as possible.
London, the 16 October, 1615.
Oct. 16. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 63. Antonio Foscarini and Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The duke of Bouillon left a good garrison at Sedan, and proceeded with the remainder of his forces towards ChâCteau Thierry (Sciateoteri), a place fifteen leagues from Paris, where the Prince of Condé and all the other princes were assembled with all their forces. He arrived there on Monday week. On the following day they began a fierce attack on the place, which surrendered on Wednesday after resisting the bombardment of the artillery for a day and more. They made the inhabitants pay 50,000 crowns, which were divided among the troops. Subsequently Epernay and Chauny (Scioni), the latter a strong place, brought their keys to the prince, who, however, was still at ChâCteau Thierry on Saturday. The capture of these places (fn. 1) is momentous, because their being on the Marne gives them the command of that river. They held a secret conclave and finally decided to move towards Meaux (Meos) to take that town, in order to continue their progress towards Joigny (Giorgium) which belongs to those of the religion, and so proceed without interruption to the king. They have twelve to fourteen thousand infantry and rather less than three thousand horse. As they are afraid of losing what they hold in Picardy, the duke of Longueville will return to Corbie. The duke of Mayenne has sent for some field pieces and the capture of ChâCteau Thierry may be said to have taken place under the very nose of the Marshal of Boisdauphin. He has continually retired, as his forces are insufficient to offer resistance, and he has no orders to risk a battle. The army of the princes increases daily, while that of the Marshal is dwindling. The Marquis of Bonnivet has told us that when they have put garrisons in the places which belong at heart to the princes, they will declare themselves, as without this it would show great imprudence to arm and begin a war with the winter near, without being sure of something to fall back upon and a welcome. The same Marquis, on the 29th ult. wrote the enclosed letters to the Most Christian King, of which we send also a translation. Among other things he there states that in the midst of his persecutions he had no better course than to take refuge in the country of such a generous king as he of Great Britain, the ancient ally of France. He has received letters from the duke of Longueville, which he showed to the king. His Majesty kept them, saying that they required consideration.
The French ambassador says that he has letters of the 3rd from Poitiers which say that on the 6th their Most Christian Majesties are to continue their journey to Bordeaux, to perform the marriages. It is understood from other sources that in Poitou and the country near their Majesties, many were under arms, but your Serenity will have more detailed news of this from elsewhere.
On Sunday the ambassador of Savoy had audience of the king. He pressed His Majesty, in case the fighting in France continues to progress, to come to a decision and impart it to him, as his duke is deeply interested and has resolved to guide himself by the advice of His Majesty. The king replied that he had heard that the Princes had sent to ask for help from the duke, but he felt sure that His Highness was too wise to do anything for the moment, that it was necessary to wait and to see more clearly what support they enjoyed. He had already urged their Most Christian Majesties to grant the demands of the Princes and of those of the religion. If they agree, matters will end peacefully; otherwise he will have acquired a good pretext to assist the Princes. He will do this, and in good time His Highness shall have full information.
His Majesty went on to speak about events in France and informed him of some of the things which we have written. In speaking of the death of the late king, he seemed anxious to see it avenged. He spoke freely and publicly about this, sometimes even at his dinner.
The Council has had long and frequent discussions of late, with a great diversity of opinion, in conformity with the divers interests, upon the summoning of the parliament and the proposals laid before it by the king upon the affairs of France and Flanders. So far they have come to no decision, but the assembling of parliament must of necessity take place, whether it be sooner or later.
New disputes have arisen between the Treasurer and the earl of Somerset with their backers on the one side, and on the other almost all the Council; to the latter side the queen also inclines. (fn. 2)
The earl of Argyll has given battle in Scotland to a part of the rebels. They have taken refuge with others in the mountains, where they are protected by the ruggedness of the country and their knowledge of the passes.
I, Foscarini, reported last week the death of Madam Arabella. As she was so near a relation to the king and of such high rank, we think it right to add that they have debated whether they should put on mourning, as the queen desired, and where she should be buried. They decided that as she had died in some respects contumacious, the Court should not put on mourning, and that she should be buried wherever her people desired. Accordingly she has been placed in the same tomb as her grand-mother in the royal burial place, near that of the prince. At her sudden death there occurred suddenly a severe shivering and lassitude in the lower part of her person. Her death is deplored by a great number of the chief people. The king has not said a word about it; he is the heir of her small property.
