Venice: August 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.

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'Venice: August 1596', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 9, 1592-1603, (London, 1897) pp. 225-230. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]

August 1596

Aug. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 477. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King in conversation about the capture of Cadiz by the English remarked, “This is certainly an affair of great moment; and it may alter the whole aspect of the King of Spain's position. I am going back to the frontier and hope soon to have good news to send you. I also mean to offer the Queen of England five or six thousand Gascons for service in the fleet, if she will pay them, for I fear that her English troops, what with the heat and the wine and the fruit, will sicken.”
Paris, 3rd August 1596.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 478. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Cortes of Castile, which last month discussed the question of extraordinary subsidies to his Majesty—as this year sees the end of the eight millions already voted—under the excitement of the English attack, has voted special support to the King, provided it is spent in defence of the kingdom and not on foreign wars. They will give his Majesty twenty-eight millions of gold, payable in equal rates over twenty years, but they claim the right to appropriate, and demand that the King and the Prince shall swear not to alter the destination, otherwise, as they are well aware, the bonds would be farmed out to merchants and the enormous interest would destroy the capital. And apropos to this, they say that bills have been received which were drawn by the Prince Cardinal at forty-five per cent.
The King would rather have the two millions which the procurators of the Cortes are offering on condition of a war against England.
The Imperial Ambassador informs me that the Cardinal Archduke has put to death Don Graçia Sarmenta, a Spanish noble, for treasonable correspondence with the King of France, in giving information about the Cardinal's intrigues in Ostend.
Madrid, 7th August 1596.
Aug. 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 479. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
For the defence of Lisbon there are twelve thousand foot and ten thousand horse. This would be sufficient for the purpose, but there are grave doubts as to the issue of a battle, for many Portuguese still display a leaning towards the soils of Don Antonio, and a dislike of the Spanish, whom they declare to be worse friends than the English, whose coming they openly desire. Besides all this, the Portuguese are the natural foes of the Castillians and are almost daily at blows with them. The Adelantado does all he can to keep them quiet, but if it came to a conflict the Spanish, who do not number more than about two thousand, would perhaps get the worst of it.
On this account many Portuguese of importance, who had not yet sent away their families and goods, are now leaving the city, for they think that if the enemy appears serious damage will be done.
The English fleet is reported becalmed off Cape St. Vincent, near Lagos. Not far away, at Villanuova, are eleven Spanish galleys supported by all the guard ships. They are following the English, and watching if they can do them an injury as they have already done; for they captured one English ship which had parted company, and from its crew they learned that sixty English ships had gone to the Azores and the Canaries to meet the India flotillas, while fourteen had been sent home with the booty taken at Cadiz.
The Adelantado has made the Flemish boats unload their cargoes of salt, and has fitted them out for fighting. He is eagerly awaiting the arrival of fourteen Biscayans, and announces his resolve to put to sea within the present month. The total of his fleet will not exceed sixty ships, badly found in guns, seamen, and artillerymen; but for the sake of their reputation the Spanish will put forth every effort to take the sea as soon as possible, with a view to compelling the enemy to keep together and thus to prevent them from sweeping a wide area in search of the India fleets.
The English landing in Algarve is confirmed, They marched into Faro without any opposition, and captured all that the inhabitants had left behind in their sudden flight; this booty falling below the enemy's expectation they wrecked many of the houses.
Seventeen English ships have been sighted off Corunna. They are thought to be bringing provisions and fresh ships for the fleet; although some declare that they bring news of the Queen's death.
Madrid, 8th August 1596.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 480. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has received news that after the fall of Cadiz the English went to Lisbon; and that Don Christoforo, second son of the late Don Antonio of Portugal, had been to Africa, whence he returned with four thousand Moorish harquebuseers, in addition to another four thousand partly Turks, partly Moors, whom the English had liberated. These have been armed. The English left four thousand men in Cadiz. Your Serenity will know if all this is true.
Paris, 10th August 1596.
