Venice: December 1637, 16-31

Pages 342-349

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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December 1637, 16-31

Dec. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
368. Francesco Zonca, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Bellievre has had a private audience of the king. After a short talk about the alliance, which remains as described, he told him that the Most Christian, moved by the complaints of his subjects, who were attacked at sea by the ships of this nation, supplied with letters of reprisals issued by the king here to those interested in the ship Pearl, taken by the French as already reported, had not been able to refuse them justice, but had ordered the arrest of English ships in all the ports of France, in order to dispose the parties by this means to an amicable settlement. He asked that some one might be sent to Paris with the necessary instructions and to go through the case again, as the best means of putting a stop to all ill feeling between the two crowns. The king replied with some feeling pointing out the inconveniences that might ensue, but he did not refuse to make this last trial as to whether their deeds would correspond with their words. Accordingly they at once sent a fully instructed person to Paris, with special instructions that if the matter was not settled at the end of a fortnight he was to return to England. The letters for reprisals still remain in force and two ships are at sea for the purpose.
A secretary has appeared on the mart here of that Polish ambassador who recently left here without ever being admitted to the king's presence. He is treating with the merchants who trade at Danzig, who are dissatisfied about the dues imposed by his king on the goods which enter and leave that port. They threaten to remove their business, being chiefly stirred by the difficulties in progress for that cause between that king and town, which, being one of the Hanse towns of Germany claims to live free, and only under the protection of the Kingdom of Poland, and that the king must not violate its privileges except in the sea subject to the crown, and where its liberties do not extend, he imposes some duties, on goods there, following the example of other princes. The Danzigers are not satisfied with these arguments, and so the king has decided to keep some ships of war at the mouth of the port, to enforce his will. Moved by these proceedings the inhabitants, together with the English in question, have made a humble representation to the king here, to obtain two of his ships for the defence of the ancient liberties of that port, and relieve his subjects from the hurt which they receive. Their demands do not meet with any response from the king, who only inclines to express his dissatisfaction with the Polish king without proceeding to further acts of hostility against him.
The English Agent writes from the Hague that this Polish Ambassador has asked the States to approve of the measures taken by his king, and that the Dutch merchants may not refuse to bow to the duties in question. The king here is more convinced than ever that the subject upon which that ambassador was so anxious to confer with him for the good of the public cause, and for which he tried so long and adopted so many devices to be received, was just this, and he is the more pleased at his determination not to see him.
Since my last offices with Secretary Cuch nothing has been said touching Fildin's last instances, which every one recognises as out of place. I regulate my remarks in accordance with the interests of your Excellencies, as instructed.
Six days ago the extraordinary left taking Fielding's instructions for Turin, and from all that I see I conclude that he is at the end of his residence at Venice, and that after he has stayed some time in Piedmont he will return to England. I am on the watch to learn more about their plans, and if any one will be nominated in his place, although I think the time is not yet ripe. He has written to Court about the visits made him on behalf of your Serenity during his illness, and it has given great pleasure.
The letters from Germany, I fancy from Teller, report the emperor deputing five persons to negotiate the peace with the deputies of the crown of Sweden, to which that monarch is devoting great attention. On the other hand the ambassadors in France write of the extension for five years of the alliance recently arranged between that crown and France, and this deprives the first news of credit.
Count Parella has arrived at Court, sent by the Duchess of Savoy as a simple gentleman to inform their Majesties of the death of her husband, of the guardianship she has taken up of his children and dominions, and of the intimations to the Cardinal, her brother in law, not to enter Piedmont, to avoid trouble, in the hope that these measures may meet with approval, as aiming at her own welfare as well as that of her children and subjects. The Princess of Mantua has also written to his Majesty of the death of her father in law, and is going to send some one to perform the proper compliment at this Court.
Since the enclosed from the Ambassador Corraro I have heard again from his Excellency, on the 15th inst. from Larii, where he was still waiting for the wind to change, in great distress of mind, although free of the fever. As the wind seems inclined to become favourable today I hope that he will soon get away from that place, and will not miss its first offers before putting to sea.
London, the 17th December, 1637.
