Appendix I

Pages 597-608

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 19, 1625-1626. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1913.

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Appendix I (fn. 1)

Bibl. S. Marco
Cl. VII. Cod. mdccccxxxiv. Museo Correr. Cicogna MSS. Cod.806 (3157).
Parliament in England is the same as the States in France. It is composed of three members, clergy, nobles and people. The bishops remained after the revolution in religion with the same title, dignity and rank as before, though in smaller numbers; the abbots, both secular and regular, who had enjoyed the same privileges as the bishops, and votes in parliament, disappeared. By nobles are meant the titled, although at first England had no other title than that of baron. They are the same as what are called peers of the realm in France. The people take part by virtue of privileges granted to many towns, places and universities, which send their representatives when Parliament is announced, some one, some two, according to old concessions.
The institution of Parliament was very ancient. Although the king was absolute he submitted to the rule of the laws, and to the counsels and deliberations of his people, so as to be more readily supported. It cannot meet unless summoned by the king, and its ordinances are null unless confirmed by him, so that when the king dissolves Parliament all the things done there remain without effect. Dissolving Parliament is, when the king not finding matters to his taste, orders them all home.
The chief function of Parliament is to pass laws; those made by the king having no force without a parliamentary decree. Similarly, those made at another time are repeated there upon occasion.
The reason for its institution was that it might contribute money to the king for his wars and other needs; for that they were granted great immunities and privileges, so that while the king can dissolve them, they can refuse him supplies. This money is termed a subsidy. The subsidy is assessed upon land, moveable goods, merchandise and money. As the valuations are made on an ancient assessment, which is very small for these days, and is paid at the rate of about 5 per cent., many who have incomes of 8,000 to 10,000 ducats a year will only be taxed at 60l. on their property on a tax of 2s. in the pound, which consists of 20s. Foreigners pay double without redress unless they are naturalised, and the naturalisation pertains to Parliament. The ordinary tax on land is from 20l. to 30l., on moveable 3l., 4l. and 5l. according to the favour or disfavour of the taxers, the matter not being adjusted according to the real possessions of one or the other.
A subsidy amounts to about 100,000l. sterling, so that if it does not suffice they vote three or four, to be paid at the different terms of the year, Christmas, Lady Day, Midsummer and Michaelmas.
Parliaments have had greater and less authority according to the strength and authority of the kings, a perpetual balance; if light in the one, heavy in the other. It has for the most part given way to the kings, unless they are more than feeble, especially in these last days, as Henry VIII made them do what he wished, obtained money, introduced the schism and changed the religion. Edward VI, his son, changed it completely. Mary changed it back again, returning to Catholicism, and Elizabeth, her sister, did the contrary; four formal changes in religion, if not contradictory or different, made with the consent of Parliament, which concurred with the wishes of the sovereign, and will do so in similar circumstances for two reasons: firstly, because the kings, by devices and tricks (per via di brighe et di broghi), get members elected who are favourable to the Court, in such sort that they always have the power of exclusion (l'esclusiva); secondly, because that kingdom is divided into three sorts of persons, Catholics, Puritans, and Protestants. The first two are unchangeable in opinion whatever the king may do, for if he becomes a Catholic he has the Catholics for him and the Puritans against, but the Protestants are always for him, and he can never lose in religion, and the changes will always be without change of state, as we saw in the four cases instanced, as two-thirds at least will always concur.
The matter of money was never denied to the kings except for legitimate causes. Queen Elizabeth, who was always at war, assembled Parliament every three years, when they gave her three subsidies, one for each year. With all this they had no further care. The kingdom was contented, rich, and glorious, and with all her expenses she left a respectable amount of money.
The object of the subsidies is war, as for ordinary expenditure the king has enough to meet his expenses. The ordinary force costs little, there being no more than 300 men. Before King James pensions came to a small sum, and there is no fortress or garrison, so that although the revenues of the King of Great Britain do not amount to two million crowns, he is richer than any other king, because for war he has a perpetual treasure in the purse of his subjects, who like war because it enriches them. They always begin it and are always the attackers. They are safe, as the island being placed in the midst of a stormy sea with strong winds and tides, poorly supplied with ports, and dangerous coasts, is not exposed to the danger of invasion by others.
