Venice: June 1596

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.

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

'Venice: June 1596', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 9, 1592-1603, (London, 1897) pp. 207-215. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

June 1596

June 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 448. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
At the very moment that his Majesty was about to mount horse to go to the relief of Ardres despatches were brought him announcing that his garrison had surrendered the place on the 31st of last month. Your Excellencies may imagine the grief his Majesty felt, and he broke out into these actual words, “My cowards do me more harm than the enemy could ever do.” M. de Monluc, a brave and valorous officer, was killed by a cannon ball, this caused the garrison to lose heart, as they found themselves under the leadership of M. de Belin (Bellino), an officer generally considered of slight account, who is said to have surrendered without waiting a single shot. If that is so, we may look for some exemplary sentence from his Majesty as a warning to others. As long as Monluc was alive the enemy could never get near the place, but once dead the French yielded; such is the value of a good leader. His Majesty is pushing on to do all he can, but it is generally held by the Ministers that he will not be in time, especially as the surrender was made without any condition as to the arrival of succour.
The Ministers have begun to furnish money to the King. His Majesty's forces cost two hundred thousand crowns a month.
It is rumoured that the Spanish fleet has sailed for Bayonne. If this is true, Brest is probably their object.
Paris, 1st June 1596.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 449. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Ardres fell to the Spanish in the way I have reported. His Majesty was too late to succour it. M. de Belin is his Majesty's prisoner, until he justifies his conduct. M. de Mari, his close relation, was in Orleans when this happened. He left at once for Ham, and declared that unless his Majesty absolved M. de Belin, he would hand over that fortress to the enemy. The King sent a garrison to Ham, but it was refused admission; and so it will be very difficult for his Majesty to execute justice even if he wishes to do so.
A minister of consequence informed me that the League with England was concluded (fn. 1) but he added that the reinforcements sent by England are very feeble. He did not go into details, but said they would accept anything rather than break with the Queen, although they were deeply disgusted with her conduct The Marshal de Bouillon and M. de Sanci are expected hourly, as I learn from a letter which his Majesty has written to a gentleman here. They declare for certain that the English fleet, with the flower of the nobility on board, has sailed. Besides the Earl of Essex, who is in command, there is the Lord High Admiral as well. Others add that Antonio Perez is also on board. Your Serenity, I am sure, will know by this time from Spain, whether that is true or not. If Antonio Perez is on board one may reasonably conclude that Biscay is the object of the expedition, as the Aragonese exiles lay all their schemes there. A minister, in conversation with me the other day, pointed out the danger which the Queen was exposing herself to by this bad policy: for she had so denuded herself of all her forces to furnish the fleet that her crown was, so he said, at the mercy of any storm. If that fleet were destroyed she would be clean undone, for Spain has her fleet ready and her land forces are so close to England that they could be down on it in a moment. These considerations, he declared, gave him more anxiety than the refusal of help by the Queen.
This week we hear that the Legate has set out from Rome. The French would have liked him to delay his journey till winter, when the operations of war, which are now at the boil, would have ceased, and thus allowed his Majesty to receive the Legate as his rank requires.
Paris, 8th June 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]
June 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 450. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Prince Cardinal, after the fall of Calais, noticed how very insecure was the allegiance of some of the French who had been reconciled to the King, and accordingly he is endeavouring to reopen negotiations with them.
The Count of Alegre, Military Governor of Portugal, reports the alarm aroused by the Queen of England's armaments. She is reported to be making vigorous preparations and to be receiving help from the States of Holland and from some northern Princes. The Portuguese complain loudly because no steps are taken to meet the danger. A sharp answer was returned from here that the governor had written in exaggerated alarm; for the conquest of Calais, the death of Drake and the dispersion of his fleet would undoubtedly cause the Queen to change her plans; and that it was his duty to keep up the courage of the population rather than, by lending them his ear, to frighten them still more at mere shadows. All the same, for their consolation fresh orders had been issued.
