Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 20, 1626-1628. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1914.
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THE present volume, beginning at November, 1626, concludes with February, 1628, the last month of the Venetian year. All the material comes from the National Archives at the Frari, with the exception of No. 348, and the fragmentary notes for a Relazione in Appendix II, which are taken from the Library of St. Mark. Mr. Rawdon Brown has left a translation of the despatches of Alvise Contarini, the ambassador in England, for the whole of the period. This has been used here, after collation with the original letters. The material consulted is of the usual description, and calls for no special remark, except that the despatches of the Proveditori of Crete are wanting up to February, 1627.
In spite of the good will and determination with which the French Ambassador Bassompierre had set about his task, his prospects of success, after a month of negotiation, seemed altogether hopeless. The misunderstandings and mutual suspicion between the two crowns made any settlement unlikely, even if the queen's claims could be satisfactorily arranged. The English kept on seizing French ships, while the French laid hands on all the English property they could. The French meant to satisfy the claims of their merchants by such acts and to give up making remonstrances to England (No. 10). Yet Bassompierre sent a hopeful report to France, and Louis wrote back telling him to go forward and make a satisfactory settlement of a matter of so much consequence (No. 13). This would have availed but little in the face of Charles's obstinate refusal to listen to any concession in the matter of the queen's household, had not Buckingham taken up the cause of reconciliation with all the impetuosity of his character. The commissioners appointed to treat with Bassompierre had made their report at length, merely representing the misconduct of the French attendants and justifying the king's action. It looked like an impasse, but on the next day Charles saw Bassompierre alone in the presence of Buckingham, and, after a long discussion, the king gave way, promising to readmit the bishop and six priests, and also to reinstate some forty to fifty French in all. He further promised some mitigation of the penal statutes against the Catholics. In return he asked the ambassador to wean the queen from certain degrading ceremonies, due to her bigotry. Once in the way of concession, Charles was disposed to go far. He released a number of priests from prison, on condition that Bassompierre would take them away with him; he allowed the enlargement of the queen's chapel, and made other minor concessions. The reasons for the sudden and complete change are given as the want of money and the difficulty of finding any; the refusal of the Puritans in particular to pay the subsidies; the objection to Bassompierre's demand for security for part at least of the dowry; the eagerness to get the rest of the dowry, on which many of the Council had assignments; the lack of response from the Huguenots and French malcontents, who did not place much reliance on English help; the fear of trouble in Scotland; the death of Gondomar, which made a settlement with Spain more difficult, and the efforts of the foreign ministers (No. 17).
Whatever the contributory reasons may have been, the chief instrument of the change was Buckingham. He alone overruled both the king and the Council in the matter of the adjustment (No. 58). Once he had taken the first step he threw aside all harshness and devoted himself to a thorough agreement with France. On Sunday, the 15th of November, he entertained the king, queen and Bassompierre at a magnificent banquet, followed by an entertainment, at which he himself danced (No. 34). He endeavoured in every way to show favour to Bassompierre, who might promise himself anything from such influential support. The long and secret confidences between the two even excited suspicion (No. 48). Bassompierre, on his side, intimated that if France received satisfaction she would help in Germany by sending an ambassador to the emperor about the Palatinate.
Yet all was not quite so prosperous as the smooth surface indicated. The Puritans thoroughly disliked the prospect of the return of a Catholic bishop and priests, and they loudly blamed Buckingham for not obtaining a quid pro quo for the Huguenots. Buckingham did not feel quite sure of Charles, and he prevented Bassompierre from having another interview with the king, though he greatly desired one. Bassompierre evaded the settlement of the important maritime questions on the plea that he had no instructions (No. 34). Even with respect to the queen's dowry and household and the English Catholics, Bassompierre said he should leave the details to the ambassadors in ordinary resident at the two Courts (No. 17). Having arrived at a colourable settlement, he was anxious to get away as soon as possible, content with what he had achieved and well aware of the danger of a turn of the tide (No. 34). Although nothing was really settled except the queen's household, he made up his mind to return to France forthwith (No. 48). They tried hard to detain him, but he pleaded the necessity of attending the Assembly of Notables at Paris on the 15th of December. Promising to do everything in his power to obtain satisfaction for the English ambassador to be sent to the French Court, he left on the 2nd of December. His relations with Buckingham continued as cordial as ever, in spite of a tiff over a complimentary message sent by the Bishop of Mende, which the duke chose to consider ironical (No. 58).
A week after Bassompierre's departure Buckingham decided that he himself would be the ambassador to complete the work of reconciliation in France. That he should wish to undertake a mission which could probably be discharged with more efficiency and certainly with more economy by some less conspicuous person, led to all sorts of surmises of some secret and ulterior motives. Men supposed that he wanted to arrange peace with Spain, and possibly with Germany, also with the help of the queen mother; that he wished to be away when Parliament met; that a general peace might be negotiated in France; that he wished to be present at the nomination of those who were to re-enter the queen's service, and get control over them; that Bassompierre had rendered him ambitious of sharing the glory of the adjustment, while some talked of his amours (No. 70). His confidants endeavoured to dissuade him from going fearing that he would risk too much, both in England and in France, while his mother, wife and sister went on their knees to beg him not to go (No. 78). Bassompierre is said to have thrown his influence into the same scale (No. 87). Charles, however, favoured the plan, and even urged his favourite to make the journey, so much so that some considered it an indication of waning favour (Nos. 87, 94). Rosencranz, the Danish ambassador, probably came nearer the mark in supposing that it was to avoid parliament (No. 100).
Buckingham appears to have quite made up his mind. At the beginning of January he sent on his baggage to Dover (No. 102), and continued his preparations. But he wanted first to make sure of his ground. Before venturing on a journey which everyone assured him would be fraught with grave peril, he wished for some guarantee that he would be well received and that the mission would be crowned with success (No. 78). To sound the feeling of the French Court, he sent to Paris two of his creatures, Edward Clarke and Balthasar Gerbier (No. 87). Although the Savoyard Ambassador Scaglia, Buckingham's chief confidant at that Court, wrote very hopefully to Turin about the duke's reception (No. 143), feeling in France ran very strongly against the visit. It was very distasteful to the king and queen mother, although Richelieu favoured it, apparently from personal motives (No. 100). Buckingham told the Venetian ambassador that he had received secret intimation from the cardinal and queen mother that if he would give them certain satisfaction, which he called private, they would invite him to the Court (No. 109). But Louis wrote to Charles and Bassompierre to Buckingham, to the same effect, that the duke was not to come, as he could not be fitly received until both sides released what they had taken (No. 107). Accordingly the project was abandoned, but the real reason was concealed, and Buckingham tried to convey the idea that the change was due to the report brought by Clarke and Gerbier and to Bassompierre's letters (No. 109). The king had already given over persuading him to go, and rather dissuaded him unless he was sure of a favourable reception (No. 102). There had never been any reason why he should go, except his own private interests, whether based on ambition or love (No. 78).
The failure of this project destroyed the last hope of a settlement through Bassompierre's negotiations. On the marshal's return to France, instead of the glory and commendation that he looked for, he met with nothing but reproach. The Louvre rang with angry voices raised against him. They said that he had left the queen without support, with no good Frenchman at her side; that he had yielded too much to the English and had not stood up for the French. In short they criticised every article of his treaty (No. 100). Father Sancy represented to the king how little had been done for his sister, and enlarged upon the unsatisfactory character of her attendants (No. 109). The English Catholics reproached the ambassador to his master for having looked after his private advantage without troubling to obtain anything for them (No. 118). Most serious of all was the action of Richelieu, who used his growing influence to thwart Bassompierre's efforts to get his arrangements confirmed (No. 143).
In the blaze of his subsequent achievements the mistakes and weaknesses of Richelieu are apt to be overlooked. In the Venetian Ambassador Zorzi he certainly had no friendly observer, but all the strictures and criticism passed by that minister can hardly be put down to mere prejudice. Zorzi does not hesitate to attribute the cardinal's behaviour to jealousy of Bassompierre, because he wished to rule France alone and could not support the growing fortune of the marshal (No. 100); an opinion shared by the Count of Verua (No. 103). No doubt the cardinal's position was a delicate one, as he could not feel sure of his hold over the weak king, without which he could not hope to realise his political aims, reduce the Huguenots and other discordant elements to subjection, and thus enable France to take a leading part in the affairs of Europe, undisturbed by internal commotion. He may have thought that the moment had come both for spoiling Bassompierre's chances of favour and for reducing the Huguenots, in defiance of England. The late attendants of the Queen of England brought word of the disorganisation and weakness of the country; Bassompierre himself reported the imbecility of the government (No. 102). They heard of the want of money, the dissaffection of the people and the universal hatred of Buckingham (No. 125); the Bishop of Mende and others represented the English as too feeble to resent any injuries (No. 415). The French were indeed ready for a good understanding with England, but they wanted some superiority in the negotiation (No. 95). Accordingly, Bassompierre's arrangements were disowned and he was accused of having exceeded his powers.
As Buckingham's zeal for a good understanding with France arose not from motives of sound policy but only from his personal interests, it did not require much to turn his goodwill to gall. He was angered with Richelieu for thwarting his intended journey to France (No. 125). He objected to the manner in which the cardinal corresponded with him, as if with an inferior, and when he responded in the same style Richelieu was deeply incensed (No. 150), and, indeed, he avoided addressing Buckingham by letter on this account, and only sent a verbal message by Gerbier (No. 137).
The two favourites became more and more exasperated with each other, and rapidly dragged their masters into war. Charles fell a ready victim. Only Buckingham's masterful will had induced him to yield a reluctant consent to the arrangement made with Bassompierre. He intimated that he had made concessions to please the queen out of consideration for his brother-in-law and to oblige friendly powers, but not from any regard for the friendship of France (No. 58), a view that was repeated by Buckingham (No. 70). Charles was, therefore, the more incensed when he found what he regarded as great concessions treated with contemptuous disdain. He complained bitterly of the way his brother-in-law had met his advances. He displayed more irritation on the subject than he had ever been known to show about anything else (No. 87). The Venetian ambassador notes that while observations about the designs of the Spaniards left him cold, the slightest hint against the French made him quite heated (No. 108). He refused to listen to the modifications proposed by Richelieu, saying that he could place no reliance on the maintenance of fresh treaties proposed covertly and obliquely when those arranged by an official of the crown, an ambassador and a person of quality, remained disapproved and null (No. 133). The disavowal of Bassompierre continued to rank in the king's mind long after (Nos. 203, 242), and he clung to it as a reason for the quarrel when every other justification had vanished away (No. 574). Diplomatic relations were broken off before the end of February. Richelieu would agree to nothing except that both sides must give up what had been taken, simultaneously on a fixed date, and French ships must be exempt from search and other indignities. The English were determined that France should take the first step, as she began the seizures (No. 152). The nation was ready for war; the seizure of English goods in France had made the people frantic, and it was even stated that if the king would convoke parliament the whole nation would move against France, give their substance and not impeach the duke (No. 87).
