Venice: May 1637, 1-15

Pages 193-210

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 24, 1636-1639. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.

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May 1637, 1-15

May 1.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
205. To the Ambassador in England.
We have received your despatches of the 2nd and 3rd ult. We note the efforts made for the recall of the Ambassador Fielding. We approve of what you have done and the information obtained by the friendly offices of the individual who spoke so wisely to the king, for which he deserves the thanks of the republic. The case against Andrea della Nave will follow its ordinary course. You will continue to advance the same arguments and we hope that you will have been able to tranquillise the king's mind to the advantage of the public service. Advices.
Ayes, 109. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
May 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
206. Astzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
They have hold long and frequent conferences this week about the Swedish proposals, but although time presses, a decision has been delayed. The chief reason is supposed to be the doubtful state of negotiations with France, whom they possibly mean to stimulate by this policy, or else, as the king is not settling with one crown, he may be averse from beginning negotiations with another, but would rather make terms with the Austrians, who offer secure and advantageous terms, exempt from the chance of war, and indeed this week the Spanish Ambassador made fresh offers of the complete restitution of the Lower Palatinate showing the special powers which he holds, and adding that until it is entirely handed over and the Palatine enjoys secure possession, some strong and important fortresses in the Netherlands will be placed in his Majesty's hands, and they will treat afterwards about the remainder and the electoral dignity, with proposals which certainly will not cause dissatisfaction. Meanwhile, as a mark of good will he has left with his Majesty a present of two most beautiful Spanish horses, and he presented another to the Marquis of Hamilton, the Master of the Horse, saying that he had other very swift ones to send to his king when he wished to send him speedy news of the successful conclusion of the affair.
These offices, which have some semblance of sincerity, since it is known that the Spaniards have possession of the Lower Palatinate exactly as they held it in the year 1630 before the King of Sweden entered Germany, by no means displease the Palatine, who has never been able to conceal his apprehension of exposing himself in an army. So it appears he has intimated that they ought not to disdain the proposals of the Austrians where it is a question of certain gain, and it is better to enjoy what is certain than to expose oneself to manifest peril for uncertain gain, with so much dependence upon fortune. These opinions confirm the impression of his lack of courage. As this is the basis of every appeal to arms, people imagine that little vigour will be shown, and without this foundation not much can be hoped for the rest. Prince Rupert also seems more inclined to the ease and charm of the Court than to the practise of arms, so that one does not know what to expect from either of them in case of emergency.
Meanwhile the Swedes circulate a report that they have already sent Count Brandestein to Vienna and to the Elector of Saxony to hear proposals for a separate adjustment, as without help they cannot hold out, the imperial army having hemmed theirs in and obliged it to retire to fortified positions, in the hope of starving them into a retreat ; that a secret alliance against them, the Swedes, is being formed by Denmark, Poland and Saxony, to expel them altogether from Germany, as proved by letters intercepted from General Harnheim, showing that he himself was conducting the negotiation, for which he had been arrested and sent prisoner to Sweden. All these threats fail to decide the king here to help Oxestern, unless he is sure of France, as he is afraid she may make terms with Austria if she is not bound by any treaty, and let the flood of all the evil influences descend upon them. If this should happen, they recognise clearly that their cause would be beaten down for ever, as they cannot expect to have sufficient force to resist such heavy blows. However they have decided to devise some other expedient for unmasking this affair with the Most Christian completely, so that afterwards they may have solid foundation for taking such steps as they may consider most advantageous. If the letters from the Earl of Leicester do not bring some good news this week, it is stated that in the following week they will send a special envoy with fresh instructions, though it is thought it will only be to charge him to make protests that if they do not give him his answer in a few days he has orders to abandon the affair and to return to England without further delay.
With regard to the reports of the Count dalla Rocca about what happened here in Fielding's affair, his correspondents blundered badly in anticipating events, as they send word of things before negotiations were opened. Audience was never denied me. Nothing more is said on the subject, but they are waiting to hear from Fielding. It is hoped his reports may be good, as many letters from his private friends have advised him to abandon the indefensible attitude he showed at the outset, and his own mother has several times assured me that she hopes that the old confidential relations between this crown and the republic will be advanced at the time of his departure rather than diminished.
I hope soon to be leaving for France. I shall be grateful if the Senate will be pleased to grant me a coadjutor in addition to the secretary. For a fortnight I have been kept to my bed. London, the 1st May, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
207. Aivise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
They have taken to the English Ambassadors in the king's name the reply for which they were waiting. This does not seem to satisfy them, and they say that it is not definitive and that they do not wish to pledge themselves here because they want peace.
Paris, the 5th May, 1637.
May 6.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
208. The English Ambassador came into the Collegio and spoke to the following effect :
It will seem strange to your Serenity that I appear now after such a long interval. I could not do otherwise without express orders from my king. He has directed me to return and so I obey. I was very greatly offended at the incident which caused me to withdraw, because it affected his Majesty's honour, and I could not dispose of that without consulting him. I regretted deeply being prevented from coming to see your Serenity, as I feared I should lose your favour which I value so highly.
