Venice: June 1600

Pages 411-417

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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June 1600

June 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 885. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The prospects of peace with England are dying away rather than growing.
The States General in Brussels has been informed of the need their Hignesses have of money, but with little result.
Rome, 3rd June 1600.
June 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 886. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
I have just received letters from the Proveditore Generale Moro in Candia, informing me of what had happened about the English vessels arrested in the port of Candia, and adding that he has informed your Serenity. These are most certainly important and troublesome events. When the Capudan Pasha heard of it he highly praised the resolution displayed, and showed himself ready on his side to take any necessary steps.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 3rd June 1600.
[Italian; deciphered.]
June 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 887. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
In the dispute between the Ambassadors of France and England on the subject of jurisdiction, Achmet Pasha has repeatedly asked me to express my opinion, as I have already told your Serenity. I not only excused myself, but I endeavoured to put an end for ever to this attempt, for I did not wish to mix myself up in a matter in which the Pasha, unable to reach a conclusion himself, sought to shelter his decision behind my opinion. Achmet, seeing that his request was of no weight with me, sent last week to tell me that I was to go to him as he held orders from the Sultan to speak to me on certain matters. The cavass who brought the message is very intimate with the Pasha, and told me that his master desired to consult me in confidence on some important points. I guessed the question to be that of peace through the intervention of your Serenity, as, indeed, the cavass let fall some hint; and this was all the more annoying to me; nevertheless, I neither ought to nor could I refuse to obey the summons. The Pasha showed great pleasure at my arrival, and withdrew with me into a little cabinet, and without more ado, plunged into the question of the ambassadors, complaining that I never consented to express my opinion and refused to inform him how matters really stood, I replied that I never had any intention of hiding the truth, when I knew it, for the truth could injure no one; but, in the present case, I neither knew the truth nor could I affirm anything for certain. The Pasha then opened a large map of Europe, and began by asking me who was master of Flanders. I replied that his Catholic Majesty was the original owner; and being gently invited by the Pasha to explain how that was and in what condition those provinces now were, I gave him a history from Philip I., father of Charles V., to Philip II. I also told him of what had happened in Flanders, and was going on now in Holland and Zealand, which are the two provinces in dispute between the Ambassadors. For the English claim that those people shall sail under the English flag because they have thrown off their allegiance to Spain and placed themselves under the protection of England. I also told the Pasha that Philip in the last days of his life had given the Infanta, his daughter, in marriage to the Archduke Albert, brother of the Emperor, and for dower had ceded to her Flanders with all his rights and claims connected with it; and that Prince was now negotiating an accord with the States, For the rest, I assured the Pasha that I knew nothing more nor had I a word to say as to the arguments of the Ambassadors. The Pasha did not seem to have grasped the situation; he expressed himself satisfied with the information and, said it was all he wanted, for he now understood that Spain had always been mistress of the whole of Flanders, and even now she retained possession of the larger part, and of the remainder which was very small she would make herself mistress in the long run by arms or by agreement; it was moreover clear from the capitulations that the French ambassador held priveleges over all Christian nations, enemies of the Turks, and therefore the English claim fell to the ground. I neither assented nor demurred, but left the decision to the Pasha, who as yet has made no declaration, and I took my leave. I sent at once to inform both the French and English ambassadors of this conversation with the Pasha in order that they might see that my information had prejudiced neither one or the other, but that I had merely related what was already well-known to history without drawing any conclusions as to their respective rights.
France expressed satisfaction, and so did England, but as one who already doubts about the issue he remarked that he wished I had taken no steps. Spinelli replied that if I could have refused to answer the Pasha I would have done so very gladly, as I have frequently repulsed his agents sent by him to induce me to express my opinion, but that taken by surprise and placed in a difficulty through having no previous warning of what the Pasha was going to say to me, it was impossible for me to decline to answer, though I used such caution that I avoided entering upon the merits of the question, as they would see from the notes of our conversation which the Pasha caused to be made.
Finally the Ambassador showed that he was satisfied, and admitted that what I had said was the truth and could not be denied; but he went on to inveigh against the Pasha and against the French Ambassador, calling the one a meddlesome fellow suborned by money and the other an encroacher (avano) and such like epithets.