Buckingham's plans for hostilities were to stir up the malcontents in France, support the Huguenots and prey upon French shipping. It was a revival of his old plan to compel France to join the alliance of England, Venice and Savoy against Spain, (fn. 1) with the ostensible object forgotten or neglected. Then, as before, the moving spirit was the Abbot Scaglia, ambassador of Savoy at the French Court. Richelieu had courted him with the idea of employing him to bring about a reconciliation with England (No. 103), although the Duke of Savoy believed that the cardinal only wished to ruin his minister by throwing all the blame on his shoulders (No. 111). Scaglia, on his side, bore a grudge against Richelieu for not helping him to get the red hat, which he coveted. His animosity against the cardinal had the full support of his master, who wished to overthrow that minister (No 229). In Charles and Buckingham, Scaglia had warm admirers, and it was at his instigation that they decided to send Walter Montagu across the water on a mission to Lorraine and Piedmont, in order to stir up the malcontent princes, and by promising help to them and the Huguenots, to turn France upside down. Montagu was to pass through Paris and take his instructions from the abbot (Nos. 177, 187, 229). In England, Buckingham had frequent interviews to the same end wth Soubise and St. Blancard, who represented the Duke of Rohan (No. 177). They also tried to stir Soissons to revolt (No. 267).
For the time being much more effective results were obtained at sea. A raid by Pennington into the mouth of the Garonne did indeed prove abortive. Buckingham's detractors declared that he took sealed orders with instructions not to open them until he entered the estuary, and when he arrived and broke the seals he found nothing but a blank sheet of paper (No. 134). Paris celebrated this fiasco by popular ballads and squibs in derision of Pennington (No. 259), but their glee was short-lived. The overwhelming naval superiority of England speedily swept the seas clear of French shipping. They suffered notable losses almost daily (No. 183). The merchants cried out at the stoppage of trade and their losses (No. 145). Within a week of the interruption of negotiations a large number of Rouen merchants appeared at Court and noisily demanded that the king should come to terms with England, as if Richelieu remained obstinate they were convinced that their trade would quickly be destroyed and all their merchants ruined (No. 159). Pennington also quickly atoned for his previous failure, and in a successful raid on Conquet he captured forty-two ships, five of which carried goods worth a million crowns, while two others had very rich cargoes belonging to Richelieu himself (Nos. 253, 261).
The shower of blows falling upon France thus rapidly convinced Richelieu that he had miscalculated seriously when he counted upon the weakness and disorganisation of England. He came to realise how ill advised he had been to reject Bassompierre's settlement (No. 159). Instead of consolidating his position it threatened to shake it to its foundations, owing to the universal outcry in France at the losses suffered (No. 145). He became very eager for an adjustment, and bitterly repented having dealt so harshly with the English (No. 196). He cast about to find some one to act as intermediary. He urged the Danish Ambassador Rosencranz, then returning to England, to act in this capacity, making liberal promises of help to his master if he succeeded (No. 172). He tried to enlist the good offices of Savoy, intimating that Madame of Piedmont should intervene for the reconciliation of her brother and brother-in-law (No. 181). When he heard of Walter Montagu's mission, he conceived great hopes of attaining his end in this way, and awaited his arrival with impatience. But Montagu, mindful of the treatment meted out to him on his last visit, refused to see either the cardinal or the queen mother, even though Bassompierre went on purpose to persuade him to do so (No. 194). This rebuff only made Richelieu the more anxious for a settlement (No. 205). He intimated that he was ready to make an accommodation to the advantage of England; but he could not find any one ready to undertake the task, with the recent example of Bassompierre before them (No. 189). In his growing anxiety he sent insistently to recall the Duke of Chevreuse to Court, to employ him in this business, although the duke was out of favour and the duchess in disgrace (No. 213). It was a last desperate expedient, for lack of anything better (No. 261). Richelieu thought of sending to England the Secretary Bouthillier under colour of a visit from the queen mother to her daughter (No. 178), but gave up the idea on reflecting that he would be unacceptable to Buckingham as a dependent of the queen mother and of himself as well (No. 238). He sent to England to find out if the Marshal Cœuvres would be received (No. 299). Ultimately one Seton, a captain in the king's Scottish Guard, was sent over with very voluminous instructions (No. 261). He went owing to the representations of Sir Thomas Dishington, a gentleman of the king's privy chamber, who had gone to Paris in the hope of bringing about a reconciliation (No. 253). But Dishington was an avowed enemy of Buckingham and an advocate of convoking parliament, so that his well-meant effort did more credit to his heart than to his judgment (Nos. 195, 253).
For the rest, all Richelieu's advances met with no response from England. Any ambassador sent over was likely to be repulsed, as Buckingham's visit to France had been, and even if he escaped that indignity he would not obtain satisfaction owing to the king's resentment at the disavowal of Bassompierre (No. 242). For the moment the advantage lay entirely with the English, and the weakness of France only induced them to raise their pretensions (No. 211). Moreover, they did not believe in the sincerity of Richelieu's advances, because at the same time he was busy increasing his naval preparations (No. 187), and even in France, in the general opinion, once the cardinal had got a fleet together he would think no more of his numerous promises (No. 189). Seton was considered nothing more than a spy and forbidden to leave the kingdom (No. 289). When he tried to get away surreptitiously from Scotland, he was promptly arrested (No. 327).
Richelieu was intent upon making France a naval power, so as to be independent of the Dutch and English, and to ensure the capture of La Rochelle. For this purpose he gathered all the naval administration into his own hands (No. 178). His naval ambitions had already caused disquietude in England, largely owing to his orders for ships in the Netherlands (No. 59). He induced the Assembly of Notables to decide always to keep a fleet of forty-five ships in the Atlantic (No. 137). He devoted the most tireless energy to this task, going daily to the Arsenal and the foundries to urge on the work (No. 274). He counted greatly on a new gun invented by the Engineer Targoni, which was expected to inflict the most deadly injury upon ships between wind and water. He boasted that he would enter the very ports of England and sink their fleet with his new thunder bolts (No. 291). But he found it a difficult task to force nature and convert France into a naval power (No. 205). The effort required time, and the results actually achieved were meagre. He became impatient for the Dutch to finish and deliver the ships ordered of them without delay, and he even wanted the Dutch ambassador to get the States General to lend him ships (No. 221). In spite of all his boasting, he lived in dread of the English fleet, and his fears interrupted his sleep (No. 213). This led him to make secret advances to Spain, for a naval contingent to help against the common enemy.
The depredations upon French shipping, which caused Richelieu such consternation, served to supply Buckingham with the means of equipping the large fleet with which he intended to strike a blow at France. In spite of the old feeling against the French and an actual war between the fishermen of both nations (No. 344), there was no real pretext for waging war on France. After the first outburst of irritation, the country did not really desire war. The merchants felt severely the loss of trade due to prevailing conditions, and refused to take advantage of the letters of marque that were offered to them to make reprisals (No. 259). The only thing that could afford Buckingham at once a pretext for active hostilities, and any hope of success, was a rising in France itself. To this end he carried on negotiations with the Huguenots. But his chief hopes in this direction rested upon the Duke of Savoy. Experience showed that revolts in France were never durable, and they hoped that the duke's support would remedy this defect (No. 358). Thus the object of Montagu's mission to Piedmont was to form a powerful party of the Huguenots and malcontent princes, supported by Savoy, which should force Richelieu to fall in with their plans (No. 229), and Montagu actually assured the king that the duke would put the Count of Soissons in the field with a large force and would supply Rohan with money to raise cavalry (No. 366).
The whole intrigue accordingly centred in Savoy, and the duke lent himself willingly to it in order to further his own interests. His motives were resentment against France, because of her behaviour over the Valtelline, and especially of antipathy to Richelieu. He hoped in this way to render himself the indispensable arbitrator between the parties and thus enhance his own consideration (No. 347). Through his minister, Scaglia he wanted to distract the French, although not too violently (No. 393).
Richelieu clearly discerned the probable source of impending mischief. He attributed to Scaglia any understanding between Buckingham and the Huguenots, and expected that any movement of Soissons or the other malcontents would be backed by Savoy (No. 391). But Buckingham's hopes of stirring up trouble in France found very little encouragement there. The French hated the English, and the one thing required to unite them was an attack from that quarter. The negotiations with Soissons and Monsieur led to nothing. The Huguenots, were inclined to be cautious. They felt in a quandary, because if the English landed under the pretence of helping them, they would offend Charles and Buckingham if they did not assist the invaders, and so deprive themselves for ever of English protection. On the other hand, if they stirred they would precipitate their ruin, seeing the feebleness of the efforts made from England (No. 272). From Nimes they sent word that they could place no reliance on Rohan or Soubise, who had often deceived them, making terms advantageous for themselves while leaving them in the lurch (No. 289). At La Rochelle the magistrates arrested two Frenchmen who were engaged upon the correspondence between Buckingham, Soubise and the Huguenots (No. 298). As a counterblast, two other Frenchmen were arrested in London on the charge of secret correspondence with the French ministers and making mischief with the Rochellese by disparaging the forces of England, magnifying the difficulty of reinforcements, the want of money, civil discords and the like (No. 311).
The English fleet waited in the hope that some move on the part of the Huguenots would supply the pretext for action (No. 272). No such move occurred, although at La Rochelle, where feeling was divided, the popular party got the upper hand, released the two imprisoned agents of Buckingham, and hanged thirteen persons for having intelligence with Richelieu (No. 362). Possibly this is what Buckingham was waiting for, though it was not much to go upon. Marini could state at Turin at this time that neither the Huguenots nor the malcontents had given the English any help (No. 337), and Richelieu could contemplate with some complacency a France where the Huguenots were obedient, La Rochelle reasonable and the malcontent princes disorganised (No. 314).