The gentleman whom I sent with my account of the incident (fn. 1) has returned with letters from his Majesty expressing his deep regard for the republic and with full instructions about what I am to do to obtain proper satisfaction from your Serenity. He directs me first to represent the sorrow with which he heard of the scant respect shown to his ambassador, and that he expects a demonstration corresponding to his affection for this republic. He feels sure that rather than omit such a sign of friendship you will afford satisfaction corresponding to his greatness.
I think that your ambassador has offered some reparation. This was not considered sufficient and his Majesty has honoured me with full powers to treat about this. He has the matter so much at heart that he has written about it with his own hand. (fn. 2) He knows me for a devoted servant of your Serenity and now I declare my desire to use every effort to remove all difficulties. You will have no reason to complain of me. I shall await your Serenity's decisions.
In my letters I have evaded the matters which might have rendered this serious affair difficult and thorny, so I am not without fear of what may ensue, as I may be blamed. However, I prefer the maintenance of the mutual friendship to my own private interests.
I therefore ask your Serenity to give his Majesty just and proper satisfaction, in the assurance that I will sacrifice everything to maintain and increase this confidence, without considering my personal position, so that the king has satisfaction. I hope to show that I am worthy of your confidence. I must warn your Serenity that noble and well born spirits always aspire to serve their princes well, and I, who profess to serve well my king and your Serenity too, promise myself that you, on your side will remove all difficulties that may intervene and prevent matters going to the last extremity, which I should deplore.
The doge replied, We are always glad to see you and were sorry to be deprived of the pleasure for so long a time. We rejoice to see again one whom we esteem so much and are also glad that his Majesty has confided the affair to you, as you know the good intentions of the republic and that we never had the slightest idea of giving you any offence. We have always shown our affectionate respect for the King of Great Britain and desired to preserve friendship and confidential relations with him.
We can assure you that in what happened there never was the slightest intention to prejudice his Majesty or you, and no different interpretation should be given, as we could not show more affectionate esteem.
The house was considered private, and let to a private person, without the ambassador having any interest therein. The one who gave the order had express information that this was so. We hope that you will give the matter due consideration. Your house was not touched, and there was never the slightest indication of any attack on your interests. You may rest assured that the republic will do all that it can, but we ask you to take the matter in its essence, without listening to the accounts of others, holding fast to the maxim that there was no evil deed or intention, and that the republic, in every way possible, will show the great esteem it has for you, as we have not had for many years any ambassador whom we loved more. We regretted the event, the more because you took offence at very small matters.
The ambassador expressed his thanks and said, I am sure that his Majesty has the most perfect confidence in the good intentions of the republic, and his resentment is assuaged. If your Serenity will propose something that satisfies his honour he will be satisfied.
I had every reason to take offence, and my king was deeply offended, so that I was bound to demonstrate his feelings at the breach of his dignity and the scant respect shown to my house.
The doge replied, Your lordship may be sure that the utmost regard will be shown for the honour of your king and his dignity, and there was never the slightest intention to offend him. The house was considered private.
The ambassador answered, The house was certainly mine, hired by me, taken by one of my people for the use of my household. The Marquis of Hamilton, my brother in law, wished to come to Venice, and the house was taken to accommodate members of my household, so as to make room for the marquis and his suite in my own house. That was the case, and I am sure your Serenity will take my word for it. In any case I can show you the truth of this, and I feel sure that you will be disposed to give the satisfaction that is necessany and due to my king.
The doge replied, Your Lordship may satisfy yourself by proving what you please. In the mean time you may take this as constant, that the affectionate esteem of the republic for his Majesty is very great. The ambassador rose and said, I will await the decision of your Serenity, took leave and departed.
May 8.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
209. To the Ambassador in England.
We have received your despatches of the 7th and 8th ult. brought by the gentleman of the Ambassador Fielding, and that of the 10th by Augsburg. We commend the prudence of your offices. The ambassador did not appear in the Collegio until two days ago. We enclose a copy of his exposition, made in general terms, and of the reply of the Senate. You will speak in conformity with the last to his Majesty and the ministers, and endeavour constantly to persuade them to rest content, as they ought. Enclose sheet of advices.
Ayes, 103. Noes, 4. Neutral, 28.
May 8.
Senato, Terra. Venetian Archives.
210. Resolution to prolong for another five years from the present date the concession granted for five years on the 16th January 1630 to the English and Flemings to import salt fish to this city, in accordance with their petition, (fn. 3) chiefly because we have experienced the arrival of very abundant supplies of this very necessary food, and because those nations have expressed their full intention of employing their capital in this city, the concession to be upon the conditions previously set forth. And further that of all the salt fish brought from the West the merchants are bound to offer one half to the Art of the salt fishmongers ; but if this is not taken up within fifteen days the merchants are free of the obligation.
Ayes, 136. Noes, 4. Neutral, 4.