King James was the first who experienced difficulty about the subsidies. He came to beggary by his excessive prodigality, and as he persisted in this, they determined not to give him money unless treasurers rendered account of it. His attachment to the Spanish marriage, and his lethargy over the loss of Bohemia, the Palatinate and Germany clinched the nail of his desire for peace at any price. They believed in him no more and if he had lived he ran the risk of having revolts, although his art and caution were so great that every one was deceived, and he attained his ends with more prudence and artifice than any other prince in the world.
Upon his death he was succeeded by his only son Charles, who was full of wrath over his journey to Spain. He assembled his parliament last year, 1625, memorable for the plague and also for the French marriage. The deceased king had raised to the highest favour George Villiers, a gentleman of 200 crowns' revenue, making him successively Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, knight, Gentleman of the Bedchamber, Knight of the Garter, Viscount, Earl, Marquis and Duke of Buckingham, Lord High Admiral, Warden of the Cinque Ports, Grand Esquire, or I should say Master of the Horse, leading Councillor and other things besides. Under King James he was not so remarkable, being esteemed but little more, as he did not meddle in anything and never moved except as the king directed. His handsome presence, amiable and courteous manners, familiarity and above all his liberality (benefico), seemed to promise from him something that was not realised, as being spoiled by the authority and the honours showered upon him, he wanted to keep every one else out. Thus, when he went with the prince to Spain, he profited by his natural influence over princes, and from a servant, subject and councillor he made himself a companion, director and arbiter, so that the prince never thought of saying or doing anything that did not proceed from the duke. He shut out the Earl of Bristol, extraordinary, and Aston, ordinary ambassador, to the great offence of the former, who thought the affair as badly conducted as the prince's coming to Spain was ill advised. Intoxicated by so many favours the duke gave himself to dissolution and amours. Finally, the Countess of Olivares had the most diseased woman in Spain put into his bed, upon an arrangement to enjoy her (finalmente della Contessa d'Olivares gli fu sopra l'appuntamento di goderla posta in letto la più infettata femmina di Spagna). From this he conceived a great hatred against the Spaniards and their religion, whereas before he had been considered their friend and a Catholic, though not avowed. His family leaned that way and his mother made public confession. Accordingly he persuaded the prince not to allow himself to be trifled with any longer, and six or seven months after they started, they left Spain and returned home. The prince pointed out to the king the hurt and shame inflicted, that the negotiations were all a fraud, their friends and reputation ruined. The king would not on any account upset the peace, but overcome by so many persuasions he had his ships repaired to make ready for war. His natural sworn apathy to this enemy (war) was so great, that the mere thought of it caused his death.
The duke came back hated by all of the prince's household, who had known him, but in favour with the people, who after seeing him take away the prince to conclude a marriage they detested, adored him to a man when he came back with the reputation of being the one who broke it off. The Earl of Bristol, on the other hand, was hated and execrated by all as the instrument and principal adviser of the match. But the affections of the people are ill-omened and transitory, because when the king died the duke had meddled in giving him medicines made by his mother, and in applying cordials (pitime) to him, so that he was suspected of hastening the end, because the king was not well pleased with him, his affection had cooled and he was ready to listen to what the Earl of Bristol had to say against the duke, on his return from Spain just before the king's death. Besides this he showed such outrageousness in the display of favours and the authority for them from the new king, that he made himself hateful and insupportable.
