Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 21, 1628-1629. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1916.
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The present volume extends from the beginning of March, 1628, to the end of March, 1629, a period of only thirteen months, although it is one filled with events of considerable importance. The chief incidents dealt with are the siege and fall of La Rochelle, with two futileattempts at the relief of the place by an English fleet; the efforts of the Venetian ambassadors, ultimately crowned with success, to bring about a reconciliation between England and France; the final acts and eventual assassination of the Duke of Buckingham; the last attempt of Charles, until he was on the very edge of the final catastrophe that overwhelmed him, to govern with the help of parliament; and many particulars showing the enterprise and audacity of Sir Kenelm Digby on a privateering expedition to the Mediterranean, including a brisk action with the Venetian galeasses in the Bay of Iskanderun. The second and the last items in this list have led to some extension of the field of research. The Contarini MSS. in the Library of St. Mark comprise not only the letter book of Alvise Contarini, the Venetian Ambassador in England for this period, which contains the duplicates of all his despatches to the Senate, but also the correspondence carried on between him and his colleague Zorzi Zorzi, the ambassador in France, chiefly relating to the reconciliation of the two crowns. In this correspondence are the original letters written by Zorzi, which are not to be found elsewhere. This supplementary material has in two instances (Nos. 471, 655) supplied gaps in Contarini's own letters as well as an original letter from the governor of Calais. For the operations of Digby three additional series of the Senato Secreta have been consulted, namely Capitanio delle Galeasse, Proveditore in Dalmazia and Consule in Aleppo. The remainder of the material comes from the usual sources in the rich storehouse of the Frari.
Among the many difficult questions that occupied the minds of Charles and his ministers in the spring of 1628 that of La Rochelle and the Huguenots in general had the chief place. It was the only real question that kept England and France at enmity when their reconciliation seemed so necessary to the common weal of Europe, threatened as it was by the grasping ambition of the House of Hapsburg. The French Secretary of State, Herbault, told Zorzi in so many words that if the King of England abandoned his indefensible claim to support the Huguenots, there would be no difficulty about the rest (No. 3). Unfortunately this point was one on which agreement by consent appeared impossible. Charles felt bound in honour to support those of his own faith in France, who looked to him for protection; Louis could not suffer the interference of a foreign prince with his subjects, while his minister, Richelieu, was bent on consolidating the power of France by reducing to subjection all the elements of dissent within her borders. The question had therefore to be decided by the arbitrament of force.
In England Buckingham busied himself with the preparation of a fleet for the relief of the besieged city. He did not intend to command in person this time, that task being confided to his brother-in-law, the Earl of Denbigh. Domestic difficulties made it difficult to collect a large fleet, especially the ever present scarcity of money (No. 26). Bad organisation tended to increase this difficulty, as the provisions originally collected were allowed to go bad and a fresh supply had to be found. When all was in readiness further delay was occasioned by a mutiny among the sailors, as they were about to embark. They refused to serve unless they received twenty instalments of pay, and barricaded themselves in the Town Hall of Plymouth (No. 77). At length all difficulties were overcome, and the fleet sailed on the 8th of May.
The fleet under Denbigh's command consisted of fifty-three vessels, of which only nine belonged to the royal navy; there were twenty-seven armed merchantmen and the rest auxiliaries. It was thus even weaker than the ill-fated expedition to Re of the preceding year, which consisted of eighty ships, eight being of the royal navy and thirty-four merchantmen. Extreme difficulty was experienced in obtaining sailors, the growing scarcity of whom is constantly remarked by the Venetian ambassadors. The fleet lacked three hundred of its proper complement, and it was eventually found necessary to fill their places with soldiers. Whatever idea there may have been of sending a landing force seems to have been abandoned. Six hundred infantry under Colonel Sir Thomas Fryer were actually embarked on the ships at the end of April, but were almost immediately put ashore again. The expedition was therefore merely to revictual La Rochelle and for this purpose it carried six months' provisions for ten to twelve thousand people, besides a certain amount of live stock (Nos. 85, 118).
