Venice: October 1600

Pages 425-431

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 1600

Oct. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 916. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The French, who see that an open rupture with Spain has all but taken place, declare that this is no fault of their Sovereign, who is only endeavouring to recover his own; but they say that, if the Spanish do want to break the peace they have so lately-concluded, the King of France will go to war with all his heart, and if the Spanish make an Italian alliance against him, which they don't believe, he will renew his alliance with the English and the States.
Rome, 7th October 1600.
Oct. 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 917. Francesco Contarini and Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Secretary, upon express orders from his mistress, has been to visit each of us separately, begging us to inform your Serenity in confidence from the Queen that she is resolved to come to a substantial peace or to wage a vigorous war with the King of Spain. For she is aware that it is not to her advantage to remain, as at present, on the defensive only; and as for peace she knows that it is in her power to conclude it when she likes. She sees, however, that, for the public good as well as her own. the continuation of the war is the more profitable. The formidable designs of Spain, which are. directed to the establishment of an universal dominion over all sovereigns, deserve to be interrupted and broken up. She has resolved to communicate this resolution to certain princes, more especially to the Republic which is so largely interested. She affirms that if she were assisted with a certain amount of money—of which her kingdom is at present extremely exhausted, both on account of past expenses, and because of Ireland, where the question of money is more dangerous than any other—she would take upon herself and her kingdom every imaginable travail and inconvenience with the firm resolve to make war on Spain by sea and land, in the certain conviction that she would cover her expenses. She therefore asks your Serenity for a loan of three or four hundred thousand crowns, with obligation to spend them within five years, and to give sufficient security. The Secretary earnestly begs for a prompt reply; for this matter is to be settled one way or the other, by spring of next year.
We should have been glad if the opportunity to make this request had never occurred, and still more glad if we could have put it aside; but seeing that the Secretary spoke as he did, using the pressure of the Queen's name, and seeing that he had gone to Lyons for this very purpose, thinking to find us there, we felt obliged to reply that we were ready to gratify the Queen in this respect, although we could not conceal from him that the Republic could hardly disposses herself of such a sum at this moment when, on account of the damage done by an enemy of our State, the the largest river in Italy, the government had already begun the necessary works for diverting its course elsewhere, an undertaking both hazardous and extremely difficult, and one which will consume untold gold. We added that as the peace between the Emperor and the Turk is likely to be concluded, the Republic found itself obliged to double the garrisons in her many forts and to increase her armament.
This is what we are in duty bound to tell your Serenity.
The Secretary also informed us that the Spanish Envoys who were at Boulogne had written to England, offering to re-open the question of a fresh congress for the conclusion of a peace; and, moreover, to surmount this difficulty of precedence, which was the cause of dissension in the last congress, it was suggested that the Envoys of Archduke Albert should go to England, where, as guests in the Queen's house, they would receive precedence, and when the negotiations were concluded in England, English Envoys should go to some place in Flanders to meet the Spanish Envoys, over whom on that occasion they would have precedence. Such was the proposal, but as yet he did not know whether it had been accepted or not.
Grenoble, 7th October 1600.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 918. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador, who came to-day to see me, told me he had had an audience of the Grand Vizir the day after I had mine, He had complained of the new, tariff (meta) (fn. 1) which was proposed, and let it be clearly understood that if any limit were fixed as to prices, the English merchants would remove all their trade in woollen goods; whereupon the Vizir told the Ambassador to moderate his language, for he was not to be frightened, and he would have to submit like the rest. The Ambassador replied that he would never assent to any kind of tariff. A very different answer from the one I obtained; and from this one may see the small esteem in which the English Ambassador is held. He left highly dissatisfied.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 10th October 1600.
[Italian; decipherd.]
Oct. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 919. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Here they are entirely absorbed in the question of Saluzzo, and can think of nothing else; the question of peace with England depends on it, so too, the matter of supplies for Flanders; for if operations there are to take the form of a diversion the forces employed will need to be greater than would ordinarily have been required.
Madrid, 11th October 1600.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 920. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
News from Flanders that the Queen of England has again sent a Secretary to their Highnesses, so as not to allow the negotiations for peace to lapse entirely; although no definite result will be reached before they see where these new commotions in France will issue.
The King of Scotland has run an evident danger to his life from a great conspiracy formed against him by the Earl of Gowrie, (Gonai) his most confidential chamberlain. For one day when the King was out hunting the Earl invited him into one of his houses on the pretext of speaking to a man who said he had discovered a great treasure. The King let himself be led, and presently found himself shut into a room with a man who was ordered to hill him. This fellow, however, lost courage while the King defended himself and called for help from the window, some of his followers rushed up and freed the King, slaying the would be murderer and they say also the Earl.