The king did nothing, but ostentatiously abstained, so that nothing came from his hands. Accordingly Parliament, moved not so much by the desire to check this harmful and ever growing power, as by the envy natural in that nation, after granting the king three subsidies, with the intention of giving more when they had gone, asked that the duke of Buckingham should render account of his expenses and be removed from the king's side. His Majesty took counsel of his own fantasy alone, despising all other advice. He seized the opportunity to show his omnipotence. Parliament had met for the needs of the king and kingdom, for which it was the sole remedy. He thought he would remove it from London to Oxford, upon the pretext of the plague, hoping to gain time and win votes and spoil their proceedings to his hurt. As this did not succeed, he had it dissolved, boasting that the king would find money without them. He actually did find some, but in irregular and harmful ways. One was to send letters under the privy seal to merchants and rich persons asking for a loan of 500l., 1,000l. or more, according to their means. Some, those residing in London, obeyed from fear of being compelled, but in the provinces not a single person paid. Another was reprisals made by ships of the fleet upon all, whether friend or foe, under the pretext that they belonged to the Spaniards; this led to serious disputes with France and Holland. In the meantime, with these slender funds, the fleet sailed and attacked Cadiz, with the result that every one knows. It being more than ever necessary to restore what they had taken, they had to drink the poison of a second Parliament. In this, as every one was in revolt against the duke's actions, while he thought to override them by contempt, the hatred against him grew to such an extent that he was as it were bombarded on two sides by two powerful batteries, the Lower House bringing forward various articles of accusation on the one side and the Earl of Bristol on the other.
I have not yet explained the expression Lower House. I said above that Parliament consists of three orders. Two of them, the bishops and lords, form the Upper Chamber; the third, or people, form the Lower. Although the latter can do nothing unless it is confirmed by the former, yet all the authority rests with it, because it is the body which discusses things, unties knots and attends to the needs of the state. It petitions the king and he asks of it. If he wants anything from it, he must act first by removing grievances imposed by his authority, remedying abuses, causing justice to be done and giving them heads if they ask for them.
When King James was alive the Earl of Bristol's friends advised him not to return to England, as it would be dangerous with the prince and duke as his enemies. He insisted on returning and shut his ears to the offers of the Spaniards and the chance of keeping the jewels left with him by the prince, worth more than 500,000 crowns. When he arrived he was refused access to the king and Court, but his coming with so much confidence when his life was in danger, convinced men of his innocence, and it was said that he had done nothing without orders. He had letters in his possession which he was bound to obey. The public enmity of the two and the fact that no attempt was made to bring him to justice, excites the belief that the king himself feared that some secret mystery might be disclosed. Then the people passed from one extreme to the other, and more because he accused Buckingham than for any other reason, began to love and fête (celebrare) him.
This second Parliament of King Charles being assembled [Bristol] began to send him various petitions to be heard, protesting that he had great matters of importance to the state and, in the first place, treason against Buckingham. If this were false or he could not prove it, he offered his own life. No answer was ever made to him. He appealed to Parliament, which intervened. He accused Buckingham of many things, but the principal articles were his having taken the prince to Spain by arrangement with the Court of Gondomar, with the intention of making him a Catholic; and that he was the cause of the loss of the Palatinate and the king's death. Parliament accused him of many extortions and venalities; that the damage inflicted by Dunkirk was due to his bad government; the ships of the fleet did nothing; the old captains were removed and young inexperienced fops, of his own people, put in their place; the failure of the Cadiz expedition, so much to the discredit of the kingdom, was due to bad management. They objected to the many and incompatible offices he held, and raising all his creatures to wealth and rank, constituting an unbearable charge upon the crown.
The duke, believing that recrimination would help him, caused the Attorney General to accuse Bristol of treason before his Majesty's journey to Spain, while there and after his return. This was, briefly, by encouraging vain hopes of the marriage in his own interests, by trying to make him a Catholic, and that his account of his negotiations was altogether false. In England an accused person is not allowed to accuse others, and the duke thought that this would suffice to rid himself. But Bristol asked the Attorney General who accused him, and was told the king himself. This seemed extravagant to every one, first, that the accuser should be a witness; second that the judge should be accuser, witness and judge, while the king would profit by the confiscation in case of conviction and because it was necessary to give credence to what he said not through argument but through force, and that the more so because he kept the proofs to himself. Accordingly they declared that notwithstanding the accusation Bristol might go on with his charges against the duke as if he were not accused. Upon this Parliament began to put off its business, remaining idle on this account, and determined to do nothing until this affair was despatched.
