Pages vii-lxi

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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The death of Henry VII., with which the first volume of the Calendar of Venetian State Papers closed, is nearly coincident with the commencement of what has been called the diplomatic period of European history. It was only by slow degrees that the occasional mission of special envoys was consolidated into the permanent residence of an accredited agent, but, if in a change so gradual, it is possible to mark the precise moment of transition, the transformation, as regards the relations of Venice with England, may be dated from the appointment of Andrea Trevisano as ambassador in June 1497, to acknowledge formally the adhesion of Henry VII. to the “Holy League.” Yet it appears that some years later, in 1515, Henry VIII. considers the continuous succession of ambassadors so little a matter of course, that on the arrival of Giustinian to relieve Badoer, he thanks the Signory for so gratifying a mark of deference—“perpetui erga nos studii ac benevolentiœ” (p. 230). In fact, between the departure, in 1498, of Trevisan (whose sonorous name Spenser has introduced into the Faery Queen, canto 9,) and the arrival of Badoer, in 1509, no envoy appeared in England to represent the Republic. And Badoer, though no one probably foresaw it at the time, proved to be the first of the long series of ambassadors who resided at the English court in succession, unbroken except by political causes, from the last year of Henry VII. to the final downfall of the Republic in. 1797.

On the continent of Europe the change may be dated a little earlier. At the close of the 15th century, and the beginning of the 16th, the continual agitations and aggressions with which the great continental powers were endeavouring to extend or consolidate their dominions, brought about the closest intercourse between the different members of the European family. Leagues of spoliation and partition, leagues of guarantee and protection, of attack and defence, succeeded each other with endless variety of combination. The balance of power was recognized as the leading principle of the statesman's policy; and how to enforce it in the case of his neighbour and to elude it in his own became, as it has been ever since, the prime object of his ambition, which called into action all the resources of his genius and all the arts of diplomacy. At the League of Cambray, the effect of which upon the foreign policy of the English court forms the chief subject of the present volume, the intrigues and artifices of diplomatic treachery sprang into a rank luxuriance of perfection which has never since been surpassed.

In the last month of the year 1508, in the deepest secresy, was signed that unprincipled treaty of spoliation, by which the great powers of the continent bound themselves to fall upon the Republic of Venice by surprise, in a time of profound peace, and, in despite of the most solemn obligations, to despoil her of her territories.

It is unnecessary to dwell on a passage of history so often narrated in detail and so well known, but it will assist the reader in following the clue of the complicated negotiations recorded in the following pages, to call to mind the terms of the proposed partition. The Pope it was stipulated was to recover, as he called it, not only Imola and Cesena, which had belonged to Cæsar Borgia, and which Venice had occupied on his fall, but Cervia and Ravenna, and other portions of Romagna of which the Republic had long enjoyed undisputed possession. The Emperor demanded Piacenza, Verona, the Italian Tyrol, the Friuli, and all the other states of which, either as Emperor or head of the house of Austria, he could claim for his predecessors either the suzerainty or the actual possession. The King of France was to receive as his share of the prize Brescia, Cremona, and those portions of the Milanese which he had not long before ceded to the Venetians as the price of their assistance in conquering the duchy. King Ferdinand of Spain had combined with France to deprive his cousin Frederic of the kingdom of Naples, and had recently become its sole Sovereign by despoiling his confederate of the covenanted share of the plunder, but some of his principal seaports remained in the occupation of the Venetians, to whom they had been pledged by the unfortunate Frederic as security for a loan of money. Ferdinand was bribed into complicity by the promise of recovering his towns without paying the debt for which they had been pawned. Further, room was left for several minor powers to enter into the confederation hereafter, and on condition of their lending their aid to dispatch the dying lion of St. Mark, there was reserved for them a specified portion of his spoils. Moreover, as if all this was not enough, we find (p. 44) that subsequently the Signory of Florence, unauthorized by the allies, informed the Sultan Bajazet of the league, and invited him to take possession of the oriental dominions of the Republic. But the suspicious Turk rejected the news as incredible, and refused to take the insidious advice.

Henry VII. had been solicited to accede to the league, but, in spite of the evidence of some historians to the contrary, it is clear that he never for a moment entertained the proposal. It may not at first sight appear obvious why the intrigues for the spoliation of an Italian state are so minutely detailed in a calendar of despatches relating exclusively to English statesmen and English affairs. But in fact the neutral position of England, and the absence of any direct interest in the struggle which made her policy doubtful only rendered the disposition of her Sovereign an object of greater anxiety to all the contending parties, and to win him over was the prime object of rival diplomatists. Henry VIII. had just succeeded to an undisputed crown, to the treasures and resources amassed by his unscrupulous father, and to the influence matured by the cautious and far-sighted policy of that crafty Sovereign. The youthful King was high spirited, haughty, and ambitious. He was unfettered by previous ties of any kind; the treaties of the State, according to the practice of the age, became void by the death of the Sovereign. All eyes were turned with the deepest interest on the new actor just entering on the stage, and England became immediately (after Home) the chief focus of diplomatic intrigue.

The impolicy of the league of Cambray was so obvious, so manifestly greater was the danger which each of the contracting Sovereigns would incur from the success of the others, than the advantage which he could gain for himself, that by the wisest statesmen of the day the ultimate formation of such a league, though it had been twice attempted before, was considered all but impossible; and subsequent historians for the most part have explained the difficulty by supposing that no party was quite sincere, and that each, after securing his own portion of the spoil, trusted to intrigue and the chapter of accidents to defraud his confederates of the fruits of their common treachery. This the Signory knew must be the case with the Pope, whose first object professedly had been the expulsion of the barbarians from Italy, though he always sacrificed it to his own unacknowledged, but still dearer ambition, the enlargement of the Papal dominions; and on this knowledge they acted.

The second letter in this volume, dated May 30, 1509, contains the announcement by the Senate to the ambassador in England, Badoer, of the battle, or rather, as they have the moral courage and wisdom to call it, the rout of Ghiara d'Adda.

In consequence of this disaster, the Signory lost for the time nearly the whole of their possessions on the continent of Italy. Their troops retired with a precipitation which has left it a matter of doubt to the historian whether the retreat was the necessary consequence of disaster, or whether it was a stroke of profound policy by which the Senate endeavoured to divide the confederates, by at once surrendering the prize for the acquisition of which they had coalesced, and in the partition of which they could not fail to quarrel and to separate. Be this as it may, it is clear that the Senate never contemplated permanently surrendering their territories to the King of France or the Emperor of Germany. But the Pope, who was the presiding spirit of the league, and who gave it the religious sanction of a crusade, it was necessary to detach at once from his confederates, and for that purpose Venetian statesmen were ready to cede without a struggle to the Roman See absolutely and for ever all that it claimed for the Church. From that moment the Senate well knew that it must be the secret desire of the Pope to defeat the conspiracy, however necessary it might be to maintain a menacing and hostile attitude towards Venice for the purpose of preserving appearances, and avoiding the reproach and the risks of desertion. It was no less the policy of the Republic to abate the martial ardour of Ferdinand by giving up, without a struggle, the seaports they could no longer defend. Having gained his object without striking a blow, it was clearly not his interest to aggrandize his accomplices; his attitude became one of inaction, though it did not cease to be one of watchfulness and observation.

Henry was the only Sovereign to whom the Senate could apply openly and confidently for aid. His mediation at the Vatican for the purpose of obtaining for the Republic absolution from the spiritual censures with which the Pope, according to the unscrupulous practice of the Holy See, had backed his temporal arms, was the first object in order of time and importance; but scarcely less necessary was his intercession with the Emperor, whose vanity the Senate hoped to soothe by an acknowledgment of his suzerainty over the disputed provinces, and whose avarice they felt confident of bribing by the offer of a tribute. The only question, they thought, was how little the needy Maximilian could be induced to accept, and if Henry would act as arbitrator he might prevent the exaction of an exorbitant sum (p. 10 et seq.) Besides these most legitimate objects the earnest endeavour of both the Senate and their ambassador in London was to seek every occasion to embroil Henry with King Lewis, and to exasperate into a serious quarrel the trifling causes of offence which Henry's susceptible temper was so ready to find.

Scotland, too, plays no unimportant part in these negociations. Her sovereign was bound by the traditional maxims of his race to maintain the alliance with the King of Prance, who expected his Scotch ally to keep in check the King of England by the perpetual dread of invasion, just as the King of England was looked to by all continental belligerents as the instrument for diverting the attention and dividing the resources of France. Some curious information is given (p. 31) as to the extent to which the overtures proceeded, which were made by the warlike and restless James IV. to obtain employment under the Venetian Republic, as her general-in-chief, and the condottiero or mercenary leader of a large subsidiary force of his own. It seems probable that the proposal, though seriously made by the King, was only a feeler, and not being warmly received by the Senate, was soon dropped; had it taken effect it is difficult to calculate what changes would have been wrought in the tissue of events if the warlike spirits who fell at Flodden had been transported to the plains of Lombardy to restore the fortunes of Venice.

The correspondence in the early part of the volume shows how warmly the English ambassador Bainbridge, Archbishop of York, and afterwards Cardinal, forwarded the Senate's views by his mediation with the Pope, and how carefully the Venetian ambassadors courted the English Cardinal. It is worthy of notice, as illustrating the feelings of the age, that although they were not allowed to join the procession which went out to meet his “Right Reverend Lordship” on his entry into Rome, because the Republic was under interdict (p. 8); nevertheless they were at this very time admitted to the most familiar intimacy by the Pope, who no doubt felt the Venetians were in reality fighting his battle, and who probably was little scared by the terrors of his own excommunication.

On the 24th February 1510 (p. 15), the censures were removed and absolution was given to the six Venetian ambassadors who had been sent expressly to negotiate the re-admission of the Republic into the pale of Christendom. At this point may be said to end the first phase of the League of Cambray. The negotiations with the Emperor had totally failed. Had he been ready with his army to join the allies at the moment when they began the attack, or even to take possession of his share of the spoil, when acquired by the arms of others, the losses of Venice would probably have been irrecoverable, but, as usual, his performance lagged in the rear of his promise; he made conquests by proxy, and was so pleased with this easy success that, fortunately for the Republic, as it afterwards proved, he refused to accept the costly and advantageous compromise she offered.

