Venice: April 1522

Pages 218-224

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 3, 1520-1526. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1869.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


April 1522

April 4. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 148, St. Mark's Library. 439. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
Last Tuesday the Emperor assembled the deputies of all the provinces of Flanders in the great hall of the palace. The Infant [Don Ferdinand] and Lady Margaret were also present. The Chancellor, in his name, thanked the deputies for the pecuniary subsidy cod ceded to his Majesty this last year by their Commons, owing to which good results had been obtained, namely, the capture of Tournai and the recovery of Milan, and informed them that having now to go into Spain, the Emperor desired to take leave of them, and left the government of Flanders to Lady Margaret, and that the King of England had assumed the protection of all those provinces.
The Flemings, from the highest to the lowest, regret this departure, but none more than the Emperor himself, as he has been born and bred in Flanders.
Brussels, 4th April 1522.
[Italian, 2 pages.]
April 8. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxxiii. p. 124. 440. The Signory to the Ambassador Surian in England.
(Proposed by the Sages in the Senate.)
Reply to his letter concerning the complaints made by Cardinal Wolsey against the Signory, namely:—(1.) That the Signory is the power which gives money to France, and more than she is bound to give, and thus maintains the war in Italy. (2.) That the Signory has instigated the Turk to attack the King of Hungary, thus compelling the Emperor to send troops to assist him, as he is his brother-in-law, and this for the sake of preventing the Emperor from breaking the truce with the Republic. (3.) That an English merchant has been killed in the Venetian territory, and robbed of 40,000 ducats. (4.) That the Venetian galleys go to England empty, and cause the King more loss than profit. (5.) That they will not pay for the wools in ready money but by barter. (6.) That the wine measures are less than usual and the butts smaller, &c.
These charges were answered one by one, and confuted, and the letter clearly vindicated the Signory's rights. It was carried in the Council unanimously.
April 8. Deliberazioni Senato Secreta, v. xlix. p. 76. 441. The Doge and Senate to Antonio Surian, Venetian Ambassador in England.
On the day before yesterday received his letters of the 23rd February and 13th and 16th March, containing sundry complaints made to him by Cardinal Wolsey. Are disquieted by the Cardinal's anger, as both by word and deed he has always favoured the interests of the State.
The accusation that the Senate had decreed an alliance with Sultan Solyman to the annihilation of the Emperor is absurd and impious. Venice has been the bulwark of Christendom against Turkish aggression, and protected the Apostolic See.
For the defence of Hungary her kings have been supplied by the Signory at various periods with upwards of 500,000 ducats.
As for the mission of a Venetian ambassador to the Turk, it has always been the custom of the State to send one to every new sultan, to congratulate him, and confirm ancient treaties, and Sultan Solyman had sent an ambassador to Venice, announcing his accession. The King of England, moreover, has approved the Signory's policy. In January last the Venetian ambassador [Marco Minio] quitted Constantinople on his way to assume the government of Candia, and the successor of the late “Bailo” is on the point of departure from Venice for the protection of Venetian subjects and merchants [in Turkey] as usual.
The report of a fresh treaty between Venice and the King of France, and of a loan furnished to him by the State, as acknowledgment for places promised them, is perfectly untrue. They did for the King of France what they were bound to do in virtue of the treaty.
The Signory has not given money, nor even the slightest military subsidy, either to Francesco Maria [Delia Rovere, ex Duke of Urbino] or to the Baglioni family.
Deprecate the idea of their fomenting disturbances in Italy, as they have always sought peace and tranquillity among Christians, and especially a reconciliation between the Emperor and France. Desire peace with the Emperor.
Much documentary evidence could be afforded of deeds done by the Venetians heretofore in favour of the Apostolic See. Cardinal Wolsey had alluded to the triple league. When it was proposed for the defence of Pope Leo, the Cardinal deemed it mischievous, and urged the Signory to protract the negotiation. In accordance with the exhortations of so excellent and wise a Cardinal, they renounced the treaty, as appears by their letter to Surian, dated the 16th (sic, 19th?) of August 1521.
