Venice: February 1602

Pages 491-497

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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February 1602

Feb. 4. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1050. Ottaviano Bon, Simon Contarini, and Francesco Soranzo, Venetian Ambassadors in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Three hundred horse are ready to sail from Lisbon for Ireland. It is thought that the support is both too small and too late. For the troops of his Majesty under the command of Don Juan d'Aquila, sent to Ireland to foment the rebellion, have been routed by the Queen's army, as also have some hundreds of men who were recently sent to effect a landing in that island. Don Juan is at this moment surrounded by perils, and has provisions for only a few days more. This news has greatly distressed the Ministers, who now perceive the unstable foundations of this enterprise, and their disgust is all the greater for no success attends the arms of the Archduke in Flanders. He had the worst of it in the assault he delivered on the 16th of last month on Ostend.
Valladolid, 4th February 1602.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1051. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In Lisbon are four thousand Spanish who are to embark for Ireland along with other provisions for the support of those already there and are in great want. They had already sailed but were forced back by contrary winds, and now await fine weather.
Paris, 5th February 1602.
Feb. 5. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1052. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Archduke Albert has special orders from his Catholic Majesty to persist in the siege of Ostend, in spite of all the opposition and drawbacks winch he has always encountered, until he has captured it in one way or another. The object is to avoid all the bad consequences of a retreat, which would occasion not only loss of reputation but more serious misfortunes still. The constant consumption of troops through sufferings and through skirmishes has always to be made good. Meantime they have raised some platforms for cannon, which will throw shot into the place, and they have armed some small boats with which they intend to prevent the importation of relief into Ostend. Count Maurice, on the other hand, is raising fresh troops, with which he intends to besiege some place, and so to compel the Archduke to raise the siege of Ostend. Be has also instructed some naval experts to report on the proper way of counteracting the damage that may be inflicted by the Archduke's small boats. There was a supposition that the King would be asked to allow troops to be levied in France, and on the request of the Archduke the Nuncio begged the King to refuse; the King replied that the question had never arisen nor was likely to arise.
As for affairs in Ireland there is little to report beyond the confirmation of my previous news. The Spanish who have just been defeated, when on their way to Ireland were obliged through their ignorance of the ports, to avail themselves of the escort of a Scottish vessel, of whose good faith they assured themselves by putting one hundred Spanish on board. But a heavy fog came down and prevented them from seeing each other; they parted company, and the Scottish vessel made Kinsale, where she was captured by the English which are usually lying there. When the English heard about the rest of the fleet they sailed out and gave battle, as I have already reported.
The King of Spain is doing all he can to detach the King of Scotland from his alliance with the Queen of England, and more to dissuade him from lending her assistance in the defence of Ireland. It is not certain yet whether the Scottish succours have already passed over. The King of Scotland is threatened with a war if he does help the Queen, and is promised support in his claims on the English succession if he does not; and he is reminded that his succession can not be acceptable to his most Christian Majesty, who will hardly care to see England, Scotland, and Ireland united, when he remembers the troubles which France formerly suffered from the English Kings.
The struggle between the ecclesiastics in England still continues to the great damage of the Catholics, who are in doubt whether to adhere to the Jesuit fathers, whose advice the archpriest Bakewell (Bawel) is ordered by the Pope to follow, or the others, who have printed a book attacking the Jesuits. Four priests have just been ordered to go to Rome to explain matters to his Holiness, and to beg for instructions. Although all this is going on quietly so as not to draw down punishment on one or the other, yet it would appear that the Queen favours the anti-Jesuit party, either because she thinks it to her interest to foster these quarrels, from which she draws greater safety, or else because she is less severe in her persecution of the Catholics than she has hitherto been.
I enclose the declaration of war made by Don Juan d'Aquila in Ireland, in answer to the Viceroy.
Paris, 5th February 1602.