Aug. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 481. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
After the English had sacked Faro the first time they returned again, with much greater fury, to wreck it far worse than they had wrecked Cadiz; and this because they were maddened by the insults heaped upon three Englishmen by some of the inhabitants who had cut off their noses, ears, and arms, and sent them to the English, who most certainly never approached anywhere near such cruel conduct towards the Spanish. The English intended to land at Lagos, the capital of Algarve, but they met with a vigorous resistance from the large number of inhabitants who had gathered there, and gave up the enterprise. The sack of Faro was enough to prove that Portugal was infested by them without, exposing their larger plans to risks from delay.
The Adelantado writes that as soon as fair weather set in, which was at the end of last month, the whole English fleet departed, and, after rounding Cape St. Vincent, they were sighted by a fisherman, about twenty leagues away. The Spanish are very anxious about the upshot of this voyage. They fear that the English may burn the shipping in Biscay, or capture the India fleets.
Lisbon is almost free of alarm, and the levies which were gathered for its defence, as they do not get their pay, are dissolving of themselves.
Madrid, 16th August 1596.
Aug. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 482. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Hulst has at last surrendered, on terms, to the Spanish. They lost a large number of men, and report says that de Rosne was killed by a cannon ball.
He, as I informed your Serenity, had come to terms with the King, and for this purpose ten thousand crowns has been deposited in Flanders, but the Spaniards held out higher hopes and he resolved to follow their fortunes.
News from England that the Queen is making great preparations to support her fleet in Spain. I remarked to a highly-placed personage that if this were so it was strange that she had said nothing to his Majesty; but he replied that I need not wonder, for the Queen was merely paying the King out for having withheld from her news of the battle of Ivry for several weeks.
S. Moro, 17th August 1596.
Aug. 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 483. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Among various topics touched upon, the Legate told me this, that one of the ministers (and from his phrases I saw it could be none other than M. de Sanci) had suggested a league between the Pope the King of France and the Queen of England against Spain. He did all he could to persuade the Nuncio that the aggrandisement of Spain was a subject of concern for the Church no less than for other powers; but the Legate would not lend an ear to such suggestions, which were quite outside the scope of his mission. The Duke de Bouillon has sought an audience for the same purpose. In order to overcome the anomaly of seeing the Pope allied with heretics against a Catholic Sovereign they will endeavour to persuade him that by this arrangement he may very likely win the Queen of England back to the true faith. I see quite clearly that this is a scheme of the heretics to involve the Holy See in war, which would leave them free. They are very much alarmed at a possible rapprochement between the King and the Pope, which would one day injure their position. I am confirmed in this view by a conversation which I had with the Marshal de Biron, who came to visit one before leaving for England. The Duke de Bouillon asked me to tell him how the Republic felt towards the Queen of England. I replied that the relations of the Republic towards all Princes of Christendom were excellent. The Duke replied that he was very glad to hear it; and addedWhen I was in England last, in conversation with the Queen she said to me 'Your master is being invited to make peace with Spain; and do you think I am not invited as well ? I have thought the matter out. It will not do for your master nor for me to make peace separately. For, apart from the fact that we could not make as good terms separately as united, if one made peace without the other, the party that was excluded would be ruined at once, which would eventually prove a misfortune for the contracting party. As a matter of fact the ruin of France would not suit me, for the Spanish would become its masters, nor ought your King to desire that they should become masters of England. Beyond a doubt peace is obtainable and desirable for all, and is a line of safety; but if the safety thereby attainable does not outweigh the risk involved by continuing the war, then it is better to carry on the war and to wait for the period of repose. I am convinced that we shall never have a fair and trustworthy peace with the King of Spain as long as he is on the flood of success, and does not realize that his career may be checked, his power overthroun, his greatness humiliated: To accomplish this object a solid union is necessary in order that we may be able to face our common and identical danger with adequate