Venice: December 1615, 1-15

Pages 71-81

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 1615, 1–15

Dec. 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 105. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I have seen the duke of Nevers, who arrived in Court last week. He told me that the nuncio and the English ambassador were negotiating for peace and asked if I had done anything in the name of your Excellencies. I replied that the republic would not neglect any office which it might believe to be useful for the present emergencies.
I told him that Sig. Gregorio Barbarigo had obtained leave to proceed to his charge in England.
Bordeaux, the 1st December, 1615.
Dec. 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 106. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The celebration of the mass and the blessing of the bridal pair took place on the 24th ult. His Majesty spent the evening with the queen, but has not been with her since, as it was sufficient that the marriage should be consummated to avoid future difficulties. The public entry into this city took place three days ago.
Bordeaux, the 1st December, 1615.
Dec. 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Francia. Venetian Archives. 107. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
There is not enough money here for ordinary requirements, and all the couriers who come this way are stopped, and the king's despatches taken from them. Quite recently the mails of England and Germany, with many others to His Majesty from Paris, were intercepted by the Prince and the letters burned. They are thus in great doubt, as they can neither send nor receive news.
Bordeaux, the 1st December, 1615.
Dec. 1. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 108. Ranier Zen, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
The duke of Saxony has departed, as I wrote that he would.
The English ambassador, by order of his king, has left Paris in great haste to go and find their Majesties and express his desire to intervene in order to arrange a settlement of their troubles. He also has various proposals to make to the queen with this view. Although this is in favour of peace, yet the papal nuncio, on hearing of these proposals of the ambassador, has started off before they have been made, with a show of being in favour of any reasonable accommodation with the princes, so as to entirely exclude from these negotiations the English ambassador, in whom the queen does not seem to repose much confidence in these affairs.
Turin, the 1st December, 1615.
Dec. 3. Collegio, Lettere. Venetian Archives. 109. To the Ambassador in England.
Notification of the election of the new doge.
The like to Rome, Germany, France, Spain, Savoy, Milan, Naples, Florence, Mantua.
Dec. 4. Collegio, Lettere. Venetian Archives. 110. To the King of Great Britain.
The doge [Giovanni Bembo] informs his Majesty of his election in place of M. Antonio Memmo, deceased.
The like to the Pope.
the Emperor.
the King and Queen of France.
the King of Spain.
the King of Poland.
the Duke of Savoy.
the Archdukes Maximilian and Albert.
the Governor of Milan.
the Viceroy of Naples.
the Republic of Genoa.
the Lords of Ragusa.
the States.
Prince Maurice.
the Dukes of Mantua, Modena and Parma.
the Electors of the Empire, ecclesiastical and secular.
the Duke of Lorraine.
Dec. 4. Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Venetian Archives. 111. To the Ambassador in England.
Since our communication of the 27th ult. the people of the archduke have constantly given fresh provocations, as they have joined a good number of Croatian horse and foot to the forces under Pettazzo, against whom the Proveditore did nothing more than the natural reprisals we wrote of. They have invaded Istria and burned Ospo, Gabrouizza, Besouizza and Lonchi, showing great barbarity at the last place, sparing nothing whether sacred or profane, and they have committed similar depredations at Marceniglia, territory of Raspo, in the territories of Barbana, San Vincenti and in the district round Pinguente, losing no opportunity of inflicting damage. This was easy, as the province is poor and open on all sides, being greatly exposed to sudden invasions.
Not content with this, they suddenly attacked the territory of Monfalcon, situate beyond the River Lisonzo and surrounded in great part by their states, where they burned seven places and sacked two others without distinction of persons and with the same impiety to churches, and without provocation from the people, who have been friendly with their neighbours. They would have done more but for the protection afforded by the land and fortress of Monfalcon, which stopped their further progress. On this account we have decreed various provision of captains and soldiers, both horse and foot, wherewith to protect our subjects and their property and to restrain this licence so far as we may.
