Venice: February 1598

Pages 310-313

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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February 1598

Feb. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 659. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The fleet with the gold and silver was ready to sail from the Azores on the 13th of December last, and was only waiting fine weather. The long delay in its arrival causes some fear that it may have fallen in with the English.
Madrid, 10th February 1597 [m.v.].
Feb. 10. Original Ruhricario, Venetian Archives. 660. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Chief Butler (Cesnegir) has been deputed to convey a scimitar to the most Christian King.
Feb. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 661. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
No sooner were the passports received from the Archduke than M. de Bellièvre and M. de Sillery set out last week for the appointed place. The Spanish representatives are at Cambresis.
Five days ago the King went to Fontainebleau. He will wait there some time for the Envoys of England and of the States. If they do not appear he will continue his journey.
Paris, 14th February 1597 [m.v.].
Feb. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 662. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English agent came to see me after having received an answer on the subject of those English vessels which have committed acts of hostility on the vessels of your Serenity's subjects and inflicted damage upon them in the waters of the Levant. He declares that the Queen was highly displeased at the news, as the occurrence is entirely contrary to her wishes, and gave orders at once to find out whereabouts those were against whom the charge was laid, with a view to inflicting the merited punishment. As yet nothing has been discovered, which has been the cause of the delay in his communicating with me. He assures me that such diligence shall be used in this affair as will leave your serenity quite satisfied; of which the Envoys, who are coming here on other business, will also more fully convince me. I made a suitable reply and expressed my belief that everything would be done to satisfy the Republic. I went on to remark that my representations, made in writing, had for object to secure the safety of Venetian subjects and also, by removing disorders, to make the English welcome in Venetian ports and marts. But when the Envoys arrive, about whose coining nothing is known at present, as the weather is unfavourable for the passage of the Channel, I will not fail to make such further observations as I may deem necessary to obtain your Serenity's object I am convinced that the Queen is disposed to show all complaisance towards the Republic, especially for the reasons given to me by M. de Maisse. I met him after his return from England, and in course of conversation he lauded the Queen for her prudence, and explained the admirable order of her government, her power by sea; he mentioned that she asked questions about the Republic and showed regret that there was no resident Venetian Ambassador at her Court, as there used to be during the reigns of her predecessors. She declares that the reason for this is the Republic's regard for the Pope. M. de Maisse assures me that the Queen and some of her council entertain the idea of asking your Serenity explicitly to send an Ambassador.
Paris, 14th February 1597 [m.v.].
Feb. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 663. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Cardinal Legate (fn. 1) reached Vervins, the place appointed for the discussion of the peace; and on the same day the French representatives also arrived. The Spanish representatives were delayed by the rain, and the weather which retarded them till the following day. The Spanish representatives are the President Richardot, Tassis and a Spanish Secretary of State; they are accompanied by the General of the Franciscans and a large suite.
The following morning they met in church, and exchanged compliments, and the necessary acts of courtesy; then they visited each other at their lodgings. The French paid the first visits, as was their duty, seeing that they were at home. Before any views were exchanged, a doubt arose as to the method of procedure. The Cardinal Legate found a way out of the difficulty by summoning the Nuncio Gonzaga, who otherwise would not have been present. He took his seat at the right of the Legate and next to him came the Spanish representatives. On the Legate's left sat the French; and opposite the Legate sat the General of the Franciscans. This arrangement satisfied everybody, for each could in a way claim the place of honour.
The powers and commissions were then read and found sufficient for the purposes of the conference. The discussion began, but nothing will be concluded until they have learned what representations have been made to his Majesty by the English and Flemish Deputies, who are coming to meet him. Meantime a suspension of arms in a circuit of six leagues round Vervins has been proclaimed.
At Vervins, owing to a stroke of apoplexy, the Franciscan who was acting for the Duke of Savoy is now lying at the point of death.
Paris, 24th February 1597 [m.v.].
Feb. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 664. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
As the English and Flemish representatives delayed to arrive, and as the weather still continued unfavourable for their journey by sea, the King has resolved to go into Brittany. Last week he left Fontainebleau, and is expected in Angers in four or six days. The Constable has been left behind in Paris, with orders that if the said representatives arrive, and are willing to confer with him, he is to hear what they have to say. For this purpose also M. de Maisse is waiting here: he is to be present at every interview. But if the agents desire to confer with the King they are to be directed to Brittany by the shortest route; and the King will come back some three or four days' journey to meet them. This is what will probably happen, for the agent of the States has announced that to treat with Ministers in a matter of such moment, is to run too great a risk; for, to repeat his words, they are of all colours, and have objects which do not conduce to the good of this kingdom, and so the Envoys will deal with the King in person.
The English deputies must be across the Channel by this time; but they have orders from the Queen to wait by the shore until the Flemish vessels, which must pass within sight, shall arrive; they are then to continue their journey together. To represent the Queen comes her first secretary, Sir Robert Cecil, son of the Lord Treasurer, accompanied with Ottiwell Smith and by two other doctors. For Flanders come the Admiral of Zealand, (fn. 2) bastard brother of Count Maurice and M. de Barneveldt, who is held in higher esteem than anyone else. When joined together there will be a train of two hundred horse.
Paris, 24th February 1597 [m.v.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 665. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After the examination of powers, many conferences have been held by the Deputies at Vervins in the presence of the Cardinal Legate. These terms have been reached; the Spanish, within three months, are to restore all the strong places they hold; that is to say, Ardres and Calais within two months, and the rest before the expiry of three months; Blauet is to be dismantled. As regards the King's confederates, it seems that the powers to deal with them, especially with the Queen of England, are somewhat restricted. The Spanish representatives are applying for a safe conduct for a courier who is to go to Spain for orders.
The articles were written out and ready for signature, when the French demanded a delay in order to consult the King. He replied that he would grant a passport for the courier, but that he must go in the name of the Cardinal Legate. As to the terms about the restitution of the strong places, he required their immediate surrender, and shows that his suspicions are aroused. The Spanish, however, offer to give hostages for the loyal observance of the terms.
Matters are at such a pass that peace or war is now absolutely in the King's hands. The delay in concluding peace comes from this side; but it is not quite clear which of two motives governs the King, the desire to obtain some advantage for his allies, or the desire to continue the war now that the advantage is so clearly on his side.
Paris, 28th February 1597 [m.v.]
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. Alessandro de' Medici.
  • 2. Jean de Nassau.