Venice: February 1592

Pages 9-14

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 1592

Feb. 9. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 21. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A Sicilian, a Capuchin, has written to the King offering to make certain engines of war, which shall destroy the enemy's fleet and his army, horse and foot alike; with this instrument he promises to destroy the Queen of England's fleet and to capture her kingdom.
Some Portuguese, returned from England, report that Drake has been restored to favour, and will be placed in charge of a fleet to harry the Indies.
Madrid, 9th February 1591 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 10. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 22. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
There is a rumour that the Duke of Lorraine is trying to come to terms with the King of Navarre. This has alarmed the Ministers lest the other members of the League, following the example set them, should also endeavour to make terms and thus free themselves from their present difficulties. Accordingly, in order not to abandon their policy in France the Spanish have opened negotiations with the Duke of Mayenne, and are endeavouring to induce him to surrender some fortress on the borders of Flanders to the Duke of Parma, so that they may have a shelter for their troops in case of a reverse. They are attempting to prove to the Duke of Mayenne that it is to his interest that there should be a Spanish corps-d'-armée in France, and the only way to render that possible is to place some strong hold at the disposal of Spain. The Duke of Parma has been charged to negotiate.
Madrid, 10th February 1591 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 11. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 23. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The King is in Piccardy, keeping the Duke of Parma under observation. He has ordered a concentration of all his troops, and the Marshal d'Aumont and many other great personages have joined him. This inspires them with the hope of victory. The King will have about four thousand more horse than the Duke, and he expects three thousand musketeers from England. And with these he hopes to have as many infantry as the Spanish, on whom alone it seems that the Duke relies. Talking to me on this subject, the Marshal d'Aumont said: “Let the Duke of Parma advance with his infantry, we have two or three thousand gentlemen who will put foot to the ground and then shoulder the pike.” The King's forces will amount to nine thousand horse and fourteen thousand foot.
Chartres, 11th February 1591 [m v.].
Feb. 12. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 24. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Parma crossed the Somme in force. His Majesty did all he could to mass his troops in order to give battle, but being unable to do so he has resolved to remain in his cantonments, and to exhaust, in this way, the Duke of Parma's supplies. The Duke marches in fighting order; never more than a league a day, and never dismounts till he has set all his guards, so afraid is he lest he should be surprised. The French are in the van. It seems from his order of march that he intends to remain on the defensive and not to offer battle, unless the King attacks him in his entrenchments.
Chartres, 12th February 1591 [m.v.].
Feb. 13. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 25. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty awaited with anxiety the arrival of all those troops which I have indicated in my previous letters; and although he was aware that the Duke of Parma was steadily advancing towards him, he resolved to maintain his position, though reason counselled a retreat. While in this attitude news arrived that the Duke of Parma was close by with all his army in battle array, having begun his march at day break. On receiving this report the King set out at once with a hundred horse to reconoitre. He pushed forward so far that he found himself face to face with the vanguard of the enemy, which opened fire. His Majesty then retreated, leaving behind him M. de Lavardine to break the enemy's attack. The enemy charged and, having killed M. de Givry's horse under him and wounded M. de Lavardine, they compelled the King to retire, though still fighting, till he was wounded in the flank by a harquebuss, but so slightly that a knife blade would not enter the wound. The arrival of the Duke of Nevers proved of the highest importance. He halted at the end of a village and showed no disposition to retire, nor any dread of the enemy. The enemy, either because of the high repute of the King, against whom they always act with fear, or because those in command were inexperienced, halted without engaging the Duke of Nevers, which they could easily have done as the rest of the royal troops were a long way off. It pleased God to save the King, and to conceal from the Duke of Parma his splendid opportunity, which was recognised by the King himself, who admitted that he had advanced too far against his enemies.
Chartres, 13th February 1591 [m.v.].
Feb. 15. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 26. Giovanni Moro, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
In the congregation of France a resolution has lately been passed that the Duke of Parma is not to make any innovation upon the deliberations of the late Pontiff, that is, to maintain the three thousand Swiss, and the one thousand horse, and in case that number is not now complete he is to fill up the ranks from the French.
The King of Navarre is strongly entrenched under Rouen, and in that position he will await the Duke of Parma with design to force on an action should the Duke endeavour to relieve the city. It is thought that the Duke will not accept the challenge.
Rome, 15th February 1591 [m.v.].
Feb. 16. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 27. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The suspicions which the Duke of Mayenne and Madame de Monpensier entertain against the party of the King of Spain in Paris are on the increase. His Majesty made his first retreat to Neufchâtel, in the castle of which he left M. de Givry, with a large number of picked troops, and he himself took up a position between Neufchâtel and Rouen. The Duke of Mayenne advanced with all his troops and took the town of Neufchâtel. He sent to beg the Duke of Parma to join him in order to make a joint assault on the Castle. The King dispatched five thousand horse in that direction, and the Duke of Parma in alarm refused to move. The Spanish are afraid of being abandoned by the Duke of Mayenne in virtue of a secret understanding with the King. And as a matter of fact I have many reasons to suppose that Mayenne may tempt the Spaniards to an attach in order to land them in embarrassment, and in order to justify himself if peace is made.
