Venice: March 1592

Pages 14-21

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 9, 1592-1603. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1897.

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March 1592

March 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 35. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Chavass who went with Giovanni Stefano Ferrari to Ragusa to accompany Marigliani here, has returned. He brings with him Marigliani's letters, of which I enclose a copy. Your Serenity will gather the method which Marigliani adopts in order to withdraw from the promises given by Ferrari, though he does not break off negotiations, for he continues to stay in Ragusa and reserves the liberty of sending an agent here or of requesting the Porte to send Orembey, the Dragoman, to him. Orembey had an audience of the Grand Vizir on the matter, and was told that it would be useless to discuss the subject just now as the Sultan had ordered no further deliberation upon it. All the same the Grand Vizir is resolved not to abandon the negotiations as he considers that they concern the reputation and dignity of the Porte, whatever may be said to the contrary. If Orembey is not allowed to go, another private emissary will be chosen, in order to open the way for the arrival here of Ferrari and another agent of Marigliani, who, it is held for certain, has been able to secure in the ordinary way that the fleet shall not put to sea this year to damage the Crowsn of Spain. The news that the Spanish Ambassador was not coming to Constantinople, spread very fast, and has injured the reputation of the Grand Vizir, who was the warmest advocate of the truce; and thus the hopes of the Capudan Pasha revive. He goes every day to the Arsenal, and the work on the guard-ships is being pushed forward. There are, perhaps, five hundred hands at work in the Arsenal, without counting the galley slaves, who number about two hundred. The workmen from the Greek islands have not appeared yet.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 1st March 1592.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 36. Copy of a Letter from Marigliani to the Grand Vizir, Ferrad Pasha, written from Ragusa.
From Giovanni Stefano, my man, I have received your Excellency's letters, and to my great satisfaction I gather that you would willingly see me at the Porte, for which object you have sent a chavass with suitable orders. Ferrari has accompanied the chavass, to my great annoyance, for he ought to have waited in Constantinople to execute any orders that might be sent to him; and to communicate your Excellency's wishes to me. Those wishes I am ready to carry out provided your Excellency will allow me to send you an agent who shall negotiate on certain important points touching my arrival, for I am bound to have in consideration the honour of my Sovereign as is every faithful vassal and Minister.
I am sure that your Excellency, who is so anxious to carry to a conclusion during your period of office those negotiations which so many others have desired to effect, will assist me so that I may report favourably to my Master; and will allow me to send an agent at once, or will commission Orembey, the Dragoman, to come to Ragusa, for I am quite willing to explain my views through him.
I shall make all preparations for the journey, and I beg for a speedy answer from your Excellency as this sojourn in Ragusa pleases me little.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 3. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 37. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
There is news that a Scotish Captain, in the service of the King of Spain, has attacked the King of Scotland in the royal palace, intending to kill him, but the King defended himself bravely; others say that the object was to carry off the King to Spain, and for that purpose five large ships were held in readiness. The Spanish Ambassador, with whom I discussed the matter, admitted that the Captain had been in the service of Parma, but added that he belonged to the House of Stuart, and that his object was to seize the throne.
Prague, 3rd March 1592.
March 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 38. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has for long endeavoured to tempt the Duke of Parma to give battle, but in vain. The Duke occupies a position in a great forest between Dieppe and Rouen. The King thought of going to attack him, but was dissuaded.
The people of Rouen tired with the long siege, and seeing that the Duke of Parma conducts the war in an excessively cautious manner, made a great sortie, the other day, to try whether they could not, by themselves, effect their liberation from the siege. They came out eight hundred strong, in white shoes (scarpe) (? sciarpe, scarfs) and made an assault on a certain hillock, which gained they would have been able to reach the guns, spike them and kill the soldiers in charge of the trenches. But the Marshal Biron arrived post haste and attacked them. They fought with great obstinacy, and many fell on either side ; the Marshal was slightly wounded in the leg.
Chartres, 5th March 1592.
March 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 39. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate. The conduct of the Duke of Parma, so different from that of the French, who are always ready to fight, has disgusted the leaders of the League. Although they do not actually applaud Navarre's actions they praise his valour. Some openly declare that the Spanish owe their reputation to the fact that they have never been matched with any one of consideration. These pungent appeals to the Spanish honour, are far from producing the desired effect, and it seems that the Duke of Parma instead of advancing is retreating towards Flanders, where it would appear that Count Maurice has laid siege to Dunquerque.
The King now knows that he need have no fear that the Spanish forces will be able to compel him raise the siege of Rouen. He has given orders to direct all the artillery fire upon the city itself. It is thought that the citizen will surrender rather than run the risk of being taken by force, and thereby exposed to the results of greed, lust, and all the other brutalities of a soldiery composed of so many different nationalities.
Chartres, 7th March 1592.
