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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THE present volume covers the period from the 25th April, 1625, to the end of October, 1626, the first nineteen months of the reign of Charles I. The material comes almost entirely from the stores at the Frari, and calls for little comment. The only exceptions are the papers printed in the Appendices, which are taken from St. Mark's Library, the Correr Museum, and the communal library at Treviso. They are described in the footnotes. The twenty despatches to the Senate of the ambassadors extraordinary Marc Antonio Correr and Anzolo Contarini are bound separately in a supplementary volume. Their register or a contemporary copy is preserved at the Correr Museum. The despatches of Alvise Contarini from London have all been translated by Mr. Rawdon Brown, the copy being at the Public Record Office. This was not made from the original despatches, but from the ambassador's register, preserved at St. Mark's Library. The differences are, however, insignificant. Mr. Brown's translation has been largely used here, after a careful collation with the originals. Some of the papers consulted have suffered severely from damp. This is particularly the case with France, Vol. 64 (September, 1625—February, 1626), Florence, Vol. 40 (March, 1625—Febuary, 1626), and the States (March, 1625—February, 1626). In all these, and especially the last, much is altogether undecipherable, or the pages are so stuck together that they cannot be separated without destroying the paper. Vol. 55 of the despatches of the Proveditore of Crete (March, 1626—February, 1627) could not be found, while the series Capitano della Guardia of Crete drops out altogether.
The death of James seemed to have removed the one check upon the realisation of the national aspirations. He had throughout carried on a policy, particularly in foreign affairs, that was diametrically opposed to the sentiments of the great majority of his subjects. During the last years of his reign, although he had lost much of his authority, he still retained enough to check the course of national enthusiasm and to leave room for the fear that, with the arrival of Gondomar, he might once again reassert himself and continue his unpopular policy of friendship with Spain. Now that he was out of the way and his place filled by a young prince inspired by a deep resentment against the Spaniards, who had been leading the popular war party in parliament, it was hoped and believed that a generous national policy would forthwith be adopted, the long pent up sentiments of the people would have free play and the reproach of an English princess being left a refugee in a foreign land would be removed by her triumphant restoration by the side of her husband in his hereditary dominions. Thus private sorrow for the late monarch was swallowed up by popular rejoicing in the assurance of a proper course and generous resolutions in the new king after the uncertainties of the late reign, which had wearied all men (No. 4). In the Netherlands the Queen of Bohemia could be unsparing in her criticism of the way in which her father had allowed himself to be deceived by the Spaniards (No. 714). Her hopes rose with the news of her brother's accession (No. 89) and she counted on his affection to afford her greater relief in her fallen fortunes (No. 21).
Everything assumed a roseate hue. The satisfaction with which the people welcomed their new king was only deepened by his conduct at the outset of his reign. He was already known for his sobriety and temperance and he speedily showed an appreciation of the responsibilities of his new position. He drew up rules for himself, dividing the day, from his very early rising, for prayers, exercises, audiences, business, eating and sleeping (No. 25). He announced that he would be constant in religion, sincere in action, and that he would not have recourse to subterfuges in his dealings. He liked matters to be discussed in his presence in the Council, with all the arguments for and against, when he would declare his pleasure, after carefully noting the chief points. Every morning he showed himself in the privy chamber to the lords and officials in attendance, where he detained some in conversation and saluted others, leaving all happy and devoted. (No. 38). He insisted upon strict decorum at Court, where each one had his appointed place, returning to the rules of Queen Elizabeth (No. 25).
The financial situation was sufficiently serious. The Treasurer presented a statement showing that the late king had spent a hundred millions and left a million of debts. Two-thirds of the revenue for the coming year had been spent in advance. But Charles inspired confidence by declaring that he meant to pay his father's debts (No. 17). At the same time he ordered the payment of his own private debts, setting apart for this the revenues of the Principality of Wales, until they were cancelled (No. 38). Thus, in spite of the deficit, the king's credit was excellent. The people were ready to pay in advance the third subsidy granted in the late reign (No. 25). The Lord Mayor of London offered a loan of 20,000l., virtually a gift, followed almost immediately by a loan for 60,000l. more (No. 46). Conway assured the Venetian Ambassador Pesaro that the greater his Majesty's demands the more alacrity his subjects would show in satisfying them (No. 72). The occasion was considered so propitious abroad that the cautious Venetian Signory, on hearing the news of James's death, promptly decided to send ambassadors extraordinary to greet his successor (No. 57).
Ministers declared that James recommended three things to his son, the hastening of the French marriage, the preparation of the fleet, and not to involve himself in negotiations with the Spaniards (No. 17). This probably represents what was expected of Charles rather than any special injunctions from his father. Although some members of the Council were of opinion that the French match should be broken off and that the king should marry a German princess of his own faith, the general feeling was that in the existing state of affairs it was better to expedite the French match and petition the king to effect it as soon as possible. This agreed with the king's own wishes and proxies were at once sent to Paris for hastening the nuptials. The ceremony took place with great pomp on Sunday the 11th May in Nôtre Dame (No. 61), the last difficulties about the dispensation having already been removed at Rome (No. 9).
The chief energies of the government were directed to fitting out a great fleet for the purpose of undertaking offensive operations, the nature of which remained undisclosed and apparently undecided. The English ambassadors at Paris suggested the invasion of Flanders with French help (No. 92). There was talk of the fleet going to Spain, the Indies, the Mediterranean, or even somewhere near (No. 96), while the duke wanted it to co-operate with the French against Genoa (No. 139). The Spaniards were anxious about what might happen. At the very outset of his reign Charles had expressed his intention of speaking to them by the proper vehicles (No. 4). The Spanish secretary, Bruneau, and Vanmale, the agent of Flanders, went early to the new king and offered satisfaction for the recent reprisals made against his shipping, although they claimed that the captures were justified by the terms of the peace. Charles received their offices graciously, but said he had made sure of satisfaction already by granting letters of marque, so that those concerned might recoup themselves (No. 38). Later on, as the preparations for the fleet proceeded, Bruneau went again to the king. He said that by treaty they were bound to inform the Spaniards when they were sending out more than six ships. Charles replied that he knew this, but the fleet was preparing for his brother-in-law and they could find out from him. The secretary declared that if the fleet attacked the ships or territories of the Catholic they would regard it as open war. Charles said he could not help that. In the third place Bruneau represented the prejudice of closer union with the Dutch. Charles told him drily that he knew what the good of his dominions required (No. 230). In spite of this Charles did not wish to precipitate an open breach with Spain at the very opening of his reign (No. 17). Appearances were carefully preserved and diplomatic relations maintained until the last possible moment. Although the Dutch were anxious to induce England to come out openly against Spain, Charles adhered firmly to his purpose, that the fleet should sail in the name of the Elector Palatine and under his flag (Nos. 110, 195). He would not even give the Palatine the title of king, styling him simply "my brother" (No. 46).
Charles hoped to see his fleet sail promptly. He had not been a month on the throne when he went with Buckingham to Blackwall to inspect a number of the ships (No. 38). But the summer passed away before it was ready to start. Various matters conspired to produce delay; the chief being the spoiling of the provisions (No. 104), and the need of waiting for the Dutch contingent, which were not ready in August (Nos. 195, 229), and which were temporarily employed for the blockading of Dunkirk (No. 228). The cost to the country was considerable, as the counties had to pay for the press, clothe the soldiers, send them to Plymouth and feed them until they were taken over by the king's officers (No. 96). Parliament severely criticised the long delay, attributing it to mismanagement (No. 211). The question of command was left unsettled until the last minute. For some time it was thought that Buckingham would take it himself, and the Elector Palatine and his wife actually signed patents for him, 'though with power to substitute others (No. 156). The Admiral of the Dutch squadron, Laurence Real, hoped that he might have the command of the entire fleet, as the English had no one to equal him in his profession. His plan was to divide into four squadrons and blockade the whole of the enemy's coasts for at least a year, as that was the safest way to catch the gold fleet (No. 195). The question really only lay between Buckingham and Sir Edward Cecil, neither of whom had any experience in commanding naval forces. Cecil had been sent for from the Netherlands towards the end of May, with the idea that he should have the military direction and control the movements of the troops (Nos. 93, 148). By the end of August it was decided that he should have the sole command (No. 218). Buckingham did not escape criticism for declining this great opportunity (No. 235). The fleet ultimately sailed on the 18th October, Cecil having the title of marshal, not admiral. Their plans only took shape at the last moment, when they decided to damage Spain and appointed a rendezvous off St. Sebastian (No. 290).
In Spain the preparation of this fleet caused considerable anxiety, more from fear for the plate fleet, than because they dreaded an invasion. Olivares remarked that their sins had brought this fleet (No. 134). Yet they carried matters with their usual bravado, and Hinojosa sent Buckingham a sort of challenge, saying that if he would come to Biscay with the fleet they would receive him gladly. In the same spirit Buckingham replied that if they would only come a yard or two out to sea, he would answer them as they desired (No. 72). The long delay gave the Spaniards ample time to make their preparations. Forts were built at all the chief points on the coast (No. 204). Every effort was made to collect a large fleet and secure the command of the sea, and the provinces of the empire, especially Naples, were called upon to supply ships (No. 295). By the end of September they claimed to have 120,000 men on shore, with a fleet of 130 armed galleons, exclusive of smaller ships, manned by 26,000 soldiers (No. 252). Their chief anxiety was to know where the enemy's fleet would elect to strike (No. 208). It is a remarkable proof of the great naval superiority of the English and Dutch combined that in spite of the alleged strength of the Spanish forces, they were able to attack almost any point they chose. When the fleet entered Cadiz Bay on the 1st November, it only missed intercepting the Spanish East India fleet by four days (No. 299). In spite of all their boasting, Olivares considered it providential that the Brazil fleet, instead of making Cadiz, as they had earnestly desired, had been carried to a port (Malaga) to which no fleet from the Indies had ever gone before (No. 303).