In the meantime the Earl of Arundel had become the duke's enemy in the very first month of the king's accession, because he had said in the Council that it was necessary to stop the promotion of so many barons and earls who had been created by the late king, so that no more should be made in the future; the nobility lost its lustre by this quantity and still more by their quality as so many low born men were raised to the highest honours. The duke therefore proposed to drive him out. He seized the opportunity of the clandestine marriage, without the king's consent, of the duke's son to his cousin, daughter of the Duke of Lennox, the marriage of those in wardship of the Crown being forbidden by royal prerogative, especially as she was promised to the son of the Earl of Argyle. Accordingly the earl was put in the Tower and afterwards confined to his mother's country house, and forbidden the Court and the holding of any office soever. The imprisonment during session of any member of Parliament is forbidden by the laws made by the kings upon their privileges, and much more that of a peer of the realm, who can only be punished for high treason, felony or homicide. Accordingly the Upper House insisted upon Arundel's release, as if they suffered these privileges to be infringed in this particular, they would all be broken. A similar case occurred in the Lower House almost simultaneously. There a member was accused of having in his speech compared the duke to Sejanus and those times with these, with the inference that the king was like Tiberius, a vicious and wicked emperor. For this he was put in the Tower with another. The members of Parliament remonstrated and refused to do anything until they were released, as there was no one in the whole Parliament who had heard such words; it had been imagined by the duke and published in order to get rid of these eloquent men, friends of the liberties of the realm, and consequently his opponents and enemies (non trovandosi in tutto il Parlamento chi havesse intese simil parole, trovate solo nel consiglio del Duca e publicate per levar quei soggetti potenti di lingua, amici della libertà del Regno ed in consequenza suoi contrarii e nemici).
One need not hesitate to say that in all these affairs the duke had been very ill advised, in thinking he could override everything by his greatness; none of his efforts ever turned out except the exact opposite of what he intended, and consequently to his hurt and destruction. He himself made a breach in his own greatness. Accordingly the Upper House obtained the Earl of Arundel and the Lower the two cavaliers, though some thought that Arundel had come to terms with the duke, and they proposed to go on with the trial of the two men, when the king sent two letters, one after the other, to the Lower House, urging them to put aside other matters and attend to his subsidies, as the enemy was preparing to invade the realm. His Majesty had it stated that the duke was most innocent in his conscience of everything, and if there was any fault it lay with himself or the late king. The duke had said the same in his reply to the Parliament, and he also adduced a general pardon and a special one for himself, exempting him from all judgment. But this did not suffice; they answered that the causes must first be despatched; the duke was responsible, since there was no longer any Council, as he alone with three or four of his creatures for show constituted it. Indeed, one of the leading men of the realm said that the last Council in England was the one in which the Earl of Arundel spoke about the promotion of barons, as no Council had been summoned since in any matter of importance (uno de' primi di quel Regno hebbe a dire che l'ultimo Consiglio in Inghilterra fu quello nel quale il Conte d'Arondel parlo circa la promotione di Baroni perche dopo non fu mai chiamato Consiglio in cosa che rilevasse).
The king gave the Parliament eight days to consider, and then hearing the tenor of a paper which they were sending to him, he forbid it on their lives, saying that they were striking at him, in passing the sword through one dear to him, and so he dissolved Parliament, being once more led to believe that they could find money without it. That same day Bristol was closely immured in the Tower. They thought of imprisoning others, but feared the scandal. They asked in the first place, a loan of 100,000l. from the City of London, but this was absolutely refused, as many as three times. They drew up a list of 150 merchants and said they would get 1,000l. from each, but the first refusal led to a second, and they did not persist. In a short time necessity will compel them to have a third Parliament, in which the duke's case will be worse than ever, and his ultimate ruin is easy to foresee. He pretends he will go with the fleet, to avoid the imminent peril, so that it may not strike his head, and by some worthy action recover the public favour; but this will not be easy. Flanders is safe from his attack. Spain is on her guard and he could only make predatory raids on the coast where they are exposed to petty robbery on the part of the soldiery. This would do no good and bring the duke little honour, especially with a royal fleet. I do not know what the eventual outcome may be. If he really wishes to go, they will be ill advised to allow him to do so, as if he loses his possessions and standing in England, they will make a mistake in allowing a condemned man, at once desperate and poor, to take them away, and become master of the fortress, power and defence of the state, because united with others or by himself he will be able to trouble them and, like a new Coriolanus, fight against his native land. There would, moreover, be no one to resist him, as he would take with him all his creatures, and all the ships being in their hands, there will be no one against him except the sailors and the lowest of the populace, who can easily be corrupted with a glass of wine and whose affections can be won by popularity, presents and inducements (volendo in effeto andare saranno poco giudiciosi in permetterglielo, perche perduto de'beni e di corpo in Inghilterra saranno mal avvisati lasciar ch'un condannato, disperato e povero meni lor via e sia padrone della fortezza possanza e guardia dello stato, perche o unito ad altri o da se potra travagliarlo, et a guisa di un nuovo Coriolano combatter la patria. Ne ci sura chi lo contrasti, menando seco tutte le sue creature, i vaselli tutti in man loro, non potendo aver contrari che i marinari e la piu vil gente, facile da corrompersi con un bicchier di vino e da rendersi affezionata con la popolarità, con doni e con le speranze).