In spite of the unhappy issue of the previous expeditions of the reign no one entertained any doubt about the succour being successfully introduced (No. 118). Three small Rochelle ships which had reached England earlier in the year reported that the attempts of the royal forces to blockade the port were futile and they had sailed away without any misgivings as to their ability to return at will. Yet Richelieu was taking energetic measures to prevent relief getting through to the beleaguered town. It is true that the mole to block the channel had not made much progress. To reinforce it the cardinal designed to draw up behind it a chain of eighty barques bound together by cables, while outside, towards the mouth, he proposed to station thirty-two large barques, all these vessels being well provided with guns and men. The shores on both sides were to be well lined with artillery and it was reckoned that the English fleet would never be able to run the gauntlet of all this fire. The army outside La Rochelle felt sure that the capture of the town was only a question of time and perseverance (Nos. 62, 96). But the dispositions described represented much rather what Richelieu designed than what he actually achieved. The gap between the ends of the mole was 1,100 paces wide and the chain behind consisted of only ten large vessels cabled together to fill the whole space. They carried no sailors, were inadequately manned with soldiers and had not a single gun among them. The vessels for outside the mole were light rowing craft of no serious value (No. 161). The sinking of ships to block the channel proved entirely futile. The force of the waves broke them to pieces and the fragments were constantly doing injury to the mole (No. 119).
The English fleet had a prosperous passage out and arrived off La Rochelle only three days after leaving the coasts of England. One of the smaller craft made its way right through the French blockade into the port that same night, while five of the best of the French pinnaces fell into the hands of the foe. As some set off against this, one of the English supply ships was captured. This facile breaking of the blockade so incensed the French king that he rose forthwith from his bed and went down to the mole, whence he sent for Cardinal Richelieu, and the two spent the remainder of the night there (No. 119). This proved the beginning and the end of the English success. The captains of the merchantmen could not be persuaded to risk their ships near the enemy's defences, under the pretext that they might be wrecked if they went too close in shore. The crews were ill paid and disaffected and Denbigh was quite unequal to exerting his authority (No. 146). Some Rochellese ships that had followed the fleet offered to make the attempt to enter, provided they had the least assistance, but this was refused them so that they might not have the honour in the teeth of the English (No. 166). It was declared that the enterprise was an impossible one and the Rochellese deputies with the fleet were reproached with having misled the King of England by representing it as easy. Accordingly the fleet lay inactive off the coast for eight days. At the end of that time an effort was made to damage the mole by sending a fireship against it, but this having failed by the ship running harmlessly aground, the fleet sailed away.
This tame conclusion to an enterprise of which so much had been expected frankly puzzled the French, and all sorts of explanations were offered about Denbigh's conduct. The Rochellese relieved their feelings by removing the English flags which had been flying from the highest tower of the town and from their flagship, replacing them first by a white and then by a black flag, as if to say that they would either live free in the modest liberty to which they were born, or would all perish with their town. As a bravado they set all their mills to work to indicate that they had abundance of corn (No. 138). King Louis and Cardinal Richelieu were greatly relieved at the departure of the English, because they had both made up their minds that nothing could prevent the succour reaching La Rochelle (No. 126). The inadequate way in which Richelieu's measures for blockading the port had been carried out has already been described. From lack of adequate discipline it proved very difficult to keep the army up to its proper strength. The young nobles showed every eagerness when there was any prospect of fighting, but they could not endure the slow business of a siege and were apt to depart to their homes when matters became slack. At times Richelieu had to resort to trickery to get them back (No. 377). The royal camp was, moreover, seriously short of munitions of war, for many of which the French were dependent on the English, a source of supply that was naturally closed to them during the war. It is stated that if the fleet had returned a few weeks after it sailed away it would have found the French so short of shot, powder and rope that they could not have fired eight shots (No. 200). The internal condition of France was also such as to cause serious misgivings to its rulers. The civil war had no support in the country except from the Jesuits, Berulle and the extreme Catholics generally. The bulk of the people would have welcomed some success of the English (No. 96). Even at Court there was a party among the princesses who favoured the English, and an intrigue was discovered carried on between this party through a Madame de Pertuis with Walter Montagu, who was still detained a prisoner at Paris (No. 69). Distress and disaffection reached a serious pitch, breaking out in Normandy and Picardy into a revolt against the royal tax collectors. The general ill will has reached such a pitch, wrote Zorzi, that very little would convert it into rage and fury. Whoever sees the wretchedness of this unhappy people must revolt against it if he is a man, but it is impossible not to shudder at hearing the imprecations with which they fill the air against the author of their calamities (No. 221).