Madrid, 11th June 1596.
June 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 451. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Private letters from Lyons give an account of the capture of la Fére by the King of France. This puts a check on the successful career of the Prince Cardinal, who, after the fall of Calais, was said by the Spanish to hold the keys of France and England. They even declared that the King of France had fled to England. The Spaniards clamour for the death of that officer, who, although la Fére was provisioned for two months, still surrendered the city to the enemy. The capture of Calais raised their spirits to an immense height, the loss la Fére has cast them down in dejection. They even say that the King of France will now press the Cardinal to an engagement.
Madrid, 12th June 1596.
June 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 452. Marco Venier, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Ibraim Pasha, at a very intimate audience which I had of him, asked me if the King of Spain had a large fleet. I replied that, under provocation from the Queen of England, he had been compelled to maintain a large fleet on the Atlantic Ocean, but in the Mediterranean I was not aware that he had increased the number of his galleys.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 13th June 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]
June 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 453. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty handed M. de Belin over to the Marshals, as is the custom of this country, with orders to try and to punish him. But when they reached the sentence his Majesty stayed further proceedings, as he saw that it was an affair of death. He may have been begged to do this, but he was most likely prompted by the great clemency of his natural temper.
The Marshal de Bouillon and M. de Sanci have returned from England. They bring nothing but two thousand infantry which the King will use to fill up his ranks.
The English fleet has sailed. The Earl of Essex has written a letter to his Majesty informing him of the fact and adding that he hopes his Majesty will soon hear of something to his satisfaction. They have published the Queen's proclamation here in France and I enclose a copy. It declares the object of this expedition. They say that on board are fourteen thousand soldiers and four thousand sailors besides almost the entire nobility of England. It is not yet quite certain where they will strike, but opinion generally says either at Bayona, in Biscay, or in Old Castile between the Duro and the Miño.
Paris, 15th June 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 454. Declaration of the Causes which have moved the Queen of England to declare War on the King of Spain. (fn. 2)
Declaration of the causes which have moved her Serene Majesty of England to equip and place on the sea a force for the defence of her realm against the King of Spain, to be published by the Lieutenants-General of the said force, in order that all may know that her Majesty has called out this naval force solely for her defence and to harass her enemies, and not to injure any who do not take the part of her enemies, but rather to exercise all favour and assistance on their behalf.
Tous ceux qui ceste presente declaration verront salut, Nous Robert, Comte d'Essex et d'Evre, Vicomte de Herfort, Baron de Chartelay, et Louain, etcet. Et Charles Houuard, Baron d'Effingham, Grand Admiral d'Angleterre, etcet. Ayant la charge d'une armee Royalle de Mer, qu'il a pleu à sa Serenissime Majesté nostre Souveraine Royne, la Royne d'Angleterre de France et d'Hibernie, etcet. d'equipper et mettre presentement en mer. Faisons sçavoir à tous qu'il appartiendra, que la dicte armee, qui nous est baillee en charge, est par sa Majesté ordonnee et destinee à l'encontre des grandes et puissantes forces que le Roy d'Espagne a des-jà en main, et contre les preparatifs qu'il fait de iour à autre, pour les accroistre et augmenter d'hommes, et de navires, qu'il recherche de tous costez pour enuahir les Royaumes de sa Majesté, comme nous en sommes advertis de tous les endroits de la Chrestienté, selon son premier desseing, et snyvant l'entreprise qu'il en avoit en l'an mil cinq cens quatre vingts treize, (à lors mesmes, qu'il se traictoit entre eux de la paix, par les deputtez assemblez de part et d'autre) avec une armee la plus puissante, qui fust iamais mise sus de son temps: Combien