Venice: April 1516

Pages 292-299

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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April 1. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter do. 66. 707. Sebastian Giustinian to the Council of Ten.
Gives an account of abusive language concerning the mutable policy of Venice, addressed to him at the court by two lay lords, great personages, who, amongst other things, said, “Isti Veneti sunt piscatores.” Replied that such an assertion would probably not have been made by one who had ever seen Venice, her Senate and nobility; but that nevertheless the Christian faith had been founded by fishermen, and that the Venetian fishermen had defended it against the Infidel. They rejoined that the fishermen of Venice were expert in seizing what belonged to others, and had filched something from all the potentates in the world; inquiring by what right Venice held Cyprus, which ought to belong to their King. Stated that Cyprus was voluntarily surrendered to Venice by the Queen, a Venetian gentlewoman, the sister of Georgio Cornaro.
The Cardinal then commenced, as usual, to complain of the King of France, accusing him of keeping Albany in Scotland, in spite of the league with King Lewis. Replied that he had seen a copy of letters from the King of France to King Henry, and that the former seemed extremely desirous of arranging this dispute. Then made an appointment to meet the Cardinal on the morrow, in order to clear the Signory from the above-mentioned accusations.
London, 1st April 1516.
[Italian, 2¾ pages, or 59 lines.]
April 2. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 67. 708. The Same to the Same.
Met the Cardinal according to appointment. He said the Emperor was in the Veronese with a large army, and then began Iris usual complaints of the French King, roundly abusing the French ambassador. He stated that King Henry and himself desired peace with King Francis, to whom he wished the Signory to announce their good will. Exculpated the Signory from the charge brought against them, that they were rapacious and treacherous fishermen, and complained that the King had accused them of great perfidy; which expression had been repeated by many others. Defended the Signory's policy with respect to the aid which they rendered to King Francis, while endeavouring to recover Milan, as he was the ally both of themselves and of England. Said, moreover, that if it was meant that the Signory had broken faith by first allying themselves with the Pope, the Emperor, and England, and afterwards with King Lewis, it was the fault of the late King of Spain; for he and the Signory sent their armies to expel the French from Italy, subsidised 18,000 Switzers, who were paid entirely by the Signory, and by these means drove the French out of Italy; but afterwards, when Brescia was surrendered, the Spaniards refused to deliver it to the Signory's agents, and gave it up to the Emperor, which was contrary to the articles of the league, and induced Venice to make peace with King Lewis, who had promised to restore all he had taken from them. Said further that, when King Lewis was at war with England, Venice gave him no succour of men or money.
The Cardinal listened graciously, and answered that if the King had made use of the word perfidy, he (Giustinian) must have misunderstood its application, as the King did not accuse Venice of perfidy, but the King of France, who intended to deceive the Signory, and was endeavouring to make agreement with the Emperor to their ruin. Pretended to believe he had made a mistake, and requested the Cardinal's good offices in favour of Venice. In answer the Cardinal embraced him and said, “Nil timeatis, for we are by no means going to abjure your friendship.”
London, 2nd April 1510.
[Italian, 5¾ pages, or 115 lines.]
April 8. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxii. p. 104. 709. Mark Anthony Colonna, Captain General of the Imperial army, to the Emperor Maximilian.
Letter in cipher, deciphered with great difficulty by the Venetian Zuan Soro. It is dated the 2nd, from Lodi. Requests the Emperor either to send him money for the pay of the lansquenets, or else to come himself in person, as the agents of the King of England refuse to pay the 20,000 ducats to any but the Switzers, and that sum will not suffice, for 4,000 ducats additional are needed for another Swiss company 4,000 strong. Should the money not be sent within a week, the Switzers intend to depart, and will be compelled, to quit Lodi for want of provisions.
April 9. Lettere del Collegio (Secreta). File no. 6. 710. The Doge and College to Sebastian Giustinian, Ambassador in England.