In the second act of the League of Cambray, the grand object of the Signory was to cement a close alliance with the Pope, and with the Pope's help, to form a general league against Prance. The Holy Father on his part showed no less eagerness. He sent the consecrated rose at Easter to Henry, and used every art to attach him to the Holy See and to embroil him with Lewis. It was evidently the high probability of succeeding in this attempt that encouraged Julius to throw off the mask and pick a quarrel with Prance. When (p. 24) the peace which had been interrupted only by Henry VII.'s death was formally renewed between the two unfriendly neighbours, the Pope resented his disappointment as an injury, and used violent and insulting language to the English ambassador: “Vui sietc tutti ribaldi.—You “are all scoundrels.” It was true he might complain that proper respect had not been shown by giving him an earlier intimation of the negotiations; but to communicate them to the Roman Court would have been to ensure their defeat. The importance which was attached to the cooperation of England is shown by the dismay with which the news of the pacification with Prance was received. For a time the flight of the Holy Father from Rome and the preparation of galleys for his reception at Ancona were seriously contemplated, (p. 25.)

But this event, which caused so much consternation at the time, is now read without interest by the student of history. It seems on retrospect to have occurred as a matter of course, and it was followed by no important result. The relations between England and Prance were rendered uncertain by the death of the English sovereign; but they were not absolutely changed, and there was no real cause for war. The formal renewal of peace, though it relieved Lewis from apprehension on his northern frontier, added but little vigour to the operations of one, so reluctant to proceed to extremities against the Church; nor did it in fact increase the small amount of cordiality which existed between the rival monarchs.

The Pope soon recovered his courage, and (p. 37) with fresh eagerness continued his efforts to sow the seeds of discord. In these efforts Venice actively concurred, and not without success. There is mention of loans from Henry to the Republic, and of a call to arms early in 1511, though no actual hostilities were intended, “as “a demonstration against France.” (p. 43.) In the strange campaign which the Pope made in person this year, against the French general De Chaumont, the English ambassador, Archbishop of York, and a Cardinal, accepted a command as one of the Papal legates, and arrayed in armour, headed the attack on the bastion of Genivolo. (p. 46.)

Peace, nevertheless, still subsisted between England and France, but at last, on the occupation of Bologna by the French troops, Henry's zeal was inflamed to the utmost by this sacrilegious violation of church property; and after some preliminary projects a league was signed between Spain, England, Venice, and the Pope. (p. 51.)

The Pope as usual had employed his spiritual arms to back his temporal interests, and had excommunicated the French armies. Lewis on his part, anxious to distinguish his resistance to the reigning Pontiff from disobedience to the Holy See, had summoned a so called General Council at Pisa, “to reform the Church “in its head and in its members,” but in so doing he exposed himself to the charge of schism, and to all the dangers which that charge involved. To resist this schismatical attempt the Pope summoned a Council at the Lateran, and in full session with great pomp Henry's accession to the league was announced. (p. 61.)

The year 1512 opened as its predecessor had closed, with great preparations for a joint invasion of France by England and Spain. Among the details of these preparations which are given in the following correspondence, it is curious at this time, when our attention has been so painfully drawn by a recent calamity to the statistics of our agricultural stocks, to learn that in Henry VIII.'s time the demand for 25,000 oxen to be killed and salted down for the use of the troops caused a rise in the price of beef of 300 per cent. Prom a penny the pound of meat rose to threepence. (p. 63.)

In the same page there is a letter from Henry dated May 24th, written in great perplexity and uncertainty as to the issue of the battle of Ravenna, fought on the 11th April preceding, reports of which had only just reached him without details and of contradictory tenor.

Undismayed, however, by the success of Prance winch he must have soon heard with certainty, he pursued his operations with only the greater ardour, and the diversion he thus effected no doubt powerfully contributed to the unexpected result of this brilliant victory of French arms,—a victory which in fact was followed by all the consequences of defeat. The death of the youthful hero who commanded in chief, Gaston de Foix, and who left no worthy successor, and the losses of the troops, which Lewis was unable to make up by reinforcements, compelled an immediate retreat. The allies restored the Duke of Milan to his duchy, and the Pope ere long was able to congratulate himself on having driven the barbarians from Italy.

But again this leading idea, this dominant passion, gave way to the convenience of the moment. Maximilian had affected to consider the league as directed against himself, and in various ways had endeavoured to defeat it, more especially by the hackneyed, but never discarded device, of proposing a league among all the powers of Christendom to attack the Turk (pp. 67, 68), while he justified his animosity against the Republic by the strangest and most incredible accusations (p. 77). His neutral position was very strong. He was the ally of Prance, and as the only ally was sure of her best offices. He was courted by every member of the league and especially by Venice, who was willing to buy from him by any sacrifice of money and surrender of sovereign rights the speedy possession of her provinces. But Maximilian insisted on securing the whole of the objects of his ambition, and now the prize seemed within his grasp. The Pope, after having made the numerous efforts recorded in the following correspondence, to reconcile the Emperor to Venice, but finding it impossible to adjust the claims of two contending parties, one of whom insisted on possessing the property, which the other as steadily refused to give up, resolved on changing his policy and sacrificing Venice. Despairing of keeping the French out of Italy if the Emperor remained hostile, he agreed with Spain to compel Venice to accept such terms as they should dictate, and hard terms they were. The Emperor was to obtain almost all he contended for, and Venice was to retain only Padua and Treviso. Accordingly when Brescia was on the point of surrendering to the Venetian general, the Spaniards marched up, admitted the garrison to a capitulation, and took possession in the name of the league.

This brought on the third and last phase of the League of Cambray. Julius miscalculated the power of the allies, and the resources as well as the courage and firmness of the Republic. The Signory were determined not to allow the toil, the treasure, and the blood of four years to be expended on their own destruction, and to accept in victory the terms they had refused in defeat. Without discontinuing their endeavours to bring Maximilian to reason, they sounded the inclinations of Lewis. Mutual need induced the King and the Republic to forget past animosities, and after many previous rumours (p. 92) which, from their variety and multiplicity, prove that politicians saw Venice had no other resource, on March 26th an alliance was officially announced with Prance for the purpose of restoring the duchy of Milan to the King, and her own provinces to the Republic. The objections to this new alliance were many and obvious, and loud were the remonstrances of the Pope and of the English court. But the Signory were playing their last card. Subsequently when Pope Leo X. reminded Lippomano, a Venetian whom he admitted to his intimacy, of the feebleness and treachery of Prance, “then,” retorted the patriot, “we will appeal to the Turk” (p. 121), and at this sally his Holiness laughed. “Risu solvuntur tabulæ.”

Henry's policy seems to have been honest and straightforward throughout. He refused to be a party to the league with Maximilian, and remonstrated against the spoliation of Venice (No. 208). But nothing could be more untoward or more inconvenient to himself than the reconciliation of Venice with France, and nothing more faithless than the treatment he received at the hands of his other allies. At the suggestion of his father-in-law, Ferdinand the Catholic, he had undertaken the conquest of Guienne. His preparations were made on a suitable scale. He sent out troops whose athletic forms and martial bearing were the astonishment of the Venetian merchant Pasquiligo (p. 66), and for several pages the letters from England are full of the accounts of the vast naval armaments. But all this force Ferdinand contrived to divert to the conquest of the neutral state of Navarre for himself from the professed purpose of recovering Guienne for Henry from the common enemy.

The various events of this disappointing expedition are to be found in the following correspondence, not in the form of an historical narrative, but given from time to time as the various reports and their confirmations or contradictions arrive from various quarters. In calendaring the Venetian Archives, I have thought it right to place each notice according to its own date, and not according to the date of the fact to which it refers. The reader will thus find occasionally the false account inserted after the true one, the vague rumour after the detailed narrative, and events mentioned as prospective which previous entries state to have actually occurred. But the perplexity which may thus be created, will be easily avoided by proper attention to the dates of time and place, and to follow any other course would create much confusion, and in many cases divert the attention of the reader from the chief interest these entries possess; the interest which arises from observing the degree of speed at which truth travels, and the disfiguration it suffers in its journey. Readers who only are in quest of amusement may perhaps think that some of the entries might have been omitted as repetitions or of little value. But I beg to remind these critics that it is not my province to select such passages from the Venetian Archives as in my judgment are of interest to the English reader, or of value to the English historian. It is not for me to say to what future use any given entry may be turned; it is my humble duty to make a catalogue of such papers as refer directly to England and English subjects, and by stating the contents of each, to save trouble to the future investigator of Venetian Archives. In this point of view my success is as complete when my Calendar proves to the student that a given paper does not deserve his attention, as when it is my good fortune to discover an important document.

Ferdinand put the finishing stroke to his treachery by making a separate truce with France without consulting his ally and son-in-law, nor had his conduct in the slightest degree the excuse of provocation or urgent need which could be pleaded by Venice. So obvious indeed was the necessity by which the Republic was impelled, and so great too was her popularity in this country, that while the Spanish ambassador dared not appear in the streets for fear of the mob (p. 196), the alliance of Venice with the enemy produced little or no estrangement, after the first mortification was got over, either among the people or at the court.

