Venice: February 1516

Pages 280-285

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 2, 1509-1519. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1867.

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February 1516

Feb. 6. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 53. 682. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Arrival of an Imperial ambassador, who was a native of Asti, and a creature of the Emperor's. The object of his mission was known only to the ministry, but it was generally reported that he was come to confirm the league between the Emperor, King [Ferdinand] the Catholic, and King Henry, though some said he was come to ask for money for an expedition against King Francis and the Signory. Went with the French ambassador to Greenwich, where they found the Imperial and Spanish envoys, who had already had that day two conferences with the King. The French ambassador, who on that morning had received letters from his King, presented missives to his Majesty, which he read apart with the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, and then returned to the ambassador and held a long conference with him. Did not know what they discussed, as they were at some distance from him, but the ambassador told him the letters purported that King Francis intended to preserve the peace with King Henry, and would agree that the Queen of Scotland should return to Scotland; that all her jewels and other things taken from her should be restored; that she should receive security for her dower, and that the Royal children—he did not know that one of them was dead—should be consigned to the guardianship of the nobles, as it was undesirable they should remain as wards, either of their mother, or of the Duke of Albany, who on their death would succeed to the crown. Should King Henry object to this proposal, King Francis was willing to refer the matter to arbitration, having returned [from Italy] to France in order to give him more frequent knowledge of his affairs, for which he hoped to receive a corresponding return. The King answered that King Francis must beware lest the affairs of Scotland should interrupt their friendship; (fn. 1) that it was not the custom amongst sovereigns to refer their disputes to judges; and that he meant himself to be judge in the affairs of Scotland, without however swerving from the alliance between them, as, according to the articles, the Scotch business did not necessarily break the existing peace.
The King inquired whether he had any newsletter (fn. 2) from the State. Answered in the negative, though he wished to speak with his Majesty about matters of moment, and said, as the Imperial and Spanish ambassadors were at hand, that he had determined to delay till another occasion. The King said, “You shall have audience when you please, but we greatly marvel at your not receiving letters from the Signory, so many events having happened and happening daily.”
It was more than ever necessary to cultivate the friendship of King Henry, who was able to supply the enemies of Venice with money, without openly declaring himself. In London there were embassies from all the greatest princes of Christendom, some seeking for money, others for favour, and all receiving letters weekly for the King; whereas the Signory, who had greater need of his Majesty than any of them, never wrote. Was therefore unable to negotiate and exert himself as he could wish.
Fears war between England and Scotland, and should the most Christian King declare himself for the latter, the English would make a demonstration against France, without, however, invading the French territory, as in the time of King Lewis. It was desirable that Venice should arrange the Scotch difficulties to the satisfaction of the two crowns.
London, 6th February 1516.
[Italian, 3¾ pages, or 78 lines.]
Feb. 7. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 54. 683. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Received the Signory's letters of the 28th December and 16th January, with duplicates addressed to Andrea Badoer. Read them to Cardinal Wolsey. Had their contents translated into Latin. Inquired the object of the Imperial ambassador's mission to England. Said he apprehended lest the confederacy between the Empire, Spain, and England should cause King Henry to supply money for the expedition against King Francis in Italy, and for the defence of Brescia and Verona. Compared the fickleness of Maximilian with the constancy of the Venetian republic; and warned the Cardinal that injury done to Venice would be detrimental to England herself, for that the Emperor was endeavouring to deprive the King both of his money and of his friends. Deprecated hostilities between England and France, and referred to the popularity of King Francis.
In reply, the Cardinal used the words of the prophet David, “trepidaverunt ubi non erat timor,” and reiterated that the Emperor would not receive the smallest mite from England to injure the Signory; and that, were it otherwise, he would say so, for the confederation did not prohibit the King from giving his money to whom he pleased. Rejoined that it was to be feared lest the Emperor should employ the money against Venice, although it were not given him for that purpose, and that the maintenance of Venice might prove very beneficial to England.
The Cardinal being then sent for, went to the Bishop of Durham, with whom he (Guistinian) held a similar conversation, and who treated the matter jocosely, saying that England chose to benefit the Venetians despite themselves. The English Court bore the worst possible will towards King Francis, and was of opinion that he would seize the Venetian territory; so by seeking to expel him from Italy, either openly or secretly, they imagined that they were benefiting Venice. Told the Bishop of Durham that the King of France was the Signory's sole supporter in Italy; that the King of Spain, when allied with Venice, had delivered Brescia to the Emperor, and that it might thence be inferred in whose hands the Venetian territory would rest if King Francis were expelled from Italy. Still laughing, the Bishop replied: “You will see a few days hence that what this kingdom is doing is all for the benefit of your State” Did not mention his suspicions to King Henry, the Cardinal having told him that such an announcement would be displeasing to his Majesty.
London, 7th February 1516.
[Italian, 5½ pages, or 113 lines.]
1516. Feb. 8. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 55. 684. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Notwithstanding the King's answer to the proposal to settle the disputes with France concerning Scotland by arbitration, three auditors were assigned to the French ambassador, who was introduced to the Privy Council that day (8th Feb.), where he made the proposal; and the Council had determined that the disputes should be decided by arbitration. Had heard from the French ambassador that King Francis would not send a proxy to stand godfather in his stead for the child to which Queen Katharine was expecting to give birth, because the invitation had only been given verbally by the Duke of Suffolk. Would endeavour through Cardinal Wolsey to adjust this misunderstanding.
London, 8th February 1516.
[Italian, 1¼ page, or 26 lines.]