May 8.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
211. That the English Ambassador be summoned to the Collegio and that the following be read to him :
We rejoice greatly that your lordship receives every sign of the king's confidence in your ability and prudence, because no one knows better than his Majesty the sincere esteem of the republic for him. We are equally persuaded that your lordship will rest assured that our intentions and actions will always correspond. We are gratified by your assurance that you will always encourage friendly relations. We assure your lordship that our desire is to show all honour and respect to your house and our disposition is always to do that which may reasonably conform to his Majesty's good pleasure and also to give evidence of our affection for your lordship.
Ayes, 103. Noes, 4. Neutral 28.
May 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Ingliterra. Venetian Archives.
212. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
As the king has not made any reply to the Spanish Ambassador's proposals, he repeated them this week warmly, adding that his king, in addition to the complete restoration of the Lower Palatinate, which he steadily promises, will do even more if the king here will enter a defensive and offensive alliance with him against the Dutch, who, said he, deserve all his Majesty's indignation, as they make no account of the example of the greatest kings, and insolently dare to contest the sovereignty of these waters with him. This point about the dominion of the sea has not passed without notice, as it is considered of the gravest consequence, but while they believe themselves strong enough to maintain it alone they may not think it wise to commit themselves so far with the Spaniards, as they cannot abandon the old maxim that the defeat of the Dutch is a manifest disadvantage for these realms, as if the Spaniards were powerful and victorious in the Netherlands they know they would wish to extend the arm of their power even further. But the king wishes to keep Ognate in suspense, while he hesitates between Austria and France, and perhaps Ognate is content with ambiguous phrases, the gain of time being what he thinks most about.
In order to prevent the ratification of the treaties with France Ognate circulates reports of the feebleness of France, as unable to maintain the Duke of Parma, incapable of holding her own in the Valtelline, and unequal with all her forces to gain any advantage over the House of Austria, opinions which make no small impression on the ministers here, indeed one of them remarked that if some successes in the Palatinate were won with the help of the Most Christian they could not feel sure of securing their conquests with his assistance, as the French were never known to have the faculty of keeping for long what the fortunes of war gave them.
The Ambassador Senneterre tries to confute this and in a special audience apologised for the delay in signing the treaty on the score of its being necessary to consider Sweden and Holland whose particular interests call them to come to terms with the Austrians rather than to continue the war and so it is desirable to coax them and it will not be wise to omit to include them at the outset in a treaty of so much consequence. The congress which is to meet at Hamburg is the proper place for making such an arrangement with equal satisfaction to the parties and it would be very apportune for his Majesty to send an envoy to that city, whither Mons. d'Avo has already betaken himself on behalf of the Most Christian. Senneterre also spoke of the extensive French preparations for the approaching campaign, magnifying and enlarging upon the numbers, which are not credited here.
The king here, who meant the alliance with France to precede everything else, is disappointed at this tone, and complained plainly to Senneterre. He declined to send to Hamburg, saying that he must wait for Leicester's letters, which arrived soon after with indifferent news, creating additional difficulties. Apparently the old claims are now revived with vast additions, as besides an open declaration against the House of Austria, France now demands a number of ships for emergencies at sea, and troops paid in Germany, points which England cannot possibly accept in her present disposition, as the number of ships to be sent to sea this year is already arranged, with little indication that it can be increased, and they are in no position to maintain troops in Germany, because great inroads cannot be made upon the purses of the people, even with the laws in favour, without making trouble, while the royal treasury is utterly exhausted. The present state of affairs does not make a declaration against the House of Austria advisable without great necessity, and if it costs so dear to make it, it seems likely that the very thought of it will vanish away. They say this will be discussed at full length tomorrow. Meanwhile everything else is held in suspense. They are not negotiating with the Swedes ; they are not giving ear to the Landgrave, and nothing more is said about the departure of the Palatine for Holland, although his mother keeps urging it.
They are merely equipping the fleet, and from what they say it will put to sea within ten days, but it may be more. The fifteen ships for the Palatine will be ready, but as they lack the volunteers to man them that they hoped for, one does not see for what they can use them. They are too weak for great enterprises and minor ones are of no use for his cause, at the outset of the operations.
Your offices urging the Queen of Sweden to send her plenipotentiaries to Cologne have been made known at Court and the king highly approved of them indeed, from what a confidant of mine told me, I fancy he himself would like to be definitely asked, as he does not think that such a step of his own motion would become him, perhaps from a consideration upon which he is now irresolute rather than determined, about recognising the new emperor. I find support for this in what his Majesty himself said to me, and which I reported on the 27th March about his gladly considering sending a minister to Cologne, if the republic invited him to do so. Now I know that such an invitation is desired I would recommend the writing of a letter if it can be sent in time.
I have not been able to find out if the Spanish ambassador has received instructions as asserted by the Count della Rocca ; but my informant was told by the Resident Nicolaldi that he did not believe such orders had reached the Count of Villa Mediana because if they had he would certainly obey them. They have not met since. The delay will do no harm.
