ENGLAND IN THE ITALIAN ARCHIVES.*
Mn. RAWDON BROWN'S contributions to English history from the very extensive archives of Venice and Northern Italy were commenced nearly twenty years ago, and include a translation of the Ambassador Giustiniani's Four Years at the Court of Henry VIII., published in 1854. In the present volume, which contains abstracts of nearly a thousand documents, we find little diplomatic or political matter prior to the last half-century of the period embraced (1202-1509), from which time the memorials of each year increased rapidly in numbers and dimensions. In the earlier period our relations with Venice are purely those of two nations boutiguares, and are mono- tonously represented by several hundred resolutions of a com- mercial Senate and aristocracy on expeditions, tariffs, and claims for the redress of grievances. From these materials the industry of the editor has enabled him to glean the following particulars, among others, respecting the management of the Venetian trade with Flanders and England. This trade owed its origin to the alliance of the Doge with Baldwin, Count of Flanders, 1202, with whom the Venetians soon after shared the spoils of the Greek Empire. The traffic was at first carried on • Calendar of St de Papers and Maiuseripts retatinj 0, English Affairs, existing In the Archives and Collections of Venice, and in other Libraries of Northern Italy. Pot L, 1202-1509. Edited by Rawdon Brown. Published under the direction of the blaster at the Rolle. London : Longman, 1844.
' by land, but occasionally by means of shipping even before 1300. The "Flanders galleys," under the immediate auspices of the State, appear to have made their first voyage in 1317. During the season of their sailing, or being "on the berth," all goods imported or exported by land were subjected to differential duties. As circumstances admitted, the Government used to propose to the Senate to vote a certain number of galleys for voyages to various destinations, as two to London and two to Sluys, or the like. These galleys were put up to auction, and realized prices which have been recorded, e. g., in 1375 five galleys averaged 81 lire-grosse, or 192 gold ducata (worth each about 56d.). The com- modore was elected by the Grand Council, but paid by the merchant proprietors. He was handsomely salaried, expected to keep three servants, and accompanied by a notary public, fifers, trumpeters, and (from the year 1320) by one or more physicians. Each vessel was manned by 180 oarsmen, chiefly Slavonians, and ordered to take onboard thirty cross-bowmen ; these were commanded by four young patricians, who were sent out, says the decree, to see the world, inure themselves betimes to toil and peril, and learn to expose their lives for their country. The commodore was allowed no share in the cargo, and was expected to consult the merchant passengers and the factory at Bruges on the ports to be visited, &c., but in some cases he received peremptory instructions on these points from the Senate. The track of the galleys was generally as follows :—They made in the first place for Cape d'Istria, then passed on to Corfu, Otranto, Syracuse; Messina, Naples, Majorca, the principal ports of Spain and Morocco, and then Lisbon. On reaching our coasts they generally repaired to "Camber before Rye" or the Downs, where they parted com- pany. Those destined for England proceeded to Sandwich, Southampton, St. Catherine's Point, or London, while their " consorta " continued their voyage to Sluys, Middelburg, or Antwerp. On their homeward voyage they re-assembled at Sandwich or Southampton. London was almost deserted by them in the latter half of the fifteenth century. Over the officers and crew the supervision of the Senate extended to the minutest details. In 1408 we find special decrees to enforce the payment
of the sailors' tavern-reckonings, and in 1402 a commodore receives permission to visit the shrine of St. Thomas at Canter-
bury, but not to sleep out of his flag-ship. The above account is supplemented by complete tables of the Venetian exports and imports, lists of the consuls employed in England, and a discus sion of the names, &c., in a curious early chart of the Bristol Channel, of which a f ac-simile is introduced.
The first document, 1202, is noteworthy in reference to the early use of the word sterling for money not exclusively British.
