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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July 1636, 16-31
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
28. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
The day before yesterday an express arrived at Court from the Downs with news of the seizure by the fleet of two French armed barques, flying the Most Christian's standard, which were cruising not far from these coasts. (fn. 1) This caused great rejoicing and the Court has seemed pleased about it beyond all belief, as they have been anxiously and agitatedly awaiting some such event as reparation for the royal barque seized at Calais. (fn. 2) On hearing the news the ambassadors remonstrated immediately, though without any hope of obtaining the release of the vessels. They met with such a quick and decided refusal that they could hardly open their mouths to reply. But they willingly practise patience, and do not think of renewing their offices, thinking that if quiet can be secured for the future by such satisfaction the incident will not have been unfortunate. Here, however, they still seem full of ardour and think they cannot relax their jealous observation of the movements of the French naval forces, and they fear that these will cruise about these narrow seas, although the ambassadors here have assured them of the contrary several times. Under the shadow of such apprehensions but perhaps with another object, all the merchantmen in the river have been stopped this week. They have selected twenty of the best of them and ordered them to be fitted out for war with all speed, so that they may be ready to sail with his Majesty's twelve, which will be completely equipped in a few days.
When these forces are united with the fleet now in commission they will increase its numbers to sixty sail. They will all be large picked ships, admirably armed. Thus those will not be far wrong who think that so great a movement does not spring from little designs, but that they intend to do something of great consequence. The French are uneasy, because they know that the materials are always ready for exciting fresh disturbances ; but the Dutch seem much more disturbed, and they have very good cause, because they know for certain that last week fourteen of the best ships of the fleet were unexpectedly sent towards the North to encounter their fishing boats, which recently sailed as I reported. Their instructions are unknown, even the decision being kept so secret that it was not divulged until executed. The Ambassador Beveren spoke to me about it the day before yesterday with very strong feeling. He seems to fear some grave disorder, and is the more convinced of this because the very strong arguments he adduced for the restitution of the Dutch warship seized with the Dunkirk tartana have not so far made any impression. He dreads an untoward result, as the United Provinces are not so strong at sea, even when strengthened by the 30 ships which they are arming at present, that they can pretend to be equal to resisting their enemies and England as well.
On the other hand a report is circulated, it is supposed with design, to the effect that these forces may be destined to act against the Austrians, his Majesty being especially offended by the reply said to have been given by the emperor to the Earl of Arundel in the audience granted to him at Linz, after repeated instances. They keep the tenor of this secret, I know not whether through fear or shame, so that I cannot give your Excellencies any sound information about it. What I have heard is that instead of a reply to Arundel's instances, according to instructions, for a definite and categorical answer, the emperor offered the feeble excuse that he felt the weight of his years too much to apply himself to the conduct of grave affairs, the care of which now fell upon the King of Hungary, and so he must address himself to him if he wished his negotiations to make speedy and favourable progress.
Such is the rather vague account which has issued from the Court. But I have had it from one who is able to speak on good authority. Yet it is so extraordinary that it makes the wisest doubtful, indeed some would refuse to believe it if great commotions and whispers of serious dissatisfaction were not circulating at the same time.
In all these negotiations the arrival of the ambassador expected from Spain has happened very opportunely. He reached this kingdom at the beginning of the present week, and is now staying incognito at Greenwich, where he is preparing a great equipage for his first appearance, in the most pompous and magnificent manner. He came on one of his Majesty's galleons, (fn. 3) on which he left two millions of francs, which it will take to Flanders with the first favourable wind. They await his negotiations with great curiosity. It is thought that at the very first he will touch upon the proposals for an alliance, already opened by Nicolaldi, possibly in the belief that the present strained relations with the French and Dutch may afford the best opportunity for pushing them. But no one believes that he will attain this end so easily, as it will require something very urgent to bring England to such a resolute declaration in these days.
They say that a son of the late Marquis of Aytona has been seen in London. He has come from Flanders and is seeking for an opportunity to proceed in safety to Spain. (fn. 4) He keeps his incognito and they have taken no notice of him at Court.
