Venice: October 1637, 26-31

Pages 308-312

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, 26-31

Oct. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
330. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. di Bellievre has set out for England. He is charged to procure and assist the forwarding of the treaty in negotiation with the other allied princes, but not yet signed by the two crowns.
Paris, the 27th October, 1637.
Oct. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
331. To the Ambassador in England.
We enclose the exposition of the Ambassador Fielding about the firing of a pistol by one of his servants. Meanwhile the wounded man has died, and the Council of Ten has banished the culprit. This morning the ambassador has sent his secretary to ask for him. We decided to have the enclosed office read to Lord Fielding. You will confirm the motives set forth in this, if you chance to speak on the subject, always maintaining the disposition of the state demonstrated in so many accidents, to the house of England, out of respect for his Majesty, notwithstanding the frequency of the blunders and vexations from which we have suffered. We do not believe that the ambassador can represent the case different from the truth of the evidence, as he himself has shown his displeasure and dismissed his servant. In any case your prudence will be able to make the matter clear and to behave as is fitting. We have received your letters of the 9th inst.
Ayes, 107. Noes, 2. Neutral, 2.
Oct. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
332. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The thoughts of negotiations with Spain have been diverted by the last letters from the ambassadors in France, as they write that they have been urged to procure more positive instructions for the Ministers at the Hague and Hamburg, where representatives will certainly appear from France and the other allies. They further add that they were assured that the Ambassador Bellievre was all ready to start for this Court and would bring the articles of the treaty signed. They had detained him until now to send with the occasion of this extraordinary minister, as he is coming with that title, although his instructions are to continue the ordinary residence. In addition to this news their hopes are almost made certainties by the offers made by the King of Denmark that he also will concur with the other allies in the congress in question. So they had little difficulty in deciding to renew the commissions to the two ministers at Hamburg and the Hague, to the end that they may be ready to take up the negotiations as the French suggest. But I fancy that a clause of great importance has been added to these new instructions, and if it does not ruin the affair it will undoubtedly render a conclusion much more difficult and troublesome. Your Excellencies will remember that there was an article among those proposed that at the moment when the alliance will be called defensive and offensive, which involves an open rupture between this crown and the Austrians, it must, in addition to ships, supply a certain number of infantry, munitions of war and other things. I am told on excellent authority that the two last conditions have been removed in these new orders, his Majesty being determined, if he cannot avoid war, to wage it by sea only, where he is already certain to have a good force paid, and will thus evade those dangers which he sees would be imminent if he had to wage war beyond the sea. In this way they calculate that if war is made it cannot inconvenience them much, and if the treaty cannot be made on these conditions it is better for it to be dissolved, because the royal purse cannot bear such expenses alone and he cannot put his hands into those of his subjects any farther without parliament. Foreign interests are not so highly esteemed as to make it worth while for the king on their account to put himself into a position in which he will be under the necessity of humbling himself to his subjects in order to support them. He will not be brought to this, and perhaps nothing will ever prevail upon this king to do so as long as he lives. Those who think they can lead him insensibly to this deceive themselves exceptionally, because the long rusted gates of parliament cannot be opened without difficulty. This would always be considerable even if his Majesty was as much in favour as he now is averse from giving it so much as a thought.
So then, if things do not change, as they have done so often, they believe the meeting of the allies to be certain here, but it is difficult to say what assurance they can have of a happy issue, the Dutch being averse from taking any steps until the fishery affair is decided, and they do not wish to break with the emperor, while they do not believe the offers of Denmark to be sincere, and although the treaty might be concluded without him, his opposition would be injurious.
Meanwhile I am aware that the ministers here are carefully observing the course of affairs in Italy, and they are most strongly of opinion that the chief weight of the war will be called to that province by present occurrences. In this connection I must record a serious conversation which the Secretary Coke had with me two days ago, when I went to take leave of him at his house. As I guessed afterwards, he assured me that it was not of his own motion, but arranged beforehand with the king and other ministers. He told me that they particularly regretted the death of the Duke of Mantua (fn. 1) here, as those who love the public quiet must. He was informed that the Spaniards were determined to make every effort to drive the French out entirely from that state. If they succeed and have the little duke in their hands, it is easy to believe that he will not live long, and they will find a means to render themselves masters of that State. This is the most considerable thing that can happen for Italy, and should compel all the princes there to keep their eyes open, especially the republic, which has always been the bulwark of liberty there. Therefore, rather than allow the Spaniards to gain such an important point, she should forestall them by force. She could do this the more easily as she would have the supporting arm of the French forces at hand, at a time when the Spaniards were obliged to defend what belonged to them elsewhere. He said this was an occasion to act with courage and resolution characteristics which the republic did not lack, and if she made up her mind she would find companions, not only friends, always ready to help her