I have received the ducal missives of the 11th April with copies of the sentences against Nave and Bon. I will tell his Majesty and the ministers the particulars about the delinquent taking refuge in the house of this Ambassador Fielding after committing the scandalous crime at Easter, and also the matter of the ambassador's servant taken by force to his house and there beaten, making them aware of the just resentment of your Excellencies and pointing out the licentious behaviour of the ambassador in every way, with scant regard for the moderation which you have always tried to observe. This fresh incident may possibly supply the last stroke for his removal, which is already practically decided anyhow, but it will also cause all the king's ill humour to descend upon him, seeing that right is on the side of your Excellencies even more clearly than in the first case. During these few hours I have been trying to find out if any news of it has reached the Court, and I find that they are already beginning to talk about it, although confusedly if they misrepresent things I will meet this at the proper time, and will not let the truth go by default, even if I have to defend it at the cost of my own health.
London, the 8th May, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 9.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
213. The Ambassador of Great Britain was summoned to the Collegio and the Senate's deliberation of the 7th was read to him ; he spoke as follows :
I am glad that your Serenity concedes the disposition of the affair of those prisoners to me if my king approves, as that is the way to make good the offence to his reputation and also to give satisfaction to the republic, as I earnestly desire. I am especially obliged for what is said about me personally.
I fully understand that the republic did not intend in any way to offend his Majesty's dignity, and your Serenity's intention to show all courtesy and allow all privileges to his ambassadors. I have not neglected to bear witness to this, but if you will consider the circumstances of the incident the violence of the officials, the violation of the house, so near mine, and the contempt for me personally, I am sure you will see that my honour was offended, and that I was right to ask for reparation, due to my position as his Majesty's ambassador. That renders me desirous of removing all hindrances that may stand in the way of the perfect concord which has lasted so many years between the King and the republic.
There were two offences, one of the two persons arrested, one in the house, the other on the water. I cannot deny that they came to my house to ask the favour of asylum. When I asked why, they said they were afraid of justice, though no declaration had been issued against them. I allowed this, not thinking to do anything distasteful to your Serenity, as they were not declared guilty. But if I had known that the state did not like me receiving them, I should not have acted so, as my sole desire is to do what pleases the republic. No such idea entered my mind, so I granted them the house, but upon condition that whenever your Serenity took exception to their actions in anything or any court of justice took action against them, they should at once depart and look for a house elsewhere. I do not think that I could possibly have acted more circumspectly.
It may be true that the owner let the house to another, but he let it afterwards to my servants who paid him with my money, for the purpose I have indicated. It is true that the information given to my king differs from this, but I hope he will perceive that the person who informed your Serenity of the contrary departed from the truth, because I should be unworthy of the name of gentleman and of the position I hold if I represented a thing that was not. I claim to be sincere and truthful in all things. Thus I claim to prove that the officials acted upon false information.
I have no doubt that the orders of the Council of Ten are entirely directed by reason and justice, and I am sure that they ordered my house to be respected, and if they had known the other house to be mine they would not have permitted what took place ; but the offence is in the fact.
Further, the officials carried out their orders with such rigour that the whole neighbourhood was disturbed, rendering the affront to me the greater. They attacked the house violently without asking my leave. If they had asked me I might have given permission, when I knew the cause, as I have never wished to protect bad characters and I should always be ready to draw my sword against any one who attacked the republic. Excuse this digression. I say those men entered the calle with an armed company, passed through my very house, set guards at my door, broke down the door of the other house with a great noise, and fired shots so near that they might have hit some in my own house. I certainly do not believe that such was the will of the state.
A servant of mine, who happened to be sleeping there in his livery, was beaten with muskets and fists. It is true that when they saw who he was they recognised their mistake, but the injury had been done, and with so much insolence as to increase my ire.
There was more to show the temerity of those officials and their lack of respect. One day a man wearing the habit of religion, using lying pretexts of religion for infamous purposes assaulted a woman near my house. He came to my house and as there was no one to resist, he easily entered and demanded protection. I was very angry when I heard about it, and would gladly have driven him out, as deserving severe punishment ; but as he had already entered the house and the officials were following him, I thought it undignified to hand him over to justice myself. But I ordered him to seek protection elsewhere, and as I could not honourably hand him over to justice I gave orders for him to be sent to some place where he could only owe his safety to his legs. This was done, but in spite of it all the sergeants entered that narrow calle and passed before my door with so much disturbance that a crowd gathered, there being many people abroad on that holiday. I stood ashamed at the scant respect shown to me. This was not done by order of the republic, but your Serenity sees what scandals might arise, as when men are transported by passion they cannot control their actions, and tragic events may occur, involving even friendly princes in war.
Your Serenity will consider these things and take such steps as you think will satisfy the king as reparation for the affront, adequate to the king's friendly feeling towards the republic, so that I may be able to continue here with decorum.
