Venice: October 1637, 11-20

Pages 285-290

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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October 1637, 11-20

Oct. 14.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
316. The English Ambassador came into the Collegio and spoke to the following effect :
Anthony Watts, master of an English ship, arrived in this city three or four months ago, and has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for infringing the sanitary regulations. I know how delicate is this matter of health. I do not complain of the severity of the sentence, and still less do I excuse the fault of that poor man, who should have been more careful. I pity his misfortune and his very numerous family, as well as the loss to the ship and sailors. I have therefore come to ask your Serenity for grace. I can assure you that the poor man did not sin from malice, or from desire for gain, which usually tempts that sort of man to do wrong, but merely from ignorance, as a foreigner. I therefore hope for clemency. I may add that no harm has resulted from his fault and all my king's subjects will behave with obedience and reserve, as his Majesty desires. I leave a memorial sent from the prison.
In the absence of the doge, the senior councillor Pietro Foscarini replied : You have recognised the need for severity in sanitary matters, but these Signors will consider the matter with every desire to gratify you and the king you represent. (fn. 1) They will try to think more of your intercession than of the fault, since the intercession rests upon two such excellent bases as the favourable inclination of these Signors and your lordship's merits. The ambassador thanked him and departed.
Filza. Memorial of Anthony Watts, Captain of the Elizabeth Dorcas, to the English ambassador.
It is about four months since I reached this city with my ship, laden with goods, consigned here. When I was preparing to depart I was accused before the Magistracy of Health of concealing the place from which I had come. Although at my examination I answered all that was asked, the magistracy sentenced me to five years' imprisonment, and I have been here two months. I appealed to the Avogador Donado, who laid the matter before the Quaranta Criminal, who referred it back to the Board of Health. I fear the issue of this, and my miserable detention brings ruin not only on my affairs but on my wife and eleven children, as well as the interests of my owners and the fifty sailors who are wasting their time at great expense, Moreover the merchants of this mart, who have hired my ship for Spain, have drawn back since this trouble, and will not lade their goods. I therefore beg your Excellency to intercede for my release, so that I may pursue my voyage.
1637, the 14th October.
By order of the Collegio the Board of Health shall answer this memorial without the slightest delay.
Gio. Batta. Gratarol, Secretary.
Reply of the Board of Health.
On the 19th of August last our magistracy condemned Anthony Watts to five years' imprisonment without light because on his arrival in this port he omitted to state the first place from which he set out, which was the port of Dover, suspected and banned, and because he had laded 17 bales of goods of Flanders, where the plague was raging, so that the crew and the rest of his goods were suspect. He deceived the representatives of Health at Zante with manifest peril to that island, under the pretence that his first place of lading was in Spain, and he obtained a legal permit from that board, by which our magistracy admitted him. Being miraculously warned of this before the ship began to unlade and any harm could happen, the crew and goods were sent to the Lazzaretti for quarantine. We consider the sentence well grounded because of the necessity for preserving the public health, and to prevent similar offences by making an example. We considered that the crime deserved a greater punishment, but we took his nationality into consideration and some other considerations of state. The Avogador Donado referred it to the Quarantia Criminal, where they considered the sentence too severe and referred it back to us. The sentence seems just, but your Serenity can always exercise your munificence, especially when you consider that it is in the interest of the state, and we are glad that we have nothing more to do with the case than the carrying out of the sentence. We therefore refer to your Serenity's decision.
Dated at the office of Health, the 15th of October, 1637.
Anzolo Contarini, Proveditore.
Francesco Maria Zen.
Oct. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
318. That the ambassador of the King of Great Britain be summoned to the Collegio and that the following be read to him :
Your lordship has received every proof of our disposition to gratify you. The English shipmaster who has been arrested is scarcely amenable to pardon because of the nature of the offence and the example to others. We have pointed out the difficulties to you, but we have ordered his release out of consideration for you, feeling sure that he and his fellow countrymen will be warned not to commit similar faults again, which would be more blameworthy than the original error and more severely dealt with.
That the shipmaster named Antony Watts be released by the authority of this Council.
Ayes, 88. Noes, 17. Neutral, 15.
Oct. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
319. Francesco Michiel, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Princess Palatine told me in confidence that in a few days the Prince Palatine is going to East Friesland to take command of his troops and decide upon the best course to follow. The Palatine family hope that England will grant liberal supplies of men and money and she also hopes that the prince will soon have a strong army with which to enter Germany and undertake something really important.
The Hague, the 15th October, 1637.
Oct. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
320. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Secretary left here by the Dutch ambassador went last Sunday by express order of his masters to inform his Majesty of the surrender of Breda, which took place, he says, on the 10th inst. From what was observed the news pleased him exceedingly, and he expressed this emphatically not only to the secretary but to the lords of the Court also. He asked the secretary for the particulars and when he had heard them he said that he rejoiced sincerely and now was the moment for the States to enter the alliance he had arranged with France, as the present weakness of the Spaniards promised every advantage to the arms of the allies. He asked him to urge them in his name to send their deputies to Hamburg where he had a minister ready to put the finishing touches to the matter. The secretary readily promised to do so. On coming to me afterwards to tell me about the surrender, by order of his masters, he said, he began of his own accord to tell me what the king had commanded him to write, pointing out that it was not so easy for his masters to commit themselves to an alliance with the English, with the memory of past events so fresh, and the experience of how little can be hoped here in any event. It was not to their advantage that this alliance should be effected now, since little can be done now and even less in the coming season, while in the spring a change may have taken place. It was always a very difficult question for the Dutch to make a league against the House of Austria in general, without very considerable and assured advantages, as it was not in their interest to break the neutrality with the emperor. These opinions which are based on reason and reasonably set forth clearly show that this alliance will not be seen soon, especially as they are only pressed here on the ground of reputation, while they can say that they have done their part they will always be pleased at delay, since it certainly is not England's interest to intervene openly in the war, because those who are so eager for change in the interests of religion and parliament are only waiting to see the king compelled to have recourse to his people to make him accept what laws they wish, or to enable them to arouse dangerous movements in the state without hindrance. The Royal Council has duly considered this and it will not take the step in any event without corresponding deliberation. Their chief attention is now directed to Scottish affairs, as a matter of immediate urgency, as by the confused reports which arrive thence there seems a strong disposition to disturbance. They speak of a protest to be signed by the nobility and the leaders of the churches to send to the king, of tumults among the lower classes and other serious scandals, but I have not had time to find out about it yet.
No further news has arrived about the Duchess of Chevreuse coming to Court as his Majesty's efforts have not obtained him further information. They have not answered Monsigot, and his papers have not left the king's hands. He himself feels more than certain that his proposals will die without result ; but this does not excite him and he hopes to start something more satisfactory. They say this will be the reconciliation of the queen mother with the Most Christian, to be managed by the king here with full powers from that queen. If that be so, and hopes of an adjustment are not too remote the king will not object to acting in order to rid himself of the constant importunity to have her here, which certainly distresses him greatly.
All the knights of the Garter took part with his Majesty this week in the usual ceremony at Windsor chapel. This usually takes place on St. George's day, but this year it was postponed on account of the plague. At the first meeting they nominated the prince to give him the order at the earliest opportunity, as he seems to desire it exceedingly. The Polish ambassador was present incognito in the church, at the banquet and at all the other ceremonies which were public. His Majesty observed he was a foreigner, sent to learn who he was, and on finding out, seemed content. On this occasion the ambassador had an opportunity of speaking to more than one of the lords of the Council, and they say he began again about his reception. He might even succeed in this in the end as determination and patience achieve great things, the character of this country being what it is.
I received the state despatches yesterday about the English ambassador's information upon the capture of Venloo and Ruremond and other particulars. Since the news of the capture of Breda it is understood that the Cardinal Infant has suffered a considerable defeat losing his baggage and guns, while the Duke Bernard has inflicted an even greater one on Giovanni de Vert, and they say the Swedes have gained an important advantage over the Imperialists, All those events have excited great attention at Court, where they reckon that when added to the loss of Landresi, la Capella, Mobeusa, Breda and other important places in such a short time, they will make the Spaniards anxious for the friendship of England, and consequently will try to give them proper satisfaction about the Palatine. Thus do those who value the reputation and weal of the Palatine flatter themselves, but they would not go so far as war to win them.
My audience for taking leave has been postponed until tomorrow because of the Garter ceremony, and at present the Earl of Denbigh, Fielding's father, is deputed to take me to it. I must admit that all delay is both inconvenient and painful to me as I have been tired a long time of living idle here, an unprofitable servant of your Excellencies.
I have just received the ducal missives of the 4th ult. by way of France with my credentials and instructions.
Richmond, the 16th October, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 16. Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives. 321. The Senate's deliberation of yesterday was read to the English Ambassador, he spoke as follows :
I am constantly receiving favours from your Serenity. I regard this, of the release of the English captain as one of the principal, as the question is a very delicate one. I will apply to my king to express suitably his satisfaction. In this affair your Serenity has united justice with clemency, both attributes of a great prince. This favour and the severe sentence will serve as a warning to our nation and oblige them to show circumspection in the future, while it will encourage my king's subjects to resort to this city more gladly with their capital. I will try to keep them all within the limits of their duty.
Pietro Foscarini, the senior councillor, in the absence of the doge said that they rejoiced in his gratification. The request was a difficult one owing to the delicate nature of the affair, which concerned the interests of all, but the good will of the Senate towards his lordship and all his Majesty's subjects had prevailed.
The ambassador expressed his thanks and departed. In going out he said to me, the secretary, I shall not take a note of this office, as it is not one to write in ink but in letters of gold.
Antonio Antelmi, Secretary.
Oct. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
322. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Swedish ambassador has remonstrated with the English ones on behalf of the Chancellor Oxestern because their king only showed an extract from the articles of the alliance between France and England. He said they must see the whole treaty, and if there are any secret ones which it may not seem convenient to publish to every body they will be content in Sweden if the Chancellor alone sees them, and the Prince of Orange might do the same for the Dutch but it is not likely that they will commit themselves in the present way of doing things.
Paris, the 20th October, 1637.


  • 1. "At my return from the Colledge, one of the Prince's servants brought him free to me." Fielding to Coke 6/16 Oct. 1637, S.P. For. Venice.