London, the 16 October, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 64. Oath taken by the troops to the Prince on 14 September, 1615.
You shall swear to faithfully serve the king under the Prince's authority and no other, and promise to do nothing contrary to his service without giving notice, and serve him against all, especially against the five tyrants who have usurped the name of king and the royal authority, and also against those guilty of the death of the late king, so that they may be brought to justice.
Enclosed in the preceding Despatch. 65. Letter of M. de Bonnivet to the King of France.
As a subject of your Majesty and the descendant of those who have faithfully served your crown, I feel bound to acquaint you with the causes which have compelled me to withdraw to England. For a long while my words and actions have shown that I desired an enquiry into the death of the late king. This so stirred the hate of those concerned that they have tried every means to destroy me. Hearing daily of the murder of your faithful servants and of plots against myself, I have thought well to throw myself into the arms of a great and generous king, the ancient ally of your crown, who is most anxious that enquiry should be made into the late kind's death and the authors punished. Your Majesty may judge of the rage of these common enemies in that when they could not touch me they fell upon a place called Hardelot, which your Majesty gave me, and they also wished to take another place called Etaples, because I stayed there ten or twelve days. I beg your Majesty to render me justice against these villains, who daily prove that they desire more harm to your Majesty than even to me.
London, the 29 September, 1615.
Oct. 17. Senato, Terra. Venetian Archives. 66. To the King of Great Britain.
In praise of Dudley Carleton, who has been ambassador for four years and is now to be recalled.
Ayes 130.
Noes 2.
Neutral 3.
Oct. 17. Senato, Terra. Venetian Archives. 67. To the Ambassador in England and his next successor.
The day before yesterday the Ambassador Carleton took leave of us, having received leave from His Majesty to do so before the arrival of his successor. We are writing to His Majesty in his praise, and send you a copy of the letter. We direct you to confer with him, as we esteem him highly. You will also express our satisfaction with his successor.
That 1,000 crowns be expended upon a gold chain to be presented to the ambassador in the name of the Signory.
That the governor of the Customs be instructed to go to the ambassador's house and seal his chests and things in order that they may pass freely.
Ayes 130.
Noes 2.
Neutral 3.
Oct. 17. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 68. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador is hastening to the court. He delayed coming in order to allow to-morrow's ceremony to be performed, in which he has no place. He is thought to be bringing some instructions from his king to intervene in the settlement of the dispute with the Princes, and to perform good offices in this respect.
Bordeaux, the 17 October, 1615.
Oct. 18. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 69. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I have just returned from church, where I took part at the marriage of Madame, at the invitation of their Majesties. The duke of Guise represented the person of the king of Spain. Before Madame left I went and offered my congratulations.
Bordeaux, the 18 October, 1615.
Oct. 20. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 70. Ranier Zen, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The ministers have never been to tell me the news of Montferrat, as His Highness said they would. I believe, however, that the duke means to take exact information before moving in order to justify himself before the powers, showing that the articles of the treaty have not been observed as regards Mantua and he has pointed this out to the resident of England, to whom they have also shown other matters.
I have received the instructions of your Serenity of the 10th inst. upon the marriages; they caused me some perplexity, but I resolved to lay everything frankly before His Highness. The duke sent for me to the vineyard while I was dining with the resident of England, from whom I received the information which I send in the following letter.
Turin, the 20 October, 1615.
Oct. 20. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 71. Ranier Zen, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The resident of England told me that His Highness had sent for him and had arranged with him to send a courier to England this week to relate how the duke had disarmed and fulfilled his part of the treaty, and that the Spaniards are not doing theirs. He will also relate the proceedings of Marini, urging His Majesty to protect the duke. But I believe that there is something else behind these affairs of France. The resident told His Highness that he understood that the governor and the Spaniards were willing to disarm, but as a reward of his readiness and not to look too closely into things; they wish a passage through the state for two-thirds of their troops. He asked His Highness to refuse this and argued that the period of six months should only begin after everything had been settled; that His Highness had promised not to allow them to pass unless His Majesty consented. In this connection the duke told me one day that he had asked advice of a councillor of his on this point, because he perceived that the Spaniards intend to demand this passage of him soon.
Turin, the 20 October, 1615.
