Venice: April 1601

Pages 449-457

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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April 1601

April 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 968. Marin Cavallo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I imagine that your Serenity will already have heard of the conspiracy against the Queen recently discovered in England, and the extreme penalty inflicted on the Earl of Essex, its leader, and on many others, the first day of Lent. Nevertheless, as the Secretary of the English Embassy here has given me the enclosed account of the event I must not fail to send it. (fn. 1)
This occurrence has delayed the appointment of the Commission to negotiate a peace with the Archduke Albert. That Commission will not meet in France, but in England, or in some suitable place in Flanders.
Paris, the first of April 1601.
April 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 969. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Cicala sent for the French Ambassador, and begged him to desist from his opposition to England, and to allow the Flemish to sail under the Queen of England's flag, and if he would not yield of his own accord, at least that he should do so to please the Capudan Pasha who would requite him in other ways. The Ambassador replied that he was ready to open his veins and to shed his best blood to serve the Pasha, but that he could not do a disservice to the King his master; however, to please the Pasha, he would write to the King and use his best offices. Cicala replied that it was too long to wait, and that the Ambassador must make up his mind. The Ambassador went straight to the Grand Vizir, and reported the conversation. The Grand Vizir, as the Ambassador himself informs me, replied that he might rest assured that nothing new would happen.
The uproar of the last few days (fn. 2) has greatly favoured the French Ambassador's designs, for the Bostangi Pasha, who was the principal supporter of the English Ambassador, by whom he was promised many robes, has been dismissed, and now only Cicala, who has been promised a number of clocks, silver-plate, and robes to the value of five hundred ducats, remains to sustain the English Ambassador. Peace has been announced between the King of France and the Duke of Savoy, which means peace with Spain as well, and the English Ambassador seized the opportunity to put the French Ambassador in an unfavourable light, for he had promised that the French arms would create a diversion in favour of the Turks. The Frenchman, however, besides denying that there is any certainty in the report, declares that peace between England and Spain is also on the point of being concluded. Both these rumours stab the Turks to the heart; and Mehemet Pasha said to a confidant of his that now was the time for the Christians to attack the Ottoman Empire when it was without money and without government.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, the first of April 1601.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 2. Copy of Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 970. Piero Duodo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The English merchants, on learning that one of the Persian Ambassadors was an Englishman, Sir Anthony Sherley, implored the Queen to prevent him from coming any further, owing to the risk their factories and merchandise would run if the Turk found out that the Ambassador was an Englishman. The Queen sent an agent here post haste to discredit the Ambassador by some sinister representations. The agent was caught when crossing the Moselle, and we do not know what has befallen him.
Prague, 2nd April 1601.
April 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 971. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Earl of Essex who was made prisoner by the Queen has been sentenced to death; four hundred gentlemen of importance are in prison with him. This causes a great commotion, all the more as they are finding out that the King of Scotland may have had a finger in the plot, for he was in intimate relations with the Earl of Essex and aware of all these internal commotions. The Queen is allowing many privateers to take the sea to damage Spain. She intends to bar the passage of troops into Flanders by sea from Portugal.
Valladolid, 5th April 1601.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 972. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On Thursday the Persian Ambassadors made their entry into the City with great pomp and received many presents. His holiness sent his nephew, Don Silvestro Aldobrandino, and a large company to meet them outside the Porta del Popolo. The Palazzo della Rovere has been richly adorned for them. Thither they were conducted by Don Silvestro, and there lodged with great honour and magnificence, together with all their suite, which, however, is not very large. At their entry a slight difficulty arose, as both claimed the higher place. After a while it was settled that the Englishman should ride between the Persian, who was on his right, and Don Silvestro, who was on his left. On passing St. Angelo they were saluted by one salvo of codete nor was any other honour omitted. But on reaching the Palace, fresh controversy arose, as the Englishman insisted upon forcibly occupying the best apartment; and something serious might have happened had not Cardinal Aldobrandino with his authority somewhat cooled their fury.
Rome, 7th April 1601.
April 8. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 973. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The continued commotion in England gives hope here that, at least, they will not be troubled. Besides the death of the Earl of Essex, the King of Scotland has declared himself; he has sent to ask the Queen to name him her heir, and states that there is no time for delay. This may keep the revolution alive. And on this account they will be able to save a great deal of money this year, which would otherwise have been spent in sending out the fleet.