Dec. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
369. Francesco Zonca, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In obedience to my instructions of the 19th of November, I have been on several days in this week upon the Exchange, where all the merchants of the mart congregate. I met there divers of those who trade in the Levant, who have shares in ships. I entered into conversation with them about the trade of Candia and dexterously extracted from them the reasons why their ships have given up frequenting that island. They say it is too far from the others that they visit, and consequently wastes a lot of time and money. They cannot export oil thence, but only a few muscats, for use in the kingdom, which pay heavy duties, while their ships are subject to countless other charges. They run the risk of serious loss, since it frequently spoils, and with little hope of profit ; and above all because the inhabitants there have an evil nature, and frequently their sailors are injured and killed for trifling causes. They have nothing to take there except a great quantity of salt fish, a few kerseys and other cheap cloth. As these are also furnished from Venice and elsewhere, the two ships of this nation which usually touch at those ports every year have to take ready money with them to exchange for muscats. I heard the same things from several of them. In the presence of many I remarked, but as if from myself, that your Serenity had provided for their relief with respect to the expense and other charges, the Senate having halved the duty, making an abatement of two soldi for every lira paid, and exempting one butt in every hundred, for their use at table, with various other advantages, and I showed them the decision. The injuries and homicides were inevitable accidents which occurred everywhere, and the state could only prevent them by the ordinary measures of justice. If they happen again the representatives of your Serenity would mete out exemplary punishment. I said those wines were greatly in demand here, and fetched a higher price than all the rest. A great quantity was sold under this name, though it is not the same, and this is perfectly true, and by importing a greater quantity, with the advantages now held out to them and the care for their protection, they could not fail to make it a profitable business. These arrangements had been made with special regard to them, and others would be made if they were considered necessary, as this nation receives more favours than any other in your Serenity's dominions. After I had read the decision and distributed it among eight of them, exactly as it came to me, the word went round admitting that it was very advantageous for their interests. They welcome above all the article which exempts them from the valuation of the goods made in their ships by the justiciars, from which they say they suffered many extortions. They say your Excellencies will find it profitable to have the same done elsewhere in your dominions, and thus encourage their ships to frequent them. They asked me to present a request for this. All the above ideas with others which came into my mind I have repeated several times to most of these merchants, and I have tried my best to impress them with the advantages to be gained by frequenting those ports. I will continue to do so whenever I see an opening and observe the results, which I will report.
I had another talk with Vassel about the trade of Spallatro. He told me he had directed Obson in his preceding despatch to hasten on the arrangement and if he arranges it in time, he will send the news to Leghorn by express to a servant of his who has embarked on the Golden Fleece in charge of 150 bales of kerseys for Ragusa, so that, in conformity with orders received here, he may divert the course of the ship, if he hears from Obson, and go to Liesina instead of Ragusa, where Obson is charged to see that the 150 bales are unladed and taken to Spallatro. He asked me to solicit your Excellencies for the most speedy despatch, so that the orders may find the ship at Leghorn, before it starts for Ragusa. I told him that any delay would proceed from his asking too much, and if he made reasonable requests he would obtain them immediately. He quoted the case of a Jew, who introduced some trade in Spallatro and had a similar privilege. I told him the mart was now on its legs and his example was not to the point, and as this was a question of his greater convenience, advantage and safety he ought not to persist in making excessive demands. He told me again that Obson had powers to settle the terms. He hoped your Serenity would grant him some facilities and he would try to deserve them.
He is really very dissatisfied with Ragusa. He wants to avenge himself in this way, besides the benefit which he expects to derive from the export of his goods to Hungary, so he will certainly come to terms for the slightest advantage. He has 1040 pieces of kerseys left at Ragusa, which he cannot dispose of, so that if he comes to terms with your Excellencies he is determined to remove his house from there at once and transfer it to Spallatro, in the assurance, so he says, that English ships will not touch at that port any more, since it is not worth their while to stop there for the small portion which Richaut sends. Meanwhile the Golden Fleece has not yet left these shores owing to the contrary wind, and as it has to stay some time at Genoa and at Leghorn, I hope, if this business serves the interests of your Serenity, that the orders in question will reach Leghorn in time to divert its course from Ragusa, according to the intent of the petitioners.
London, the 18th December, 1637.
