Venice: October 1599

Pages 377-383

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


October 1599

Oct. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 817. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador will kiss hands to-morrow morning. He goes working away at various chimerical schemes, principally the idea of asking the Grand Signor to give him one of the churches in Galata for the use of a preaching minister whom he has brought with him. Both the French Ambassador and myself considered this design of his to be obviously important in its effect on the honour of the Holy Church, and we accordingly approached the poor Mufti on the matter. He promised us every support; but now we have had recourse to the Chief Eunuch; nor shall we fail to make every effort in order to thwart this excessive and arrogant pretension of the English, who would endeavour to sow even here the perversity and impiety of Calvin to the ruin of these poor Christian Perots who have applied for our advice and assistance. I will handle the business in the calmest way that may be possible, without, however, permitting the slightest prejudice to the honour of God; but I trust that the Illustrious Gradenigo will be here in time to complete the work I have begun. (L' Ambasciator d'Inighilterra bascierà la mano al Rè domattina; et egli va machinando diverse chimere, ma principalmente di ricercare dot Gran Signor una delle chiese di Galatà per servirsene per uso di un suo ministro predicatore, ch'è venuto qua con questo suo vassello; la quale sua immaginatione, stimata dal Signor Ambasciator di Francia et da me di quella importanza et consequenza, che si vede, per l'honore di Santa Chiesa, havevamo preocupato il povero Mufti che si haveva promesso ogni favore, ma hora si siamo rivolti al capi aga; ne mancheremo di adoperarsi con tutte le forze nostreper sturbare questa troppo arrogante pretensione di questo gente, che vorrebbe in quesle parti ancora seminar la perversità et impietà di Calvino con rovina di questi poveri Christiani Peroti, che sono comparsi per il nostro suffragio et aiuto. Et io procurerò di trattare questo negotio con ogni modo più placido che sarà possibile, senza però minimo pregiudicio dell'honor di Dio, sebene spero che l'Illmo Gradenigo arriverà in tempo di perfettionare l'opera principiata.)
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 2nd October 1599.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 2. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 818. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
They say that the Queen of England has obtained from the Sultan a port on the coast of Barbary whence she can harass Spain, and that she is preparing ships and men to send there.
Vienna, 2nd October 1599.
Oct. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 819. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After various false reports, at last his Majesty has heard for certain that the Spanish Armada left Ferrol on the twenty-fifth of August under the command of Don Diego Pacheco, for the Adelantado remained behind with the light galleys (galee sottili). The intention was to go to the Azores to secure the vessels returning from the Indies, and perhaps to fight the Dutch fleet, if occasion offered. But after ten or twelve days at sea the fleet put back on account of the weather, and it probably will not attempt this voyage again. This being so, it is thought that the request made for leave to enter the ports of France and to victual there was merely a ruse either to test his Majesty's attitude, or to alarm the Queen of England. They have succeeded in both.
Paris, 2nd October 1599.
Oct. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 820. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Adelantado's fleet has reached the Azores. Thirty-six Dutch ships have sailed to join the fleet that sacked the Canaries.
In Ireland the Catholics are doing well, and we hear that the Queen is anxious about a rising in the Kingdom on account of the nomination of her successor; and that she lives in constant suspicion and anxiety as regards the King of Scotland. All this is believed to assist the negotiations between the States and the Archduke, and this is probably the true way to reach an accord between the Queen and the King of Spain.
Federico Spinola, who sailed from Biscay to Flanders with six galleys (galere), which he obtained from the King, has captured four ships on his way; one French corsair, one English ship of the fleet, and two Dutchmen laden with merchandize from the Indies. He has begun to make a great name and reputation. (fn. 1)
Madrid, 12th October 1599.
Oct. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 821. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador kissed hands on the fourth of this month. His present was forty suits of cloth of various colours, ten ewers and basins of silver, besides the great clock and carriage which had been sent on before. He appeared attended by all the merchants who had come on board the ship, well appointed all of them; (fn. 2) and he had the usual banquet in divan.
A young Englishman, servant of the late Ambassador, acted as interpreter, and was listened to attentively. The Secretary of the Embassy, who was present, told me that the Sultan, in the middle of the Dragoman's discourse, made several official remarks, a quite unusual occurrence and a high favour. But the Ambassador, while the banquet was being prepared, engaged in a long conversation with Halil Pasha; in the course of it he touched upon the King of France. The Pasha asked him why the King had deserted his mistress and made peace with the King of Spain; the Ambassador, as he himself has assured me on his most solemn oath, for your Serenity will hear what a scandal followed, replied that he believed the reconciliation was effected by the Pope; for the King, who was originally of their religion, having gone over to the Papist's religion, which is that of the King of Spain, caused the Pope to intervene and to settle their differences. This conversation, reported by Halil to the French Ambassador in quite another guise, gave ground for a great scandal between the two Ambassadors. Halil declared, that, in answer to his question, the English Ambassador said that the King of France, who was at first of their religion, the good religion, subsequently became an idolater and Papist, and hence the peace with Spain through the mediation of the Pope. Halil added that the Ambassador had further remarked that this being the case, no reliance could be placed upon the amity of France, but only upon his mistress, who was most constant and sincere.