In reply to complaints on the part of the merchants, assure him their intention is to treat English merchants as lovingly as the native merchants of Venice.
Concerning that Englishman who is reported to have been plundered in the Venetian territory, and to have lost 40,000 ducats, it appears hardly credible that a single merchant should be the bearer of so considerable a sum. The circumstance had never reached their ears, yet they made inquiries through the Flemish and other merchants, but could not find that such a thing had ever happened.
The light cargoes of the Flanders galleys is occasioned by the scarcity of spices of late years, which proves more injurious to the State and her merchants than to anybody else.
Desire him to respectfully announce all these replies to the King and Cardinal.
The Signory wishes all prosperity to both of them, nor could any greater additional distinction accrue to the Cardinal, than the reconciliation of the two crowns [Imperial and French] through his perseverence.
Ayes, 154. Noes, 1. Neutrals, 0.
[Latin, 101 lines.]
April 10. Sanuto Diaries, v. xxxiii. p. 207. 442. Antonio Surian to the Signory.
The muster of forces now making in England is said to be for an attack on Scotland. Cardinal Wolsey is still endeavouring earnestly to effect a truce between the Emperor and the King of France, in the territories beyond Italy. Preparations are being made for the coming of the Emperor, who will most certainly come to England for an interview with the King, and then cross over to Spain.
London, the 10th of April, at the 16th hour. Registered by Sanuto, 7th May.
April 10. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 149, St. Mark's Library. 443. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
In the course of a conversation the Bishop of Palencia said to him, “Believe me that in Italy, besides those already on our side, we shall moreover have other friends, nor am I alluding to yourselves.” Replied, that apparently they had the whole of Italy. The Bishop rejoined, “I am speaking of foreigners,” and then, after inculcating great secrecy, said to him positively, “I am speaking of the King of England, who, even in Italy, assists us with what we need, namely money, as we are most abundantly supplied with every other requisite for the war.”
Was also told by the Bishop that they had letters from the Pope, dated the 16th of March, and that in the list of the galleys destined for his Holiness' voyage to Rome was comprised the Flanders galley detained at St. Sebastian's. “What,” said Contarini, “the other day your lordship blamed the master, saying that the Pope had asked him for his galley, and received for answer that he could not give it without permission from the captain, to whom he had written. Has he now received an answer?” The Bishop replied, “Such was the intelligence given us at the time. Now, by these last letters, according to the list of the galleys, this one of yours is included among them. I can tell you nothing more.”
According to general report, the Emperor's departure from Brussels will be delayed until after Easter.
Brussels, 10th April 1522.
[Italian, 2½ pages.]
April 11. Senato Mar, v. xx. p. 10. 444. The “Donata” Galley.
Decree of the Senate that as the Pope had availed himself of the “Donata” galley, for his voyage to Rome, and as the merchants of Venice had ordered the purchase of merchandise in England sufficient for the freight of all three of the galleys, therefore the master or partners of the “Donata” galley, with the consent and knowledge of the captain of the Flanders galleys, do hire one or two ships for the conveyance of such superabundant merchandise as may remain after completion of the cargoes of the two galleys, which are to await the said ship or ships in the port of Hampton during the whole of the month of May. Regulations concerning freight money demurrage, compensation, averages, &c.
An amendment was proposed.
For the original motion, 97. Kinsfolk excluded.
For the amendment: Ayes, 49. Noes, 9. Neutrals, 9.
[Italian, 34 lines.]
April 15. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 150, St. Mark's Library. 445. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
On the 13th was told by the Chancellor that the Pope would certainly take the “Donata,” and embark in it himself, because it was a safer vessel than any of the others. Does not know on what terms the Pope makes use of it.
The Emperor's departure for England is constantly postponed. It is said he will not depart hence until a fortnight after Easter. Many maintain that he will not quit Flanders this summer. The affairs of Italy, however, cause him thus to procrastinate, and he will regulate his departure according to their result. The Bishop of Palencia had asserted that the Emperor would go first to England, and then to Spain, but the Chancellor represents the voyage to be very doubtful. The gentlemen [of the Court] have not yet received any money.