Madrid, 16th October 1600.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 921. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
A Spanish official assured me that by means of a certain Ragusan the Spanish had succeeded in bribing the principal ministers of the Queen of England to induce her to make peace with Archduke Albert and the King of Spain, and to make her suspicious of the King of France by pointing out to her that during her last illness the King had published a statement of some of his claims to the throne of England, and that he had induced the King of Scotland to surrender to him his rights.
On the other hand I am assured that the King of France will not listen to Cardinal Aldobrandino about peace.
Rome, 21st October 1600.
Oct. 23. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 922. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 20th the two Persian Ambassadors made their entry into this city. One of them is an Englishman, named, as far as I can understand, Anthony Sherley (fn. 2) (Cherle); he is the principal Ambassador. The other is a Persian called Hassan Nabrech. They have a train of twenty or twenty-five persons. His Majesty for their greater honouring caused about three hundred citizens to mount horse, and sent his Grand Chamberlain, with about fifteen carriages and a vast concourse of people to meet the Ambassadors at the Stella, a place two Italian miles outside Prague. Inside the town the street was lined with troops from the gate to their lodging in the Klein Stadt. The entry was most honourable; and his Majesty himself was present at a window of the Palace, which, being far off and high up, commanded a view of the general effect, but nothing else. The Ambassadors have not yet been received in audience. It is said they have letters for all the Powers, and are to negotiate a league. About that we shall learn presently. They have been seventeen months on their journey, of which eleven were spent in Muscovy, because some Prince raised difficulties about their congé. They left Ispahan on the 24th of May 1599, and travelling by Kaswin (Cassan Casmin) and Gilan they came to Rudsir (Ruisar) on the Caspian Sea. They embarked, but encountered such a tremendous storm that they were obliged to sacrifice much of their property. Finally they reached Astrakan, in the territories of the Duke of Muscovy, and they came up the Volga to Nigni Novgorod (Nisnogorto). There they took carriage and reached Moscow first and then (?) (Lecchno), where they again embarked on the Düna (Duina) and by (?) (Colncogro) they came to Riga? (S. Nicolas), port of the Grand Duke of Muscovy on the North Sea. Then they coasted along by Norway, and as their suite declare, they landed in Holland, whence they came by land to this city after traversing all Germany.
These particulars I write to your Serenity, because this is a route by which most likely no one else ever came from Persia. The English Ambassador has left behind in Muscovy his brother, named Albert, and about eight servants. It is thought that they have been detained as hostages for his good faith and as security for his return.
Prague, 23rd October 1600.
Oct. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 923. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The damage which the English continually inflict on the shipping is growing so intolerable that every Prince who is interested in the injury suffered by his vessels and subjects most reasonably desires that English ships should be excluded from every harbour, for that is the only way to curb the rapacity of this people.
Here they very rightly attach great importance to the question, and they readily lend an ear to the vigorous and reiterated complaints of the French Ambassador addressed chiefly to Hafiz Achmet and to the Capudan Pasha. He demands that the English should be debarred from trading, and their alliance rejected. My predecessor has from time to time informed your Serenity of all that has taken place, and the Senate has instructed me by despatch of the 2nd September, that if I saw the French Ambassador's policy succeeding, and if I saw that I could help his intention of prohibiting English shipping, I was to do so in a cautious and secret fashion. I will certainly carry out these instructions when I see the moment favourable, though I fear that in this business there is more uncertainty than hope, all the more so as it seems that past negotiations are not so active as they were lately, for neither the originator of the scheme, the French Ambassador, nor the Grand Vizir nor any other minister mentions the matter now; and the Capudan, who was charged to inquire whether the French Ambassador's allegations were true, who represented himself in a towering passion, as being offended in his honour by the action of the English, and who became reconciled to the French Ambassador over this very point, having on his last voyage in the Gulf of Lepanto captured two Bertoni, only retained the masters and let the rest go after extracting, as they say, a fine mouthful ; the excuse he accepted was that they were not pirates; a plea that may be put forward on behalf of the masters, who were retained in the hope of extracting more money. Cigala writes that at Patras he opened an inquiry into the case of the Bertoni which plundered the French sagitte (saette) laden with spices, and caused the French Ambassador to make all this fuss. The said Ambassador talking to me about the peace between England and Spain, told me that his master had first informed him that it would take place, but later came news that the business was being put off. The Ambassador said that if the Queen intended to make peace at this moment when war was declared between the two kings she would certainly secure very advantageous terms from Spain; he said, smiling, that undoubtedly there were active efforts being made to sow dissensions between the King of France and the Queen of England, by the revival of some old proposals of great advantage to France, alluding to the joint French and Spanish attack on England. An offer which was made in Spain, when I was there on your Serenity's service. From all this one may gather that the policy of the French Ambassador, if not inspired by his quarrel with the English Ambassador, may be modified by fresh orders from home now that war is declared between his master and Savoy, and, consequently Spain; although the same situation has arisen before, at the time when M. de Lancome was French Ambassador here. De Lancome was first instructed to endeavour to expel the English Ambassador from the Porte, and then these orders were cancelled on the ground that his presence here was virtually a tacit warfare on Spain. Furthermore as the negotiations for peace between Spain and England are broken off, there is no longer any good reason to persuade the Turks to renounce the English alliance as he has been doing up to now, by affirming that the Queen of England will make peace with Spain, and proving it by actually showing letters from his master, which peace would render her alliance, the presence of her Ambassador, and the free navigation of her ships, quite the reverse of useful to the Turks.
