Venice: December 1600

Pages 434-438

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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December 1600

Dec. 2. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 935. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish here say that they have great hopes of a peace between their Master and the Queen of England, and I know that this week the Duke of Sessa has sent a courier to the Archduke Albert pointing out all the reasons which recommend that peace.
Rome, 2nd December 1600.
Dec. 3. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 936. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
I have used my best endeavours to discover the reason why the Capitulation between the Grand Signor and the Queen of England has not yet been confirmed. From an excellent source I have learned for certain the particulars of this affair, which I now humbly submit to your Serenity.
It is well known to your Excellencies that there has never been but one Capitulation between the English and the Turks, which bound them in alliance. This was ratified about eighteen years ago, in the reign of the present Sultan's father, and it was only then that the Queen of England began to send her Ambassador to reside here. When the present Sultan came to the throne the late English Ambassador, called Edward Barton, wished to renew the Capitulation at once, without waiting till the Queen sent another Ambassador and a present, as is usual, and as other Princes, allies of the Porte, had done. But the Turks, who are not at all ignorant of their own interests, always persisted in refusing to confirm the Capitulation unless the Queen sent to the Sultan the present on his assumption of the throne, though they waived the question of a special Ambassador. Up to eighteen months ago they have gone on with the original Capitulation, as all other powers do, until the new one is ratified. But then, when the gifts arrived, Mr. Henry Lelo, who was here in the capacity of simple agent in the place of his master, the former Ambassador who had died, was declared by the Queen as her Ambassador and received here as such. As soon as the present had been given to his Majesty, Lelo immediately followed up the negotiations for the ratification of another Capitulation far more extensive than the former; he came to terms with the Ministry and the Capitulation was even read in Divan, in the presence of all the Pashas, highly approved and sent in to the Sultan who countersigned (caticumain) it in these terms, which were shown me, “We have seen it, let it be written and given to the Ambassador.” While it was being written out the death of Chirà the Jewess took place, and with it the fall of Halil who was the ultimate support of the Capitulation, and so the matter remained suspended.
When Hafiz was appointed Grand Vizir, he would not ratify the Capitulation except in its original form, and in spite of the Sultan's signature he told the Ambassador that what Halil had done Hafiz could undo.
The substance of the additions to the Capitulation is this, that English merchants trading in Constantinople shall only pay three per cent. on their goods, whereas they formerly paid five and even six per cent. But no arrangement was made about other ports where the dues amount to twenty per cent.
That all orders the Ambassador can obtain from the Porte shall have the same value as the Capitulation itself.
The English are to enjoy all privileges enjoyed by the French and the Venetians.
All suits between English merchants which may arise elsewhere than in Constantinople, are to be decided in Constantinople, if the sum at stake exceeds four thousand aspers. This will greatly diminish the authority of the Beglierbeys and Pashas in the provinces.
The Queen even demanded that Flemish merchants, under her protection, should be allowed to trade if they flew the English flag. In like manner a similar concession had been made to other Princes in favour of foreigners. These were the very terms of the Queen's letter, and she intended to allude to the King of France; a point, which, as your Serenity knows, was decided in favour of the King of France, so that the English flag only covered Holland, Zealand, Grolandia and Gislandia, 'protected by the Queen.
On account of all these difficulties the conclusion has been suspended; nor has the English Ambassador made any further representations. He is waiting instructions from his mistress, to whom he has reported all that has happened.
But a few days ago, when it seemed that the Queen of England would make peace with Spain, and while news from Hungary was far from good, Hafiz sent for the Dragoman of the English Embassy and inquired why the Ambassador did not continue to seek the ratification. To which the Ambassador replied that he had already written to the Queen and was waiting an answer, which would soon be here. It was not for him to say another word on the subject, because there was an attempt to alter what had already received the signature of the Grand Signor, who had actually, in replying to the Queen's letters, announced that he had granted to her Ambassador his request as to the renewal of the Capitulation.
The Ambassador has had occasion to remark that he is well aware that Hafiz, in spite of his sovereign's interests, took his present step because he wished to be bribed; and that he accordingly recognised the difficulty of the situation and the impossibility of obtaining anything without cost; but he had no right to make any disbursements, nor, he alleged, was it the Queen's interest to give him such authority, for there was little business at this Court, and the English merchants drew little profit from the Levant trade. As a matter of fact the Queen would never listen to a word from Ambassador or consul in favour of expenses; all fell upon the merchants, and he was sent there upon these express terms. Now that the trade has fallen so low while both ordinary and extraordinary taxation have so greatly increased, owing to the continual presents which have to be made to the Pashas, it is impossible, without the new clauses of the Capitulations, for English merchants to trade profitably, and if the Turks will not condescend to oblige the Queen in this, she will be forced to recall her Ambassador and to leave in his place a simple agent, as the Ambassador signified. He added that if the English should succeed as the Flemish have done, in opening up a trade with the Indies, where the gains were far greater it would not be worth their while to come into these seas any more, or as the Ambassador says, finding themselves but little considered at the Porte, it is possible that they may think of directing their trade to Venice, sending their merchandize to that city and abandoning all dealings with the Turk. The Ambassador declares that certain Venetian merchants have broached the subject to certain English merchants.
This is all that I have found out as yet upon the subject. I must add that the English Ambassador is expecting daily the arrival of an answer from the Queen, which will conclude the business.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 3rd December 1600.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 4. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 937. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Persian Ambassadors have not yet received their congé. One of the. reasons is that the letters have not been translated. Dr. Petzen took the replies for his Majesty's signature; he asked for the King of Persia's letters. When they were not produced his Majesty flew into a rage with Petzen.
Prague, 4th December 1600.
Dec. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 938. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Three ships of the West India fleet have arrived as yet, they bring six millions in gold The fourth struck on the rock known as la ponta del Diamante, in sight of Cadiz. The crew was saved, others say they will recover the cargo of two millions. Two others are delayed, being caught in a storm, but, as they are good ships, they hope they will be rescued.
Madrid, 16th December 1600.
Dec. 18. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 939. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Persian Ambassadors are still here. The Englishman has frequent consultations with the Spanish Ambassador. He has received despatches from Persia.
Prague, 18th December 1600.
Dec. 25. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 940. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
I informed your Serenity of the frequent visits to the Spanish Ambassador paid by the Englishman, who calls himself Ambassador of the King of Persia.
I suspected some secret negotiation, and my suspicions were just. I find that the Englishman has proposed to take over the captaincy of the mouth of the Red Sea, where all the India traffic passes on its way to Suez, and to pay for it two hundred thousand crowns a year in place of the forty thousand the captains now pay, and he offers sufficient security. His object is to divert the India trade altogether from Egypt, and to send it through Muscovy. Grand schemes, impossible to accomplish. I have seen his credentials; they do not give him the title of Ambassador, which the Persian who is with him has. He has spent much and made presents. Although living at his Majesty's charges, he has contracted forty-six thousand thalers of debt; and his creditors are after him.
Prague, 25th December 1600.