We send you this for information, so that you may be able to reply that these evils originated with others.
We have shown our good faith in this matter, because on being requested by his Imperial Majesty to suspend attacks, with a promise to remedy the root of this evil of the Uscocchi, we contented ourselves by instructing our ambassador at Prague to agree to suspend, upon receiving this promise. But they, without awaiting a reply, have proceeded to hostilities, as mentioned above, and compel us to think of due provision; as we have justice on our side we hope that God will favour our cause.
The like to the ambassador at the Imperial Court, except the last paragraph.
Ayes 148.
Noes 1.
Neutrals 8.
Dec. 4. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 112. Gregorio Barbarigo and Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
According to the arrangement notified by us, we had audience of the queen on Sunday. The son of the earl of Worcester, the master of the horse, came with two very magnificent coaches belonging to Her Majesty to the house of me, Barbarigo, accompanied by the master of the ceremonies and several other cavaliers, with whom and with several other honourable and numerous companies we proceeded to Greenwich, and were introduced to Her Majesty, who, surrounded by an immense number of the leading nobility, of both sexes, was seated under the canopy.
On our arrival she rose and advancing a few steps received us very graciously. I, Foscarini, presented the Most Illustrious Barbarigo to her, saying that he had been sent by your Serenity as my successor and to serve her, as I made sure he would perfectly. After these words I, Barbarigo, delivered to her your Serenity's letters, employing the warmest terms I could to express the affection borne by your Excellencies towards her and the whole of her august family, in such form as I deemed most acceptable to her. She received and heard me with all courtesy and affability and chose to read with her own eyes the whole of the Ducal missive which she had at first given into the hands of her secretary, who opened it kneeling. She then replied, saying that she should ever be ready to do your Serenity all service, knowing that England was much beholden to you for the goodwill you bear her, expressions which we reciprocated, saying that one would write and the other report her speech verbally to your Serenity, who would much rejoice thereat. I, Foscarini, then added that it remained to me to return thanks for the most gracious favour and protection which she had extended to me during the five years that I had waited on her. In taking leave I asked her to believe that she had no servant whose will was more entirely devoted to her than mine. Thereupon, without allowing me to say more, Her Majesty turned towards me with extreme benignity of countenance, gesture and language, and expressed her wish to see me once again. After I had returned thanks for this fresh favour, we each of us added a few complimentary phrases, which were all graciously listened to and reciprocated. We then took leave. I, Foscarini, left a person to learn when it would please Her Majesty to see me, to whom she said, whenever I pleased, and then named today.
On Wednesday we went to the prince, to whom I, Barbarigo, presented myself while I, Foscarini, took leave. The first words purported that I was departing but that His Highness might rely on receiving perfect satisfaction from Barbarigo, who was taking my place, that I had served him with devotion and on returning to Venice I would report his good will and favour to your lordships. Barbarigo then presented his letters with a few complimentary phrases. The prince replied that he should ever be ready for the entire service of the State as were his parents, that he was much satisfied with the conduct of Foscarini and would always be glad to see Barbarigo. Throughout the interview he gave evident marks of his excellent tendency towards your Serenity. He also asked me, Barbarigo, about my journey and enquired of us whether we had yet received intelligence of the creation of the new doge. (fn. 1) I, Foscarini, then took leave, presenting the secretary Rizzardi, whom His Highness received graciously, as the king and queen had done at the last audience. I take this opportunity to inform your Serenity of the excellent opinion he leaves of himself at this Court, owing to the good service which he has rendered, to my entire satisfaction.
From London, the 4 December, 1615.