liberally. The decided manner in which this minister spoke, which is unusual with him, made me think it was not his own fabrication, but not being sure I thought fit to answer in a few words that your Excellencies were sorry for the duke's death. You always had the interests of that state at heart and you would do your utmost to secure for Italy and Christendom the peace that all right minded princes desire. The secretary did not seem altogether satisfied with the general nature of this reply, but after insisting by a repetition of the same ideas he went on to inform me of the death of the Duke of Savoy, (fn. 2) of which his Majesty had been recently advised by his ambassadors in France. He thought that, as a consequence, the French would have to turn the weight of their arms to Italy. As the duchess was left as regent the moment seemed propitious for making up the quarrel with your Excellencies, as it was the desire of the duchess to be directed by your advice alone. In the Council they were all agreed that such a reconciliation was most necessary for the welfare of Italy and the king was ready to intervene for the purpose. I replied that his Majesty might be sure of the republic's good will towards the House of Savoy, even though they had not had cause to approve of the conduct of the late duke. Whenever the present duke inclines towards a recognition of his duties I had no doubt but your Excellencies would demonstrate to him by every token your cordial feelings, and you felt increasingly your obligation to his Majesty for his care of your interests.
I found that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Earl of Arundel held the same views, the latter especially insisting on the point of the adjustment explaining that his office obliged him to perform every good office with the king and anyone else, to obtain the result. He told me further that his Majesty deeply regretted to hear of the loss of the Landgrave of Hesse, (fn. 3) which will certainly involve the ruin of his army, as none of the Palatines to whom they wished to hand over the command, is in a position to bear the burden.
The Spanish ambassador in the Mantua business separates the particulars with the utmost subtlety. He told me only yesterday evening that it was necessary first that the French should leave that state, and then to provide it with some one able to govern it well. He thought that the emperor and his king inclined to give the direction to the Infanta Margherita, (fn. 4) who is in Portugal, if Guastalla or Castiglione (fn. 5) were too suspect. She was a lady of high character, skilled in the affairs of the world, equal to any great charge and not open to suspicion, her blood and natural integrity being sufficient guarantees to assure the world that she would look after the interests of the little duke as if they were her own. After he had talked a long while taking into consideration that it might be advisable to divide the government, putting the states and the child in different hands, I told him that the Princess Maria, mother of the present duke seemed to me well fitted for both charges ; being acquainted with the affairs of those states, beloved by the people, and naturally more interested in her son than any one else. He said we must not speak of her, she was too young. She might marry, God knows whom. It is necessary to give the government of the states to a wise prince and that of the child to the women, but not to her. One of the ladies of the house would discharge the first function well and the Princess Margherita the second admirably. Thus he showed me his opinions, and from what I observe they have some connection with letters which he was then reading from Milan.
Here they desire the exact opposite. They want Mantua in the hands of the French, not that they may make themselves masters of it, but that it may serve as a subject for dispute. Although they talk at large about peace, they do not think that war in Italy would harm them ; that is certain from the uniform talk of all the ministers and from what one hears everywhere at Court. I see that they would like to see your Excellencies openly committed against the House of Austria. The importance of the present movements makes them very hopeful of it, and perhaps profit from the results, the special aim of England being to see the Austrian party reduced to such weakness that they will have to beg for her friendship, and in consequence offer her such satisfaction about the Palatine as she would like to receive without drawing her sword.
The whole Court is on the point of coming any day to this city, where even suspicion of the plague has now almost entirely disappeared, thank God. The state despatches of the 2nd inst. give me a clear account of the circumstances which have led to the arrest of two servants of the Ambassador Fielding. Of these and the papers I will avail myself as may be necessary, though I have not heard that any news of the matter has yet reached the Court.
London, the 30th October, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 31.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
333. I, Pier Antonio Zon, secretary, went to read to the English Ambassador the Senate's deliberation of yesterday ; he said :
He thanked your Serenity for the favour, which would cherish the most perfect confidence in his Majesty. He wished they had spoken specifically of the boats, as they seemed to prejudice him most, but the reply virtually embraced everything, and he found all at the Collegio so much disgusted at the event that that alone would have satisfied him. He had one remark to make, that while they sent a secretary to him to negotiate, on the other hand they sent their forces to the attack. He also noticed with some astonishment that while he had shown that it was a pure accident, at the same moment justice had proceeded to punish the man, as if he had committed the most deliberate and serious crime imaginable. He did not speak of this with passion, as he had dismissed the man and he was no longer of his household.
I told him that justice took its own course, while on the other hand everything combined to show the esteem and respect felt for him by the Senate, and I could not say more.


  • 1. Charles I, who died on the 21st September, succeeded by his grandson, Charles III, born in 1629.
  • 2. Victor Amadeus I, who died on the 7th October.
  • 3. William V, who died on the 21st September.
  • 4. Margaret of Savoy, daughter of Charles Emanuel I and widow of Francis IV, duke of Mantua.
  • 5. Ferdinand III, duke of Guastalla ; Ludovico, prince of Castiglione.