Venice: June 1535

Pages 23-28

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 5, 1534-1554. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1873.

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June 1535

June 1. Original Letter Book of Francesco Contarini, in St. Mark's Library. 50. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador with the King of the Romans, to the Signory.
Although on Corpus Christi day the King accompanied the most Holy Sacrament well nigh all over the town, cap in hand and with a torch, the procession lasting nearly two hours, his Majesty, nevertheless, thinking that by this time the Emperor will be on galley board, (fn. 1) went yesterday likewise to accompany the Sacrament from St. Stephen's to St. Michael's, where the Queen was, and there he heard a Mass, and with very great devotion accompanied the Sacrament back to St. Stephen's, so that the Almighty may thus accompany the Emperor on his voyage.
These Lutherans commence rejoicing at the Emperor's coming into Italy, hoping at any rate to have the Council. They understand that his Holiness instead of reforming the customs (costumi) of the priesthood, has allowed them to abridge the breviary, and they hope he will do the like by the fasts, so that thus by degrees they will come to an understanding together. They believe that the Cardinals will assent to the marriage of priests; the remaining difficulties being the revenues of benefices and some others. Here nothing is read but “Pasquin's Passion,” and the medal of the Cardinal of Ravenna, “Crucifixus pro nobis.” (fn. 2)
Vienna, 1st of June.
June 3. Original Letter Book of Francesco Contarini, in St. Mark's Library. 51. The Same to the Same.
This morning after my conversation with his Majesty, when he commenced talking to the Cardinal of Trent, I joined some of these noblemen who were discussing the challenge sent to Pasquin, these Pasquinades pleasing them extremely, and we then went to Mass.
Vienna, 3rd of June.
June 3. Senato Mar, v. xxiii. p. 86, tergo. 52. Decree of the Senate concerning the London Factory.
The King of England, having understood that on the last voyage of the Flanders galleys, the greater part of our merchants defrauded the Customs, when exporting their wools, sent to Hampton one of his sergeants, who, after re-weighing certain wools, ascertained that the merchants had received much better weight than usual; and his Majesty having claimed damages, the Republic's consul, with his Council of Twelve, passed a resolution greatly to the detriment of our factory, thus, that by reason of these good weights, there might be expended to the amount of 1,000l. sterling (equal to 5,000 ducats), on account of the factory, besides what had been previously voted for this purpose, resolutions contrary to our laws and orders, and injurious to merchants hereafter undertaking that voyage, as they would bear the burden without advantage, the persons benefited remaining exempt from it.
Put to the ballot,—
That, save any acts to the contrary, the resolution passed by the Council of Twelve in London, on the 18th of November last, be cancelled and annulled with regard to the clause purporting that of the money to be disbursed on account of the aforesaid advantages, one third be paid by our London factory, and two thirds by the merchants, they being inscribed as the factory's creditors for the loan; and instead of the two thirds, the merchants who obtained the good weights be bound to disburse the whole at the rate of the advantages [received by them], without being in any other way made creditors of the factory; nor henceforth may credit be given to any one on this account, save for the first two “soldi,” disbursed for each poke of wool, on the departure of the galleys from Hampton, according to the resolution passed in the aforesaid Council on the 28th of April last.
Also, that at no time the factory be taxed for these advantages, either in virtue of the resolution already passed, or of any that may hereafter be passed by said Council of Twelve, with the exception of the two “soldi” specified above; the entire cost to be defrayed by those who receive the favours, it not being just for the factory to pay the customs for any merchant.
Ayes, 118. Noes, 5. Neutral 12.
June 3. Senato Terra, v. xxviii. p. 139. 53. Motion made by Doge Griti and 16 Members of the College, concerning a Gold Chain given by Henry VIII. to Carlo Capello.
How praiseworthy and beneficial to our State the operations of our beloved nobleman, Carlo Capello, were, during his embassy to the most Serene King of England, may be well known to all the members of this Council who remember the despatches written by him from time to time, and also by his sage “report” now delivered; and they will deem him deserving of our favour, most especially having been four years on the embassy, in the course of which, for the service and honour of the State he spent much money; in addition to which, owing to his long absence from this city, and to misfortunes which befell him, his private affairs incurred no little detriment, he being the father of six children, with a very small property; so that by reason of the excellent service received from him on this and on his other embassies, it behoves the justice and munificence of the State to show him becoming gratitude.