When the French Ambassador heard these words from the mouth of the Pasha he was naturally most indignant; he came at once to seek me out and to give vent to his wrath. I had great difficulty in persuading him not to make an open display of his resentment on the spot. I told him that I was unable to believe that the Englishman had really embarked on such an imprudent declaration, which was quite contrary to the wishes of his mistress, who maintained most cordial relations with his Sovereign. I remarked that if there had been any error committed it most likely arose from the ignorance of the English Dragoman, who, as I heard, had made a similar mistake upon another occasion, and excused himself afterwards by saying that he did not know how else to describe the difference between Papists and Lutherans, as the English are called here. I also suggested that perhaps Halil Pasha, had put a sinister interpretation on a phrase which the Dragoman had not known how to render clearly.
The French Ambassador was pacified by these considerations, but he intends to make Halil repeat the conversation to me the first time I visit him.
Meantime the English Ambassador, who knew nothing about the whole matter, two days later sent his Secretary to invite the French Ambassador on board his ship, where he wished us all three to meet for amusement. The French Ambassador refused the invitation, and explained the reason to the Secretary, recounting to him the whole conversation with Halil. The Secretary heard the story with amazement, and swore that this was not the truth. He told the Ambassador what really took place. But the Ambassador relies on the word of the Pasha, and will admit of no excuse. I believe his attitude to be embittered, by ancient disputes as to jurisdiction which prevent any cordial feeling between the two Ambassadors. The Secretary was dismissed in confusion, and came straight to me, and before saying a word, about the quarrel he begged, in his masters name, that I would accept an invitation for Tuesday on board the ship, and added that the Ambassador desired to confirm his friendship with me and to display in part his good will.
I returned thanks, accepted the invitation, and showed that I appreciated this mark of intimacy. Then the Secretary added that the Ambassador had hoped for certain to have received the same favour from the French Ambassador, and that we should all three have met on this occasion, but his hope had not been fulfilled. He then described the conversation, and swore to me that Halil's account of it was false. He did all he could to put the question in a just light. I showed great regret for what had happened, and while seeming to accept his statements, I pointed out to him the serious consequences supposing Halil's statements were wholly or even partially true, especially where the word idolater had been used; an utterly false and most improper epithet, and an insult not only to his Majesty but to all other Christian Princes. This gave me the opportunity to touch—though in the gentlest and most confidential manner—the topic of the English Ambassador's request for a Church in Galata. After dwelling on the position of the Perots and other Christians here resident, I added that all we Ambassadors were here with the object of serving our masters and cultivating friendly relations among ourselves, and therefore it became none of us to stir hand or mouth in matters of religion, for that subject was far removed from our sphere and quite outside our commission from our respective Sovereigns, and, moreover, was so delicate and sensitive that to meddle with it might produce the gravest consequences. The best way to maintain a good understanding between us, I said, and to do our masters' business, was to confine ourselves to our proper functions.
The Secretary, who is most acute, and who really governs the Ambassador, a man more practical than speculative, replied that such was the case. He repeated to me the answer made by the Ambassador to Spinelli when, on the request of the Perots, I sent Spinelli to him. He thanked me for such signs of confidence, and said that the Ambassador was always glad to treat with me in all courtesy and affection, and that he would abandon altogether any idea of the Church to please us. He says that the idea was created by the constant complaints of all the English on account of the insults they daily receive from Franks and Greeks, who call them Lutherans, as indeed do all the Turks, and declare that they do not believe in Christ and are infidels. It was these complaints, which daily reached his ears, that determined the Ambassador to ask for a Church where they might establish a minister, who by preaching in Italian should convince the world that the English are Christians and sound believers. And so, had this matter gone any further, they had fully resolved to introduce a, husbandman to sow the seeds of poisonous and deadly plants; and God be praised for what has happened.
At the close of his discourse the Secretary left, and on the day appointed I went on board the English ship. The Ambassador came to fetch me from my house, and did all he could and all he knew to give me pleasure, and displayed the simplicity and sincerity of his nature. While we were walking along the street he lamented the incident with the French Ambassador. I answered as was fitting and repeated what the Secretary had told me. The Ambassador swore over and over again that Halil's report was false, and that the conversation took place as reported above. He complained that the French Ambassador believed Halil. I seized the opportunity to advise him to use every effort to convince the French Ambassador of the truth of his version; and that could be done if he went in person to speak to him; but while I was urging this conclusion I was annoyed by the impertinence of a Ragusan merchant, who had also been invited on board, and who, by a breach of manners, approached us and broke in upon our conversation.