Oct. 22. Inquisitori di Stato. Dispacci, Ingbilterra. Venetian Archives. 72. Giovanni Rizzardo, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Inquisitors of State.
I remember that your Excellencies commanded me to write frequently, and therefore while I remain in these parts I will not omit to send word of every detail, however slight its importance. Various rumours have recently been circulated that Muscorno has been released from prison. The news comes from the house of the Spanish ambassador, who was said to have heard it and to have expressed his satisfaction. This is reported by a Genoese of the Soprani family who frequents that house. When it appeared that the news was not true some thought and publicly stated that it was a Spanish fabrication to discredit the Ambassador Foscarini at his departure, because they do not like him. In this connection I may observe that since my arrival here a complete transformation has taken place in this embassy with respect to its standing. I will leave your Excellencies to receive word of this by common report. I may, however, state that in my time no scandal of any moment has arisen, although they are said to have occurred frequently before. I have laboured with all my energies to put a stop to the reports that were circulating before. Thus Casella, who used to be steward here, has been reconciled with the ambassador and good relations are established between them. He stood in the way because he had been in the confidence of Muscorno. I have done everything I could think of which might prove of use to His Excellency and to the public service. I claim no merit for this, because it is my duty. I must not forget to mention that the Ambassador Foscarini is collecting proofs of his charges against the Secretary Muscorno. He attaches importance to this and has frequently spoken to me about it, occasionally asking my opinion. I have been obliged to answer and conduct myself in conformity with your commands, in order not to excite his suspicions. I am confident that neither he nor any one else suspects anything. I thought it well, however, that the Ambassador Barbarigo should be informed of it tactfully and that his Secretary should also participate, as being disinterested and not suspected of bias of any kind. Your Excellencies shall receive fuller information on our return, as I cannot send everything even if I wished to. I am bound to say that I experience great difficulties and have to act with the utmost circumspection, but I trust to God's guidance, as I have done during twenty-seven years of service, and I trust He will show me what course it is best to pursue.
London, the 22nd October, 1615.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 23. Senato. Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 73. Antonio Foscarini and Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king has proceeded to Newmarket, a place three days journey from here, where he is practising his usual recreations of the chase, with a few attendants. The Master of the Ceremonies has informed us that the resources of that place would be little adapted for such a reception as the greatness of His Majesty and of your Excellencies would require, especially for a first audience, in a fitting style. However, we had him to dinner with us here the day before yesterday and expressed our desire for an audience as early as possible if it could be arranged satisfactorily for the convenience and pleasure of His Majesty. He replied in the same sense and promised to send word immediately to His Majesty. He has done this. We shall not fail to request a audience as much as we judge to be fitting, as I, Barbarigo, wish to enter upon this office, it being my third year away, and I, Foscarini, desire to return at length to the feet of your Serenity after eleven years.
The person sent by the king of Denmark informed the king here of the losses suffered by Brunswick in making an assault upon the town by the advice of His Majesty. The duke ran great personal risk in the course of the attack. He added that at the meeting of the Hanse towns at Lubeck, where the deputies of four of the United Provinces also took part, they decided not only to defend Brunswick, but other things besides, prejudicial to Denmark. Upon this he made bitter complaints, expressed in letters very energetically. The king has seen these with some emotion, and has written everywhere to smooth these disputes and terminate them in a peaceful manner.
By order of the magistrates of Cologne, in conformity with the orders of the emperor promulgated in that town, about seven hundred armed citizens sallied forth with a considerable following of artisans, and proceeded to Mulheim, where in a short time they broke down and razed all the houses and buildings. By this action and still more by the war of Brunswick, fomented by the strong supporters of both parties, the affairs of Germany seem in great confusion. Sir [Henry] Wotton tells us that the States are raising 4,000 infantry, but we have no other information about this. Of the restoration of Wesel and the other places, all hope seems to have disappeared and all negotiations are broken off, as the States delay their reply to the instances of the king.
We have heard reports here of the death of the duke of Neuburg by the hand of his own brother. If this is verified the treaty of Santen would fall through, the second son would succeed, who is of another confession and of different interest and religion from Spain.