The news of the arrival of the English fleet reached Madrid on the 5th. The whole Court and all Spain was stirred. The king wanted to mount horse at once, stamped about and could not keep still, but the Council would not let him go, saying that it did not behove him to move without an army worthy of his presence. The nobles and young men of spirit hastened to the scene of action. The call to arms resounded throughout the land. There was not the slightest sign of fear, as they said that their enemies were the enemies of God, and they were fighting for the faith. The people showed the utmost loyalty and freely offered themselves and their goods in defence of the monarchy (Nos. 299, 302, 312). Spinola was sent for from Flanders to command against the invaders (No. 356).
The event hardly justified so much excitement. After some initial success the English were driven back to their ships. The hopes of the Spaniards rose with success and they contemplated the possibility of catching the entire force in the bay, if their expected reinforcements arrived. They even prayed for a strong westerly wind to drive all the enemy's ships on to the coast. These were the dreams of pious landsmen. The fleet stood five or six miles out to avoid being caught, and the wind became rather more favourable, changing to a northerly direction (No. 307). In a few days the English fleet was compelled to sail for home. In England they talked of a blockade of Lisbon and of preventing the plate fleet from getting in (No. 378). The ships, however, came safely to port and the Spaniards mocked at the English for not succeeding in finding them (No. 379).
No one believed that this half-hearted attack on Cadiz would be the beginning and end of a formidable expedition which had been preparing for so long. Savoy and even France hoped that it would enter the Mediterranean. The Spaniards expected this and sent warnings to Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, Genoa and Corsica, to arm themselves because the English fleet had passed the Strait of Gibraltar (No. 366). In Sardinia, in particular, it was suspected that the people had an understanding with the English, and troops were sent from Naples to Apulia and Calabria (No. 385). Even the Papal Court was fluttered, although the pope did not believe that a landing could be effected successfully in his states (No. 353). Attack was expected at Spezia, and Corsica (No. 391), while panic reigned at Naples (No. 398).
The collapse of an enterprise from which so much had been expected, the first and chief of the new reign, cast the utmost discredit upon Charles's government. Fargis, in Spain, had spoken of it contemptuously as a youthful, unconsidered enterprise of the new king (No. 303). Nevertheless, the French were scandalised at the departure of the fleet from Cadiz (No. 346). As the expedition returned by degrees at the beginning of the new year, the truth about the losses it had suffered gradually leaked out, in spite of the fact that Cecil remained for a long time in Ireland with the bulk of his force. More than half the men had perished (No. 486), and four vessels, though not of the largest, had gone down on the voyage home (No. 424). The failure was attributed to bad management, division among the leaders, shortness of provisions and the fear of utter destruction at that season of the year (No. 404). Cecil was thought to be staying away to avoid parliament, which was about to meet (No. 486). Violent recriminations went on between him and his colonels (No. 543), the latter presenting a paper to the Council upon the shortcomings of their general (No. 544).
When Cecil at length reached London in March he was questioned by the king and Council, possibly in order to prevent a parliamentary enquiry (No. 513). Parliament, however, was not incensed against Cecil personally, but against the one who chose him for such a great expedition (No. 497). Public opinion pointed to Buckingham as the real cause of the disaster. Cecil's apologists said he was prevented from doing anything by Captain Love, a member of his Council and a dependant of Buckingham, who had secret instructions to see that nothing was done (No. 454). It was also said that Denbigh, the duke's brother-in-law, had failed to carry out the general's order to burn the Spanish ships, a thing upon which the glory and perhaps the success of the expedition depended (No. 513). Love was to be made a scapegoat, and through Buckingham's interest it was expected that it would all blow over without anyone being blamed (No. 543).
The King of Spain sent to inform the principal Courts of Europe of the wanton attack which had been made upon him (No. 407). To Venice as well as elsewhere he sent a relation of the whole business touching the proposed Anglo-Spanish marriage and the Palatine, drawn up from original documents (No. 469). It is curious and perhaps significant that when Charles heard of the offices of the Spanish ambassador at Venice he turned pale, made Pesaro repeat the particulars and said: I assure you that the Spaniards cannot honourably publish such a thing; the letters which passed between me and the Infanta were sent back to me unopened and sealed (No. 496).
When the fleet returned from the fiasco at Cadiz, the English ministers consoled themselves for the harm which they had not been able to inflict on the Spaniards by the pleasure of being able to hurt the French. The union from which so much had been expected had proved an utter failure. The Spaniards said they were gaining more from the French match than if the one with the Infanta had been arranged (No. 404). Many circumstances combined to this end, not one of them really serious in itself. The policy of both countries required the marriage, but it had been hastily contracted without either side fully appreciating the position of the other, and with each intent on obtaining more than the other was ready to concede. The first difficulty arose over the ships promised against the French rebels. The English feared that they would be used to make war on the Huguenots, in spite of a categorical promise from the French that they should only be employed to reduce Soubise and secure peace. The sailors raised pretexts about the tides, while the merchants who owned the ships wanted security for their value in case of loss, as well as for the hire. Effiat was so much incensed about the matter that he demanded his papers to take leave (No. 73). Although ready at the beginning of the reign, the ships did not cross to Normandy until the end of June. Even then it was found that some were of less burthen than agreed, and whereas it was arranged that they should be manned with French soldiers, the English sailors, who served as soldiers also, were found to be the stronger, and the admiral, Montmorency, did not feel safe to use them in delicate matters (No. 139). On their arrival they flatly refused to fight Soubise or the Huguenots, and returned home almost at once (No. 150). When the French remonstrated at the breach of faith, the English contended that they were obliged to return for lack of victuals (No. 164). The sailors were ordered to serve the Most Christian against all comers, but they declared that they could not obey without injuring their own faith, and the king could not command them against their consciences (No. 188). Finally, it was proposed to let the French have the ships unmanned (No. 210). The arrangement was scarcely made before the English regretted it, as they made the concession in the assurance of peace in France and they perceived that the ships would only prove a further inducement for war (No. 230). This stirred their wrath and made them eager to get the ships back at once. When ships lent by the Dutch for the same purpose came to harm they rejoiced (No. 210).
With the defeat of Soubise the situation became even worse, as the Huguenot commander took refuge with his fleet of fourteen ships in the port of Falmouth, including the St. John, a prize he had captured at Blavet. The French admiral pursued him right into the port, anchored seven ships about the St. John, and demanded permission to take it away (No. 278). The governor refused and was backed by the Court, despite the indignant remonstrance of the French ambassador, who declared that the keeping of the St. John would be considered a hostile act (No. 377). Charles sent commissioners to Falmouth to make enquiry, but Blainville objected even to that, considering that his word ought to suffice (No. 404). Meanwhile, at Falmouth, Soubise withdrew to a safer position, and when the French admiral, Menty, wished to follow him, he was forcibly prevented. The Huguenot soldiers were allowed to land and go about armed, while the moment the royal troops went on shore they were deprived of their weapons. Finally, Soubise sailed away to another port with a fleet increased to twenty ships. Menty was left helpless with only two vessels; the Dutch, who formed the bulk of his squadron, being required against Dunkirk (No. 377). These events provided the French with an excuse for not returning the English ships, and they had the better of the bargain, because the English ships were the more valuable (No. 341). The English were much incensed at this detention, as they claimed that the purpose for which the ships had been lent had been achieved with the defeat of Soubise. They demanded the return of their ships with growing warmth, and finally commanded Pennington to take a squadron to recover them by force or sink them (No. 404).
This approach to a state of war was accentuated by the active reprisals carried out by one nation against the other. It began with the English claim to all Spanish goods carried in neutral bottoms. The French were powerless to resist at sea, but they retaliated by seizing English goods and ships in French ports. Although England was thus able to inflict great damage upon French sea borne trade, the losses of English traders in France were very serious. It was reckoned that the English goods seized in France were ten times more valuable than those taken from the French. The company of merchants trading with France presented a memorial stating that their losses amounted to four millions of francs (No. 486). Although in this particular matter the merchants betrayed no ill-feeling against France, and rather blamed their own government, the relations between the two nations were characterised by feelings of bitterness and mistrust. The marriage ceremony between Charles and Henrietta Maria took place on the 11th May, but the queen did not arrive in England until the 22nd June. She tarried because of her brother's illness (No. 69), but the delay gave rise to ill-feeling and suspicion in England (No. 86). The long talked of mission of Buckingham to France proved unfortunate in every way. He went at the shortest notice, apparently to his own annoyance, and so unexpectedly that his instructions were sent after him. His proposals were fantastic and bore the impress of the same unconsidered haste. He suggested that the queen mother should bring her daughter to England, and that the two kings should meet each other (No. 86). He wished to conclude a defensive and offensive alliance with France, a matter in which the French had no intention of meeting him (No. 89). He was well received and outwardly satisfied with the result of his negotiations; but he did not forgive the rebuff to his plans, and took an early opportunity of betraying the confidence of the queen mother and Richelieu to the Venetian ambassador (No. 92). The journey to Amiens of the queens, accompanied by Buckingham, the English ambassadors, the Princess of Condé and the Duchess of Chevreuse, excited a great deal of gossip (No. 153). This would appear to refer to more than Buckingham's presumption with Queen Anne. His behaviour certainly increased the difficulties between the two countries. These despatches contain no direct reference to the matter. There is only a discreet mention of a mysterious secret jealousy which Louis entertained for the duke because of his attractive manners (No. 329), and later, that the king feared that Buckingham's proposed visit to Paris might disturb his domestic peace and freedom (No. 371).
In the marriage negotiations, the French had made it a point of honour to obtain for the English Catholics terms as good as those conceded to the Spaniards. Believing that the English were tied down to the marriage, they pressed their advantage hard. In his eagerness to conclude the match, Charles made promises without reflecting upon the consequences. The temper of the country was utterly opposed to any such concessions, and very suspicious of all movements in that direction, while the state of the finances did not permit the lapse of any source of revenue. It was hoped that once the queen was safely in the country the king would value the satisfaction of his people and the observance of the laws more than the obligations he had entered into to please France (No. 96.) The treasurer raised difficulties about making any pecuniary concessions to the Recusants (No. 73). Charles was advised to give satisfaction to his people in this matter (No. 211), while Buckingham hoped to escape parliamentary attack by this expedient (No. 217).
