Venice: March 1586

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1894.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


'Venice: March 1586', Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, (London, 1894), pp. 143-149. British History Online [accessed 15 June 2024].

. "Venice: March 1586", in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, (London, 1894) 143-149. British History Online, accessed June 15, 2024,

. "Venice: March 1586", Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, (London, 1894). 143-149. British History Online. Web. 15 June 2024,

March 1586

March 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 324. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Capadun Pasha said to my dragoman “Tell the Bailo that the French Ambassador will soon be here, and that he must not forget to tale every step he can against the English whenever occasion offers, so that, all together, we may drive out these canaile” The dragoman promised obedience, and as he was going away the Capadun ashed if the crystal box which has been promised him was ready yet; the dragoman said that it was looked for this September.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 3rd March 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 325. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador cannot procure any support from the Turks against Spain, for the Sultan is entirely occupied with his own affairs. It happened that the Ambassador went, some days ago, to speak with the Capadun Pasha, who either through inadvertence or in contempt, made him wait a little while. The Ambassador left in a rage, and sent his secretary to complain of the treatment to which he had been subjected; treatment to which the French Ambassador and the Venetian Bailo would certainly never have been exposed; whereupon the Capadun, bursting with scorn and rage, drove the secretary from his presence with scurrilous abuse, making use of these actual words, “Just look at this fellow who wishes to stand on an equality with France and the Venetian Signory.” (Et essendo gia alcuni giorni esso Ambasciatore andato per pariar al Magnifico Capitano di Mare, occorse che o a caso o per sdegno contra di lui, il Capitano si fece aspettar alquanto, talche l' Ambasciatore si parti molto alterrato, et mandò il silo secretario a dolersi che processe con lui in quella maniera, con la qual non procederà ne con l' Ambasciatore di Franza, ne con il Bailo di Venetia; all' hora il Capitano Bassà, pieno di sdegno et colera, scacciò da se il secretario con vilanie, dicendoli questi for mar (formal?) parolle, Guarda chi vol concorre con franza et con la Signoria di Venetia.)
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 4th March 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 4. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 326. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
There is still an alarm lest the Protestant Princes of Germany should form a League under the dread that the Catholic Princes have made a combination hostile to them. They say the Swiss will join them. If the rumour persists the Emperor will send round to the secular electors, to assure them that he would never consent to anything prejudicial to their interests.
Prague, 4th March 1586.
March 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 327. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
On the fourth a courrier from Lisbon passed through. He went express to his Majesty; he left no other news except that the Portuguese are full of discontent at the damage done by Drake and other English corsairs. They say that their lives and property were safer under their King, Don Sebastian, than at present. And, indeed, the constant report of serious losses and the absence of all signs of active preparation not only disturbs the minds of the Portuguese but causes them to entertain little respect for the principle Ministers of the Crown, and for the Marquis of Santa Cruz, who is on his way to Lisbon; he enjoys no reputation among the people, but is the object of their contempt. As to the preparations in Lisbon and Seville it seems that there are no more galleys there now than there were before, and they can hardly be ready in the month of April. In the meantime they are in dread that Drake will do all the mischief he can; indeed, they hourly expect news of fresh conquests on his part. We hear from the Court that the courrier brought news that twenty English ships are off the mouth of the Tagus, which leads right up to Lisbon. These ships sacked and burned the territory round about, and prevented any vessels from entering the port There is news from England that the Queen's fleet will arrive off Portugal in great strength, and with it will come Don Antonio. The King will hasten his journey, and next week he will be at Aranjuez, a pleasure house of his, three leagues from Madrid, and his household has already left to prepare his chambers. They say the reason of his hurried departure is that he wishes to pass the month of June in Lisbon, and they speak more positively on this point than heretofore.