Brussels, 15th April 1522.
P. S.—The ministry at Brussels, hearing of the descent of the 8,000 Switzers [into Italy] in favour of France, wrote off to the Tyrol for another levy of 10,000 lansquenets to descend in like manner. It is said the funds have been provided, but it is doubtful whether the men can be mustered so immediately, and the Imperial exchequer is quite exhausted. Unless England furnish the money, does not see whence it can be got.
[Italian, 1½ page.]
April 22. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 151, St. Mark's Library. 446. The Same to the Same.
On Good Friday received letters from the State, desiring him to obtain fresh safeconducts from the Emperor, for the navigation of the Barbary and Flanders galleys. Made the demand of the Chancellor yesterday, alleging the advantages and profit derived from these voyages by his Majesty's territories, which were chiefly engaged in similar traffic. The Chancellor said he would speak about them to the Emperor. Proposed going to the Emperor in the afternoon. The Chancellor desired him not to give himself that trouble, as in the morning his Majesty had taken a slight purge.
The English ambassadors [Sir Robert Wyngfeld and Spinelli] spoke to him (Contarini) lately about the intercepted letters written by the King of France to the Signory, with regard to the money demanded by him of the State, and his coming into Italy. On this subject they expressed themselves with great warmth, saying that the State showed itself more in favour of France than was becoming, and that but for Venice the French would already be out of Italy. From this language the State may infer what is the disposition of their sovereign, with respect to the King of France, against whom they would not express themselves so freely, unless they knew their master's mind.
As these intercepted letters will probably be communicated to the King and Cardinal in England, has forewarned the Ambassador Surian.
Forwards letters from Surian, the Captain of the Flanders galleys, and the Venetian merchants in London.
Brussels, 22nd April 1522.
[Italian, 5 pages.]
April 24. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 153, St. Mark's Library. 447. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
On the 23rd sent his secretary to the Chancellor to inquire about the safeconducts. The Chancellor said he had been unable to mention the subject to the Emperor, who, on St. George's Day [23rd April], attended divine service in honour of the English Order of the Garter.
Went today to the palace, where the Emperor was attending mass in his private chapel. Conversed with the Bishop of Palencia, who in reply to his protestations that the Signory remained staunch to the Emperor, said, “You are deceived, for I likewise have been an ambassador, and noticed that when one power means to break with another, the first person imposed upon is the minister resident with the prince whose friendship is about to be renounced. Thus did King Ferdinand the Catholic when he made the truce with France, (fn. 1) for the first person he deceived was his own ambassador resident with the King of England. You wish to make the King of France supreme in Italy, and we are firmly resolved to obtain supremacy here in Burgundy. There are also other things which the King of France might give us. Remember that you drew Maximilian into the league of Cambrai by the hair of his head.”
On the conclusion of the mass, requested the Emperor to prolong the safeconducts, which would expire in a few months, and alleged the advantages which would accrue to such of his Majesty's ports as the Venetian galleys frequented. The reply proved that the Chancellor had already spoken to the Emperor on the subject, and advised him to deny the request.
The Emperor said,—“The other safeconducts have still some time to run. During the interval I shall wait and see how the Signory proceeds, and act accordingly. It is not possible for the Signory at one and the same time to content two such very great enemies as the King of France and I. (fn. 2) Should the Republic be against me, I do not think fit to give her safeconducts; if my friend, she will not need them, as the navigation of her vessels in our waters will be secure.”
Endeavoured to give assurance of the Signory's obsequiousness towards the Emperor, who rejoined, “I look at the Republic's deeds, which with regard to me are very sorry;” (fn. 3) and thereupon he entered his chamber.
Brussels, 24th April 1522.
[Italian, 2 pages.]
April 28. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 154, St. Mark's Library. 448. Gasparo Contarini to the Signory.