The doge replied, You have seen from the deliberation of the Senate the desire to show every honour to your house. With regard to the villainous act you speak of, you need not wonder at the crowd, because such a deed would excite the inanimate. We are glad that you drove the man away. There is no marvel either that the officials, seeing a disturbance, hastened up to prevent worse scandals, which you wisely prevented by not affording protection to the scoundrel. The republic is desirous of pleasing his Majesty, and if we are assured that excesses were committed in the matter of the prisoners, in setting guards, as you say, which would be contrary to the intent of the state, we should not neglect to make the proper demonstrations. We shall give your lordship every proof of our good will in the matter and in all other occasions.
The ambassador replied, The coming of that man to my house could not be prevented. Ambassadors are tied in such matters and cannot move a limb. But that does not make it allowable to give asylum to persons who break the laws of the republic, and if they were guilty of treason I would drive them out. I have instructions from my king to act in a proper manner in such cases, as no one desires the greatness of your Serenity more than his Majesty.
I forgot to say that reports were current in the city that the house was a resort of evil livers, infamous persons, given to gaming and every other vice, where they took refuge, as in an asylum. I may say that when the Resident who was here provided my house, as he was instructed, before my arrival, it was his business to keep an eye on things, but when I came and saw with disgust such people in the house, I made every effort to hire it, without prejudice to any one. When the person who had it was arrested, I was glad, and although I spoke in his favour, I did so because I was near and sometimes in his house, so I did not think I could refuse him this good office. I did by so asking that he should be less severely treated, although I knew that he did not deserve my protection. Desiring to prevent the place from being a resort for the base any more, I took it on hire, after purging it and putting persons of honour and my own people there. In the arrest of that person in the open and not at home I recognised your Serenity's courtesy in respecting my neighbourhood, and I recognised this in asking the favour for him. The reports I have mentioned were therefore false, as immediately I could I delivered my house from that association. I do not know if I have made myself understood, owing to my imperfect command of the language.
The doge replied, Your goodness and straightforwardness are very well known and manifest in your actions, and you acted nobly to clear your neighbourhood of vicious persons. You may always expect the affection and esteem of the republic, and his Majesty may rest persuaded of our affectionate observance.
The ambassador said, I beg your Serenity to consider what I have represented, and thus facilitate reparation to my king's offended dignity. I shall certainly never abuse the privileges and favours of the republic. With this he took leave, and went to take a copy of the office. He remarked to me, the secretary, I do not know if they have thoroughly understood me. It is necessary to touch upon many things, and I must have been somewhat confused. I praised his good offices. He expressed ignorance of the manner of the procedure in the Collegio and asked if they had taken his remarks for an answer to the office read to him, and if they would discuss it. I said I thought they would take it for an answer, but I could not tell him the intentions of the Collegio.
Gerolamo Cavazza, Secretary.
May 11.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
214. A gentleman of the English Ambassador was introduced into the Collegio and said :
The ambassador has charged me to present this paper to your Serenity. He handed it to the secretary, and after it was read the doge said, These Signors will decide what they consider proper at the earliest moment. With this the gentleman bowed and departed.
The Paper.
Most Serene Prince : If I have not succeeded in making myself plain in my speeches, I will endeavour to do so here as briefly as possible. It is known that the house where Nave and Buoni were imprisoned, before I was in Venice and before the house where I live was taken by Mr. Rolandson, was a public resort, to my annoyance. But when the tenant was arrested and the house happened to be free, I took it after some time by one of my servants and it was purged. Being so very near to my house it was convenient for my servants, and when these people came from time to time to ask my protection, I told them that I was not accustomed to take delinquents under my protection. They told me that they were neither proclaimed nor condemned and there was no detention against either Nave or Buoni, and they promised that if they were proclaimed they would immediately depart. I received them in that place upon this condition. So far from my integrity being recognised the door of my house was besieged at night, and that of the other forced, shots were fired, my servant was beaten and the two persons were taken to prison, one by water and the other by land. No one can doubt that a manifest wrong was done to my king, as the house is mine and only three braccia (fn. 4) from the door of my dwelling. There is a way between, but it is not a thoroughfare. I cannot think that the state means to refuse me those privileges and immunities which are enjoyed by ambassadors in his Majesty's dominions and when it was said that the place was a resort of malefactors and those guilty of abominable crimes, I feel sure it was thought that Varotero lived there, which was never true, as he lived in a small room apart, rented to him by the owner of the houses which are above, as the sbirri know, since they did not find him there, besides I have always abhorred such infamies. Your Serenity may be sure that I should not consider myself a true gentleman if I related what was not entirely true. I might add that while I was waiting for satisfaction a fresh incident occurred on Easter day, in the sight of everyone. The sbirri passed armed and in great numbers before my door, with great prejudice to me and to your Serenity, as your ministers should show respect to ambassadors, especially on this occasion, when I refused asylum to the fugitive.
I only ask your Serenity to consider the offence and the satisfaction I have previously asked, namely the restitution of the two arrested, if one of them has not been found guilty of high treason, as you have declared that they were taken because it was not known that they were in my house and also to punish the sbirri, who behaved so violently, especially against my servant.
I therefore ask your Serenity to inform me of your decision with reasonable celerity, so that redress may be given as soon as possible, and that the old friendship may be confirmed, for which I will work with all my heart.