Early in the year 1514 Julius died, and was succeeded by Leo X. But the policy of the Vatican is immortal, and little seems to have been gained to the Republic or to Europe by the change. With his dying breath, Julius boasted that the French were out of Italy; and for a time the principal scene of military operations was shifted to the north. Venice could not lay the storm she had raised. Henry, deceived and betrayed in the south by his allies, again endeavoured to form alliances which again were destined to fail him, and prepared to invade the north-eastern frontier of France. The unfortunate expedition to Guienne had been commanded by Grey, Marquis of Dorset; this time Henry placed at the head of his troops the Earl of Shrewsbury, whose family name we are told (pp. 73 and 75), had for generations been used by French mothers to scare their children into obedience; and accordingly at the head of a formidable force this nobleman landed at Calais, shortly to be followed by the King in person. Scotland as usual, though James was Henry's brother-in-law, was put in motion against England. No. 238 is the calendar of a letter written by the English King on the death of Julius, which conveys a lamentable idea of the state of the diplomatic relations between the two countries, and though Henry's diplomacy is proved by the following correspondence to be less tortuous than that of his neighbours, yet he ends by giving directions for intercepting the Scotch ambassador to the Pope (the Bishop of Murray), to whom he himself had given a safeconduct. Indeed, the rights of ambassadors and the theoretical inviolability of their persons and papers seem by no means to have been generally acknowledged: at p. 295 we find Wolsey opening the French ambassador's papers, and roundly rating him for their contents: at p. 341 he threatens the Pope's nuncio with the rack, an extremity to which it must be supposed he could not have proceeded except in his quality of legate à latere: at p. 224 the ambassadors on their way to Paris and London are cautioned by the Signory to be on their guard against the tricks of one Coppo, a man of the worst character, who ultimately ended his days by suicide (p. 386), and who had lately made an audacious attempt to seize the papers and cipher of the Venetian ambassador at the Spanish court; an outrage for which is not easy to assign a motive, unless treachery and subornation in high places had made diplomatic papers a marketable article. Indeed the close juxtaposition of the name of Ferdinand of Arragon, who is said to have sent this infamous person on a secret and important mission to France, suggests the idea that the suspicions of the Council reached no less a person than his Catholic Majesty himself.

Very full accounts are given by various correspondents of the siege and destruction of Terouenne (p. 113 et seq.); of the battle of the Spurs, with lists of the prisoners taken; also of the advent of the Scotch herald to declare war, and the terms of his defiance, which differ slightly from those recorded by the English chronicler. These are followed by the arrival of Maximilian, who preferred coming in person to give his advice to sending his promised contingent, and then by the siege of Tournay. Henry now commanded in person, having appointed Catherine as Regent in his absence, and in return for the gratification afforded to his vanity by the presence of an Emperor in his camp, he probably forgave the failure of more substantial support. The reader cannot fail to remark how much superior in correctness is the report of the Venetian ambassador to that of every other correspondent, yet it is evident there is a bias, but the bias is changed; there is now a tendency to believe all news that is favourable to France and to Scotland.

Just before the surrender of Tournay, the battle of Flodden is announced, in two remarkable notices. The first, No. 307, is an announcement by Mons. de Luçon to the French ambassador at Rome, that the Viceroy of England with his army of 30,000 men had been routed. Few had escaped capture or death. The Viceroy with 15 of his chief lords had been taken prisoners, and “this was “as true as Gospel.rdquo; The next, No. 309, is a letter from Henry himself to Maximilian Sforza, the restored Duke of Milan. It is remarkable for its freedom from exaggeration, and for its tone of forbearance and moderation, and bears an advantageous comparison with the letter of Brian Tuke, the “scriba regius,” a very long and interesting one, which will be found at p. 131. The King gives a summary of the Earl of Surrey's first despatch, which was forwarded by the Queen Regent to Tournay; at that time the fate of James was uncertain. In a few hours another courier arrived, and the King adds, in a P.S., “The King of Scots himself perished in the “battle, his body having been found and recognized, and “taken to the nearest church. He thus paid a heavier “penalty for his perfidy than we would have wished.”

For many pages following, fresh and contradictory accounts of the battle of Flodden are to be found. The echoes of that striking event seem to return again and again with different varieties of sound from the most distant parts of Europe. The French agents everywhere seem to have spread and to have persevered in spreading the report of a Scotch victory. Several puzzled correspondents come to the conclusion that the French always tell falsehoods, and the Pope, like the royal psalmist, protests all men are liars, and he can believe nobody. For long the uncertainty that at first hung over the Scottish King's fate was protracted, and produced the report that he was alive. At last the rumour takes a distinct form in the assertion (p. 149) that the body found was that of a bastard brother. In the course of the correspondence the reader will find detailed the steps which the English court took to verify the King's death, and the proofs of it which were sent to London.

In the autumn the King of England, deserted, if not betrayed, by all his allies, returned to his own land. The entries for the rest of the year relate chiefly to his preparations for continuing the war, and the various negotiations to which the complicated situation gave rise. Venice was obliged to continue her attempts to make terms with Maximilian in order to justify to the Pope and to all Italy her alliance with France. In the meanwhile, for the purpose of turning that alliance to account, she exerted all her influence to reconcile Henry to Lewis, in order that the latter might resume the war in Italy. Yet, if Maximilian accepted the Venetian offer, the Republic would have had no small difficulty in disengaging herself from her entanglement with France; and it would have been her interest to obstruct the pacification which she was now labouring to effect. The obstinacy, however, of Maximilian was probably foreseen, and certainly that obstinacy was justified as a political calculation, for the Pope and the Italian powers, especially Ferdinand, as Sovereign of Naples, too weak or too timid to take the bold and honest course of compelling Maximilian to desist from his unjust pretensions, resorted, as we have already seen, to the easier method of trying by threats or persuasion to make Venice submit to them and acquiesce in being plundered.

Henry continued to be courted by all parties, especially the Pope, who at Christmas sent him the sword and consecrated cap of maintenance, of which he so far misunderstood the emblematical character, as to cause himself not only to be solemnly invested with them, but actually to wear them at St. Paul's, and, notwithstanding their preposterous size, to walk in procession with them round the church; an interesting account of the ceremony is given at p. 178. In the spring of the following year, 1514, the peace between England and France was at last concluded, and the marriage of Henry's youthful sister Mary was celebrated with the infirm rather than aged Lewis. The details of the rejoicings and the ceremonies on both sides of the water occupy much space (pp. 108–9, et seq.), and are full of interest to the lovers of archaeology and illustrated history. In the meantime, diplomacy was as active as ever. The Pope, though he seems to have promoted the English alliance, desired to deter King Lewis (p. 215) from undertaking the Italian expedition. Venice, on the other hand, exerted all her energies to promote an enterprise on which now it seemed her last hope rested. The Signory sent to England a new ambassador, Sebastian Giustinian, whose despatches form so prominent a portion of the present volume. His instructions were to take Paris in his way, where for a time he was to join the resident ambassador at the French court, and second his efforts to animate Lewis to the recovery of Milan.

He came provided with letters of congratulation, and gifts; rings for the secretary Robertet, and a jewelled cap for the royal bride. But, alas for the mutability of human affairs ! On his journey he was informed of the sudden death of Lewis. At Lyons he received fresh credentials, and letters suited to the altered circumstances—condolences for congratulations to the widowed bride, and mingled condolences and congratulations to the new sovereign. He was prudently instructed to say not a word about the presents, but to inquire who were the favourites and influential advisers of the new Sovereign.

In the course of the year 1514 there occur two remarkable entries, relative to the death of Cardinal Bainbridge by poison; at p. 188 it is stated that his chaplain had been arrested on suspicion, and had destroyed himself, having previously confessed he had been instigated to commit the crime by an Englishman, “uno del paesc d'Ingalterra;” and at p. 219 the Venetian ambassador at Rome informs the State that no less a person than the Bishop de Giglis, Henry's own ambassador, had been arrested on suspicion, but had been acquitted.

The year 1515 opened with the death of Lewis, the succession of Francis, and the intrigues to which this change in the dramatis personœ gave rise.

The alliances of the late King required renewal and confirmation, though to prevent confusion it had been stipulated that the peace concluded between Lewis and Henry should hold good for one year after the death of either. The grand question that occupied all the diplomatists was, “Is it possible the new Sovereign should cross the Alps this year ? “Henry believed himself master of the situation. He was so far deceived by the flatteries of the Pope as to fancy he could at his pleasure decide the direction of the tortuous policy of the Vatican, and, accordingly as he maintained a friendly or hostile attitude, could forbid or permit Francis to undertake the expedition into Italy (p. 252). His irritation, therefore, is very intelligible when he found that Francis, without even apprising him of his intention, set forth towards Milan, and, preferring the traditional policy of embroiling England with Scotland to relying on the goodwill of his capricious and haughty ally, sent the Duke of Albany to Scotland to make good his pretensions to the Regency and disturb the government of Henry's sister, the widowed Queen.

At p. 242 occurs the first mention of Wolsey, Archbishop of York, but almost immediately after the ambassador discovers that Wolsey is the mainspring of every movement, and that it is useless to apply to any one else. It was the policy of Wolsey and the inclination of Henry to oppose in every way the progress of the French arms in Italy, and for this purpose the new minister laboured by every art to detach Venice from Prance. Giustinian was assailed with prophesies that Prance would either cheat the Republic by taking all the fruits of victory to herself, or that she would make a separate peace for herself and abandon her ally; and when he was assailed in vain, both the King and the Cardinal scrupled not to pledge their words, on the faith of a King and by honour of the Cardinalate, at sundry times, that one or other of these treacherous schemes was on the point of execution. It is not at all improbable that they might have received letters from Rome (as they asserted) to the effect that this treachery was intended, or even that it had been consummated; it would, doubtless, be rumoured that an event had actually occurred which to every politician of the time must have appeared so probable. But it certainly excites our suspicion of the veracity of these great personages when we find that whatever was most likely to intimidate and distress the ambassador, the King and his minister happened to have heard from the Pope that very morning.