Valladolid, 8th April 1601.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 14. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 974. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
On Sunday the Persian Ambassador sent to me to say that he would be glad if I would send him one of my household as he had a communication to make. I sent my secretary, to whom the Ambassador explained, through an interpreter, that this Englishman who is with him, is in fact in the service of the Persian, but is not an Ambassador. For as he had to return to England the King had begged him to lend his services by accompanying the Embassy, as he was well versed in such matters; but while on the journey, and being master of the language, he had usurped the rank of principal Ambassador. That this was a serious offence against the King, his master, committed by a man of bad character, but no remedy was possible just now as he was in a foreign country and ignorant of its language. On his departure his master had consigned to him jewels to the value of many thousand crowns, to be presented to various sovereigns; these he had entrusted to the Englishman, who had made away with them all, on the fictitious promise to render an account when they arrived in Rome, a promise never kept. The Persian declared that he had credentials addressed to all Princes to whom he was accredited; and thereupon one of suite took from a coffer a golden purse from among five or six other smaller ones, each containing a letter. This one, he said, was for your Serenity, whom he had not visited on his way here because, being quite ignorant of the country, he had been persuaded by the Englishman to come to Rome first; but on leaving Rome he intended to go straight to Venice, although he had heard that your Serenity would raise difficulties about receiving him. All the same he wished to warn you that the Englishman had sent an agent of his from Florence to Venice, and that it would be as well not to trust him, nor to give him anything, for his master was so crushed by debt that his sole object now was to extract money from Princes. The Persian even suggested that your Serenity should imprison the English agent until his arrival when he would expose all these frauds. The letter he has for the Pontiff declares clearly enough that he is the Ambassador named by his master; and those for your Serenity would prove the same.
To punish the Englishman he would willingly suffer the harshest imprisonment, provided the Englishman had to undergo the same, and he wished that an express should be sent to his master to explain where the fraud lay, and if it should be charged on him he declared he would willingly pay the penalty with his life, but on condition that the Englishman suffered if he were proved to be the source of the trickery. He concluded by saying he wished to send me to-day his letters for your Serenity.
Rome, 14th April, 1601.
April 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 975. Marin Cavallo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Secretary in residence here, suspects that the troops collected in the Milanese may be employed against his mistress. He took occasion to beg the King to keep him informed on this point. The King said that at present he saw no signs of Spain attacking England.
The King of Scotland seized the excuse of Essex's rebellion to send an envoy to deal with private and also with important public questions; the private questions are the liberation of certain Scots, prisoners in England, and the permission to alienate certain property the King has in England. The important public matter is that he demands to be proclaimed Prince of Wales.
Paris, 16th April 1601.
[Italian; deciphered.]
April 17. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 976. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ambassador has been working hard all these days to prevent the English Ambassador from achieving his object of including the Flemish subjects trading here, under the English flag. Seeing the question now driven to its extreme point, he has been to the Grand Vizir, and produced all the usual arguments in his favour, complaining too, that there was an intention to break the Capitulations in existence between the King and the Grand Signor. He urged reasons of policy, and hinted that his master would be forced to make advances to those who were inviting him, to the prejudice of the Porte. I understand that the Pasha seemed to assent to the Ambassador's remarks, but pleaded as an excuse that the Capudan's opposition was so vigorous; he showed a letter in which the Capudan urged the Vizir to take no heed, even if France should declare war, for he, the Capudan Pasha, was well versed in such matters, and would always make good his word. The Grand Vizir accordingly recommended the French Ambassador to seek out Cicala, and endeavour by some skillfud management to modify at least, if not to change his attitude. Though the Ambassador found the step a difficult one, yet the Capudan's authority being so eminent, and the question being so urgent, he resolved to make the attempt. Before he sought an interview he sent by the hands of an intimate, the very same present as the English Ambassador had made to Cicala; nevertheless he found the Capudan Pasha more violent and obstinate than ever; he refused to admit any of the arguments, and pretexts advanced, and told the Ambassador not to mention the matter further, for he supported the English on the score of reason and of justice, and not for gifts; that the Grand Signor had no benefit from French shipping manned by people of Messina and Papists, and if any French goods were found on board these, they would most assuredly be seized, as had happened on other occasions; that French ships were small and only carried sardines to Chios; the French ships make no presents to the Sultan as do the English, who to the great honour of the Porte sail in from distant lands and bring no large profit; that there was no need for bluster; the most Christian King was doing as badly as possible, by