Venice: February 1600

Pages 392-399

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 1600

Feb. 7. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 848. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The envoy of the Queen of England was expected in Brussels on the twentieth of last month, to negotiate for peace. Their Highnesses, too, have named Commissioners. Some say the meeting place will be Vervins.
Prague, 7th February 1600.
Feb. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 849. Girolamo Capello and Vicenzo Gradenigo, Venetian Ambassadors in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
No sooner had the quarrel between the French and English Ambassadors been accommodated than a fresh conflict broke out It was caused by the English Ambassador on account of a note which the French Ambassador had sent to Halil Pasha, by the hands of the French dragoman, at the moment when the first quarrel was raging. Its object was to inform Halil of what was happening, and to forestall the English Ambassador should he lodge a complaint.
Accordingly, just as we were beginning our enquiry as to the causes of the first quarrel, in accordance with agreement, the English Ambassador sent his dragoman to Halil to obtain an order for an English merchant; the Pasha, who was already dissatisfied with the Ambassador, not only refused the request, but told the dragoman that his master was a lunatic, and that he had heard of the scandal which had arisen with the Ambassador of France. Halil also told the dragoman to warn his master to behave himself, and to keep within bounds and in order, and added other expressions of annoyance. The dragoman, who is a Jew, but lately taken into the English Ambassadors service, went back to the Embassy and reported all that had happened, and without exercising any circumspection, he very likely represented the language of Halil as more violent than had really been employed.
The English Ambassador came straight to me, told me what had taken place and begged me to excuse him if he withdrew from the promise he had given me, for the French Ambassador, after placing everything in my hands, had still presented to Halil a note in which he not merely exaggerated the episode, but accused the English Ambassador of wishing to attack the French Embassy; and, therefore, as the French Ambassador had broken his word and promise, the English Ambassador claimed to be released from his, and to be free to act in defence of his interests and his honour.
I endeavoured to quiet him, and begged him to wait till I heard the account from the French Ambassador. From him I learned. how the matter stood; it seems that the note was sent to Halil before I had intervened between the Ambassadors. The French Ambassador offered to send anyone I might name to Halil to inform him of the arrangement which had been reached, to assure him that he and the English Ambassador were friends, and to explain to him all that I had done for the satisfaction of the English Ambassador. But for all that this offer was courteous and prudent; the English Ambassador only grew the more bitter, and next morning went straight away to the Capudan Pasha, who is a deadly enemy of the French, to lodge a complaint not only against the Ambassador of France but against Halil as well, on account of the message he had sent through the Dragoman; and he let it be understood that he would not appear before Halil, as he was an enemy and partial to France. Cigala (the Gapudan) willingly espoused the English Ambassador's cause, and promised to support him, and, if it was necessary, to present a petition to the Sultan. But it seems that Cigala subsequently spoke to Halil, and resolved to intrust me with the resolution of the difficulty. Accordingly Halil sent one of the chief cavasses to me and Cigala sent another; they, in the name of their masters, informed me, with every expression of esteem and regard for the Republic, that the quarrel between the two Ambassadors caused great annoyance, and that, as it did not seem to them desirable to interfere between the Ambassadors of Christian powers, they could take no better, course than to place the whole affair in the hands of the representatives of your Serenity, for among the allies of the Porte the Republic was the most ancient, the most worthy, and the most prudent; and they most urgently begged me as your minister to undertake this task, as the illustrious Gradenigo, owing to his serious illness, could not support any new trouble.
I returned thanks to the Pashas, and made a suitable reply to the confidence reposed in your Serenity and, the honour done to me, which, to say the truth, was expressed in terms not merited by my poor worth. I said that since their lordships so desired, I would do my best to carry out their wishes. When the dragomans had been dismissed, I informed both Ambassadors of the proposals made by the Pashas, and, reopening the negotiations, by the grace of God they were brought to make peace, though the difficulties were numerous and the rehearsal of them would be tedious to your Serenity. In truth I have found in the French Ambassador—albeit he had more grounds for resentment than the English Ambassador, on account of various injuries received in the course of this affair—a most excellent disposition and pliability.
I immediately reported this new reconciliation to the Pasha who was highly pleased, and made use of expressions of great regard for the Republic. He tendered me his thanks, as have also the Ambassadors.
In the course of these transactions I have had a most favourable occasion to speak to the English Ambassador about the audacity of the English ships which, in the waters and harbours of your Serenity, molest all other shipping, including that of the Republic. I pointed out to him the difficulties that might arise, quite against the wishes of the Queen. I begged him to report the matter home, so that steps might be taken to prevent the mischief going further. The Ambassador promised to make vigorous representations, and he assured me that if these pirates go to England they will be most severely punished. He added that when the Queen hears of these complaints, and sees that there is no other way of preventing them, she will revoke the charter of the Levant Company rather than allow others, under its shelter, to molest the Republic and her allies. I seem to have gathered from the Ambassador's remarks, that the English trade will not last long here; for in the course of his complaints against the French Ambassador for his hostile attitude on the old question of jurisdiction between them, in the heat of his conversation, he said that the French Ambassador ought to leave the English in peace for this one year that they have to trade here; for the English have countries far richer than this to trade in, and seas where they can expand themselves at pleasure (alluding to the Indies), and that they might quite well cease to traffic here, where they are lightly esteemed and constantly insulted. If that really took place it would be of vast service to the navigation of these waters, for the more the English frequent these seas and become familiar with them, the more complaints of damage by them and injuries inflicted shall we hear of; to say nothing of other dangerous results which must arise from the number of ships which they possess, and from the magnitude of their plans which are directed to the capture of booty, and are accompanied by barbarous cruelty which knows no fear, nor knowledge of God, or of law.