Dec. 4. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 113. Gregorio Barbarigo and Antonio Foscarini, Venetian Ambassadors in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassador of Brandenburg told us that the States have intelligence in the county of Ravensberg, which is a province of Cleves, and they have directed Count Henry to send forces to those parts and to put garrisons in various strong places there. He admitted that the Spaniards would raise objection to this, but said that the States would justify their action, saying that they were carrying out the treaty of Xanten. That the Elector is greatly dissatisfied at the continued detention of the places partly in the hands of Spain, and partly in those of the States and these things must finally end in war; that the prince, his son, remains with Maurice, and he has orders as soon as he perceives the turn taken by events, to take leave here and return to his master. To do this he has gone to Newmarket to an audience previously arranged by the king for the purpose.
The ambassador of the archduke is earnestly soliciting leave to go as soon as possible and he will assuredly set out one day next week. Thus the places remain in the hands of Spain and of those who possess them, as I, Foscarini, always predicted that they would, notwithstanding the treaty of Xanten and that the general opinion was the other way. With regard to the outcome, it is probable that if the fighting goes on in France matters will continue without any important change, but if peace is made there war will break out in the country of Cleves against the States.
The Most Christian Ambassador told me, Barbarigo, that he had not received letters from France for a month, but from other sources we hear that the king is strengthening his forces. On the other hand Condé has notably augmented his army and continues to swear in soldiers to serve the king under his leadership.
No fresh news has come from Brunswick since the advices reporting the relief of the town by Count Frederick of Solmes, by introducing 300 cart-loads of provisions and a good number of troops, which caused the siege to slacken. The count had his horse killed under him in an action there and a brother taken prisoner.
The earl of Argyll, the general in Scotland, has not yet returned, although he is understood to be operating successfully there; nevertheless the insurgents are still in considerable numbers and offer a stout resistance. However they must certainly yield, because no help can reach them from anywhere, and all the passes are closed, or at least the principal ones. (fn. 2)
All is quiet in Ireland and no news of moment comes from that quarter.
The person who came from the assembly of Grenoble in France (fn. 3) went on to the king four days ago and so did the king's secretary. It is said that the French ambassador having written to the marshal of Ancre and the High Chancellor on behalf of the marquis of Bonnivet, the marquis went to Calais, while the reply was expected, without saying a word to the ambassador. The latter on hearing of this sent at once to have him detained in the fortress at Calais, where he remains, awaiting his fate.
London, the 4 December, 1615.
Dec. 4. Inquisitori di Stato. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 114. Giovanni Rizzardo, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Inquisitors of State.
The ambassador of Flanders, by obtaining audience first for his leave taking, clearly gained an advantage over the Ambassador Foscarini, as his audiences have always come first. In the same way he had his last audience of the queen yesterday, and Sig. Foscarini to-day. This gives rise to the belief that the ambassadors of Flanders and Spain, united by past events, have joined together to procure these advantages, as in this particular nothing has been done without the Spanish ambassador's co-operation, as has been reported. As the ambassador of Flanders is not to have a successor, it is simply a question of establishing a precedent which may serve their interests upon other occasions. Sig. Foscarini is endeavouring to obtain a letter from the king deciding upon the place to be taken by the ambassadors of the republic and has asked for this through Sir [Henry] Wotton, who as a friend of His Majesty's secretary might facilitate the affair with him. However he has not been able to obtain anything. Since the representations made by me about the prejudice done to the republic if they spoke of coming after the kings, of which I wrote in my last, His Excellency has preferred no further requests. This is the present state of that affair, which I have thought it right to report.
Biondi has returned from his mission and he only stopped here two days, going afterwards to the king. I did not fail, in that time, to ask him to keep his promise to me about the book; but I found him much moved and he spoke very angrily about it. He said he was advised that scattered reports at Venice credited him with being the author of this book, and that the king's secretary himself asserted this, warning him to change his mind if he had any idea of going with the Ambassador Wotton, as he had said he intended to. For this reason he said that he wished to justify himself, as he had never been guilty of such an act, calling it a disgrace. He said he would willingly come to Venice, if necessary, to disculpate himself. I simply report his words to your Excellencies. He said that he had sat down to write and had actually written some pages against the Ambassador Foscarini to avenge himself for some slights, but that being in a better frame of mind he recognised his mistake, gave it up and did no more. I could get nothing further out of him.
