Venice: April 1587

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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'Venice: April 1587', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591, ed. Horatio F Brown( London, 1894), British History Online [accessed 21 July 2024].

'Venice: April 1587', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591. Edited by Horatio F Brown( London, 1894), British History Online, accessed July 21, 2024,

"Venice: April 1587". Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 8, 1581-1591. Ed. Horatio F Brown(London, 1894), , British History Online. Web. 21 July 2024.

March 1587

April 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 493. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The question of a truce with Spain is completely suspended at present; the method of dealing with it has been changed; it is taken out of the hands of the secretary, and entrusted to the Capadun Pasha. The English Ambassador, being afraid that the secretary might be persuaded by the arguments of the agents of Spain, presented a further memorial to his Majesty; in this memorial the Ambassador made a violent attach on Beneviste, a Jew, who is in the pay of Spain, and receives numerous gifts from that quarter, and insinuated that the Grand Vizir acts and advises under the influence of Beneviste. Be spoke violently against the Spanish as a shifty, haughty, and deceitful race, whom his Majesty should not trust. He added (though I do not guarantee the accuracy of this), that his Majesty should not rely on the word of Papist Sovereigns, for the Pope permits them to perjure themselves with mussulmans when it suits their convenience. This memorial the Sultan has sent to the Grand Vizir, and while the substance of it caused the Vizir grave anxiety he was somewhat consoled by the fact that it had been handed to him. He has endeavoured to justify himself and Beneviste, swearing that he has counselled only that which he thought to be serviceable to the empire, and begs the Sultan to refer the matter to others who have fuller knowledge on this subject. The Sultan has placed the matter in the hands of the Capadun Pasha, who has had long interviews with Signor Giovanni Steffano, who informs me that he finds the Pasha most favourable; the only difficulty which is raised is the question of the Ambassador, as the Turks hold that his Catholic Majesty should not conduct his negotiations with the Porte through a private individual. The affair will quiet down, for although the Capadun desires, for private reasons, an excuse for arming the fleet, yet the Sultan is so set on the Persian war that he will postpone every other consideration until that is finished. Besides the Capadun does not wish to injure the Grand Vizir, and he thoroughly hates the English, and therefore he will be all the more disposed to counsel a course of action which is, in fact, almost inevitable. And so Ferrari is confident of reaching a satisfactory conclusion, though he begs one to show myself opposed to him when discussing this point, in order to avoid more serious contradiction. If the truce is concluded I will send an express to your Serenity. The English Ambassador does all he can to upset this negotiation. He has spread a report that eight English galleons are on their way here with an Ambassador on board, while he is getting his carriages ready for his return home through Poland; his object is to gain time by inducing the Turks to defer the conclusion of the business until this new Ambassador has arrived. Furthermore, he has informed the Grand Vizir that his mistress intends to restore certain Turks, captured on board the Spanish galleys in the Canaries by Drake. Three of these Turks were disembarked at Lepanto, and came here, where the Capadun took them for spies and put them in the hulks, from which they were released on the representations of the Ambassador to the Grand Vizir.
The French Ambassador has presented memorials to the Sultan through the secretary and through the master of the household, but to neither has he received any reply. He will now wail till his Majesty goes out riding, and will present a memorial in person; after which he says he will remain quiet, waiting orders from his Sovereign, as he can do no more to obtain satisfaction against that Chavass, who, in his very presence, thrashed one of his dragomans, and against the Jew custom-house officer who sold his wine and casks by public auction; for which insults he feels that he can no longer represent his Sovereign with dignity at the Porte; and so he has learned at last to his cost that diplomacy here requires dexterity, and the cultivation of friendly relations through the channels which are usual in this country, not bragadoccio and insolence.
It is rumoured that Messer Paulo Mariani is about to return as English consul to Alexandria; accordingly the French Ambassador has informed the English Ambassador that if this be the case his master will consider himself insulted, for Mariani is an enemy to France. The English Ambassador, however, paid no attention to his remonstrance.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 1st April 1587.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 494. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King, as usual, attends with intrepid spirit to the affairs of State, and to the preparations for the Armada. He desires to secure these shores of Spain from incursions by corsairs, and to be ready in case an accord with England is reached. That is now thought to be very likely now on account of the execution of the Queen of Scotland. This news has caused an impression here all the more painful that they believed that her life would be spared.
They write from Lisbon that many ships have left that port to go in search of English and French corsairs, and to practice the crews.
Madrid, 1st April 1587.
April 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 495. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The French say that a certain Don Pedro Sermento, a Spaniard, who was captured by Drake and taken to England, has been caught by the Huguenots near the Spanish borders on his return home. Letters and papers found on him reveal negotiations for a peace between England and Spain. The Pope declares that it is impossible that this should be true. If the Spanish preparations for war are not intended for England they may be directed to El Arisch.
