Venice: December 1597

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 1597', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 9, 1592-1603, (London, 1897) pp. 301-304. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]

December 1597

Dec. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 641. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
At present there is no resident English Ambassador at this Court, but an agent, (fn. 1) who seems to be a very discreet person. To him, in obedience to your Serenity's orders, I addressed the complaints against the acts of violence committed by English vessels in the waters of the Republic, pointing out to him what a serious effect such actions had upon the navigation of those seas, and reminding him that the English had always been well treated in Venetian ports, in virtue of the amity which exists between the Republic and the Queen, from whom were expected the necessary steps, especially the punishment of the offenders.
The Agent gave evident signs of displeasure, and said that what had happened was contrary to the intentions of the Queen. She had given orders to her subjects to damage, the King of Spain, in every way, and her Lord High Admiral had issued letters patent in that sense; but the actions complained of were in excess of orders. The Agent promised to write vigorously on the matter, and, if the guilty parties are in England, he assures me that your Serenity shall be satisfied.
I urged him to action by pointing out that, if satisfaction were delayed, your Serenity's officers might be forced to take steps to secure the safety of the navigation. This would greatly displease the Republic, which desires that English vessels should be well treated in all Venetian ports.
The Agent promised to write and to communicate the answer; and he asked for a list of the skippers, and for the names of the places where they committed their piratical acts. He added, “I am sorry that people of this sort usually delay their return for many months.” I did not let this pass without a suitable answer, namely, that I was sure that if the Queen wished to capture them she could.
We then entered on other matters, and particularly the question of peace. He assured me that his Most Christian Majesty would not make peace without the approval of the Queen, who is not really averse from it, while it is desired by her subjects. A truce for a year was offered, but rejected. Even if the King did resolve to conclude peace without the intervention of the Queen, which he, however, did not believe, he would not gain much; for he would not have made peace to enjoy it, but would find himself embarked on a fresh war on account of the injury done to the Queen and the States, his allies, from whom he would receive more damage than from the King of Spain; for it would be a more serious matter for him to have the war inside his own kingdom, in his very bowels, than at the extremities and at the frontiers. In saying this the English agent hinted at a rising of the Huguenots and other malcontents, who are not wanting in this Kingdom, and, with whom the Queen is in constant and close communication. He added that the fleets of England and the States, if united, would be masters of the sea, and could quite easily attack and damage France from many quarters.
These remarks of his, made with whatever intention they were made, I have thought right to communicate to your Serenity (mi ha affirmato che il Rè Christianissimo sicuramente non farà la pace col Serenissimo Rè Catholico senza la satisfactions delta sua Regina, la quote non saria del tutto aliena ad essa, et è desiderata da suoi vassalli, et se Sua Maestà Xma si risolvesse, che però non lo può credere, a concludere alcuna cosa senza l'intervento delta Regina, non otteniria quanto pretendesse, perchè non haveria fatto pace per haverla, ma ben far entrar nell' altra guerra rispetto alla injuria che saria inferita alla Regina et alli Stati di Fiandra, suoi confederati, onde potria da questi ricevere forte danno et travaglio tanto maggiori di quelli che al presente riceve dot Rè Catholico quanto che importaria piu haver la guerra net proprio regno et nelle proprie viscere che all' estremità et alle frontiere; accennando a sollevatione di Ugonotti et d'altri malcontenti che non mancono in questo regno, con li quali tutti si sà che la Regina tiene molte pratiche et strette intelligenze; aggiongendo che le armate d'Inghilterra et delli Stati uniti insieme, essendo patroni del mare, con gran facilità potriano assalir et daneggiar la Francia da molte parti).
A courier has been sent to S. Quentin; it is supposed that he bears authority to M. de Sillery to treat for a truce or a peace, but not to push matters far without raising the question of the restitution of the strong places belonging to his Most Christian Majesty; he is not to mention Cambrai, as the Pope desires that it should be restored to its own Bishop.
Paris, 9th December 1597.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 642. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English fleet has returned home and the Dutch fleet has sailed for Zealand, and so, for this year, there is an end of all these rumours from the sea.