In the course of war and diplomacy the dispute between the Emperor and the Republic was narrowed to the possession of two towns, Brescia and Verona. To the Emperor they were the keys which gave him the entrance to Italy whenever he chose to invade her fertile plains. To Venice they were the strongholds, without which she could neither occupy any province beyond them nor retain any between their guns and the lagunes. To defend these important posts Henry sent remittances to the Emperor, at first clandestinely, and at last boastfully and tauntingly. A marked change of manner and language on the part of the Cardinal and the courtiers gradually took place towards the Venetian ambassador. The rapacity of the Venetians in contending for what was not their own, it was asserted at court, was the sole cause of the divisions of Christendom and the woes of Italy; the right of the Republic to Verona was at first doubted, and at last openly denied. If, retorted the ambassador, a hundred years uninterrupted possession is in these days of frequent change an insufficient title, the original right of Venice to the sovereignty of Verona is the most legitimate that can be set up. On the extinction of the line of her ancient lords the Scaligers, the inhabitants of their own accord (p. 311) raised the cry of St. Mark ! and, though the Duke of Milan and the Marquis of Mantua were both in the field as candidates for the vacant sovereignty, they installed the Venetian Proveditor in the seat of government.

The frequent interviews between the ambassador and the King or his minister fill many pages, and give a picture of the manners and feeling of the day, such as hardly can be found elsewhere. All parties show great readiness and dexterity in the fence of words, but Henry is by no means less acute or less ingenious in reply than his accomplished minister.

The event belied the prognostics and the secret intelligence of both King and Cardinal. France did keep her faith with Venice. But the event which, perhaps beyond all others, contributed to the climax of the final act of the drama of the League of Cambray was the death of Ferdinand, which took place in February 1516. Charles succeeded, with new counsellors, altered position, and new designs. Without consulting those with whom, by common interests or by relationship, or by formal engagements, he was connected, he signed with Francis the treaty at Noyon, to which the confederates on each side were, by stipulation, at liberty to accede, and which in fact they were ultitimately compelled to accept. The struggle was not closed at once, but Maximilian had no longer the support of Spanish armies, and he gradually lost the supplies of English gold, which Henry was tired of furnishing to so improvident and rapacious an ally. Pages, however, are filled with the leagues and rumours of leagues which were called into being for the purpose of securing Verona to the Emperor, as a counterpoise to the power of France, but at last (p. 348) Verona was surrendered to the French in the year 1517, and ceded by the French to Venice; and thus in virtue of this treaty, which in fact closed the history of the League of Cambray, Venice re-entered into the possession of her disputed provinces and regained those limits which she retained till her final downfall at the close of the last century.

From this point the interest of the diplomatic correspondence of the present volume declines, so far at least as its interest depends on the political effects that it produces; but not so diminishes its intricacy or its activity. “Our “masters are for ever plotting confederacies and deceptions, but without producing any result” (p. 377), was the remark of a confidential secretary of Wolsey's to Chieregato, the apostolic nuncio, the trusty ally whom Giustinian in his despatches cautiously designates only as “l'amico,” and from whom, in fact, he derived the greater part of his secret information. Nor can it be said that in his assertion the secretary was guilty of much exaggeration. With untiring perseverance and with varying combinations leagues were formed and re-formed between the Pope, the Emperor, England, and Spain, for the real purpose (whatever might be the pretext) of checking the ambition of Francis. By elaborate and complicated stipulations each party hoped to gain his object with the least possible cost to himself, and to stimulate to the utmost the exertions of his allies. At p. 307 is an interesting account of the solemn ratification of one of these leagues by Henry at St. Paul's; it is written by the apostolic nuncio for the amusement and information of the Marchioness of Mantua, and is communicated as highly important; but now it is interesting only as giving a striking picture of the manners and customs of the time. It describes in terms very remarkable as coming from a native of Italy, then the centre of civilization, the refinement and the wealth of England, and paints Henry in the brilliant colours in which he doubtless appeared to a papal nuncio, while he was yet unstained by cruelty and untainted by heterodoxy. But notwithstanding the imposing ceremonies of the ratification, this league ended, as such hollow alliances must end, and produced no result except occasionally drawing from Henry's coffers a scanty supply, which was grudgingly granted, and wastefully squandered.

Meantime the Venetian Republic, who saw in the preponderance of France the only safeguard for her newly recovered provinces against the implacable and persevering hostility of Maximilian, endeavoured by every art to cement the union between Henry and Francis.

The last pacification with Lewis had left a cause of future quarrel so obvious and so certain that the peace was scarcely considered as a reality by contemporary statesmen, and was in fact little better than a state of inert hostility. Tournay had been left in the hands of Henry, and its recovery was so necessary to soothe the wounded pride of Francis, and to maintain the integrity of his frontier, that unless this coveted fortress could be obtained as the prize of successful diplomacy, it must necessarily be the cause of a speedy rupture between the two crowns.

The negotiations for the peaceable cession of Tournay, and the rumours to winch they give rise, fill a prominent part of the correspondence till August 1518, when the terms of the peace seem to be generally known and circulated. All difficulties were ultimately got over by one of those dynastic projects of marriage which were the favourite expedients employed by the statesmen of the middle ages, and which no experience of their futility could bring into discredit. The infant Princess Mary was to be betrothed to the childish Dauphin, and in the way of dower any concession might be granted without loss of dignity.

A letter in the Mantuan archives, without signature, but dated in October of this year, gives an account which the antiquary will find interesting of the fêtes given in London on occasion of these espousals. The King is said to have amused himself with throwing sugar-plums at his guests in a style which reminds the reader of the modern carnival, and which is not mentioned by any other chronicler of these courtly revels.

On August 5 Marco Minio writes from Rome that Cardinal Wolsey, who had received compliments of congratulation as the author of the peace from all quarters, has offered to give the Pope the unsubstantial credit of having effected it, in return for the substantial advantages of being named perpetual legate, and receiving the benefices of Cardinal Adrian. That Cardinal had been in high favour with Henry VII., and, though an Italian, had received from him the bishopric of Bath and Wells. He had been implicated in the conspiracy of Cardinal Petrucci to poison Pope Leo X., and on his consequent disgrace Henry VIII. had bestowed his see on Wolsey “in commendam.” The present correspondence shows in detail Wolsey's rapacious conduct on this occasion, and fully justifies the description Queen Catherine gives of the darker shades of his character—

“One that by suggestion
“Ty'd all the kingdom; simony was fair play.”

Henry VIII., act iv., scene 2.

The account of his violent wrath, and the undignified manner in which he manifested it (p. 414), when the Signory ventured to intercede for Adrian, who had taken refuge at Venice, is very characteristic of the man and the times.

Among the many notices of ecclesiastical news which are given by Minio, the ambassador at the Papal court, it may amuse the reader to find (p. 455), that on September 4, 1518, the consecrated rose was sent to the Duke of Saxony, subsequently the patron of Luther, as the acknowledgment and reward of his staunch orthodoxy. It may be that the Pope wished to confirm an allegiance which he suspected to be wavering, and to create a merit by affecting to impute it; but be this as it may, it is certain that Luther himself, and probably the progress he had made in Germany, had attracted little attention at the Vatican, since we find a man so accurate as Minio, the Venetian ambassador at Rome, styling him a Dominican instead of an Augustine friar.

At page 383 and the following are given very minute and curious details of that extraordinary attack made on the 1st May, 1517, upon the lives and properties of all foreigners resident in London. Morality and religion furnished the fanatical pretext, but the real motive for the outrage was the jealousy excited by the superior skill of the foreign workmen. The outbreak was severely punished, though a great parade of clemency was made in pardoning a large body of criminals, who in fact were too numerous to be all sent to execution, even in those sanguinary days (pp. 385, 386). But the spirit which prompted this violence was not subdued. Some months later (p. 422), we find that in the midst of the complicated horrors of the plague and the sweating sickness, notwithstanding the terror the union of these two scourges inspired, or rather because, in consequence of this terror, the arm of authority was somewhat relaxed, a fresh plot for the extermination of foreigners was discovered, but fortunately in time to prevent its execution.

Throughout the volume it is curious to observe how the pauses of diplomatic activity are filled up, and even the tissue of real negotiations is traversed, by proposals to unite the forces of Christendom against the common enemy, the Turk. The duty of arming against the Infidel was acknowledged by all the sovereigns of Europe; but the burthen of fulfilling it was shifted by each from his own shoulders to that of his neighbour. The Pope, when he had no prospect of aggrandisement for the Holy See, or wished to avert some storm which he saw hovering in the horizon, always became clamorous for a crusade. Henry's pious and excellent dispositions towards this holy enterprise are frequently reported, though when he is pressed on the subject it oozes out that the infidel lives a long way off, and does very little harm to him or his subjects. Wolsey, who was certainly no fanatic, generally retorts that there is a worse Turk than the Sultan in the heart of the Christian camp, a certain king who calls himself most Christian, and against whom it is more necessary for Christians to be on their guard than any infidel whatever.

Nevertheless confederations for purposes the most foreign to a religious crusade often set forth in their preambles the design of an attack upon the Sultan; and to Venice these professions, however abortive and insincere, proved a real stumbling block. On the whole line of her eastern frontier she touched the dominions of the Sultan; on him depended the security of her trade with the Levant, and it was a painful alternative to be excluded from a Christian league which promised security and strength, or to incur the dangers incident on being a party to a treaty the preamble of which is filled with the most menacing, though perfectly meaningless, denunciations of the infidel ally of the Republic. Venice does not deny the service she owed to the Christian commonwealth. When real war is intended she will sacrifice her interests and rally round the standard of the cross, but until there is question of a reality she begs to remain uncompromised. (fn. 1)

It is clear how much the civilization of Turkey had advanced, and how much more closely her sovereign was brought into contact with the other states of Europe, when we find by an entry dated 20th November, 1518, that the Venetian ambassador dared not be present at the ratification of one of these leagues, lest he should give umbrage to Sultan Selim; and in date of August, 1523, it will be found that one of the ministers of Sultan Solyman actually made enquiries of the Venetian ambassador at Constantinople relative to Martin Luther!