When, in company with the illustrious Capello, I visited the English Ambassador, he complained that the Ambassador of France made representations hostile to the Queen, that he was quite at liberty to protest against the conduct of her subjects, but he had no right to descant upon her person and her royal dignity in terms of little respect. The Ambassador said that he had sent two masters of pirate ships to England and most undoubtedly the Queen would cause them to be hanged, for she did not desire her ships to take to buccaneering. I remarked that all the same the English ships continued to maltreat friends and foes alike, as my predecessor Capello had also often affirmed, and I expatiated on the subject as far as I thought desirable.
The Ambassador answered that mishaps sometimes overtook Venetian vessels when they fell in with English through the Venetians own fault, because, relying solely on the Ensign of St. Mark, they did not let it be clearly known whose subjects they were. I replied that beyond a doubt the Ensign of St, Mark was sufficient proof of the nationality of the ship; but our subjects having been now some time accustomed to be ill-treated by Bertoni, will no longer allow anyone to approach them under cover of a friendly flag.
The Ambassador then went on to speak of the peace between England and Spain; he said that he had small hopes, although it was very near a conclusion; the King of Spain had been induced to consent that as many as twelve English ships might sail each year to trade in the Indies, but he insisted that they should carry English money for their traffic. To this the Queen would not assent, for she did not approve of English silver leaving the Kingdom, He added that if this peace were concluded English ships would no longer have need to come into the Levant for spices, for there would be no lack in England; I said that for that matter they need not come even now unless they came for other objects; they could get all they needed from the Flemish India merchants. I have reported all this fully to your Serenity, and I trust it will not prove tedious, for it is intimately connected with the instructions I have received to secure the prohibition of English vessels from trading in the ports and marts of this Empire.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 28th October 1600.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 924. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The fleet which was sent out to meet and convoy the fleet with silver from the Indies, has returned to Lisbon. It could not remain out longer for lack of provisions; and the season being so advanced they no longer expect the fleet before February. They are in continual alarm lest a large number of ships should come out from England.
Madrid, 29th October 1600.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Oct. 30. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 925. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
They have sent for the dragoman Negroni to assist the Persian Embassy and to translate their letters. They do not put much confidence in this Embassy, as they recall the episode of the Jew Gabriele Bonaveutura, orders for the hanging of whom, with all his followers but one, have just been issued.
The Englishman sent to ask the Nuncio to help him by declaring that he was sent into Persia on a mission by his Holiness, at least so Salzo, a Portuguese Friar in the Ambassador's suite, reports. The Nuncio replied at once that the Pope was no friend to fictitious and vain glory, and begged to be excused. When the Ambassador heard the reply, be sent his Secretary at once to say that there had been an error, that he never intended to prefer such a request; and he begged the Nuncio to make his excuses to the Pope that he had visited Prague first, the nature of his journey compelling him to do so.
What the mission of this Embassy may be we do not know yet; but they say it is a matter of moment and that there is question of a written treaty. There are other and wilder rumours, that the Persian will become a Christian. The Spanish Ambassador has a suspicion that the Persian may be seeking a shorter route for the spice trade, and the establishment of marts in England, the low countries and Germany generally; the fact that the Embassy came up the Volga against stream, to the great loss of time, induces him to accept this conjecture.
Prague, 30th October 1600.


  • 1. See Rezasco, Dizionario del linguagio Italiano, s.v.
  • 2. Cf. Calendar of State Papers, Domestic. 1598–1601, pp. 130, 371, 372, 477.