Dec. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
370. To the Secretary in England.
We enclose the reply of the Ambassador Fielding and the office read to him about the affair of the pistol. The ambassador objects to the sentence of banishment. Possibly he is rather interested than sensible of the sincerity of the steps taken or of the circumstances of the case. Thus he has not been to the Collegio to say anything about the commissions sent to him to go to Turin. You will keep a look out to see if his instructions say anything about returning here or if he is altogether recalled.
Ayes, 132. Noes, 8. Neutral, 15.
Dec. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
371. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It was a procurator of the Government of England who came to state the reasons why that king issued letters of reprisals against the French. (fn. 1) He brings orders to the English ambassadors to make what settlement they please in the matter, and the king promises to ratify everything. They say, however, that it will prove a difficult matter because the English claim as a right what they grant here as a favour.
With regard to the alliance the king here has declared that he will send one of his ministers to the diet, whether it be held at Hamburg or the Hague, which ever the Swedes and Dutch prefer, but the former rather than the latter. The Swedes intimate that they would prefer Hamburg, but if England insists on the Hague they will agree to it. The English state that they will accept the place that France wishes, maintaining that she ought to be the first to move, since it is the question of reinstating not only the Palatine but all the other princes allied with him in Germany for which she is at war, while England at present only serves as an intermediary to present to the emperor the peace proposals that will be drawn up at the diet, and if these are not accepted by the Austrians within two months then she also will declare against them. So nothing is decided and one may say that they do not get beyond mere ceremonial.
Paris, the 22nd December, 1637.
Dec. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
372. Francesco Zonca, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The advices which arrived last week about the persons destined by the emperor for the peace negotiations with Sweden, were more authentic than people thought. The English minister at Hamburg writes on the 30th ult. that there is a certain doctor in that city who is negotiating very closely on Cæsar's behalf, and his negotiations are well advanced with the Ambassador Salvio, sent there by that crown with full powers for peace and war. (fn. 2) When the French Ambassador d'Avo found this out, he tried his utmost to stop it and induce Salvio to ratify the treaty of Vismar, which was drafted about a year ago and never ratified. By it the Kings of France and Sweden bound themselves not to make any peace with the House of Austria for three years except by common consent, on condition that France supplied a certain large sum of money yearly to the Swedes. He adds that Salvio, to gain time with the French and advantage with the emperor, is haggling over every thing. He refuses to sign the treaty in question unless the Most Christian pays down the money for the terms expired, which he interprets as beginning from the first day on which the articles were agreed, although never ratified. He complains that that king has never declared war on the King of Hungary, as he is bound to by the agreement, and it is necessary that the adjustment of the alliance with England must come first. D'Avo replies that they will find a way to satisfy them about the money ; he shows his full powers to declare war on the King of Hungary, which will be done immediately the treaty is signed. With respect to the English alliance, he has the necessary instructions and so has the English minister, and it can be completed after a few hours conference. Salvio retorts that he thought this affair was to be referred to the Hague, and they tell him that at the Hague also his king's ministers have the same instructions. He concludes that he will have to write to Sweden and wait for the answer. These are all subterfuges which reasonably lead to the conclusion that their negotiations with the Emperor are far advanced. At this Court they maintain that if Sweden is granted the peaceful possession of Pomerania, which is considered to be worth more than the rest of the dominions of that crown, she will certainly conclude peace. I have thought it my duty to report all these things, which I have on excellent authority.
The Secretary of the Polish Ambassador has had a confidential talk with me about the dissatisfaction of the king here with his master over the marriage with the Palatine princess. He admitted that on the face of things they seemed to have right on their side here, but one who knew the nature of the Polish king's powers could not fail to excuse him. In time of war his authority was as extensive as one could wish, but during peace he was controlled by the laws of the republic. When armed and victorious against the Muscovite he announced his desire to marry the said princess, and meeting with no opposition he sent the Ambassador Zavaschi to lay the first foundations here. But when he laid down his arms soon after and asked the consent of the diet of Warsaw, as is customary, they opposed it openly, because the bride does not profess the Catholic faith. The king was incensed at this, but the means employed to overcome the difficulty having proved fruitless, he sent back Zavaschi to inform the king and make proposals, but they displayed an utter aversion here, and he decided to adopt another course. The ambassador, his master, was to make the most sincere apologies to the king, to declare his king's affection for the Palatine house, and propose means for restoring it to its former greatness. If they had listened to him he would have made satisfactory proposals. Here, however, they seem to know well enough that that king never intended to contract that marriage. The original proposals were designed to pledge England to help him in his plans against Sweden, but when he found they were not disposed to this he invented the above excuses to evade an obligation to which he was so far committed. Douglas, the ambassador at that Court, frequently reported that he had found out these arts, but such was their good opinion of the sincerity of that king that they never believed him.
