Venice: December 1601

Pages 481-486

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.


December 1601

Dec. 1. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1031. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Ambassador, as a mark of confidence in me, and perhaps to gain your Serenity's support against the attacks of Cicala, came to see me and related what I have already reported to your Serenity. He minimizes the accusations brought by Cicala, and introduces the Queen of England into the affair on account of the English Agent lately sent by the King of Persia to form a league of Christian Sovereigns against the Turk. The English Ambassador in conversation with me laughed at the acuteness of the French Ambassador who was trying to rouse suspicion against others. As regards this English Agent of Persia the English Ambassador spoke to Cicala about him as long ago as last year. He represents the agent as an English rebel. Cicala has reported to the Grand Vizir and to the Chief Eunuch in a sense hostile to the French Ambassador, declaring that he has been here for sixteen years acting as a spy; that Cicala himself in the Morea intercepted letters to the King of France containing information about the confusion of this kingdom, the progress of the black secretary (fn. 1) the incapacity of the Sultan; and stating that now would be the time to overthrow the Turkish Empire.
In Tripoli in Syria the English merchants and even the English Consul have been imprisoned, and the capitulations which he held in his hand as his safeguard were snatched from him. The charge was that an English vessel had sacked a Turkish caramusale laden with soap on her way to Constantinople. To free themselves from prison they had to pay down five thousand sequins; some of them died of their sufferings in confinement and others are still there. The English Ambassador has made serious complaints to the Grand Vizir, and he has issued an order that the treasurer of Tripoli and others shall he sent as prisoners to Constantinople. The Grand Chancellor who is very hostile to Christians refused to sign the order, declaring that it was not for the Sultans service to remove so good a minister without express Imperial commands. The English Ambassador enraged at this declared that he would give orders to the English privateers to seize all Turkish caramusales until the prisoners are freed, the five thousand sequins restored, and the guilty punished. The Vizir gave him soft words, and begged him to take no violent steps, promising to send and to find out the truth. But the English Ambassador has little hopes, for the Turks in spite of their bad fortune, are blinded by pride and care little whether they offend anyone, and even contemn the friendship of any other power.
An English vessel has arrived with about three hundred bales of cloth and a certain quantity of steel (azale) ; the iron was discharged at Tunis. The crew report that the Queen, being warned that the Spanish fleet would attack England has forbidden her vessels to sail. But it is easy to see through this English trick; for they spread this report in order to explain the poverty of their commerce here.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, first of December 1601.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1032. Ottaviano Bon and Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassadors in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
They have resolved to send one thousand five hundred infantry in support of the troops already landed in Ireland. They are to take clothing and other necessaries; though the Duke of Lerma said to the Soranzo that they despaired of doing anything in that island, for the rebels were so far off that it would be impossible to effect a junction. All the same, as they had occupied a safe and convenient harbour, they would not fail to make some attempt.
Valladolid, 13th December 1601.
Dec. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1033. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Bertone seized at Tripoli in Barbary, after the liberation of the master and mariners, left suddenly. The English Ambassador has sent his secretary along with two Capigi Pashas with orders to set free the English Consul, to repay the damages, and to bring the son of the Treasurer and certain Jews, authors of this abuse, as prisoners to Constantinople.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 15th December 1601.
Dec. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1034. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from a Jesuit in Ireland announcing that the Spanish have landed in Kinsale, an important city. The Irish nobility have united against them, and dysentery is daily carrying off numbers.
Rome, 22nd December 1601.
Dec. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1035. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The object of the Spanish in sending these troops to Ireland is simply to have them ready on the death of the Queen. They are content to keep Kinsale alone, as a card in their hands when they want it. This action has profoundly impressed the King of France and his Ministers. They think that the Spanish troops in Ireland are doomed to be lost, but if by some chance it should happen otherwise, the King would never allow the Spanish to approach England both for the safety of France and because the Marshal de Biron has reported to his Majesty that when he was in England he discovered a great desire on the part of many nobles to have the King of France for their King, on account of the high esteem in which he is held, when the Queen dies. The King would attack the Spanish in England, and would also create a diversion in Flanders by assisting the Duke of Savoy to revive his claims on Milan, which he holds in virtue of his mother, a Princess of France.
Paris, 24th December 1601.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 24. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1036. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A rumour is put in circulation by people from Bordeaux, that three thousand more Spanish troops have landed in Ireland to join those already there. But it seems that though these troops actually set out they were driven back by contrary winds into Corunna. Don Juan d'Aquila, commander of the troops in Ireland, has announced that his Holiness has renewed the Bull against the Queen of England, absolving her subjects from their allegiance and conceding her states to those who should make themselves masters of them. This was intended to assist Don Juan's progress towards his objects. But he finds himself quite shut in and deprived of all the assistance on which he reckoned, and is therefore in serious difficulty. The chief expectation which led the King of Spain to take the resolution to send troops, was the repeated assurance of the Irish rebels that once the Spanish arrived the whole Island would rise and declare in their favour. In that belief Don Juan shortly after his arrival sent for the Mayor of Kinsale, and asked him what had happened to a certain person; when Don Juan heard that this person was kept prisoner along with others, in London, for a conspiracy, discovered some months ago, he seemed greatly disturbed. (essendo il principal fondamento, con il quote il Rè Catholico era venuto in questa rissolutione, quello, che constantamente le veniva affirmato dalli Irlandesl separati dall' obedientia della Regina, che gionti li Spanguoli in quella isola tutti quei populi si sariano sollevati, et decchiariti in suo favor. A questo fine, havendo poco appresso il suo arrivo fatto venir avanti di se il Prefetto di Kinsal, dimandatole quello ch' era d' un tale, intendendo che fosse tenuto prigione nella terra di Londra insieme con altri per una congiura scoperta gia alcuni mesi contra il servitio delta Regina, si mostrò motto turbato).