que par la grace de Dieu, et la valleur et preud' d'hommie de nos Feaux, et bien Amez subiects, elle aye esté du tout anneantie. Et d'autant que sadicte Majesté a bonne intelligence, et parfaicte amytié, avec tous les Roys, et Potentats de la Chrestienté, sinon avec le dict Roy d'Espagne, que depuis plusieurs annees en çá, a treiniustement et ouvertement fait ample demonstration d'inimitié, par diverses menees, tant à l'encontre de sa propre personne, qu'aussi contre son peuple, et ses pays, sans que sa Majesté luy ayt donné auparavant occasion de ce faire. A ces causes, Nous susdict Comte et Admiral, assurons toutes personnes qu'il nous est tres-expressement commandé par sadicte Majesté, de ne rien attenter au preiudice d'aucune nation, sinon sur les subiects naturels dudict Roy d'Espagne, ou tels autres estrangers, qui serviront et assisteront le dict Roy d'Espaigne, de moyens, d'hommes, Navires, vivres, munitions, et de telles autres provision, pour favoriser son entreprise à rencontre de sadicte Majesté. Lequel commandement de sadicte Majesté, nous enten-dons observer tres-estroictement, et avec tout debvoir, et partant nous enioignons et commandons expressement à toutes personnes, ayans charge souz nous en ceste armee, de ny contrevenir en aucune sorte, sur peine d'estre en ce cas rigoureusement puny, et pour encores eviter, toutes les occasions qui pourront introduire des difficultez, touchant ceux lesquels n'estant point subiects du Roy d'Espaigne, peuvent toutesfois estre par nous atteints et convaincuz, d'ayder et assister aux forces dudict Roy d'Espagne, ou sur mer, ou sur terre, d'aucunes provisions, en faveur de sadicte entreprise, contre sadicte Majesté; pour 1'esclarcissement de ce doubte, Nous requerons bien instamment, et au nom de Dieu, toutes personnes (qui ne sont subjects naturels du Roy d'Espaigne), et qui toutesfois l'ont assisté de leurs navires, vivres et munition, comme il a esté cy dessus mentionné, qu'ils ayent à retirer tous leursdicts navires, appareils pour la guerre, et pour toutes autres semblables provisions destinees à mesme effect, tant de tous les Ports, et Haures d'Espaigne, et Portugal, qu'aussi de la flotte, et du service de l'armee dudict Roy, contre le nostre, et avec icelles ou retourner en leur propre pays, ou bien si bon leur semble de venir trouver nostre armee, et nous leur promettons au nome sacré de sa Majesté, toute garantie tant de leurs personnes que de leurs biens, d'estre traictez et maintenuz comme amis, et d'avoir permission de tenir en leur possession et disposition, tous tels navires, et provisions qui auroient esté arrestez par le dict Roy, ou autremenf destinees à son service, et que les proprietaires auroient retirees pour ne les employer à tel affaire, pourveu que tousiours il se comportent avec leursdicts moyens comme amis, et non pas comme ennemis a sa Majesté, et nous ses Lieutenans: Et si aucuns y a lesquels nonobstant cest advertissement de la volonté et intention de sadicte Majesté, et de nostre promesse à tenir la main, à 1'observation d'icelle, le plus deuëment que faire ce pourra, monstrent directement refuser nostre presente offre, et qui ne mettent peine de satisfaire à nostre tant iuste requeste, qui tend à leur propre bien, et à leur liberté, à lors nous aurons iuste occasion, comme par les loix des armees il est permis, d'arrester, et de nous saisir de tous ceux qui feront reffuz de nostredict offre, comme de ceux qui aydent ouvertement le dit Roy d'Espaigne, de leurs forces et moyens pour s'emparer des pays de sa Majesté, comme estans ennemis manifestes, et sur ce reffuz, et en cas qu'il leur advienne quelque inconvenient par attentats qui pourront estre faits contre leurs personnes, navires, et biens, par ceux de nostre armee, pour avoir adheré au Roy d'Espaigne, ils n'auront nulle iuste occasion de s'en plaindre puis apres, ou d'avoir recours à leurs Princes et Seigneurs naturels, pour moyenner la reparation et restitution de leurs pertes; et pour donner plus grande intelligence et confirmation de ce que dessus, nous avons trouvé bon d'apposer nos seings et sceaux, à l'original de la presente, pour estre veu de ceux qui en desireront avoir la lecture et la cognoissance, et l'avons aussi fait Imprimer en François, Italien, Flamen, et Espaignol, et en outre, en avons fait distribuer par tout ou nous avons peu, les ports d'Espaigne, et de Portugal, à fin qu'ils en ayent tant plus de cognoissance, tant lesdicts ports, qu'ailleurs, de bon obeyssance.