Rome, 4th April 1587.
April 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 496. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Capadun Pasha, who has been entrusted with the affair of the truce to treat with the Spanish Agents, retired to Sweet Waters in company with the Grand Vizir and the Secretary, and after long debates together he has presented his opinion to his Majesty. Three days ago the Sultan published his reply, which, however, was issued through the Grand Vizir. The substance of the reply is this, that the Sultan will always welcome the alliance of the King of Spain, but if he desires to treat of a truce he must send an Ambassador, who would be well received. This answer of the Sultan has caused little satisfaction to the Grand Vizir, and has greatly diminished his reputation at Court, There is no doubt but that the Capadun Pasha, has been the chief cause of this reply, for he desired to hold the Spanish in check by giving some satisfaction to the English, and at the same time to maintain the dignity of this Crown. The Spanish Agents are surprised, for they did not expect such an issue, relying as they did on the authority of the Grand Vizir and the apparent good will of the Capadun Pasha. But now that they see that the affair is over, and as they have no authority to make any further move in the matter, they have resolved to leave to-day.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 4th April 1587.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 497. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I sent to call Francesco Idiaquez, his Majesty's secretary, and conveyed to him, on your Serenity's orders, the news from Constantinople to be imparted to his Majesty. The Turks are said to be turning their attention to Fez, and the Queen of England is mixed up with this business.
His Majesty intends to establish the Council of State.
He is very suspicious that the Queen of England is playing false, and so he continues the preparations for war, and has told the Nuncio, who has offered in his Holiness' name one million two hundred thousand ducats to the King if he will attack the Queen of England in earnest, that at the right time he will prove to the Pope and the whole world how anxious he is, for the service of Christendom and for the peace of the world, to undertake this expedition. But I hear that the Nuncio is not satisfied with this general answer.
His Majesty has resolved to construct the port of Malaga, which will be large enough to hold one hundred ships and as many galleys. It will be very fine, as I gather from the plans. The King gives twelve thousand crowns, and the city as much again. He has also paid out twenty-five thousand crowns to the Biscayan contractors in order that they may begin to build the ships they are under contract to furnish. He has ordered other thirty towers along the coast of Spain.
Madrid, 4th April 1587.
April 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 498. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Prince, praised be God, is out of danger, although for a whole day the doctors thought he was a gone man. They began by bleeding him twice; then, as a last resort, they gave him wine, which made him so violently sick that he came to life again.
I hear from a good source that some days ago the King sent bills of exchange to the value of forty thousand ducats to Don Bernardino de Mendoza to be applied to his usual methods for disturbing the peace of France; and a like sum has been sent to Montmorency, through the Duke of Savoy, with an addition to the four thousand ducats, which are paid to him with great regularity. Don Bernardino writes that his Most Christian Majesty has given orders to his Agent in Spain and his Ambassador in Rome to lend an ear to any remarks which may be made them on the subject of England; the Pope will have to find out some way of uniting the two Sovereigns. I am also informed that M. de Longlé, the French Agent here, has let it be understood that if his master was seriously assisted against the Huguenots he would subsequently proceed against England with such vigour as to prove his excellent intentions towards Christendom. The King of Spain has been moved by his confessor, who has great weight with him, and has raised a case of conscience during holy week, because his Majesty has failed to avenge the wrongs done to God and to the world by that woman, above all in the execution of the Queen of Scotland; and so his Majesty despatched yesterday a courier express to the Count Olivarez in Rome, instructing him that, should the Pope suggest any steps towards attacking England in conjunction with France, Olivarez is to reply that his Majesty is ready, and if the Pope does not broach the subject, Olivarez is to find a suitable occasion to let his Holiness see how prepared the King is. The King of France considers himself deeply injured by the execution of the Queen of Scotland, by the affair of L'Aubespine, by the embargo on French ships, and the hundred thousand ducats sent from England to Navarre with promise of much more.
News is looked for from the Duke of Parma reporting what has done by Champigny, who was sent to England to negotiate with the Queen for an accord, and so to prevent her sending out her fleet before the Peruvian flotilla sails in; here they also say that Champigny was charged to soften the Queen's mind towards the Queen of Scotland. Some imagine that Champigny' s journey to England is connected with some new conspiracy against the Queen's life. Time will show. The Scotch Agent who was here has left very well content with the offers, and the courteous words which he has received. I have not been able to discover the roots of his business, as he conducted it with the King and Idiaquez alone.