The duke always builds upon the king's great affection for him, as his Majesty has protested that he would lose his crown and state rather than abandon him, but he judges badly in this as in everything else. Even if the king had the power to do this, which he has not, he would have to subsist without Parliament; but he cannot, and so the duke's fall may be anticipated and is certain (ma come giudico male nel resto, giudico male in questo, supposto falsamente che il Re havesse authorità di farlo e che voluto lo lui l'haverebbe voluto il resto. Il che sarebbe stato vero s'egli havesse potuto o potesso sussistere solo, ma non potendo, la rovina n'e congetturabile e certa).
The duke's mistakes in policy and practice since his return from Spain are causing the king and kingdom to declare themselves enemies of Spain before they had the force to attack it; instead of alliances, of having made enemies of his friends by reprisals on their goods; having offended the French so much as to force them to a peace with Spain; having forced the king his master to put him alone in the balance against the crown and state, as even if he were innocent, he ought to yield to the torrent of this general hate and appease the fury by some honourable and voluntary ostracism. After the dissolution of the first Parliament, the raising of the money in illicit ways and unwisely spending it on a fleet which only served to lose the king's reputation; the defence and honouring of those accused of negligence, malice or corruption, and deserved punishment if only to remove the suspicion that he had not given such orders. Of having, amid the tide of general ill will, shown, both by word and deed, that he would persist in his evil course. From being agreeable and tractable he has become more proud and arrogant, notably when it was objected that he held too many appointments, offices and titles for one individual, when, in contempt of all, he had himself made President of the Council of War and Chancellor of the University of Cambridge on the spot.
I must mention a foolish but vulgar incident. When the President of the Council, a creature of the duke, asked an Irish servant of the duke what he meant when he said that the duke need never fear Parliament or doubt the king's favour, while he wore what he had on himself (mentre portasse quello ch'egli avea sopra di se), the man replied: Innocence for the Parliament and loyalty or the king, and he was not questioned further. The Irishman, a poor man of no account, is generally believed to be a magician, and as the duke gives him a handsome salary which cannot be less than 1,000l. a year, from his excessive expenditure, he can have given him nothing except some secret service, as he is good for nothing and lives outside the house. (fn. 2) But these things, although believed to be true, may be false, and I believe they are. The true magic is a predominant genius, which we cannot explain, though we see the effects. The issue certainly cannot be good, but I hope that his Majesty, who is a prince of an excellent disposition, without any vice, and who promises nothing but good in himself, will attend to wiser counsels, though he cannot do this without abandoning the first.
A matter worthy of remark falls from my pen, that the queen, who professes to hate the duke, unexpectedly spoke to his Majesty in his favour, showing that besides his royal prerogative he would gain in reputation with everyone by showing himself constant in defending his servant. The reason for this was that the queen mother and the king her brother, seeing the advantage they derived at la Rochelle from the seven English ships lent them, considered that if they helped that place, their Majesties could not come out of that affair with honour. Therefore they had to try and keep the King of Great Britain from having the power to do this, and the way was to keep him on bad terms with his kingdom, and they could not do this better than by getting him to support the duke; so they instructed the queen, who is thoroughly French, both in her sentiments and habits. The marriage has not changed her one whit; it has not made her English and does not seem likely to do so by a long way. She dislikes many things and preserves her inclination more for France and the French than for England and her husband.