R. Essex. C. Hovvard.
June 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 455. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ministers are entirely engaged in raising money. M. de Sanci, who is back from England, has been sent to the King. It is not true that Antonio Perez has sailed on board the fleet. He has returned to Paris along with M. de Sanci. A son of the late Don Antonio of Portugal, however, has really sailed; and this makes people suppose that Portugal must be the object of the fleet The Queen hitherto has treated the Ambassadors of the States as if they were her subjects; compelling them to address her on their knees. But after the fleet sailed she has treated them like Ambassadors of a Sovereign Prince. The King of France does the same. The league between all three is actually concluded. It is offensive and defensive universally. All the same the supports sent to his Majesty are no larger than what I mentioned.
The Cardinal Archduke has twice attempted to make peace. But after the capture of Calais and Ardres, the French cannot do so with dignity.
Paris, 22nd June 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]
June 25 Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 456. Tommaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
One of the Ministers in conversation with me said that the Turk was anxious to make peace and to find some one to negotiate it. The English Ambassador had been proposed, but as he was so intimate with the Turks it was impossible for the Emperor to accept him.
Prague, 25th June 1596.
[Italian; deciphered,]
June 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 457. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
No confirmation of the news that la Fére has been recovered by the French. Ardres has fallen to the Spanish, and the Prince Cardinal is lingering about Calais, not merely to fortify the place, but also to keep an eye on the direction taken by the English fleet. He expects an attack on Calais by the French. Some English ships are constantly off the harbour mouth, and on board the fleet is a large quantity of picks and spades, and tools for trenching.
There are endless conjectures as to the destination of the fleet. Some say that as the Spanish in Brittany have broken the truce, the English may possibly begin operations there with a view to compelling the Duke of Mercœur to conclude a peace with the King of France. Others think the English fleet will go to the Azores, where owing to the large circuit of those islands it will be impossible to prevent a landing; or it may lie in wait for future India fleets. But as the King of Spain is making active preparations in Portugal, most people fear that the object of the fleet will be to harry that kingdom. In Lisbon the panic is so great that any sort of force, if it appeared, could easily enter and sack the place. Some people have even begun to send their goods out of the town, and to barricade the doors of their houses. The journey of Antonio Perez to England increases the suspicion, for it may have been taken on purpose to advise the Queen on the conduct of this expedition. A. scout ship has been despatched towards England to watch the movement of the English fleet. Warning has also been sent to the Brazils.
The Adelantado of Castille has been sent in command into Portugal, where he will have the same authority ns that which was exercised by Marquis of Santa Cruz.
Madrid, 25th June 1596.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 458. Lisbon, 20th June 1596.
The military governor in this kingdom on last Sunday summoned a meeting of commanding officers at which the Engineer Fillipo, a native of Bologna, was present. It was agreed to make trenches along the coast of Portugal, and to close the sallyports of this city, and to erect barricades in the castle, as well as to close some of its entrances with large beams and boards, leaving the sallyports open. All this because it is held for certain that the English fleet will appear off the coast. Many merchants are clearing out.
The following steps were taken:—
On Monday morning all the Governors were summoned to Government Horse. Two responded, the Count of Santa Cruz and the Count of Sambugal. The reason of the meeting is not known. But immediately afterwards ten captains were appointed, and fifty crowns were distributed to each one for their flags and drums, and they were instructed to find fifteen thousand reis, that is thirty-seven crowns, a month. The list of the troops for service was completed. The total of the troops in full pay will not surpass four thousand infantry, though rumour puts the figure far higher.
