Venice: December 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: December 1596', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 9, 1592-1603, (London, 1897) pp. 245-250. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

December 1596

Dec. 2. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 518. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
In spite of Bruti and the English Ambassador the Ministers are all but resolved that no peace shall be concluded with the Turks. They are afraid that the Turkish terms will be the possession of all the places occupied during the war, and of some other places besides; a large war indemnity, with the retention of Raab and Erlau.
Prague, 2nd December 1596.
Dec. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 519. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
As the Armada is much damaged and because the season is far advanced, it will have to winter in Ferrol. That will be very convenient for the ships, but very trying for the troops. They have begun to land and the sailors especially are deserting. There are rumours of vast preparations by the Queen of England and her allies; and they think that leave will be refused to the Portuguese to go home, so that they may be ready early next year. Embargo will be laid on all shipping that reaches the ports of Spain or of Italy, The command will be given to Don Alonzo de Bazan —brother of the Marquis of Santa Cruz— in the hope of better fortune and wiser plans.
News from Ireland that while the Viceroy with three hundred men and many officers had gone to fortify the mouth of a certain harbour, he was attacked by the Earl of Tyrone, head of the Catholics, who cut all the English to pieces. The Viceroy escaped with difficulty. The Irish on board the ship that brought the news, declare that had the Armada sailed to Ireland it would undoubtedly have captured it; and that even now there is time. But there is great dread lest those poor Catholics who broke off the reconciliation with England and rose in rebellion, in the hope of the advent of the Armada, will pay the extreme penalty. The port which the Viceroy was fortifying is said to be Limerick, the point chosen by his Majesty for his attack.
Six English ships effected a landing at Cape Verd Island, but as the newly built castle prevented them from entering the city, they were forced to land three leagues away. They went pillaging up to the walls of the city, but the garrison, having collected the inhabitants, compelled them to retreat and to embark, leaving behind them all their booty, which they could not carry so great a distance.
One of the prizes captured from the India fleet was being sent home under the care of a few English sailors, They missed their way, and came right under the fortress of Mazzagan, by whose garrison the ship was recovered.
Madrid, 2nd December 1596.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 520. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
There is news from Ireland that Viscount Hereford, Lord Ferrers (Viscomte di Herford, Signor di Feres), who was second in command to Essex when the fleet was at Cadiz, has gone over to Ireland and joined the Earl of Tyrone. The cause is said to be his dissatisfaction with the Queen.
Madrid, 7th December 1596.
Dec. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 521. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I had occasion to discuss affairs with the Duke of Luxemburg, who remarked that it would be desirable to effect a peace in Christendom, so as to attack the Turks. The King of France likes war, and would never ask for peace; no more would the King of Spain. It remains, therefore, for the Pope to move in this matter. I remarked that the difficulty was about the inclusion of the Queen of England and the States of Holland.
Paris, 12th December 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 21 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 522. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The league which his Majesty has recently made with the Queen of England and the States of Holland, has thrown the Orisons over to the Spanish side, for they think they are held of small account and neglected by the King.
The King has promised the English Ambassador that no treaty shall be made in which the Queen is not included. The Queen is to receive guarantees for the money she spends. She is carrying on the war vigorously against the Earl of Tyrone. The English Ambassador assures me that after the dispersal of the Spanish fleet the English fleet will be pushed on to Ferrol to finish it.
Rouen, 11th December 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 21. Minute of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 523. Instructions to the Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople.
We are greatly amazed at the conduct of the French Ambassador in seeking to establish the jurisdiction of the Turkish Courts in suits between Princes or their representatives. We approve of your conduct.
21st December 1596.
Dec. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 524. Marco Venier, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Sultan has returned to Constantinople.
The French Ambassador found out that Paulo Mariani was furnishing information about the Turkish forces to the Ministers of Spain. He informed Hassan Pasha, who sent a capigi along with a dragoman of the French Embassy to Cairo, where Mariani is acting as Consul for England and France, and caused Mariani to be hung by the neck in public with a label at his feet.
The English Ambassador, who has returned with the Sultan and entered Constantinople the same day, resents this very much. I sent my secretary to visit him, and he said that the Christians were defeated (fn. 1) by their own fault; for they might have been victorious without drawing sword. They were in an impregnable position with a large mountain behind them, a swamp on one flank and a large and strongly fortified wood upon the other. They had a supply of water that could not be contaminated, whereas the Turks, without a water-supply, must have died of thirst or retreated, in which case they would all have been cut to bits. But the impetuosity of the, Transylvanian had upset Maximilian's plan. He intended, like Fabius Maximus, to çonquer by delaying. The Christians delivered their attack in close order, having crossed the water at a practicable point, and penetrated as far as the Sultan's tent, where they planted their banners. They then took to plundering the tents; but while thus engaged Hassan, with a large force, on the one side, and Cicala with the Tartars on the other, charging down, took them as it were in two arms, and cut to pieces between thirty-five and thirty-six thousand, and followed up the flying Christians as far as the mountain. Of this the Ambassador says he was not an eye-witness; but from report he affirms that the rest of the army was also cut to bits. The Turkish losses in the capture of Erlau