Meanwhile the English fleet made its way home. It gained a small success by capturing off the coast of Brittany some 25 to 30 small ships laden with provisions for the royal forces (No. 151); but before it reached port the Dunkirkers took toll of it by intercepting six transports laden with food (No. 166).
When Denbigh's messenger brought Charles the news of the return of the fleet and the failure of its operations the king was furious and sent forthwith to order the admiral to return to La Rochelle at once and to succour the town, no matter what the risks might be (No. 146). Denbigh was afraid to come to Court, and lingered in the Isle of Wight with the ships he had with him. But the king's wrath rapidly cooled, Denbigh had a powerful protector in his brother-in-law, and ultimately a scapegoat was found in Edward Clarke, a minor diplomatist, who had been appointed agent for the king at La Rochelle. This man was confined to his house on the charge of having dissuaded the attack, as if, Contarini remarks contemptuously, the commander in chief had been bound to adopt his opinion (No. 166). In England people did not hesitate to say that, in order to thwart peace between England and France, Buckingham did not want La Rochelle to be relieved, because the king was of opinion that after the relief his honour would be satisfied and he might enter into negotiations without scruple (No. 166). It was even stated openly that he had received money from the French, a scandalous report that found credence with no less a person than the Queen of Bohemia, who had never loved the duke (No. 162). Even darker suspicions were aroused by the sudden death of Sir Francis Carew. This officer had been with the expedition when he had maintained that for the national honour and because of the easiness of the undertaking, some attempt ought to be made to relieve La Rochelle, and when this was rejected he had demanded a written document to show the king on his return (No. 208).
Charles was determined that the attempt to relieve La Rochelle should be renewed, but it immediately became apparent that Denbigh's fleet could not return then and there, as he would have desired. The ships had not come back in good condition and they were scattered about in various ports. A large part of the supplies had been captured by the Dunkirkers, the remainder would not keep good and there was the habitual shortage of sailors (No. 166). It would be necessary to begin again from the beginning; the king told Contarini that he was quite determined to make a second attempt for La Rochelle and in such a way that he would succeed or the whole world would know that it was impossible. Great undertakings meant great risks and great resolution, of which his forces betrayed a sad lack at the last attempt (No. 207). His intent received some spur by the arrival at Court of two Huguenot gentlemen, Grossetiere and Champfleury, who had succeeded in passing the lines round La Rochelle, and came to ask that the fleet might be sent to arrive at the time of the spring tides in July (Nos. 178, 208). To achieve this proved beyond the powers of the government, which was hampered by the same considerations which had delayed the equipment of the previous fleet for so long. Moreover, the new fleet was to be larger and better equipped than the last and Buckingham himself was to take command. It was to consist of sixty men of war, with forty auxiliaries, and this time it was to take 4,000 troops. Twenty small ships, specially built against the Dunkirkers, were to form part of it, and the number of vessels was increased by seizing five Dutch ships that happened to arrive in port (Nos. 208, 223, 276). Great reliance was placed on certain new contrivances devised to destroy the mole. Three ships were designed containing a chamber of stone and brick, charged with ten thousand pound weight of powder and sacks of shot (Nos. 248, 276). These devices were in the hands of two foreigners, Colonels Kniphausen and Peblitz, who were to accompany the fleet, the one as serjeant major, the other as master of ordnance and director of mines (No. 276). Buckingham preferred to employ aliens as he did not trust much to Englishmen (No. 144).