Five colonels have been appointed; and each has received, at once, five hundred thousand reis, which makes one thousand two hundred and fifty crowns, for their equipment; and each colonel will command fourteen of the companies to be raised by the ten captains.
To-day, the 22nd, the flags of the captains are to be ready.
A few days ago the ship which was sent with ammunition and officers to help the Irish came back here. The Irish would accept only the ammunition and the money. They said that the officers were too few to drill them, or to help them; and that at this juncture, when the peace was being arranged between them and the Queen, the presence of these officers would only make her suspicious and more bitter against them. They added that if six or eight thousand Spanish troops arrived before peace was concluded they would be most welcome, for then it would not be a question of making head merely against the enemy, but of expelling them from the island. The news that the Queen is prepared to make peace with the Earl of Tyrone upsets the conjecture that the English fleet is destined for Ireland. Some merchantmen from Flanders report that three of Drake's ships have reached London, bringing his body. The rest of the fleet is dropping in. They report that the English Admiral has been imprisoned on suspicion of an intelligence with the Spanish; others say that the sole cause was the Queen's anger with the Admiral because he insisted that twenty-five Dutch ships, which had entered London to support the Queen, should strike flags to him, which drove the Dutchmen away in disgust.
The Queen's principal adviser is dead, and there are dissensions among the other ministers.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 459. Copy of a manifesto, forwarded from England to Lisbon, setting forth the reasons which induced the Queen of England to prepare and despatch her fleet of 1596. (fn. 3)
June 25 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 460. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Nuncio tells me that he has received fresh and urgent orders from Rome to endeavour to lay the first stones of an accord between the King of Spain and the King of France. He will do all he can to carry out these instructions; and for this purpose he will seek for an audience as soon as possible. But he observed that the conclusion of a peace would prove very difficult, because it would be necessary to include the Queen of England and the States of Holland; for the present it will be necessary to limit themselves to a suspension of arms. If he finds that his Majesty is disposed to lend an ear, he will let it be understood that his Holiness will send a legate to negotiate, and may even choose one of his own nephews for the task. He said he did not think France would offer any difficulty in the way of seeking a truce, but the point is that here in Spain they are thinking of wearing out the French with the help of Indian gold (considerandomi che la conclusione della pace era molto difficile per ciò che sarà necessario includervi la Regina d'Inghilterra, et li stati, et per ciò al presente bisognava fermarsi in ricercare una sospensione d'armi; alla quale se qui mostrerano di dar orrechie, egli si lasciarebbe intender, che il Papa manderà un legato, et che darà questo carico anco occorrendo ad uno delli proprii nepoti; aggiongendomi credere che Francesi non si renderanno difficili a ricercare la suddetta tregua, ma il punto è, disse, che qui pensano con l'oro delle Indie consumar Francesi.) Besides they calculate that as the French army is chiefly composed of volunteers, it cannot keep the field for long; and they hope soon to see some new internal troubles in that kingdom.
I praised the pious intention of the Pope. In a dexterous manner I touched on the difficulties; the loss of la Fére and the departure of the English fleet, which had necessarily compelled the Spanish to attend to their defences and checked their desire to attach other nations by sea.
Madrid 25th June 1596.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 29, Original Despatch, Venelian Archives. 461. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Ostend has been garrisoned for fear of the Spanish, who have captured Sluis.
M. de Sanci has sent a model of his diamond to Constantinople, accompanied by a letter from the King to the Sultan, to see whether he can sell it there. The diamond is not to be sent till the money is paid.
Paris, 29th June 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. The treaty was signed on May 24th.
  • 2. A Paris par Claudo de Monstr'œil tenant sa boutique en la Court du Palais Jouxte la copie imprimee à Lôndres, 1596. Cf. Martin, Hist. d. France, x. 396, note 1.
  • 3. An abbreviation of the Manifesto printed under despatch, “Paris, 15th June 1596.”