While the English were thus prepared to violate the solemn obligations of the marriage treaty, the French promised themselves great achievements for the faith from its terms. Owing largely to a quarrel between the favourite Baradas and the king's Jesuit confessor, St. Giran, it was decided, almost at the last minute that Jesuits should not go to England with the queen, a point which the English ambassadors had up to then insisted on in vain. Their place was taken by Father Berulle and the Oratorians (No. 67), but from the English point of view the change was probably but little for the better. No discretion was shown in choosing the members of the young queen's household. Many of those originally selected were dismissed before she left France for not being zealous and fervent Catholics. The principal object they set before themselves was the conversion of England, quite regardless of what the English might think (App. I, sec. iv). The exuberant tactlessness with which the girl-queen was launched on her new life could hardly have been surpassed. When she parted from her mother and kneeled to receive her blessing, Mary de' Medici told her that if she changed her religion she would give her instead a thousand curses (No. 114). Arrived in England, the queen's attendants affected a contempt for all about them, clung to the customs of their own country, and although no theologians, insisted on arguing, in and out of season, upon questions of faith (App. I, sec. iv). The English complained that their numbers were excessive, and by the mismanagement, already characteristic of Charles's government, the provision made for their entertainment proved most inadequate (ib.). From the first the English tried to tire out the French and induce them to return home, and some twenty-five departed, leaving the others envious of their good fortune (No. 260). Feeling was very strained, and Pesaro noticed the marked revival of hostility between the two nations (No. 188). The fathers of the Oratory, who had come with the queen, had complete control over her. They would say to her: To-day is such a saint, to-morrow is the feast of such a saint, your Majesty has the rope, girdle or pacienza of such a blessed one. You must not let his Majesty approach (No. 740). Cardinal Spada sent the queen a brief from the pope commending her conduct and enjoining her to remain constant in the faith and to protect the Catholics (No. 545). All these things combined to inflame the girl's bigotry and prevent her from adapting herself to her adopted country. She remained utterly French and preferred France and the French to England and her husband (App. I, sec. ii). Even in the matter of the coronation Charles found his wishes thwarted. After he had informed Blainville that his coronation should take place with that of the queen with all the usual ceremony (No. 412), the Sorbonne decreed that her Majesty could not be crowned without offending religion, because the ceremony took place in a Protestant church and was performed by Protestant bishops. Louis wrote that he wished his sister to have her crown without prejudice to her conscience, and a heavenly crown was much better (No. 454).
That all these proceedings should have excited a growing irritation in the mind of Charles can be no matter for surprise. He complained that they wished to separate him from his wife (No. 740). But he showed an equal lack of tact and discretion on his side. The queen had scarcely landed before her governess was turned out of her coach, on the plea that she was not of sufficient rank, and had to give place to the Countess of Denbigh. An effort was made to prevent the queen's familiar intercourse with the bishop and confessor she had brought with her. Buckingham tried to force his wife, mother, sister and niece upon her, as ladies of the bedchamber. When this was refused, he spoke bitterly to the queen, and a messenger whom he sent to the French ambassadors was so insolent that they threatened to throw him out of the window (No. 188). The relations between the king and queen were mitigated for a time by his present to her of Denmark House, while Buckingham did his best to conciliate her good will (No. 435). She was even induced, under pressure, to give up seeing Blainville. About the middle of February, 1626, she asked and obtained a long conference with the king, and for the time being they were reconciled (No. 474).
The question of the household before long again disturbed this domestic harmony. Five months later Charles presented to his wife the Marchioness of Hamilton, the Countess of Denbigh and the Countess of Carlisle, saying: Madam, I wish you to receive these ladies as your ladies of the bedchamber. The queen replied modestly that his Majesty was master, but she would never have confidence in those ladies. A few days later the queen sent the king a note with the names of some whom she desired to have appointments about her; but the king threw it aside without reading it, saying he meant to be master and dispose of her offices as he pleased (No. 680). The quarrel was pursued with growing acrimony. The queen told Charles that she desired no more for the regulation of her household than his mother, Queen Anne, had enjoyed. The king replied that his mother was a different sort of woman. The queen retorted that there certainly was a great difference between a daughter of Denmark and one of France and of the House of Bourbon. The king rejoined that a daughter of France was nothing very great, as she brought no prerogative beyond her dowry; moreover, she was the third and last, and therefore of less account (No. 685).
After such miserable squabbles matters were brought to a head by the queen's visit to Tyburn on the 6th July, where she descended from her coach and knelt to pray for the soul of the Jesuit Garnet, executed there twenty years before for complicity in the Gunpowder Plot. That one executed as a traitor should be thus honoured as a martyr drove Charles to fury, and he resolved upon the dismissal of the queen's French attendants (No. 705). This decision was not taken quite so suddenly as has been represented. Eight months before there was already a plan to send back the principal ones (No. 349). A few weeks later the demand was made that they should all take the oath of fealty or go. This created a great stir among the French, but eventually nearly all of them complied (No. 412). The Tyburn incident occurred on the 6th July, but it was not until the 10th August that Charles took action. On that day he met the Council and it was decided to remove the French from about the queen. On leaving the Council chamber he sent for the queen. She replied that she could not leave her room because of the toothache. Thereupon the king went to her quarters with all the Council. After making every one go out, he shut himself in with her and told her of the decision taken for the good of herself and the nation, and urging her to take comfort in the assurance that she would be better served and with more decorum. The poor child, taken unawares, made no answer, but seeing herself deprived at one blow of all those in whom she had any confidence, she began to weep bitterly. Her despair availed nothing, and all the French were hustled away to Denmark House, to proceed to France at the earliest opportunity, without even having time to bid farewell to their mistress or take away their belongings. Infuriated at this treatment they vowed that they would give their master such an account as would excite enmity between the two kings (No. 696).
Although Charles had many excuses for his action, he showed all the Stuart genius for doing things in the wrong way. At the Hague the reasons given were that the attendants had encouraged mistrust between the two crowns and quarrels between the king and queen; that the Bishop of Mende and Blainville had formed a faction diametrically to the royal wishes and the service of the whole kingdom, and the Tyburn incident (No. 720). The Bishop of Mende attributed it to the English hatred of the French. Everything they did was misrepresented. If they disposed the queen to something after the king's desire, they were said to have too much influence with her; if they did not it was thought that they maliciously opposed the king's wishes, and so they did not know what to do (No. 696). Buckingham's relations and dependants were immediately put about the queen. She was waited on with more state and decorum, instead of the familiarity habitual with the French. At first she seemed to appreciate the change, but it was not long before all this formality began to pall upon her, as she could not speak or write except in their presence, and she had many acrimonious disputes with the king on the subject (No. 712). The estrangement became complete. The king absented himself constantly, but the queen was never free from the Argus eyes of her unsympathetic attendants. The Marchioness of Hamilton slept constantly in her chamber, and if she happened to be away Buckingham's mother, wife or sister took her place, so that the queen was under constant surveillance (No. 733). Small wonder that the poor little queen was depressed. She avoided as much as possible appearing in public for fear of breaking down in the presence of the whole Court (No. 769). If she did appear she liked to do so with the king; but when she conversed with persons in sympathy with France, her tears flowed freely. (No. 718).
Under such circumstances it may be imagined that diplomatic relations between France and England were far from cordial. After the departure of Effiat and his colleagues there had been no accredited representative of France until the arrival of Blainville, about the middle of October. He came chiefly about the treatment of the Catholics, and had special instructions from the queen mother to remove every shadow of difference between the king and queen. He was ill-fitted for such a mission, and showed a deplorable lack of tact in a delicate situation. His earliest interview with the king almost amounted to an altercation, and he all but threatened Buckingham, who was not the man to be won in such a way. The English were suspicious of Blainville. They said that concessions such as he asked for the Catholics would mean the establishment of rebels in the land, as they existed in France and Spain. He came with inadequate powers and meddled with what did not concern him. His sole aim was to get advantages for the Catholics and try and drag out negotiations until La Rochelle fell (No. 329). We have Blainville's own admission to justify these suspicions to the full (Nos. 423, 466). That he should be left free to realise his plans could not be suffered for a moment. The English felt very strongly about the Huguenot fortress, considering its preservation even more important than the recovery of the Palatinate. Charles declared that if the town fell he would go to recover it in person (No. 412). For Buckingham it was almost a matter of life or death as parliament would hold him responsible, especially as the loan of English ships to France was held to be the cause of the town's difficulties (No. 329). The duke therefore grew very excited when he heard that Louis meant to proceed to extremities against La Rochelle. He said that the French had done all in their power to bring about a rupture between his king and Spain, and now the war was kindled they meant to carry out their plans to exterminate the Protestant religion. The Rochellese had asked for assistance and they had decided to succour them. There was no help. La Rochelle was more important than the Palatinate. They knew the prejudice, but France could only be induced to do right by force (No. 442). Blainville on his side complained that the English wanted to interfere in the internal affairs of France. If they would listen to him he would find a way to arrange the question of the Catholics satisfactory to the king, safe for the duke and honourable for the Most Christian. At the same time he did what he could to prevent Buckingham's proposed journey to France (No. 329).
The appearance of Soubise in England as a refugee threw Blainville completely off his balance. He threatened the king with war and prepared to write to France that matters were hopeless, and to advise them to side with the Spaniards (No. 377). Pesaro believed that he wished to precipitate a rupture (No. 442). He and the English ministers only ruffled each other more and more. The English disliked and mistrusted him so much that they might easily have stoned him, because of the impression of contempt for the king and England which he conveyed (No. 403). The king had further cause for dislike because of Blainville's familiarity with the queen. This came to a head over a dispute with the queen about seeing the opening of parliament, and led to the king forbidding the ambassador access to the Court, and to Blainville's withdrawal to Greenwich. Buckingham was held responsible for this, although he declared that he would have lost every drop of blood in his body rather than it should have happened (Nos. 474, 480). After this the scuffles that took place between the ambassador's household and the pursuivants, and the arrest of the ambassador's secretary in company with an agent of the Catholics, were comparatively unimportant, although they served to keep up the tension (No. 497).