Commend his replies to the King and Cardinal. Give account of the affairs of the Romagna. The armies of the Duke Lorenzo de' Medici, and of Francesco Maria della Rovere, were both in the field. The troops of Duke Lorenzo had taken the castle of St. Constanzo by storm, and put many Spaniards within to the sword. Francesco Maria had taken Monte Barozo by storm, and put the garrison to the sword in retaliation. Francesco Maria had also stormed and taken the castle of Mondolfo, because it enabled Duke Lorenzo to cut off his supplies. Francesco Maria was wounded by a musket shot, on one side of his head near the ear, the ball passing to the shoulder, but the injury was not considered serious, though he had to quit the camp, and was conveyed by water to Ancona. He (Giustinian) is not to quote the Signory as authority for this intelligence, but in case of need he may give the true account, with suitable circumspection and reserve. The 400 spears sent by the King of France to aid Duke Lorenzo, had passed through Rimini.
April 12. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxii. p. 113. 711. Alliance between England and France.
Report in Venice that an adjustment was on foot; and letters from France stated that King Francis meant to form a close alliance with the King of England, ceding Scotland to him, and a part of the kingdom . . . . . .; (fn. 1) so that King Henry would send no more money to the Emperor.
April 14. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 68. 712. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
News had reached the King by way of Flanders that the Emperor had advanced with a powerful army to the suburbs of Milan, and that the army of France and Venice had retreated; but subsequently letters from the King of France, dated the 2nd, announced that the Emperor had proceeded to the neighbourhood of Milan, but re-crossed the Adda, on perceiving the determination of the people of the town and duchy to maintain their allegiance to the King of France. The English ministry did not believe this intelligence. The adverse tidings produced no stir, and occasioned no further remittance of money. Had ascertained from an authentic source that 150,000 crowns, received from the King of England, had been actually distributed amongst the Imperial army.
Cardinal Wolsey and the Bishop of Durham had apologized for the abuse of Venice already detailed. Answered that, their interpretation of the King's language being satisfactory, it was indifferent what opinion might be entertained of the Venetians by others.
Had that day been visited by the Papal nuncio, Francesco Chieregato, who had arrived on the 13th. Reminded him of the favours received by his uncle, the Bishop of Concordia, from the Signory. He said he should have great power with the King and the Cardinal, as he was the bearer of very strong letters from the Pope, who was endeavouring to regain this kingdom, which had become somewhat alienated from him, owing to this new friendship with France. The nuncio also said he was not come, according to the common belief, as collector of Peter's pence, but to negotiate public affairs, and especially a general peace, or at least a four years' truce; and promised to acquaint him with his progress, provided he (Giustinian) informed the Signory, whose agents had never announced the good offices which he had effected with the King of Spain and the Swiss Cardinal of Sion. Was cautioned to avoid open display of intimacy with him.
Does not know whether his frequent letters have reached the Council of Ten, or have miscarried in passing through Germany or France, through the negligence of the French secretaries. His despatches of the 30th ult. and 2nd instant were detained at Calais by the King's command, to see what the French ambassador in England had written, it being suspected by the Lords that he wrote to the worst of his knowledge. It being discovered that he had done so, he was severely reprimanded by the Cardinal. His (Giustinian's) letters being written in cipher, trusts they have proved unintelligible. Understands they were allowed to be conveyed to the French court.
London, 14th April 1516.
[Italian, 3¾ pages, or 80 lines.]
April 18. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxii. p. 128. 713. Giovanni Badoer, Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Lyons, 8th and 9th April.
Assurances of King Francis that he would not desert the State; that he had made arrangements for an agreement with the King of England, by whom the Emperor was supplied with money, by ceding Scotland to him; and that the adjustment would be easy, because King Henry laid claim to a share in Castile in right of his wife, the daughter of the late King.
April 20. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 69. 714. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Belief at the English court of false news concerning the Emperor's successes in the Milanese, and the retreat of the French and Venetians. Was unwilling to contradict the assertions of the King and the ministry.
Had recently visited Cardinal Wolsey, who regretted the probable effusion of Christian blood in Italy, which might have been avoided, if the King of France had maintained a good understanding with England. He complained, as usual, of the Duke of Albany, and expressed anxiety for peace, but believed that the ambassadors who were expected from Scotland would be guided solely by the will of King Francis.
The Cardinal expatiated on the ambition of the King of France, for which, he said, the world did not suffice, and that he was then endeavouring to obtain Naples from the Archduke. The Cardinal regretted that Venice would be ruined through her good faith. Replied that he believed the French King had every reason to maintain a good understanding with England. Hint dropped by the Cardinal that he would much approve of the Signory's mediation between the two crowns.