In 1265 we first find English wool carried to Venice. In 1319 a Venetian ship was attacked by English pirates off the Wash, and a Venetian ambassador was shortly after sent to England for the first time to obtain reparation. Other serious affrays are recorded in 1322 and at subsequent periods.
Between 1377 and 1380 Mr. Brown has laid the archives of Mantua under contribution for some notices respecting Sir John Hawkwood and other captains of English "free lances" in Italy, especially a William Gold, afterwards pensioned by the Venetian Senate for his able conduct in composing a quarrel amongst their Italian and foreign mercenaries. Gold's passionate efforts to trace and recover a certain Janet, probably a captive of whom be had made an odalisque, come forward in a manner suited to excite but not appease our curiosity. Respecting another English "Brigade of St. George," which was employed by the Patriarch of Aquileja in 1388, some curious documents have been found at Cividale del Friuli, in Udine.
The Venetian archives for 1392-93 enable our editor to account for a portion of the life of Bolingbroke (before his banishment)
on which our own historians are silent. In the November of the former year, after having returned from the African Crusade under the Duke of Bourbon, he appears to have sent to the Venetian Senate an embassy of knights and gentlemen, backed by letters of recommendation from Albert IV., Duke of Austria, desiring to be furnished with a galley completely equipped (to be armed, however, at his own cost), to convey him to Palestine, in order to visit the Holy Sepulchre. The Senate voted him this accommodation "in consideration of the advan- tages which might result to their subjects visiting those regions," and directed that his ambassadors should be informed of the cost incurred for the galley and tackle, for which no payment was to be accepted. But they took care to stipulate, lee boutiquiers ! that the Earl should take no passengers and ship no merchandise. On the 30th of November Henry appeared in Venice, and 360 ducats were voted for the expenses of his reception. He had
returned from his visit to Palestine by the end of March next following, as we find by another vote of 100 ducats in his honour. In 1399 Bolingbroke's rival, Earl Mowbray, obtained a similar favour. He returned to and died in Venice, as Shakes- peare tells us, and his monumental tablet has been found there by Mr. Rawdon Brown, having narrowly escaped defacement during the French occupation of 1810. "For its future safe custody" he "sent it to ngland, and presented it to one of Thomas Mowbray's descendants."
In 1396 Bolingbroke assisted the Venetians at the battle of Nicopoli against the Turks. Very soon after his accession to the throne of England "the long-sighted courtesy of the Repub- lic seems to have been rewarded," for he wrote to the Signoria "in a tone of jubilant cordiality," promising to treat all Venetians who arrived anywhere in his dominions with as much favour as his own subjects. On some of the above points the abstracts of documents are more succinct than we could have wished, and are only invested with some tone and colouring by the allusions in the preface ; but the editor is hastening us onward to the "diplo- matic period," which to some extent will afford more agreeable reading.
From 1460 the archives of Milan show that its Dukes were kept well informed of the affairs of England, at first by the Papal Legate, Coppini, Bishop of Teramo, who was in correspondence with the heads of both the Yorkist and Lancastrian parties, but at a later period by the aid of their own ambassadors in France and England. Further on we find that forty letters on parchment addressed by English sovereigns to various Popes, dated from 1476 to 1506, and authenticated by the signatures of Edward IV., Richard III., and Henry VII., have unaccountably found their way into the Venetian archives. In another library in Venice are two similar letters from English sovereigns and seven from James IV., of Scotland, all on paper, and addressed to the Vatican. During this period we find in 1472 letters of naturalization given by the Venetian Senate to John Cabot, the American discoverer, which prove that he was not born a Venetian. In 1485 we find Venetian ships attacked by pirates under the French flag, among whom the name of Columbus appears. Mr. Rawdon says this was Christopher Columbus, the discoverer, and that he reconciled with his conscience this attack on the Venetians because they were under sentence of excommunication. The same identifica- tion has been proposed by Leibnitz and rejected by Muratori in regard to a Columbus who was charged with sharp practice against neutral trading vessels in time of war. We should have liked more particulars of the evidence on this question.