Buckingham, however, had made up his mind to the expedition, to which he was deeply committed. His grudge against France kept him from listening to anything that would stand in the way of his revenge (No. 242). He meant to command in person, in spite of the opposition of his mother, wife and sister, who even proposed to intercede with the king to prevent him going (No. 259). To keep the king up to the mark he gave a banquet at York House, with a masque representing the sailing of the fleet (No. 289). Shortly before he finally put to sea he paid a farewell visit to the Venetian ambassador. He told him that in response to the reports spread by the French of the weakness and penury of England, he meant to sail to the French coast and give battle to any naval force that might oppose him. He made no reference to the Huguenots or malcontents, or to the ulterior objects of the expedition. He assured the ambassador that he would see something that would restore to England the prestige she had twice lost through ill fortune, but he left the impression that he wished he had not committed himself so far (No. 326).
The force he commanded was more imposing in appearance than in reality. It consisted of ninety sail, but only forty-two were warships, and of these no more than eight (fn. 2) belonged to the royal navy, the rest being merchantmen (No. 345). Besides the sailors they carried, of regular troops, only 4,000 men (No. 226). This was so obviously inadequate for an attack upon France that at the end of May orders were issued for the levy of 4,000 more men in five regiments, three English and two Irish. These troops raised hastily by pressing were not likely to have much military value, and by their disorder and lack of discipline it was probable they would only make matters worse. The manner of the levy also caused a great deal of discontent (No. 289). To improve matters they brought veteran troops from Ireland, but among the levies desertion was so rife and distaste for the service so general that it was found necessary to quarter them in the Isle of Wight to prevent escape, otherwise the army might have disappeared altogether (No. 298). Buckingham did not forget his own comfort and amusement, and Bethune, the French ambassador, referred contemptuously to the variety of provision, the musical instruments, bedding, coaches, tilting horses, etc., with which he cumbered his flagship (No. 402). The duke showed himself very unequal to the more serious business of a commander. The organisation required for the embarking of even this small force proved beyond his powers, and he ultimately went on board weary and bewildered, and set sail at the earliest opportunity with all the ships there were, apparently leaving the rest to look after themselves, and trusting to Providence that they would all reach the rendezvous in safety. Besides providing for luxury and amusement, Buckingham took with him three learned divines, the possessors of several languages, while Soubise had one all to himself. It was hoped that their eloquence would stir the Huguenot conscience to the duty of rebellion. On the day of embarcation one of these preachers delivered a long sermon, urging all to uphold the Protestant faith (No. 345).
It was expected that the English fleet would sail straight for La Rochelle and land there to destroy Fort St. Louis, built by the French king in order to overawe the town (No. 345). Plots discovered by the French in Brouage Oleron and St. Martin gave some indication of the English plans (No. 327), and before long news came that Buckingham had landed in the Isle of Ré and effected a settlement there.
The fleet arrived off the island on Monday, the 19th of July, but nothing could be attempted because of the high sea running, which did a good deal of damage to the ships. On Friday, Buckingham would wait no longer. He put 2,000 men on shore under St. Blancard, under cover of the smoke caused by firing all the guns of the fleet together. Meanwhile 4,000 men were taken round in large boats and landed on the other side of the island. Making a forced march, they fell on the rear of the French defending against St. Blancard's party. Toyras, the governor of the island, was thus obliged to retreat and shut himself up in Fort St. Martin, after losing 800 of his men, including a hundred gentlemen and two of his own brothers. (fn. 3) The English losses were hardly less severe and included St. Blancard (No. 375). Colonel Burgh, an experienced soldier, opposed the occupation of the island, and foretold disaster if it was persisted in. He advocated instead ravaging the islands and throwing supplies into La Rochelle (App. II, p. 624). This advice was disregarded. The position was important, and Buckingham looked for an easy conquest, as he knew the fort to be ill supplied. Established in the Isle of Ré he could command the mouths of the Loire and Garonne, as well as control the salt trade of Brouage, an important source of revenue. Accordingly he began the siege of Fort St. Martin, and took measures to isolate the island completely and prevent succour getting in.
It pleased Buckingham's vanity to affect to wage war like a Paladin of romance. He allowed a gentleman to leave the fort who had been wounded in the attack, and whose life would have been endangered for lack of proper attention. He sent to fetch him a boat furnished with scarlet and gold trimmings. Two gentlemen captured in an attempt to relieve the fort, were released by the duke and sent back to the mainland (No. 421). At the very end, when about to withdraw, Buckingham set all his prisoners at liberty, and presented his own valuable sword to a Gascon who was without his, sending him with a message to the French king (No. 605). But this chivalrous veneer covered a warfare of exceptional cruelty. In all contests at sea it was the practice of the time to give no quarter and to throw vanquished foes overboard, and this was relentlessly carried out. In the case mentioned above, although Buckingham sent back his two prisoners, he had the captain who spared them hanged at the yardarm. He would not allow the families of the besieged to pass his lines, and after they had spent two days in the ditch the defenders were constrained to take them back into the fort rather than see them perish of hunger (No. 471). Toyras, on his side, showed equal savagery, hanging five Englishmen and three Frenchmen, who were driven on shore in a frigate and fell into his hands (No. 375). He was probably innocent of hiring a man to assassinate Buckingham, as the duke declared, and it is more likely that Richelieu was at the bottom of it (Nos. 424, 471, 530).
Buckingham hoped to reduce the fort speedily by means of his artillery, but after a great expenditure of ammunition to very little purpose he decided to try the effect of famine. To expedite matters he attempted to destroy two wells, just outside the fort. They were captured with heavy loss and filled with earth. When Toyras had them cleared, they were recaptured and rendered finally useless with salt and rye (No. 410).
For the most part the siege dragged on without outstanding incidents. At one time, indeed, the English had a chance of carrying the place by a coup de main. They captured a demilune, and the French fled panic stricken. A bold advance would have ended the siege; but the English suspected a stratagem and feared a mine, so the French had time to rally, and eventually drove the enemy out of the captured work at the point of the pike (No. 517). Yet every one believed that the fort was bound to surrender in the end. Although the French had ample warning, they had neglected to supply it adequately, and the besieged were short of many necessaries. Although the French army was in force on the mainland, they could not approach because of the guard kept by the English fleet, which completely isolated the island making relief all but impossible. Charles felt confident of success, and refused to hear a word about negotiations for a reconciliation until the issue of the siege was known (Nos. 550, 561).
The operations at Réimposed a great strain upon Richelieu. When he heard of the sailing of the English fleet, he is said to have torn his beard (No. 367), for he knew that France had no force to cope with the enemy at sea. The king was ill and like to die, while the cardinal's government was so unpopular in the country that the people rejoiced at the success of the enemy (No. 378). His state of mind is indicated by a bitter outbreak against the Dutch ambassador, who came with proposals that the States should interpose for a reconciliation. He upbraided the ambassador because the Dutch had not sent ships to the help of France, and when Langarach objected that the States had an old standing alliance with England, whereas they had none with France, the cardinal intimated that France might be forced to make an alliance with Spain, and then the Dutch would be sorry (No. 383).
At that very moment Don Diego Messia, was at the French Court with offers of help. Led by Berulle, a strong party there favoured a Spanish alliance (Nos. 414, 540). According to Spanish sources, an alliance between Spain and France against England had already been concluded in March, 1627, and ratified by Louis on the 20th of April following. Rumours of such an alliance got abroad, circulated in England, and caused considerable anxiety to the Venetian republic. It was reported that the alliance had been concluded by the Duke of Albuquerque at Genoa in August (No. 429). At Rome the matter was much discussed, but not generally credited (No. 444). The pope is said to have refused to enter the league, saying that popes could not enter leagues against heretics, thereby giving them a pretext to unite in defence of their faith (No. 461). When the Savoyard ambassador referred to these rumours at an audience, Urban declared that such an alliance was impossible, the interests of the two powers being too incompatible (No. 458). Zorzi wrote from France that he considered the report a bugbear rather than a reality (No. 580). The situation was certainly a strange one, for in the summer of 1627 negotiations were apparently proceeding between France and Spain for the fruits of an alliance already concluded in the preceding spring. In Spain the French ambassadors Farges and Rambouillet were trying to obtain the help of the Spanish fleet (No. 407). Farges at least being persuaded that France could not conquer without Spain (No. 630). All this time Messia was in France with definite offers of assistance. At first he accompanied the offer with impossible conditions, that France should hand over to Spain a port and a fortress as a guarantee (No. 420). Richelieu's reply to this was a contemptuous rejection and the almost immediate renewal of the alliance with the Dutch, which had been long in negotiation (Nos. 437, 464). But it was expressly provided that this alliance should not affect the existing one between the Dutch and England, and so Richelieu's ends were not really achieved. Accordingly, when the Spanish proposals were renewed by Berulle, Marcillac and Schomberg, without their humiliating conditions, they were accepted at once (Nos. 437, 452). Much light is thrown upon these rather complicated manœuvres by a despatch of Anzolo Contarini, the Venetian ambassador at Rome (No. 458). Neither France nor Spain was wholly sincere in seeking the alliance; each wanted it to serve an ulterior motive. For Richelieu it partook of the nature of a last desperate expedient (No. 416). In spite of all his efforts and expenditure, he had no fleet capable of meeting the English. The Duke of Guise, his admiral, openly expressed the opinion that the cardinal was a lost man (No. 401).
If Richelieu's position seemed desperate, Buckingham's was not much better. He had embarked on the enterprise with precipitation, and without feeling his way beforehand. When he saw no sign of support from La Rochelle, or of any movement of the Huguenots, upon which he had counted, he turned angrily upon Soubise and accused him of misleading the king (No. 401). Buckingham now began to take steps to secure the support, without the assurance of which he should never have left England. He published a manifesto at La Rochelle, entirely on his own responsibility, setting forth the reasons which had moved his king to take up arms against France (No. 421). Sir William Becher, secretary to the Council, who had gone with the fleet, went into the assembly at La Rochelle and told them that they had frequently complained that the king's promise to them made under England's guarantee had not been kept. He asked if they were satisfied with the Most Christian or no; if they were, the King of England declared himself released from any further obligation and he would not trouble them any more; if not, the king's fleet had come for the maintenance of the promise, and they ought to assist it openly, as their own interests were concerned. Even this did not produce the result desired, as the Rochellese replied that they would take time to think about it (No. 424).
