Venice: July 1601

Pages 463-467

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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July 1601

July 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 996. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Cardinal d'Ossat has been informed by the King of France, that the Queen of England, although she has sent her envoys to Flanders for the renewal of the negotiations for peace with Spain, has also sent a fleet to combat Spain in the Indies; and the States, having removed the suspicion that they had a hand in the rebellion of the Earl of Essex, have now joined her in this expedition.
The King of Scots is said to have demanded to be made an English subject.
Rome, 7th July 1601.
July 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 997. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Some days ago some drunken Janizaries, who were going to the wars, rushed with drawn scimitans into the bazzar where the richest merchandise is kept; they terrified everyone and caused a panic lest they might sack the shops. The Grand Vizir thereupon gave orders that the next morning all the wine casks in Stamboul, and in Galata should be stove in, except those in the French, English, and Venetian Embassies, the houses where it was found confiscated, and the owners sent to prison. When the French Ambassador and I heard this, we sent our Dragomans to the Vizir to demand the renewal of the exception in favour of the houses of our Dragomans and merchants; but it was refused. The Dragomans then attempted to gain a few hours till they could report to us, and they induced the Vizir to give orders to take a note of all wine found in the houses of aliens, in order to deliberate upon the way in which the instructions should be carried out in the case of these foreign subjects. But in the meantime the Cadi of Galata and the other officers, had begun to enforce the order to spill the wine, and to sell at auction the houses where it was found, at the lowest price. Everyone fled at their approach. A Greek, Zuanne de Diorio, a subject of your Serenity, was imprisoned along with his servant, and if Borisi had not arrived with the new orders from the Grand Vizir, the Cadi would have pursued the same course everywhere. But these orders cooled his fervour, and he began to take a note of the wine. From this it would appear that the Venetians had far more than anyone else; they hold four times more than the French and English together. Accordingly I sent my secretary with Borisi to the Grand Vizir to procure the liberation of the prisoners, and that the houses of the Venetian subjects should not be touched. The Vizir readily granted the release, but he had the prisoners brought before him to verify the fact of their citizenship, and with a very severe countenance he told them that had they not been Venetian subjects, he would have hung them. He absolutely refused permission for wine in any other houses than the Embassies. The prudent and vigorous representations of the secretary were all in vain.
As this matter was of great moment to the Ambassadors of France and England, and to me, for the honour of our States and the health of our countrymen, we agreed to present a joint note to the Vizir, and if that produced no effect, to forward it to the Sultan. As the illustrious Ambassadors thought the matter of grave importance, they wished to go the following morning to the Vizir in person. In my zeal to serve your Serenity, I overcame my weakness, for the fever had only left me two days, and I went with the French Ambassador, and in the name of all three, I presented the note. The English Ambassador arrived later than us, and on account of the question of precedence with the French Ambassador, he abstained from entering the Vizir's Chamber. We pointed out that there was no justification for prohibiting wine to our Dragomans and merchants on account of the Mussulman religion, for the law of Mahomet did not enjoin them to forbid wine to Christians; nor had his Majesty any good reason to do so either; for the scandals did not arise among our people; and urged him to follow the procedure set by Sultan Suleiman. We endeavoured to shake him by begging him to name a limit that each one might keep; but seeing him obstinate and hard, we prayed him at least to leave what each one now had in his house. The Vizir answered, and repeated again and again, that he could not oblige us. When we hinted that this treatment on the top of other things would drive the merchants away, he said “let them go” and added that it was a great deal to allow wine even in our houses, that he knew very well that in the Christian rites, wine was used; and he added with a diabolical smile, that they administered a certain light thing made of flour, which he too had taken when a Christian, and which our priests used to cheat us and to send us to hell, so impious is he grown who detests in this awful way the highest blessing which God conferred on him from his birth up to his adult age. I, seeing that the French Ambassador made no reply to this, could not contain myself for zeal for religion, and as a Christian, from showing that I had heard his speech with wrath; accordingly with a very severe countenance, I said to him that we were not there to discuss which of us was tricked, nor would he convert us to Mahometanism by forbidding us wine. When we demanded that he should present our note to the Sultan, he replied that he would not trouble his Majesty with our requests. Finding him thus firm in his idea, we, as the lesser evil, asked for an order in writing that the execution should be suspended for three days in the case of our Dragomans and merchants. He would not give it in writing, but as in the case of the small quantity of wine which reached me from Venice, he granted a verbal permission for the Drogomans to convey their wine into the Embassies. Though this would have caused some disorder and inconvenience, still if they had obeyed, all the wine would have been saved. But hardly anyone would do so; they took to hiding the wine and walling it up between the partitions of their houses. Some of the wine, at the end of the three days, was spilled; this happened to several of our subjects who had placed too much reliance on the hopes that the Vizir would allow it all to be collected at a certain house in Galata, said to belong to the Venetian Embassy.