Put to the ballot,—
That the chain given by the most Serene King of England to the said Ser Carlo Capello, and now presented by him to our most Serene Prince, be by authority of this Council given to said Carlo Capello, he having suffered so much hardship and loss, as an example for others readily to do their utmost in the service of the State, as has been assiduously done by the aforesaid Ser Carlo Capello.
Ayes, 149. Noes, 29. Neutrals, 2. (Kinsfolk withdrew). The Council was told that the act requires a majority of four fifths.
June 3. MS. No. 1231, Class VII. Miscellany, Q. 5, St. Mark's Library. 54. Report of England made to the Senate by the Ambassador, Carlo Capello.
Most Serene Prince,
I may say that I have been in your service for six consecutive years, as scarcely had I returned from the embassy to Florence, (fn. 3) which was most wearisome and perilous by reason of the war the famine and the plague, when by favour of your Serenity I entered your service in the College, as sage for the main land, in which post I remained during 19 months, and before my period of office had expired, your Serenity sent me to the present legation in England, (fn. 4) from which by God's grace, I have now returned; and during that interval, I have not been able to see to my own affairs.
The mission to England, where I remained during nearly four years, was no less perilous and laborious for me than the one to Florence. On my way thither I met with difficulties and mischances and coming home I became dangerously ill and at the point of death for many days, the physicians having given me over, so that one day's life in this city would have seemed to me a mercy and the disease is still upon me, so that I shall be unable to make my report to the satisfaction of your Serenity, and it will be brief nor am I sure of ending it, being scarcely able to speak.
I will not repeat the contents of my despatches, but merely mention a few things which seem to me worthy of your Serenity's
England has very bad laws and statutes, not being governed by the Imperial Code, (fn. 5) but by laws in her own fashion, to which she was subjected by one William the Bastard, who conquered the country, and had dominion over it; and amongst their other bad laws, I will acquaint your Serenity with two, which are contrary to all right. The one is, that the cargo of any ship going to pieces off the Island, becomes the prey of those who can seize it; so that many of the natives seek to destroy and wreck vessels instead of saving them. The other is, that the whole Kingdom is parcelled into fiefs; as at the time of the Conquest, the said William confiscated everything, and then gave the land in fee; and when a feudatory dies without heirs, his land falls to the Crown, and if he leaves children, half of their property—until they are twenty years old, or upwards—goes to the King, who distributes it at his pleasure; which causes a thousand abuses and improprieties.
This King's predecessor had a revenue of some 400,000 ducats, and whilst I was in England, the present King, what with new taxes, and these wardships, and by other means, may have increased this sum to 700,000 ducats, of which Secretary Cromwell was and is in great part the author; and now lately by these annats, and by the church benefices which he has absorbed, that sum will have been doubled; so at this present his annual revenue amounts well nigh to a million and a half.
This Cromwell was a person of low origin and condition; he is now Secretary of State, the King's prime minister, and has supreme authority.
Capello then spoke at large about the life, power, and character of said Cromwell. (fn. 6)
The King is most unpopular, and a rebellion might easily break out some day, and cause great confusion. He has rare endowments both of mind and body, such as personal beauty, genius, learning, etc., and it is marvellous how he has fallen into so many errors and false tenets.
The old Queen Katharine, who was much beloved, is at -in a bad way, well nigh without any revenue or attendants; and she remains with but few persons in her court.
It is believed that were the King to die, although there are two or three pretenders to the Crown, the Princess Mary, Queen Katharine's daughter, would be made Queen and succeed to the kingdom.
Capello then apologized for being unable to proceed, and not narrating methodically, and he could scarcely speak; and these excuses he made at several parts and passages.