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 1053. Juan d'Aquila, Commander-in-Chief, and General for his Catholic Majesty of Spain, in the holy war which he is waging in Ireland for the faith, implores for all Catholics in the cities of Kinsale and Cork and all other towns, cities, and fortresses, health and peace in all that is real health.
An edict, or rather a libel, published in Cork under the name of the Viceroy, has been brought to our notice. It contains many absolutely false statements which offend the ears of the just. I have done my best to prove their falsehood in order that they might not lead the simple astray to the commission of errors, to explain the truth, and briefly to set forth the objects of our King Philip in appointing us to the conduct of this war by order of the Supreme Pontiff. In truth I might easily refute the insults they apply to us, so that they should lose the pleasure of abusing in the pain of being abused, but we do not desire like weak and weaponless women to betake ourselves to foul language. We will leave that aside and come to the solid objections.
First of all they say that we pretend to free the subjects of the Queen from the allegiance they owe her under the Christian law. Now that is not the case; we never endeavoured to persuade any subject that he need not obey his lawful sovereign, but you are aware that many years ago Elizabeth was deprived of her kingdom, and the Supreme Pontiff freed her subjects from the oath of allegiance. The High Lord of Lords has conferred on the Pope the power to extirpate and destroy, to plant and build up, and to punish even with deposition. This power has been exercised in England and Ireland by many Pontiffs, Pius V., Gregory XIII, and now by Clement VIII., which is well known to all, and the bulls exist. I speak now to good Catholics, not to wrong headed Protestants, who have lapsed from the faith of the Roman Church, but as they are blind leaders of the blind, and absolutely without any foundation of truth, it is little wonder they differ from us on this point. But to us who walk in the simplicity of the Roman Faith, and agree with the Catholic Church, which is the pillar and foundation of truth, all this is easily perceived. It follows then that the Irish who join us will have done nothing contrary to the law of God and their due fidelity, nay, rather, they will have co-operated with the divine law, and fulfilled their due obedience to the Supreme Pontiff.
In the second place it is asserted that we flatter and falsely adulate the Irish to win them over, and offer a number of benefits which we have no intention of granting; that we act so at first to win the simple to our side, but that later on we will show our cruelty to them, and prove our bloody nature. Good God, who would not be amazed? Yours is the bitter and unspeakable cruelty and audacity displayed in such a charge; for who is there that knows not the cruelty you English have practised on the unhappy Irish, nor yet have ceased to practise? You who have endeavoured to tear out of their bosoms the Catholic Faith of their fathers, in which eternal life consists, and more savage than bears who but destroy this mortal life, have striven to destroy the eternal and spiritual life as well.
Who has wrecked the temporal welfare of this flourishing kingdom but the English ? See this and be confounded.
We left our sweet native land, the happy land of Spain, abounding in all good things, because we grieved for the fate of the Catholics, and roused by their cries, which strike heaven and earth, and beat in the ears of the Supreme Pontiff and of our Sovereign King Philip. Moved by pity we send you soldiers; silver, gold, arms are voted with a liberal hand, not that we may work our cruel will on the Irish, as is alleged, but that we may happily free you from the jaws of the Devil and secure you freedom to exercise the Catholic Faith.
And now, beloved in Christ, that your desire of so many past years, sought with prayers and tears, is about to be granted, now that the Supreme Pontiff has ordered us to take up arms for the defence of your faith, I warn, exhort, and call you all to witness, to whom these letters may come, that with all speed, with friends and weapons you hasten to join us; whoso does this shall share our arms and all we possess, whoso acts otherwise in despite of this our most salutory advice, and remains independent or in allegiance to the English, we shall treat as a heretic; and, as hateful foe to the Church, we will pursue him to the death.
Feb. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1054. Ottaviano Bon and Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassadors in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Sabbiaoli, who commanded the last reinforcements for Ireland, has returned to Biscay with his own snip only out of the five he had with him. The English fleet attacked him and sank two, and two were abandoned under the enemy's rush and the violence of the sea. About twenty English ships chained together blocked the harbour of Kinsale.