The topic which principally engaged the attention of statesmen during the year 1518 was the election of a King of the Romans, a dignity which Maximilian was most anxious to secure for his grandson King Charles of Spain, in order that he might be recognized as the next successor to the Empire. Nor was Maximilian's action prematurely taken. In the month of August it was disclosed that Francis of France aspired to the Imperial dignity, and the powers of Europe were warned that when, in the course of nature and indeed at no distant period, the reigning Emperor should be summoned from the scene on which he had played so distinguished a part, a struggle would arise which might shake the world of politics to its very foundation. The letters addressed to the Signory by Marco Minio, their ambassador at Rome, give most important particulars relative to the contest for the Imperial crown both before and after the death of Maximilian, which are comparatively unnoticed by historians and which will especially interest English readers, because they conclusively show that at Home at least Henry VIII. was never even named as a candidate for the Imperial dignity. These papers, which contain no positive mention of England, should, according to the strict letter of my instructions be excluded from my Calendar, but after much anxious consideration they seemed to me to throw so great a light upon the political transactions of a period which, I learn from Mr. Bergenroth's most valuable and able preface to his last volume, is represented in the Archives of Simancas by a few isolated documents only, that I have undertaken the responsibility of inserting a limited number of extracts sufficient to put in issue the general historical value of the correspondence.

We learn from Minio that in the month of June 1518 Charles was actively canvassing for election as King of the Romans, and in material aid of his pretensions had despatched a considerable sum of money for distribution amongst the electors by Maximilian, who then openly advocated the pretensions of his elder grandson. But the electors were divided in opinion; some, according to the Cardinal de' Medici, Leo's Prime Minister, and subsequently his successor in the Papal chair as Clement VII., preferring the Archduke Ferdinand to his brother Charles of Spain, while the Archbishop of Mayence and the Count Palatine made no secret of their intention to ensure the success of Francis.

The Diet assembled at Augsburg on the 10th of August, and was prorogued on the 10th of September until Martin-mas without coming to any decision. After the dispersion of the diet the canvass continued to be actively prosecuted, and, as usual in all contested elections, the news received was most contradictory. On the 8th of September the Pope was advised by his nuncio that the prospects of Charles were on the decline, but a week later letters direct from Augsburg represented him as having secured four votes, with confident expectations of obtaining further support. Bribery, unchecked by any fear of exposure, was conducted on a wholesale scale, and had produced important results. Three votes at least had been corruptly gained for Spain: Brandenburg, by the hand of the Infanta Catherine, and a dower of 300,000 florins for one of his sons; the Archbishop of Mayence (Brandenburg's brother), by church benefices, yielding an annual revenue of some 8,000 to 10,000 ducats; and the Count Palatine by the promised restitution of certain territory, of which he had been legally deprived by the Emperor. The Spanish party were confidently persuaded that these three votes, combined with the influence of the Archbishop of Cologne, who from the first had been Maximilian's firm adherent, would win the day for them. Towards the close of September the Pope, under strong injunctions to secresy, told Minio at Viterbo that, 60,000 ducats having been actually paid to the Count Palatine, Charles had four votes certain, and was sure of success. On the 29th of October we learn upon the same authority that Charles had five conditional promises, and that his sole difficulty existed in his capacity to pay the enormous sums demanded by this limited constituency before they would exercise their franchise in his favour. Early in November the money seems to have been forthcoming, for on the 5th of that month the Cardinal de' Medici stated to Minio that five electors had signed and sealed a formal document pledging themselves to elect the Catholic King, and that their decision would be promulgated at the next Diet. Nor did the precautions of the Spanish party end here. Maximilian had never been crowned, and though de facto Emperor, he was de jure only King of the Romans. His coronation and confirmation by the Pope were therefore necessary to complete Ms legal title, and to leave the electors at full liberty to name a successor to the lesser dignity. The tenure by which Charles held the kingdom of Naples presented a further diplomatic difficulty to his election, for a clause in the patent of Pope Julius under which he had been invested, expressly provided that no King of the Romans should hold Naples. The repeal of this clause, and the urgent applications addressed by both Maximilian and Charles to the Pope to dispense with the coronation of the former at Home, and to send the crown (fn. 2) to Germany for a similar purpose, led during two months to long and wearisome negotiations. The “Naples question” seems never to have been settled, but after endless delay the Pope finally refused to part with the crown, alleging that such a course would be incompatible with the dignity of the Apostolic See, and would establish a dangerous precedent. Minio gives a curious illustration of the bitter feeling that prevailed between the parties to the transaction. On the 15th December he narrates verbatim a petulant sally of the Pope, “That next time the Emperor would ask him for his breeches,” and a few days later he records a remark of the Spanish ambassador, uttered no doubt in a tone of deep resentment, “That the day might come when the Court of Rome would fain send the crown to the Emperor, and yet be powerless to do so.” The reader need hardly be reminded that this prophecy was fulfilled almost to the letter by the capture and sack of Rome in 1527. The impediments thus raised at every turn to Charles's progress, in no way relaxed his efforts to gain the goodwill of the Pope, and to make the election safe. On the 11th January 1519, the Spanish ambassador, to the consternation of the French diplomatic officials, proposed a Spanish bride of the blood royal, with a territory in Naples of the annual value of 12,000 ducats, to the Pope for his illegitimate nephew Ippolito, and at the same time Charles despatched a sum of money, variously estimated from 250,000 to 400,000 ducats, to Germany, strictly for election purposes; and no doubt was then entertained at Home, but that his rival would be outbid.

The death of Maximilian, which took place on the 27th of January, brought all these intrigues to an abrupt conclusion. The Imperial throne was vacant! Charles and Francis would have now to contend, not for an empty title, but for the great political prize of the age. This was indeed a subject which might fill the least timid politician with anxious forebodings. Charles, who in many ways possessed the strongest claims, and also the most efficacious means of enforcing them, added the succession of the House of Austria to his patrimonial dominions, and to the vast inheritance which he had obtained from Ferdinand the Catholic. His personal character seems at this period to have been little known; perhaps it was hardly developed. It was variously reported, but Cardinal Campeggio seems to have expressed the prevalent opinion when he told the Venetian ambassador (p. 544) that the youthful sovereign (he was now only 19 years of age) was feeble in constitution and in mind, and was more fit to be governed than to govern. This, however, was but a weak guarantee against the abuse of power so vast. For centimes the mysterious and vague pretensions of the empire had disturbed the peace of Europe; what might not be apprehended if this shadowy Colossus were suddenly transformed into a real substantial giant, grasping three solid and weighty sceptres? The Pope, in his consternation at the prospect, exclaimed that Charles' election was impossible! He tried to persuade himself it would be illegal (p. 504), but he had no valid reason to give against it, except the extremity of the danger to himself. “The frontier of Naples is less than 40 miles distant from Rome.”

As a counterpoise to the power of Charles, the thoughts of many had turned to Francis, already his great rival in Italy,—warlike, ambitious, the sovereign of a territory more compact, though smaller, more submissive, more easily governed, and possessed of vast resources. But it needed no great foresight to perceive that the balance of power, restored by naming a Frenchman to the Imperial throne, would not be the equilibrium which produces rest. The rival sovereigns would only be brought into more frequent collision at more numerous points of contest, and the desolation caused by their discord would be spread over a much wider surface.

It was the wish of many that some German Prince might be found of sufficient weight and influence to place himself at the head of the Germanic body. But who could venture to brave the vengeance of both disappointed rivals?

It is clear that the Pope from the first desired the election of an independent candidate, but so early as the 8th of February be came to the conclusion that money must carry the day, and remarked to Minio with great point “that the crown would be put up to auction and knocked down to the highest bidder.” Being of this mind for nearly two months, he abstained from openly favouring either of the declared candidates, though he did not disguise his opinion that of the two the election of Francis would be the lesser evil. Towards the latter end of March his views underwent a change. He showed an undisguised preference for Francis, declared Charles ineligible for the office, and went the length of sending Archbishop Orsini as Papal nuncio to Germany, specially to promote French interests. Charles complained in unmeasured terms of these proceedings, and henceforth, possibly as an escape from difficulties almost insurmountable, Leo recurred to his original policy, and did his utmost to put some other potentate in nomination.

For an elaborate and clear view of the corrupt practices which so extensively prevailed during this election and of the intrigues of which Rome was the centre, I refer the student to Minio's letters with great confidence. Here we have in graphic terms the most interesting details of the Pope's difficulties, his chronic vacillation and perplexity, his bias for France, his terror of Spain, and, finally, (p. 545, July 18, 1519,) his submission to the result, embodied in an answer to a charge of insincerity made by the French ambassador, on which occasion we read that contrary to his nature he flew into a violent passion, and said, “It is true I wrote latterly to my legate to offer no further opposition should he see matters going in favour of Spain, as it was no use knocking one's head against the wall, and possibly he may have slightly exceeded his instructions, but at any rate the French chance was hopeless. I can come to terms with the Emperor as easily as I can spit (cum una spudaza), but I have ever the same care for the “interests of others as for my own.”

Some experienced continental statesmen seem to have thought that the impending mischief might he avoided by keeping the Imperial power for a time in abeyance and placing a visionary sceptre in the hands of a sovereign too powerful to be overawed by Charles or Francis, and yet too distant and too little connected with continental interests to turn the pretensions of the Emperor to account. As early as March in this year, overtures were made to Henry (p. 502, March 7th,) to put himself in competition. He appears to have entertained the proposal seriously, and even his own courtiers expressed their opinion, that the electors only wanted to ascertain the extent of the English monarch's credulity and purse.