Owing to the severe and insupportable damage inflicted by pirates, the merchants of the two principal companies here have decided, with the co-operation of the Admiral, to arm vessels to extirpate them if they can. The money has already been raised, the king has given his consent, and the Council did the same on the third day. Next week the finishing touches will be put to this. There will be from twelve to fifteen ships with other vessels called pinnaces. They will be divided into various squadrons and will scour these seas, the coasts of Spain and between the Strait and Corsica and Sardinia. All that they take which has been for twenty-four hours in the possession of the pirates will be considered as lawful booty. Of what they so take one half will go to the owners and the rest to them. This second half will be divided into three portions, the first for the master of the ship, the second to provide food and other necessaries, and the third for the sailors and others who serve on board. They have spoken to the Spanish ambassador and written to the king's ambassador there to receive permission and have free access for these ships in all the ports of the Catholic king. They have assigned a share of the booty and no fixed wages for the men in order to excite their diligence and make them work successfully.
Some one has arrived here from the king of Morocco. We do not yet know whether he comes on business pertaining to the king, or more especially for the merchants. We will make enquiries and send word as soon as he has seen the king and presented his commissions.
London, the 23 October, 1615.
Oct. 23. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 74. Antonio Foscarini and Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Some companies of horse of the Prince engaged others of the Marquis of Boisdauphin who were greatly superior in numbers, so that the Prince's men were worsted. The Count of St. Paul, who has come over from the king's side, enjoys a great consideration. It appears that the Princes of Germany and the Elector Palatine, who were hotter than the others in favour of the Princes, are now some-what more reserved. The Marquis of Ancre, having won the Mayor of Abbeville by money, has thrown a number of men into that town under various disguises and pretexts. He also sent there a boat with 400 pistols, but this was discovered and the plan failed. The mayor has been detained by the infuriated populace and the whole magistracy is in imminent peril. We may remark for your more precise information that Abbeville is one of the principal towns of Picardy and has always been self-governing, without receiving a governor from the king, so that the discovery of such a design has caused a great commotion among the populace.
The day before yesterday a gentleman sent by the Princes to the King passed through. It must have been in order to inform His Majesty of the effect of their decisions and to beg him to declare himself and to assist them openly. It is certain that the king will not take the smallest step or come to any decision upon this before he has received the reply of their Most Christian Majesties to his representations and proposals, which are the same as those which we have frequently reported to your Excellencies. The Princes punctually pay the troops who are in their service.
Here they were eagerly awaiting the issue of the affairs of which we are writing, and of the marriages between France and Spain, from which will arise, in great measure, the negotiations about the prince. We can assure your Serenity that at the moment no negotiations about this are on foot. It is true that the ambassador of Spain throws out a word now and again about them with some of his most intimate friends, but nothing tangible has yet come of it, and the king especially is far from being inclined that way.
A shipmaster, who, in the late disturbances of Italy, promised the Council of Spain to surprise Villafranca and received 4,000 crowns in advance from that ambassador, is now sued to restore the money.
On Saturday M. d'Herlai (fn. 3) arrived here, the ordinary ambassador of the Lords of Berne to his Most Christian Majesty. He at once went post to the king. Owing to the short time that he spent here we have not been able to discover what he brings. We will make enquiries on his return and report to your Excellencies. Meanwhile we must not omit to state that he complained that a messenger of his taking his letters to Berne had been detained by the men of the Marshal of Boisdauphin at the instigation of M. de Reffugé, to whom he had given offence, and the letters opened, his man being cast into prison. The French, upon this, immediately sent orders to M. de la Castiglia, ambassador in Switzerland, to complain to the Lords of Berne of two things, the chief matter in the said letters, namely the sending of printed remonstrances of the prince of Condé, in order that they might be re-printed in German and published throughout Germany; the other the persuading of the Council of that town not to allow his Most Christian Majesty to levy any troops if they should be asked, as they would be used either against the Princes or against those of the religion, and both would be prejudicial to the interests of that republic.
London, the 23 October, 1615.
Oct. 27. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 75. Ranier Zen, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
I have news from France that the ambassador of England had instructions to go immediately post to the queen, and make urgent representations to her on behalf of his king, to come to an accommodation with the Princes. If she would not agree to this he was to protest that his king would side with the Princes and help them. This news is true, because the writer heard it in Paris from the Ambassador himself, who was at the time making haste to set out.
Turin, the 27 October, 1615.
Oct. 30. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 76. Antonio Foscarini and Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king's secretary has sent word that as His Majesty will be here next week, it will be more convenient for us and will please him better if the audience is postponed until his return. As we should spend that amount of time in going to find the king and returning to London, he argued that we should be no worse off. No reply has come to the instances made subsequently by the Master of the Ceremonies.