March 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 40. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
In the matter of the truce with Spain, the Grand Vizir has renewed his application to the Sultan in order that he may reply to the letters of Marigliani; but the Sultan has given express orders that not a word is to be said on the subject. Ferrari and Orembey have both begged the Grand Vizir at least to send some one to announce to the Spanish Ambassador the receipt of his letters. Their object was to make use of Hassan, a renegade of Piacenza, for that purpose. The Grand Vizir, however, refused to do so, and it is thought that he wishes to secure the Sultan's permission first, and is in hopes of a more favourable answer. Meantime, the hostility of the Mufti and the Sultan's secretary will have time to operate. The Grand Vizir has endeavoured to justify his conduct to them, but they declare that the question of the truce is one of religion ; and they continue to scheme for the return of Sinan Pasha as Grand Vizir; a policy which is shared by the Sultana.
It seems that Marigliani is not so anxious to come here, as he has probably been informed that there is no danger of a powerful fleet putting to sea this year.
The English Ambassador and others here are spreading a report that the Emperor will marry the daughter of the King of Spain, and will occupy himself with the affairs of Flanders, to the prejudice of the Queen of England in Zealand. Thus the King of Spain being free from the weight of the Flanders war, will be able to apply himself to the subjugation of France. The Emperor would allow freedom of conscience in Flanders, and grant a general pardon, thus he would become stronger and better able to oppose the Turks in Hungary.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 7th March 1592.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 10. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 41. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish desire peace in Flanders; but the other party will not hear of it unless a general peace with France and England is also concluded.
Prague, 10th March 1592.
March 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 42. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The chiefs of the League are disgusted that the King of Spain does not support them. They declare that they are now convinced that the King of Spain is not equal to King Henry. They have resolved to send Villeroy to ask for peace. The King has informed them that he is quite ready to embrace the Duke of Mayenne and all the others of his house. Villeroy declares that, if the chiefs of the League were not troubled in their consciences, and afraid lest they may loose their estates, peace could easily be procured.
His Majesty is resolved not to lay down arms till he has recovered all the possessions which have been unjustly taken from the Crowsn, and until the chiefs of the League abandon their relations with foreign Princes.
Chartres, 10th March 1592.
March 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 43. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is suffering from gout, which is all the more dangerous because it has attacked the throat, Those who manage affairs here, warned by this danger, have again taken steps to secure the departure of the Constable of Castile because he has some pretentions to a voice in the government, if the Sovereign is a minor.
Madrid, 12th March 1592.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 44. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Parma was in such haste to pass the Somme that the King arrived too late to prevent him. The Duke of Mayenne is in Amiens, and the chiefs of the League, in disgust at the Duke of Parma, have sent to the King to beg for safe conducts in order to return to their homes. The King graciously assented. Madame de Guise has reached Paris, and a meeting has been held in which the mode of treating with the King was discussed; for as far as things have gone at present it was not certain whether the Spanish succours were medicine or poison.
The sudden retreat of the Duke of Parma was attributed first of all to lack of provisions, then to some rising in Flanders; but now news is brought that three thousand five hundred Dutch have joined the King, and four thousand English are expected, and it is evident that the Duke retreated for fear lest he might be forced to give battle, or perhaps be besieged in his trenches ; for the King's army is greatly strengthened by these additions, especially in the infantry arm which the Duke of Parma, owing to his method of fighting, has more reason to dread than cavalry.
While his Majesty was following the Spanish, the garrison of Neufchâtel, numbering about four hundred men, threw itself into Rouen. This is not a matter of much moment, in view of the deficiency in provisions and in powder, and considering the well known resolution of the King, of the Queen of England, and of the States of Holland, to employ ships and men with such promptitude as to give confidence in the happy issue of that enterprise.
The King is not a Prince to loose his way in the conduct of a war; and if the sortie from Rouen has prevented him from bombarding from the fort, he will certainly change his plan of attack and will not leave the city any quieter than it was before. A scheme for handing Melun to the Duke of Mayenne has been found out. It was concocted by two Captains. They confessed that two other plots, one in Tours and one in Chartres, were on foot. Diligent watch is being kept. The people are incited to rebellion by the priests, and it is clear that if some lack judgment and others courage, no one lacks the will to do mischief.
Chartres, 14th March 1592.
March 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 45. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Grand Vizir has permitted Orembey to send by the hands of Hassan the renegade of Piacenza, letters to Marigliani at Ragusa informing him that the Grand Vizir is little pleased with the tone of his communication, and that after showing it to the Sultan his Majesty has twice repeated the order that the subject shall be discussed no further Accordingly the Pasha can say no more on the matter. At the end of the letter Marigliani is told that if he had really wished to open negotiations and to carry the matter to a conclusion, he could quite well have come in person to Constantinople, for the Imperial Porte is open to all; but that by means of letters or special agents no approaches ought to be made. That if he wishes to come here, which no one believes, he may send by Hassan to the Grand Vizir, who will give him a letter to secure his admission and also his return. I cannot tell your Serenity how widely this reluctance on the part of the Spanish Ambassador is felt.