The Persian merchant went to kiss his Majesty's hands last Sunday, and presented his king's letters. The king received him very graciously, but the reception of the courtiers was not so courteous, as moved by curiosity to see his remarkable dress they greatly crowded and incommoded him. There is a sharp dispute between him and one Richard Gatwood, who arranged for transporting his household and goods. He claims 3 per cent. for hire for some cases of reals, amounting to about 20,000, after he has received 740 for everything, in accordance with the agreement. I sent for him and gently urged him not to be so grasping and to show himself reasonable ; but I found him so obstinate that I was forced to tell him that I should find a way to make him recognise what was right, hinting that I should inform the ministers here. He then told me, more insolently than ever that I might do what I liked it would make no difference to him, as the interests of individuals and of merchants had nothing to do with those of the state. I told him again not to be so hot, as if he happened to prove in the right I undertook to have the right done to him, but it was of no use as he remained most obstinate and left me most disdainfully, saying that the republic had no power to give orders here and he did not care what I might do. Accordingly, because of the wrong which he wishes to do to the Persian and his insolent behaviour I made complaint to the Secretary Windebank, who promised to see that the money was restored and the man put down. But things are carried out so slowly that although I know he urges it on with all diligence, I cannot feel sure of the issue. However I will not abandon the affair until I see what can be done. If I do not have some satisfaction before Sunday I will speak expressly to his Majesty.
Meanwhile the reals remain in the ship, without the captain or the merchants concerned choosing to receive them into their custody, and they declare that if they are stolen they will not be responsible. The leading man among them, or rather the one who has shown most arrogance is this same Richard Gatwood, who is the same who made the agreement at Venice jointly with Michael, his brother, who is said to have remained at Venice, with a house and business common to both. This has made me decide to give your Excellencies full particulars of the matter, so that, if you think fit to take any steps against the belongings of that man, as a surety for the Persian, who has petitioned me for this, at least until the affair is settled here, you may have something solid upon which to take action. For my part I think that their barbarous manner of behaving merits severe correction everywhere.
His Majesty has been staying at Bagshot all this week. He proposes to come on here to-morrow to meet the queen, and then they will both proceed on their destined progress without further delay. (fn. 5)
The Senate's letters of the 13th ult. alone have reached me.
Windsor, the 24th July, 1636.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
29. Giovanni Battista Ballarino, Venetian Secretary in
Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The earl of Arundel has so far avoided a meeting with the Count of Ognat, and it is asserted that he will not come back here, but that he will stay at Prague until he goes to Ratisbon.
Linz, the 25th July, 1636.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
30. The Ambassador of the King of Great Britain came
into the Collegio and said :
I have come to your Serenity these last months to recommend the interest of English merchants, who complained of divers grievances. I never came before I was sure of the reasonableness of the request. I have previously presented some requests from those merchants, and they were graciously received by your Serenity, who took some steps in consequence, of which I am informed my king. Since then the same merchants have suffered some wrong at Zante and Cephalonia, which aggravates their case, as shown in this paper. Your Serenity will see this and will relieve them with the more zeal ; that will also serve the interests of the republic, because of my king's appreciation. I may add that as your Serenity made a gracious response some days ago to a request of mine for these merchants, I informed his Majesty, who was pleased and from him you may always promise yourselves the most perfect response. He then handed a memorial to his Serenity.
The doge replied : We always have the interests of merchants at heart, especially of English ones. They are always welcome and favoured, owing to our excellent relations with his Majesty, but also because of the benefit from trade at Zante and Cephalonia and elsewhere, as well as in this city. Your prudent request shall be considered and these Signors will examine the paper. In the mean time we assure you that we intend the public order to be carried out.
The ambassador said, I thank you Serenity and have no doubt of your decisions being carried out, and I know that you will consider the petition I have made on my king's behalf. I made a special request here for the merchants Hider and Opson, upon which the Senate's reply was brought to me. I especially asked for the deposit which Opson requested, which has not yet been thoroughly carried out. When this was reported at Court, fresh orders came immediately from England to hasten on the affair. I waited, knowing full well that your Serenity would not leave it unexecuted. Yet I must recommend it again, although I know that you mean to satisfy his Majesty's desires.