Soon after Blainville's arrival in England, Carleton and Lord Holland had been sent as ambassadors to France. They were to propose an offensive and defensive alliance, request peace for La Rochelle and ask for the return of the English ships (No. 454). The French on their side asked for the fulfilment of the marriage treaty about the Catholics, that the ships of Soubise should be handed over, and that goods taken on ships flying the French flag, but not French, should be restored (No. 448). Hoping to free the hands of France for action abroad, the English ambassadors consented to the very unsatisfactory peace with the Huguenots concluded on the 5th February. Buckingham might talk big about succouring La Rochelle, but his motives are subject to suspicion. It is certain that he acted in this matter with an eye to its effect on parliament (No. 454). Blainville conceived a Machiavellian plan to secure the fall of La Rochelle and save Buckingham with the parliament by permitting the relief of the town, thereby increasing the duke's credit with the people, to make a show of concession and then let the place fall of itself, as he reckoned it would do, even after the relief, though somewhat later. Buckingham listened to this specious advice, though he did not seem to agree. Meanwhile the Council condemned the action of the ambassadors in exceeding their instructions and accepting a peace which was too disadvantageous to the Rochellese (No. 466). Thus while Buckingham assured the French ambassador that he would be satisfied with the peace, and if the Rochellese did not accept it they would be abandoned, the king was so angry that he threw the letters of his ambassadors on the fire. He utterly disapproved of what had been done because it meant the certain fall of La Rochelle and injury to England. Most Englishmen said they would rather have war than such a peace. Accordingly, Buckingham found it necessary to trim his sails. He blamed the ambassadors, encouraged the deputies of La Rochelle and sent again to France (No. 473).
The behaviour of the English government caused great exasperation in France. An outburst of Cardinal Richelieu showed how great this was; but when the Venetian ambassador pointed out the advantage of English help against the Spaniards, he calmed down and remarked: It is usually said that in great affairs if one side plays the fool the other must be wise. If they act like the ancient French we shall be like the Venetians, that is, if they are fools we shall try to prove ourselves wise (No. 431). The queen mother was genuinely distressed at what she heard of the quarrels between her daughter and Charles. After an interview with a gentleman from London her eyes were observed to be full of tears (No. 408). She remarked: I made that marriage in order to get some satisfaction from it, but it brings me nothing but sorrow. The king complained that the English treated them badly and refused to pay any attention to him. But they had no wish to quarrel with England, and, realising that Blainville was only fomenting ill-feeling, they resolved to recall him (No. 499).
The allies of France in the Valtelline league also desired to see cordial relations between the two countries. Venice had welcomed the marriage as a means of furthering what they called the common cause, which meant checking the ambitious projects of the House of Austria. The representatives of the republic at London and Paris did their best to smoothe away asperities and point out how much more important the cause was than slight domestic differences. Abbot Scaglia, the very able representative of Savoy in France, pointed out to Richelieu how much harm England could inflict on France, and tried to persuade them to receive Buckingham (No. 371). The Earl of Carlisle invited Scaglia to England, and after some hesitation he decided to go. The French hoped that he would speedily arrange matters (No. 379). With him went Bautru, the king having been persuaded to let him go, after declaring that he would never consent (Nos. 373, 396).
Scaglia met with a royal reception in England, but this was chiefly in order to pique Blainville. The abbot was more eager to serve his master by obtaining ships than to mediate between the two crowns (Nos. 424, 435), and he wished to compel France to declare herself openly against the Spaniards and Austrians and to contribute to the league between Denmark, the States and England (No. 379). So his mission did not prove so successful as was expected. His failure was a death blow to the Valtelline league. Seeing the difficulty of maintaining friendly relations with England and the danger of war there, the French concluded the treaty of Monzon with Spain, abandoning their allies, who were neither consulted nor informed (No. 584). Yet despite this defection the French tried to restore amicable relations with England. The recall of Blainville was insisted on. When it became certain that he was really going, every civility was heaped upon him. He was reconciled with the king, allowed to see the queen when he liked, the pursuivants who had insulted his house were punished with those who arrested his secretary, and his expenses were defrayed by the king's command, all in order to get rid of him quietly and show that they had no quarrel with France (No. 544). He finally left laden with rich presents from both king and queen. He played one more Machiavellian stroke before his departure. To the general surprise, the queen, who had always disliked Buckingham, recommended his preservation to the king, at a time when the duke was in great peril from parliament (No. 568). The action is explained by the fear in France that the English might assist La Rochelle. They thought that the way to prevent this was to keep Charles on bad terms with his subjects, and they could not do this better than by inducing him to support the duke (App. I, sec. ii).
Blainville was succeeded by a minister of a very different stamp. The Marquis of Bassompierre was an eminent soldier who had already distinguished himself in diplomacy He came determined to do his best to restore good relations with England. An initial difficulty was raised by the English refusal to receive the Count of Tillières, who had been chosen as his colleague. The king declined to have any one who had been in the queen's service, and the count had acted as her chamberlain. They accused him of aiming at subverting the kingdom by aiding the projects of the Catholics, or at least of forming a strong party through his connection with the Jesuits. An undeclared reason was that Tillières knew too much about English affairs and could reply boldly and freely to the objections which they might urge (No. 719). Louis was deeply moved by the dismissal of the French attendants (No. 720). and the appointment of Tillières was an indication of his feelings. He showed them more decidedly by refusing to see Walter Montagu, sent nominally to congratulate Gaston of Orleans on his marriage, but really to intimate that Charles would not receive Tillières. Montagu was summarily ordered out of the country and returned without having done anything. Yet the French did not insist upon sending Tillières. Their resentment appeared in the queen mother giving to Bassompierre as his chaplain Father Sancy, who had been confessor to Henrietta Maria. Objection to his presence was at once raised in England, as must have been foreseen, indeed, such an act seemed inconsistent with any real desire for a reconciliation.
Before starting Bassompierre talked of the need for firmness, of revenge and the possibility of joining the Spaniards (No. 754). In Paris he said he was only going to ask Charles to readmit the queen's attendants. The reply would give him his cue; if No, he would return to France at once; if Yes, he would enter upon negotiations about the details (No. 728). His commissions really covered the whole question of the marriage treaty. He recognised that the difficulties were great, but it was his ambition to overcome them and he considered them as a field for the exercise of his abilities. He boasted loudly of his former successful negotiations. His plan was to breast all blows bravely, and above all to parry such as did not immediately affect the matter in hand. In the conduct of his chapel and the control of his suite he was careful to avoid any conflict with the English. In marked contrast to Blainville he asked to his house a French refugee named Souart, who had been involved in the Chalais conspiracy, and whose presence in England had aroused the indignation of the queen. He remarked to the Venetian Ambassador Contarini: "My king is the offended party, and yet sues for peace. The justice of his cause rests upon documents, on oath and on a king's word. If they will not abide by this word in essence he will accept such appearances as will save his face in the eyes of the world, and exonerate him before God respecting his sister's conscience. He has two royal brothers-in-law; he wishes rather to be a suppliant to the one who shuns his friendship, than to embrace the other who desires it and constantly urges him to form some union" (No. 760).
Bassompierre's reception in England was of the coldest possible description. Neither at Dover nor anywhere else was he boarded, lodged or visited, but he took it with admirable temper, saying with a smile that he almost wondered whether he was an ambassador or no (No. 760). At his first audience he was almost too humble, behaving purposely more like a courtier than an ambassador, but the king and Court were much gratified by his mild address, indeed, his dexterity seemed to have done much to disperse the lowering clouds (No. 769). At a later audience at Hampton Court it was he who seemed to apologise for what had occurred (No. 778). He lost no opportunity of pushing his credit with the king, Buckingham and the Court. He visited the members of the Council frequently, waited upon the queen in private daily, and sought to bring about a reconciliation between her and the duke. He would frequently be with the king and queen in the latter's apartments after supper, spending the time in pleasantries rather than business, though ready to profit by the information obtained in such unguarded moments (No. 787). It really looked as if he might achieve something. After his private audience at Hampton Court the Council sat for three days running, and the duke spoke strongly in favour of giving him satisfaction. In order to show that it was the king who stood in the way they decided to make some concessions, and twelve commissioners were appointed to treat with him (No. 778).
But however flattering appearances might be and however adroit Bassompierre might show himself, the prevailing conditions give little promise that he would achieve any really permanent result. The old antipathy between the two nations burned as strongly as ever (No. 787). It fed upon mutual mistrust, contempt and recrimination. The treaty of Monzon, largely the result of his own conduct, caused Charles to exclaim that he would never trust the French (No. 657), and at another time he said: The French behave ill to everybody; we must not trust them so much, they always deceive (No. 751). Dorset told Contarini that France deceived everybody. She was entangled in her own cares. Her policy to England was insincere and she sought to give satisfaction to the Spaniards (No. 719). Buckingham and Carlisle also freely criticised French conduct (No. 644), while Carleton, who used to possess sound views, had become, by his poverty, a servile follower of the duke (No. 753). The influential ministers feared that the enmity of the French might hasten their downfall. Buckingham, in particular, dreaded lest the queen should undermine his influence with the king (No. 718). From the first he had tried to win her and get her as much under his control as was the king, but he had failed. At Paris she had snubbed him when he objected to her going out of her way to honour the cardinal legate (No. 117). It was believed that she was not sorry for the attacks of parliament upon him (No. 211). Having failed to conciliate the queen, Buckingham seems to have made up his mind to control her through his relations and dependants. This led him to scheme for the removal of the French attendants. The French resolutely opposed his plans and lived in constant fear of expulsion in consequence. The duke's insistence in forcing his womenfolk on the queen was chiefly responsible for the bitter quarrel between her and her husband (No. 685).