Madrid, 9th April 1587.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 499. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
A person who, thanks to his intimate relations with the principal Ministers of France, has opportunity of being well informed, has declared that the anger of the King of France against the Queen of England gives rise to rumours of an alliance between France and Spain against the Queen. The Pope is paying serious attention to this point, and has had a long secret conference with Cardinal Rusticuccio. He has determined to appoint no new Nuncio to France until he has information which of the possible candidates would be most acceptable there. The choice is sure to fall on some of the Venetian Prelates, for these alone are considered to be in favour with his Most Christian Majesty, while rousing no suspicions in any of the other parties concerned.
It is true that the formation of the league will present many difficulties, and the Pope in conversation with me yesterday said, “The Turks in all their enterprises have merely to consult their own interests, which are of one nature only, but Christians have so many and so various interests to consider that one hinders the other. France would like the league, but is afraid of the aggrandisement of Spain; Spain does not wish to see Venice any stronger; Venice entertains like feelings towards other powers; and so individual passions and enmities outweigh considerations of the general good, all falls to the ground, and the enemy surely triumphs.”
Rome, 11th April 1587.
April 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 500. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Earl of Morton after penetrating some way into England, and burning and plundering a little, has returned to Scotland, seeing that there was no assistance to be got from the people of the country such as he had been led to expect.
Notice from England that the Queen has sent two Ambassadors to the King of Scotland to inform him of the just reasons which compelled her to put his mother to death. They waited on the borders for passports from the King, and there they were told to return at once for the fullest safe conducts would not prove sufficient to protect them from the fury of the people. Accordingly on the first of this month they returned to London. We hear, too, that the High Treasurer has been restored to greater favour than ever with the Queen, as she sees now every day more clearly how good was his council not to put the Queen of Scotland to death, for not only are the Catholics not repressed as was expected, but, on the contrary, they are more than ever excited. Many who were in the habit of assembling in the heart of a forest, where they had built a chapel and celebrated mass, and afterwards discussed financial affairs, have been arrested.
All relations between the crowns of England and of France have been suspended. The Queen's Agent here has been informed that they will never grant him a passport till Detrapes, of the Ambassador L'Aubespine's household, has been set free. The English, on the other hand, refuse to liberate Detrapes until the French have handed over to them Morgan, who is in the Bastille, a prisoner at the request of England, for his share in the first conspiracies.
Paris, 13th April 1587.
April 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 501. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty, praised be God, is in good health, and attends assiduously to affairs, though he gladly avoids seeing many people, and is averse from public audiences. I am informed by one who is always in his private apartments that he is never idle, for besides his desire to read himself all the correspondence which passes between his Ambassadors and Governors in all parts of his great dominions, and besides the prayers which he says, he writes every day with his own hand, more than a quintemion of paper between minutes, opinions, and orders, which are transmitted to his councillors, judges, secretaries, and ministers in this way; and it is hardly to be believed how much time he spends in signing letters, licenses, patents, and other affairs of grace and justice, which on certain days amount to two thousand; and he always insists upon being informed, at least in substance, of the contents of these papers, and frequently he rejects them if he thinks them unjust. I must add that notwithstanding this mass of work he does not omit to attend to the minutest details, such as his household accounts, the expenses of the Escurial, Madrid, Aranjuez, and Pardo.
The day after to-morrow his Majesty will come here, and will stay for four days; he will grant audience to Ambassadors, and then retire to Aranjuez. From thence he will go to Toledo, and, they say, to Portugal. But on this point, on the question of peace with England and the marriage of the Infanta, I think it better to wait the issue before giving credence, for in all three affairs the greatest diffculties are coming to light.
Yesterday the Prior Don Hernando, son of the Duke of Alva, came to my reception. He made use of most courteous expressions towards your Serenity, to which I replied in suitable terms. He told me that every means was being taken to prepare the Armada. But, discussing at length this enterprise, he said, they would wait to see what the Queen of England did, though he assured me that the King will despatch a most powerful armament to frighten his enemies and protect his subjects. He said he had news that Don Antonio of Portugal had left London on board a man-of-war for Constantinople. Some say he will go all the way by sea, others that he will land at Hamburg and go through Germany to Venice and thence to Ragusa. He also informed one that on the French frontier a youth who gives himself out as the son of the Queen of England, but in disgrace with her because he is a Catholic, has been arrested. He had been in Italy, but now desired to go to France. His Majesty is in great doubt whether to keep him prisoner or to let him go.
