Catalogue description Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Venice

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Date range

Details of SP 99
Reference: SP 99
Title: Secretaries of State: State Papers Foreign, Venice

Mainly in-letters to the Secretary of State from the English (later British) ambassadors, resident ministers and consuls appointed to Venice. The records date from 1578, except for one document of 1559. Many draft replies by the Secretary of State are also in the series, and a number of petitions.

The volumes include a few letters from the Consul at Zante (Zacynthus) in the Ionian Islands.

Date: c1559-1778

The records are arranged in chronological order, except for a final, supplementary bundle.

Related material:

Further diplomatic records relating to Venice can be found in PRO 30/25

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English and Italian
Physical description: 80 bundles and volumes
Publication note:

Selected documents dated before August 1589 are described in the Calendar of State Papers Foreign Series of the Reign of Elizabeth I ed A J Butler S C Lomas and R B Wernham (London 1901-1950). For references to the more important papers for the period August 1589 to December 1595 see the List and Analysis of State Papers Foreign Series Elizabeth I I-VI ed by Richard Bruce Wernham (London 1964-1993). Please speak to staff at the Map and Large Document Room enquiry desk for the precise location.

Administrative / biographical background:

After the defeat at Agnadello in May 1509 by the forces of the League of Cambrai (an alliance formed in 1508 between Pope Julius II, Maximilian I the Holy Roman Emperor, King Louis XII of France and King Ferdinand II of Aragon), the policy of the Republic of Venice was dictated by the need to keep intact the state's political, economic and territorial heritage against the advance of the Turkish Empire on the one side and the pressures of the great Western European powers on the other.

The centuries that followed, however, saw the republic's continued decline in power. Cyprus was lost to the Turks in 1573, and Crete, Venetian since 1212, fell in 1669 after a Turkish siege of twenty-four years. The state remained independent, however, and retained possessions in Dalmatia, Istria, the Ionian Islands and elsewhere, until the republic was conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797, and the last Doge (the Venetian head of state) was deposed.

The relationship between Great Britain and Venice was often strained. The republic was one of the last powers to recognise William III as King, and there were awkward problems of diplomatic ceremonial. In 1737 the Venetian Resident in London, Busenello, was told to leave owing to 'the extraordinary distinctions and honours paid to the Pretender's son at Venice'. The rift was not mended until 1744, though correspondence was maintained with the British Consul during this period.

Zante was granted to Venice in 1485.

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