La Rochelle would have liked to remain neutral, courted by both parties, but circumstances proved too strong for it. Before August was half through, Angoulême received orders to besiege the town (No. 410). This appears to have been done at the instance of Marillac and Schomberg, and against the wish of Richelieu, who would have preferred to deal with one enemy at a time; but the cardinal soon changed his mind and became more eager for the siege than any one, possibly because he had a secret understanding in the town (Nos. 473, 497).
Without Huguenot support Buckingham's force was inadequate to the task before it. The reinforcements expected from England did not arrive, and it was reported at Rome that a regiment of Scots raised for the service had mutinied, being unwilling to fight against their old allies (No. 547). The Duchess of Buckingham sent her husband ample supplies for the winter, a clear indication that a speedy issue was not expected (No. 488). The delay caused the confidence at home to give place to anxiety, as Charles did not wish to run the risk of keeping such a force out during the winter (No. 587). Buckingham had relied on La Rochelle not only for men but for supplies, and in the absence of these his men found themselves short of provisions and necessaries. The pinch of want, the lack of expected success, and the absence of any experienced commander led to a relaxation of discipline and a serious deterioration of temper. At first, to make himself popular, Buckingham had treated his officers well; but now quarrels broke out between him and them and among the officers themselves (No. 587). Probably as the result of this relaxation attempts to relieve the fort from the mainland began to meet with success.
Under the circumstances it is not surprising that both sides should have been willing to consider an accommodation. On the 19th of September Paris was all agog at the arrival there of John Ashburnham, a kinsman of Buckingham, and St. Seurin, who came from St. Martin (No. 492). It appears that Toyras asked Buckingham for leave to send one of his gentlemen to Court, and suggested that it would be a good thing to adjust the differences between France and England and to turn their arms against the enemies of the common cause. Buckingham readily agreed, and this was the outcome. Louis refused to admit Ashburnham, though he saw St. Seurin, and the Council gave the Englishman to understand that the king would not listen to any proposals for peace while the enemy remained on French soil (No. 508). Richelieu, however, saw the envoy and treated with him, and he was reported to have gone to England on behalf of the cardinal, who wished to negotiate an accommodation in the name of the king and not of Buckingham (No. 538). Montagu averred at Turin that nothing was known in England of these negotiations (No. 561).
In any case, before these negotiations had time to take definite shape, the fate of St. Martin had been decided. Buckingham's position was becoming unbearable, and he sent word home that if help did not arrive he should abandon the enterprise. He sent back nearly all his guns to the ships, and resolved to make a last desperate attack on the fort. This was delivered on Saturday, the 7th of November, Buckingham bringing from the fleet all the troops fit to bear arms. The action was fierce, and apparently the English were thrown into confusion by an attack from the rear from the other fort of La Pree. In the end Buckingham called his men off to their entrenchments, and made up his mind to leave the island. On the following day Schomberg got across from the mainland with 2,000 men, and it was resolved to make a combined attack on the English. The neglect to protect adequately a bridge on the line of retreat turned the defeat into a rout, in which the English lost 63 officers killed, 25 prisoners, 47 colours and two small guns taken (Nos. 583, 599, 622). The French averred that their victory was achieved by not more than 3,000 out of 8,000 men (No. 630). Buckingham remained off La Rochelle for ten days after the disaster, and did not sail for England before the 17th. He spent the time in taking on board the sick persons of quality who had been in the care of the Rochellese, and in negotiations with the Rochellese. The town contained three parties, one for letting in the English, one for submission, and the third opportunist, to wait for what time might bring forth. During the discussion, the mayor took possession of one of the gates, and sent to offer the place to the king if he would take it in person. Through over-caution Louis let this chance slip. The Rochellese became aware of their mayor's proceedings. To these they put a stop, and decided to defend themselves to the uttermost and not to listen to any proposals for an accommodation unless they were assured of their privileges. At the same time they refused to receive a garrison that Buckingham wished to introduce, and the duke went away very ill pleased with them (No. 605).
In England there had been no rejoicings over the early successes of the campaign, in spite of every effort to make the most of them (No. 399). The first intimations of Buckingham's failure were received with delight (No. 567). Yet the popular hatred of Buckingham was roused to fury by his failure (No. 604), an odium that was shared to some extent by Soubise, as the author of the campaign, so much so that he thought it prudent to keep out of the way (No. 622). Charles received the news with fortitude. He sent to reassure Buckingham, and on the duke's arrival he even apologised to him for the delay of the succour, while praising his courage and capacity. The blame was laid on Holland and Coke (No. 624).
The fleet returned in good order and practically intact; but the landing force had suffered severely. Of over 5,000 men, Buckingham brought back no more than 500. The loss in officers had been particularly heavy, and but few of the leading families escaped (No. 604). Even after their return they continued to die of sickness contracted on the campaign. So far as possible the extent of the losses was kept secret, and the army was not reviewed on its return. Officers were warned by their friends not to speak except under compulsion, while some were put under restraint for talking too much. The king's physician was dismissed for saying that his Majesty did not know the full tale of those slain at Ré (No. 671).
Such was the end of this famous expedition. It is conspicuous for its feebleness with respect to the objects it had in view, for incompetence in its organisation and for deplorable incapacity in its command; and yet, in spite of all, it came extraordinarily near to success. It returned from the scene in a leisurely and dignified manner, and the victorious enemy did not venture to molest it. The extravagant rejoicings and triumph in France over this modest success is a striking tribute to the prestige of England in spite of all the mismanagement that had characterised the government of the country since the death of Elizabeth.
With a generous impulse Louis set free all the English prisoners, without ransom, sending them as a present to his sister, the Queen of England. But this was not done before the prisoners and trophies of war had been brought to Paris and paraded in triumph there. The queen mother had a like impulse to restore the flags to her daughter, but she eventually had them placed in Notre Dame, acting under the influence of Cardinal Berulle (No. 666). The Spaniards claimed the credit of the victory, saying that their fleet did more to drive away the English than the sword of the French (No. 665). Among the victors there was searching of heart; as in the printed account Schomberg got all the glory and Marillac was not mentioned (No. 663). Eventually Richelieu succeeded in arrogating all the glory to himself. Schomberg was accused of remissness, and even the valiant Toyras lost favour. The cardinal declared that the fort would have been lost if he had not supplied it with relief, and the English would not have been expelled if he had not thought of the way and provided the means of beating them (No. 698). He thus contrived to emerge with enhanced credit from a situation which had threatened his utter overthrow.
The quarrel between England and France was deplored by all who wished to resist the House of Hapsburg, as the greatest disaster that could befall their cause. Accordingly, efforts to bring about a reconciliation were made from several quarters. Early in 1627 the Danish Ambassador Rosencranz, instigated by Richelieu, offered his mediation (Nos. 172, 211), but with scant success, as the English felt confident in their strength. The Danish envoys, Thomassen and Brahe, urged a reconciliation upon Charles (No. 470), and when in Paris they suggested a congress at the Hague to arrange matters (No. 726). But Christian of Denmark was suspect to the French as the uncle of the English king and because of his Protestant sympathies (App. II, p. 617). The Dutch also intervened, as they feared that English hostility would drive the French into the arms of Spain (No. 175). The Ambassador Joachim pointed out to Charles the mischief done by the quarrel, and he received a favourable hearing; but Buckingham, to whom he also addressed himself, told him that an accommodation was hopeless (Nos. 187, 193). The English did not welcome this mediation, because they had a bad opinion of Langarach, the Dutch ambassador in France, whom they suspected of being under the influence of Richelieu. In spite of this rebuff the Dutch returned to the charge, and Joachim presented a memorial from the States urging a reconciliation for the sake of the common cause (No. 569); but this fared no better than earlier efforts (No. 602).
On this question of interposition England was, indeed, already committed to the Duke of Savoy, a prince for whom both Charles and Buckingham entertained a great admiration. In the spring of 1627 Walter Montagu had gone to Turin, and assured the duke that nothing should be done to interfere with his position as sole arbitrator (No. 194); an assurance which he repeated in the autumn (No. 573). Charles Emanuel was quite ready and indeed eager for the task, though it was for his own ends (No. 358). It seemed at one time as if France would welcome his mediation. Richelieu's desire to employ Scaglia had been mentioned. Louis told the Count of Moretta that he would be glad if the duke, his master, succeeded in bringing about an accommodation with England, for which he was eminently fitted, as being related to both of them (No. 496). Richelieu promised that if the duke arranged a favourable settlement the French would come with all their forces to bring the Genoese to reason (No. 484). But the duke was simply playing for his own hand. He bore a grudge against France and wanted to overthrow Richelieu. He encouraged trouble by supporting the Count of Soissons. The French suspected his intrigues and did not believe in his disinterestedness, although they did not wish to offend him by openly refusing his proferred mediation (No. 262). They were specially suspicious of Montagu's mission. By the seizure of Montagu on his return from Turin in November, 1627, they came into possession of at least one paper (No. 648), which showed that their suspicions of the duke had solid foundation, although the examination of their captive and his papers does not seem to have yielded results at all commensurate with their expectations (Nos. 638, 662, 693, 718, 745). At all events this incident made the mediation of Savoy an impossibility.
Thus by a process of elimination it became apparent that the task of mediation must devolve upon the republic of Venice. Quite early in 1627 the Earl of Holland had hinted that the republic should intervene to stop the quarrel (No. 133). Sir Francis Nethersole, secretary to the Queen of Bohemia, vehemently urged the Signory to mediate (No. 193), and many others took the same line, but not of Buckingham's party (No. 171). Lord Carleton, before starting on his mission to the Hague, gave Contarini a very plain hint, telling him that he had instructions to listen to any proposals for a reconciliation, whether made on behalf of the French or of friendly powers. He urged the ambassador to report this forthwith to the Signory (No. 271). Arrived at the Hague, he went a good deal further. He said the republic must not await for a request to intervene, as neither England nor France could ever make it. His king valued the republic more than any other prince, although he esteemed the Duke of Savoy highly (No. 564). On another occasion Carleton remarked, I wish the most serene republic had the honour of the accommodation (No. 575). Nor did such suggestions come from the English side alone. At Paris several persons called at the Venetian embassy to suggest the same thing, the most notable among them being the Marshal of Coeuvres (No. 221). In Spain at a later date, the French ambassador Farges made a long speech on the subject to the Venetian Ambassador Mocenigo, telling him that the good offices of the republic would be highly appreciated (No. 715).