The doge replied : We repeat that we have the interests of your merchants at heart. The Senate will decide what it thinks proper in this matter in their favour. It only remains for the interested parties to solicit, and if they present a petition every proper satisfaction will be given them, the magistrates being instructed to carry the decisions of the Senate into effect. Your lordship may rest assured of this, and we have the highest regard for you. Without saying any more the ambassador bowed, took leave and departed.
|Attached : Filza.||
31. 1636, the 4th August.
By order of the Savii that the Five Savii of the Mercanzia shall examine the attached memorial presented by the English ambassador in favour of English merchants trading at Zante and Cephalonia as well as the sentence passed by Antonio Pisani, when he was General in the three islands, and give their opinion in writing upon oath.
The two last Proveditori from Cephalonia shall do the same.
Most Serene Prince :
We, the Savii of the Mercanzia have examined the paper presented by the English ambassador. It consists of two items, to afford facilities for English merchants to trade at Zante and Cephalonia, and to make some alterations in the duties. As the parties, who have come from Zante and Cephalonia to bid for the duties, have heard something of this petition, they have stated freely that they have no instructions to take part in the bidding while there was a prospect of some change. We told them to come, as the duty would be put up on the same terms. This was in order to find out the value of the duty, as if your Serenity made any change they would be advised of it and they would remain as free as before. We put the duty up, therefore, and 81010 ducats were bidden, an increase of 12810 ducats a year, and this was the second auction. The loss of this increase must be considered with respect to the reply to the memorial.
The first point of the English is that when ships come to lade, the customers, even when asked, will not be present at the weighing and stamping, causing serious loss through delay. They ask that if the customer does not go the same or the next day the weighing and stamping may be done by the public weighers and ministers alone, according to the decision of the General Pisani of the 17th April, 1632. We think that the extortions may be removed, but as the presence of the customer is necessary at these functions we think that your Serenity should decree some penalty if he does not appear without delay, to be levied at once, and if he still persists, that the ministers and rectors shall depute some sufficient person to act together with the ministers aforesaid.
In the second article they say that the plantations of currants in the island of Cephalonia have increased so much as to cause them grave inconvenience and this prejudices their lading in the only ports decreed by the old capitulations, and so the customers make improper gains by granting them licences to lade at other ports. They therefore beg leave to lade at those ports, in order to escape this charge. We would represent that while the lading was confined to Argostoli and val d'Alessandria, there was more security against smuggling and the increase of currant plantations, which cause a dearth of grain in the island, while to grant so many places may facilitate smuggling and increase the burden upon ministers for the weighing and stamping. Yet the merchants are exposed as they state to unlawful charges to the profit of the customers. We leave the reconciliation of these opposites to your Serenity.
They ask thirdly that when three or more vessels are lading at the same time the ministers may have instructions to choose officials to assist in stamping the casks and crates, in the presence of the customers or their deputies, to avoid delay. This seems reasonable, and we think that your Serenity might instruct the Rectors to this effect, but this favour should be done without expense to the State.
They ask fourthly that they be not subject to extortion from the customers for the faults of others, such as smuggling by sailors. We do not see how a distinction can be made between the interests of the merchant and those of the officers of a ship in the matter of currants in considerable quantity, as the trade is in the hands of companies who have the sole right of sale in England. We therefore do not think that any change should be made, but we do not think that the merchants ought to be molested for a small quantity of currants which the sailors may have taken for their own profit.
They ask fifthly that a Stadiere may be sent to the islands to test and stamp all measures, as both public and private measures get worn out and the merchants are defrauded in buying currants, and the state also suffers. We think this both reasonable and necessary, as if your Serenity receives the duty of the tenth from the new plantations when the measures are altered, you are undoubtedly grossly defrauded. It is also customary in all cities and fairs to stamp the measures annually, It would be advisable to appoint some one for this purpose, and he should profit from the numerous individuals of those islands who would need him, while people would come from the Morea, where there is no one capable of doing this.
To the sixth article for the export of a certain quantity of oil, wine, acids and other things by their ships, without paying duty, we think it a delicate matter as under this cover the duties might suffer severely, and it would affect the auction.