On the 26th, when in the Emperor's chamber (having been invited to accompany him to mass at the cathedral), the English ambassador, Sir Thomas Spinelli, said to him in the presence of his colleague [Sir Robert Wyngfeld], and of the Nuncio, that the Emperor understood a place of his, called Postoina, had been surrounded by 10,000 Turks, adding, “and they passed through your territories, (fn. 4) where they did no damage whatever, a proof that they did not come without your connivance.” These words, replete with that spite and ill-will which Spinelli bears the Signory, were uttered in a very vehement voice. Answered him that he ought not to form such an idea of the Republic, which had never failed to defend Christendom with the blood and treasure of her citizens, and with the loss of many of her towns and places, and that if the Turks were under Postoina the State would greatly regret the fact. Mentioned that during the past months the Signory had constantly warned the Emperor and other sovereigns of Sultan Solyman's preparations against Christendom, but no credence was conceded to their notices. Calmly and earnestly endeavoured to rid the bystanders of so evil an impression.
Having been thus apostrophized by Spinelli, complained to the Chancellor of this report. The Chancellor said the intelligence received by the Imperialists did not purport that the Signory had sent for the Turks; but that inference was drawn because, when the Emperor's ambassador at Venice announced their march, the State did not appear to hold it in much account.
Rejoined that in taking defensive measures against the common enemy, the Signory was compelled to avoid arousing suspicion, as in the end Venice would have to bear the brunt single handed, as had frequently been the case, and that it was impossible for the Venetians to make any resistance against 10,000 cavalry in the open field. Moreover that during last year he had often, even with some importunity, communicated to the Chancellor advices from the State concerning these Turkish preparations, which appeared to be disregarded, and malicious persons like Spinelli declared them fictitious.
Then carried his complaints to the Bishop of Palencia, who answered in a very different tone, saying that the Florentine Spinelli was a madman and foul-mouthed; (fn. 5) and that really neither the Emperor nor any other person of intelligence believed the Signory had induced the Turks to attack Christendom, adding, “Yet are you the cause of this mischief, through the assistance given by you to the French in the affairs of Italy.”
Asked the Bishop about the Emperor's departure. He replied they were expecting an English ambassador, who quitted London last Saturday, was coming post haste to Brussels, and is the identical Englishman who was ambassador there last winter [Sir Richard Wyngfeld], brother of the resident ambassador [Sir Robert Wyngfeld], Spinelli's colleague.
When talking with the Chancellor, mentioned how desirable it it would be to make peace between the Emperor and France. He said the affair was in the hands of the King of England.
Brussels, 28th April 1522.
[Italian, 3 pages.]
April 28. Contarini's Original Letter Book, Letter no. 155, St. Mark's Library. 449. Gasparo Contarini to the Council of Ten.
The Chancellor, after telling him that the agreement between the Emperor and France was in the hands of the King of England, added that the affair had been communicated to Surian. Supposes this was an allusion to the league proposed to Surian by Wolsey.
Said he knew nothing about it, and that doubtless the news had reached Gattinara from England. The Chancellor rejoined, “We had the intelligence from Venice, and the Emperor receives advices from an individual who has a seat in your Privy Councils (Consegli Secreti), through whom we know to a ducat the amount of money given by you to the King of France.”
Brussels, 28th April 1522.
[Italian, ½ page.]


  • 1. In the year 1514; see Hume (vol. iii. p. 94), who quotes Petrus de Angleria, a Lombard; but this Bishop of Palencia, Pedro Ruiz de la Mota, was a born Spaniard, and his testimony is therefore more authentic.
  • 2. “Non è possibile che quella Signoria satisfaci in uno medesimo tempo a dui che sijnon grandissimi inimiei insieme come il Re di Francia et io.“
  • 3. “Io vedo le opere di quella molto triste verso di me.“
  • 4. Postoina is situated three or four leagues from the rivers Vipach and Isonzo, which separated the territory of Carniola from the Venetian Friuli.
  • 5. “Un pazo et licencioso nel parlar.”