On board a Spanish ship, which was captured by the English while on her way to Spain, letters were found from Don Juan to the King, in which Don Juan informed his Majesty that he had been deceived by those who had persuaded him to undertake this expedition; that the facts were very different from the reports; that he never expected to see Spain again, though this thought did not grieve him on his own account, but because of all the young men he had with him. He begged the King to take the necessary steps, above all to punish the hostages who had guaranteed a general rising, for not a man had come to his support, also against the officials who had furnished the expedition for not a half of what was needful had been supplied, and he was in want. On the other hand the Earl of Tyrone is embarrassed. He blames the Spanish for landing in a harbour so remote from himself; he cannot effect a junction with them nor draw the benefit he looked for from the expedition. Some think he will make up his mind to come to terms with the Queen.
In the waters of Kinsale, watching the route from Spain, are fifteen of the Queen's ships, all admirably equipped, also some Dutch; their object is to cut off supports. Recently they have captured four ships bringing ammunition. What more these English ships can do depends on the winds; if they are not altogether contrary they can certainly greatly check fresh supplies. It is the common opinion that if the Queen lives these Spanish can not hold out long; but otherwise they might easily make great progress.
The three thousand infantry offered by the King of Scots were accepted by the Queen. The offer was made before the Duke of Lennox arrived in London, as the King was not sure that the Duke could arrive so soon. I do not know yet for certain the terms on which these troops were sent, but it is said that the King will send the officer who is to command them, and the Queen will pay them as the King is not sufficiently an interested party. This assistance is highly prized, thanks to the quality of the troops who are capable of endurance, excellent fighters, and who speak Irish. Much is expected of them on this account, and because only eight leagues separate them from the scene of operations. The Duke of Leunox has been greatly caressed by the Queen; and Robert Cecil, first Secretary, writes to a person of quality that she has sent to the King one of the greatest satisfactions he could desire. This probably has something to do with the succession to the crown; for it is a point of some moment that she has admitted into Ireland a body of Scotch troops under a leader, who is dependent on the King of Scots. All the same the Queen shows no disposition to abandon that authority which she has wielded for so many years, and I can hardly think that she will really declare her successor.
The Queen has released a Capuchin and some other priests; as there was no proof of their having conspired against her kingdom. In general she shows herself more gentle with the Catholics, and this leads people to suppose that she will grant liberty of conscience; but of this there is no confirmation.
There is an Archpriest in England incognito. The Pope gave him authority to carry out many designs, which he has done as head of the English Catholics, and is in communication with the Pope. He is almost entirely a dependent of the Jesuits, and especially of one who is greatly in favour of the Spanish. The other ecclesiastics complain of him, and some uproar has been created. Complaints have been made at Rome and to his most Christian Majesty. The Padre Maggio wrote to his superiors to remove the Jesuit, but they would not.
M. de Beaumont (fn. 2) (Bœmon), son of the first president of the parliament of Paris, has left as Ambassador to England, and to arrange some questions about commerce. M. de Maisse was also nominated for England, but on account of the bad weather he has been excused by the King.
Paris, 24th December 1601.
Dec. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1037. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
In the affair of Martinelli I shall be obliged to speak to the Grand Vizir when I can, for he has been ill these many days The Mufti has shown himself very friendly towards your Serenity, but as the question raises an essential point in Mohammedan law, he says he cannot admit the testimony of any Christians against the renegade, and he says it was already ordained of God that he should be illuminated as to the true faith. The decision about Martinelli will apply to the English Consul at Cairo, who also quite recently has become a Turk, and has charge of many English merchants' goods.
I will deal with this matter as a question of canon as they say here, though the Dragomans tell me that course has never been adopted, hitherto, perhaps because occasion never arose. I do not know how much good I might derive from a letter of your Serenity's declaring that the estates managed by Martinelli really belonged to Venetian subjects.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 28th December 1601.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 1038. Confidential Report of an Agent on board the Capudan Pasha's fleet.
Sailed on July 5th, with Cicala Capudan in command of thirty-two galleys. On the 9th were at the Dardanelles. Some galleys sent to Volo for biscuits, the rest moved to Chios. Sent five galleys to Tripoli with the Capudan's son, and five to Cairo. Lay eleven days in Chios, and collected five Beys with their galleys. To the number of twenty-eight in all we sailed for Negropont. Before leaving, Cicala impaled a buccaneering captain. At Negropont were joined by the ships from Volo with the biscuits. In fifteen days we cleaned our ships and then on the fifteenth of August we sailed for Malvasia and Navarino.
A certain William, an Englishman, who is Consul at Chios, left by land for Lepanto; he was sent by the Pasha to get news of the Spanish fleet. On the 17th made Malvasia and lay there one day, and came on the 19th to Cerigo (? Isola de Cervi), where we watered. On the 24th August we left Cervi and made Navarino, where we lay twelve days. The English Consul, William, made two journeys along with his brother and reported the Spaniards at Taranto. The Capudan was not satisfied and sent out three ships to reconnoitre.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Dec. 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1039. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The matter of Ostend is dragging on. The Archduke has sent new Envoys to the Queen, but she is suspicious on account of the Spanish troops in Ireland. His Highness has, however, modified his claims so as to show his great desire for peace, and has induced the Queen to lend an ear. A favourable conclusion is thought quite possible.
Rome, 29th December 1601.


  • 1. Abdulhalim, the Karajazigi. See Von Hammer, op. cit. Bk. xli.
  • 2. Cf. Calendar of State Papers. Domestic. 1601–1603, p. 143.