However, I am not without hope that their Ambassador and Consuls may leave this place and other places in the Levant; for almost all the claims and pretensions of the English have been decided in favour of France. They claimed that all foreigners who desired to place themselves under the protection of the English flag should be free to do so. The English representatives lack a strong support on which they counted to maintain the Ambassador in Constantinople and the Consuls elsewhere; for they cannot draw their salaries except from the dues levied, and their payments can be exacted from the English subjects only, who are few in number, and so their fees (fn. 1) (cottimi) will not nearly cover their current expenses. The whole charges, therefore, fall on the company of the Levant merchants (for the Queen will not listen to any other party), and as they cannot support such a strain, they will be forced to abandon the enterprise; besides, it seems that they do not pay a dividend owing to the small profits they make on their business.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 7th February 1599 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 12 Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 850. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
His Holiness has news that the negotiations for a peace between the Archduke Albert, the Queen of England, and the States are not far from a desirable conclusion. The Queen of England is reported to have shown clemency towards certain Catholic prisoners; and although the States declared that they would listen to no one who spoke to them of peace, still they have admitted certain imperial commissioners sent to them for that purpose.
Rome, 12th February 1600.
Feb. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 851. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Secretary sent by the Queen of England has had two audiences of the Archduke Albert. He made the following communication that the Queen was disposed to negotiate for peace, and would appoint five commissioners as soon as she heard that the Archduke had done the same. The place of meeting is left open as yet; the Archduke desired it to take place inside his states, whereas the Secretary said it ought to be in England, a point the Queen insists upon; but they will end by choosing some place in France. It is quite possible that the Secretary may come here to report to the Ambassador all that has taken place, and to beg him to approach his Majesty as to the concession of a place of meeting. The Spanish Ambassador complains that his Majesty does not assist this reconciliation by interposing as vigorously as he promised to do, and as reason dictates.
The Queen of England, who has left London, is expected back, and on her return they think Essex will be set at liberty. In Essex's place Lord Mountjoy has been appointed to Ireland, but with greatly restricted authority. In Ireland upwards of ten thousand of the troops that were sent there last summer, are dead of the malaria; the sickness began immediately with the first rains of August.
The Dutch have seized ten French ships which were on their way from Rochelle to Calais with salt and wine for the most part. Two others escaped into Calais harbour under the protection of the guns. The King is extremely angry at this, and threatens to make war on the Dutch if they continue such conduct; but they reply that they cannot help it for two reasons, one is that all the goods and victuals reach the Archduke's States from Calais, and they wish to cut off that source; and the other that they claim a toll from all vessels sailing those seas as a recompense for the cost of keeping the route free from pirates.
Paris, 13th February 1599 [m.v.].
Feb. 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 852. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A commissioner of the Queen of England has arrived in Flanders. His mission is to keep alive and to continue negotiations for peace. The ministers are about to meet on the subject.
In Ireland the Queen's affairs are going very badly, for a large number of her troops have been again cut to pieces by the Irish at the siege of Dublin, where the viceroy was beleaguered. The Irish are in hopes of capturing the place, which would be a great blow to the whole undertaking. On account of this news they affect to be indifferent to the peace, though really, inwardly, they desire it extremely, and have sent orders to Flanders that everything is to be done to bring it to a happy conclusion.
The Scottish Ambassador, who is here, has not yet concluded his business. They do not wish to discourage him by a positive refusal, nor yet to endanger the negotiations for peace by giving him a favourable reply.
The Queen has a continuous tertian fever, and has never been quite free. All the same, the doctors are hopeful, as she received great benefit from two bleedings made since yesterday. As she had never been bled before she was very much frightened, and would not consent until at last the King, who was sitting on her bed, begged her to submit. When the operation was over the King himself removed the bandage for compressing the veins, and asked if she had suffered as much as she expected; she replied that she was not aware of having suffered at all, for she had been dressed by the hand of his Majesty, which was enough to remove any pain whatever. The King tied the bandage round his arm, and, as a reward to the barber-surgeon, freed him and his posterity from al taxes in perpetuity.
Madrid, 14th February 1599 [m.v.].
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 853. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
His Holiness has heard that the negotiations for peace between the Queen of England and the King of Spain were continually improving. Two personages have reached Calais, one to see the King of France, the other to go to the Archduke, to settle the place of meeting.
Rome, 16th February 1600.