I have thought it my duty to report all this to your Serenity. To increase the ill feeling between them there are always the piracies committed by English vessels upon French in these waters, about which the French Ambassador makes constant and vigorous protests, and these, as one hears from all sides, will become general to all the powers, for this accursed race has grown so bold that it goes everywhere without hesitation, using barbarous cruelty, sinking ships, and carrying the booty into Patras and other ports where they find those who give them shelter (questo di Francia fa continue et gagliarde querelle, le quali per quello che da tutte le parti s'intende convenirano alla fine esser commumi con tutti, poiche questa gente maledeta s'è fatta cosi ardita che passa senza rispetto in ogni luocho et con barbara crudeltà affonda ogni sorte di vasselli et ne riporta le prede a Patrasso et altrove dove essi trovano chi li ricapitano). The Turks begin to see how little advantage they draw from the English alliance, under the cloak of which these scoundrels commit abominable excesses, and what is worse, are becoming most thoroughly acquainted with these waters, where they freely navigate without fear of meeting any opposition. When the news that the government of Candia had seized three English vessels was brought here a few days ago by vessels from that island, the Capudan sent to ask if it was true that the Venetians had seized two Englishmen at Corfu ; I replied that I had no information, but imagined it to be some confusion with the affair of Candia; that some English Bertoni (fn. 1) had been doing damage round the coast of that island and some of them were arrested in the port of Gandia on suspicion of piracy. The Pasha replied that it was a serious step and that the government had taken a very prudent course; but that he would write to your Serenity asking you to give orders that these vessels should not be admitted to any of your ports, orders which he had transmitted to all the Turkish ports. He seemed to attach great importance to the affair and to be afraid of what might happen unless steps were taken, though I do not see that the Turk is as resolute in the matter as he ought to be owing to the weakness of the government which has not the courage to check the audacity of its own subjects whose frigates (fregate) rifle all the shipping that falls in their way till the Archipelago has become a second Barbary coast to the damage of the Capudan's reputation, at whose door all the blame is laid.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 3rd June 1600.
[Italian; deciphered.]
June 12. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 888. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
They are not without some suspicion here on account of the news which was circulated these last weeks, namely that his most Christian Majesty had some thoughts of becoming candidate as King of the Romans.
Prague, 12th June 1600.
June 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 889. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen is free of the fever that troubled her these last days, and their Majesties continue their visit to their dominions, which serves the double purpose of comforting their subjects, and also of inducing them to come to some resolution as to the assistance they will give the King in his need. The Scottish Ambassador, who was here on a mission to secure his Majesty's support for the King of Scotland in his designs on the English throne, has been dismissed. The ministers handed him the sealed answer, without telling even him what was its purport. These efforts, and the presence of some Spanish vessels in English seas, sent there by the King of Denmark, brother-in-law to the Scottish King, possibly on the prompting of Spain, all tend to make the Queen of England more suspicious and to induce her to desire the conclusion of peace. But one may be sure that if difficulties arise between France and Spain on the question of Saluzzo, the peace with England will melt away, for the King of France, in his own interests, would never allow it to be concluded. Always bad news from Flanders; lack of money, constant mutiny, and recently the mutineers have handed over to the rebel States the fortress of St. Andrew, which commands important passages on the rivers. They say the Queen of England is ill of a serious and very dangerous disease. The resolve to send a special Envoy to the Emperor about the election of the King of the Romans is taking shape. I have found out in a very secret way, that the late King had obtained the investiture of some Italian cities which do not belong to him, and among them Bergamo and Brescia, though this is kept very dark and secret. I must further inform your Excellencies that a great personage informed me that the ministers complain, perhaps in order to show me that they know what I do, that 1 have very clearly reported to your Serenity the King's financial difficulties. This is, of course, very prejudicial to your service.
Madrid, 17th June 1600.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 890. Girolamo Capello, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The difficulties and ill-feeling between the French and English Ambassadors are striking deeper roots of hatred (odiose radici), for besides the question of jurisdiction which is still undecided, the flame is fanned by the continual damage done by the English ships to French in these waters and elsewhere. On this account the French Ambassador not only claims compensation, but does all he can to secure the exclusion of the English from all ports and harbours of the Grand Signor. In this negotiation he has made such progress that he has won over Achmet Pasha and the Capudan Pasha, who has been reconciled with him, assisted in this by the favour of the preaching Emir and the Cadileschier, his friends. The result is that these personages contemplate not merely the exclusion of English shipping, but also the abandonment of the English alliance, for they say they accepted it for the sole purpose of keeping the Queen in active hostility to the Crown of Spain, and now that she is on the point of making peace with Spain, her alliance is no longer suitable nor useful. This is an argument furnished by the French Ambassador, who, in proof that the Queen is really seeking peace with Spain, produces a letter from the Queen to his master, and despatched by the King of France to his Ambassador to be used for this purpose. The Ambassador himself has told me that he is charged by his Majesty to forward his interests against England openly and without any hesitation, for