Feb. 11. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxi. p. 471. 685. Marino Giorgio, Venetian Ambassador at the Papal Court, to the Signory.
Letters dated Florence the 8th and 9th February.
A league was proclaimed at Naples, in Spain, and in Germany, between the Emperor, the King of Spain, the King of England, and the Archduke of Burgundy; the alliance with the most Christian King being maintained. The Pope said he meant to be with France and the Signory.
On the 2nd, the day of the Purification, the Pope went to the church of St. . . . The torches were borne by the ambassadors of France and Spain, and the Pope's canopy was carried by the ambassadors of England and Venice, and the Magnifico Lorenzino (de' Medici).
[Extract, Italian.]
Feb. 12. Lettere del Collegio (Secreta), File no. 4. 686. The Doge and College to Sebastian Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England.
Give account of preparations for the siege of Brescia. Had taken into their service Theodoro Triulzi as Governor-general, with 200 men-at-arms in steel armour and 100 light horse, with an annual stipend of 30,000 ducats. King Francis had sent Mons. de Lautrec to command his forces.
Feb. 12. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 56. 687. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
On the 10th had communicated to the King, at Greenwich the newsletters received from the State, and other advices from his correspondents at Constantinople. The King said he was glad to receive frequent news of the Turk, and that he was already acquainted with the Italian news, but that the siege of Brescia had been raised.
Considering it unadvisable to mention the moneys sent to Germany, in order to avoid exasperating the King, requested him to let the Imperial ambassador understand that he disapproved of the Emperor's occupying Brescia and Verona. Laconic reply of the King, that the Emperor complained of the siege of his own towns by Venice. Since the battle of Marignano, where the King of France defeated the Switzers with the aid of the Venetian army, the bias of all England towards the Signory had much changed; the whole country rejoicing at the Emperor's successes at Brescia. Some of the lords had said that Brescia and Verona did not rightfully belong to Venice. Discussed the matter with a person who had broached it to him, and proved to him that Venice acquired them in just war against the Dukes of Milan. The Lords had also said, wishing to detach Venice from France, that France, on obtaining peaceable possession of the Milanese, would seize the Venetian territory. Communicated this intelligence to the French ambassador, that he might inform King Francis that the State was held in account by other powers as well as by himself, and thus encourage him to hasten the recovery of the Signory's cities.
London, 12th February 1516.
[Italian, 2½ pages, or 51 lines.]
Feb. 18. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 57. 688. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
On receiving the Signory's letters of 14th of January, by King Henry's post from Rome, had endeavoured to obtain better information about the remittances. Repetition of the information already given. Statement made by a faithful Venetian, that 20,000l. had reached Nuremberg, for the Emperor. Apparent confirmation of the fact through the succour sent by the Emperor to Brescia, though the fact was doubtful, for in the first place some at least of the English ministry would have scrupled to affirm an untruth upon oath; secondly, the new Imperial ambassador would not have come to ask for money, had his sovereign received such a considerable sum so recently; thirdly, because it was reported on good authority that the English ministry had declared to the Imperial ambassador that King Henry would not give the Emperor a single ducat, until he performed his promise of entering Italy with a large army, to expel King Francis. Finally, understood from authentic sources that the King had cancelled the order for the remittance of the money. Did not know whether his own exertions had induced this result, or whether the English ministry had perceived their error.
On that day peace had been proclaimed between King Henry and the Archduke Prince of Castile.
London, 18th February 1516.
[Italian, 2 pages, or 43 lines.]
Feb. 20. Lettere del Collegio (Secreta). File no. 4. 689. The Doge and College to Sebastian Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England.
As they have now the means of transmitting their letters in safety, would not fail to acquaint Giustinian with all the Italian news, for communication to the King and Cardinal and other personages. Send an account of the events which had occurred since their last despatches. To remonstrate modestly with the King, stating that the treasure and blood of Christendom should be expended and shed against the Infidels, whose power and ambition were so notoriously terrible.
1516. Feb. 20. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 58. 690. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Public announcement of the death of Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Arragon. The King had appointed two ambassadors to the Archduke, to condole with him; and the Archduke had likewise sent two ambassadors to England, to inform King Henry that their master had been made heir of all King Ferdinand's realms. The intelligence, it was supposed, had been kept secret during some days on account of the expected delivery of Queen Katharine, who, on that day (the 20th) had given birth to a daughter. Would offer the due congratulations on behalf of the State; had an heir male been born, would have done so already. Recommends the Signory to forward congratulory missives, and also newsletters (summarii de nove).
London, 20th February 1516.
[Italian, 1 page, or 20 lines.]
Feb. 24. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 59. 691. The Same to the Council of Ten.
Details the christening of the Princess Mary on the 21st February. Sponsors, Cardinal Wolsey and the Duchess of Norfolk. Supposes this choice to have been made because the King did not wish to make any distinction between the representatives of the Emperor, France, Spain, and Venice. Considers this an act of prudent impartiality. On that day (24th February) went to the King, and congratulated him on the birth of his daughter and the well-being of the Queen; adding that the State would have been yet more pleased had the child been a son. The King returned thanks, saying, “We are both young; if it was a daughter this time, by the grace of God the sons will follow.” Confidential communication made by the King that France was negotiating with the Emperor for peace, without the inclusion of Venice. After the King had departed, remained with the Cardinal and appointed a conference with him concerning the affair of the wines of Candia. Confirmation of the King's statement by the Cardinal. Replied cautiously both to the King and to the Cardinal. Had not imparted the matter to the French ambassador, deeming it his duty in the first place to announce it to the Signory, proceeding as it did “ex ore Regis.”
London, 24th February 1516.
[Italian, 2¾ pages, or 58 lines.]


  • 1. “Ma che el doveria dar opera che se havesse causa per le cose di Scotia non se interrumpesse tal amicitia.”
  • 2. “Lettera alcuna de nove.”