The Signory felt as anxious as any one for the termination of this disastrous quarrel; but with their habitual caution, they were careful not to commit themselves. The mere fact that England seemed to have given the sole arbitrament to Savoy caused them to hang back (No. 221). It must be admitted that Buckingham's methods justified caution in the handling of anything in which he was concerned. He never seems to have shown the slightest consideration for others. Thus when Scaglia thought himself charged with the work of reconciliation he was petrified to find that it had been taken out of his hands by Montagu (No. 350). Lord Carleton, although engaged in the same business, knew nothing of the paper put into the hands of the Duke of Savoy by Montagu, with the terms for his arbitration. He had never been told anything about referring the matter to the duke, and considered it unlikely (Nos. 479, 575). When Contarini spoke to Lord Conway about Montagu professing to have full powers for an adjustment, the secretary remarked with a laugh: Unless he has commissions from others (meaning Buckingham), he is certainly not authorised by the king, as I wrote his instructions with my own hand, and had them signed by his Majesty (No. 550). Montagu himself was placed in an exceedingly awkward predicament by the mission of Ashburnham and St. Seurin, of which he had received no information, and he had to make the best explanations he could to the justly incensed Duke of Savoy (Nos. 561, 573).
Accordingly, the Signory confined themselves to general offices and recommendations, although they deeply resented the suggestion that their reserve was due to ulterior motives (No. 248). When the English fleet was expected to sail, they decided to make special representations to both sovereigns (No. 233). They were also ready to give a disinterested support to the efforts of Savoy and to encourage the duke in his task (Nos. 214, 441). But with the defeat at Ré and the disposal of Savoy's chances by the Montagu affair the republic considered that the moment had arrived for a more active effort. They therefore sent fresh instructions to their representative in both France and England, and as a consequence Contarini had a special audience of Charles, and Zorzi of both Louis and the queen mother. The French were really eager for peace. The behaviour of the Spaniards had opened the eyes of the queen mother and filled her with indignation against them (No. 592). She wrote to the king and Richelieu on the necessity for checking the ambitions of the House of Austria. She had Richelieu on her side (No. 638), but Cardinal Berulle was active on the other (No. 719). She really wavered between the two. When Zorzi, encouraged by her acquiescence, pressed her hard on the subject, she at once drew in her horns and told him that only the king could decide (No. 738). He found Louis most obstinate, insisting that as the English had been the original offenders they must be the first to ask for an accommodation if they wanted one. Only by dogged persistence did Zorzi at length obtain the king's consent to talk the matter over with the Secretary Herbault (No. 758).
In England, where public opinion by no means approved of the unnecessary war, Contarini found all the ministers equally inclined to peace (No. 703). It was noticed that Buckingham was much less inflamed against the French since his return. Yet the disaster had rather set things back, as Contarini believed that the government had intended to make a declaration to all the ambassadors of the friendly powers, apologising for the hostilities on the score of their obligations to the Huguenots, and declaring that England wished for peace provided they were not molested and that assistance was given to Denmark (No. 624). Instead, Charles and Buckingham now cherished thoughts of revenge, though they were tempered by the necessities of revenge, though they were tempered by the necessities of the moment (Nos. 651, 672).
The Huguenots and La Rochelle presented the chief obstacles. The French still pressed the siege of the town, in spite of the hot and cold fits of Louis. The English government felt itself bound in honour to the Huguenots, and it also supported them as a matter of policy, it being generally believed that France without the Huguenots would alarm England more than all the other powers put together, because she was so near (No. 686). Charles told Contarini, while admitting the force of his arguments in favour of a reconciliation, that he thought the safest plan would be to fight again, and to send an army of 20,000 men to La Rochelle in order to help all the Huguenots from that place. The government actually took measures for both peace and war. They decided to send the Earl of Carlisle to Lorraine, really as an opening for peace negotiations, though not ostensibly, and a fleet was fitted out to take supplies to La Rochelle. It was stated that this was sent by private merchants and not by the king, who only undertook to convoy them (No. 711), but even this shallow pretext did not suffice, as it was found necessary to give them thirteen instead of six ships of the royal navy, to ensure their safety (No. 735). But first of all it was necessary to replenish the empty exchequer. Charles reluctantly made up his mind to summon parliament, and everything depended on the issue. If he succeeded in obtaining supplies, the French war would continue, especially as they hoped that the French would have their attention diverted to Italy, owing to the dispute about the Mantua succession (No. 750).
With the progress of the quarrel with France the war actually declared against Spain died away almost to nothing. Charles was the more independent in the matter because he believed that he could have peace whenever he wanted it, and that while Spain could not harm him, he could inflict considerable damage on Spain (No. 58). In Spain a feeling of calm security prevailed, and in the winter of 1626 they were actually disarming their warships (No. 91). They enjoyed a happy position for the moment, as both France and England were seeking their friendship. In accordance with their traditional policy, they inclined more to unite with England than with France (No. 70). As a feeler, they suggested an exchange of sailor prisoners, and, in spite of the opposition of the Dutch ambassador, this was carried into effect, although the English had to pay 15,000 florins, as the balance was against them, owing to the success of the Dunkirkers (No. 134). The Spaniards found it policy to treat with marked consideration some English merchants established at Seville, calling from Charles the remark that they were really very discreet (No. 94). Reports of negotiations actually in progress between England and Spain got about, and the Dutch ambassador made them the subject of a remonstrance. They told him that many overtures had been made to his Majesty by shallow-brained mediators, but he would never entertain them without informing his allies (No. 119). At this very time Edward Clarke, a creature of Buckingham, was supposed to be frequenting the Spanish embassy at Paris (Nos. 102, 119). Cottington, a notorious partisan of Spain, began to be seen about the Court again. But perhaps the uncomplimentary remark referred more particularly to a meeting between Gerbier, an agent of Buckingham, and Rubens, nominally to discuss works of art, at which the famous painter expressed a most ardent wish to initiate negotiations for a peace or a truce between England and Spain (No. 168).
This manner of negotiation by subordinate agents was a favourite device of Buckingham. He acted on his own responsibility, not only without saying anything to the other ministers, but without the knowledge of the king himself (No. 168). To avoid being forestalled by the Dutch minister, who had got wind of the affair, Buckingham had to hurry off to Newmarket, so that he might be the first to tell Charles, who was away hunting (No. 171). The idea of negotiation with Spain was very distasteful to the king (No. 212), and only necessity could make him take it up (No. 226). Through Buckingham's ascendancy he was induced to announce to the Council that he was not averse from entering upon negotiations with the Spaniards, provided the terms were honourable, that the Dutch assented to them, and that they comprised the interests of the Prince Palatine (No. 176). But even the high-handed favourite had to move with caution, and at Newmarket he had waited over a day before he ventured to make the communication (No. 193).
No one expected any good results from these negotiations (No. 193), although the Prince of Orange thought they would end with a speedy conclusion (No. 195). But no definite result ensued from these first overtures, unless it was the treaty against England which Farges is said to have been induced to conclude in Spain. The war died out from inanition. Some alarm was excited in England by the report of preparations in Spain and talk of designs on the Scilly Islands and the Isle of Wight (No. 125), while in Ireland the Lord Deputy felt some anxiety (No. 134). The Venetian ambassadors were requested to supply information about any preparations of the Spaniards against England, but they had none to report (No. 156). The Dunkirkers continued their piratical operations practically unchecked, but the English did not seize any Spanish ships, although they took numbers from other nations (No. 260). Among the merchants a project was mooted for carrying on a limited trade between England and Dunkirk, in spite of the difficulties caused by the Dutch blockade of that port and the objections raised by the Dutch ambassador (Nos. 290, 327). At the request of Joachim, such trade was nominally suspended, but actually the government probably continued to connive at it (No. 602), and by the end of 1627 a trade in cloth was being conducted almost openly with the Flemish port (No. 671). The Venetian ambassador considered it all a Spanish device in order to embroil the English and Dutch, but the Spaniards also wished to enjoy the advantages of trade. The Archduchess Isabella issued a proclamation that certain English ships, nominated for the purpose, were not to be treated as enemies (No. 602). Just before the start for Ré, Buckingham took the fleet out from Portsmouth, ostensibly to attack a Spanish fleet said to be convoying Spanish troops to Dunkirk; but as he returned to port on the following day without attempting to do anything, most people concluded it was only a trick (No. 300). At the same time the preparation of the English fleet caused considerable uneasiness in Spain. The fear of a landing in their country put all thought of Italy and the Valtelline out of their heads (No. 355). They kept a constant watch on their coasts, and the militia were held in readiness and drilled (No. 374). They also felt fearful for the safety of the treasure fleet. At this very time two Moriscoes, of those expelled from Spain, were at the English Court as envoys from Salee. They offered the use of their port as a base for an attack on the Spanish coast and the Strait of Gibraltar, and in return they asked for English help to convey a number of Moriscoes into Spain. They came at an unfortunate moment, as England possessed no statesman capable of taking advantage of such an offer (No. 380), and the fleet had already sailed for Ré.
The English attack on the islands came as a great relief to Spain, where the situation had become critical owing to the recent successes of the Dutch. They praised God at Madrid because the English had done them the greatest service they could desire by throwing themselves away in France. They confessed their indebtedness to the King of England, who, by getting his powerful fleet entangled at the Isle of Ré, had removed the imminent danger of the total loss of Flanders (No. 498). They considered that the English had given themselves an occupation that would last a long while, and although their own fleet was very ill found, they ceased to feel any anxiety for their shores (No. 646). The situation was one which they would like to see prolonged indefinitely, since it absorbed all the energies of the two powers from which Spain had most to fear. They did not want France to take La Rochelle, since that would allow the French to throw themselves into foreign affairs and enable them to thwart Hapsburg ambitions in Germany and Italy. Neither did they wish to see the English in possession of Ré, which would form too convenient a base for attacks on the coast of Spain and the Spanish treasure fleet. On religious grounds the King of Spain would have liked to see a more active support given to France against the heretics. He told Olivares to hasten the help to his brother of France. The Count replied, Your Majesty will take the opinion of the Council of State; at which the King waxed wroth and said, Let it be sent at once against this heretic without so much Council of State (No. 616). But in spite of this royal admonition, Olivares saw to it that Spanish help did not prove too useful to France. It was duly advertised, but it never arrived on the scene until it was no longer required, and when Buckingham had already sailed away. No attempt was made to intercept the retreat of the English fleet. The Spanish squadron put into port at the Morbihan, where its commander lost no time in quarrelling with the Duke of Guise, the French Admiral. Before the year was out the Spaniards had contrived by a stratagem to throw fresh provisions into La Rochelle (No. 681).