London, the 4th December, 1615.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 5. Collegio, Secreta. Lettere Re. Venetian Archives. 115. Carolus, Magnæ Britanniæ Princeps, Eboraci, Cornubiæ et Albaniæ Dux, Salutem etc.
Cum prænobilis Eques, Antonius Foscarinus, Egregie apud Serenissimum parentem nostrum legatione defunctus ad Ser. V. reditum adornaret, ac sese nostra benevolentia et affectu dignissimum probarit; Eum hasce sinceri erga S.V. amoris nostre indices perferre voluimus, ut qui viva voce profitentem me, quanti ipsam et inclitam Venetam Remp. faciam, sepius audierit. Is ut nobis suo merito charissimus semper fuit, sic ipsius loco a vobis suffectum nobilissimum virum, Gregorium Barbaricum in Eundem benevolentiæ et affectus nostri locum suffecturos nos spondemus.
Dat. ad D. Jacobi 25 Novemb. 1615.
Carolus P. [autograph.]
A tergo: Serenissimo Principi ac Dominio, Dei Gratiæ Venetiarum Duci, amico nostro charissimo.
Dec. 8. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Savoia. Venetian Archives. 116. Antonio Donato, Venetian Ambassador in Savoy, to the Doge and Senate.
On coming out of the gallery, although it was four o'clock at night, and exceedingly cold, His Highness dismissed those who were following him, and with great melancholy asked whether the exchange of the royal spouses had taken place. When told that the Ambassador Contarini reported this to be the case, he said:
Signori Ambassadors, we have lost the kingdom of France, as Condé will either be destroyed or disarmed by promises. We shall soon lose England, as the marriage in negotiation between the second French princess and the prince there may easily take place, and thus these three crowns will shortly be united, while we shall be left alone and abandoned, and there will be no bridle to the vast ambition which aims at rendering all subject to it. I wonder that the most serene republic neither does nor says anything. Alone I can do little, but united we might accomplish a great deal, so that these alliances would bring no harm and our affairs would remain at peace. If they would agree to a purely defensive league, I would at once write to concur. He asked us to send to Venice a sheet containing some reasons out of many others in favour of such an alliance.
Turin, the 8th December, 1615.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 9. Collegio, Secreta. Lettere Re. Venetian Archives. 117. Jacobus Dei gratia etc. Domino Marco Antonio Memo, Vesteæ Reipub. Duci, amico nostro charissimo, Salutem.
Serenissime Princeps. Cum illustrissimus vir Antonius Foscarenus, Legatus vester apud nos quinque annorum spatio commoratus, nunc in Patriam mandato vestro sit redditurus, ipsum sine aliquo nostræ in eum voluntatis idque illustri et egregio testimonio discedere noluimus: Is provinciam suæ curæ et fidei commissam, summa cum laude, prudentia et dignitate administravit, nobis cumulate satisfecit, et id apud vos litteris nostris testatum eo nobis jucundius fuit, quod in hujus temporis curriculo, nihil quidem prætermisit, quod ad benevotentiam inter nos. Rempub. vestram conservendam, augendam et confirmandam pertinere posset. Hanc animi nostri significationem vobis gratam esse cupimius, virum dignum diligimus, et hac de causa sui honoris et dignitatis amplitudinem desideramus; Qui enim in negotiis maximis tractandis Republicæ vestræ fruitum afferre, mandatæ perficere, et nobis gratum facere curavit, cum suo munere optime functum esse dicere possumus. Ipsum de nostra in Rempub. vestram benevolentia et existimationem nonnulla, pro sua probitate relaturum esse confidimus. Nosque Serenitatis Vestræ affirmamus semper cum se obtulerit occasio ad Repub. vestræ commoda paratissimos esse.