London, 20th April 1516.
P. S.—Expected arrival in London on the morrow of the French and Scottish ambassadors.
[Italian, 4¼pages, or 91 lines.]
1516. April 22. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxii. pp. 140, 141. 715. England, Scotland, and the Easterlings.
Letter communicated to the Signory by the Ferrarese ambassador, received from his Duke, Don Alfonso, dated the 20th.
There were advices from Spain that the Duke of Najara and the Marquis of Villena had recaptured their castles and towns, of which they were deprived by the late King; and that the King of England was apprehensive about the affairs of Scotland, because the Scots were aided by the King of Denmark and the other Easterlings (“Sterlini,” Hansards or Hanse towns).
April 24. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxii. p. 145. 716. Giovanni Badoer, Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Lyons, 16th April.
King Francis intended to arrange matters with the King of England, whom he knew to be the person by whom the whole of the present war against him was waged, and that the King of England had sent and continued sending money to the Emperor for payment of the troops.
April 25. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxii. p. 147. 717. Return of Andrea Badoer from England to Venice.
Note by Sanuto that on that day, at the vesper hour, Andrea Badoer, knight, who had been seven years ambassador in England, arrived. He had quitted Mirano on that day, and landed at St. Michiel de Murano, where sundry patricians, including Marin Sanuto, were awaiting him. He crossed himself with the relic of the most holy Cross, and was accompanied by the patricians to his dwelling. Badoer was looking very well indeed. He had been four months on the journey, having quitted London in December.
April 26. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxii. p. 149. 718. Return of Andrea Badoer to Venice.
Appearance on that morning in the College of Andrea Badoer, knight, accompanied by his relations. Made a brief report of England, for when commencing with the account of his departure seven years ago, the Doge referred him to the Senate, telling him there was no occasion to state the cause of his mission, as circumstances were changed. On his homeward journey, having received a letter from the State desiring him to see King Francis at Avignon, went back unwillingly, and spoke to the King at Lyons. Was short of money, but obtained a remittance on the road. At length reached Milan, and came on by the “via Romea” to —, and then to Venice. Had been on this embassy during seven years and — days. Presented a letter from the King of England to the Signory, much in his praise. The Doge commended him, and referred him to the Senate.
Perusal in the Senate in the afternoon of six letters from Sebastian Giustinian, ambassador in England, dated 29 and 30 March, and 8, 9 and 12 April; strict injunctions being given to keep their contents very secret.
[Extract, Italian.]
1516. April 26. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 70. 719. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Arrival in London on the 24th of the Scottish ambassadors, together with the ambassador from King Francis lately resident in Scotland. Visited them. They were commissioned by the King of France and by the kingdom of Scotland to settle the disputes with the King of England.
Receipt on the 25th of a letter from King Francis dated the 17th, addressed to King Henry, acquainting him with the flight of the Emperor and his army, and that they were already out of Italy. Great surprise of the English ministers, who anticipated a contrary result, in which case it was considered certain that they would have declared themselves. Change of policy considered possible, for, although no manifest signs of war had been visible, yet ships and ammunition were being prepared, some said against Scotland, others against France; though the truth was only known to the King and four of his councillors, who kept all secret. Recall of the French ambassador hitherto resident in London, Intended to accompany him towards the coast. As the road to Italy through France is now open, requests them to write.
London, 26th April 1516.
[Italian, 1½ page, or 31 lines.]
April 28. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxii. pp. 151, 152. 720. Zacaria Loredan, Bailiff of Crema, to the Signory.
Transmits letters from the Emperor, intercepted in the Valtellina, dated 18 April, addressed to the Marquis of Brandenburg and other German and Swiss commanders, urging them to wait, as he would soon send them their money, and apologizing for not having sent it before, on the plea of not having known that the Brescians (quelli di Brexa) had seized the money sent for his account by the King of England.
April 28. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxii. p. 158. 721. Giovanni Badoer, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Signory.
Lyons, 18th and 19th April.
King Francis was sending Monsieur de Boissi, the Lord Steward, and six others into Picardy with the agents of the Archduke, to discuss the affairs of Scotland and of the kingdom of Naples.
April 29. Original Letter Book, St. Mark's Library, Letter no. 71. 722. Sebastian Giustinian to the Signory.