No power suffered more than the Dutch from the quarrel between England and France. They owed their existence to the support of the two nations, and in the great struggle with Spain which still continued they needed help from both. They wished, so far as possible, to preserve their neutrality, but they had a very difficult course to steer. With France there was the question of renewing the old treaty of Compiègne. The Dutch were more anxious for the alliance than the French, because of the help and money, and also as a relief from the pressure of England (No. 699). In France, however, they did not look for the simple renewal of the treaty, but desired, in addition, that the States should not help the English or the Rochellese (No. 183). This was the crux of the difficulty. The French desired the alliance chiefly for the purpose of obtaining the naval assistance that was so necessary to them against La Rochelle and the English. The friends of Spain and the Jesuits, known as the bigots, opposed the alliance strongly (No. 420), though without much success. The only alternative was union with Spain, and this the king disdained, much preferring association with the Dutch. Richelieu also wanted the treaty renewed, because of his eagerness for ships. Langarach insisted upon a guarantee that if Dutch ships were sent they should be used against the Spaniards and the House of Austria (No. 221). The Dutch told the French plainly, that if they fell in with Spanish ships, they would fight them, alliance or no alliance (No. 495). The French, on their side, insisted on the Dutch promising help against anyone soever (No. 288), and they kept altering the terms in this sense. In Holland there was a party, egged on by the preachers, which favoured active help for their coreligionists in La Rochelle. Opposition also came from England, which did not wish to see the French and Dutch naval forces combined against them. To prevent this was one of the objects of Carleton's mission to the Hague in the summer of 1627 (No. 191).
Amid all this the Dutch government endeavoured to keep an even hand, and with this much success, that by September the alliance with France had been renewed for nine years, practically on the basis of the treaty of Compiègne. It was said there were two treaties, one by which the Dutch were bound to help the French, and the other, secret, withdrawing this and declaring that the French king agreed to the alliance being precisely like that of Compiègne. Langarach considered that he had done a good stroke of business, and the Spanish party at the French Court was correspondingly depressed (Nos. 437, 523). In the Netherlands, however, they did not approve of Langarach's action, because he had signed an article binding the States to assist the French against anyone soever, including the English, excepting the present time (No. 699). They considered this too compromising, and the government refused to ratify the treaty. They decided to send a special embassy to France to adjust the terms of the treaty and try to bring about a reconciliation between France and England. The Prince of Orange declared that if France would only rest content with what was reasonable the English might cry out as much as they liked, because the States were determined to keep on good terms with all (No. 709). The French adopted a very high tone, declaring that they would not receive the embassy unless the treaty was ratified first (No. 689), and they sent couriers to stop the ambassadors (No. 693). The Dutch greatly resented this imperious attitude (No. 699), and they decided to send the embassy all the same (No. 709). The French reconsidered the matter, and the queen mother told Langarach that his colleagues would be admitted and well received (No. 720).
Although the Dutch would not commit themselves to siding with the French against England, they were building ships for the French navy to Richelieu's order, and were prepared to supply other munitions of war. Carleton managed to secure for the English fleet a consignment of gunpowder bespoken by the French ambassador for his own ships (No. 381), but all his remonstrances about the ships themselves proved vain. The conclusion of the alliance with France seems to have stirred England to vigorous action. Richelieu was growing impatient to have the ships ordered by him at Amsterdam. The largest of these, Le Roi, was found to draw too much water to leave the port, and threatened to become a total wreck. The others were all ready to come out. An English fleet, withdrawn from blockading the Elbe, lay outside the port, in order to attack and capture the ships as soon as they appeared. Growing impatient at the delay, they finally entered the port on the 7th of October, and after a six hours' fight they captured the second largest, the St. Esprit (No. 523). The French were naturally incensed at this violation of a neutral port. Carleton defended the action on the ground that the Dutch had done the like to Spanish ships in English waters. With remarkable inconsistency he maintained that the Dutch ought to protect three English ships then in the port, upon which the French wished to make reprisals. These ships got away safely by cutting their cables, much to the chagrin of the French, who suspected Dutch connivance. The English had gained what they wanted. In the captured ship they had taken guns, armour and other munitions of war of an estimated value of 400,000 livres; more important still the remaining vessels were too weak to venture out from Enkhuizen (No. 552).
This question added one more to the matters already in dispute between England and the Netherlands. The claim of the English to search for the goods of enemies in neutral bottoms led to the seizure of many Dutch ships, and the old affair of Amboyna was still unsettled. Sir James Catz came over to treat upon both these matters, but although commissioners were appointed to negotiate with him, no progress had been made. Catz obtained some assurances about the ships, but the Amboyna affair was left to Carleton (No. 393). The English ambassador had no better success. He demanded the punishment of those responsible, but Coen, one of the foremost, was sent back to the East at that very time, contrary to a promise that he should never return there again (No. 260). In despair of achieving anything by diplomacy, Carleton advised the detention of three rich East Indiamen, which put in at Stokes Bay on their return home (Nos. 511, 565), as compensation to the English Company for its losses. This was done, the activity of the English government being stimulated, it is said, by a contribution of the East India Company to the empty exchequer (No. 567).
These circumstances naturally did not incline the Dutch to take the side of England in the quarrel with France, as Carleton desired, indeed the ambassador lost some of his former popularity at the Hague (No. 636). Yet the Dutch could not afford to alienate the English. Although they wished to preserve their neutrality, inclination and their necessities would bring them to side with England if a choice became necessary. At such a time it was essential that the two strongest Protestant powers should stand together, the Dutch needed the use of English ports, and with the basis of their power established on the sea they could not afford to risk the hostility of such a strong maritime nation (No. 689). Accordingly, they accepted affronts with philosophy, only making the mildest remonstrances, while they prepared to send an embassy to try and bring about a reconciliation with France and to settle the various differences with England.
The failure of the two supports upon which Dutch resistance to Spain depended led them to think seriously about coming to terms with their old enemy. The rumours of a union between France and Spain made them very uneasy (No. 495). Overtures from the Spanish side were made by the Infanta Isabel, who sent Rubens to Antwerp in the summer of 1627 (No. 381). It was suspected that Carleton and Scaglia, who were in the Netherlands together at the time, would have a hand in this business, if only to thwart the French alliance (Nos. 288, 400). The existence of such negotiations was admitted by Joachim; but they seem to have broken down, because the Spaniards would not recognise the independent sovereignty of the United Provinces (Nos. 436, 471). Yet the subject was not dropped altogether, for towards the end of the year the Infanta sent one Temple to the Hague to treat for a truce or peace (No. 637).
In Germany also the consequences of the quarrel between England and France were very severely felt. It rendered absolutely impossible the payment of the subsidies with which Charles had undertaken to support his uncle, the King of Denmark. Some attempt to appease King Christian was made by the suggestion that the Margrave of Baden Durlach would create a diversion, supported by Venice, a plan that had no foundation in fact (No. 101). All the help promised from England came in the end to nothing more than sending some regiments from the Netherlands under the command of Colonel Morgan. But the progress of the imperialists in Germany threatened England more nearly than did the question of the Palatinate, because it concerned the dominion of the sea. They were stretching out their hands to obtain command of the Baltic and the mouth of the Elbe. The Spanish navy was absolutely dependent upon those parts for the materials for building and equipping ships (No. 108). In consequence of this England made great efforts to prevent such materials from reaching Spain. This was done by a blockade of the Elbe and by searching all ships suspected of carrying such goods. If the quarrel with France had been patched up, it was expected that the fleet then preparing in England would have turned East instead of West. Buckingham willed otherwise. The imperialists took heart, and the news of the English landing at Ré gave the signal for Tilly to cross the Elbe and begin his campaign against the Hanse Towns (No. 436).
The course of English policy to that confederacy merely tended to throw them into the arms of her enemies. The blockade of the Elbe and the search of ships afforded a constant source of irritation, while no adequate help was offered to protect the free cities against the encroachments of the imperial power. In the mid-summer of 1627 an English squadron was reported to have destroyed a fleet of thirteen Hamburg, Lubeck and Danzig ships returning from Lisbon (No. 336). Commissioners from Hamburg had been in England in order to try and get the blockade of the Elbe raised. Their mission proved absolutely fruitless, and this failure, coupled with the general feeling of irritation, caused the towns to turn towards the Hapsburgs (No. 49). The King of Denmark, for his own ends, encouraged the anti-English feeling at Hamburg. In June he had seven English ships seized there, laden with cloth of the estimated value of 2,000,000 florins (No. 347). These goods were almost immediately released and the action disowned by the king (No. 359). but a demonstration of the burgesses a few months later against Anstruther, the English ambassador, was due to the king's instigation (No. 471). The blockade was actually withdrawn in the following month (No. 511), but as this was due to the exigencies of the French quarrel and to prevent the ships built for the French at Amsterdam from leaving the Texel, the English got little credit for it. The Hanse Towns cherished the hope of regaining their ancient prosperity by means of a monopoly of the trade with the Hapsburg dominions (No. 735). The imperial party kept gaining ground at Hamburg, so much so that Anstruther considered himself in danger there (No. 585). They removed a councillor of Christian William of Brandenburg, who represented the Protestant party, and handed over his papers to the Spanish and imperial ministers (No. 600). With growing success the imperialists became more and more overbearing until Schwartzenberg, the imperial commissioner, actually intimated to Anstruther that he must withdraw from Hamburg because the emperor did not desire his presence there (No. 753). Heavy annual contributions were demanded from the towns with the admission of a Spanish garrison (Nos. 709, 735). Although the towns did not concede these demands in full, they were really helpless of themselves to offer any effective resistance. The imperialists meanwhile went forward with their measures to obtain the fleet they needed for carrying on the war against Denmark. They bought ships from Lubeck to sail in the Baltic under the emperor's flag (No. 602). In Flanders they offered special inducements to attract the sailors of all nations, while crowds of shipwrights from Provence and Italy were brought to Lubeck (No. 723).