and in this other engagement amounted to no more than three thousand. In this engagement the Christians lost all their artillery, which however could not be removed owing to the lack of horses. All this is described by the English Ambassador in a way which accords neither with the Turkish account nor with facts, and makes the hearer marvel, all the more as he affirms that the Turks would embrace peace at any price, on the receipt of a mere letter. The Ambassador denies that he was in arms against the Christians as he is charged with being. He does not deny, however, that on Ibraim's invitation he went to see the trenches before Erlau and examined and approved them; nor does he deny that on being questioned whether he had borne arms for the Turks against the Christians, and slain a lot of them, he, to satisfy them, said it was quite true; if they said he had killed four, he assured them he had killed ten. (L'Ambasciator di Francia, i mesi passati scoperse che da Paulo Mariani venivano mandati a i Ministri di Spagna in Italia avisi delle cose di Constantinopoli et di gli apparechi et dei progressi della guerra, et dell'Armata Turchesca. Di che havendolo incolpato presso ad Aassan Bassa era stato cavato un commandamento, et deputato un Capigi, il quote è andato con un dragomano di Francia al Cayro dove il Mariani resiedeva consule di Francia et d'Inghilterra, I'havea fatto in luogo publico impiccar per la gola con una lettera attaccata ai piedi. Di che si risente molto l'Ambasciatov d'Inghilterra che tornò col Re, et egli ancora entrò nella città quel giomo medesimo. Ho mandato il secretario a visitarlo, et con lui raggionando l'Ambasciatore delle cose delta guerra, gli ha raccontato come i Christiani si sono perdutti per haver voluto così, poi che stava in poter loro di vincere senza por mano alla spada; essendosi alloggiati in sito inespugnabile; con una gran montagna alle spalle et una gran palude da un lato et dall' altro un grandissimo et ben fortificato bosco; con haver all . . . . un acqua che non si poteva guastare la quote era in potestà loro; ne havendo Turchi dove andar per acqua in altro luogo, convenniano morir di sete o voltando le spalle et partendo aspettar d'esser tutti tagliati a pezzi da' i Cristiani; ma che la temerità del Transilvano haveva fatto romper il suo proponimento a Massimiliano, che a guisa di Fabio Massimo intendeva di superar la . . . con l'induggio. Che erano venuti i Cristiani serrati in ordinanza, havendo passato l'acquo in luogo commodo, sopra l'esercito Turchesco, et penetrati fino al casnà del Re, dove haveano piantate le bandiere; ma che essendosi posti a bottinare i Padiglioni, Assan Bassa che era allargoto dall' un canto con molto essercito et il Cigala dall' altro co'i Tartari, spinti avanti, havevano come con due braccie chiusi in mezzo, Cristiani havendone tagliate a pezzi da 35 in 36 mille; e che dapoi i Tartari haveano seguitato fino alla montagna il rimanente de' i Cristiani fuggiti. Che questo egli non l'haveva veduto, ma rifferiva d'udita che havevano tagliati a pezzi quasi tutti gl'altri Cristiani, et che delli Turchi tra l'occupation d'Agria et quest' altro . . . non erano mancati più de tre mille Turchi. Che (nella) giornata haveanoperdute i Cristiani tutte l'artiglievie ma che per mancamento di cavalli non erano state menate via.
Queste cose, raccontate dall' Inglese molto diversamente da quello che faccino i medesimi Turchi, et da quello che si vegga in effetto, fanno meravigliar chi ascolta; tanto più che egli ha affermato al segretario, chi i Turchi ad'una semplice lettera che ricevessero, abbraccierebboro ogni conditione di pace. Nega esso Ambasciator d'esser stato in arms in favor de' Turchi contra Christiani, come dice sapere che da alcuni gli veneva imposto. Non nega però che essendo richiesto da Ibraim ad andare a vedere le trincere de' Turchi sotto Agria non vi sia andato, et non le habbia vedute et approbate; et non nega similmente che essendo ricercato da diversi di costoro a dir se era vero che avesse combattuto in favor de' Turchi contra i Christiani, et che havesse ammazzati molti Christiani, non habbia risposto loro per gratificarseli che era verissimo che haveva combatuto per li Turchi contra i Christiani et che se essi dicevano che haveva ammazzato quattro Christiani egli diceva di haverne ammazzato dieci.)
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 24th December 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]
1596. Dec. 24. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 525. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
There is no more news of Bruti and the English Ambassador's negotiations for peace.
Prague, 24th December 1596.
Dec. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 526. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador and I entered into conversation while walking up and down a very beautiful gallery in the palace; he remarked that in the face of the Turkish advance a universal peace was necessary, and the King of France and his mistress were both quite ready. Many English would join so just a cause. History told him that a Venetian ere now had mediated between England and France; why not on this occasion ?
I replied that as long as the Queen insisted on holding Holland and Zealand an accord was difficult.
The Ambassador said she would give them up if she was at peace with Spain.
Yes, I answered, but what would the States say if Flushing and Brill were handed over to Spain ?
The Ambassador said the States would be content if their privileges were respected, namely, liberty of conscience, the withdrawal of foreign troops, and the dismantling of the forts.
But, I said, the King of Spain has already offered these terms, and they were rejected.
The English Ambassador is very suspicious about this whole matter.
He has pointed out the danger in which Boulogne is of being taken by the Spanish, and he has offered to garrison it with English.
Rouen, 28th December 1596.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 29. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 527. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Archduke Ferdinand writes that he did all he could to prevent the King of Denmark from joining the league of France and England.
Prague, 29th December 1596.
Dec. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 528. Agustino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
News from England that great preparations are being made to attack this kingdom. In Portugal there is great alarm. His Majesty is suffering from a pain in the flank, and Mercato, his physician in ordinary, told me that as long as he is passing gravel the pain will not cease. This is always accompanied by a certain amount of fever. But it is the pain which the physicians fear most, because it has begun to break his Majesty's sleep, causing great irritation. Three days ago the doctors gave him a little manna, which produced a good rest.
Madrid, 31st December 1596.


  • 1. At the battle of Keresztes.