Madrid, 14th April 1587.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 502. Lorenzo Bernardo, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
After the departure of the Spanish Agents I have had occasion to learn from Orembey, the dragoman, all the particulars about the truce, which was first concluded and then broken off. The affair took place precisely as I have described in my previous despatches. The Spaniards brought as presents to the Magnificent Pasha two splendid pieces of cloth of gold, a gilt ewer and basin jewelled in the Turkish fashion; these, in addition to a promissory note for ten thousand crowns if the truce was concluded. The Pasha has presented to Signor Giovanni Marigliani balsam, Armenian bolus (terra sigilata (fn. 1) ), and other similar ingredients in so many silver vases. The Pasha desired to prevent the Spanish Agents from visiting and making presents to Ibrahim Pasha as they were commissioned to do, for he considered that this would constitute a diminution of his own honour. But when he saw that his own orders were traversed and upset by the Sultan's Secretary he advised them to make use of the favour of Ibrahim and cdso of the Beglierbey of Greece; he also persuaded them to give two thousand sequins to the Secretary, and a like sum to the Capadun Pasha to buy their support for the maintenance of the truce which he himself had concluded. The Agents, however, had no authority to do as he desired; nor were there wanting those who did the Grand Vizir very evil offices with the Sultan; the Beglierbey of Greece told the Pasha that his Majesty had received information that the Grand Vizir had been promised two hundred thousand sequins for the conclusion of the truce, but that he (the Beglierbey) had reassured his Majesty on this point Ibrahim Pasha, however, did not fail to attack the Vizir in public divan, by saying, “I have received a jewelled mirror for this business of the trace; I do not know what others have had.” The moment the truce was concluded the Spanish Agents handed to Benveniste the notes for ten thousand ducats for the Vizir, and of one thousand for himself; but when the whole affair was upset they demanded them back again, and although Benveniste made some difficulty at first he eventually restored them.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 16th April 1587.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 503. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
They have resolved to send a Cardinal Legate to France and one to Spain for the English question.
Rome, 18th April 1587.
April 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 504. Hieronimo Lippomano, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty has been in doubt for some days whether he should order the funeral services for the Queen of Scotland; he thought that it was not necessary as she had died a martyr. He desired the views of his confessor and of other theologians. All have declared themselves of opinion that, as the Queen has not yet been declared a martyr by the Church, it was not merely possible but desirable to complete the funeral ceremonies, and thus to pay honour to that blessed soul. Accordingly his Majesty has gone into mourning, and has in person honoured the funeral, showing his sincere sorrow for that unhappy Princess (è stato dubioso alcuni giorni questo Serenissimo Re se doveva far fare l' esequie alla Regina di Scotia, stimando che non fosse necessario poiche teneva che fosse morta martire; et havendo voluto il parere del suo confessore et d' altri teologhi, tutti si sono conformati che non essendo essa ancora stata dechiarata dalla chiesa per tale, non solo potesse ma dovesse compire a questa ceremonia, et far quest' honore a quella benedetta anima. Cosi Sua Maestà, vestita di duolo, ha honorato con la sua persona il Funerale et ha mostrato in vero molto dolore di quella povera Principessa).
These last few days many couriers have both gone to and come from France and Flanders, and it seems that with England and Holland there is again hope of an accord. But many do not believe it possible, unless the great suspicion which the Dutch entertain of the England produces some combination on their part against the Queen of England. Here they do everything to foster the belief that they are willing to act with the King of France in the attacks on England; but at the same time they maintain continuous and secret dealings with the Cruises and Montmorencys, while waiting to see how events will turn out. Those who understand say that the Most Christian King is compelled by the circumstances to dissimulate for fear lest the Queen of England, alarmed at these rumours of union between France and Spain, should lend greater assistance to the King of Navarre. This prospect of alliance with France causes the Spaniards to hope for a more certain revenge on the Queen, and therefore less likely to accept terms with England; while the dread of a union between France and Spain will cause the Queen of England to keep her forces at home, and will allow the Peruvian fleet to reach Spain in safety. It is said to be very rich.
This union between the two Crowns is thought to be helpful for both, but a treaty is very improbable owing to the many difficulties I have pointed out.
Madrid, 21st April 1587.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 505. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Rolé, one of Villeroy's under Secretaries, has been sent to L'Aubespine in England, and they have hopes of an understanding. Drake is out with thirty-five ships all well armed; among these are ten very large and fine vessels.
Lord Buckhurst, a gentleman of great importance, has arrived in Holland. He is considered a good officer considering the small experience which the English have of war.
Paris, 23rd April 1587.
April 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 506. Giovanni Gritti, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
They are doing all they can to urge Spain on to the enterprise against England, making large promises on the subject. But I learn from a person well acquainted with Spain that the idea of supporting the King of Scotland in an attack on England finds more favour with the Spanish, because the enterprise, if made from that quarter, would not rouse the jealousy of France, and would have the sympathy of all who recognise the King of Scotland as real heir, and justified in avenging his mother's death.
Rome, 25th April 1587.


  • 1. A clay used in medicine; sealed as a guarantee of genuineness.