... because enamoured of the pleasure of ruling and alarmed by the numerous mistakes he has made, he is afraid to submit to the censure of the true rulers.
The pen may certainly go astray through ingnorance, but while princes have secret thoughts which a subject cannot guess, there are others which everybody understands. The world marvelled to see the late King James neglect the princes of Germany, to whom he was bound by alliance, and listen to a Spanish ambassador, and though deceived in the marriage negotiation for his eldest son, believed in it for his second, and continued the negotiation while Bohemia and the Palatinate were lost. He would take no definite resolution, but dragged things out, to the hurt of himself, his son-in-law and his friends. All these things were evil in appearance, but good according to his view, because, in order to do well, he would have to make war, a thing he did not wish. His subjects therefore erred in condemning him, because his actions were not concerned with external affairs, but his real object was to do everything in order to die a peaceful king, as he did. All these things were secret and so they might be mistaken through ignorance. Now they are different; everything is open.
The Queen, Henrietta Maria, a young girl of sixteen, came to her husband last year, in 1625. She set foot in England on St. John's eve, at the very moment when the plague began its terrible ravages. She had no sooner landed than trouble began. The duke removed her governess, Madame St. Georges, from her coach, in order to make room for the Countess of Denbigh, his half sister (sua sorella carnale), with the further intention of putting the countess in her place. There were also the bad arrangements made, whether purposely or no, for the entertainment of her followers and of those who came in the suite of the Duke of Chevreuse, who was sent to accompany her and to see that the articles of the contract were carried out. It was as if the English had some reason for doing it; at all events it was done so clumsily and with so much precipitancy that the fault lies with them. The French profited by the necessity of England to make this marriage. The one with Spain being barred, the English could not save their reputation except by concluding this one. The French pressed this advantage to such an extent in the negotiations that very sharp words were exchanged, and fresh difficulties were constantly arising, always followed by others, so that the English ambassadors were several times on the point of abandoning the business altogether. On their arrival in England they wished to indemnify themselves (vollero rifarsi). Dissatisfaction increased on both sides, as the one required a rigorous fulfilment, while the other had no intention of satisfying them. What with the shortness of the time and the pinch for money, the king found his finances exhausted, the crown laden with debts, and with no credit to incur new ones. Thus there was an absence of arrangement everywhere, the guests were ill lodged and indifferently treated, while penury appeared in all directions, at table, in the coaches, waggons and horses.
In addition to this, the household brought over by the queen, with the exception of three or four, consisted of the most ordinary and ill fashioned people to be found in France (la piu ordinaria e mal fabbricata genti che fusse in Francia), both male and female. The majority of the latter were married and brought in their train their children, a greater burden than all the rest of the ordinary servants. Thus while they themselves were despised, they paid this back with their own contempt for the country. The quarrel grew in intensity, beginning from the ancient enmity between the two nations and increased by manifold discourtesies on the one side and by curses on the other. With servants of this quality, there was something even worse. It seems that they had not only picked out the worst, but the most mischievous. Many who were originally selected were dismissed from the household before they left France, for not being zealous and fervent Catholics. Their intention and principal object was the conversion of England, a conversion seditious and subversive of the state, not to be obtained without hurt to the king and peril to the kingdom. And indeed, when they arrived, they put this into practice so imprudently that in spite of their ignorance they never ceased arguing everywhere, and still continue, with no advantage to the faith, and to the detriment of themselves and of the queen their mistress (molti prima eletti cassati dalla famiglia prima da partir di Francia sul non esser Cattolici zelanti e fervidi; la loro intentione e fin principale di convertire l'Inghilterra, conversione allo statto sedicione e soversione non potendo ella ottenire che per vie dannosi al Re e pericolosi al Regno. E di vero giunti praticarono questo punto cosi imprudentemente che benche ignoranti non restavano ne restano dalle dispute per tutto, con niun utile della Religione, con danno a se, e alla Reina loro padrona).