Having once achieved his end by the expulsion of the French it was unlikely that Buckingham would ever willingly see them reinstated. He received a remarkable tribute to the success of his plans from the queen's own mother. In a letter commending Bassompierre to him Mary de' Medici wrote that for her daughter's happiness she relied more on him, because of the promises he had so often made, than on the marriage contract. He had broken faith with her by expelling the French attendants, by rendering the queen unhappy and by his reported unfriendly feeling towards France. She added that she did not distrust him and assured him that by helping Bassompierre he would greatly oblige both the king and herself (No. 769).
Buckingham could not forgive France for not falling in with his plan for an offensive and defensive alliance. It was the keystone of his policy, and without it his anti-Spanish projects seemed doomed to failure. When all else failed he conceived the idea of compelling France to make this alliance. He may have taken the idea from Scaglia. He told the Venetian ambassadors: The French are bound to be with us, but they must come of their own accord and because they cannot help it. The ministers of England, Venice and Savoy in France must always hold together and speak to the same effect. (No. 658). He spoke later of joint action by England, Venice and Savoy to compel the French to join them. When the ambassadors asked how this was to be done he replied: By encouraging divisions and fomenting discord among them. There were many malcontents in France, as Richelieu's policy was to ruin the leading men and thus render the king more powerful (No. 662). Information received from France about the increasing embarrassments of that kingdom flattered these ideas, and his policy was at least suspected (No. 727). He was, in fact, taking active steps to carry it into effect. Clarke, a gentleman of the bedchamber, marked out to be resident at Turin, proceeded secretly to Lorraine to offer English assistance to the Duchess of Chevreuse. It was thought he might go on to Turin, there to continue the work (No. 742). A week or two later Henry de Vic also crossed to France and was expected to go on to Piedmont for the working out of the schemes against the peace of France which the Duke of Savoy and Buckingham were concerting together (No. 760). At the same time Soubise came out of his retirement to London, where he had secret conference with Buckingham on two successive days. They urged him to make some fresh stir under favour of the Huguenots, who were very ill-treated in the last agreement. Similar advances were made to Madame de la Tremouille, for her own sake and that of her son, the Count of Laval. Extraordinary attentions were paid to her, and the king himself requested her to delay her return to France for a few days. She, however, did not wish to meddle in these intrigues and was more anxious to divert any suspicion that the French king might have of her and her family (No. 753). Moreover she was none too well pleased with the English government, because she had failed to get a place in the queen's household for her daughter, who had married the Earl of Derby's son (No. 742).
Throughout the constant bickering between France and England a favourite device on both sides was to threaten to make terms with the common enemy, Spain. France went so far on the road as to conclude the treaty of Monzon. This created some alarm and much disgust in England, where it was soon after reported that the pope and the Kings of France and Spain had entered into a defensive and offensive league (No. 618). That England might come to terms with Spain was always present to the French and tended to make them less exacting in their pretensions. Bassompierre kept on the look-out for negotiations between England and Spain as well as for intrigues with the Huguenots (No. 769). When the sky looked clearer, Herbault wrote to Bassompierre that the talk of such negotiations was merely in order to get better terms from France. There were certain indications that nothing of the sort was taking place, and he could more boldly insist upon satisfaction. The English, on the other hand, declared that they could always make peace with Spain when they pleased (No. 787).
The war had certainly languished since the Cadiz expedition. Early in 1626 a curious proposal was made and warmly taken up, to form a joint stock company under royal and parliamentary authority to make war on Spain by sea, the members of which would share the expenses and the booty (No. 514). A second royal fleet was supposed to be in preparation, but from lack of funds it was notorious that nothing could be done, and Louis could refer to it with a derisive smile (No. 518). There was some danger indeed that the boot might be on the other foot. In the early summer it was reported that the Spaniards had a force of 40,000 men ready, which they had at first intended against Ireland, but they had changed their minds and meant to attack England instead (No. 625). Parliament laughed at this as a device for obtaining money, but there was a real fear of invasion in the country. The Council met repeatedly, but their request for a loan from the Lord Mayor met with a refusal, although the citizens offered to arm forty ships provided the booty was handed over to them (No. 645). Charles actually wrote to the Netherlands on the 23rd June, urging them to help him if the Spanish fleet attacked his kingdom and promising to do as much for them in like case (No. 653). Active measures for defence were taken. Some 5,000 men left of those paid off in the previous year were stationed along the coast in skeleton companies, which could easily be brought up to 10,000 or 15,000 men by enforcing the legal obligation of every man to defend his country. Twenty-five thousand troops were ordered to the places most exposed to danger, and at the same time the leading Catholics were disarmed, and those most suspected were practically placed in custody (No. 661). Somewhat later ten regiments in the king's pay, which had been in garrison in the midlands, were ordered to Kent and Hants and other parts where there was most fear of attack (No. 727). The Dutch believed that the Spaniards had a far reaching plan in preparing their large fleet, and that they would attempt to kill several birds with one stone. They thought they meant to strike a mortal blow at all the northern powers who were resisting their ambition, and hit Denmark, England and the Netherlands equally by occupying the Sound, through which all the corn and meat for England and the Netherlands proceeded, while Denmark would lose heavily in customs (No. 757). This view was borne out to the extent that a Spanish naval force did actually enter the Sound, where it captured some wheat ships and two Dutch men-of-war escorting them (No. 767). But the main Spanish fleet was recalled almost as soon as it had sailed (No. 775), for the Spaniards were not strong enough to cope with the naval forces of the northern powers.
There was real cause for alarm in England, for it was many years since the naval strength of the country had sunk so low. The weakening of England's power at sea was shown by the increasing audacity with which the privateers of Dunkirk carried on their depredations. Charles had not been a week on the throne when news came that the Dunkirkers had taken four merchantmen in the very Downs (No. 6). Before the end of the year it could be said that they commanded the home waters and even the passage between Dover and Calais (No. 363). When Buckingham was crossing to the Netherlands he had to resort to trickery in order to evade them (No. 329). He had the same anxiety about his return, for it was known that the Dunkirkers were on the watch for him (No. 370). They were constantly making fresh captures and in April, 1626, it was calculated that they had taken 120 English ships, many of them concerned in the coal and fishing industries (No. 545). Their appearance off the coast of Norfolk created an alarm of invasion. The people fled from the coast and the beacons were lighted from point to point (No. 480). The matter was taken up by parliament, where it was argued that it was the king's duty to keep the sea safe for his subjects, as the customs were levied upon this understanding. To meet this, Buckingham proposed that London should provide ten ships and the rest of the coast from Newcastle to Plymouth twelve, to keep the seas clear (No. 488). By the autumn a fleet was actually fitted out by the city of London, after some show of reluctance (No. 704), and a dispute with Buckingham about the appointment of the officers (No. 770); but even these remained in port while the Dunkirkers held the sea (Nos. 780, 788).
The naval system of the country was indeed sick at the heart. It was almost impossible to get sailors for the royal navy except by force, because the service was badly paid, ill-managed and unrecognised (No. 727). To increase its popularity the pay of seamen was raised from 14s. to 20s. a month; but this produced little effect, because the custom was not to pay until the end of the cruise, and the men did not get even the old wages (No. 581). Large numbers deserted (No. 543). In July, 1626, six hundred sailors mutinied and marched from Portsmouth to London to demand their wages, looting on the road. They were only appeased by a hasty levy of money, said to have been taken from the poor funds (Nos. 645, 661). This was only a temporary expedient, and a few months later 150 sailors made a disturbance in London, smashing Buckingham's coach while he was attending a Council. This also was appeased by taking money from the Mint (No. 780). It is interesting to note that a bounty of a crown a ton was offered on all ships of more than 400 tons burthen, to put a stop to the building of small vessels (No. 581).
In this state of affairs it is no wonder that the question of coming to terms with Spain was seriously considered. In the spring of 1626 it was announced at Brussels that negotiations had been opened, and it was thought that the Marquis of Mirabel was going to England on this business (No. 564). It was rumoured at the same time that Buckingham was going to the Netherlands to join with the Dutch in some negotiations with the Spaniards (No. 598). The impression was strengthened by the Elector Palatine suing for pardon to the emperor, especially as he was said to have done so at the instigation of the Dutch and English (No. 612). When Carleton crossed to France three months later it was suspected that he was to suggest that the queen mother should act at mediatrix for a peace between England and Spain (No. 685). It was thought that Gondomar, who was returning to Spain, might make secret overtures when passing through France, to which Carleton would lend a willing ear, as the English were apprehensive of a coalition against them. It seems that the queen mother had already made overtures at Brussels at the instigation of the English Catholics, but they were summarily rejected (No. 712).
In Spain also there were vague rumours of negotiations with England (No. 716). Gondomar, who held strong views about the harm England could do to Spain, was in flavor, but Olivares opposed (No. 719). It is certain that a Scot was passing between London and Brussels upon some proposals made on Gondomar's authority. Charles was asked to abandon the Dutch, give up persecuting the Catholics and to release Bristol (Nos. 727, 733). The last item suggests that it was merely a personal move on the part of Gondomar. The Dutch and Swedish ministers both taxed Charles with the matter, but the king denied all knowledge of it, and promised the former on the word of a king not to negotiate such a matter or think of it without informing his friends. Buckingham admitted that many offers had been made, but said that the king would never accept any terms prejudicial to the safety, honour and interests of his friends (Nos. 727, 733). Every one believed that Buckingham inclined that way and some suspected that the Spaniards had bribed him, or at least that he was inviting them to do so. A courier was sent very secretly to the Earl of Argyle, who was commanding a regiment for the Infanta in Flanders, and Toby Mathew, son of the Archbishop of York, was supposed to be engaged in such negotiations. When the Dutch ambassador spoke to Conway on the subject he could not get a straight answer. These circumstances and the presence in England of a servant of Vanmale, formerly agent for Flanders, all tended to arouse suspicion. The one circumstance to reassure those who feared such a peace was that the Spaniards had no inducement to embrace it. Things were going very advantageously for them without it being necessary for them to move a finger. Nothing was uttered on the subject in the Council of State, and Charles and his ministers continued to assert that no negotiations were on foot. The French had so little fear that Bassompierre offered the good offices of France to bring about peace with Spain if they thought the interests of the country required it, but he had an intimation from home that they felt sure no negotiations were proceeding (Nos. 770, 780, 787).