After we left the Pasha, the English Ambassador had an audience, but without results, though he expected much from his capitulations which were stipulated just a few days before the order about the wine. One of the capitulations provided that the English Ambassador, Dragomans and merchants might make and keep wine; and the Ambassador produced a Hatt with the Imperial sign manual ordering the full observance of the capitulations. The Grand Vizir was enraged at this Hatt which during his Grand Vizirate bad been obtained from the Sultan by means other than his. The Ambassador, as far as I understand, obtained this Hatt by the favour of Cicala, and not with any reference to the question of wine, but with a view to making good his pretensions against the French Ambassador in the matter of the Flemish traders. The Pasha replied to the Englishman that the clause about the wine did not exist at the time of the Sultan Suleiman. The Ambassador rejoined that the Queen of England had signed this treaty with Sultan Mohemet and that he was bound to observe it.
Thus the matter stood, without any conclusion. The French and English Ambassadors were not on speaking terms on account of their ancient rivalries. Accordingly, I undertook the necessary steps through my Secretary, as my own weakness forbade me to do so in person. We all agreed not to send our note to the Sultan so as to avoid infuriating the Grand Vizir in other affairs, but each of us separately addressed the Chief Eunuch begging him to interpose his authority to arrange the matter. The Chief Eunuch replied that it was not his affair and that we must go to the Grand Vizir; though he said to Borisi,—very coldly, it is true—that he would not fail us. Perhaps he does not wish to interfere on religious grounds; more probably because he is afraid of irritating the militia.
May be, I have dwelt too long on this episode. But it has caused a great deed of trouble here; and it is noteworthy that at such a time, when the power and the greatness of the Ottoman Empire are obviously declining, and its government is so manifestly weak and in confusion, the austerity of Jemisgi and the severity of the Mufti have been able to sustain and enforce a decree so damaging to the treasury, so hateful and injurious to the Mussulmans themselves, and so repugnant to all representatives of crowned heads. This most damaging decree so bitterly executed has, they say, ruined between seventy and eighty thousand taverners. They are leaving the city a few at a time so as to avoid being noticed ; for when two companies of five hundred each tried to leave on board two vessels, they were turned back at the Tower of the Black Sea. Many of them go about bragging that if the Turks have destroyed their wine they will still get drunk on Turkish blood. As all these are Greeks and firm supporters of the Vaivode Micali, it is thought that they may join his standard, as they are now deprived of all means of livelihood. If that happened it would be a serious matter on account of the quality of these people who are young and strong, and for the most part from Roumelia, and also because of their numbers and the rage and desperation into which they have been thrown.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 12th July 1601.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 998. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
All ships captured with money for export on board, and all ships with English goods, shall be submitted to justice.
Valladolid, 15th July 1601.
July 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 999. Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
In Portugal they are pressing forward the preparation of the fleet destined for Ireland. They have sent four hundred seamen from Biscay; and have mustered about six thousand infantry. They drew seven hundred of these from the Azores, and upwards of one thousand two hundred from the fortresses of Portugal, the rest were raised in Spain. They have collected as many as one hundred ships, which they have seized in these ports, and they will employ as many as they may require. Don Diego Brochiero, an old and experienced seaman, will have the command. Don Juan d'Aquila who has seen much service in Flanders, and was lately master of the camp (Mœstro di Campo) will command the troops. He left for Lisbon four days ago. There are two fresh bishops here who are urging on this expedition, they hope to achieve more in this way of supporting and fostering the rebellion, than the majority here expect, warned by past experience of such expeditions, and by those who know the country. But the ministers have embarked on this enterprise when already engaged in so many others in order to show the power of this crown. Nor do they omit to go about vaunting and exaggerating the ease with which in a short time they have put together such forces military and naval; for they calculate that at one and the same moment the King has despatched thirty thousand infantry, namely eight thousand to Flanders, six thousand to the Archduke Ferdinand, ten thousand on board the Mediterranean fleet, and six on board the Atlantic fleet.
Everyone complains of the Duke of Lerma, who manages the whole machine as he chooses. In order to raise money they intend to mortgage the eighteen millions voted by the Cortes. This causes universal disgust, for the King will fall back into his old necessity.
Don Rodrigo Lasso (fn. 1) chief chamberlain to the Archduke Albert has just arrived from Flanders to explain the straits in which that country finds itself
Valladolid, 15th July 1601.
[Italian; deciphered.]
July 23. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1000. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King has made most serious complaints to the English Secretary because certain French ships have been pillaged by Englishmen, and the representations of his Ambassador have failed to obtain redress.
Paris, 23rd July 1601.
July 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1001. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of England has been made very suspicious of the King of Scots on account of certain letters written by him to the Spanish ministers, which have fallen into her hands. She is afraid that he is negotiating for Spanish support in his claim on the English crown.
Rome, 28th July 1601.


  • 1. Cf. Calendar of State Papers. Domestic. 1601–1603, p. 148.