Venice: July 1594

Pages 141-142

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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July 1594

July 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 296. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
While Giovanni Andrea Doria was on the coast at Cartagena attending to the embarkation of his troops news was brought that some English vessels were lying becalmed a short way off. He at once set out with the full number of his squadron. A frigate was sent on ahead to reconnoitre, and brought back this answer from the ships that they were English, hailing from the Levant, and that if Doria wished for farther information let him come for it.
Accordingly Doria moved ahead in good order; and just then a slight breeze sprang up. He was saluted by so hot a fire from the English that presently he was obliged to go about and retire, for a few volleys from the English killed some sailors, wounded a commanding officer, and broke the rudder of Doria's own galley, against which the English directed their warmest fire. And the end of the engagement was that they were obliged to let the English go free on their way to England through the straits.
There is news from Seville that ships are to be sent from Biscay to meet the West India fleet.
Madrid, 5th July 1594.
July 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 297. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The trouble caused by the English is felt more acutely every day at Lisbon. A ship, the richest that ever sailed from East India port, was lost the other day.
The affair happened thus. This ship, the largest of the four or five that were expected from the East Indies, and also the best armed, was laden with a cargo worth upwards of two millions of gold, not only in pepper and drugs, but in a large quantity of oriental pearls and jewels and other precious goods. The ship made out her journey happily, when the captain, tempted by greed, took on board four hundred blacks, whom he intended to sell in Spain. The heat and overcrowding brought on the plague, of which upwards of five hundred persons died in ten days; for besides the blacks above mentioned there were on board three hundred passengers, chiefly Italian and Portuguese merchants. After this terrible mortality, the ship began to draw near to the Azores, where she was exposed to the fire of three English corsairs, who followed her up for two whole days with a heavy cannonade. The English drew close and managed to board her with twenty-five men, but these were all cut to bits. Seeing that there was no hope of capturing her, as she was now in sight of the Azores, the English resolved to fire her with Greek fire, which was applied to many parts of the ship at once, and then uniting made a tremendous flame, in the midst of which she went down with crew and cargo, and not a thing came into the hands of the English. I hear that the loss of four only among the merchants amounts to six hundred thousand ducats. His Majesty's loss is three hundred thousand ducats, and the total reaches two millions.
Madrid, 28th July 1594.