The ambassador of Berne on his return from what may be called a sort of private interview with the king has been to call on us, with an introduction from the king's physician. From two long interviews we have gathered that the close understanding between the king here and the Bernese grows continually closer; that he came on a mission of this kind and is expecting letters from his masters upon it, which are bound to be very circumspect and reserved owing to the unfortunate occurrence which happened in France. It seems that his visit here is also to place himself under the treatment of the king's physician, an old acquaintance of his. In his conversations with us upon the affairs of France he showed himself a friend of the prince of Condé and of the others, in whose name and by whose instructions he is said to have spoken to His Majesty; this comes to us from the house of the secretary. He spoke strongly against the Chancellor and the others who now govern, and said that the Princes were most anxious for moderation. He talked with us also, saying that by the last advices received from Berne his master expected a reply from the Grisons about the pass. He seemed to hope that due satisfaction would be received from the three leagues; however, we need not write more about this, as your Serenity will have full information from elsewhere. The king, in the audience which he had, asked him about the state of these affairs and made strong representations in order to show him how much the success of the negotiations would be advantageous to his masters. We have avoided making this known to his masters in regular form, as we know that he will have done all this, as I, Barbarigo, know him personally as one of the best intentioned men of that town. He told us that the duke of Wirtemberg has some grievance against the Archduke in the matter of Burgundy, because the parliament of Dol will not carry out a certain decision made previously upon their affairs in the Parliament at Grenoble, of which the Duke has sent full particulars to Berne, expressing his intention to procure the execution by other means and asking for their assistance. He throws out some expression about coming to a league with them. To all these things they have sent back a very formal reply for the present and are debating what they had better do in order to give satisfaction to the Duke, whom they think highly of, owing to his proximity to the Swiss and especially to the town of Schaffhausen.
News from Holland this week state that there is less hope than ever with regard to the affairs of Cleves, the restitution of the places and the approval of the document. The departure from here of the Archduke's ambassador makes matters desperate, as he leaves no successor, and he has received permission and instructions from the Archduke to leave. Nothing detains him except the absence of the King, from whom he cannot take leave, although he has frequently asked permission.
London, the 30 October, 1615.
Oct. 30. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 77. Antonio Foscarini and Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
We do not hear that the prince of Condé has made any fresh acquisition since our last, but only that he was marching towards Champagne with the Marshal of Boisdauphin amid anathemas following him at a distance. The Prince has decided to make a new remonstrance to the King, in which he will mention by name those concerned in the late king's death. On Sunday the French ambassador received letters from Puisieux, which he immediately sent on to show to the ambassador of Spain. They speak of the marriage between the King and the Infanta of Spain on the 18th inst., that on the last day of this month the exchange of the Princess and the Infanta will be made on the frontiers; the latter is expected at Bordeaux on the 12th, and the marriage would immediately be consummated, and three or four days later their Majesties would set out together with all their court, a numerous company, on their way back to Paris.
With regard to the fighting in France, the Ambassador of Berne said that they would not lay down their arms before the Chancellor and the others, who now rule as they please, have been deposed from their Government. The Marquis of Bonnivet said the same thing. On the other hand, the French ambassador asserts that his king will not make settlement by the intervention of any prince, as it does not accord with his dignity and sovereignty, that if Condé and the others will submit and return to court they will be pardoned and graciously received. The most recent letters that the king has received from his ambassador state that he was working for an accommodation with some hope of success. We will send word to your Excellencies of what we hear from every quarter, leaving the rest to your judgment.
On Sunday a Council was held upon arming against the pirates, which we wrote about a week ago. As they came to no decision on that day, it was settled on Tuesday that they should not only arm those of the two companies, as we reported, but others also, but upon condition that they give security not to become pirates; this security will vary in amount according to the size of the vessels. They are urging the king to issue patents pardoning those pirates who agree to give up buccaneering and who will join them. They put forward various arguments as to the benefits to be expected from such a course. It is estimated that the number of ships that will set out will amount to 22 or 25 at least, without counting smaller vessels. For the first year it will undoubtedly produce great good, but it is feared that in the progress of time the good arrangements may become corrupt, especially if they obtain the patents which they are asking for.
