Venice: September 1597

Pages 282-289

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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September 1597

Sept. 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 609. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Four hundred more English have arrived at the siege of Amiens. The Spanish in that city have just sent out three hundred citizens whom they first kept as servants. These report that there is a great dearth of food. The Walloons and Italians want to surrender, the Spanish are of another opinion.
Paris, 6th September 1597.
Sept. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 610. Agostjno Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty has been seriously ill. The gout attacked his neck and caused him some difficulty in eating; he had a high fever accompanied by great weakness, loss of appetite, and loss of sleep. A short fainting fit was considered of grave importance; and fears were felt for his life. At this juncture the Nunico was told by the household that he ought to inform his Majesty of his perilous condition, of which he was unaware, for no one had the courage to take this step.
The King has acknowledged, they say, that he has a son, though only Don Christophoro de Mora knows where he is.
The Nunico urges that the Cardinal Archduke should be commissioned to treat for an agreement with the King of France; but owing to the habitual practice of these Ministers and also to the King's indisposition, the matter is being put off. I am told on excellent authority that in the written answer which his Majesty sent to the Nuncio, he declared that he would draw no benefit from this peace, for it was not to be hoped that the French would ever ally themselves with him against the Turk, nor that the King of France would ever make war on the Huguenots, with whom he is too closely joined in vital bonds. Nor would the mutual suspicion of the two Crowns be removed nor the cause of religion advanced; for the King of France, in disregard of the Papal Legate, committed actions which ill became a Christian Sovereign. The King of France should first fulfil the promises he made to the Pope at the moment of his conversion. For these reasons a suspension of arms rather than the conclusion of a peace was the better object to pursue. His Majesty added, in the said written answer, that he would prefer that negotiations should be conducted under the eye of His Holiness, as he trusted entirely to the infinite wisdom of the Pope, but he would nevertheless, consent to the subject being discussed in Flanders, for the Cardinal, through the Duke of Sessa, would submit every step to the Pope.
This is the answer which the King of Spain recently gave to the Papal Nunico.
The Nunico, on fresh orders from Rome, renewed his representations, and added this consideration, that the King of France would not accept a suspension of arms, however much he might be urged and tempted, because in that case he would be forced to turn his arms against his own subjects.
Madrid, 7th September 1597.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 10 Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 611. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The cities of the Hansa have before now complained to his Imperial Majesty that whereas they used to enjoy certain privileges in England, frequently confirmed by English Sovereigns, and were wont to trade freely in England, now certain English merchants, having erected themselves into a company, under the style of the English Merchant Venturers, claim a monopoly of English cloth in Germany, and absorb all the profits of that trade. This has led the Queen to refuse to renew to the Germans their ancient privileges. His Majesty was petitioned to take steps, and as far back as 1581 he issued orders for the collection of information. A commission of two was appointed, and reported as above, adding that the English had been excluded from Danzig and other seaports. The matter was referred to the Diet of Augsburg the following year. His Majesty chose to act amicably, and sent the Ambassadors of the Hanse towns to England to request the renewal of the privileges, but they obtained nothing from the Queen.
The complaints of the Hanse towns were renewed at the Diet of Ratisbon held three years ago; and an appeal was made to the Cardinal Archduke in Flanders, to show that this was a matter which affected the interests of his Catholic Majesty. Through his means they obtained from his Imperial Majesty a decree, recently published, enjoining all cities of Germany to expel the English Merchant Venturers, and to prevent them trading in cloth or any other merchandize for the future. In this way they hope to greatly incommode the English. I enclose this decree. This is important, for they say here that Venetian cloth will be bought again, now that English is prohibited, by the merchants who come to Venice for drugs and other merchandize.
Prague, 10th September 1597.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. Decree issued by Rudolph II.
The maritime towns have presented petitions not only to the Aulic Council but also to the Diet of Augsburg in 1582 and to the Diet of Ratisbon in 1594, setting forth that for the last hundred years they have enjoyed in the kingdom of England special privileges, immunities, liberties, exemptions and other rights to the great benefit of that kingdom as well as the amassing of riches to themselves. These privileges, &c., have been confirmed by no less than fourteen sovereigns of England, and in the year 1474 they were made perpetual. The merchants enjoying these privileges had their local habitation in the City of London, at the German Guildhall, as it is called. These merchants bought cloth and exported it to Germany, so that English cloth could be had in Germany at a fair price; and other traffic between the two countries was set on foot to their mutual benefit.
But out of hatred to this trade and in pursuit of their own ends, certain companies of merchants, one of which is known as the Merchant Venturers, sought to damage the commerce of the maritime cities, by reforming the privileges, &c. Hence it came about that the present sovereign, Elizabeth, Queen of England, France and Ireland, refused to renew the said privileges. The Merchant Venturers wishing to open a factory in Hamburg obtained from the Queen all the privileges which were formerly enjoyed by the maritime cities of Germany, and a monopoly of English cloth just as the staplers enjoy a monoply of English wool, and the privileges of the maritime towns became valueless. On the other hand the English merchants flocked to Germany, first to Eastern Frisia, then they spread and now have their head quarters in Bremen. They carry on a trade in cloth and other merchandize which was formerly in the hands of German merchants, They formed themselves into a close corporation, contrary to the laws of the Empire, which prohibits monopolies; and they have raised the price of cloth and other goods till they are more than double the price they were when the German merchants enjoyed their privileges.
