BHO

Venice: December 1586

Pages 223-228

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.

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December 1586

Dec. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 438. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Governor of Milan announces the departure of Ferrari for Constantinople to obtain a confirmation of the truce; but when he reached Venice he learned from the Secretary, Salazar, that the Turk was enraged at the damage inflicted on him in the Portuguese Indies. Ferrari accordingly took fright and returned to Milan. This displeased the King who sent off the same courier with letters from Marigliani to Ferrari, containing orders to set out for Constantinople at once, and to excuse the operation in the Indies.
Madrid, 2nd December 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 439. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I have frequently informed your Serenity of the consultations, and the advice both of the Council of State and of the Council of War upon the subject of the attack on England, how it ought to be attempted, and what difficulties lie in the way. I have also described the means which the King adopts to counteract these difficulties, and the preparations which he is making. I must now inform you of what a person of great importance said to me. He declares that both the King and his Ministers are extremely anxious to avenge themselves on the Queen of England, but two considerations of great weight present themselves, the questions of how and when. The French, from thinking too little, often fail; the Spanish, from thinking too much, often miss their opportunity, as, for example, when they failed to attack Ireland while Drake was away in the Indies. Had they succeeded in that there is no doubt but that the hour of punishment had rung for the Queen of England. Although the King has given orders to keep all the great ships that are in Spanish ports, and continues to carry out other preparations, still if he is really resolved to make the attack in spring, and is not playing the same game as that of twenty years ago, when he announced that he was going to Flanders, it is absolutely necessary that the Italian squadron should be already on its way, and that all the ships which the Marquis of Santa Cruz has asked for should be already at the ports where they are to receive their crews. Further, one must remember that in the expedition to the Azores, of two years ago, the eighteen ships of the Cadiz squadron missed the, Marquis of Santa Cruz and his division of twenty-seven when he engaged Filippo Strozzi. The winter must be employed in careening and caulking the ships so that in February and March they may be ready to receive their stores; and to be in trim by April, which is the real time to make the passage. For if they miss the favourable winds which blow up to the beginning of May, they will have to put off the expedition till August, both on account of the north winds and of the strong tides which set in; otherwise the fleet will get scattered and will consume on the voyage the larger part of its provisions which should serve the armament when it has effected a landing. But if the expedition be delayed till August his Majesty runs the risk of sharing the fate of Charles V. on his Algerian expedition, which was ruined because he sailed at a bad season; a result which served as a warning to the whole world. After August north-east winds and high tides must be looked for. From all these considerations he drew this conclusion that his Majesty will not let himself be persuaded to embark on this enterprise at that season, which offers so few chances of success and so many obvious dangers, and risk of the utter loss of the whole Armada. Again if April be chosen as the month of departure, the Italian and German levies should have been got ready by this time, especially the German; and yet no one knows whether any orders about them have so much as been issued, except for a few Bavarian companies, who by now, must be in Flanders. For these recruits require to be acclimatized to the sea air by passing the winter on the coast, and by hardships they can be gradually disciplined to endurance; otherwise if they are embarked the moment they arrive the commander will hope to reach England with fifty thousand men, but will really find a far smaller number, as always happens with recruits. So that if they do not intend to give them a winters hardening they must raise a great many more men than the number really required; and that will imply an increase in the number of the ships, therefore more expense and greater difficulty in preparing the fleet. And even supposing it were possible to overcome these difficulties the Spanish would never be the men to do so, for the reasons given above. Nor would it be possible to make use of the Flanders army as some suggest, leaving only the fortresses garrisoned; for such a scheme implies many objections. He added that it was not surprising that his Majesty had remained so passive up till now, for he forced to construct countermines to the mines which the Queen of England was directing against him from many quarters, alluding to the information in my despatch of the 15th of last month; and besides this he had to raise money, for his treasury was exhausted by the war in Flanders and other expenses. He repeated his conviction that an armament of the size required could not be ready