Dissension and hatred are continually on the increase at court, to the great concern of the King. The earl of Somerset is accused of having taken several of the Crown jewels which were in the Tower, and of having, together with his wife and father-in-law, poisoned a cavalier of repute, who was a prisoner in the Tower at the time. (fn. 4) All these are in great peril. The Parliament will certainly meet now, because with the fate of these persons, who opposed it, all objections will disappear.
London, the 30 October, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 30. Inquisitori di Stato. Dispacoi, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 78. Giovanni Rizzardo, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Inquisitors of State.
Our departure hence seems likely to be delayed, as it certainly will not take place next month and possibly not even till late in the month following. From what the Ambassador Foscarini says, I do not see that we can expect to move until about Christmas time. He then proposes to pass through Germany and then by the Grisons and Switzerland to see the country, and then to visit Savoy, I do not know how. But nothing has been definitely arranged, so that I cannot state decidedly when we may hope to be on the road. Your Excellencies will expect to hear from me the reasons for this delay. No doubt he could have gained time had he taken more pains to obtain audience and other things. If I may humbly state my opinion to your Excellencies, I think that Sig. Foscarini thinks it strange, indeed he says so, that after so many years of service he should return to Venice with the same rank as when he left; and therefore he keeps procrastinating to see if something will turn up.
Although I see no way of giving your Excellencies complete satisfaction with regard to the affairs which concern Muscorno, yet I think it proper to give you a summary of the charges made against him by the ambassador. They are, that he has been to heretical churches to sing on several occasions, in the company of Protestant priests, dressed in their vestments, publicly before a great concourse of people; that he tried to obtain from the king the fruits of certain lands as a gift and arranged with the Earl of Argyll to sell them to him afterwards for 600 crowns; that he had carried on secret negotiations with the Ambassador of Flanders by night at a time when his Excellency did not enjoy good relations with that ambassador for well known causes. That he asked for and obtained audience of the king and queen separately from the ambassador, and had secured extraordinary presents; that in addition to speaking ill of the ambassador habitually before the great men and others of the court to the prejudice of the ambassador's reputation and consequently of the republic, he had either alone or with Lotti and Biondi concocted and then published a libellous book against the ambassador personally; that he several times attempted and offered money to secretly open the public packets of letters of the ambassador here in London, and recently at Dover, and finally it had become known that he had secretly sent copies of public letters to private individuals at Venice, separately from the public packet. Sig. Foscarini is collecting evidence upon these points, and he has recently succeeded in inducing Sig. Barbarigo to take the deposition upon oath of one who had been Muscorno's servant upon some of the particulars aforesaid. I will send word if anything further happens worthy of the notice of your Excellencies.
London, the 30th October, 1615.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 31. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 79. Pietro Contarini, Venetian ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador has arrived at Court, has seen their Majesties and negotiated with the ministers. He brings instructions to offer the intervention of his king with the Princes and those of the religion, in order to find some satisfactory solution of the present difficulties, and he expresses his interest in the well-being and greatness of this kingdom. But although they have thanked the king for the good will which he displays in these emergencies, they have none the less given the ambassador to understand that they are aware of the encouragement which he has always given to stir up similar movements, and their dissatisfaction with him.
The nuncio and the Spanish ambassador have made similar advances in the name of their princes. They have been well received and the ministers here would rather see them engaged upon these negotiations than the other, but the feeling of the other side towards them makes it clear that such offers serve no purpose except to express the good-will of their masters.
In order to prevent Royan from exacting the custom imposed by the duke of Rohan they are arming the ships in this port, and they wish to make use of some English and Scotch bertons as being better than the others. But the English ambassador offers a vigorous opposition to this, saying that it is contrary to the conventions that the ships of his king should defend the ports of others.
Bordeaux, the last day of October, 1615.


  • 1. i.e., Chateau Thierry and Epernay. Chauny is on the Oise.
  • 2. Probably a reference to the petition of Somerset to the king to grant him a general pardon under the great seal, although Foscarini is much behind hand with his information. See Gardiner, Hist, of England, ii, pp. 329, 330.
  • 3. Called the Baron d'Arlac in a despatch of Edmondes to the king from Paris, 26 Sept., 1615, O.S. State Papers, Foreign. France. Vol. 64.
  • 4. The particulars of the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury began to leak out in September, and towards the end of October the king appointed a commission to enquire into the matter.