After we had gone aboard, where we met the Grand Chancellor and many other Turks who wished to see the ship and came on board to dine, as they had done a few days ago with me,—I did not find an opportunity to renew the discussion of this affair, which I fear will grow bitterer and bitterer on account of the ill will between the two Ambassadors, although I pointed out that if the French Ambassador reports, as in duty bound, to the King his master, it is impossible that the affair should not reach the ears of the Queen, which would be unpleasant for the English Ambassador. I shall not fail to give my services to one and to the other.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 16th October 1599.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 822. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Earl of Essex, who is in Ireland as the Queen's general, has had many negotiations and even a personal interview with the Earl of Tyrone on the banks of a stream. Tyrone seems desirous of submitting and returning to Her Majesty's good graces. Terms have been drawn up and sent to England and it is thought that Essex himself will go there to explain personally to the Queen.
M. de Cœmans has been sent by Archduke Albert into England; he has been there on other occasions; his mission is to initiate negotiations for peace.
Paris, 24th October 1599.
Oct. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 823. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A Scotchman and an Advocate of the Court of Accounts (Camera de Conti) have begun to print certain books against the Jesuits. The printers have been forbidden to print any more, and the printed copies have been sequestrated.
Paris, 30th October 1599.
Oct. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 824. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Cœmans has gone to England. He is the same person as was sent on other occasions by the Cardinal of Austria when he was governor of Flanders. He was instructed to inform the Queen that the Archduke is fully empowered by the King of Spain to conclude any manner of treaty; and to exhort the Queen to a prompt acceptance. The Queen replied that she would lay the matter before her Council in order to reach a proper decision. Her first step will be to discover the intentions of the States of Holland, who are her allies, and to find out whether they intend to associate themselves with her in this negotiation.
If the Irish rebellion is put down the Queen will be able to enter with greater prestige upon this negotiation. Things are on the way to a settlement, for after the conference between the Earl of Essex and the Earl of Tyrone a truce was arranged to be renewed from five weeks to five weeks until the Queen's decision was known. The Earl of Essex himself set out to go to the Queen; to give her a detailed report, and he took the draft of an accord with him. The chief difficulty, as far as we can understand, is that the Irish demand the right to live in the Catholic faith; and no one knows whether that will be granted; but it is so difficult to subdue them by force that possibly this consideration will secure the concessions they demand. Throughout all Ireland there is not a single Spaniard who has gone to their aid, as was reported, but the Irish themselves drag the war out in the most extraordinary way by retreating to the forests and the fastnesses.
The Earl of Essex had no sooner reached England than he was placed under arrest at the house of the Lord Chancellor who was charged with his custody. They say that the reason is because he returned without the Queen's leave.
Paris, 30th October 1599.
Oct. 30. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 825. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The questions between the English and the French Ambassadors have been settled in favour of the French. The ill will between them grows intenser; the French Ambassador has received no satisfaction for the remarks of the English about the King of France. The Englishman has but little experience and less prudence, and as he spoke impertinently to Halil Pasha about certain claims he makes, the Pasha rebuffed him in such a manner that he had to withdraw in confusion. The bombast of the English is considerably reduced. Their ship sailed away two days ago and the Ambassador is left with very few people, and I suspect that he will presently lay aside all his imaginary claims; if the Chief Gardner did not support him he would fare ill. I am told that the ship which has sailed will, on its homeward journey from Alexandria, whither she is bound, attack every ship it meets, Turkish or French, as the English are so ill pleased.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 30th October 1599.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 31. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 826. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Adelantado was at the Azores on the thirtieth of last month with his fleet all storm tossed; they write that he has lost twenty-two vessels. He failed to meet the India fleet, and he failed to find the Dutch.
His fleet numbered eighty-five big vessels and a large number of small ones (85 vasselli grossi et buon numero de' piccioli). It had fifteen thousand infantry on board; and all this, which cost upwards of four millions of gold, they say, has been thrown away fruitlessly.
In Ireland the Catholics are said to have severely defeated the English, who have lost fourteen thousand men. This has thrown the Queen into serious embarassment, not merely for fear of losing that island but for alarm of a rising in England.
Madrid, the last day of October 1599.


  • 1. Cf. Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, 1598–1601, pp. 304, 311.
  • 2. See Dallam's account: “He did ride like unto a King, only that he wanted a crown, and there rode with him twelve gentlemen and merchants, all in cloth of gold, and there went on foot twenty-eight more, in blue gowns after the Turkish fashion, with caps after the Italian fashion. My livery was a fair cloak of strange green silk” Quoted by Mr. Bent, English Hist. Rev. V. p. 656.