The new reign heralded much more friendly relations with the Dutch than James had ever permitted himself. Mansfelt at once wrote to ask that the restrictions put on his movements might be withdrawn (No. 25). He was told to obey the Palatine, who decided that he should help to relieve Breda. This created an excellent impression, and the Dutch in return made important concessions in the Amboyna matter (No. 52). The attempt to relieve Breda proved a failure. The leaders in the Dutch army quarrelled among themselves, the French showing jealousy of the Earl of Oxford. Mansfelt wanted to take his force to Germany (No. 65), and was reduced to impotence by the constant desertions of his men (No. 83). Breda fell when Charles had only been two months on the throne. That James had forbidden Mansfelt to harry Flanders as arranged was considered one of the contributory causes (No. 99). The Dutch complained that Mansfelt had been a useless charge upon them; his presence neither helped nor hindered Breda. The force was thrown suddenly upon them without arms, money or provisions. The entire burden fell on their shoulders. Of 12,000 English only a tenth were fit for war (No. 131).
Meanwhile St. Leger was negotiating in Holland to obtain help for the English fleet, and was so far successful that he obtained both ships and men. At his instigation they sent an extraordinary embassy to England (No. 93). Proposals for an offensive and defensive alliance were advanced, and such an alliance was signed on the 21st September. It was not until two months after that Buckingham and Holland crossed to the Hague for the ratification. Buckingham brought extensive proposals. The Dutch were to blockade the coast of Flanders. He suggested three fleets: one of 100 ships to follow up the work of the Cadiz fleet, whose failure was not then known; a second at the mouth of the Channel to stop communication between Dunkirk and Spain, and a third to scour the seas. The Dutch were asked to supply one-fourth of the first, which was to go against the gold fleet and Spain; England alone would supply the other two, financial difficulties being lightly passed over.
Soon after Buckingham's arrival Anstruther and two Danish ambassadors appeared on the scene (No. 333). Active negotiations were instituted forthwith and in a short time a league was arranged and signed between England, the Dutch and Denmark. The signing, on the 14th December, was signalised by a characteristic act of Buckingham. The Dutch wished to sign as the equals of kings, but eventually they gave way. As soon as they had done so Buckingham tore up the paper which had already been signed and said he would grant what they wished as a favour (No. 369).
The league might have served admirably had there been any provision of money to meet the very considerable engagements involved. As it was, the encouragement it gave to Denmark well nigh proved the ruin of that country. The Danish ambassador, Rosencranz, spoke very strongly to Charles, telling him that his master had committed himself at the suggestion of England, who now went back on her promises. He enlarged on the financial distress of Christian and insisted vehemently on some supply. The king had no answer to give and could only withdraw offended from the interview. To quiet the ambassador the ministers told him that they had a promise from Venice and Savoy to create a diversion, a promise that existed solely in their imagination (No. 712). Another diversion in Alsace was also talked of, but only to cover the helplessness of England (No. 733).
When news arrived of Denmark's disastrous defeat at Lutter, Rosencranz again spoke very strongly to Charles. The king promised to render his uncle every possible assistance even at the risk of his crown and of life itself. He added, almost with tears, that he was in distress for his own personal wants. At least the disaster led to some show of activity. The Council met twice a day, and even Charles gave up his hunting for half-a-day to attend for four hours on end (No. 743). The defeat affected England more particularly because of the danger of the Spaniards becoming masters of the Baltic (No. 752), the wheat granary which supplied all the neighbouring nations, as well as Italy and Spain (No. 685). The only expedient that suggested itself was to send Col. Horace Vere to Denmark with a force of 6,000 to 8,000 men, consisting of the four English regiments in the Netherlands, with drafts from England (No. 752). The Dutch, who were disbanding these regiments, sent very strongly worded instructions to their ambassador in England to do all in his power to induce the English to decide on this (No. 775). Financial difficulties again stood in the way; the Dutch had no means of keeping the men and England had no money to take them away, as their pay was three months in arrear and they would not stir without it (No. 779). All England could do was to procrastinate and make promises. The Dutch were asked to keep the men a little longer and the English agent talked of his king's good will towards the common cause and his desire to see his uncle supported (No. 782).
Christian wrote to tell Charles of his defeat, which he ascribed to lack of support from England. With that he could have advanced into the heart of Germany, instead of being reduced to such a pass. He was still ready to defend the liberties of Germany. He told Charles plainly that all the mischief proceeded from the quarrels between him and his subjects, and vowed that unless matters took a better turn he would do the best he could for himself (No. 761). There was considerable danger that Denmark would make peace. The Spaniards desired it, as it would render the Palatinate business easier and smooth the way to a settlement with England also, a consummation they desired in spite of all their boasting (No. 768). The Elector of Saxony urged Christian to come to terms (No. 782), while Tilly sent to offer favourable conditions if the king would renounce the friendship of France, England, the Dutch and Gabor (No. 779). Christian let it be known that if he did not receive help before Christmas, from England in particular, he would make peace without further delay (No. 782). Rosencranz declared that the English had launched his king on the war by their promises, and then abandoned him by breaking them. They now sought to drive him to despair and destroy all hopes of success in Germany. This was inevitable because it was notorious that no money could be raised without parliament. They even rendered military succour doubtful, his king being worse betrayed by them than by their declared enemies. He went on to speak of Germany. If it had never known England it might not have been reduced to such a plight, as first by stimulating the Palatine, then by breach of treaties and finally by not aiding the war, England had brought that country to final ruin (No. 779).
The Dutch had no more cause to rejoice at what the league had done for them. They were very anxious lest the King of Denmark should make peace with the emperor, and seeing that England made no movement to prevent it, they felt that they were being left in the lurch. They complained that the English were so blind that they did not even look after their own advantage; they let good chances slip, incurred fruitless expenses and had allowed the Spaniards to bring home the plate fleets as they pleased (No. 775).
While leading matters of policy were in such an un-satisfactoriy state, there was also much bickering over smaller things. A good deal of irritation was still felt over the Amboyna affair, for which the English continued to demand justice (Nos. 175, 719). Some Dutch vessels from the East were actually seized at the instance of English merchants because of this affair, but Buckingham had them released at the request of the Dutch ambassador, and gave orders that no more ships should be arrested for that cause during the eighteen months appointed for the settlement of the matter (No. 503). Further difficulties were caused by the English claim to seize contraband of war on neutral vessels. Dutch merchantmen were constantly being brought in and their cargoes unladed on the pretence that they would spoil if left on board. The Courts were very slow at deciding whether they were lawful booty or no, and the charges of the crown officials were exorbitant (No. 770). The merchants concerned lost heavily and at Amsterdam they began to clamour for redress, protesting that the traders of Holland, Hamburg, Lubeck and Danzig would combine for their own defence (No. 788).
Yet another difficulty arose when Carleton was recalled to take Bristol's office of vice-chamberlain (No. 345). He had been in the Netherlands nearly ten years and had enjoyed a seat in the Council of State by virtue of the treaty of 1585. Such a privilege was manifestly inconsistent with complete independence, and the Dutch intimated that with Carleton's departure it would be withdrawn. Charles was much annoyed at this, and not only did he stay Carleton's successor, Killigrew, but he threatened to withdraw the English regiments serving in the Netherlands (Nos. 551, 572, 586, 635). To evade the difficulty it was proposed that Carleton should go back to resume his post as ordinary ambassador, but the Dutch intimated that he would not be allowed a seat in the Assembly more than anyone else, and so that idea was abandoned and the States were told that he would not come, on the ground of indisposition (No. 653). The general relations between England and the Netherlands are well summed up by Alvise Contarini in his Relazione (App. II). In spite of their mutual jealousy they were obliged to be cautious because of the great good and the great harm which they could do to each other.
The leading aim of Charles's foreign policy was the recovery of the Palatinate for his brother-in-law and sister. It was the pretext for sending the Cadiz fleet, it was a leading reason for desiring the alliance of France, and it was put in the forefront of the articles of the league with the Dutch and Denmark. But with the failure of all these plans the Palatine's cause became more and more hopeless. Before Charles had been a year on the throne the chief hope of restoring the Palatine's line lay in the marriage of his heir to Bavaria's niece, on which the English government counted a good deal (No. 661). The idea found no acceptance with the young prince's mother. She said the plan had been concocted in order to delude her father and preserve the Palatinate for the Spaniards. The Duke of Bavaria knew nothing about it and certainly did not desire it (No. 714).
Cordial relations were kept up with Savoy, as the English admired the duke's pluck (No.292), while he had a great opinion of the strength and resources of England (No. 562). The common object was the old plan of an attack on Genoa. Baroccio was sent to ask that the Cadiz fleet might be sent to the Mediterranean, a subject upon which Scaglia had already spoken to Morton (No. 94). Baroccio presented a paper setting forth the advantages of sending the fleet to Italy and the ease with which Genoa could be reduced (No. 133). Buckingham was attracted by the idea, which agreed with his general policy, because if England attacked Spain too vigorously it would be more difficult to bring about a rupture between Spain and France (No. 164). The plan depended in great measure upon the co-operation of France, but the French rather obstructed it than otherwise as they did not want the English in the Mediterranean because of the Huguenots (No. 209). Accordingly the fleet sailed for Cadiz, and Baroccio, on a second visit, limited his demands to a supply of ships and munitions of war (No. 292). After the failure at Cadiz it was fully thought that the fleet would enter the Mediterranean, and Wake sent to advocate an attack on Corsica (No. 435).