making peace with Spain, the enemy of the Sultan; that in the Imperial Army, besides the Duke of Mercœur a large part of the soldiers were French; if the Ambassador wanted to withdraw, he had better go and ask leave of him who summoned him, and not from the Capudan; finally that if it should appear from the Capitulations that the matter stood in his favour, the notary who drew it up falsely would loose a hand; for a simple robe they were capable of including places belonging to the Turks themselves in a grant of jurisdiction to the French. On receiving this unpromising and contemptuous answer, the Ambassador went off to the Mufti, in the hope that by the authority of religion he might be able to curb the passion of Cicala. Besides all his main arguments he gave the Mufti to understand that his master had been reduced to make peace with Savoy, and consequently with Spain, owing to the insults he received at the Porte, and added that the same line of conduct might even throw him into the arms of the Pope, to the damage of the Turks, a course to which his Holiness and other Christian Princes were always urging him. The Mufti, however, gave de Breves nothing but fair words, and the advice to present a memorial to the Sultan to refer the decision of this matter to the Mufti himself. The Ambassador sent the memorial to Jemisgi Pasha (Grand Vizir) to be presented to the Sultan; Jemisgi feigned compliance, but never presented it for fear of offending Cicala. I have thought it necessary to send your Serenity this detailed account of the traffic of the English in these parts, as I know how important you consider the matter to be, and I recall the imperative orders, received a few months ago, to do all that I could to assist the designs of the French Ambassador. Your Serenity will see how things change their aspect here, passing from one extreme to another; only last year it was the desire not of the Sultan, but of all his ministers, and almost, I might say, of Cicala himself, to prohibit the English from trading; now, in spite of excellent reasons based upon capitulations, decrees, and Imperial rescripts in favour of France, the very reverse has been adopted. This is chiefly due to the immense influence of Cicala, who formerly had little weight, but now, having ingratiated himself with the Sultan during the recent tumults, he aspires by means of frequent interviews and cunning counsels, to overtop the supreme influence of the Chief Eunuch, who by supporting Cicala in the past has been the sole cause of his present exaltation. It is not merely Cicala's greedy hopes to wring much profit out of the English Ambassador which induce him to take up this attitude, but also his ancient hatred of the French. The Grand Vizir has recounted to the other Pashas, and to the Cadileschier, the pretensions of the two Ambassadors, each of whom had a decision in his own favour under sign manual of the Sultan. The Grand Vizir explained that Cicala was of opinion that the English who were better friends to the Porte than any other power, ought to be favoured; all the others adhered to the weighty opinion of Cicala, and the Grand Vizir reported the consultation to the Sultan, and informed him of the two contradictory orders under his sign manual. The Sultan gave orders that the Flemish, as not specified in the French Capitulation, are now to sail under the jurisdiction of the Queen of England.
The French Ambassador is now endeavouring to secure the publication of this order as a simple royal degree not to be registered in the English Capitulation which is about to be ratified now, as the Queen delayed the ratification mainly on this point. The French Ambassador bases his chief hopes on the revocation of the royal degree, during Cicala's absence, though this would be more difficult to accomplish if it had passed into the Capitulation; and also upon the support of Ibraim Pasha; he is thinking of sending an express to the Pasha to alarm him at the prospect of a union between the French and Imperialists, and to thereby induce him to write to the Porte in favour of the French.
He declares that he will never forget the wrongs and injuries he has suffered; and unless the course of events comes to our aid, it will be a difficult task to oppose him, as long as he retains the esteem and the power he at present possesses; especially during the absence of Ibraim whose party is at this conjuncture under persecution on account of the late tumults; and should any sort of misfortune overtake him he would not find a soul to support him, after having attempted the life of the Chief Eunuch.
From the enclosed your Serenity will see that two English Bertoni captured a Venetian ship in Spanish waters and laden in Spain (name not mentioned), and took it to Algiers on the pretext that it was Spanish. But the master and some of crew arrived and the Turkish officials, seeing the trick, resolved to restore the ship. But the English pirates burned it in order to conceal the fact that she was Venetian. For this some of the pirates have been put in prison, and it was resolved to give to the master of the burned vessel one of the two English ships. The English however opposed this; and now the Pasha is seeking, through my assistance to secure an order forbidding the English to raise any objections. I have obtained from the Grand Vizir an imperative order that the goods shall be restored, one of the English ships employed to carry the goods to Venice and the pirates punished. The English Ambassador foreseeing my complaint and in order to prove that he does not defend pirates, went to the Capudan Pasha and expressed a desire that these wretches should be produced; as two of them are on their way and will soon be here the Ambassador himself promised that he would make an example of them.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 17th April 1601.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 977. Copy of letter from Suleiman of Catania, Pasha of Algiers, to Bairan, Chiaia of the Arsenal. 5th of the Moon Saban, that is the 10th February 1600.