Among the letters of Henry VII. we find in 1491-92 early warnings directed to Pope Innocent VIII. and to Ludo- vico Sforza, Duke of Milan, against the grasping ambition of Charles VIII. of France, and complaints of the artful and perfidious manner in which he had subdued Bretagne. Afterwards, when Henry has an opportunity of joining his arms with the King of Spain, the King of the Romans, Venice, Milan, &c., against France (1495-96), we may observe with some entertainment his coquettings with the Holy League, in which he wishes to be nominally included, but without having to make any real sacrifices for its promotion. Maximilian is often desirous to get rid of him, not believing that his moral support can be of any avail to either party, and at the same time suspecting his motives. The Venetians, on the other hand, are ready to accept the smallest proffers from him, in hopes of obtaining more through the pressure of subsequent events. At every step their ambassadors send them careful reports and prognostications respecting him. Hence several colloquies resembling the following (April 5, 1496) ZACARIA CONTARINI TO THE DOGE AND SENATE.
"Arrived this evening at Fuessen. Went immediately to the King of the Romans. Informed him that the Venetian Government had empowered two Venetian noblemen to stipulate a fresh confederation with the King of England on the terms before stated. Pressed the King of the Romans by all arguments that seemed applicable to send a commissioner and delegates to the King of England, by so much the more as the Pope and the other confederates had already despatched their agents to this effect. Don Lndovico Bruno, on behalf of the King of the Romans, answered that from the King of England neither good ,nor evil could be hoped for, as the demonstration made by him of being on good terms with the League, and especially with the King of the Romans, proceeded solely from fear of the latter's favouring the Duke of York [Perkin Warbeok], which same fear is entertained by the King of England with regard to the King of France. He (the King of England) will therefore remain neutral. Replied that the fear which the King of the Romans declared was felt by the King of England for the Duke of York gave greater hope of obtaining what was required. In the first place by joining the League the King of England would
make sure of the King of the Romans, and then by attacking the King of France under favour of the confederates he would compel that King to defend himself, and not aid the Duke of York."
Another set of letters to which the editor especially calls our attention are those of Vicenzo Quirini, who was an ambassador for the Republic to the Archduke Philip and Joanna Queen of Castille. He accompanied them in 1506 in that voyage from Flanders towards Spain in which they were driven by a storm to the English coast. It is known they remained in the country three months as guests of Henry VII., and were induced to enter into a treaty not very creditable to them, by which they sur- rendered to him the Duke of Suffolk, at that time the represen- tative of the House of York. According to most historians, this object wan obtained by constraint or intimidation, and the sojourn amongst us of the Sovereigns of Castille was, as pr. Lingard terms it, a splendid captivity. Mr. Brown thinks that flattery rather than menace was the engine employed to work upon the Archduke. The length of the visit was due to the necessity of repairing the flotilla, the anxiety felt to secure good weather, and in part to the eccentricities of Joanna. The ambassador speaks of nothing but splendour and cordiality in the royal interviews. "The King of Castille and all his attendants bestow the highest praise on the King of England, who could not have done more had he even been the King of Castille's father." He writes, moreover, that "Henry VII. promised to forgive the Duke of Suffolk all injuries, to restore his confiscated property, and to treat him as his loyal kinsman." Afterwards, when the Duke was brought to England and consigned to the Tower before Philip had departed, the ambassador heard that this was done in pursuance of a sentence passed by the Council in London, and that a new edict would soon be issued to liberate the Duke and restore his possessions. Perhaps Henry did not stipulate so much ; he is thought ultimately to have treated Suffolk as David did his rebels. Some portions of the history of Queen Elizabeth which are touched upon in the preface to this volume lead us to look forward with interest to the completion of the work. The same preface contains a full account of the arrangement and history of the Venetian archives, which will be valuable as an aid to other antiquarian investigations.