Henry himself freely and voluntarily promised his support to Francis. But little more than good wishes, or what is now called moral support, could have been intended by this phrase, unless, indeed, the violent rivalry between the candidates might, as was apprehended by many politicians, ultimately lead to hostilities, for neither Henry, nor the Swiss, nor others, who were free in their offers of support, could have expected to exert much influence on the electoral body. But, however little Henry's assistance may have meant, no one, not even the French ambassador, could believe it was sincerely offered to his rival of France; for, little as he might desire to aggrandize his already too powerful nephew, still less willingly would he have contributed to the exaltation of his ambitious neighbour. It was probably his increasing dread of the success of either, and the general wish, of which the echoes were doubtless brought him from all parts, with increasing zeal in proportion as they were received with increasing avidity, that induced him at the eleventh hour to imagine he might [seriously enter into the lists, and to send Richard Pace, of whose dexterity as a diplomatist this volume contains so many proofs, to watch the election, to throw what weight he could into the scale of the third candidate, or if none could he found, to suggest Henry himself. It is remarkable that Giustinian, with his many sources of information, never suspected Henry's candidature, nor could form a conjecture as to the object of Pace's mission. This seems to prove satisfactorily that the project was suddenly conceived; had it been long entertained, the secret would not have been so jealously kept, nor would there have been any wish so to keep it. Even had Henry desired not to own a public candidature, he could not have avoided giving some hint of his intentions to those whose political position must make them favourable to his pretensions.

But scarcely had Henry resolved to make an effort to win the prize, when the result of the great competition was decided. On the 9th July, somewhat unexpectedly, the news of Charles's election was received by the ambassador of his aunt, the Lady Margaret, governess of the Netherlands. It is a proof how little welcome to the popular feeling of the clay was the intelligence, that the Lord Mayor refused permission to the Spanish ambassador to light bonfires and illuminate to celebrate the event (p. 541). The ambassador of course made a formal complaint. The Court seems to have suddenly awoke to the consciousness that it was vastly rejoiced at the event, and the city authorities were menaced in language which would probably have been felt to be indecent, if it had not been tacitly understood by both parties, that nothing more was meant than a mere parley to be reported at Madrid. Subsequently, a Te Deum was ordered, at which all the ambassadors were present except the French. Glad or sorry, it was necessary to sympathize with success, though many of the spectators were as little rejoiced at heart as the absentee ambassador of France.

Contemporaneously with the Imperial election, the Venetian ambassador, Giustinian, was purposing to quit the post he had so assiduously filled for four years. His often-repeated request, that a mission might not be turned into an exile, had at last been heard. Occasional missions were of course in their nature short, and though they had now become continuous, the idea of long residence at a foreign court was new, and Giustinian thought himself hardly treated when he was not relieved by the arrival of Surian, his successor, till the end of the fourth year. At last, at the end of June, he goes forth in procession to meet the new envoy, according to the custom of the age. Some time is spent in attending all the presentations and ceremonies which are needed to inaugurate his successor, and finally, on the 26th July, he dates the last of his long series of letters from our shores.

The materials of the present volume consist chiefly of the despatches written by the Venetian ambassadors at the English and other courts, and of the letters written by the State to its various agents. There are also the summaries of various letters, public and private, which were read in the College, or were in some way communicated to Marin Sanuto, and by him were entered in his diary. The despatches of Andrea Badoer, who arrived in England a few days before the death of Henry VII., no longer exist at the “Frari;” the brief summaries, therefore, which are given of them by Sanuto are the only direct evidence of their contents which remains.

It not unfrequently happens that the despatches of the ambassadors have been lost; but the letter books, that is to say, the original drafts or the copies of the letters made for the ambassadors' own use have been preserved; of the genuiness and authenticity of these documents there never has been entertained the slightest doubt. In the first instance these letter books were kept among the muniments of the ambassador's own family; subsequently they have, for the most part, been transferred in various ways to the public collections of Venice especially St. Mark's Library, many have found their way to those of foreign countries, and not a few have passed into the hands of private individuals. The most important series of letters in this volume is extracted from the Letter Book of Sebastian Giustinian, who succeeded Badoer, as ambassador to Henry VIII., in the year 1515, and of whom we have just taken leave on his return to the Lagunes. It is preserved in St. Mark's Library, and contains every letter, in chronological order, written by him during his residence of four years at the English court. It was translated by me from the original Letter Book, and a selection of the correspondence thus translated was published by Messrs. Smith and Elder some years ago; but the entire series is so remarkable that the Master of the Bolls has thought fit to give instructions for calendaring the whole in its integrity and continuity.

I have also calendared at some length the MS. Book of Statutes given by the Senate to the captain of the Flanders galleys, Priuli, who arrived in England in May 1518. As a Maritime Mercantile Code it is not less remarkable than the shipping laws of Lubeck, the rules of Oleron, and the ancient nautical regulations of Holland. The Wisby code is supposed to have been compiled at the end of the 14th or the beginning of the 15th century; (fn. 3) the Priuli Statute Book quotes various regulations ordered by the Senate at different periods from the year 1323 to the year 1505. In the first volume of this work (p. 148, et seq.) I gave some extracts from an earlier Statute Book of the same description, but as Bartolomeo Minio, to whom it was consigned, failed to accomplish his voyage, having been waylaid and plundered by the Corsair Columbus, I have postponed the fuller account of these regulations till the date of the actual arrival in England of the captain for whose guidance they were enacted.

Both these Statute books are in my possession; nor am I aware of the existence of any similar book of regulations for the Flanders galleys in any collection, public or private. (fn. 4) I have also been fortunate enough to procure the original letter book of Marco Minio, ambassador at the court of Leo X. His despatches do not exist in the archives, nor am I acquainted with any other authentic extracts from them than those contained in Sanuto's “Diaries.” I have given above my reasons for calendaring a portion of his correspondence in my present volume, and many more extracts will appear in the course of the work. My long residence in Venice has enabled me to obtain small portions of the MS. collections of the great houses of Venice, as from time to time they have been broken up and brought into the market. It forms part of my proposed plan to calendar all documents bearing on my subject which exist at Venice, either in public or private collections, nor can I suppose any apology is needed for inserting an interesting notice, because I happen to be the possessor of the MS. from which it is extracted.

The entries relating to public events are diversified, as we have already seen, by the accounts of ceremonies, fetes, and receptions, and other matters illustrative of the manners of the day. Sanuto reports at length the letters of Fabris, a native of Treviso, who was attached to Badoer's embassy, and who often wrote detailed accounts of what he saw. It was he who witnessed the ceremony at St. Paul's when Henry received the sword and cap of maintenance which has been already mentioned, and I would more particularly refer to an account given by him of English manners and customs at p. 89. At p. 48 is recorded by the Venetian ambassador the death of the widow of Edward IV. the King's maternal grandmother, who died of plague in the summer of 1511, and thus sadly fulfilled the doom pronounced on the “Queen of sad mischance” by her still more unhappy rival Margaret of York (Richard III., act i. scene 3., and act iv. scene 4). The notice is curious, for the date differs from that usually assigned for her death by historians; but this is a point on which the ambassador, resident in England at the time, could scarcely be mistaken.

In a work like the present it cannot be expected that, by any amount of diligence and caution, every document can be discovered in time to be inserted in its exact chronological order. All that can be done is to give place in an appendix to papers referring to an earlier period as soon as they come to light.

In the Appendix to the present Volume there will be found 28 original protests of bills from 1442 to 1479.

The protests which I inserted in the first Volume of the Calendar, and which I had found in the political archives, attracted the attention of the Councillor Pietro Bedendo, vice conservator of the notarial archives, and in consequence he caused a search to be made by his able “coadjutor” Signor Antonio Barachi, which produced 25 similar protests, while in the meantime my friend the Abate Nicoletti, procured for me two other documents of the same kind, belonging to the Cavalier de' Stefani; and a third was discovered in the political archives (in the month of February 1867,) amongst papers relating to the island of Candia.

These 28 notarial acts, giving 55 rates of exchange, serve to correct a note at p. lxxi. Preface to Vol. I., and enable me now to assert with greater accuracy, that from 1442 to 1512, the value of the Venetian ducat in London and at Venice, ranged between 39¾d. and 56½d. Hitherto, ancient protests of bills of exchange have been displayed merely as commercial curiosities. The oldest document of the sort, to which allusion has been repeatedly made in print, is dated Genoa, 14th November 1384; it is a mere isolated fact, and but of little use for the history of trade or monetary negotiations. From the series of the 46 bills, of which the protests for nonpayment were sent from London to Venice, we obtain 90 rates of exchange, (fn. 5) one on the day the bill was drawn at Venice, and another when protested in London. These data show that during the 70 years preceding 1512, the highest price paid in London for the Venetian ducat was 52½d. (1477, 2nd April) and the lowest 39¾d. (1453, 4th December). In Venice during the same period, the highest price obtained for bills on London was 56½d. per ducat (1477, 1st January); the lowest 43d. (1447, 2nd April). I may add that in 1506, at Venice, the ducat passed current for 124 Venetian pennies or “soldi,” (fn. 6) which in England were called “galley halfpence;” and as the highest rate of exchange was 56½d. it may be inferred that the English silver penny was acknowledged to be of higher standard than the Venetian halfpenny. That the student may be enabled to perceive at a glance the fluctuations in the relative value of pennies and ducats, I have made one single chronological list of the rates of exchange, derived from the protests both in the political and notarial archives, (fn. 7) as also from the three in possession of private individuals. Although in this there is some repetition it was unavoidable, owing to the recent date of the discovery made by the Counsellor Bedendo.

Besides the two protested bills communicated to me by the Cavalier Stefani, he also showed me an authentic draft of the oldest policy of maritime insurance with which I am acquainted. It is dated Venice, 9th October 1564. The insured vessel and cargo, then loading at Constantinople and bound for Venice, belonged to the Magnificoes Domenigo Duodo Brothers and Co., and the underwriters, who were evidently directors of the company, were Lorenzo Bembo and Giacomo Ragazoni, (fn. 8) on behalf of a company of 15 insurers. What the full value of the ship and cargo may have been, is not stated. The company of 15 underwrote for only 2,000 ducats, the premium being 150 ducats. The vessel was lost, and there is a supplementary memorandum or continuation of the draft, recording payment made by the company (in the first half of the year 1564) of 1,910 ducats to the credit of Duodo and Company in the banks of Pisani and Correr. This insurance does not relate to England and will therefore have no place in the Calendar, but I trust the reader will not think this notice of it out of place. The phraseology is in accordance with that of English insurances of the same nature. The document ends with the pious aspiration, “Che Iddio la salvi,” corresponding with the words, “and may God send the good ship safe home.”