Datum ex aula nostra apud Newmarket 29° die Novembris, 1615.
Jacobus R. [autograph.]
A tergo: Serenissimo Principi ac Domino Marco Antonio Memmo, Vesteæ Reipublicæ Duci, amico nostro charissimo.
Dec. 9. Inquisitori di Stato. Venetian Archives. 118. Giovanni Rizzardo, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Inquisitors of State.
The Spanish ambassador has not yet been to call upon Sig. Barbarigo, and nothing more has passed between them than what I reported on the 20th ult. about sending his interpreter. His Excellency replied to this by sending his steward. Thus the two ambassadors remain without visiting each other. There is no other reason except the possible pretension of Spain not to treat him as an equal but to demand a superiority of title. On the other hand the Resident of Florence has called upon Sig. Barbarigo and a good understanding exists between them. I report this as in duty bound. I have nothing further to add except that we are expecting to leave every day.
London, the 9th December, 1615.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 14. Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 119. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the Ambassador Foscarini had taken leave of the queen, he was informed that the king wished to see him again before his departure and would not consider him as completely dismissed. His lordship accordingly betook himself to Newmarket the day before yesterday to receive His Majesty's favour and make his last bow.
The ambassador having at length taken formal leave of their Majesties, left this city on Tuesday on his way to the sea.
The progress of the charges against and the multiplication of the accomplices of the Earl of Somerset increase daily. The Lieutenant of the Tower was executed recently and on Tuesday a distiller who made the poison suffered. (fn. 4) Owing to the confessions of these it is now considered certain that the Earl of Somerset and his wife will suffer the extreme penalty. They would proceed towards this with all speed if he had not aggravated his offence by other crimes. He has taken bribes from the ambassador of Spain, and in this also his chain of accomplices appear. Of these, up to the present, the Vice-Admiral has been arrested, (fn. 5) and they have sent to Spain to fetch the ambassador resident with his Catholic Majesty. When he was here last year he told the king that all his most intimate secrets were regularly revealed to the king of Spain. It seemed even then that he meant to designate the Earl of Somerset, but at that time, owing to his greatness, it was not easy to tax him with crime (essendo qui disse al Re che erano rivelati puntualmente al re di Spagna tutti i più reconditi secrete della Maestà Sua parendo che rolesse accennar fin all' hora di questo Conte di Somerset al quale tuttavia per la grandezza sua, non era cosi facile l'attribuir alcun delitto). (fn. 6) These events are expected to cause grave prejudice to the affairs of Spain at this Court, their most powerful supporters falling at one and the same time, and their methods having made them most hateful to the others.
The French ambassador has received full information from his Most Christian Majesty from Bordeaux about the completion of the marriage, and that His Majesty will stay for some days in that town, in order, by means of his authority in that district, to reduce to obedience those who are alienated. For this reason he gave a ceremonial banquet to the Spanish ambassador and to the ambassador of Flanders before the latter left, and I hear that the Spanish ambassador is making preparations for various festivities when he receives the news that the marriages have taken place in Spain also. In this way these ministers do what they can to advance the reputation of their affairs. They do not deny, however, that the army of the princes continues to augment daily, but they say that very extensive levies are being made by His Majesty. Here they are awaiting results with the closest attention. It seems that the Prince of Condé having passed the Loire has increased his reputation, even although the marriages have taken place. Though it is impossible to prevent them yet they continue their demands for the reform of the Government, the avenging of the late King's death and a revision of the money squandered to the present time.
M. de Montbarot has arrived in the name of the Princes, and has gone to the Court. It is not yet known what he discussed with His Majesty. Anticipations are increasing here about the line of action to be followed by the Huguenots. As several of their principal partisans have declared for the Princes many believe that the whole body may take a decisive step.
The ambassador of Berne is here. He does not seem to attach any importance to the opposition offered by the French with his masters, but says that he has had letters informing him of what M. de la Castiglia is doing against him and what will be said to him in reply.