The Cardinal de Granvelle has advised that this journey is necessary on the ground that the King's presence will quiet the minds of the Portuguese, and will cause a greater diligence in the preparations which are needed not only to sweep the corsairs from the sea but also for the attack on England. His Eminence is of opinion that this course is desirable for the dignity of his Majesty, and that, indeed, there is no other remedy than to strike at the head and first cause of all, the Queen of England (anzi non esser altro rimedio a questo che andar al capo et alla prima causa, ch' è la detta Regina). Here in Madrid there are many Spanish officers waiting the King's commission. A member of the council of war told me that forty have already been despatched to raise troops to the number of eight thousand. In Gallicia they are laying in large stores of salt meat The Prior, Don Ernando di Toledo, has orders to be here on the King's arrival; he is the only Spanish Minister whom the King can employ as general of an army. All these preparations point to some scheme for a great enterprise, and that can be no other than the attack on England. A person of importance told me that, although they leave no safe harbour neither in Holland nor in England, yet, on the appearance of the Armada, they are confident that they will capture Ireland, which will give them an excellent harbour quite close to England, in which they can concentrate the fleet. These designs can be the more easily carried out, as Spain is relieved from all dread of the Turkish fleet, owing to the victory of the Persians, which report from all sides declares to leave been most signal; for which thanks be to God for this service to Christendom. I shall have fuller news on the arrival of the Court, which is suffering greatly on its journey, owing to the unusual intensity of the cold and the amount of the snow.
Madrid, 8th March 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 328. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Chiefs of the Ten.
I went to visit the Grand Prior, Don Ernando di Toledo. The subject of Portugal came up, and his lordship said to me that the Queen of England was very hardy, and that it was impossible longer to endure her conduct, which deeply affected the interests of all Christendom. He had recommended the journey to Portugal, as the King's presence would produce order. Courtiers consider the journey a certainty. I must inform your Excellencies of what happened to me a few days ago. A friend of mine, an officer, came to me and, after much circumlocution, told me that he had a letter from Don Antonio in cipher, telling him that a powerful fleet was coming to Portugal and especially to Lisbon, and urging him go to Lisbon and join some conspirators in that city and obey their orders. The officer had received this letter at the time Drake was off Gallicia. but Don Antonio was not then with Drake, as he was recalled by the Queen of England when on the point of departure, and Drake had sailed alone. Don Antonio is to be on board this other fleet, which they say is coming in force to Portugal, it is possible that the conspiracy will explode at the moment of his Majesty's arrival there. As this is a matter of great importance for all Christendom I have thought it right to inform your Excellencies so that you may know what is going forward. I have not been able to see this officer again, although I have used diligence to find him; but I am sure that on the news that the English fleet is approaching he will fly to Lisbon. If I had pressed him he would certainly have shown me the letter from Don Antonio, but to avoid appearing too curious I did not do so.
When closing this, a courrier from Lisbon has passed through on his way to the King. He reports at Bayona, off Gallicia, thirty-two English men-of-war have been sighted; and rumour says the English fleet numbers one hundred and fifty sail. The Marquis of Santa Cruz is to come to Court. A person in high position assures me that the infantry they are raising in Italy are to come to Spain; and that many companies of Germans have been recruited.
Madrid, 9th March 1586.
March 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 329. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Some days ago an English ship entered this port. She has a little cloth and tin. She made a great noise with her guns. In a few days she sold off her cargo and sailed away in ballast This will give me occasion to talk to the Grand Vizier of the slight profit which the English alliance affords to the Sultan. The French Ambassador is expected in ten or fifteen days. A large part of his suite is already here. The Ambassador has suffered much inconvenience and danger on his journey.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 17th March 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 330. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Last week the French agent had an audience of the Grand Vizier. After disposing of his business the Pasha said, “Well! is it true that the Queen of England has taken from the King of Spain two large and important countries, and intends to make war on him?” The agent replied that he understood so. The Pasha said, “Well, then how is it that you reckon the King of Spain for such a great sovereign by sea and land, when a woman all alone, has the courage not merely to attack him, but to despoil him of so large a part of his dominions,” and he kept on repeating, “how can it be?and showed his great astonishment. The agent replied that the Queen had easily been able to accomplish this, owing to the vicinity to her kingdom of those provinces; which were not conquered by arms, but surrendered voluntarily on account of religious questions; that the Queen had not undertaken this enterprise, relying on her own sole resources, (but) knowing that she would be supported by other powerful sovereigns; by whom, as he told me, he meant the Kings of Sweden and Denmark. The English Ambassador, however, does not fail to make diligent use of this occasion to instruct all the Pashas, and to make them report to the Sultan the grandeur and the power of his mistress, indicating the immense advantage to the Sultan of finding the power of Spain neutralised just now, that he is engaged in a war with Persia, and deducing from this the vast importance of an English alliance. In addition to this he has preferred a request for a permit that English ships may land in Barbary to water and to provision themselves, on the ground that the ports of Spain are now closed against them. But even though this permit be granted, it will not be safe to use it, and it will prove of little value to the English, for the Turks, in a hundred ways, will be able to excuse any breach of the agreement. (Ma questo Ämbasciadore d'Inghilterra non manca di diligenza in questa occasione di informar tutti li Magnifici Bassà, et far riferir a questo Signor, la grandezza et forze che ha la sua Regina, et considerar il gran beneficio che fa hora a sua Maestà, assicurandola dalle forze de Spagnoli mentrela è occupata in questa guerra di Persia; ponderandole quanto impoiti in questa. sola occasione l'amicitia della sua Regina a questo Imperio, et oltre di cio dimanda salvocondutto, et sicurtà alle sue navi di potersi hora servir delta costa di Barbaria per far acqua et provedersi delle cose neccessarie per il loro viaggio, hora, che non possono piu accostarsi alli luochi et marine del Re de Spagna; il che, seben li sarà concesso da questo Signor, si crede però che non sarà sicuro, et poco li gioverà perche questi per molte vie si possono iscusar quando non li sarà osservato.