May 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
215. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Prince of Orange has asked for troops to attack Dunkirk, thus creating a diversion for the royal forces in Picardy. He also undertakes to try and capture Gravelines and hand it over to France. They have refused the troops but apparently offer the States money instead. The English also would like to have the port of Dunkirk, but neither France nor Holland inclines to hand it over to them if it is taken, so that they shall hold it only until the Palatines' dominions are restored.
The reply to the English ambassadors contains that the Most Christian, seeing that the king there does not wish to declare war at present, suggests a suspension of the treaty until he knows the intentions of his allies, the Swedes and Dutch. The Earl of Leicester declares that his king will never agree to this, and that he has already refused it, as he is less inclined to treat of such a matter at Hamburg if this treaty is not concluded here first. Paris, the 12th May, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 13.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
216. That the English Ambassador be summoned to the Collegio and that the following be read to him :
Your Lordship's representations both orally and in writing cannot fail to increase our high opinion of your honour and integrity, and your birth and other qualities render you most dear to us. We are sure that you will recognise the intention of the republic to show all decent respect for the dwellings of ambassadors and their privileges. In response to the king's desire, expressed by the secretary to our Ambassador Corraro, and represented by your lordship, for the release of Boni, we are ready to set him at liberty, out of our esteem for his Majesty and from our desire to please you also. For the rest, as the officials may have committed some excess contrary to their orders, we have decided that proceedings shall be taken against those who have offended, in order to show our resolute intention that your lordship's dwelling shall enjoy every honour and advantage, and that all your dependants shall remain exempt from every outrage. This was confirmed by the incident of Easter day, as the officials, in view of the asylum in which the offender took refuge, held back the people, who were incensed by the outrage, and this saved him from the punishment that every one called down on his head.
That authority be given to our Collegio to order the release of Boni, in such manner as its prudence shall suggest.
That the Chiefs of the Council of Ten be directed to give orders for the punishment of those officials who shall be found to have exceeded their instructions and shown scant respect to the house of the English ambassador, or maltreated his servants in the arrest of Nave and of Boni.
Ayes, 46. Noes, 51. Neutral, 49.
Second vote : Ayes, 42. Noes, 52. Neutral, 49. Pending.
May 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya, Venetian Archives.
217. Francesco Michiel, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Beveren writes that in the general opinion the fleet is to maintain the sovereignty of the sea. The Princess Palatine tries to remove the impression. She says the treaty will be made with France and the French will be obliged to ask for it. She asserts that the king will obtain satisfaction for his nephew in any case and begs the States to rest assured of the friendship of England. All express their readiness to serve her but excuse themselves on the plea of the weakness of the state. The Prince told her frankly that they would do nothing unless they first had a formal declaration that the liberty of the sea would not be infringed. Some here fear that with the threat of an alliance between England and Sweden the Austrians may be impelled to come to terms with France and then other powers would make signals for peace and accept the terms offered to them.
The Hague, the 14th May, 1637.
May 15.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
218. That the English Ambassador be summoned to the Collegio and that the following be read to him :
We are persuaded that your lordship is assured of the excellent intentions of the republic which has always kept in view as one of the principal objects, the most confidential relations with the king. Your nobility of character is one of the outstanding qualities that render you a worthy minister of his Majesty. You will reflect that while the republic has always had due respect for the ambassadors' own dwellings, yet it is not proper or usual anywhere that a house altogether separate and destitute of any royal mark should share the same privileges and immunities. But we readily consent to release Boni at his Majesty's desire, expressed by the secretary to Corraro and represented by you, as an indication of our desire to gratify his Majesty in all things and also to please you. We have also decided to prosecute those officials who may have exceeded their orders, as a further sign of our good will.
That the chiefs of the Council of Ten give orders for the punishment of those officials who may have exceeded their instructions and shown scant respect for the dwelling of the English ambassador in the arrest of Nave and Boni.
Ayes, 72. Noes, 27. Neutral, 44.
As the office is superior to a single ballot, it was referred to another council, in accordance with the laws.
On the 16th of May the above office was again proposed, and the voting was :
Ayes, 70. Noes, 22. Neutral, 37. Carried.
May 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghiiterra. Venetian Archives.
219. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On hearing that Fielding's version of the affairs was much extenuated, ill as I was I went to the king, and told him the story of the duenna and of Fielding's servant who was publicly arrested and afterwards in his house, with outrageous remarks against the nobility. I explained your strong feeling and the general disgust throughout the whole city at the incidents themselves and the evil example they afford. At hearing of the abominable crime of the villain against a woman his Majesty's face clearly showed the compassion and horror that he felt, but he was very constant in the defence of his ambassador, saying that he knew him to be very discreet and he did not believe he would have passed the bounds of moderation in either case. If he had received more satisfaction from the republic in the matter of the prisoners previously arrested in his house, he thought Fielding would have proceeded with more regard in this new incident. I mildly remarked that past circumstances for which he could not reasonably take offence, gave him no cause to excite fresh dissatisfaction. I seized the opportunity to make much of the circumstances of the first case, showing that the nature of the day and place, and the mutilated victim being a helpless and innocent woman, aggravated the offence, and rendered the culprit unworthy of any protection whatever, least of all of one who bears such a high character, and who by birth and disposition makes such high pretensions to honour. With respect to the servant I said that the nobility had every reason to take great exception to seeing their privileges violated in their own boats, which ought to enjoy the same privileges as their houses, as they had never before been disgraced by such outrages. The king reflected a little at this and then asked me if I came of myself or by command of your Excellencies to make this exposition. I told him I had been commanded, because you wished him to hear the truth from my mouth in a matter of such importance, so that with his high prudence he might judge of the matter. You did not wish to represent to him anything but the pure truth, and in spite of all that might happen you wished to live united with him in true affection and esteem.
If you speak to me in the name of the republic, said his Majesty, inform your Signory that I have no information upon the matter beyond what you have just told me. I will make enquiry and if my minister has erred, I shall not fail to punish him, as I wish to show the republic my great desire to give her satisfaction ; if, however, my ambassador is right, I do not think she would urge me to punish him when innocent. I said that your Excellencies did not ask for his punishment, but only wished him to know the truth, so that he should realise in other incidents also their only desire was to show their esteem for him and his representatives. At this point the king let our conference drop, his face clearly showing that he was very angry, and perhaps he was displeased at the multiplication of incidents tending to the discredit of the ambassador.
To account for the strong support Fielding receives I find that he is son of the late Duke of Buckingham's sister, the whole of whose race enjoys his Majesty's favour absolutely. I have been assured, indeed, that the place in his bedchamber of the late Earl of Carlisle, which was never been filled, is reserved for this Fielding. (fn. 5) This honour is one of the greatest, and if he obtains it, it will open the way for him to the secret councils and the highest employments and dignities of the realm. These are the only real reasons which serve to sustain him, and without such support he would have fallen utterly, as faults which in him are not noticed or are condoned, would be believed and punished in others, possibly as faults of the most serious description.
I have spoken to the same effect to the ministers, and sought especially to impress the Secretary Coke, as instructed. He knew from Fielding's letters of the Easter day incident, and seemed more struck by the displeasure shown by your Excellencies and the atrocity of the crime, than by what the ambassador did, considering that for his reputation's sake he could not hand the criminal over to justice, or do better than get him out of the house at once, as he did. The other ministers agree with these views, but one sees that they all feel some vague dissatisfaction in their hearts, although they apparently seek to cloak the action of their master's minister with decent pretexts. Yet I have represented the facts in a moderate and telling manner. My offices have not been ill received and will not produce a bad effect, because the incident itself suffices to show that your Excellencies are in the right.
The Secretary Coke favoured me by reading what the ambassador wrote, and I have also obtained a copy, which I enclose. While the secretary was reading to me what the copy contains my eye travelled further, and I saw that the ambassador clearly states that he welcomed the opportunity of saving the man, to indemnify himself for past affronts, a point which may alone suffice to condemn him. I did not fail to make objection to the particulars which differ from the information I have. You will see that he says nothing about the affair of the gondolier, and I have made a great point of his silence, so that his action is absolutely condemned by everybody, and all agree that before proceeding to violence he should have tried entreaty and courtesy with the noble whom the man was then serving. I am now assured that the king is awaiting the resolution of the first affair with the hope that it will be good, in order that he may remove the ambassador with the customary friendly forms, as they say he has already completed his three years.
London, the 15th May, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosure. 220. An incident which happened here on Easter day, which has raised an outcry against me, obliges me to inform his Majesty of my actions. On that day a man of ordinary condition dressed as a penitent, came to my house for protection, followed by a great multitude of people. I asked what he had done and he replied that he had been deceived by a girl, whom he expected to marry, and had placed in charge of a woman whom he trusted completely. This woman was the cause of the deception. He was enraged against her and determined to adopt this habit of a religious on purpose to punish her. He had done so when she was coming out of the church after receiving the sacrament. I told him that without enquiry into the case, I considered the circumstances proved him execrable. I considered him unworthy of my protection, but as I did not consider it consonant with my honour to hand him over to justice or to keep him, I made him enter my gondola and had him landed at a place where he could safely escape. This was done, and he got out of my gondola and took refuge in the house of the Spanish ambassador. The sbirri afterwards came in front of my door, but did not stop there or commit any indiscretion.
