Venice: September 1599

Pages 373-377

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 1599

Sept. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 809. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has been informed that the Queen of England is rather suspicious about the Ambassador whom his Majesty lately sent to the King of Scotland. The King, to clear himself of any shadow of doubt, has instructed his Ambassador to leave the Scottish Court and to go to the Queen and explain to her fully all that took place, and then to come straight back to France.
There are many rumours about the Spanish fleet, but none of them is entirely trustworthy; for some say it is off Brittany, others that it has reached England. One thing is certain that the Queen in alarm at these rumours has not only made naval preparations but has mustered several thousand troops, between horse and foot.
Paris, 4th September 1599.
Sept. 11 Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 810. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The affairs of Ireland are hanging in the balance, nor are the Queen's forces in that island as great as was reported. The rebels are making a stout resistance, thanks to the natural strength of their country, and to Spanish aid. The Earl of Essex accordingly has sent to the Queen for reinforcements of men and money.
Letters from Amsterdam confirm the news that the King of Scotland has asked to be declared successor to the throne; and on this account forty thousand persons are in arms towards Scotland.
Vienna, 11th September 1599.
Sept. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 811. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
This week the Cenci were executed. They were convicted of having murdered their father. The eldest son was tortured with pincers and beaten to death (accopato); the mother and daughter were beheaded. To a younger brother who discovered the deed after it was done, but did not reveal it, the Pope has granted his life, but he was compelled to be present at all these sufferings and to stand on the actual scaffold, where many times he fainted away when the unhappy victims gave him the last adieu.
Rome, 11th September 1599.
Sept. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 812. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Adelantado of Castile has already gone to Ferrol with the armament which I described in my previous despatch. There is news that the Irish Catholics are making head against the English, and so the Adelantado has received fresh orders to put out and to attack the Dutch on their route; and they hope if they meet them to punish them for the damage they have done at the Canaries.
Saragozza, 13th September 1599.
Sept. 18. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 813. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The peace with the States of Holland is held to be very difficult to arrange, not only on account of the religious question, but also because of the great hopes they have conceived about the East India trade which has been absolutely forbidden to them in virtue of the renunciation of Flanders by the King of Spain. In Zealand four ships are being prepared for next year, besides the sixteen ships of Holland already mentioned. They are manning others too with the intention of trying for the third time the route by Nuova Zembla. The King of Denmark is suspicious of this scheme, and is manning a fleet not so much to check that commerce, but to stop the trade of the Dutch, French, and English at San Nicholas in Muscovy.
The English Ambassador in Scotland, under pretext of taking an English baron, a rebel, to a banquet outside the town, made the baron quite drunk, then put him on horseback and sent him into England. This caused the arrest of the Ambassador, and a threat that he would be served the same way as the Queen served the baron.
Vienna, 18th September 1599.
Sept. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 814. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ship, which has kept everybody waiting and expectant for many days, while she lay at the islands to clean up and dress, sailed in eight days ago and dropped anchor at the, Kiosk, whither the Chief Gardner, who greatly favours this new Ambassador (fn. 1) and the whole English nation, induced the Sultan to betake himself. The Sultan was saluted from the ship by repeated salvoes of artillery.
The present consists of an organ (fn. 2) very cunningly designed, which serves as a clock and can play several airs by itself, of a carriage and fittings for the Sultana, of some silver vases and many suits of cloth which they say are all mouldy and ruined. As the English had raised great expectations about the arrival of this ship, it is thought that if the hopes of large presents are not fulfilled, they will soon loose the prestige which they acquired by their lavish promises. The Ambassador has not yet kissed hands, and perhaps he will wait until the Sultan returns to Stamboul; meantime he is preparing liveries for many servants and is spending a large amount of money on his establishment, and on the people that came out on board this ship. She herself is much admired by crowds of Turks; and indeed I understand she deserves to be visited, as she is wonderfully well found in all that is required for fighting, as well as being beautifully decorated and very commodious.