I have been to visit the Mufti, who is held in high consideration and with whom the Sultan discusses all the more important questions. The English Ambassador is in such close relations with the Mufti that he seems to have absorbed many of the Ambassador's ideas and thoughts.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 22nd March 1592.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 46. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is very anxious for peace in Flanders, that is, in the States of Holland and Zealand. He perceives that his Ministers, in the progress of the negotiations, wish to include the Queen of England, but to save his dignity he is desirous to make it appear that he neither seeks nor wishes for peace. With this object in view they are endeavouring that the King of Denmark, who of all the northern powers has greatest weight here, should interpose and conduct the negotiations. But, seeing that the preparations of the English, both in ships and men, are being pressed forward with vigour, the road towards peace and towards negotiations with the Queen is really closed.
Warning has been sent to all ports off which the English fleet might appear. It is thought that the destination of the fleet will be the West Indies. Orders have also been issued that no ships are to be allowed to sail from any port. This method of concentrating all the defences at home and leaving the sea open to the English is held to be, if not the most useful, still the most necessary, for it is impossible to raise an armament in these kingdoms which would be strong enough to make head against the enemy.
A few days ago there arrived at Court one who had been secretary to Don Antonio, but had left him. It seems that he has given confirmation of these English preparations; for, though I do not know what he said, yet after his arrival the above-mentioned dispositions were taken.
In order to send money into Italy the Adelantado, who is commander-in-chief, was requested to furnish six galleys; he replied, however, that he could not give more than three which were fit for such a voyage.
Madrid, 23rd March 1592.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 47. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
I have received your Serenity's instructions of January 11th regarding the money for the Sicilian corn contract. But truth to say, if the money is left in the hands of the Spanish Ministers, who do not even respect the moneys of their own Sovereign, it will be a long and difficult business to recover it.
A ship of Curzola, which for some years has made the voyage from the west, when off Cape St. Vincent, fell in with English Corsairs who detained her a while and then let her go uninjured. But a squadron of five Spanish ships placed there to patrol those waters, sailing up while the English were still in sight, laid claim to all the cargo as having been rescued by them. The commander of the squadron seized the ship and took her into San Lucar, where the master and crew were dispoiled of their valuables. The supercargo came here to negotiate for the restitution of the goods and of the ship. The matter was sent to the council of war, with which body I have used my best endeavours on behalf of these unhappy men who have suffered more from those who ought to have protected them than from the enemy. The matter was settled in their favour; though they have been unable to recover much of their possessions.
The galleon “Mani,” laden at Lisbon, sailed for Italy. She was caught by English pirates off Majorca and taken to Barbary, where she was sacked and then set at liberty again with her crew. They sailed back to Cadiz, and there encountered another disaster, for some of the crew were arrested by the Spanish officials and threatened with torture on the ground that they had plundered the ship in accord with the English.
Madrid, 24th March 1592.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.
March 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 48. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
It is rumoured here that the Duke of Parma will remain this year with his army in France. In Flanders it is only necessary to hold the fortresses for the King and for that purpose the Duke's presence is not required. All this is not certain yet, but the Ministers here hope that the King of Navarre will not be able to continue the war through lack of money, and will be obliged to disband a great part of his army.
The gentleman sent here by the Duke of Mayenne is a relation of the Duke and has a brother who owns a Marquisate in Vienne. He promises that Spanish troops will be received and safely lodged in that district.
The secretary of Don Antonio, whose presence I reported, has been won over to the King by large sums of money. His Majesty specially desired to discover the extent of Don Antonio's relations in Portugal.
The Adelantado has seized some vessels of Marseilles which were on their way to England. The Marseillaise threaten reprisals.
Madrid, 31st March 1592.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 31. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 49. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of Navarre's forces have been greatly augmented by assistance from the States of Holland and from England. The Duke of Parma is said to have retired before him.
Prague, 31st March 1592.
March 31 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 50. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King and his Ministers have conceived a suspicion that the Grand Duke of Tuscany is furnishing funds to the King of Navarre, as I have frequently reported. And quite recently these suspicions have been increased and confirmed by the discovery that Florentine bills of exchange, to the value of one hundred thousand crowsns, payable in France, have been forwarded to London, it seems unlikely that so big a sum should be destined for the service of private merchants. This information I have from an ecclesiastic who is in constant communication with the Ministers and in frequent conference with his Majesty. The Grand Duke, in order to prove his devotion to the Growsn of Spain, offered to hand over the fortress near Marseilles to the King. His offer was declined, and the King declared that he had no desire to occupy any part of the territory belonging to the French Growsn. Don Pietro de' Medici also has offered his services to the King, promising to accept any post save one which would place him under the orders of the Duke of Parma. The King thanked him, but as no use is being made of Don Pietro's offer it is clear that he is kept here rather as an annoyance to his brother than from any idea of employing him actively.
News from Seville that four ships of the India fleet were lost in working their way out of harbour, and that the rest of the fleet has deferred its departure in consequence of information regarding the preparation of an English fleet.
Madrid, 31st March 1592.
[Italian; deciphered.]