At Southampton, whither the king withdrew, they got rid of a good part of these people. The remainder were rather diminished than dashed (piu tosto diminuita che mortificata), since the French always insist upon being French everywhere, retaining their freedom of speech and manners. They wanted to be always with the queen, whereas the customs in that kingdom are the exact opposite, being modest and reserved, and they wish their princes to be adored, the grades of the Court to be apportioned and each grade to have its chamber, so that the place which befits one shall not be usurped by another. Everything proceeds with order and reserve, and their ancient institutions will not suffer any change.
There are two other additional points to those mentioned. One is that as the queen cannot be compelled, by the capitulations, to admit any but Catholics into her household, she is compelled to send to France for them, as the king will not admit English Catholics. As the French do not know the customs, they are detignedly ill treated in their functions by their inferiors in the Court. This is a source of perpetual disputes, all for the purpose of teaching them to make use of the people of the country, without distinction. The other is that with the dissolution of Parliament, in which they were to arrange the assignments for the queen, things being left upside down, she remains without a farthing, and has contracted debts with all her servants, and is so impoverished that she has not a crown to buy herself a ribbon. The king is creditor for 150,000l. sterling for the remainder of her dowry, but he dare not ask for it, for fear lest they refuse it until he has assigned the dower which he is bound to settle on his wife.
In spite of all these troubles they behave towards each other with great affection. The king is most good tempered (dolcissimo) and without vices, unless his poverty is one, and his affection for the duke, whose wishes constitute the sole laws for the Court. The queen's is a very perfect character. She is a good and zealous Catholic, of a lively and firm disposition although her firmness is considered obstinacy by her people. She does not readily change her mind, and although she has been advised to speak to the king about her affairs and ask for money, she prefers to suffer rather than speak (la natura della Reina sia gran perfezione, e buona Cattolica e zelante, di spiriti vivi e costante, benche la costanza sia da suoi creduta ostinacione. Non si rimuove dall opinioni facilmente, e benche consigliata a parla al Re circa le cose sue, chieder danari, vuol patir piu tosto che parlarne).
I hope that everything will be accommodated when the chief matter is arranged. At the time of my departure the only hope left for an accommodation was its necessity. If that does not persuade them, destruction is at hand. His Majesty persisted in moving every stone before he called a third Parliament. He claims that the four subsidies promised to him by the last one are due to him, although they were not voted, and has written about it to all the counties. What will happen I do not know, but I think they will be refused, and by the fundamental laws he cannot lawfully claim them. If he decides to appeal to force he will find it dangerous, because the kingdom is all agreed to contribute nothing.


  • 1. From internal evidence and the fact that they are found among the Contarini papers, the four fragments printed here appear to be part of a sketch for a relazione of England by Angelo Contarini, who was ambassador extraordinary to England with Marc Antonio Correr in July, 1626. The first section, headed "What parliament in England is," exists in both the library of St. Mark and the Correr Museum. The second and third sections are on loose sheets at the Marciana only, and the last, on Henrietta Maria, at the Correr only, but the style and the handwriting indicate that they were all written about the same time by one hand.
  • 2. The Irishman referred to appears to be Piers Butler, whose remark is recorded in Pesaro's despatch of the 15th May (at page 416 above). The diarist of Charles' second Parliament records on April 25th o.s. that Robert Ramsay, brought and examined before Parliament, said he heard Mr. Perceval Butler say that so long as the king did entertain the Duke of Buckingham he would lose a great many better friends, that was about six weeks before, and he said that the king and Parliament could do nothing to the duke so long as he kept one thing. Ramsay further deposed that he had seen Butler a fortnight before, but had avoided him since, because he heard "that he got once aworke to distill toads." (Camb. Univ. Library, MS. Dd. 12.20–2.) There is a reference to the same matter in a letter from the Bishop of Mande to Richelieu, written about the same time. He says: "Deux hommes ont été oui dans le Parlement qui ont depose d'avoir entendu d'un gentilhomme hibernois appellé Boilae qui est accusé de sortilege et magie, que le Duc ne serait jamais en peril porveu qu'il ne perdit pas les choses qu'il lui avait donne. Sur cette deposition l'hibernais a pris la fuite." Public Record Office, Paris Transcripts.