Two English ships attacked a Venetian bound for Venice. She ran up the ensign of St. Mark, but the English paid no heed. They boarded her, took the captain and crew and put them in a boat and landed them in Majorca. They then took the Venetian in tow and brought her in here. As they came in they lowered the Spanish flags and trailed them in the water, with every sign of joy. I gave them welcome and they began to unlade; but had not completed the task when a sagitta arrived from Majorca with the master and pilot on board, and claimed the ship and the cargo. As their remarks were confirmed by many merchants I began to suspect the English, and announced that I intended to give the ship back to her owners. The English raised a violent opposition, and would not submit; on Friday while the Mussulmans were all at prayer, they burned the ship from stem to stern I and all the Mussulmans went down to the shore to see what could be done; but it was impossible to extinguish the flames. I put the commander in prison, and ordered the restitution of the goods. But I fear that the English Ambassador in Constantinople may extract an order to the consul here to hand the goods over to the English.
The Pasha asks for an imperial order to retain the prisoners and the goods.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 978. Imperial order to the Pasha of Algiers to restore the merchandize to the Venetians, to give them one of the two English ships, and to punish the pirates. Even if the English should obtain an order for their release they are not to be released.
April 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 979. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
These Persian Ambassadors have not yet had audience of his Holiness; the disagreement between them on the subject of precedence is still alive. The credentials have been translated and it seems that the Englishman is not called an ambassador; he defends himself by declaring that the translation is faulty, and that there is no one here who understands Persian. It seems that they are resolved to send to Venice for translators who know the language, or to forward the letters themselves to be translated. Meantime the Ambassadors are treated with all honour. His Holiness is spending more than one hundred crowns a day on entertaining them.
Frederico Zuccari, the Painter, has pent me the enclosed memorial.
Rome, 21st April, 1601.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 980. Most Serene Prince.
It is now many months since I received a letter from the illustrious Almorò Grimani, your brother, desiring me to come to Venice in the service of the Republic, to execute certain work in the hall of the Great Council. I was at the time detained by important work I. had already on hand, and could not show that ardent desire which I have to serve your Serenity. As I am now free from my obligations to others it seems to me fitting, in accordance with my previous service and my desire to dedicate the remaining years of my life to your Serenity, that I should humbly inform you, before entering upon other obligations, that I am ready at your slightest command, and to beg you if you are still of the same mind, to entrust your Ambassador with the affair, so that I may come to terms with him for the complete satisfaction of your Serene Highness, to whom God grant the sum of all the felicities you desire.
April 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 981. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
After the King's departure yesterday morning, an order was issued that all those who possessed wrought silver in these kingdoms were to notify it. This has roused alarm lest one of two plans should speedily be carried out, either that the King intends to appropriate all this capital, which amounts to a large sum, as the whole kingdom is full of massive silver vases estimated at a total value of thirty millions in gold, with the intention of assigning it as security for the bonds (ct fame poi assignamenti alli patroni in giuri) forbidding the making of any silver work or silver gilt; or that the moment it comes into the King's hands he will coin money with it, and keep the balance after making the necessary payments, in this way they hope to keep the money in the country, for at present no sooner does it come into the country, or is coined there, than it takes wing to other countries on account of the premium.
Valladolid, 27th April 1601.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 982. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
We are informed from a very sure quarter that all these recent tumults in England which have cost the Earl of Essex his head, are the result of Spanish intrigues. The Spanish are doing all they can to foment discords in that kingdom, in order to assist the execution of some other schemes. I am also told that their object was by means of these discords to counteract the negotiations against them undertaken by Don Virginio Orsini on behalf of the Grand Duke; for that and not mere curiosity is supposed to have been the motive of Don Virginio's visit. The Queen is profoundly annoyed at these intrigues and all hope of peace is at an end.
The Persian Ambassadors obtained a private audience a few days ago, one on one day the other on another. Wednesday evening the Englishman and Thursday the Persian who never rose from his knees all the time he was in the presence, and kissed the Pope's foot though the cross was hidden by his garment. No subjects were touched on at this first interview, and it seems that his Holiness has decided that the Englishman is not the first Ambassador as he claims to be.
Rome, 28th April 1601.


  • 1. The document is missing.
  • 2. Revolt of the Janizaries and Spahies.