When it became clear that France was about to abandon the Valtelline league, Wake asked what Savoy and Venice meant to do, and suggested that they should join the league of England and her friends against Spain and the House of Austria (Nos. 575, 608). At this very time the Count of St. Maurice, who had been sent to England by the Prince of Piedmont, was asking for help to continue the war, in spite of France (Nos. 581, 597). With proposals so nearly identical it is strange that nothing resulted; but Venice hung back with her usual caution, and England was only willing to help Savoy's plans in Italy if France concurred, although St. Maurice went home with high hopes (No. 633). Wake sent word, indeed, that Savoy would not accept the peace of Monzon if England would help him (No. 628), and Baroccio came over again. According to Buckingham this was in response to Wake's proposals, and Savoy offered his mediation if England thought of coming to terms with Spain (No. 662). The whole matter was kept very secret, but the general trend of the negotiations is probably indicated by Buckingham's colloquy with the Venetian ambassadors extraordinary shortly after Baroccio returned home (No. 672). Meanwhile Baroccio had taken back word of the dissolution of the parliament, and the Duke of Savoy at once put aside all thought of war (No. 675). The only thing that remained was the plan to compel France to join the allies by fomenting her internal troubles, upon which the Duke of Savoy and Buckingham appeared to be of one mind (No. 760).
At Constantinople, England was still most ably represented by Sir Thomas Roe. His diplomatic activities were chiefly devoted to preventing the Spaniards from concluding a truce and the emperor from making a peace with the Turk, and incidentally by encouraging Bethlen Gabor to create a diversion by attacking the emperor. With regard to the negotiations opened by the Viceroy of Naples with the Porte through a Jew named Montealbano, Charles remarked laughing: The Spaniards have lost their virginity; they can no longer boast of never having treated with the Turk (No. 403).
These papers contain many more particulars than usual about domestic affairs, nor is this remarkable considering their importance. Of the first two parliaments of the reign they give many interesting details. The increasing importance of parliament was shown by the competition to obtain seats, in which everything was not always above board. Although there was anxiety and even emulation to please the king, yet the people were so fearful of suffering a disadvantage that they rejected all royalists (? the undertakers) even though they had served efficiently in preceding parliaments (Nos. 25, 86). The proceedings were expected to be brief: to offer congratulations to the king, confirm the announcement of the accession, carry the coronation through, demand the observance of the laws and grant subsidies, postponing more important discussions to another time. Confidence in the king's religion rendered it unnecessary to ask for guarantees on that score (No. 46). The meeting was postponed because of the delay in the queen's coming and the plague. When it was formally opened on the 28th June, the speeches of the king and Lord Keeper failed to give satisfaction. They did not want to contribute without making sure of their laws, and they objected to being made answerable for the war, though they admitted urging the abandonment of the treaties with Spain. They were already suspicious of the king, seeing that he was guided by his father's ideas, especially in his view that the royal revenues should not pass through the parliamentary exchequer, whereas they considered that the last subsidies had been uselessly squandered and wished to examine the accounts. Experience showed them the folly of granting subsidies in advance (No. 138). They demanded the rigorous execution of the penal laws against the Catholics, in the belief that everything had gone wrong since the king began to favour them. They imputed every miscarriage to the advice of Buckingham and Conway. On the question of a general fast they fell foul of the clergy, who contended that such matters pertained to them; but the Commons upheld that it was their business to enact and that of the clergy to perform. The question was referred to the king, who preferred to remain neutral. Ultimately the Commons carried the day, the fast being celebrated on the 12th July. It was also decided that a fast should be kept every Wednesday so long as the plague lasted. Its objects were to pray for release from the plague, for abundance, when the bad weather threatened scarcity, and a happy issue out of present circumstances (Nos. 150, 164).
Parliament adjourned soon after this. It did not meet again until the 11th August. Buckingham then reassembled them at Oxford in order to vote immediate supplies. This occasioned much grumbling, as the meeting was considered unseasonable owing to the plague and the harvest. The Commons were convinced that Buckingham meant to tire them out by moving them from place to place in order to make them consent to bear the king's expenses. In consequence of this there was some talk of adjourning until after Michaelmas, but the members said it was not consonant with their honour to separate without knowing why they had been called. The Lord Keeper and Weston told them that they had moved from London for their health. Matters were urgent, but the king left the question of adjournment to them. They insisted on hearing why they had been called, and the king himself went to explain, leaving the details to Conway and the Secretary Coke. These speeches produced a good impression, and parliament seemed ready to give every assistance. But they displayed great animosity against the Catholics and Buckingham, asking for the execution of the laws, that the money should be well administered and that the government should not be in the hands of one man alone. They criticised the whole conduct of the government, which was in the hands of young men. The Admiralty was not conducted by persons of experience, so everything went wrong. They proposed to ask the king's leave to make an enquiry into the state of affairs, and to advise him of a better way to manage. They also asked him to declare who was the enemy, so that they might advise the best means of injuring him. The Council advised the king to give way in everything, and Charles sent Buckingham to speak to them (No. 211). The duke's speech left the house divided in opinion. Some were for granting some supply; others wished to examine into Buckingham's actions. Various charges were brought against the duke, among them one of having sold offices for more than 200,000l. A very bad impression was created when it appeared that preparations and plans had been made without the knowledge of important members of the Council of War. Members spoke of the necessity for correcting abuses in the state, and said it was always in their power to make enquiry and to punish those who took sole possession of the king's will.
At this hint of an impeachment, Buckingham seems to have taken alarm. He urged the king to a precipitate dissolution, promising to furnish the cost of the fleet and other requirements in some other way. Having fully made up his mind, Charles summoned his Council to Woodstock to tell them of his determination to dissolve parliament and only to ask their advice as to the manner. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Keeper pointed out the objections to this course, but no one offered any serious opposition. The king said he did not wish his servants to be molested. All decisions were taken by his command and with his consent. Parliament wanted to touch his sovereignty. His condition would be too miserable if he could not command and be obeyed. He would employ one or many or nobody in his councils. The Earl of Dorset was said to have had much to do with inducing the king to come to this decision (No. 217). That nobleman was certainly one of Charles's evil councillors. Little more than a year later, after the dissolution of the king's second parliament, Dorset told the Venetian ambassador that there was no fear of an insurrection, as there were no fortresses, and foreign powers could not foment rebellion for lack of large navies. The war had to be maintained by the property of the subjects, all being bound to contribute when it is just. If, in the last parliament, the people had agreed to the promised contributions they would have paid much less than the king would eventually force them to disburse (No. 719).
Buckingham's promise to find the necessary funds did not prove so easy to fulfil as he had hoped. It soon became evident that a second parliament must be called. To put off the evil day, when Buckingham went to the Hague he took with him gold and jewels to the value of over a million florins to pawn in Amsterdam (Nos. 290, 345, 418). This proved a lengthy business, and the project ultimately ended in failure, as by the middle of the following year it had only been possible to dispose of 300,000 to 400,000 florins' worth (No. 622), and the city of London absolutely refused to advance any money on the remainder (No. 640), but before this happened a second parliament had been summoned and dissolved it its turn.
Before the end of 1625 approaches were made from Court to all those who had displayed any independence in the former parliament, so that they might not offer any opposition in the coming one (No. 378). When the elections came on, Buckingham's dependants made efforts to secure a strong party for the duke, though they do not seem to have succeeded conspicuously. Eminent opponents were pricked as sheriffs, and the king directed that sheriffs were ineligible for election (No. 454). In spite of this, such persons were elected, including Sir Edward Coke, who was the one chiefly aimed at (No. 488). Parliament ultimately agreed that Sir Edward should not sit, as a concession to the king, but without prejudice to their privileges (No. 497), and Coke's son Clement was chosen for Norfolk in his stead, an arrangement by which the Court did not profit greatly (No. 727).
Before parliament opened, the popular leaders seem to have made some overtures to the Court for a compromise. They said that if the king would leave financial control to parliament, they would provide for all the expenses, without subsidies; parliament remaining in permanence to attend to the finances and control public affairs. If the king would respect their privileges and not claim more than parliament would agree to do of its own accord, the duke should go free and unquestioned. On the king's side very different ideas prevailed, and they even thought of bringing troops from the fleet to the Tower to overawe parliament (No. 466). The king took a very high hand, declaring that he required prompt satisfaction of his requirements or he would dissolve parliament at once. To intimidate them it was reported that he would make Buckingham Constable of the Realm (No. 473).
The proceedings of the assembly which opened under such unfavourable circumstances began very quietly. The Commons set their house in order, arranged procedure and chose five committees to deal with the privileges of the house and the realm, religion, trade, the courts of justice and grievances. As a sop and a diversion Buckingham suggested the confiscation of all the property of the Recusants, since it was impossible to make good with the subsidies. When Eliot demanded an enquiry into past mismanagement, the way in which the money granted by parliament had been spent and the causes of the failure of the Cadiz fleet, it was interpreted as an attempt to feel the pulse of the members and draw down a decree that they must not deal with such matters, in the hope that he would have a majority of the duke's dependants in a thin house; but the matter was adjourned, not as improper, but as untimely (No. 480). It soon became evident that the motion was a genuine one and that before long parliament would concentrate on an attack upon Buckingham. As yet there was some reluctance to come out into the open against the favourite, of whom the king said that he wished his preservation at the risk of his own crown; while Buckingham let slip that to save himself he would hazard the king and the crown (No. 497). The policy of parliament was to investigate things done, show the duke's responsibility and prepare the way for an impeachment. They even disapproved of the persecution of the Catholics, considering it merely as a device of Buckingham, who allowed the destruction of the Huguenots while he chastised the Recusants in England (No. 497). Buckingham made a further attempt to divert the threatened attack from himself by drawing attention to the serious state of affairs in Europe, but the device was too transparent (No. 505).
Buckingham's position was rendered much more serious by his loss of control of the House of Lords, especially as that was the tribunal in which his case would be tried in the event of an impeachment. This was mainly effected by a decision that peers might not take up more than two proxies for the absent, whereas Buckingham had represented fourteen votes in himself (No. 497). The effect appeared soon after, when the Commons demanded an explanation of the case of the St. Peter. Buckingham appealed to the Lords in the hope of creating a division between the two chambers, but he did not succeed and the Upper House decided that he should answer (No. 505). It looks as if it needed very little to turn the balance in the Lords, and this probably explains the high handed proceedings taken against the Earl of Arundel at this time, as well as Bristol's claim to a writ of summons.
