Venice: May 1602

Pages 501-504

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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May 1602

May 7. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1075. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is not without suspicion as to the intentions of the Spanish on Bourg and in Narbonne, although the need to assist the Archduke in Flanders, the dread of the Turkish fleet, and of the designs of the Queen of England will prevent the King of Spain from dividing his forces.
The King of Spain is being urged to the conquest of Algiers; but it is more likely that the Spanish will make a fresh attack on Ireland; and indeed there are rumours that they will attack England with a great force as soon as they can. The Queen of England meanwhile has sent a fleet of thirty ships into Spanish waters, and as many again are to sail shortly with provisions. This was done at the instance of His Most Christian Majesty to divert the King of Spain from his projected visit to Italy, all the same, on account of her age and to relieve her subjects who suffer much from this continual war, the Queen of England is really desirous of peace. The Archduke has sent an Envoy to reopen negotiations. The issue is awaited, and the Queen is all the more inclined to peace because she considers that she alone has opposed and frustrated the universal monarchy of Spain at enormous expense and most serious risks, while the other sovereigns, who are also interested, have taken no share in the enterprise, and that the King of France enjoys an absolute peace in his kingdom, thanks entirely to her labours in supporting the States and threatening Spain with her fleet. And indeed it is quite well known here and admitted by the principal Ministers and by the King himself that had it not been for the war in Flanders the King of Spain could not have been prevented from imposing much of his will, to his own advantage, upon the rest of Christendom. These ideas were expressed to me by M. de Villeroy when discussing the war in Flanders, with the intention that I should understand that although this kingdom is very powerful yet for lack of money it cannot, unaided, frustrate the designs of so powerful a monarchy as Spain.
The siege of Ostend is going on as usual.
Blois, 7th May 1602.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1076. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
There is a current opinion that the King will renew the attack on Ireland; and that troops are being massed in Portugal for that purpose.
Valladolid, 10th May 1602.
[Italian; deciphered.]
May 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1077. Simon Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
From an excellent source I learn that his Majesty has been informed that the Queen of England and her Council have replied to the Ambassador of the King of Scotland that his master may as well give up altogether both his hopes and his demands for the succession to that Crown. For it seems that the Queen and her Council have both agreed that on her death four Protestant nobles shall be elected to exercise the Royal authority for a year, and to govern the kingdom on its present lines; and that it shall no longer be an hereditary kingdom but a kind of Republic.
The Queen of England is in great straits for money.
She has imposed a new tax of thirty per cent for one year and a half; a resolution that the English resent. England has three religions, the Calvinistic religion of the Queen, another kind of Calvinism which is heretical, but numbers a large following and harasses the Calvinistic greatly, and finally the Catholic. The Queen, so as to escape revolutions in these last years of her life, favours the Christians more than she has done. And she is in treaty with O'Neil, head of the Irish Catholics, to restore him to her favour, and she offers ample terms.
The King has accepted certain memorandums drawn up by a Biscayan, a subtle brain, who has lived for long in England and Holland. Acting on the suggestions contained therein, he hopes to conquer the rebels by upsetting their political constitution.
The Biscayan has already received his Majesty's instructions.
Valladolid, 10th May 1602.
May 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1078. Francesco Vendramin, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The four Englishmen who came to Rome some time ago, have had several gracious audiences of the Pope, thanks to the French Ambassador. They have been referred to two Cardinals in order to decide what ought to be done about the bad conduct of the Jesuit Father in England, who endeavoured to extract from his converts an oath of allegiance to the King of Spain in the event of Queen Elizabeth's death. The French Ambassador affirms that the Queen would not oppose the use of the Catholic rite provided it were conducted quietly.
Rome, 11th May 1602.
May 20. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1079. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish Ambassador complained of the constant levies of troops in France, and declared that his master could not understand their object in time of peace; he also said that the passage of French troops into Flanders was a breach of the treaty of Vervins; that there was no need for the presence at this Court of an Envoy from the States nor should the King keep an Agent in Holland. The Ambassador declared that he had orders to withdraw if the States were assisted. He also laid great stress on the fact that His Most Christian Majesty was frustrating the accord between England and the Archduke.
The King replied that he was really desirous for peace and that he wished to observe the terms of the treaty; but seeing that others were arming he could not help doing the same. The King of Spain was massing troops and that could only be with a view to injuring France. The Ambassador replied that he was not informed as to his master's intentions, but being a young prince at the outset of his reign, and having suffered repulses in Algiers and in Ireland, it was only natural that he should endeavour to recover his prestige. The King said he admitted that. As regarded the point about about his hindering the peace between England and Spain, the Queen of England was so able a sovereign that she required no advice and was quite competent to manage her own affairs.
This answer the Spanish Ambassador has sent by express courier to his muster. The King of France complains in Rome about the Spanish armaments, and says he is forced to arm also. Here it is held for certain that an attack on France was intended; and now that the design has been discovered the troops collected for that purpose will be employed elsewhere, perhaps will be sent from Italy to Spain and thence to Ireland, unless a fresh attempt is made on Algiers.
Paris, 20th May 1602.
[Italian; deciphered.]
May 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 1080. Marin Cavalli, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Agent sent by the Archduke to England to negotiate a peace is a Portuguese called Bonaventura. He has received instructions from Richardot; and is to excuse the interruption of negotiations and the length of time which has elapsed since Cœmans left England on this mission, by the rumour that the Queen's fleet was about to sail for Flanders; but now that it has taken another route his Highness sends an Envoy to treat of those points which might cause a continuance of the war, and to endeavour to remove the difficulties and to arrive at a sound peace, to which the Queen, after suffering so many troubles, cannot show herself seriously disinclined. We do not know yet what answer Bonaventura has received. Certain it is that the negotiation presents points of greatest difficulty, as I have already remarked to your Serenity. The fact that the King of France is at peace and would thus leave the whole burden of the war on the Queen's shoulders will doubtless incline her to come to terms; all the same, her insecure position will compel her to remain armed, and this, with other difficulties, renders the issue doubtful.
Nothing of moment at Ostend. The troops of the Archduke are working to raise a platform which will enable them to bombard the town.
Tours, 21st May 1602.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]