Venice: July 1598

Pages 329-333

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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July 1598

July 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 704. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The President Richardot and the Audientiary have left. Before their departure information was sent from the States of Holland and laid before the King by the Marshal de Bouillon, that a plot to murder Count Maurice had been discovered and that the assassin, under torture, had declared that the President Richardot had suborned him to commit the deed. The President strenuously denies the accusation. The Queen of England has sent an envoy to the Low Countries to discover what their intentions are. For although she was disturbed at first on learning the ratification of the treaty, yet she is now inclining her mind to the conclusion of a peace with the King of Spain; and it may be looked for shortly, so the President Richardot gave us to understand.
His Majesty has been informed by the English envoy, who has just returned from England, that this is the state of the Queen's mind. The King and his ministers use favourable expressions towards the envoy, and seek to justify their past actions; they especially plead necessity, for the smallest hitch would have upset everything, and it was impossible to delay the conclusion for fear lest the thread might snap. All the same the King promises to use his best efforts to bring about an accommodation with the King of Spain, to which he admits that he is bound, not merely out of gratitude for aid rendered to him in his sorest need, but also from reasons of State; for it would not suit France to see England in the hands of Spain.
And in order that the Queen may approach the negotiations without any kind of hesitation, and without fear of being duped, as she says she was on other occasions, the King has shown to the English envoy the powers conferred upon the Archduke which enable him to negotiate and to conclude anything he sees fit in this connection. And thus the tempers, which were somewhat ruflled, are being smoothed down. The Queen, however, has no intention to precipitate matters. She intends to deal with the question as becomes her dignity, her reputation, and her advantage. She declares she will not abandon the States of Holland if they will accept the terms which she considers most opportune in the circumstances. This they will probably do, as we already begin to hear some rumour of it.
Paris, 3rd July 1598.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 705. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I have been annoyed at my inability to procure the terms of the treaty of peace; but neither through the Legate nor through M. de Villeroy was it possible. At last hearing that the Grand Ecuyer was to be sent to Spain with the articles, I succeeded, through the man who has charge of his papers, in procuring a copy. The Count of S. Pol, as governor of Picardy, has gone to receive the strong places, to be consigned by Spain. Ten companies of French were to enter Calais yesterday. The Spanish garrison of Ardres, to the number of one thousand foot and three hundred horse, as well as the garrison of Doulens, numbering three hundred foot, have both mutinied. Owing to the disbanding of the troops we hear of many murders, and the public roads are not safe, though justice is rigorously enforced.
Paris, 3rd July 1598.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 706. The Articles of the Treaty of Vervins.
The Queen of England is mentioned in the preamble. The King of Scotland is included in the treaty as an ally of Spain and of France.
All others may be included on the joint consent of France and Spain, provided that they declare their wish within six months from the publication of this treaty.
At Vervins the 2nd of May 1598.
July 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 707. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Ambassador Nani left on the 3rd of this month. The King, and Prince, and Ministers have gone to the Escurial, against the wishes of the doctors, who always dread a journey for the King. But when I had audience of His Majesty I was surprised to find him looking so well.
Madrid, 5th July 1598.
July 6. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 708. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ships under the Earl of Cumberland, which have so harassed the coasts of Portugal during these last few months, are still there. They have recently captured four hulks (urche) bound for Aragon with grain. The five large ships which were destined for the East Indies with troops and munitions have not sailed; they still remain in the port of Lisbon, kept there by fear of the enemy; and indeed the King has given orders that they are not to sail this year.
It seems that the peace is not universally popular here; the surrender of so many strong places is criticised as unworthy of the dignity of this crown. The better informed, however, are aware that in '59 the same course was taken, though then the Spanish had won many more victories than they have in this war.
Every one awaits the decision of the Queen of England and the States; for since they are reduced to making peace they would like to restore complete quiet to this kingdom. The King thinks of nothing but how to leave his son free of embarrassments; and he is extremely desirous for peace.
Madrid, 6th July 1598.