by spring; but even if it were his Majesty's most advisable course of action would be to attack Ireland, nor could that be done without a large Armada for the Queen knows quite well that Ireland is the door of her kingdom; and if that was threatened by the King, the Queen would find it to her advantage to attack him at once rather than risk the probable loss of the island. He thought that his Majesty was well advised in carefully removing all difficulties from his path while continuing his preparations for war, whether the scene of that was to be England or Ireland, or, as others supposed, Holland and Zealand. For his Majesty is councilled to follow out Cardinal de Granvelle's policy, which was to direct all forces, both sea and land, to the recovery of those provinces, an achievement which would greatly assist the attack upon England. He added, however, that in his opinion all the present preparations are being made with the following objects in view, first to give satisfaction to all the world and to his own subjects, by proving that he does not intend to endure the Queen's conduct any longer; then to induce the representatives of Castille and the clergy to satisfy his demands; to hold the Portuguese in check, and to deprive them of all hopes of a successful rising by keeping large garrisons in that country, and thus taming a people who are now known to be his Majesty's most inveterate foes; to secure the safety of his Peruvian fleets and of the seaboard of Spain against a descent in force, and against pirates; finally to keep the Queen of England constantly in alarm and in expenses for the defence of her Kingdom and the maintenance of her fleet, which will consume a large part of her revenue, and will finally induce her to come to terms; and thus his Majesty will have gained a great victory without any bloodshed and without drawing his sword, by the shere ability of his diplomacy, which is what he really desires, as he is old, and his son and heir is still of tender years, and not to be left with the legacy of so difficult and dangerous a war. With that this gentleman took his leave. He is highly esteemed at Court for his prudence, and sometimes is called on to take part in the most important discussions. On the other hand, it is urged that the just indignation of his Majesty will force him to overcome all difficulties, and that we shall soon see the appointment of a commander-in-chief the levy of troops in Italy and Germany, and all the preparations necessary for so arduous an enterprise; for there is money in abundance; his Majesty has close on six millions of gold laid by, he expects two millions more with the Peruvian fleet, and hopes for further assistance from other quarters.
Madrid, 3rd December 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian, Archives. 440. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English gentleman was dismissed last week with a general answer; the King said that he would reserve his remarks on the Queen of Scotland's case till he has the report of Bellievre, who has been sent on purpose to draw up one. The gentleman received silver to the value of eight hundred crowns.
Paris, 5th December 1586.
[Italian.]
Dec. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 441. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ambassador in England writes in his despatch of the last of November, that thirty of the leading members of Parliament went to announce to the Queen the sentence which they had pronounced against the Queen of Scotland, that she should lose her head for lsa Majestas. Thereupon the Queen of England sank upon her knees, and for the pace of a quarter of an hour prayed to God that, inasmuch as the question was of such moment as was that of putting to death a woman, a Sovereign Queen like herself, relation of all the great Princes of the world, and closely allied to herself by blood, it would please Him to inspire her how to act for the greater glory of His name, the greater safety of her kingdom, the greater security for her person, for she found it too hard that she, a woman, and the most tender hearted on earth, should be called upon to take the life of her own kinswoman. Then, rising, she turned to the members of Parliament and said that she called down on them the wrath of heaven if they, in a matter of such moment, had allowed themselves to be influenced by supposing they were acting so as to please her, and had omitted any of those due considerations which justice requires. They replied that they had proceeded with all the circumspection which such a case demanded. The Queen added that before taking any steps she must wait the arrival of M. de Bellievre, Ambassador of France, who was on his way, and must hear the Ambassador of Scotland who had come to London on purpose. This delay increases the hope that the Queen of Scotland will not be put to death at present. Her Ambassador here told me yesterday that M. de Bellievre ought to have been in London on the 2nd, and that the Scotch Ambassador has orders to put himself in communication with Bellievre, and to act with him.
We hear from the camp of the Duke of Parma that a Genoese gentleman, called Agostin Grasigna, has arrived there from the Queen of England to treat of peace. Andrea dell Ho' has left for Spain on a similar mission. They say he carries many guineas, (molte chinee) to give to the Marquis of Santa Cruz.