He next alluded to the great costs incurred by him on the journey out and home and during his stay, on account of famines, etc. He said that he had always kept from ten to eleven horses, as he was bound, but of late, expecting hourly permission to return, his stable was in better order than usual.
He had not failed to give banquets, and to live grandly and nobly, for the honour of the State; and he swore that from the day of his departure until he got back to Venice, he had expended seven hundred ducats during illness, etc., and for so many physicians; so that (I think he said) he had only one [ducat?] remaining.
He said the King is already tired to satiety of this new Queen (che il Re era stufo et satio hormai de questa nova regina.)
He said nothing about the King's disposition towards the Republic, nor did he mention either the late Cardinal [Wolsey], or the present one [Fisher]. (fn. 7)
In case of any invasion, the King can raise two powerful armies, one to take the field wherever needed, and the other as a reserve in case of defeat.
He praised his secretary [Girolamo Zuccato], and recommended him.
He mentioned the gold chain given to him, worth 400 ducats, and had it exhibited. He alluded to the death of his relatives, and to his losses during this embassy on account of his family; requesting the chain might be given him to aid the marriage of his daughter or to redeem a certain tenement seized by his brother-in-law, Messer Beneto Damosto for payment of dower due to him, which if paid, he would most certainly restore the tenement to Capello.
June 6. Original Letter Book of Francesco Contarini in St. Mark's Library. 55. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador with the King of the Romans, to the Signory.
Letters having arrived, announcing the creation of Cardinals, (fn. 8) including the Right Rev. [Gasparo] Contarini, the King and the whole Court were no less pleased than to hear of the promotion of the Archbishop of Capua [Nicholas Schomberg], his Lordship [Gasparo Contarini] being known to his Majesty and many here; and whereas some months ago the Lutherans had cause to criticise the Pope's nomination of his nephews, so are they now astounded and know not what to say; and were his Holiness to continue acting thus, and not think of seizing Camerino, etc., and kindling a flame in Italy, this would be the best way to silence them, for after saying and repeating so much, they talk of nothing but the immorality of the heads of the Church. Trusts the Right Rev. Contarini will serve them as an example, nor is it necessary to speak of his learning and condition, as they are known to everybody. Does not know whether he should congratulate the Republic or not, for on the one hand, the Pope, for his own service, has deprived it of a matchless man (singularissimo homo), but on the other hand, he is of such a quality and sort that wheresoever placed he will act for the benefit and profit of the State Prays God to grant that they may one day see him in that post to which many persons already expect him to be raised.
Vienna, 6th of June 1535.
June 10. Lettere del Collegio (Secreta), File no. 14. 56. The Doge and College to Hironimo Zuccato, Venetian Secretary in England.
The last letters received from him, were dated 8th May. Are well satisfied with his diligence. Enclose summaries of news received from Constantinople dated 27th and 28th April, and 1st and 2nd May, which are to be communicated as usual.
June 12. Deliberazioni Senato (Secreta), v. lvi. p. 100. 57. The Doge and Senate to the Bailo at Constantinople.
On the 14th of May, the Admiral of the most Christian. King departed on his way to Calais for the conference to be held between him and the agents of the King of England.
Ayes, 144. Noes, 28. Neutrals, 14.
June 30. Lettere del Collegio (Secreta), File no. 14. 58. The Doge and College to Hironimo Zuccato, Venetian Secretary in England.
Send the advices from Constantinople dated 12th, 17th, 18th, 28th, and 31st May, to be communicated by him to the King face to face, that they may not be published.
Will have heard that they have elected him Secretary in ordinary of the Ducal Chancery, which they did willingly.


  • 1. The Emperor embarked at Barcelona for the expedition against Tunis on the 1st of June.
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4. It is seen by the Venetian Calendar, vol. 4, that the election of Carlo Capello to the Embassy in England, took place on the 7th January 1531 and that he arrived there on the 11th of August following.
  • 5. “Per lege Imperial,” by the code of the Emperor Justinian.
  • 6. The transcriber of this Report, who seems to have been in the Senate when it was made, omits Cromwell's biography entirely.
  • 7. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was created Cardinal by Pope Paul III. on the 20th of May 1535, and beheaded by order of Henry VIII. on the following 25th of June, three weeks after Capello's allusion to him.
  • 8. On the 20th of May 1535.