Beneath these words are the following:

“£200. Laus Deo. A dì 9 Ottobrio, noi Lorenzo Bembo et Giacomo Ragazoni per la Compagnia di XV. asseguradori, asseguremo de £200 de grossi per ducati cento e vinti, che Iddio la Salvi.”

By entry No. 186 in the present Calendar, it will be seen that the premium in London for insurance on vessels trading between England and Candia in the year 1512, exceeded 10 per cent. The first law relating to insurance in England, was enacted in 1601, but it is said that insurance was in general use there in 1560. (fn. 9)

In date of March 1504, I omitted to record a paragraph written by Sanuto in his diaries, concerning the Garter. In February 1503–4 Henry VII. created the Duke of Urbino a Knight of the Order, and sent him its Insignia by Sir Gilbert Talbot, Richard Bere, Abbot of Glastonbury, and Sir Robert Sherbourn, Dean of St. Paul's.

These three ambassadors went in the first place to tender obedience at Rome on the part of Henry VII. to the new Pope, Julius II., who, on the 20th March 1501, mentioned the compliment destined for his nephew to the Venetian ambassador, Antonio Giustinian, saying, “that “they” (the envoys) “were conveying the Garter, namely, a cincture worn below the knee, with gold union-joints ('con sparange d'oro'), to give it to the Duke of Urbino, whose father was invested with it of yore, and it is a great honour to have it.”

The precise meaning of the word “sparange” is rendered intelligible by the Mowbray achievement, on which the Garter encircles nine SS; those letters (the initials of Sarah of Salisbury) being in fact framed or joined to the inner edges of the cincture; whence it may be inferred, that between 1399 (the date of Mowbray's death) and 1501, the design of the Garter had undergone no change. The arrival of the three envoys at Rome, is mentioned by Burchard, date 12th May 1504.

At p. lxxxvi. Preface, the date of Wolsey's “large commission” to Cassalis, should be read Amiens not Amboise; and at p. cxlv., where the agent employed by Henry VIII., by name Dalle Arme, is stated by me to have been a Venetian, I was guilty of an error, as the historian Andrea Morosini (Vol. ii. p. 169), distinctly styles him a Bolognese, and the assertion is confirmed in the Criminal Register, Council of X., 26th August 1545. I confounded the name with one somewhat similar, which is entered in the Libro d'oro.

In date 14th April 1495, a despatch from the Senate to the Venetian ambassador in Home has been omitted. It announced a threat from Prance to thwart the “Holy League,” by a confederacy between Charles VIII., England, Hungary, and Scotland. So far as relates to England, the failure of the French project is shown by the entry, No. 712, purporting that Henry VII. joined the Pope, Spain, and Venice, his adhesion being formally accepted at Rome on the 18th July 1496, by the same Robert Sherbourn, who, eight years later, conveyed the Garter to the Duke of Urbino.

In the table of English diplomatic agents accredited to the Republic (p. cxliv.), the name of Stephen Gardyner should have been inserted. He arrived at Venice from Viterbo on the evening of the 23rd of June, 1528, as recorded in the diaries of Sanuto, who adds, that he was lodged with the ambassador in ordinary, the prothonotary Cassalis, in the Dandolo Palace, which is now an inn, entitled “Albergo Reale.” In Vol. VII. State Papers, Part V. p. 90, in a letter from Clerk and Tayler to “Wolsey, it is seen that Gardyner was still at Venice on the 8th July, “sor syke in a fluxe, and all his servantes, and that wythin 2 days he shold depart from thens homwardis.” The duration of his residence at Venice did not therefore exceed three weeks; Sanuto adds that, according to the letters of Gasparo Contarini, Gardyner was charged to demand the surrender by the Signory to the Pope of Ravenna and Cervia.

Gasparo Contarini resided as ambassador with Clement VII. from June 1528 until November 1529; his original letter book, containing copies of the despatches written by him on this mission, is preserved in St. Mark's Library, and a paragraph in one of them warrants the supposition that the 10 letters on parchment addressed by English Sovereigns to various Popes (mentioned at p. lxxxvii. Preface) formed part of the spoil taken at the sack of Rome, owing to which catastrophe they passed from the Vatican to the Signory's “Secreta.

The sentence on which my conjecture is based occurs in despatch No. 189, dated Rome, 6th July 1529, as follows:—

“There have come into my hands some bulls of Pope Leo's, which I thought might be of use to your Serenity, and to your noblemen and subjects. They were taken at the sack of Rome; I purchased them for a crown and half and send them to your Highness accordingly.

Finally, with regard to the list of English consuls, at p. clii. (Preface) I must mention that I have sought in vain for any official notice of the diplomatic functions of Sir Robert Brown, who, in Burke's extinct and dormant Baronetcies (pp. 86, 87) is stated to have been “his Majesty's resident in Venice.” In April 1723, the Venetian Board of Trade informed the Senate that the consul Neil Brown, was suspected of defrauding the Customs; and that to facilitate the shipment of goods for Constantinople, he had lent his name to “Robert Brown, another English merchant in Venice.” The precise words are, that the Export Permit, No. 690, had been conceded, “non già nel nome di Neil Brown, Console, ma bensì di Roberto Brown altro mercante delta sua natione.”

I nevertheless inferred that the merchant and the consul were in fact identical; but according to Burke, Sir Robert Brown died on the 5th October 1760, and I have lately discovered by a register in the Archives, “Necrologio, No. 137,” that the English consul, Neil Brown, died in the parish of Sta. Fosca, at Venice, on the 29th of June 1740, aged 75 years.

In 1723 Neil Brown had a dispute with the Venetian Board of Trade about his shipments for Constantinople; and in 1737 he took his revenge on the Republic by writing an account to England of the manner in which the Pretender had been received at Venice, and thus caused George II. to dismiss the Signory's resident Businello from his court. (fn. 10)

Of Robert Brown, the only notice hitherto discoverable at the Archives, is that he resided as a merchant at Venice in April 1723.

With regard to the list of Venetian consuls in London, I have discovered, by a document in the “Filza Senato Terra, No. 38,” that the consul Giovanni Pesaro, to whom Queen Elizabeth gave a letter of recommendation in 1570, was first accredited to her court in March 1563; but I have been unable to find any traces of his correspondence. He is remarkable for having presented formal credentials, a distinction which the State does not seem to have conferred on commercial agents, either before or since the 5th of March 1563.

I think it proper in this place to state that I have obtained some documentary evidence which goes far to prove that an English diplomatic agent visited Venice during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In Birch's Memoirs of the Queen's reign, from 1581 until her death (London 1751), one Dr. Hawkyns is said to have arrived at Venice on the 22nd Feb. 1596 on a mission from the Earl of Essex. On the 19th April in that year Hawkyns wrote to Mr. Bacon that he had “on that day been before the Capi del Consiglio de' Dieci, who asked many things touching Her Majesty's views and good intentions towards their State.”

Birch has also printed many letters from Hawkyns, and in the last but one of the series, dated 1/11 April 1597, I find a paragraph in which Hawkyns recommends “Almero (sic) Zani, senator of great authority in Venice, who he desired might be conceal'd from everybody but the Queen and the Earl of Essex, and who had been informed that her Majesty had a most sovereign remedy against the renella or Stone, which Zani wanted to be partaker of.” I was unable to discover any record of Hawkyns or of his above mentioned audience in April 1596, but on examining the “Parti Secrete Cons° “Xci,” I found extracts to the effect that on the 15th April 1597, in consequence of a communication made to that tribunal by Almoro Zane he was desired to ascertain particulars concerning the individual who had presented himself as the agent of the Queen of England, and that Zane reported the agent to have said that “her Majesty wished to discuss two points, the one, touching her 'conversion' (la conversion che desidera far essa Regina); and the other with regard to the choice of her successor, for the establishment of the kingdom; she being desirous of taking the opinion and counsel of the most serene Republic, which she loves and esteems greatly and that she would subsequently write to Rome to the Pope, according to the advice received.” On the morrow, the 16th April 1597, Almoro Zane again appeared before the Chiefs of the Ten, and told them that he had seen the agent a second time, and that the latter represented himself as “Henry Hawkyns, an Englishman.” It may be reasonably assumed that Dr. Hawkyns and Henry Hawkyns are one and the same person.

Amongst the “letter-books” in St. Mark's Library, which I had not perused when the first volume of the Venetian Calendar was printed, is one containing the correspondence of Francesco Cornaro, who represented the Signory at the Court of Ferdinand the Catholic, from February 1508 until May 1509. Cornaro alludes to various demands made by him of the King, for safeconducts for the Flanders galleys; and in date of Burgos, May 29, 1508, he writes that the English secretary resident at the Court of Spain told him two ambassadors were expected in England, one from the Emperor, the other from the Prince Don Carlos and the Archduchess Margaret, for the purpose of arranging the marriage of the Prince and the Princess Mary.

The ambassador also gives particulars hitherto (I believe) unpublished, concerning the navigator who gave his name to America, and these are no less interesting than the early notices of Christopher Columbus, and of John and Sebastian Cabot. They all relate to regions in whose civilization England has had a great share.

No account exists of any voyages performed by Amerigo Vespucci, after the 22nd May 1507. On the authority of Lopes de Pintho, Bandini supposes the death of Vespucci to have taken place in 1516, whereas Fleury assigns the date of 1508 to that event. The following brief extracts from Cornaro's despatches, show that Vespucci was certainly alive at Burgos on the 16th July 1508.

“1508, June 19, Burgos.
“It is moreover said that his Majesty here has given some 19,000 ducats to Messer Almerico and Juan the Biscayan [De la Cosa] who are going at his cost to take possession of the recently discovered islands, which they call Terra Ferma.”

“1508, July 16, Burgos.
“Messer Almerico the Florentine, the discoverer of the islands, has told me that five days ago news came from Seville of the arrival there of a ship with gold to the amount of 50,000 ducats, and a great quantity of pearls, of which produce his Majesty has received the tenth, besides duties at the rate of 7 per cent.