forces.” [“Quandofui ultimamente in Inghilterra, come dovete sapere, ragionando con lei intorno li affari di Spagna mi disse 'Il Vostro Rè è richiesto daquelli di Spagna alla pace, et credete che anch' io non ne sia manco sollecitata da lui ? Ho pensato motto bene intorno questo. Non fa per lui ne per me, che la facciamo separatamente, perchè, oltreche disuniti nonpotressimo farlo con quell' avantaggio come faresimo uniti et congiunti, il fare anco la pace dell' uno sarebbe senz' altro la rovina di quello che fosse escluso; la qualepoi ridonderebbe in danno del medesimo che l'havesse fatta; perche in fatti la rovina di Francia non fa per me, perche vadi in poter de Spagnoli; ne il Vostro Rè deve desiderar che essi si impatroniscano d'Inghilterra. La pace senza dubbio è procurabile et desiderabile datutti, et grandemente assicura; ma se non preponderà la sicurtà al pericolo che si ha delta guerra, in questo caso è meglio continuar a guerreggiar per aspettar poi il tempo di riposare. Io conosco che non haveremo mai pace eguale ne sicura con il Re di Spagna finche venirà portato dalla prosperità dei suoi progressi, et non se gli faccia conoscer che questo suo corso possa esser arrestato, questa sua forza abbattata et questa sua grandezza abbassata. A far questo è necessario una buona unione, et che con forze uguali procuriamo resistere al commune et ugual pericolo.'”] The Marshal added, “I reported all these able remarks to the King in order that he might inform me of his will in the matter; he replied that he left the affair entirely in my hands; and I did not desire to take any steps till I learnt from your Lordship what may be the views of the Republic upon the subject” I replied, after thanking him, that as servant of your Serenity, I could give him no answer, but, if he liked, as a private individual I would willingly express my views. The Marshal said “Yes,” and I continued, declaring that your Serenity was the friend of all Christian powers, desiring the peace and prosperity of all. Anything which contributed to that end would be welcomed by my masters. The Marshal replied that such most certainly was his intention. He addedYou know my profession” (referring to his Huguenot beliefs) “and yet I assure you that none can be more thoroughly devoted to the service of the King than those of the religion.”
The Marshal told me that he was going to England, then to Scotland, and from his covert allusions I almost imagine that he will go as far as Denmark with a view to promoting the League, which, although really concluded with Denmark, is still kept secret until the coronation is over; for until that has taken place the reins of government are not in the King's hands.
S. Moro, 17th August 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Aug. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 484. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Lisbon that the ship “St. Pantaleon” had arrived safely from the East Indies. She sailed before any of the others; reached St. Helena, and then, after waiting thirty-seven days, she came straight on to Lisbon without meeting the enemy's fleet. Her cargo is worth eight hundred thousand crowns. The arrival of so rich a vessel would, in ordinary times, have caused universal joy, but now by the doubtful report it gives of the rest of the East India fleet, both last year's and this, all minds are filled with sorrow; for of last year's fleet no news can be obtained, and of this year's not one has reached St. Helena. Each ship that is lost means a million in gold.
A carvel which had been sent out to watch the movements of the enemy's fleet, reports that it passed Cape Finisterre and made for England. Accordingly the guardships at the mouth of the river have been recalled in order to victual, and then they will be sent down again. Off Biscay eight English ships are reported; this makes the Spanish suspect that the enemy mean to burn the shipping there, or at least to blockade the vessels lying in it so that they shall not go to Lisbon. There is a rumour that the Earl of Cumberland (Conte di Zamburlant) was off San Lucar with sixty English ships; that he was threatening that port, and that for its defence five hundred horse had hastened from Seville.
Madrid, 20th August 1596.
Aug 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 485. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A French ship and one of the scouts sent out to observe, report the enemy's fleet to be lying off' Cape Finisterre, with bows pointing north. They believe the fleet is making for England.
Madrid, 24th August 1596.
Aug. 24. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 486. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Flanders that the Cardinal has captured Hulst, and that he is doing all he can to come to terms with the Crown of France, so as to be able to direct his whole forces against the States; but success is thought almost impossible, for the English fleet has created such a diversion in Spain, and there is a treaty between the Queen of England, the States of Holland, and the Crown of France.
Prague, 24th August 1596.