No cloth is to be sold by the said English Merchant Venturers, nor are they to trade at all in Germany.
Our fiscal officers shall be charged with the execution of this decree.
The punishment for non-observance of this decree is the loss of a quarter of the goods.
At our Royal Castle of Prague,
First of August 1597.
Sept. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 612. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Four days ago the rumour spread that the English fleet had been sighted off Corunna and Ferrol. It numbers one hundred and sixty sail. The Adelantado sent out scouts who captured one pinnace (patacchio). The crew declared that Lisbon was the destination of the fleet. There has been no confirmation of the news, nor have the English appeared off Lisbon. All the same it may be true; and it is thought likely that the object of the English is to cripple the Adelantado or to blockade him.
The agent of the Duke of Mercœur declared that his master did not know anything about the despatch of the Spanish fleet to Brittany, and it was only reasonable that the Duke should be informed before such a step was taken. The Spanish will not give the command to the Duke, and the Duke will not endure the superiority of any other officer. People therefore conclude that the Spanish fleet will not sail this year, or, if it does, it will go elsewhere, to Ireland more likely than to England. It is well known that his Majesty has made certain terms with the Irish Catholics, and that some Irish bishops and all the Irish and English in these kingdoms will sail with the fleet. It seems that the Ministers have promised these people that the Spanish fleet shall sail this year to attack the Queen of England, (Sapendosi che questa Maestà ha alcune capitulationi con gli Irlandesi Catholici et che sopra essa armata vi vanno alcuni vescovi d'Irlanda et tutti gli Irlandesi et Inglesi che si trovano in questi Regni, a quale si dice che questi Ministri hanno promesso che sicuramente essa armata anderà il presente anno a danni della Regina d'Inghilterra.)
Madrid, 15th September 1597.
Sept. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 613. Piero Duodo and Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is now encamped in the plain. Some days ago he went to Doulens; there he reconnoitred the army of the enemy. On the 13th the enemy approached. The King opened fire from fifteen cannon and sprang three mines, without producing much effect; he delivered an assault or two, not very successfully. The enemy, on the 16th attempted to throw two thousand five hundred men into Amiens. These were met by eight hundred Swiss, summoned from Abbeville by the King, and defeated and driven back again over the Somme. On learning this the Cardinal retired towards Doulens, followed for three leagues by the King. Here they are making processions to celebrate this victory.
The Cardinal's force seems to consist of from fourteen to fifteen thousand foot and two thousand five hundred horse. It is incredible the way in which men pour in to his Majesty; at this moment he has upwards of twenty thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry, a force quite sufficient to break the enemy. His army is the finest and most flourishing that he has had since Ivry.
If Amiens surrenders, as everyone says it must, we shall see some great events; for the King has announced his intention of going to meet the Cardinal.
The King was showing the trenches to M. de Mele, agent for the Duke of Lorraine, and to the Constable. He had his hand on M. de Mele's shoulder, when a musket shot struck and killed de Mele.
Duodo's successor, Francesco Contarini, has arrived.
Paris, 20th September 1597.
Sept. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 614. Piero Duodo and Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After despatching our letter of to-day news came that the Spanish in Amiens have come to terms. If, by the twenty-first, they have not received support from two thousand horse they will surrender the place. They will march out with colours flying, trumpets sounding, drums beating, the foot afoot, the cavalry on horse, harquebuss charged on shoulder, tinder burning, ball in mouth. The King is to pay the druggist's bills for medicines the Spanish take with them; and to respect all the epitaphs to their dead, if they contain no phrases injurious to the French. They may take away all baggage they can carry on their backs. We enclose the account of what happened between the King and the Archduke.
Paris, 20th September 1597.
Sept. 22. Original Rubricario, Venetian Archives. 615. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Jew who was sent to Constantinople by the Spanish ministers has been removed from the custody of the Cavass, and will continue his negotiations (for a truce).
22nd September 1597.
Sept. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 616. Piero Duodo and Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Amiens has surrendered. On the 25th the King entered it. A copy of the terms of capitulation is enclosed.
On the 24th the sick and wounded to the number of seven hundred went out, and the next day three cornets of cavalry and one thousand seven hudred infantry. The plague is raging in Amiens. The houses are mostly ruined, as the Spanish took the wood for the defences.
Paris, 26th September 1597.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. Terms granted by His Majesty to the Marquis of Montenegro, Governor of the town of Amiens, and to the other officers and troops in the said city.
His Majesty agrees that the tombs of Hernandiglio Portocarrero and of the other officers buried in the churches of Amiens shall not be touched, neither their epitaphs nor their trophies, provided there be nothing on them that is an injury to France. The corpses may be removed by the Spanish whenever they may think it well.
All the troops of whatever nation shall go out of the city with their arms, their tinder alight, banners displayed, sounding their trumpets and drums, with their horses, their baggage, and all that they can carry, which belongs to them, upon their person, their horses, or their waggons.