English vanity in showing off this ship, its artillery, and ammunition, which they allow anyone who goes on board to see, will do a damage to Christendom, and will open the eyes of the Turks to things they do not know. (La nave Inglese doppo essersi fatta aspettare et desiderare molti giorni, trattenuta alle isole per porla ad ordine et adornarla, è gionta otto giorni sono, et si fermò a lo Chiosco, dove il Bostangi Bassà, chefavorisce grandamente questo nuovo Ambasciatore et tutta la natione, fece ridure il gran Signor, che fù dal vassello, con diversi tirri replicati, salutato. Il presente poi sarà di un artificiosissimo organo, che serve per horologio et che suona da se stesso diversi moteti, una carozza per la Regina guarnita, certi vasi d'argento et vesti di panni diversi che dicono esser tutti fioriti et guasti. Et perche questi Inglesi havevano posti in gran espettatione tutti con la venuta di questo vassello, si crede che non riuscendo l'effetto conforme alle speranze che tenevano molti di grossi donativi, perderano in poco tempo la riputatione et la stima che havevano acquistato costoro con le sue larghe promesse. L'Ambasciatore non ha ancora basciata la mano al Rè, et forse tarderà sino al suo ritorno nella città. Fra tanto si attende a provisione de vestimenti per molti servitori. Et l'Ambasciatore la passa con gran spesa nella sua casa et con molta gente venuta con questo Vassello; il quale con molto concorso de Turchi viene mirato, et per quello che intendo merita esser visto, essendo benissimo all or dine di tutte le cose per combatter, et molto adomato et commodo. Et la vanità de gli Inglesi con la vista di questo Vassello et di varii fuochi et balle artificiate che fanno vedere a chi vi capita, pregiudicarà alla Christianità et aprirà gli occhi a questi di quello che non sanno.)
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 18th September 1599.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Sept. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 815. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
As I informed your Serenity, the Governor of Brest has been asked by the Spanish to use all courtesy towards their fleet when it appears in those waters, and to allow it free entry into the port, and to permit it to revictual; the like request has been preferred to the Governors of Dieppe and of the other sea ports. They informed the King, who replied that he would never consent, for he could not give shelter to a fleet destined to harass the Queen of England. He has even informed the Queen through his Ambassador at her Court, as the English Ambassador himself told me, that he was ready to go in person to assist the Queen if the need arose.
The Spanish Ambassador shows surprise at these requests, for he has never had any information about them. Everywhere he displays a great desire that the war should not be continued, but that a durable peace should be concluded, not only with the Queen, but also with the States. He urges the reason given elsewhere that it would suit the King of France to see the States entirely separated from Spain; an argument he advances all the more readily as he is a Flemish gentleman, though it hardly comports with his position as Ambassador to his Catholic Majesty.
The rumour that the Spanish fleet was off England has died away; only some galleys (galere) belonging to Federico Spinola have passed Dunquerque. Nevertheless the Queen will keep up the provision for war throughout all this month, after which there is no further cause for alarm, owing to the stormy nature of the season.
Besides the fleet collected for the defence of the Island, under the command of the nephew of the Lord High Admiral, son of the late Duke of Norfolk, there were about fifty thousand persons assembled, divided into four companies, that is to say, three at three points of the coast, and the fourth with the Queen near London, and this to keep the subjects to their allegiances in case anyone should attempt a revolution.
Paris, 19th September 1599.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Sept. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 816. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A few days ago a Flemish cavalier appeared in Court. He was sent by a large number of officers and other personages attached to the Catholic Army in Flanders to declare that they would own allegiance to no other sovereign than his Majesty, to whom they had taken the oath. Every effort is being made to induce them to obey.
Saragoza, 25th September, 1599.


  • 1. Henry Lello, who had been Agent since the death of Barton.
  • 2. Made by Master Thomas Dallam, and brought out by him on board the “Hector.”