Venice, the 24th April, 1637. (fn. 6)
May 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
221. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Four days ago the Spanish ambassador received an express from Spain and on the following afternoon, he had a téte a téte in the king's own room for two long hours. This long audience has aroused great curiosity. It is supposed that he made fresh proposals about surrendering the Lower Palatinate and attacking the Dutch, in short the king has at last appointed him commissioner for which he has so often asked. They are not appointed yet, but it is thought they will be drawn from the six of the Cabinet Council (sei del Consiglio del Gabinetto). (fn. 7)
The Ambassador Senneterre has told the ministers that if England attacks the Dutch she must not be surprised if France attacks her, such being the arrangement between the States and the Most Christian. The Palatine's councillors remonstrate and declare that Spain is deceiving as usual ; that she has not the power by herself and must depend on the emperor, Bavaria and the Elector of Mayence, who hold the territory. They even go further and show conclusively that according to the laws matters which concern the empire cannot be settled outside the empire itself, so that whenever anything is arranged with the Austrians here they can always appeal to this fundamental principle to evade the obligation to carry it out. They will thus have gained time, which is what they are after, and made England lose one of the safest and most convenient opportunities. But these remonstrances do not obtain the credit that one might wish, either because that of the Spaniards is too powerful, or because they propose to meet their artifice by counter arts. But acts, which cannot lie, make one believe that a propensity towards Spain is ineradicable from the hearts of the ministers here, because even when profit holds out great inducements, under present circumstances it does not seem reasonable that they should continue to protect the barques and ships which daily cross to the ports of Flanders with money, munitions and merchandise, as they have always continued to do, without any circumspection. News has come quite recently that forty merchantmen assembled in the Downs from divers parts to pass more safely to Dunkirk, have been convoyed by the Vice Admiral Pennington with two of the king's warships (fn. 8). This has deeply disgusted the French and Dutch. They complain freely about it, saying that no greater sign of hostility can be shown them than by supplying their enemies with the means of waging war more vigorously against them. For this reason they have had notice, but it seems by a secret way, that the Dutch have decided to besiege the port of Dunkirk again with their ships of war. They take this ill here, because it will mean their losing the profit which they derive from such escorts, or they will continue them with obvious danger of mishap.
Since they began to exact duties even at sea from goods which only stopped in the Downs on their way through, it seems that trade has suffered great deterioration, as many avoid coming here, and those who are obliged to, make great complaint and raise difficulties about the payment ; the Flemings who benefit the most, make more disturbance than the others.
The King of Denmark has written to the Prince Palatine congratulating him upon having his affairs in such good train. He feels sure that with the support and assistance of princes who are as powerful as they are friendly to the prince, the results cannot fail to be good, in short, with fair words and compliments he evades taking any share, which was what the Palatine asked of him. The king leaves nothing to be desired in the matter of titles. It is known here that they are making great preparations of arms and of ships in particular in Denmark, so that anxiety as to their intentions grows hourly more intense among those who are interested in the sea.
It is said that Mons. d'Avo, who has already left Paris for Calais has asked for a man of war to take him, so there is a report that he will land here first, and the Ambassador Senneterre himself told me that he was not sure about it. (fn. 9) By his taking this round about way the Cologne meeting is supposed to be far off, and from this it is concluded the French want peace and therefore give inconclusive replies. Yet from the slowness of their procedure it is not thought that they are much inclined to a general accommodation, but that they are encouraging the usual spirit of mistrust and temporizing in everything in order to come to a secret accommodation with the Spaniards.
In spite of Fielding's complaints he has written again to Coke urging him to get the king to write a letter of thanks to the Signory for the favour shown to the English merchants at Venice, but under existing circumstances the Secretary did not think fit to obtain it.
London, the 15th May, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. Basford.
  • 2. Fielding's account of the affair was received in London on the 4th March. Writing on the 20th March Salvetti states that the king was inclined to blame Fielding and that he did not favour the protection of criminals. But in the news letter of 3rd April he reports that Fielding's relations by their efforts have succeeded in making an impression on the king, leading to higher demands from the Signory. Brit. Mus. Add MSS. 27962H. The state papers contain two drafts of instructions for Fielding on the subject, the first dated 24th March directs the ambassador to accept any reasonable reparation ; the second, of the 25th March is much stiffer and authorises Fielding to demand that the prisoners be handed over to him, and that the offending sbirri be delivered to him for punishment. Writing on the 8th May Fielding declares that Secretary Coke's orders "would have forced me to come off with dishonour upon very ill terms." State Payers Foreign, Venice. It therefore seems probable that the first draft was Coke's and that the king's letter mentioned in the text was in the terms of the second draft.
  • 3. See Vol. XXI. of this Calendar, page 268 and Vol. XXII., pages 288 376, 460. January 1630 M.V. is 1631 by the Gregorian calendar.
  • 4. The braccio is about two feet.
  • 5. But see No. 15 at page 14 above.
  • 6. The full original text of this letter is among Fielding's despatches. State Papers. Foreign, Venice.
  • 7. Gussoni, writing in 1635, gives the inner circle as consisting of Holland, Carlisle, Arundel, Cottington, Vane and the secretaries Coke and Windebank. (See preceding Vol. of this Calendar, page 367). Carlisle was now dead, and probably Laud should be substituted for Vane.
  • 8. The Swiftsure and another. See Pennington's despatch to Nicholas of the 24th April o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1637, page 21.
  • 9. The request was made at least a month before this date. The First Lion's Whelp was detached for this service and the ambassador seems to have gone direct from Calais to Hamburg. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1636-7, page 563, Id, 1637, page 21.