Seventhly they ask that the duty may be paid at Argostoli, where the English merchants usually live, as it is seven miles from the fortress of Cephalonia, where they have to go and pay the new duty, and they are in danger of being robbed by the numerous brigands, or that their lives and money may be protected in some other way. We think that Argostoli is not a suitable place for keeping the public money, as the site is open, but their request for protection is reasonable and the Rectors should be strictly charged to keep the roads clear of malefactors, as they may easily do by means of the two armed boats of the guard, which are always there. If the merchants, having some large payments to make, should desire greater protection, we think that the Rectors should grant them a sufficient escort, at their request, and without expense.
They ask eighthly for the confirmation of General Pisani's decree of the 17th April, 1632. It comprises facilities for the merchant to recover debts, if he has a written or signed paper, by direct process, but if not, proceedings shall be by the ordinary forms of justice. This seems reasonable and for the benefit of merchants and islanders alike. Then that the merchants may have currants weighed and stamped even in the absence of the customer, if he does not come promptly when advised by them. We have already remarked upon this. The third concerns the relief of merchants from charges made by public officials, in raising contributions under the name of gifts. We think it proper to relieve merchants from extortion and to facilitate trade. The fourth is about forbidding the cutting of currants before they are ripe and taking them from the altars before they are thoroughly dry, injuring the crop and the purchaser. We have no objection to this.
Ninthly they want Londons, half Londons and tin relieved of the new impost asserting that this would not affect the duty, which is so heavy that the goods are not taken to the islands, indeed it causes harm, because the ships discharged such goods in the Morea, and the import duty of 2 per cent, and the export duty of 4 per cent, are lost. This affects the articles already arranged and the companies here declare that they do not mean the duty to be altered. But the question may well be discussed and a decision taken, as we hear that but little of the goods in question is unladed in the islands, and much goes on to the Morea, with obvious loss to your Serenity.
Finally they ask for instructions to the Rectors to bridle those who slander and maltreat the English living in the islands. This seems reasonable and foreigners living in your Serenity's diminions should not only be respected, but receive honours and favours.
Dated at the office, the 12th August, 1636.
|Girolamo Lando, knight.|
32. 1636, the 4th August.
By order of the Savii, the two last Proveditori from Cephalonia shall give their opinion in writing upon oath upon the memorial presented by the English Ambassador in favour of English merchants trading at Zante and Cephalonia.
In fulfilment of the order of your Excellencies, we the undersigned have to state :
First that we think the decision of the General Pisani should be confirmed.
Secondly, we think that as the plantations of currants have really increased, the merchants should be able to lade at the ports of Asso and Theachi, in addition, and should be content with this, as the ports of Pilaro and Leo are unsafe for large ships.
Thirdly, we think it would be a convenience for the merchants and equally to the interest of the state for the Proveditore of Cephalonia to have instructions to choose a trustworthy official to assist the customer when several ships are lading at once, if your Excellencies do not think it too costly, as the merchants ought not to bear the charge, for fear of fraud.
Fourthly, we think it reasonable that the merchants should not be made responsible for the frauds committed by sailors and others, if possible, but the damage done is often discovered after the ships have gone, and no other way of recoupment is possible. The merchants can easily prevent it by keeping control over the sailors.
Fifthly, we think that some one should be appointed to test the measures every year.
Sixthly, with regard to the export of wine, oil etc. we have only to say that by decree of the Senate of the 25th July, 1626, English ships have permission to export such things from this city without duty, if they have brought them here and paid the charges. There is no difference between export from this mart and what they ask. On the other hand the island of Cephalonia will suffer some inconvenience if nine or ten ships, which sail with currants, take away the things in question, which they might need more for themselves if they were released from interest in the export. The duty thereon might suffer somewhat, while the island, which only produces enough oil, every third year for its own needs, would suffer no little inconvenience and loss.
Seventhly, your Excellencies alone can weigh the pros and cons of making payment at Argostoli. The universal practice is for state payments to be made in the Chamber only, and the merchants can easily get men from the ships to escort the money.
Eightly, we have given our reasons for the confirmation of General Pisani's decree of the 17th April, 1632.