Count Maurice has cantoned the army of the States. His half sister has married a son of the late Don Antonio of Portugal. As this took place with the consent of the bride and bridegroom only, the Government have confined both to their house.
Paris, 9th December 1597.
Dec. 17. Original Rubricario, Venetian Archives. 643. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Michael has written to the English Ambassador and to the Grand Vizir. The English Ambassador acts for him.
17th December 1597.
Dec. 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 644. Giovanni Dolfin, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The city is full of rumours about the important offers made by the Duke of Luxemburg at his last audience. I accordingly resolved to visit the Duke this morning. The Duke told me that the King had confirmed his offer to the Pope to send three, four, or five thousand good foot soldiers into the Papal service, and proposed that they should embark at Marseilles; and he added that if the King could settle his own affairs he would come in person to serve the Church, and to restore to it all that was unjustly usurped (Ferrara). The Duke then made inquiries as to rumours that the Republic was supporting Don Cesare. I assured him of the devotion of the Republic to the Holy See, and then proceeded to inquire how matters were going in France about the peace. He replied, that he held it for certain that the whole negotiations would vanish in air; for the King was resolved to have Calais, while Spain was willing to restore all the other strong places except Calais. He added that, as soon as the opportunity permitted, the King would move to Blois so as to carry on the war in Brittany.
By the King's orders the Duke had represented to the Pope that the King of Spain, who professed such devotion to religion, had lately sent out two important embassies, one headed by a Jew, was commissioned to treat for peace with the Turk; the other was addressed to the King of Denmark, also a heretic, to induce him to mediate between the States and Spain; both had received unfavourable answers and little honour.
The King's victories have relieved the States of the burden for the maintenance of several garrisons, and they now offer to keep more men in the field for his Majesty's service, if his Majesty will abandon all negotiations for peace and will attend seriously to war. The Duke added that the Queen of England made similar offers. He thought that if peace were not concluded within one or two months it would not be concluded at all. I laughed and said: “Well, if all these wars go on, the King will “hardly be able to send to the Pope the promised support.”
Rome, 20th December 1597.
Dec. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 645. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Juan de Fria, secretary to the Prince Cardinal, reached here twelve days after he set out. He has been sent to represent to his Majesty the dangerous condition of those provinces owing to the want of money, and the mutiny of the troops, who are creditors for one million and a half of gold. The secretary has instructions also about the negotiations for peace. When he left, the Cardinal had not yet received his powers. The secretary brings word that a suspension of arms is out of the question, as the King of France will negotiate for a peace only; he is holding his head very high as to the conditions, and especially about the surrender of the strong places. Further, he insists that in any reconciliation the Queen of England must be included.
Madrid, 27th December 1597.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 646. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
We have news not merely that M. de Maisse has reached England safely, but that he has had an audience of the Queen. She has not yet made known her pleasure as to the answer which will be given to him. I heard that a conference between representatives of the King and the Queen will be arranged, and Dieppe is conjectured as the place of meeting.
Paris, 30th December 1597.
Dec. 31. Original Rubricario, Venetian Archives. 647. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
News received from the commander seems to show that the provisions for war by land and sea are proceeding coldly. The desire for peace continues. The new Grand Vizir urges the Patriarch to interest himself in the matter. The Patriarch has written to the Walachian; Michael is willing, and the whole affair is greatly favoured by the English Ambassador for various reasons; but Michael will not accept terms which do not guarantee him completely. About the Transylvanian various views are held.
The skin of a brave Hungarian soldier has been brought here. The man had the courage to enter Belgrade in disguise.
The English Ambassador who supplies all the news of Christendom (l' Ambasciatore d'Inghilterra, che riporta tutte le nouve di Christianità) has announced the death of the Duke of Ferrara, the succession of Don Cesare, and the Papal claims. He adds that all this will be of service to the Sultan, who will be able to take advantage of it in the negotiations for peace.
The Sultana Mother has begun to pull down some houses belonging to Jews in order to build her mosque, which is to cost a great deal.
31st December 1597.


  • 1. Thomas Edmondes, cf. Calendar of State Papers. Domestic, 1595–1597, p. 408.