This week also I have been several times to Court to renew the invitation to the merchants here to trade at Candia. I have spoken to them and to others whom I have not seen before, and I hope that my efforts will not prove altogether fruitless. I now have a promise from one of the owners of the Golden Fleece which left recently for Italy with a favourable wind, that he will send a ship next year, and I hope that will be followed by another of one Richard Berisford. I do not lose sight of the affair, but I also try to seize every opportunity to introduce greater openings, as the state desires.
Count Parella gave the queen in the.king's presence, a more detailed account of the reasons which have led the Duchess of Savoy to keep the Cardinal, her brother in law, at a distance from Piedmont. He also asked for protection from this crown in case the Cardinal, assisted by the enemies of his house, should attempt to injure her. They seemed to feel great sympathy for her. They tell her to be of good courage and express the intention to help her in case of need. These offers will end in words, and the interests of the Palatine, which are much more pressing, serve to show how much anyone has to expect from this crown.
The Spanish fleet has arrived at Dunkirk, with 550 chests of ryals and 4000 soldiers. Two of the ships, which dragged behind the others, were attacked by the Dutch, who were following their traces, and fell a prey to them, but the money has arrived safely.
The wind which has been favourable to transport the Ambassador Corraro across the sea, after a costly delay of three weeks at the port of Larii, (fn. 3) prevents the passage of letters from Venice to this kingdom.
London, the 25th December, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 31.
Senato. Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
373. To the Secretary Zonca in England.
With regard to the reception of the ambassador of Morocco and the prejudice to the republic through our ordinary ambassadors not being met at their entry by an earl, you will seize an opportunity to represent the parity conceded to the ambassadors of the republic at all the Courts, but in such a way as not to commit the state, in order to obtain what is required at the arrival of the Ambassador Giustinian, insisting that his Excellency shall have this sign of honour.
Ayes, 89. Noes, 1. Neutral, 3.
Dec. 31.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
374. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
They persist in making every effort to excite ill feeling between France and England, in order to bring to naught the negotiations for an alliance between those crowns, and to lead England astray by dazzling her with specious promises. After long sittings with the secretaries of state the English minister here has sent his own secretary (fn. 4) to his master with instructions to use the utmost despatch. Details of the proposals which he takes have not yet transpired.
In the place of the young Count of Ognate at that Court, they have selected the Marquis of La Fuente, a person in whom they repose high hopes and one of those most strictly dependent upon the Count Duke.
Madrid, the 31st December, 1637.
[Italian.] Copy.


  • 1. Mr. Wannerton, mentioned in Leicester's despatch of the 5th January. S.P. For. France.
  • 2. The despatch from de Vic referred to appears to be that of the 7/17th November, and not of the 30th. It begins : Letters from Vienna assure us of the resolution of that Court to make peace with Sweden ; to which purpose they use all possible means. Amongst others, by a certain lawyer living in this town, who above three weeks since hath received from the king of Hungary under his own hand, both orders and power to treat of a peace with the Swedish ministers, particularly with Mr. Salvius, between whom and the said lawyer there have passed already sundry secret conferences. S.P. For. Denmark, Vol. 14.
  • 3. According to Salvetti, writing on the 27th November, Correr's long delay after taking leave caused some remark and annoyance : II Sig. Amb. Correro ... non e ancora partito ... si trattiene fuori alia campagna con dire di partere di giorno in giorno, non senza dare qui occasione di discorso ed anco di meraviglia. Sua Maesta si trova alquanto risentito, pero si lascia vedere e il suo male non e punto pericoloso." Brit. Mus., Add MSS. 27962H.
  • 4. Richard Fanshawe. Cal. S.P. Dom, 1637-8, page 31.