Don Juan is already treating for a surrender. He offers to withdraw, and asks for ships to take him back to Spain; a request hardly contemplated in the rules of war; and so they fear that he must fall into the hands of the enemy.
Valladolid, 11th February 1602.
Feb. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1055. Agostino Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador, in addition to what he has explained by word of mouth to the Lieutenant Halil Pasha, has also presented a note to the Chief Eunuch, informing him that certain of the Spanish ships had attacked his Mistress's fleet, and that the English remained victorious, with other details as to the successful operations in Ireland and at Ostend. He begged that the Turkish fleet should take the sea as strongly as possible, in order to execute a joint attack on the King of Spain. On this Dr. Valentino remarked that he did not see how such a union was to be effected, for the Turkish galleys had never been outside the straits; but each on his. own side could quite well harass the King of Spain.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 13th February 1601 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 18. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1056. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Don Juan d'Aquila finding himself continually blockaded in Kinsale by the English, after having fed his forces for long on only bread and water, and seeing no hope of succour before the extreme of necessity overtook him, in order to save himself and his troops, surrendered about the 22nd of last month on terms made with the Viceroy. I enclose them. This news was brought by letters of the 30th from London; and the Queen, by means of her Secretary has given notice to the King, adding that the Spanish are only waiting fine weather to embark; and so as the one party wishes to go and the other that they should go, the Spaniards will be home again by this time if the wind has been favourable.
This episode will induce the Queen either to continue the war with vigour, for it is evident that if she remains on the defensive she is exposed to such dangers as this recent one in Ireland, or else to come to terms of peace. If the Archduke Albert, now that he is in such great difficulties, would ask for it, the Queen, whose coffers are empty and who sees that while she toils, others enjoy quiet, would not make any difficulty about consenting. With a view to facilitating her designs, she intends, as I informed your Serenity, to push her fleet on to the coast of Spain towards Cadiz, and she has asked the States to lend her a few of their ships for that purpose.
The other day while the Archduke Albert was alone in his chamber, walking up and down and saying his prayers, he was overcome by a fainting fit and fell to the ground, with his face on the Golden Fleece which he wore round his neck; he was slightly cut. Some say this was a stroke of apoplexy, or of the falling sickness, others that it is the result of his anxiety about the siege of Ostend. All his own operations go badly, and no help comes from Spain, which makes him think that he is out of favour and may be removed.
In Ostend there are now six thousand infantry. The succours which arrive from time to time alleviate the inconveniences to which they are exposed, and no less are the sufferings of the besiegers through the miseries of the campaign and the want of pay. The Spanish have begun to mutiny, butthe death of twenty who have been strangled, put down the rising; the scheme was to seize the person of their Highnesses, and to compel them to grant satisfaction.
Paris, 18th February 1602.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 1057. Terms of the Capitulation agreed upon between the Viceroy of the Queen of England and Don Juan D'Aquila.
1. All places held by the Spanish, namely, Kinsale, Castlehaven, Baltimore, and Beerhaven shall be handed over to the Viceroy.
2. All the Spanish, who number three thousand five hundred, shall be sent back to Spain on board the Queen's ships. They may take with them all their artillery that they brought with them to Ireland, but at their own charges.
3. The Spanish shall not land in any other port in Spain except Corunna, and to this Don Juan swears.
4. In case any further supports should reach Ireland, Don Juan and his troops shall be neutral.
5. For the observation of the above, Don Juan remains hostage till the troops embark, and he will leave certain other persons of importance as guarantee for the return of the Queen's ships.
Feb. 28. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1058. Ottaviano Bon and Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Don Juan d'Aquila, one knows not whether by help given, by courage or by luck, has capitulated on condition of leaving Ireland with all his men and baggage; and the English are to supply him with vessels to go home in. This is considered a master stroke, and greatly adds to his reputation. Many think he has achieved it by gold, as he is very rich. The troops collected in Portugal will now be used for Flanders.
Valladolid, 28th February 1602.