Venice: June 1597

Pages 274-277

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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June 1597

June 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 587. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of England's agent has returned home. The King has sent with him M. de Reos, who was once Ambassador for him in England, to remove the difficulties which I have explained in my preceding despatch.
They are afraid that if the French attack Amiens, the Spanish will make an assault on Boulogne or Montreuil, both of which are highly important for the safety of England.
Nothing further is known about the peace with Spain.
Paris, 7th June 1597.
[Italian; deciphered.]
June 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 588. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Nuncio told me that in the course of his negotiations he had always had good hope of a peace on the part of the King of Spain, though the French showed themselves difficult. The attempt to carry through the negotiations would be made on behalf of the King of France, by the Legate, who would treat with the Prince Cardinal, as it was discovered that his Catholic Majesty did not desire that they should treat directly with him. A Legate might be sent for this purpose to the Spanish Court, but the Nuncio was of opinion that his Majesty would not care to see new persons of such importance at this unripe stage of the proceedings, whereas he would be very pleased if a Legate came when the affair was fully matured, so that the world might understand that his Majesty had been prayed and invited to act. The Nuncio was doing all he could to dispose the minds of the King and his Ministers towards a peace, but here they continued to insist that the King of France is no Catholic and that every day brought them news of his scandalous habits. (Ma qui stavano costanti in dire ch' il Re di Francia non era Catholico, et che ogni giorno si sentivono scandalose relazioni del suo modo di vivere.)
I replied that they took refuge under the cloak of religion, as their only shelter, but they had little right to use it now that the King of France had been declared and recognised as Christian by the Supreme Authority, the Vicar of Christ; and when temporal Princes sought to arrogate spiritual powers confusion ensued and Christendom suffered. Further, it would appear that the Spaniards accused the King of France of heresy on the ground of sins only, the judgment of which rested with the Lord God and not with the earthly authority of another King. The Nuncio replied that such was the case, and that the Spaniards, unable to advance any other reasons, made use of their zeal for religion.
I went on to remark that after the capture of Amiens I was seriously alarmed lest the negotiations for peace should be disturbed, and I added that if the difficulty in the way had its origin with the French this loss of Amiens would rather dispose them towards peace than dissuade them from it. The Nuncio said that when he next had audience of his Majesty he would renew the subject, as he was ordered by his Holiness to impress upon the King that God would severely chastise the author of these dissensions among Christian Princes and the cause of such ruin to Christendom.
Madrid, 11th June 1597.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 589. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
At last they have succeeded in raising the nine hundred men in Madrid, and very fine troops they are. These, and the rest of the Spanish and Italian troops, are intended for the defence of this kingdom from both English and Moors. But both alarms are considerably quieted for the present, as there is no news from Africa, and from England the fleet is reported to be of a size which would not justify it in attacking Spain this year. A few days ago some English Catholics landed here from a ship in which they fled their country; they say they are noble, and they have brought with them all their substance in gold and jewels. His Majesty has desired them to go to the Escurial, and has treated them with all courtesy.
His Majesty will make every effort to carry out some enterprise so as to show that all this preparation has not been made merely from fear of the enemy; but the nature of the fleet is such that it is better suited for transport purposes than for an attack on England, where he would find a fleet far superior to his own. He will, accordingly, most probably direct the expedition to Brittany, or to Africa to capture the port of El Arisch. The agent of the Duke of Mercœur has been at the Escurial to give the King an account of the progress of the war. He asks for money, but the King will hardly give him any unless the Duke surrenders some of the strong places to the King, who has grown very diffident of French honour. It is, therefore, likely that the expedition will aim at Brest, with the possession of which the Spanish hope to harass France, to divert an attack on the Prince Cardinal, to facilitate the conquest of Brittany, and, by consequence, of England. But the issue is held to be very doubtful, especially if, as is reasonable, the English fleet should move to the succour of the place. The English ships are far quicker and handier than the Spanish.
I am told by a person who understands French affairs that the French are keeping an anxious eye on Brest as the Governor is open to suspicion. He is a relation, on his wife's side, of the Duke of Mercœur, and for the last four years the King has been trying to remove him, a step which the Queen of England continually urges. The King cannot find a pretext, as the Governor professes devoted service, but he is all the more suspected, as he is known to be avaricious, and they fear that Spanish doubloons, will contaminate him.
The English corsairs are making themselves felt in Spanish waters. They captured a fine galleon laden with corn and other goods. Nine ships of the Neapolitan squadron went out to attack them, and three of these were sunk with the loss of two hundred men. Another, being pressed by the English, let forty men board her; she then drew off, and in sight of the English all forty were decapitated and their bodies thrown into the sea. There is a rumour that the Adelantado has captured the English ships and recovered the galleon.
Madrid, 12th June 1597.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 590. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Luxemburg complained to me that the Queen of England treated the King of France badly, and never gave him the least help, except very late, and when it suited her. She recently proposed to recapture Calais within a month, if the King would allow her to keep it till her money was repaid to her; to which the King replied that he would rather be skinned by his foes than scratched by his friends, as the French proverb runs (a che rispose esso Rè un moto Francese, che voleva più tosto esser scorticato da suoi nemici che graffiato da suoi amici).
The Duke added that the Huguenots of France also were treating the King very ill.
Rome, 26th June 1597.
June 29. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 591. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Positive news has been received that the Spanish garrison in Blauet has mutined and made prisoner Don Juan d'Aquila, their commander, while expelling those of their comrades who would not join them. The reason is want of pay.
The captured crew of an English ship reports the English fleet as very numerous.
Madrid, 29th June 1597.