Ninthly, it would be profitable to the islanders for Londons, half Londons and tin to be exempted from the new impost, as they could dress in the cloth at a cheaper rate, and to the merchants, who need not go to the Morea, if they do so : but this must be left to the prudence of your Excellencies.
Tenthly, they well deserve the protection of your Excellencies by a public order to desist from hurting them in deed or word, with a promise of severe punishment for those who pass the bounds of moderation and charity.
Dated at our house, the 13th August 1636.
Signed :—Nicolo Erizzo.
33. Memorial of the English merchants trading at Zante and
Cephalonia presented to the doge by the English Ambassador.
The new impost at Zante and Cephalonia is paid for the most part by us English merchants for the export of currants to England and other places. Contrary to the wishes of the republic we meet with many difficulties and obstacles in our business, raised by those who seek their personal advantage by indirect ways. Now that the duty is to be put up to auction we have decided to lay our grievances before your Excellency, so that we may obtain relief through your intervention, as the representative of his Majesty.
The ten articles which follow are referred to seriatim in the reply of the Five Savii above.
34. Judgment of Antonio Pisani. (fn. 6)
The English merchants, who trade with large capital at the islands of Zante and Cephalonia not only with advantage to our subjects, but also to the revenues of the state, have petitioned for relief in various particulars. After a due consideration of the matter, we have resolved :
(1) that in Cephalonia, as here, English merchants who have written papers or signatures for their debts, can obtain the assistance of chancery against their debtors, to be executed forthwith, after it has been signed by the government, without prejudicing the rights of the parties to appeal afterwards ; and creditors of the English shall have the same privilege. But debts not so authenticated must go by way of citation, trial of the case and sentence, before execution.
(2) in order to relieve merchants of delay in getting their ships away, they may weigh and stamp their currants provided one of the following is present, one interested in the new impost, one interested in the import and export duties, the public weigher. The customers may send any one for their own satisfaction, but the merchants are not obliged to wait for him. If the customers are advised and do not send, the weighing can proceed, provided the others are present. Every time the customers are advised and do not send, they shall be fined 100 ducats upon the duties for each occasion, and shall be responsible for any harm suffered by the ships, two guards being placed upon each ship, to watch day and night over the interests of the duty.
Thirdly, the order of the 4th December, 1631, is annulled, at the instance of the customers, who ask that the present order may have effect. Further that the aforesaid offices of guards, assistants, weighers etc. shall not constitute any charge upon the merchants, even under the name of gifts, as the public interest would be prejudiced thereby, upon pain of outlawry, imprisonment and the galleys for those who transgress.
(4) Whereas some, for malicious ends cut the currants before they are ripe, to profit by the weight, and take them from the altars before they are dry which cannot please the English, because the fruit must often be thrown away, so that the merchants sometimes refrain from buying, and the duties suffer, we order that every year the Proveditore shall proclaim that every one must let his currants ripen properly and dry thoroughly on the altars and clean them from all wastage, upon a penalty which the representative of the state shall decide.
These presents, registered in the chancery here and in that of Cephalonia, shall be duly observed and carried out.
At Zante, the 17th April, 1632.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra, Venetian Archives.
35. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Beveren has succeeded in staying the fourteen ships which had been commissioned to sail northward to stop the Dutch fishing boats. The reason they agreed to his request was the hope that the Dutch, intimidated by such resolute action, would decide to treat for the composition which they have asked for here from the outset. But they are more intent upon gaining time than disposed to enter upon negotiations. So they temporise with offices and lull them with gentleness when they threaten violence, believing that by putting things off they can quietly enjoy the benefit of all the present season at least. The king, however, seems to think and decide differently. The twenty merchantmen and twelve royal galleons are being got ready with all diligence, with the idea of sending them all against the Dutch if they will not see their duty.
Beveren also made another attempt to recover the ships detained, but he found their reply firm, although ambiguous as usual. He added to this a remonstrance about their continuing to transport so openly to Flanders money coming from Spain, and said that English help to the Spaniards did his masters more hurt than the arms of their enemies. They told him that they were not at present doing anything extraordinary in favour of the Spaniards, and hinted that for the 1½ or even 2 per cent. profit which they make from this passage they would do the same for any one else, although one needs much persuading to believe it. It is enough to consider the results : the two millions recently brought by the Ambassador Ognat having been seized for past debts. He still remains incognito at Greenwich, and apologises by saying that he is not ready to appear publicly. His Majesty, who is impatient to hear what he brings sent him word that if he wished to see him last Sunday at Windsor, he would gladly arrange it, but he excused himself for the reason stated, and practically let it be understood that it would be enough for him to begin his offices after the king had returned from his progress.