Don Pedro Sermento, a Spanish gentleman of great importance, reached Paris last week. He has been a prisoner for four months in England, and has now been liberated without any ransom. They say he had long audiences of the Queen, and is armed with her passport, as he has to travel through Huguenot country; that he is charged by her to speak for the peace.
He stayed in Paris three days, and left on the 5th by post for Spain.
The other day, in the Church of S. Franois, a Parisian of good family was listening to mass. At the moment of consecration he rose to his feet, seized the Host, rushed round the church, and threw it to the ground, saying it was a vile thing to adore a piece of bread. The mob seized him, and he is now in prison, Though all cry out against him still nothing is done because of the influence of his family, which is of the long robe, who say he is mad.
Paris, 8th December 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 442. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A French gentleman has arrived here secretly from some of the Princes of France, and, they say, from Navarre as well; he has conferences with Don Juan d'Idiaquez by night, and remains shut up all day. They say that he is commissioned to inform the Spanish Ministers that the question of peace or war in France lies entirely in his Majesty's power by the expenditure of only one hundred thousand ducats.
The Guise give the King to understand that the Prince of Scotland, their nephew, will turn Catholic for sure, and will declare his submission to the Apostolic chair, but that it is necessary to support him, for he hesitates to declare himself partly from fear of his own subjects, partly from dread of the Queen of England. They have accordingly resolved to give him fair promises until he shows more determination, as they hold that good relations with Scotland and its detachment from England will prove of great service to this Crown and to religion. All this, however, is conducted with the utmost secresy, either on account of recent events, or because of the rumour that the Queen of England has brought the Queen of Scotland to the Tower of London, and is determined to put her to death. This, however, is not credited either by the King or by his Ministers, because there is no reason in the world why England should commit an act which would rouse all Christendom in wrath against her.
It is quite certain that she has sent a rich present to the King of Fez, which leads us to suspect some secret negotiations between them to the damage of this Crown. Accordingly they are hastening the despatch of ships from Lisbon with munitions for the African forts, especially those outside the Straits.
News has reached the King that at the Philippines the Spanish have discovered at least three hundred new islands, all full of precious products; and a kind of pepper and clove all in one grain; specimens have been sent here. I have some in my house; it is an exquisite and delicate thing.
Madrid, 15th December 1586.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 443. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The last courier express from Rome brings urgent incentives from the Pope to induce his Majesty to attempt something in earnest either against England or against Ireland. His Holiness promised to unlock the treasury of the Church, and also to supply men raised in Italy, and paid as far as Spain. The Grand Duke of Tuscany, through the Pope, renews his offer to lead the enterprise in person, and to furnish twelve thousand infantry.
His Majesty has replied that he desires above everything to chastise that woman, and that he is considering how to do it He begged the Pope to secure the neutrality of France.
The Turkish Chavass is in treaty with the King of Fez for the port of El Arisch, and this negotiation is supported by the Queen of England's Ambassador.
Madrid, 16th December 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 444. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Every day the dissatisfaction of the French Ambassador with the Grand Vizir grows greater, for the Ambassador thinks that the Vizir is entirely hostile to the interests of the King of France, having not only refused him satisfaction against Messer Paulo Mariani and the Chavass. who in his very presence beat his dragoman, but even threatens to send an envoy to France about the question of the Turks who were captured by the galleys of Malta, quite against the wish of the Ambassador.
On the top of all this comes another cause of quarrel, for while the Imperial Ambassador and I are allowed to land wine without paying duty, this privilege has not only been refused to the French Ambassador, but the boat containing the wine has, by order of the Vizir, been taken from before the Ambassadors house and carried off to the customs house, where the wine was unladen and sold by public auction. The Ambassador openly declares that he is subjected to all these insults because the Grand Vizir supports Spain against France on the advice of the Jew Benveniste, his familiar, who is in the pay of the King of Spain, and supplies the Vizir with much money from that King. He declares that the Sultan shall be informed of it all, and if he does not obtain justice he will most assuredly be recalled. The Ambassador takes advantage of the ill will between the Vizir and Ibrahim Pasha, to use the latter as the channel for this communication.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 24th December 1586.
[Italian; deciphered.]