“The passengers by this ship say that the discovery of gold augments constantly.

“Almerico has had 13,000 ducats derived from the exports of these islands, and is going to procure good ships in Biscay, all of which by reason of the . . . . . ., he means to sheathe with lead (vol fare investire de piombo), and will make the western passage in quest of the territories which the Portuguese discover by navigating eastward, and he will infallibly depart next March.”

The despatches of Cornaro (fn. 11) contain ample details of the quarrel of the Marquis de Priego with the Spanish Court, his outrageous conduct, and the punishment with which it was visited. It was probably the irritation caused by this indignity that induced the uncle of the delinquent, the Great Captain, Gonsalvo of Cordova, to reveal the secret of the league of Cambrai to the Venetian ambassador early in 1509, and to make overtures for transferring his allegiance and his services from Ferdinand to Venice. This story is only indirectly connected with English annals. At p. 234 of the present volume is recorded the arrival in London, in March 1515, of the Bishop of Trinopoli, Bernard de Mesa, an ambassador from Spain, and through him Henry conveyed a caution to his father-in-law against Gonsalvo, of whose character and intentions he entertained the strongest suspicions, inasmuch as he himself had him once received overtimes from him. Mr. Prescott, in telling this story, (fn. 12) expresses his wish to see the reputation of the Great Captain cleared from such imputations, and hints his doubts of the King's veracity. Gonsalvo's offers on this occasion to Venice make it highly probable that Henry told nothing but the truth, and that the rumour of similar overtures made to Lewis XII. and Francis were not without foundation. For this reason, I venture to give the despatches at full length in an appendix. They are not so directly connected with England that I could introduce them into the Calendar, but they have been only partially quoted by Romanin, in his history of Venice; they are eminently curious in themselves, and they help to clear up a doubtful point in history. The elucidation of individual character is one of the purposes for which the investigation of original records is most useful. It no doubt must often produce results which offend our prejudices and pain our partialities. But we must show our candour rather by charitably allowing for the inconsistency and the weakness of human nature, and for the different feelings and standard of a past age, than by shutting our eyes to the evidence of contemporary records.

In these preliminary remarks which I have prefixed to the second volume of the Calendar of Venetian State Papers I have carefully avoided the ground which was traversed by the general preface to the whole work, and in the brief notice I have given of the contents I have endeavoured simply to apprize the reader what portions of history he will find illustrated by the correspondence which I have calendared in the following pages.

I cannot refrain from expressing my gratification (and I trust my English readers will not refuse me their sympathy) at the indulgent kindness with which, my first volume has been received in this the country of my adoption. To Professor Rinaldo Fulin and to Mons. Victor Cérésole I feel great obligation for the labour they have bestowed on putting the preface into an Italian dress; and I congratulate myself on having fallen into the hands of such able interpreters, who have only given clearness and point to my meaning in transferring it to a foreign tongue. (fn. 13) The preliminary note by Count Agostino Sagredo expresses in terms highly gratifying to the English reader his appreciation of the motives which induced the Master of the Bolls to suggest to Her Majesty's Government the compilation of calendars of Venetian State Papers relating to English affairs.

From the Director of the Archives, Count Dandolo, as also from the Provisional “Aggiunto,” Signor Luigi Pasini, from the Librarian, Vice-librarian, and “Aggiunto” of St. Mark's Library, I have received the same kind and courteous assistance, for which I have expressed my gratitude in the preface to the first volume, and I have now the pleasure to repeat my acknowledgments. Nor can I omit again to record my sense of the attention, correctness, and patient research displayed for many years by Luigi Guadagnin, whose care in. transcribing and collating Venetian manuscripts relating to English history has greatly facilitated the progress of the Calendar.

To Count Dandolo I am indebted for a mark of confidence so flattering, that I feel bound to record my gratitude, and indeed a public acknowledgment is the more necessary, inasmuch as I feel that the compliment was not so much paid to myself personally, as to the Government by whom I am employed.

The Deputy-Keeper of the Record Office, in his report presented in November 1865, recommended that photographs of the Michiel cipher should be sent to England. The Lords Commissioners of the Treasury having sanctioned his proposal on the 13th June 1866, I lost no time in communicating it to the proper authorities here. On the 23rd Count Dandolo consigned to me the whole of the Michiel correspondence, for the purpose of procuring photographs of the ciphered portions, which were accordingly executed by the Signor Carlo Ponti, well known as an optician and the most expert of photographers. The whole work was completed in the month of August, and in September the photographs were received in England. It is a great satisfaction to me to hear that they have been highly approved of by Lord Romilly, the Master of the Rolls, and that his Lordship has directed a set to be presented to Count Dandolo, as a trifling acknowledgment of his courtesy and liberality.

The subject of cipher is so interesting, and has attracted so much attention lately, that I venture to add in an Appendix to this preface such notices as I have been able to collect in the Archives of the history of cipher in Italy, and especially Venice. There the reader will find a facsimile of the cipher of 1529. I have also obtained permission to add a lithographed copy of an important despatch in cipher dated in 1654, with its decipher.

I cannot conclude without expressing my acknowledgments to Mr. R. E. G. Kirk, one of the transcribers of the Record Office, for very valuable assistance in passing these sheets through the press. By such aid the labour which is inevitably occasioned by my residence in a foreign country while the work is printed in London, and the consequent delays in the publication, have been greatly abridged, and my best thanks are due for the assiduity and zeal he has displayed.


Death has deprived me of kind friends and advisers whilst the foregoing pages were passing through the press; and of these losses —to me irreparable—it is my painful duty to record that of the late Director of the Venetian Archives.

Count Girolamo Antonio Dandolo, the last male heir of his illustrious house, died at Venice on the 15th March 1867.

Ever since its commencement he did everything in his power to aid the compilation of the Venetian Calendar, and the facilities afforded by him rendered it less defective than it otherwise would have been.

I have already made especial mention of the permission to photograph the ciphered passages in the Michiel correspondence, and need only add, that his courtesy on that occasion was in accordance with the treatment which I invariably received from him, whether my demands were made on behalf of the Master of the Rolls, or of myself individually.

Count Dandolo's countrymen render due justice to his many excellent qualities, and students of all nations have reason to regret the demise of a personage who understood the value of the materials committed to his charge, and wished them to be accessible to everybody, both for the honour of Venice and for the diffusion of historical truth, apart from political or national prejudices; and he always reprobated invidious jealousy of any sort.

I have stated in the preface to the first volume of this work (p. x), that the fourth Doge of his house—the friend of Petrarch—showed great solicitude for the safe custody of Venetian State Papers; and, true to his descent, their late Keeper watched over them with equal care, after a lapse of four centuries and a half Nor —in conclusion—will I omit to add, that his penultimate work, printed in November 1866, concerned the removal of the “Pacta” and “Commemoriali” the first registry of which acts has already been assigned by me to the reign of his ancestor, the Doge Andrea.

The two Dandolos had at heart the memory of the departed; they in their turn are entitled to our gratitude; and be their portion “Christian peace.”

Count Dandolo has been succeeded by the Cavre Tommaso Gar, from whom all students can promise themselves such information as foreshadowed by his researches at Vienna, Florence, Padua, Trent, and Naples; and he has already shown himself no less liberal in communicating the historical treasures now committed to his charge, than careful to preserve them.

Venice, 31st March 1867.


  • 1. Giustinian and Sudan's letter of 21 July 1519.
  • 2.
  • 3. See an article on the Hanseatic League, in the Foreign Quarterly Review, vol. vii. p. 137, January 1831, by J. R. McCulloch.
  • 4. In the Correr Museum there exist the Statute books of Giacomo Marcello, captain of the Alexandrian galleys, 1457, and of Nicolò Muazzo, captain of the Aigues-mortes galleys, 1477–1478. In the Archives there is an imperfect Statute book, compiled for a captain of the Aigues-mortes galleys, probably Zaccaria Loredano, 1506.
  • 5. In two of the protests, the rate of exchange in London has been omitted.
  • 6. See Sanuto in Romanin, vol. v. p. 496.
  • 7. See Appendix to the Preface, no. III.
  • 8.
  • 9. Whilst these pages were yet unpublished, I received Mr. Manley Hopkins' valuable contribution to the commercial History of England, entitled, “A Manual of Marine Insurance;' to which the reader desiring information on this important subject is referred.
  • 10. Since this paragraph was printed, I have read in a despatch from the Venetian resident Businello, dated Calais, 8 July 1737, that Sir Robert Brown in London aggravated the complaints sent from Venice to the English Government by the consul Neil Brown. This corroborates my assertion in the text, that the baronet and the consul were two distinct and separate persons. Businello complains that, after having made his fortune by trade in Venice, Sir Robert Brown, Bart., “mal corrispondeva alle “tante cortesie ricevute, ed ha superata la stessa ingratitudine della “natione.” Businello was very angry with the Duke of Newcastle for making him quit England at 48 hours' notice.
  • 11. The MS. volume in St. Mark's Library, Class VII., Cod. MCVIII., contains copies of the despatches written by Francesco Cornaro, Venetian ambassador in Spain, from February 1508, to June 1509.
  • 12. Ferdinand and Isabella, vol. ii. p. 368. London, 1834.
  • 13. Both these writers have proved their thorough acquaintance with the Venetian Archives, as well as with other sources of historical information by various miscellaneous works. I may mention specially Professor Fulin's recent notices of Dantesque MSS. in St. Mark's Library, and of State Papers at Florence. The English reader will be interested by his edition of Sebastian Giustinian's Report of England, enriched with valuable notes, one of which records a passage in the life of Admiral Bonnivet, unknown to his biographer Brantôme. M. Cérésole's Calendar of the Republic's Registers and Files, and of the Diaries of Marin Sanuto, in illustration of the relations between the Signory and the Swiss Cantons, gives the most exact account of the treaties and conventions between the two states.