They do not like the delay and make unfavourable deductions therefrom, especially as Caesar's minister no longer appears at Court either. He remains quietly in the country as if his business was to amuse himself with hunting and walking. The French think that this behaviour ought to make the ministers here somewhat more sensible than they seem to be that it would behove them to mitigate their severity against their country and the Dutch. They do not neglect to advance this in their interests when occasion offers, although with little profit.
The Ambassador Giustinian informs me that Ognat brings instructions to reopen relations with the ministers of the republic, admitting their claims. I hope to receive clear instructions from your Excellencies before he is ready to visit me. Meanwhile I will maintain a due reserve and will try to discover his intentions.
On Saturday a courier reached the Court sent in all diligence by the Earl of Arundel from Linz. He brings very full despatches to his Majesty and the Secretaries of State ; but they keep the contents so secret that it is not possible to find out any particulars for certain. He says he has seen the emperor four times, and has fully set forth all his instructions, omitting none of the exhortations or protests required by the importance of this well seasoned affair. It seems that Cæsar's replies so far have been insubstantial, or at least they are considered so here, as they announce the scantiest satisfaction. They were sorry to hear of the earl's intention to proceed to Vienna to see the Queen of Hungary, indeed they entirely disapprove of it, as they do not think it seemly for him to abandon business for compliments. Those who have little liking for him are bitingly sarcastic about this action, and the Prince Palatine, who is prejudiced, objects most strongly, and gives no credit either to what he negotiates or to what he writes.
The Dutch ambassador, who was lodged more than thirty miles away from me, came on purpose to see me the day before yesterday to repeat the request made me by Curtius on the Palatine's behalf to communicate any advices I might have from Germany touching his interests. I confined myself to the terms of my original answer, trying to oblige the prince with my lips when I cannot and ought not to do so in effect.
Lord Leicester in Paris has begun to negotiate with the commissioners appointed for him about the restitution of Lorraine. They say he has made four proposals about this, which they will not allow to be known here. They expect him to send the replies, but they seem to attach little importance to what is negotiated in France, as they aim more at making the Austrians jealous than at concluding any agreement with that crown.
His Majesty is making great strides with his progress, because the plague follows rapidly in the places which he has left. They have bad news from London this week, the number of deaths having increased considerably.
Last Sunday I spoke to the king expressly in the interests of the Persian. I asked him to give orders for the immediate despatch of the business, as the money was in the hands of the merchants without any receipt, and in the course of time some confusion might arise, even greater than the first. I complained of Gatwood's behaviour and showed that he deserved some correction. The king listened attentively and promised that the matter should be dealt with as justice and reason require. But what has been done so far seems to contradict this, as the matter is placed in the hands of the Mayor of London. He belongs to the order of merchants, and as he may be interested with these also in various ways, it is possible that he will administer such justice as pleases him, not what he ought. This is the way things are done at this Court, and the greatest affairs are frequently ruined by carelessness or confusion of orders (in questo modo si maneggiano gli affari a questa corte et i maggiori ben spesso, per negligenza o per confusione di ordini, si vedono precipitati etiamdio.)
In obedience to orders I have done my utmost to help this Persian, but I have not been able to achieve more. I have interested the Earl of Denbigh, father of the Ambassador Fielding, in the matter. He gladly took it up with great spirit, professing great obligations to the Persians for the favours which he received in those parts. (fn. 7) But the efforts of anyone you please are helpless to change their disposition here with respect to gratifying strangers, I do not know if it be from lack of will or lack of habit. The Persian has again prayed me for the arrest of the belongings which the English brothers, Michael and Richard Gatwood have at Venice. He protests that this can be done legitimately because of the violation of the contract which he made with them there.
Westcourt, the 30th July, 1636.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]