England did practically nothing against all these activities, although the danger was fully recognised. A suggestion was indeed thrown out about forming a league, for maritime affairs only, between England, Denmark, Sweden and the Dutch; but the worthlessness of an alliance with England was by then only too well known, and the project fell through (No. 604). When Buckingham returned from Ré he was pressed by the Danish ambassadors to help their master in his desperate predicament. The duke talked airily about taking a fleet of fifty sail and 15,000 men (No. 624), but in response to a definite request for ships and men, he told them that he could not weaken the necessary defence of the kingdom, and that to send troops against the strong forces of the imperialists would be simple butchery (No. 687). The only actual contribution made by England was Morgan's force, now defending Stade, which Tilly had sat down to besiege. Even that was left without supplies (No. 637); they had food, but no money was forthcoming from England (No. 746). Morgan offered a brave resistance, in which nature assisted him, as storms and rain flooded the country and compelled Tilly to withdraw with heavy loss. But no advantage was taken of this opportunity to supply the place, the Dutch being occupied with too many other matters, while England seemed to have forgotten it entirely (No. 690).
The long embassy of Sir Thomas Roe at Constantinople was drawing to its close. He had amassed considerable wealth, he had come into a comfortable property in England, and he knew that he was not a persona grata to Buckingham, so he insisted on his recall (No. 93). The duke had already chosen his successor, Sir Peter Wyche, who had long lived in Spain as a merchant, where he had twice been bankrupt. He had since then acted as assistant secretary to the Ambassador Aston. He had pronounced Spanish sympathies; the whole affair was managed by Cottington, an out and out Spaniard, and the Spaniards supplied him with money for obtaining the post (Nos. 49, 93, 101).
It so happened that Roe did not leave Constantinople for more than a year later. His chief activities during the interval were connected with his efforts to get Gabor to create a diversion and prevent him from making peace with the emperor; with the consulage dispute with Venice; the question of the pirates, and a violent quarrel with the French Ambassador Cesy on matters connected with religion. Particulars of all these are to be found in Roe's published Negotiations, but some fresh light is thrown on the different subjects by these papers, where they are naturally viewed from a different angle. It was originally proposed to pay Gabor a subsidy at Constantinople for his diversion, with the help of Venice (No. 70). This was known at Vienna, where Gabor was negotiating for peace. It did not disturb them, for they felt sure that the prince, with his usual duplicity, would pocket the money and afterwards follow the policy that happened to suit him best (No. 129). Roe took Gabor's part and refused to believe in his deceit unless the evidence became overwhelming. Yet he behaved with caution, and did not pay over at once the money which he had in his hands (No. 307). An interview with Gabor's ministers went far to convince him that the Vienna view came near to the truth, though he did no relinquish his efforts (No. 322). When the peace had been concluded, it was hoped that Gabor might be induced to break it, and of this he held out hopes to Prince Christian William of Brandenburg, who went to see him for the purpose (No. 578). These hopes were also doomed to disappointment, Gabor's ambassadors even refused to communicate to Roe the terms of the peace, which they had promised him (No. 643).
In the matter of the consulage, Roe issued a decree declaring that English ships in the Levant might not receive goods from any nation without paying it, or carry any other flag than that of St. George or St. Andrew. The English Privy Council fully endorsed his action (No. 622), in spite of all the efforts of the Venetian ambassador (No. 467). The Venetian Senate absolutely forbad the payment of consulage by their subjects, who were placed in a considerable difficulty, because they frequently could not get any other ships, and they preferred English ships as being safer and with lower insurance rates. The difficulty seems to have been evaded by the payment of consulage under an inclusive charge for the hire (Nos. 186, 501). The Signory were obliged to admit the validity of Roe's decree and the right to control British subjects, although they still hoped to keep their own merchants in hand (No. 633). Upon the whole the victory would appear to have remained with Roe.
The depredations upon Christendom of the Barbary corsairs were a constant cause of complaint at the Porte. The Ambassadors Roe, Haagen and Cesy came to the conclusion that further remonstrance was useless, because the Turks found the pirates useful for weakening the Christians, who, moreover, still continued to trade. They suggested a more drastic remedy, by means of a joint fleet, to act vigorously against this pest, to which each of the powers concerned should supply eight or ten powerful ships (No. 265). The plan seemed a good one, but the proposed co-operation came to nought. The Venetian Signory adopted its usual cautious tactics, animated chiefly by fear of the Turk (No. 318). The English considered that they could look after themselves. The pirates had a great respect for them for that very reason (No. 613). The Turks were aware that any excesses on their part would give rise to vigorous reprisals. Roe knew how to deal with them, and adopted a high tone. When complaint was made to him of the depredations of English ships in the Persian Gulf, he retorted by denouncing the Barbary pirates, saying that their excesses compelled the English to take such action. He thus brought the Turkish ministers to promise that Englishmen should be well treated for the future and that a remedy should be provided in the matter of the pirates. With this Roe gave them letters by which to put a stop to English hostilities against the Turks, always provided they were not provoked (No. 502). The Venetian Bailo remarks on the consideration in which the English were held at Constantinople, owing to their strength at sea and their relations with Persia, as a matter worthy of the consideration of Catholic diplomatists (No. 752).
Roe's quarrel with Cesy arose chiefly out of his protection of a Greek named Metaxa. This man had studied in England as well as at Athens. He was eager for the spread of Greek letters. He set up a printing press at Constantinople for printing Greek books and as a means of enabling the Greeks to encounter the Jesuits. Cesy took up the cudgels in favour of the Society. In the sacred cause of religion he succeeded in getting the Turks to raid Metaxa's premises, on a charge of coining money and other trumped up accusations (No. 714). Roe was beside himself with rage at this and other calumnies brought against him by the Jesuits (No. 752). He took action to get the Jesuits expelled from Constantinople, and this was the last considerable matter with which he had to deal at the Porte.
When James was on the throne, the Venetian Ambassador Lando wrote that the prince behaved as if the favourite was prince and that he himself was less than favourite. (fn. 4) The accession of Charles to the throne made no real difference to the relative position of these two strange personalities. The king stood ostentatiously aside and let the duke act. It is hard to determine the reason for this self abnegation. It was not for lack of the desire to rule, for Charles was already clearly aiming at absolute monarchy (No. 380). It can hardly have been indolence, though he disliked business and was too apt to neglect it for his favourite pastime of hunting (Nos. 102, 160, 168). It would seem as if it were the submission of a weak character to a strong one. At all events the king allowed Buckingham an autocratic dominion. So far as he could he placed his realms and all their resources at the disposal of his favourite's caprice. Buckingham can do what he pleases without the king, wrote Contarini, although the king dares do nothing without Buckingham (No. 601). While Buckingham was away at Ré, nothing of importance was decided, and the king obstinately refused to listen to any talk of peace until the fate of St. Martin was decided (No. 550). Before the duke sailed, Charles had pledged his word not to treat without him (No. 567). If the king intervened at all it was to take on himself responsibility for the favourite's acts and to shield him from the consequences (No. 722). The Prince Palatine remarked laughingly that it was high treason to speak ill of the Duke of Buckingham (No. 746). Invested with such extensive powers, the duke became very arrogant. He acted entirely on his own responsibility without the knowledge of the other ministers, and sometimes, as in the matter of the Spanish negotiations, without that of the king himself. The Council continued to meet, as a matter of form, but the duke changed its decrees to suit his own interest, merely from self-will (No. 34). At Ré he issued his manifesto in his own name, a thing that excited the comment of the French Ambassador Bethune, who considered it a sign of the king's weakness (No. 503). But perhaps the most striking instance of the favourite's temper is afforded by his seizure and opening of the Venetian ambassador's letters, without a shadow of excuse, but merely out of unbridled curiosity. For this he was quite content to allow the king to intervene to shield him and to see an innocent subordinate suffer punishment. Well might the two brothers, the Earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, exclaim that such a thing had never been done in England before, that Buckingham meant to quarrel with everybody and help none by the Spaniards (No. 722).
The Venetian ambassador seems to have doubted whether Buckingham had any policy beyond his own self-interest, and he hints, not very obscurely, at the possibility of treasonable practices on the duke's part. (fn. 5) It was for his sake that parliament must not meet; to gratify his vanity that the country was plunged into war with France. This was perfectly well recognised by the people, with whom the duke's unpopularity reached to a quite extraordinary pitch. When they believed that he had started on his proposed embassy to France, with curses and horrible imprecations they wished him gone for ever (No. 78). They hoped that he would never return alive from Ré, and positively rejoiced at the news of his defeat. The duke's arrogance made enemies of all men of rank and eminence who would not become his obsequious servants. Before starting off for France, Buckingham seems to have realised the danger of this and to have made an effort to create a better feeling towards him in the country. It was believed that the seizure of English ships in France was done by connivance between him and Bassompierre, so that the duke might win popularity by obtaining their release (No. 94). He was generally credited with employing his money to buy adherents (No. 140). His most dangerous enemy, Bristol, was supposed to be at the point of death in the Tower (No. 109). To other grandees, with whom he had quarrelled, such as the Earl of Essex, Buckingham made advances for a reconciliation (No. 94). His brother-in-law, the Earl of Denbigh, went to Scotland to appease and bring back to Court the Marquis of Hamilton, who had withdrawn in dudgeon at certain measures taken by the favourite (Nos. 10, 188). Williams, the late Lord Keeper, was also approached, and through him the duke was enabled to buy lands belonging to Westminster Abbey, which he promptly resold for treble the amount (No. 109).
In the meantime the consequences of government by divine right, as understood by Charles and Buckingham, were apparent in every department of the state. The problem with which they had to deal, as the direct consequence of their own acts, was to wage war against France and Spain simultaneously, to support war in Germany by lavish subsidies, to get help from allies, like the Dutch or Venice, who were generally treated in very cavalier fashion, and to find the money for all this and for the ordinary expenses of government, without having recourse to parliament. All sorts of expedients were tried for raising money, some of which could only aggravate the condition of affairs. The seizure of ships at sea provided a tempting source of revenue, of which full advantage was taken, and Buckingham was able to boast that the reprisals against France had sufficed to fit out the Rochelle fleet (No. 326). But the very success of this measure dried up the supply. A renewed effort was made to pawn the crown jewels. Titles were conferred on persons who were willing to pay large sums for the discharge of the king's debts (No. 260). An effort to sell crown lands to the city of London met with much opposition, as such sales were unlawful without the consent of parliament, and liable to be revoked whenever parliament met (No. 436). Ultimately they raised 120,000l. in this way, instead of 330,000l. that the king wanted, and even then only one half was paid down (No. 686). For the most part the trading community was unwilling to make bargains with the crown, only those who were already so far involved as to be obliged to continue to save what remained (No. 101).