it would seem that there are strained relations between the two Crowns on various points. This letter proves clearly enough that it is the Queen who is seeking peace. The Turks are convinced by this evidence that the case stands so, and their hatred and ill-will towards the English Ambassador grow rapidly. (Et è passato con questi ufficii tanto inanzi che egli n' ha persuaso Achmet Bassà et il Capitano del Mare, che s' è riconciliato seco, aiutati insieme li suoi ufficii dol favore dell' Emir predicatore et dal Cadileschier, suoi amici; di maniera che vanno questi pensando non solo di prohibere, come s' è detto, il ricapito de' Vasselli ma di allontanare insieme dall amicitia di quella Regina, la quale dicono essi che havendola conservata per solo fine di tenerla eccitata contra il Rè di Spagna, hora che ella è per pacificarsi, non torna loro ne commodo ne utile la sua amicitia; concetto somministrato dal medesimo Ambasciator di Francia, il quale per comprobatione che la Regina ricerchi la pace con Spagna, egli mostra una lettara delta medesima Regina scritta al Rè Christianissimo, et da sua Maestà mandata a questo Ambasciatore perchè se ne servi in questo proposito; tenendo l'Ambasciatore commissione (come m' ha detto) da sua maestà di trattare alia scoperta et senza nesun rispetto li suoi interessi contra Inghilterra, poiche pare che fra queue Maestà passino diversi disgusti; nella quale lettera appare chiaro che la Regina faci l'instanza di pace, et con questo testimonio si rendono li Turchi certi che cosi sia, et vanno sempre più concitando l'odio et mala volontà loro verso l'Ambasciatore Inglese). The Ambassador waited on the Capudan (before he had seen the letter or heard of it), and was beginning to inveigh against the French, when the Gapudan cut him short, and flung in his teeth the damage the English vessels were doing to all the friends of Turkey, citing the late events in Candia. The Ambassador replied that he thanked God the alliance with Venice too was broken, his Queen would not submit to such injuries, for he had been informed that all English shipping had been seized in Venice as well as in Candia, Zante, and Corfu. The Capudan smiled and said that he did not see what grounds the Queen could have for acting on this misunderstanding, for her kingdom was so far from Venice that she could not hope to occupy the mainland cities, and as for the ports they were so amply supplied that she must send a very powerful expedition. All the harm she could do would be to put your Serenity to some expense to keep up more galleys in Candia, which would effectually check the operations of her ships.
The Ambassador left this subject, and with the air of communicating a great secret, he said to the Capudan that he wished to tell him something of the highest moment, of which he had particular information, that was that the King of France was determined to go to kiss the Popes hand; that he would go with a small retinue, probably not more than thirty gentlemen; that this journey was merely a mask to hide other designs. Cigala could not help smiling at so puerile an invention, and said, “Are they going to fly to Rome ? for if they go by land they will have to pass through the States of various sovereigns.” The Capudan showed that he made little count of the Ambassador, and said at length that, as far as he could see, the Ambassador was good for anything else, except to be Ambassador at the Porte. The Ambassador left in disgust, and the same day the whole conversation was reported to me by Scander, his renegade, I believe on the orders of Cigala, and then by the French Ambassador, who tells me that he had it from Cigala and confirmed by others.
I have not thought it prudent to make any mention of the subject to the English Ambassador, but I will take care to visit Cigala, and if he confirms this story then I will, with all reserve, hint to the English Ambassador that I am sure his Mistress will be displeased at his conduct and at these rumours, for if any steps leave been taken at Venice or elsewhere they must have been taken against pirates, robbers, and outlaws of her Majesty, as the Ambassador himself had many a time assured me, and such as these will always be most severely punished. These considerations will be put forward by me with all possible caution and reserve, and your Serenity shall be informed of the issue.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 17th June 1600.
[Italian; deciphered.]
June 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 891. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
It is many days now that the commissioners appointed to negotiate a peace between England and the Archduke Albert, have met in Boulogne, but the Spanish here have no news of any satisfactory issue. The question of the foreign garrisons is the greatest difficulty the Archduke has to face.
Rome, 24th June 1600.
June 25. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 892. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Nuncio has returned from audience, he found all the Ministers and the whole, Council with the King. I called on his Lordship, and, at the opening of his conversation, he said “I will frankly tell you all that passed between me and the King and his Council, but pray do not name me for that would be my ruin, for I must tell you that here they profess to know very well all that you report home.” I affected to laugh at this and to treat it as a joke. The Nuncio told me that he had found the larger part of the Ministry inclined for a rupture, and chiefly those who should not be (meaning the Cardinals). Orders were all but ready, for it seems that the Duke of Savoy is determined to bring it about. But the Nuncio, speaking with that freedom which he uses to the King and his Ministers, pointed out what a damage this would be to Christendom, and how unjust it was to interfere with a treaty. already signed. He declared that the Pope would be highly indignant. He pointed out all the considerations which should restrain them, the present war with England, the danger of bringing down on Africa the Turkish fleet if peace were made with the Emperor as was on the point of happening, the unfortunate condition of Flanders, “in short,” said he to me “I said so much that I fear I have said too much.”
Madrid, 25th June 1600.
[Italian; deciphered.]


  • 1. “Bertoni, are ships built by the English, and are so called by a corruption either from Britania or Bretagna. They are very lofty, not long, but with a great capacity. They draw a lot of water; are good sailors; strongly built; have seven sails; are two deckers.” Thus in Tommaseo. Dizionario, s.v.