Waggons shall be supplied to them for the transport of their sick and wounded to Doulens or to Bapaume (Baupalme), with a good sure escort. The waggons and horses are to be sent back. As to the sick and wounded who, cannot be removed, they shall remain in Amiens and be doctored till they are cured, when they shall be allowed to depart in perfect security.
All the dwellers in the said city, of whatsoever nationality, shall be allowed to retire along with the troops, and to take their goods with them, and no questions asked. Those who wish to stay may do so, and have the full enjoyment of their goods as formerly, if they will take the oath of allegiance to his Majesty.
They shall be free of the charges for the drugs they take with them for the sick and wounded. Also they are free to take twelve thousand rounds of ball cartridge.
The subjects and servants of the King who are prisoners in the city shall be set at liberty without ransom (ranzone). And the same shall take place on the King's side, and in the case of those who were captured while trying to get into the city.
The King will allow three of the garrison with an escort of ten horse to go to find their General, and to communicate to him the terms of the present contract. To afford greater security there shall be a suspension of arms, which shall terminate on Thursday morning, on condition that if within that period succours, to the amount of two thousand men, have not entered Amiens the city shall be abandonel and surrendered to his Majesty on the above conditions on Thursday morning, without any need for further agreement. During the suspension of arms the Marquis of Montenegro shall not attempt to assist the forces which may come to his relief. The trenches are to remain under the ordinary guard.
As hostages for the observation of these terms his Majesty will receive two Spaniards, one of the cavalry and the other of the infantry, one Italian, and one Walloon.
The King may keep one or two agents in the city to see that they do not fortify and that the reinforcements amount to two thousand men.
An escort and safe conduct as far as Arras, via Doulens, shall be granted.
Done at the Camp before Amiens, 19th September '97.
Sept. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 617. Piero Duodo and Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
There is news here that the English fleet fell in with the Adelantado and offered battle, which was declined. The English then continued their voyage towards the Azores.
Paris, 26th September 1597.
Sept. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 618. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the rumour spread on the 6th of this month that the English fleet, about one hundred and fifty strong, had passed Finisterre and were bound for Lisbon, yet it was only on the morning of the twelfth that twelve ships appeared off Cascaes, a fortress five leagues away from the city of Lisbon. These ships were sighted far out at sea, but information was at once sent to the city, when three thousand infantry, partly Portuguese, partly Castillians, were despatched to Cascaes. Ten days before, owing to the report that English need not be expected this year, the garrison of Cascaes had been deprived of some companies of Spanish who were sent to the Adelantado, as had happened in Lisbon. The city flew to arms on the arrival of the news, and that same morning came a pinnace, sent from Seville, with information that the enemy's fleet had been sighted in great force off the coast of Galicia. Two days later another pinnace (patacchio) arrived with news that only fifty ships were sighted. While the city was in this state of anxiety, the twelve English ships sailed away.
As the appearance of these ships coincided with the descent of the French upon Catalonia, it was thought at first that they might be taking concerted action, or that the English fleet had come to prevent the Adelantado from active operations. Now they think that the twelve English ships may have been sent to find out whether the four East Indiamen had really made harbour. It was impossible to believe that only twelve ships, unsupported, should have had the audacity to place themselves between two of his Majesty's fleets, and right under the eyes of Lisbon, where Don Pedro de Toledo is lying with twenty-four galleys, besides other vessels. The non-appearance of the rest of the fleet is, perhaps, due to the bad weather. Fears are felt for the safety of the eighteen ships, with four thousand Italian soldiers, which left Cadiz on the 8th of this month. It is possible that they have fallen in with the English.
The military in Lisbon are kept under arms and in exercise, to meet any eventuality; and for the present they will maintain a garrison of three thousand soldiers in Cascaes.
The Indian Council has already been informed that fifty English ships have appeared at Porto Rico; but all those coasts are fully armed, nor do they fear that the English can do anything of importance. There are not wanting those who affirm that no large fleet has sailed from England, that the Adelantado has succeeded in exaggerating the size of the armament, because he does not wish to take the sea this year, as the autumn season, which is dangerous for navigation on the ocean, has now arrived,—and still less to undertake any enterprise in the winter; especially in those waters where the storms are so sudden and the currents so rapid, not to Bay headlong, that it is almost impossible for ships to effect a junction at the appointed time. Besides, he knows that some of his ships, which have not been docked for two years, are in a very bad state and almost worm-eaten (et quasi abissati).
Madrid, 26th September 1597.
Sept. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 619. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Feria retired to Barcelona on the 8th of this month, leaving only a few companies to protect that fertile province against the French, who under Alfonso Corso and the Duke of Joyeuse made a cavalry raid as far as Roussillon which belongs to the Spanish Crown. They are now entrenched at Leucate. It is held for certain that the French have understandings in some cities and they are much afraid for Perpignan.
Prince Doria left Cadiz on the 10th, having received orders, after the French raid, that he was to go at once to support Catalonia. He will pick up troops on his way, and has taken with him one thousand from the garrison of Lisbon.
Madrid, 27th September 1597.