July 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 709. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The King had resolved to set out for Segovia on Monday next in order to visit a beautiful building he has erected there; he took his decision in spite of a well-known prophecy which said that he would die on a journey. Last night, however, a severe attack of gout made him change his plans. His illness is not so great in itself, but these journeys which he insists on taking keep his suite in terror.
The delay in the arrival of a courier from the Cardinal is attributed to the fact that they are waiting so as to enclose the decision at which both the Queen of England and the States have arrived at.
A ship has reached the port of San Sebastian. They fell in with some English at sea, who asked whither they were bound; when they said for Spain, the English answered “A good journey to you. We shall soon be friends, for our Queen is going to make peace, and we are all longing for it.”
They say that the King of Denmark has sent an Ambassador to England, and if the Ambassador is not enough he will go himself, to urge the claims of the King of Scotland to the throne. The King of Denmark has declared that if peace is made he will ask the King of Spain to use his good offices for the same purpose.
Madrid, 9th July 1598.
July 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 710. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
We hear that the Estates of Holland are to meet presently in order to consider their answer to the Queen of England; and to settle whether they shall treat for peace or continue the war.
Paris, 11th July 1598.
July 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 711. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The courier from the Cardinal Archduke arrived here, at last, on the 13th. He brought news of the publication of the peace in Brussels and in France, and details of all that took place in Paris when the King received the hostages, and swore the articles, and of the rejoicings which they made.
Here there are no signs of rejoicing; nor has the peace been even published, nor will it be. The Ministers declare that there is no need to publish the peace, as war was never declared. As I informed your Serenity, the peace is not so universally popular, especially among the grandees, who consider the conditions too unfavourable for Spain. For example, when I asked the Count of Fuentes if the peace would be solemnly published at this Court, he replied, “It will not be published at all; neither solemnly nor otherwise, for we are ashamed of it; and it was concluded by those who don't understand the use of arms.”
Madrid, 19th July 1598.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 22. Original Despatch Venetian Archives. 712. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
We have seen a letter from the Marquis d'Havre, (fn. 1) one of his Majesty's principal Ministers in Flanders, declaring that there is good hope that the States will lend an ear to terms of accord, for they find themselves entirely abandoned by the Crown of France, and are greatly alarmed lest they may lose the protection of England. But although the Marquis holds out this hope, he does not give it as certain until he sees what course the Queen of England will adopt. It seems that she has sent to ask the advice and the opinion of the King of France. Here they are afraid that his most Christian Majesty may be the medium of this accord; this is all the more likely as there are fresh outbreaks in favour of the nomination of the King of Scotland as heir to the throne. The King of Denmark is supporting the claim of the Scots King. The Ministers here only say that if the Queen wants a peace she will find it. The Spanish certainly desire it, if only to free themselves from the continual mischief which is wrought by the English vessels on the Portuguese coast, and the damage done to the India shipping. The Earl of Cumberland has, quite recently, seized some spice ships making for Lisbon. There is also another serious difficulty before them, namely, that the Dutch are carrying on the East India trade, and bring merchandise straight to the Low Countries without recognising customs dues nor any superiority in those parts. This would disappear if an accord were made, for in the act of renunciation in favour of the Infanta, the East India trade is absolutely prohibited.
Madrid, 22nd July 1598.
July 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 713. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has resolved to send an Ambassador resident to England. It is thought that the brother-in-law of M. de Maisse will be chosen.
The Envoy of the Queen of England in Holland will return home, and the States will send three representatives to urge the Queen to continue the war, as in her councils there are not wanting those who recommend this course, chiefly the Earl of Essex, who has the military command; but the Lord Treasurer is opposed, and, more important still, the Queen herself is inclined to peace as she desires to settle the affairs of her kingdom.
Paris, 24th July 1598.
July 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 714. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain to the Doge and Senate.
The King has been troubled by the gout and a little fever, but they are past. The idea of the journey to Segovia has returned, and it is said that the marriage of the Infanta may take place there where his Majesty himself was married to his German Queen.
Madrid, 27th July 1598.


  • 1. Charles Philippe de Croy.