Feb. 19. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 854. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Secretary (Thomas Edmondes), who was lately with the Archduke Albert to negotiate for peace, has arrived here. Seeing that the King of Spain, the Archduke and the Infanta have named four commissioners for these negotiations, Don Balthazar de Zuniga, his Catholic Majesty's Ambassador to the Archduke, the Admiral of Aragon, the President Richardot and the Audientiary, these last two having taken part in peace of Vervins, the Secretary has come here to report to her Majesty's Ambassador. The Ambassador has requested his Majesty to allow the conference to be held in the city of Boulogne. The Spanish Ambassador has preferred the same request, and has been to visit the Secretary, who is living with the English Ambassador, upon whom the Spanish Ambassador also called, an obvious proof of ardent desire for peace on the side of Spain. This is the first interview that has taken place between the representatives of these sovereigns. The English Ambassador returned the visit with every sign of courtesy. The King shows his intention to grant his assent to Boulogne as the place of conference, and in appearance, at least, he seems to desire that peace should be made.
The illustrious Ambassador Vendramin arrived at Pont Charenton on Thursday last, and was to have made his entry into Paris the following day, but, in order to allow of the necessary preparations, it has been put off till to-morrow.
Paris, 19th February 1599 [m.v.].
Feb. 21. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 855. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Little news from Flanders, except that the Queen of England's agent has left, to return to his mistress. They say he looked highly pleased, and they argue from that good hopes of peace.
Prague, 21st February 1600.
Feb. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 856. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Certain reports have reached Constantinople from Venice, and have awakened a lively suspicion in the minds of the Ministers, and especially of Cigala. For, besides the rumours of an accord between England and Spain, through the mediation of France, of the marriage of the King of France to a niece of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, of the arrangement with Savoy about the Marquisaie of Saluzzo, the point which arouses greatest suspicion is the report that your Serenity has secured the services of the third son of Lorraine with one hundred and twenty thousand men. This, in confirmation of the letters received by Cigala from his brother Carlo about the French landing in Dalmatia, has thrown him into doubts, and he has endeavoured by every means to find out what is really taking place. He sent to ask the French Ambassador, and, with even greater confidence, the English; but both replied that they knew nothing beyond these rumours.
The French Ambassador has applied for leave to return to France.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 22nd February 1599 [m.v.].
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Feb. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 857. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ambassador long ago applied for leave to return to France in obedience to the orders of his master. This he easily obtained from Ibraim, then Grand Vizir; but the Mufti, though a friend of the Ambassador, raised difficulties, and persuaded Ibraim that it would not be prudent to allow the Ambassador to go home while smarting under the injuries and insults received from Cigala, besides the insult offered to the King by Cigala s retention of the sword of honour and the imperial letters.
The Ambassador reported this to his master and has received fresh despatches, from which it would appear that the King thinks the Ambassador is staying on here for his own pleasure, and orders him to come home at once or he will be held responsible. This poor gentleman, in great distress of mind, seeks leave to retire, and has taken a translation of the King's letter to the Grand Vizir, the Chief Eunuch and others, but they only grow the more suspicions and refuse leave for him to retire before the arrival of his successor. He came to me for advice as to whether he should retire without leave or should send his household back to France and stay here as a private individual. All this shows the suspicion of the Turks.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 22nd February 1599 [m.v.].
[Italian; diciphered.]
Feb. 24. Original Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 858. To the Ambassador in France.
From the enclosed you will see that five English ships have seized the “Santa Maria,” while the commander of the Flemish squadron has seized the ship “Ponte,” both of them with valuable cargoes belonging to our subjects.
The enclosed will also inform you of the resolution passed in the Senate upon this subject.
All this for your information and to enable you to reply with knowledge of the facts.
Feb. 24. Original Minutes of the Senate, Venetian Archives. 859. The damage done by English and Dutch vessels to our shipping is so serious, as in this case of the ship “Ponte” bound for Brazil with oil, wine, and other merchandise belonging to Venetian subjects, which fell in with the Dutch and was robbed of her artillery, arms, and goods, and her crew badly treated; and as happened also to the ship “Santa Maria,” Master Cristoforo Comeler, laden in Lisbon with sugar and bound for Venice, which was captured by five English ships. The masters of these sold the cargo and did what they liked with the proceeds. Orders were accordingly given to place in arrest many English and Dutch ships which were on the point of sailing, until this Council could come to some resolution on the matter.
Therefore let the Chamber of Commerce (Savii alle mercantia) summon all the English merchants in this city to their presence and also the Dutch, and compel them within eight days to pay up security for the value of the stolen goods, which can be proved to have belonged to merchants of this city; if this security is not forthcoming a sequestration order shall issse for the amount required, against the estates of the English and Dutch, in this city or on board the vessels under arrest as the Chamber may think best.
Feb. 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 860. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
In Flanders there are fresh risings of the troops every day; while the hopes about peace with England increase.
Madrid, 25th February 1599 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. Cottimi, a tax of two per ceut. which the Venetian Consuls in the Levant, London, and Bruges exacted from Venetian merchants on the value of the goods they exported to Venice. Sometimes too, as at Constantinople in the sixteenth century, the tax was levied on goods imported from Venice. Cf. Rezasco, Dizionario del linguaggio italiano storico ed amministrativo. Firenze, le Monnier, 1881.