London, the 14 December, 1615.
Dec. 14. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 120. Gregorio Barbarigo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Count Henry of Nassau, in conformity with the intentions and instructions of the States, has entered the county of Ravensberg and was received there without any difficulty; because after he had withdrawn the thirty-two companies of horse and the infantry which he had with him in the bishopric of Minden (Membden) held by the duke of Luneburg as administrator, and situate between the states of the duke of Brunswick and this same county of Ravensberg, the Prince of Brandenberg, sent at the same time to treat with the Governors and to appoint a special individual to induce them to ask for some garrison from the States, as if they remained unguarded the Spaniards might easily come down upon them. They were afterwards more easily persuaded to receive him when they heard that Count Henry was so strong and near at hand and that he could force them to. The duke of Brunswick being apprised of the proximity of these forces of the States to his dominions, sent to ask Count Henry not to do them any harm. To this he received no reply except that he was general of those troops and he had definite orders and had to execute the decision of the ambassadors of his masters, who had met at Brunswick to arrange a settlement. Besides this affair the ambassadors have very full commissions for negotiating a league with the Hanse towns, as I hear; they have already arranged one with Hamburg and they are expected to do the same with Embden, Bremen, Lunenburg and Magdeburg, who have sent their deputies to treat. The duke of Luneburg also was to send his ambassadors for the 25th ult. to Brunswick to negotiate a league for himself.
The letter written by the Prince of Brandenburg upon the departure of his ambassador from here simply states that he is recalling him in order to converse with him about passing events. The ambassador took the letter to the king and obtained licence from His Majesty to depart. The king spoke to him at this audience about the reply sent to him by the States, which was reported to your Serenity in the last dispatches; and hinted that his prince concurred in the same opinion. The ambassador replied that he had received no commissions upon these particulars, but that he really did not see any reason why they should at present enter into any other agreement than the treaty of Santen. The king answered that the States should agree to promise absolutely, as the Archduke desired, not to return to the county of Cleves unless it were openly invaded, and he on his side would draw up a document that they might enter whenever they wished if the treaty of Santen was not kept; although the ambassador objected that such a promise was of no use because of secret dispensations, His Majesty replied that it could be made in good faith and that if the affairs of France were settled when the king returned to Paris, he would instruct his ambassador to treat with his Most Christian Majesty, so that it might be carried out in concert. For the rest he promised every assistance to His Electoral Highness, so that his just interests should not suffer prejudice anywhere.
London, the 14 December, 1615.
Dec. 15. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives. 121. Pietro Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
They are anxiously awaiting the report of the duke of Nevers upon the results of his negotiations with the Princes. Meanwhile the English ambassador has returned to his offers, in the name of his king, to intervene for an accommodation. He has also negotiated with the ministers, pointing out to them that his master is interested in the peace of this kingdom and will always use his influence to maintain and increase the authority of its ruler. He showed them at the same time that this was not a matter of religion and they might have confidence in his negotiations. He also has left, for this time. He brings nothing more than what was laid upon Nevers, who is to negotiate for a settlement upon the same general grounds.
Bordeaux, the 15 December, 1615.


  • 1. Marc Antonio Memmo died on 31 October, 1615. His successor, Giovanni Bembo, was elected on the 2nd December following.
  • 2. The earl of Argyll himself gave an account of the reduction of the Macdonalds of Kintyre before the Privy Council of Scotland on 24 November, 1615. Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. x, pp. 757 et seqq.
  • 3. Biondi.
  • 4. James Franklin.
  • 5. Sir William Monson was the admiral, and he was arrested for complicity in Overbury's murder, but Barbarigo is probably confounding him with his brother, Sir Thomas Monson, master of the armoury at the Tower, who was accused by Helwys, and whose arrest caused a much greater sensation.
  • 6. Gardiner says Somerset appears to have kept himself clear.' Hist. of England, ii, p. 217.