The measures against Arundel only served to strengthen that side in the Lords, and encouraged by support from that quarter the Commons pressed their attack with redoubled energy. The king did all in his power to protect his favourite, and the moment there was any danger to the duke he either took the matter upon himself as executed by his orders, or stopped the discussion by proposing fresh affairs. He was seriously perturbed by the attack made by Dr. Turner and Clement Coke, and sent a message to the house demanding that they should be punished or else he would exercise his royal authority. He would not sacrifice the least of his servants, let alone the duke, who was so near his person, so high in rank and so well deserving. But the message only incensed the Commons the more (No. 514). Charles leaned to an immediate dissolution. Buckingham wished to do all that could be done through parliament. He had early advised against a precipitate rupture, pointing out the mischief wrought by the last (No. 505). To avoid the odium of another he begged the king on his knees to let parliament go on. He subsequently petitioned the other way, but the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the President of the Council pointed out the impossibility of subsisting unless the king were at one with his people (No. 543). Accordingly, letters were sent to the Speaker urging the Commons to devote their attention to supply, and little more than a week later the king himself went to address the united houses, when he lectured the Commons upon their behaviour and reminded them of his power to dissolve. The members heard all this with the utmost disgust, and instead of yielding to the king's desires prepared to abandon the parliament. In consequence of this Buckingham had to try and smoothe matters over but he only made things worse, and his explanations and defence of his own conduct only served to supply fresh material for the charges against him (No. 544). An attempt was made both by Buckingham and Conway to induce the Lords to take the matter of taxation into their own hands, and levy contributions from the people without the authority of the Lower House. This proposal was very properly rejected and only served to excite the indignation of the Commons at the attempted encroachment upon their privileges (Nos. 543, 545).
In this state of affairs parliament was prorogued a week for the Easter holidays. In the interval Buckingham did his best to win several of the members to his side. He wanted the king to convoke the Upper House alone to discuss requirements, but the Lords declined to do anything so unconstitutional. To make the Upper House more subservient Buckingham proposed to create twenty peers, some being sons of earls and some absent persons, so as to use their votes by proxy (No. 551), and he eventually had three new earls made for this purpose (No. 618).
In spite of all this the impeachment of the duke went forward. The Commons were purging their body of the Court element, the elections of two councillors of state being declared void and a pretext being sought against the Secretary Coke (No. 543). They returned to the charge with redoubled vigour after the recess, accusing the duke of extorting money from the East India Company and selling the Lord High Treasurership and other chief offices of the kingdom. Out of doors there was talk of the precedent of Seymour, Lord High Admiral in the time of Edward VI, who was beheaded for buccaneering, which they compared with the reprisals against France. Buckingham affected contempt for the efforts of the Commons, and denied that the king meant to dissolve parliament (No. 569). It was rather a gallant show to hide the forebodings of his heart. The Venetian ambassador, who visited him about this time, noticed his pallor and uneasiness and the anxiety he betrayed as to whether he could keep the king to insist on his authority, in order to counteract the activities of parliament (No. 596). Charles seemed to be allowing the torrent to run on. The impeachment of Bristol was a desperate attempt at a diversion, but the scandalous partisanship shown only served to excite sympathy for the earl and arouse greater animosity against the duke. As a matter of fact they were afraid of Bristol and would have been glad to win him by a mixture of hope and fear (No. 703). Charles tried to bring about a reconciliation between Bristol and Buckingham, in order, it was supposed to prevent the publication of important transactions, but Bristol proved obdurate, being determined to vindicate himself or lose his head (Nos. 598, 618).
A further attempt at a diversion was made by the arrest of Eliot and Digges for their speeches on the articles of impeachment. Charles took the unusual course of going to the Upper House to explain his action. Buckingham tried to induce the Lords to declare that they had spoken treasonably; but after much intriguing he only obtained three votes (No. 598). In the Commons no one had heard the words complained of, and they said that the duke had imagined them in order to get rid of dangerous opponents (App. I, sec. i). They insisted on the release of their colleagues, and Charles had to give way. Eliot appeared in his place the day after, where he repeated his charges against the duke, with additions, speaking boldly and sedately, to the great satisfaction of the house (No. 618). The Lords also succeeded in their demand for the release of Arundel, whose reappearance was signalised by his appointment as one of the commissioners to deal with the cases of Bristol and Buckingham (No. 625).
Unable to control either the Lords or the Commons and in fear for his favourite's life, Charles made up his mind to dissolve parliament, come what might. He had already shown his intention to flout the Commons by his action over the election of Buckingham to the Chancellorship of Cambridge University (Nos. 618, 625), but when the Lord Keeper announced the dissolution in the Upper House they were utterly taken by surprise. They sent Pembroke, Carlisle, Holland and the President to the king to beg him, in the name of the entire House of Lords, to reconsider his decision, but all in vain. The partisans of Buckingham took no pains to conceal their joy, but it only confirmed the belief in the duke's guilt, because he would not face the charges against him, while Bristol was universally considered innocent (No. 629).
The step was a critical one and decided the whole course of the reign. The king had lost all his early popularity. He had shown that he meant to sacrifice everything for the favourite, even when investigation indicated that his administration had proved disastrous to the kingdom. Henceforward the kingdom was divided into two camps, with the king, Buckingham and a few favoured cavaliers on the one side, and the whole of the nation on the other. It did not need much prescience to foretell that such a state of affairs could not last (No. 703). Charles dreamed of absolute power. He asked the Bishop of Mende how the Kings of France had managed to rid themselves of parliament. The prelate replied shrewdly that they did it at an opportune moment when they had plenty of money, and they could not have done it at a time of need (No. 696).
It was the emptiness of his exchequer that clipped the wings of the king's ambition. For the rest of his time he was reduced to try one pitiful expedient after another for raising money. The people were determined not to pay (App. I, sec. iv); men preferred to go to prison rather than contribute (No. 673). Only courtiers opened their purses, because they could not very well help it. A meeting held in Westminster Hall afforded a clear indication of the general feeling. In a harangue there the people were exhorted to contribute the subsidies granted by parliament, a promise not fulfilled owing to the dissolution for very just reasons known to his Majesty. An attempt was made to alarm them by the prospect of invasion. The people listened attentively, but at the end they shouted twice "Parliament, Parliament" (No. 680). The king was speedily reduced to such straits that he had scarcely enough for his own domestic necessities, and this in spite of a rigorous cutting down of expenditure, which was expected to save 50,000l. a year. The Treasurer received orders to pay money to no one on any pretext for two years or until further order from the king (No. 685). The queen received nothing from the king for eight months and was reduced to borrow from her attendants (No. 696). She was so impoverished that she had not a crown to buy herself a ribbon (App. I, sec. iv).
Meanwhile all the affairs of the kingdom were controlled by one man. He had reduced the Council to a nullity, as he alone carried out its decrees, and very often he acted in direct contravention to them (No. 779). A leading man said that the last Council was the one in which the Earl of Arundel spoke about the creation of peers, as none had been summoned since in any matter of importance (App. I, sec. i). Buckingham aspired to secure his position by marrying his daughter to the Palatine's son, then heir presumptive to the throne. The idea had taken root since his return with Charles from Spain. Charles seems to have given his sanction and the Princess Palatine her consent, without the knowledge of her husband (No. 341), her dislike of the duke being on political not personal grounds (No. 292).
The common people could not understand the king's blind infatuation for the duke and attributed it to witchcraft (No. 712). His relations with a reputed Irish sorcerer were even made a part of the parliamentary enquiry (No. 580, App. I, sec. i). Buckingham came back from Spain hated by all the prince's household, but popular in the country, though it was a popularity which soon waned. He seemed inconsolable at the death of James but Charles told him that his new master would prove even more gracious, and treated him as an equal (Nos. 4, 25). At first it was not thought that he would be the only favourite, and the old royal servants opposed him constantly and without respect (No. 38). But it soon became apparent that he would be even more powerful than in the late reign. He absorbed all power into his own hands and became the virtual ruler of the state. The Ambassador Contarini predicted his ultimate fall as certain and said it would be very unwise to allow him to go with the fleet, as he might bribe the sailors and possess himself of the chief defence of the state, becoming a new Coriolanus (App. I, sec. i). The king, wrote the same authority, is most good tempered and without vices, unless his poverty is one and his affection for the duke, whose wishes constitute the sole laws for the Court. But Charles cannot be so easily exonerated. He began his reign with a great show of industry and attention to business, but this did not last long. He soon betrayed his dislike for arduous affairs (No. 733), and Contarini wrote rather sarcastically of the unusual energy he showed when news came of the battle of Lutter. For the rest he let Buckingham act, and ostentatiously stood aside (App. I, sec. i). For all this he cherished very lofty ideas of the prerogatives of kingship, perhaps derived from a book of maxims which he studied attentively, but which no one was allowed to see (No. 38). Suspicion of his autocratic views got abroad early and it was even rumoured that he would not be crowned, so that he might avoid taking the oaths and remain more absolute (No. 73). In all his actions he showed the most lamentable want of foresight, and he started on a slippery slope that anyone could see would eventually land him in the abyss.
Limits of space prevent a detailed reference to many other matters of interest. Owing to political considerations the Catholics occupy a prominent position. At times they were very cruelly persecuted (No. 685), but the king complained that only a trifling sum of all the money extorted from the Recusants ever reached him (No. 642). Rather more space than usual is devoted to matters of commerce, reference to which will be found in the index. Attention may be drawn to the interference of the crown with the great companies, notably in forcing upon them representatives whom they did not want. Particulars are given of the growing dissatisfaction in Scotland and the curious treatment of the Chancellor Hay. Pesaro devotes many letters to a slight he received at the funeral of King James, which he believed to be due to the Spanish sympathies of the Master of the Ceremonies, Lewkenor. Bacon's death receives a passing mention (No. 551). A curious reason is given to account for Buckingham turning against Spain (App. I, sec. i).
To the authorities of Cambridge University Library, and in particular to Mr. H. G. Aldis, I am indebted for the permission to consult the MS. diary of a member of the parliament of 1626. This record of an important parliament should certainly be published by one of our learned societies. I wish also to record my appreciation of the courtesy shown to me by the officials at the Frari, the library of St. Mark and the Correr Museum.