Had heard from two trustworthy persons that the King had again remitted a large sum, part in cash, and a greater amount in bills of exchange, payable in divers places in Germany. One of the informants rated the entire sum at 150,000 crowns; the other did not specify any amount. Both spoke on the authority of the Frescobaldo firm, which was commissioned to make the payments where the King pleased, and said that the money was for the pay of the Imperial army, “cum hac lege,” that it was not to be disbursed until after the receipt of fresh advices from London.
The terms of the contract allowing time to prevent the payment, went immediately to Cardinal Wolsey, and told him what he had heard, expressing surprise, because the Emperor, having suffered defeat, could not return into Italy, whatever promises he might make; that even were he to return he would not find provisions, as King Francis had confiscated the property of the Imperial partisans in the Milanese, and banished them; that it would be very difficult for the Emperor to raise a fresh army speedily; that the money of the King of England could only exasperate the King of France; that this money would merely retard the recovery of Brescia and Verona by the Signory, who was bound to England by ancient friendship and by the recent confederacy; that the Cardinal should also remember that unprofitable expenditure subjected those who made it to contempt abroad and to great complaints and discontent at home; and that he, the Cardinal, who ruled everything (che governa il tutto), would be more subject to such calumnies than any other person, and was playing a very perilous game.
Reply of Cardinal Wolsey, who returned thanks for a communication indicating so much love for the King and for himself, but declared that those who gave the information “mentierunt in caput suum.” He said the King had never even thought of doing what was attributed to him, as was evident from the last letters received by King Henry from King Francis, purporting that the Emperor and his army had escaped into Germany from lack of money and provisions. This could not have been the case had England supplied funds, and still less was it credible that the King should give the Emperor money to return to Italy. With regard to Brescia and Verona, he said that no sovereign was so anxious for the welfare of Venice as King Henry; nor would he injure her with his money, which he was, however, at liberty to spend as he pleased, especially on behalf of the Emperor, in connexion with the Catholic King. (fn. 2) He said, in conclusion, “ But at any rate beware lest you be deluded and deceived by those in whom you trust, as I have told you repeatedly.”
London, 29th April 1516.
[Italian, 4 pages, or 90 lines.]
April 29. Misti Consiglio X. v. xl. p. 7. 723. The Council of Ten to Sebastian Giustinian, Ambassador in England.
Had heard of complaints made against the Signory in England, and were reassured by his letters. Their sincerity was manifest, and should be known to the King and the Cardinal. They engaged and paid the 18,000 Switzers, and also gave the Spanish army upwards of 100,000 ducats, but Spain did not make the promised return. They had no alternative but to make an agreement with his most Christian Majesty, though before they negotiated with the late King Lewis, all their confederates had concluded and sworn to a league with the Emperor, to the Signory's ruin. They made war on no one, but were compelled to defend themselves. Repeat assurances of their devotion to King Henry, whose love they esteem as much as that of any other Christian sovereign, and whose power, goodness, friendliness, and rare and most excellent endowments of mind and body, are very well, known to them; and this he is to affirm to the King.
Perceiving what Cardinal Wolsey said to him on the subject, have written to their ambassador in France to urge King Francis so to act that King Henry may have no cause for complaint; and do not doubt the willingness of King Francis to act accordingly.
Recount the movements of the Imperialists and Switzers in Lombardy, and of the contributions exacted by the latter at Bergamo, which entailed the destruction of chalices, church plate, and crucifixes. Are anxious to avoid a general engagement.
To assure the Cardinal that they place great trust in him, and request him to favour the interests of the State. Had received the enclosed advices of the Turks having approached the Venetian confines. The discord amongst Christians invites this attack.
[Italian, 86 lines.]
April 29. Misti Consiglio X. v. xl. p. 7. 724. The Council of Ten and Junta to Pietro Pasqualigo, Ambassador in France.
By Giustinian's letters they learn that the King of England, Cardinal Wolsey, and other lords are ill disposed towards the most Christian King and the Signory. Acquaint him with this intelligence that he may impart it with such address as requisite to his most Christian Majesty.
Ayes, 27. Noes, 0. Neutrals, 0.
[Extract. Italian.]


  • 1. Blank in the original.
  • 2. In the original: “Præsertim a la Ces. Maestà, intravegnando questo Cathco Re.”