The chief among all the expedients tried was the attempt to collect the subsidies proposed in the last parliament, but never voted. Although some tamely submitted to this exaction and even offered to pay more than was asked (No. 94), the lawyers and leading men in general resisted the imposition as illegal (No. 71). Their example produced a salutary effect, and a county like Hertfordshire, which had already subscribed, apologised for having done so under a misapprehension (No. 79). The city of London anticipated the demand by asking for the repayment of 180,000l. previously lent to the crown (No. 177). In Lincolnshire the collection led to a riot, and only three persons in the entire county consented to pay (No. 140). Money came in so slowly that the members of the Council of State were sent into the counties to demand payment. They went with reluctance, especially as it was at their own expense (No. 125). Even so the results proved extremely meagre, and only 24,000l. had been got in by the middle of February (No. 148). Buckingham, indeed, enjoyed great success in his own county, where only one person proved obdurate, but the duke was said to have covertly supplied the means of consenting to many who were resisting payment, rather than take a refusal (No. 140). It became evident that the task was a hopeless one, and the prosecutions against the recalcitrant were not pressed (No. 151).
The lawless condition of affairs at sea, with constant reprisals and counter reprisals, paralysed trade, which was further restricted by the closing of the ports, ordered by Buckingham. This was such as to create a practical blockade of the whole kingdom (No. 750). Naturally the import and export duties suffered severely, and in 1627 a single merchant was said to have paid less by 8,000l. than usual (No. 551).
Although at war with the two leading states of Europe, the country was in an absolutely defenceless state. As Lord High Admiral and Lord Warden of the Cinque Parts, Buckingham was responsible for the adequate protection of England's shores; but he made so little provision that a hostile fleet could effect a landing almost anywhere it pleased, without opposition (Nos. 18, 133, 134, 148). The Dunkirkers found it easy to land from small boats and carry off prisoners (No. 344), as they did not hesitate to do, and cattle as well, while they preyed upon English shipping, so that at one time they captured sixty sail within a few days (No. 188). One raid in particular on the Shetland Islands gave them a considerable amount of booty, and the English government came so low as to stoop to ask the Dutch for assistance (No. 471). For lack of pay the royal navy became very unpopular; men evaded the service as much as possible, and desertion was frequent (Nos. 171, 226). Serious riots broke out among the sailors, who came to London to demand their arrears. Special guards were placed at the houses of the favourite and the Lord Treasurer, and they found it necessary to scrape together a certain sum of money to appease the rioters, to which Buckingham himself contributed (Nos. 71, 140, 148).
Some efforts were made to improve matters. The king appointed commissioners to attend specially to naval affairs, as the ordinary Council had become too large (No. 119). For home defence, Charles ordered the inspection of the fortresses commanding the principal harbours, which were all in ruins, and instructions were issued for the equipment and drilling of the militia, numbering some 60,000 men (No. 436). Some steps were also taken towards the establishment of a standing army. It was arranged first in four regiments (No. 79), but they afterwards proposed to increase the number to 10,000 men, to be used for home defence (No. 134). In any case the king found himself obliged to keep on foot the army returned from Ré, as he had not the money to pay it off (No. 671). The rank and file were left absolutely without pay. The officers received instructions to hold themselves in readiness in their quarters. They replied that if they returned without money they could not face their men, who were expecting their arrears. As a sop, the Council gave them 100 florins each, barely enough to pay their travelling expenses, and when they presented a petition for more the king had the one who presented it imprisoned and subsequently deprived him of his company (Nos. 148, 151, 160).
Charles wanted his troops far more for the purpose of overawing the country than for home defence. It was suggested that troops should be quartered in the counties which refused to pay the subsidies (No. 148), and they even thought of obtaining three companies of cavalry from the Dutch (No. 140). This idea was subsequently carried into effect when Dulbier and Sir William Balfour were sent into Germany to levy 1,000 horse (No. 735), but it was a dangerous experiment in the existing temper of the country (No. 763). England suffered from a surprising deficiency in the cavalry arm. When Buckingham required a bodyguard of a hundred mounted gentleman for the Ré expedition, considerable difficulty was experienced in raising it (No. 259, App. II, p. 618). Of officers there was an abundance, in spite of the losses in France (No. 406).
When success at Court depended upon abject sycophancy and when independence and honesty would most probably lead only to disgrace and dismissal, the standard of public honour naturally suffered. The Venetian ambassador refers pointedly more than once to the prevailing corruption, especially at the Admiralty Court, where suitors found that douceurs were an absolute necessity and the charges exorbitant (No. 467, App. II, p. 615). He gives an instance of the bribing of the Lord Treasurer by the Danish ambassador, and declares that the same procedure is necessary for all who wish to carry their point at the English Court (No. 260). When honesty existed it had to give place. Some honest merchants who had the management of the allowance made by Charles to poor French prisoners were removed and others with Court influence put in their place, with the idea that they should make a profit, and as a consequence the fund was robbed by the officials (No. 344). Of the fines and impositions laid upon the Catholics the king obtained little or nothing, but many ministers were observed to become suddenly rich (No. 94). Through Toby Mathew, son of the Archbishop of York, the Court entered into negotiations with its Catholic subjects. They offered the king eight subsidies yearly on condition that they should be exempted from all persecution, impositions and domiciliatory visits. Their condition was evidently less miserable than appearances indicated. The estimate upon which the impositions were based was very low and exceedingly favourable to them. They found it more advantageous to pay two-thirds on the old valuation than one-third on a new one (No. 359). The king appointed commissioners to hear their grievances, and although one of them was the Archbishop of Canterbury, an uncompromising enemy, the persecution from which they suffered was stopped in many parts of London (No. 151). As a further step in the bargaining by which the crown hoped to raise money from them, they were allowed to take leases of their lands, which the law declared confiscate (No. 177). But on the whole the Catholics did not find it profitable to make bargains with the crown, especially when they lacked the support of parliamentary authority. Yet an arrangement was made with the Catholics of the North whereby they were to enjoy the free exercise of their faith in their own houses in return for a fixed annual payment (No. 671). Still the Catholics were far from content with their lot, and the government intercepted letters, in which the Bishop of Chalcedon, their chief, was implicated, telling of their ill-treatment and their despair and promising that if Rome would send some excommunication or release from the oath of allegiance an important insurrection would break out (No. 35). The position of the English Catholics was certainly not rendered any happier by a violent quarrel between the Bishop of Chalcedon and the Regulars, of which the second Appendix contains some particulars.
Prominent among the many questions that embarrassed the government was the condition of Scotland. The union of that country with England was purely a personal one. Under James it had been tolerable, because he always made much of the Scots and adhered to their customs, while Charles was close-fisted with them (App. II, p. 615). The people felt aggrieved because the king did not go to be crowned there and never summoned their parliament; the nobles because he decreed the resumption of church lands to the crown. This disaffection was the more to be dreaded because of the ancient connection between Scotland and France (No. 17). The people were reported to be purchasing horses and armour and refitting their ships (No. 18). No immediate disturbance was indeed feared, and it was thought that the people were rather preparing to defend their privileges in case the king meant to abrogate them (ib.). But for the time being one deputation followed another on its way to the English Court. One came with complaint about the government; another followed close on its heels with similar complaints and a demand for an enquiry into the reputed deaths by poison of James, Lennox, Richmond and Hamilton (No. 102). Two bishops followed these, with a request for power to deal with the Catholics (No. 125).
Charles was at first disposed to take a high tone with these malcontents. Efforts were made to trump up some charges against the Chancellor Hay, then in England, though with scant success (Nos. 18, 35). Charles contemplated refusing to receive the deputations altogether and to stop them on the way; he only adopted wiser counsels on the advice of a Scottish nobleman (No. 94).
With a French it was in prospect and the growing discontent in England, it was considered good policy to pacify the Scots. The nobles eventually got what they demanded (No. 119), and the bishops obtained the powers they asked for. The money raised in this way was promptly dissipated, a large part being given to the Earl of Nithsdale, while Buckingham considered it worth while to spend a considerable portion of the remainder in buying the adhesion of the Chancellor Hay (No. 140).
The volume ends with the summoning of Charles's third parliament. The king held out to the last against it, and the bare mention had been enough to ruin anyone venturesome enough to make it (No. 168). Eventually, Buckingham himself proposed it in the Council. The king opposed resolutely, saying that he would contrive to find money (No. 703); but his opposition was overcome, apparently as the result of some bargaining for securing the favourite and making sure of the needed supplies (No. 739). Buckingham remained in town in the hope of influencing the elections. This proved vain, and interference only led to riot. As the result of one in Essex, the date originally fixed for the meeting of parliament was put on, and an attempt made to raise a loan by means of privy seals. The reception this met with promptly led to the abandonment of the project and a return to the date originally fixed (No. 763). All men realised the momentousness of the occasion.
Among other matters connected with trade, several papers will be found here of an attempt to attract English trade to Villefranche, of the obstinate preference of the English merchants for Leghorn and the desire of Venice to divert this lucrative traffic to her own ports. Stray matters worthy of remark, which are not included in the above survey are the mention of a proposed book by Laud on the sacraments, tending to draw the Anglican closer to the Roman Church (No. 260); observations by Pope Urban on the devotion of the Irish Catholics (No. 546); the purchase of pictures by Charles both at Mantua and Venice (Nos. 290, 744); particulars of the English coinage and its reputation as the best in the world (No. 348, App. II, p. 619); the issue of letters of marque to privateers for preying on French and Spanish shipping in the Mediterranean, and the petition of the Levant Company against it (Nos. 327, 344), and an anecdote of King James and a preacher (App. I, p. 612).
My acknowledgements are due, as ever, to the officials at the Frari and the library of St. Mark's for their unfailing courtesy. I would also express my grateful thanks to his Eminence Cardinal Bourne for permission to consult the Westminster Archives with respect to the papers contained in Appendix II, and to Monsignor Jackman and Father Stanfield for facilitating research there.