Venice: April 1599

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: April 1599', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 9, 1592-1603, (London, 1897) pp. 364-368. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

April 1599

April 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 785. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Bellièvre and his son. the Archbishop of Lyons came to visit me. Among other topics, M. de Bellièvre insisted upon the gain to Christendom, if the Pope succeeded in forming a league of Christian Princes against the Turk, naming especially Spain, France, and Venice, who would be the greatest gainer. He added that to attack England would not be a genuine service to Christendom, although the Pope supported the proposal in the hope of extirpating heresy. Such a step would really serve only to foster dissensions among Princes, for the King of France, to speak it out frankly, could never allow England to be subdued by Spain, his own interests entirely preventing him. The true way to extirpate heresy was to make a league against infidels.
The King will very likely visit Picardy, as he is anxious to see all those towns, and especially Calais where, at present, merchandise is brought by English, Dutch, and Spanish ships for distribution, as the ports of those countries are closed against one another.
Paris, 3rd April 1599.
April 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 786. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Cardinal of Austria intends to send another Envoy to England to continue the negotiations for peace; as it seems that the Queen will not refuse to listen to proposals if she is once assured that the Cardinal is empowered to treat with her.
The date of the English Ambassador's arrival is not known yet, although his baggage and part of his suite are already here. It is true that for some days past the Channel has been very stormy: and this is a reason why no reply about the liberation of the vessel and her cargo has been received.
Paris, 3rd April 1599.
April 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 787. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of Spain is arming for war against the Queen of England, and the embargo on shipping in the ports of Spain is confirmed, and fifteen thousand troops have been raised.
Rome, 10th April 1599.
April 10 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 788. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English fleet, very strong in numbers, has been sighted off Galicia, sailing apparently to the West Indies. This causes alarm lest they may work some mischief there; for let them do as they like here it is impossible to prevent the English this year.
Letters from the Cardinal of Austria, written from Flanders, announce that the Queen of England has expressed a wish to reopen negotiations for an accord. But her artifice is easily seen through, for she works for peace with one hand and prepares for war with the other; although some say that these preparations are only intended to assist her in her negotiations.
Valentia, 10th April 1599.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 789. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The agent of the Cardinal of Austria has lately returned to England. He is called M. de Coemans (Commans), is of the long robe, and has been employed on peace negotiations in Holland. I will inform you of the nature of his mission when I have discovered it.
Paris, 18th April 1599.
April 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 790. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Seeing that the answer about the sequestration of the merchandise in England was being delayed too long, I went to the English Agent and made representations once more, with a somewhat heavy hand. The Agent, who is well disposed, wrote at once to England, with the result that the Queen sent an express to inform me that she had ordered the liberation of the goods although her officials had declared that they really belonged to the Portuguese, subjects of Spain, and were therefore liable to confiscation; she also begged your Serenity to receive this as a proof of her readiness to serve you.
The Agent asked if representations had been sent from Venice; I replied that I believed not. The Agent informed me that the Queen has given such orders to her vessels that enter the Mediterranean that, for the future, no further complaints will be heard.
The English Ambassador's arrival has been delayed by fever. He is now convalescent.
Paris, 18th April 1599.
April 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 791. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The effigy of the Duchess of Beaufort (Gabrielle d'Estrées) has been shown to the public for four days continuously. It was made of plaster, is life-size, and was placed in one of the rooms of her house in a large bed to which one mounts by three steps. The figure appeared to be sitting up, and had a ducal coronet on its head and a golden mantle lined with ermine; there was a baldachino overhead, also of cloth of gold. All round about were seated her relations clad in mourning, and there were many clergy who took it in turns to sing litanies at two altars. At the foot of the bed two heralds in black tabards semé of fleurs de lys or, offered the holy water to the Princes and other gentlemen who approached the bed. Under the bed was the coffin and the corpse. The room was hung with the magnificent arras belonging to the King. The archers of the royal guard were on duty, as also the masters of the ceremonies, the gentlemen-in-waiting, and other officers of the household. At dinner time these officials brought in the dinner and offered it to the image of the Duchess, and waited upon her precisely as though she were alive, and the Princes, besides the other hours of attendance, were also present at the dinner and served the Duchess.
When the four days were over the funeral was celebrated in the neighbouring church of S. Germains, and the body was sent to the monastery of Monbisson, where it will lie till further orders.
The King is well; he has taken a purge and been bled. He declares openly that he intends to marry again, and has shown some inclination towards the Princess Maria, niece of the Grand Duke of Tuscany; the Huguenots also suggest a wife for his Majesty, as they wish him to marry one of their sect, for although she would be obliged to become Catholic, they think she would always retain a partiality for their faction; among others they suggest a Princess of the house of Saxony, who would bring a large dower; and an English lady, a daughter of the Earl of Derby, a relation of the Queen of England, through whom the King would acquire a certain claim to the English throne. (fn. 1) (Figliula del Conte di Arbi, parente della Regina, con che si veniria ad acquistar qualche pretensione sopra quel Regno).
Paris, 25th April 1599.
[Italian: the part in italics deciphered.]
April 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 792. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The news from Ireland about the rising in that island frees the Spanish from alarm at the prospect of an English attack this year; although they are anxious about the English ships which were sighted on their way to the West Indies; for some of the Indiamen are still to come in.
Valentia, 25th April 1599.
April 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 793. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Coemans, sent by the Cardinal of Austria on a mission to the Queen of England, has explained to her that the Cardinal, having reported his action both to the Spanish Court and to the Archduke Albert, it has not only been approved but highly commended. Therefore he now exhorts the Queen to begin to enter upon the details of the affair, as he has the greatest desire to see the end of the matter, both for the public benefit and for the honour he himself would acquire by concluding this negotiation before the Archduke Albert returns to those parts, and he is absolutely sure that in the meantime all necessary powers will be sent him. To this the Queen replies, declaring that she is equally anxious for peace, but that she cannot initiate nor conduct any negotiations at all, for she has no guarantee that the terms agreed upon would be maintained, as she is not dealing with a person of sufficient authority. She repeats what she said before, that while she was negotiating with the late Duke of Parma she found herself tricked, for the Spanish attacked England with a powerful fleet. All the same she promises not to lose time, but to make inquiries as to the opinion of the States of Holland, and in this way she puts off the business because she wishes to see whether Flanders is to be entirely separated from the Spanish crown.
The Irish expedition of sixteen thousand men and one thousand three hundred horse has been despatched, and on the sixth of this month the Earl of Essex left London. He was accompanied by many gentlemen and officers, and the current opinion is that if anyone is capable of terminating that difficult and dangerous business,, he is the man.
The King has issued an order forbidding anyone to make levies of troops for foreign service, and this to please the Spanish, and to show his disposition towards peace.
Paris, 25th April 1599.
April 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 794. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain to the Doge and Senate.
The King is in great doubt as to the intentions of the Queen of England. In that country twelve thousand infantry have been raised, they say for Ireland; but of this they are not sure. The Adelantado has been ordered down to the shore.
Valentia, 28th April 1599.