Chartres, 16th February 1591 [m.v.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 21. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 28. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday the Grand Vizir sent a chavass to say that he desired me to go to him this morning. Cicala, the Capudan Pasha, was present.
The Grand Vizir said that ray predecessor Bernardo was always well furnished with news and I too must be in the same case ; he wished, therefore, to know what was the territory which the King of Spain had acquired in France, of which they had news.
I assured him that I had no such news; and that when I left Venice the King of Spain had acquired no territory in France. He then asked me which of the two, France or Spain, enjoyed the sympathy of the Republic. I replied that the Republic was the good friend of both powers, and that there was no question of Spain just now, for the war in France was a civil war, though one of the parties declared that they had the support of Spain on religious grounds. Thereupon Cicala exclaimed “ You are saying what you do not really believe “; and the Vizir added “These are all Spanish falsehoods. They will certainly make themselves masters of France as they did of Portugal and will proceed to destroy your Republic.” I answered that there were no signs of such a disposition on the part of the King, and that one ought not to look for injuries at the hands of friends.
They held some conversation together, and then the Grand Vizir said that the Sultan had received letters from the King of Navarre, explaining that as he was fully occupied with the Spanish war he had not yet been able to send an Ambassador to the Porte. The Vizir asked who was supporting Navarre, and which side the Grand Duke of Tuscany took. I replied that the Grand Duchess was a Frenchwoman, and that Navarre was supported by the mass of the nobility, the Queen of England, and part of Germany.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 21st February 1591 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 29. Giovanni Moro, Venetian Ambassador in Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
They say that the Duke of Mayenne is not at all anxious that the estates should meet for the election of a King as he desires to continue that authority which he now enjoys as Lieutenant General of the Crowsn of France.
Rome, 22nd February 1591 [m.v.].
Feb. 22. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 30. Matheo Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador does not cease to urge the Capudan Pasha to take the sea, but as yet without positive result. He pleades the cause of the King of Navarre, as I have explained in my previous despatches, and as is clear from the enclosed.
Dalle Vigne di Pera, 22nd February 1591 [m.v.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Enclosed in preceding Despatch. 31. Copy of Letters sent by the Sultan to Henry III. (sic) King of France and Navarre.
To the thrice Glorious and Resplendent Prince, higher than all great Princes, follower of Jesus, goal and end of all the differences among Nazareens, sweetest fountain of splendour and honour, Henry, Emperor and heir of the eternal blessedness and glory of the noble kingdom of France to whom all come in supplication.
After the exchange of mutual offers of eternal friendship and thrice holy peace, we inform you that your letters have reached our hands, and from them we learn your friendly disposition and your perfect benevolence towards our Porte.
After the perfidious assassination of your predecessor you, as nearest to the throne, have been elected King; and desiring to maintain the ancient alliance made by many previous Kings, you found it very necessary to send an Ambassador for the confirmation and renewal of the treaty. But being occupied by the war against the Spanish, the Ambassador whom you had appointed was mortally wounded in fight, and you found it necessary to defer the choice of another. You further ask for help for Don Antonio, King of Portugal, unjustly driven from his throne by the King of Spain.
This, and all that your letters contain, we have understood.
We inform you that Don Antonio sought help from the Prince of Fez and sent his son as hostage. The Prince has kept Don Antonio's son and refused all help. We have ordered the Prince to send the son of Don Antonio to our Porte at once; when he arrives he will be treated with all honour, and he and you shall be fully satisfied, provided that you maintain the ancient alliance with the Porte and send us your Ambassadors.
Your ships, subjects, and merchants shall enjoy perfect liberty to come, to stay and to return.
Moreover, the English Ambassador, who is also your Ambassador, has asked permission for you to export grain and horses; although this is strictly forbidden, yet for the friendship you bear us, your request is pleasing to us, and we have ordered our Beglierbeys in Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli in Barbary, to receive your agents with honour.
Constantinople, given at our Imperial residence the 28th January 1592.
Feb. 26. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 32. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Mayenne is unable to endure with any dissimulation, the service of the Duke of Parma and the necessary respect towards the personages with the Duke, for he holds that the King of Spain and the Spanish nation make little account of himself. The French and Spanish never lodge together, and no Frenchman dare go into Spanish quarters, but at the risk of his life.
The partizans of the King keep an eye on all such facts and do all they can to increase the discord.
Chartres, 26th February 1591 [m.v.].
Feb. 27. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 33. Giovanni Mocenigo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Guise, trusting to his strength in cavalry, or perhaps because he thought that the King would be unable to mount his horse on account of his wound, pushed across a little river which ran between the Spanish and the Royal camps. He had with him a regiment of infantry and six hundred gentlemen, splendidly mounted. The King engaged in a slight skirmish for the purpose of testing his troops.
The King at once saw the error which the Duke of Guise had committed in advancing too far from the body of his troops, and caused himself to be taken in a litter to the field of action and there mounting his horse he directed the attack. The Duke of Guise was routed and fled, leaving two hundred dead, besides prisoners
Chartres, 27th February 1591 [m.v.].
Feb. 29. Original Despatch, Venetian Archives. 34. Tomaso Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The rumour that the English fleet will put to sea still continues, and its destination is said to be either the Indies or Portugal. The Queen is said to be seriously ill, with little hope of saving her life. But this rumour is not fully credited.
Madrid, 29th February 1591 [m.v.].