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 18th March 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 331. Vincenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King arrived on Saturday last at Aranjuez, where he stayed seven days, invited by the softness of the air and the beautiful weather. Yesterday his Majesty made his public entry with all his household. As he came by carriage he was not met by the Councils of State but only by some few courtiers. The city showed great content at seeing its Sovereign home again, sound and in good spirits. The Prince has improved in health; he is vivacious, active, of a good colour; the Infanta Las grown quite beautiful and graceful, to the great satisfaction of the King, who clearly shows that this daughter is his delight. I and the Nuncio are to have an audience to-morrow.
Public rumour says that great preparations are to be made against Drake and the other English cor airs, as it is thought that it would be unworthy of the Crown to shut its eyes any longer The beginning of these preparations are already visible, for thirty thousand crowns have been sent to Lisbon. Indeed I have been told by a person of absolute credibility that in Madrid four millions are ready for the Kings service, and will be employed partly in Italy and Flanders, partly in Portugal.
The Secretary of the Council of Flanders will leave as soon as possible for Denmark, to persuade that King to recall all the Danish ships at present in the service of England and Holland, and to forbid the export to England of masts and shrouds of any sort whatsoever. They hope in this way to withdraw a large part of the English fleet, and to inflict a blow on Holland and Zealand. Further your Serenity must know that after Easter they are going to discuss the question of the attach on England; I am informed that the last courier brought the Marquis of Santa Cruz's report on this subject. His opinion is that sixty thousand infantry are needed, that is fifteen thousand Germans, fifteen thousand Italians, twenty thousand Spaniards, drawn chiefly from the garrisons of the Italian towns; the Marquis offers to provide five thousand Portuguese and five thousand sappers, which make up the sum total of sixty thousand. Besides these he requires one thousand horse, one hundred and fifty ships of first class dimensions, and one hundred and fifty transports and munition ships. In Andalusia, I hear they are making great provisions of corn, and in Portugal many cheeses are ready, salt fish too, and in Gallicia salt meat in quantities. In conclusion he says that to send off the Armada fully found and all paid, will require, in gross, not less than three millions of gold; and all these preparations would be facilitated by the presence of his Majesty (il parer del Marchese Sta.sopra questo, il qual parere é che bisognano m/60 fanti cioé m/15 alemani, m/15 Italiani, m/20 Spagnoli eletti di qual si sia luoco particolarmente delle guarnigioni d' Italia, offerisse questo Signor di haver m/5 portughesi che con m/5 guastadori fano la summa delli m/60 fanti, oltre questi vuole 1,000 cavalli. Domanda di piu centocinquanta Navilii da Altobordo, et altri centocinquanta come pattachie et simili delle munitoni. Ho inteso che in Andalusia si fa grandissima provisions di farine; piu in Portugallo sono all' ordine molti formazi et pesci sallati, cosi in Gallicia gran quantità di came sallata. Concludendo in fine che per partir Varmata con tutta la gente, munitioni, et paghe che noi dicemo in groppo, non è bisogno meno di tre millioni d'oro; soggiongendo che tutte le provisioni si faciliteranno con la presentia di Sua Maestá). I will do all I can to secure a copy of this paper. They imagine that the Duke of Medina Sidonia, a gentleman of royal blood and very rich, has been summoned to Court to advise upon the expedition. He is considered by every one as a diligent and prudent gentleman. He had no sooner arrived than he went to the King at Aranjuez, where he was cordially received. Those who know think that he is to be of the Council of State and General of the Spaniards, should the expedition take place (Duca di Medina Sidonia di Sangue regale, richissimo et reputato dal generale diligente et prudente Signor, il quale, subito gionto andò al Re a Ransuez dove fit dalla Macstà sua con molto affetto veduto. . . . Guidicasi da persone molto intendenti che questo habbia ad essere del Consiglio di Stato et General de Spagnoli quando si faccia Vimpresa). The presence at Court of Don Pietro de Medici, of Signor Prospero Colonna, and the Grand Prior of Hungary, along with many other gentlemen, lends colour to the rumour of this enterprise, which is further strengthened by the orders which have been sent to the Counts Altemps and Lodron to raise German levies. They say the King will start for Portugal in September. Prince Doria with the Genoese galleys, will come to Spain as soon as possible, for money for Italy, whence he will return at once to guard the coast, as the galleys of Spain will have to take the open sea. The money destined for Italy is six hundred thousand crowns on the King's account, and three hundred thousand on the crusade. The King will stay five days more in Madrid; then he leaves for the Escurial.
Madrid, 22nd March 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]