Those who had gained their experience in the school of Queen Elizabeth looked askance at the project and would have nothing to do with it (No. 248). Their attitude naturally encouraged the belief that any prospect of success was extremely slight. Buckingham himself does not seem to have cherished many illusions on this score. He meant to make a serious attempt to enter and if successful he would go into the town in person with all pomp. Failing this, he would attempt to seize the island of Oleron or some other place, to hold for the purpose of bargaining to obtain better terms for the Rochellese, and, if everything else failed, he would cruise off the Spanish coasts to harry their commerce. These were the projects of a desperate man who felt that he could not safely return home without having accomplished something (No. 291). Meanwhile the preparations for the fleet went forward. The Huguenots remitted a considerable sum to help make good the chronic lack of funds, while they had a squadron of twenty ships, well supplied with men and munitions, to second its operations (No. 313). The lack of sailors was made good to some extent by pressing those who came into Portsmouth on board ships from the Levant, although at the expense of a great outcry among the merchants (No. 248).
All difficulties being overcome by one expedient or another, the body of the fleet, consisting of a hundred sail, assembled at Portsmouth, while fifty more ships, including the twenty Rochellese, were gathered at Plymouth (No. 352). At the last moment, as in the previous expedition, a serious mutiny broke out among the sailors, who shouted, Death to the Duke. This was put down and one of the rioters hanged, when on the following morning, the 2nd September, Buckingham was assassinated by Felton and everything was thrown out of gear (No. 351). But Charles did not mean the fleet to be stopped by this untoward event and proposed to remain in the neighbourhood of Portsmouth until it was ready to put to sea (No. 385). A new admiral was found in the Earl of Lindsey and the fleet sailed on or about the 16th of September. Before it left port the continent was filled with rumours of a great disaster that had overtaken it, and that it had suffered severe damage in a storm. This announcement gave rise to some premature rejoicing at Rome, the pope especially expressing his satisfaction, but it proved to be nothing but a false rumour, probably circulated by Richelieu for the purpose of depressing the Rochellese (Nos. 354, 402, 413, 439). The voyage out took longer than the one of the previous year, as the fleet did not appear off the Isle of Re before the 29th of September (No. 437). It passed without incident, except for a slight brush with four Dunkirkers, who sheered off after exchanging a few shots at long range (No 471).
The inglorious display of Denbigh in the spring seems to have convinced the French that no serious attempt of the English to relieve La Rochelle was to be feared thereafter. Immediately after the departure of the English Richelieu wrote to the queen mother expressing the hope that he would say mass in the town at Whitsun (No. 126). A blind confidence permeated the French ranks and they did not believe that the English either could or would come (Nos. 244, 358). At the same time they did not neglect to press forward with the necessary operations for the reduction of the Huguenot stronghold. They redoubled their activities on the mole, which was reinforced with a special palisading (No. 180). With the delay in the arrival of the English fleet the passage was blocked more and more, until it seemed practically impassable, and as a further precaution it was proposed to sink in the channel all ships, both large and small, that were useless for fighting (No. 234).
At one blow nature set at nought the work of man. When the English appeared in April, the spring tide had not realised expectations. In July it completely submerged the mole to a depth of over fifteen feet, and, assisted by a storm, destroyed the work of two months, burst the floating chain, and wrecked twenty-eight ships of the fleet, leaving easy access to the port to anyone who chose to venture in (Nos. 243, 263). This was the very time that the Huguenots had urged the English to send their relief, but no fleet appeared to take advantage of the golden opportunity. The damage was so serious that it had not been made good at the end of August (No. 329). In addition to this misfortune the condition of the royal forces besieging La Rochelle was far from satisfactory. By sickness and desertion their numbers were reduced to 6,000 or 7,000 at most (No. 329). Their ranks got thinner daily, food was scarce, there was neither powder nor shot in the camp, the guns mostly lay dismounted in the fields and the works were falling into decay (No. 350). Even with more men available the French would not have enough to contain the beleagured town, guard the mole, defend the lines and forts, prevent a landing and remain masters of the country. It was reckoned that an English force of 6,000 to 8,000 men would suffice to keep the entire French army within its lines, unable to concentrate to resist an attack, which the English could thus deliver at any point they chose, with their entire force, assisted by any sally that might be made by the besieged (No. 221). Worst of all, the king, although kept in the dark about the disaster to the mole, was beginning to lose confidence in Richelieu and the impression was growing up in his mind that wherever the cardinal set his hand things turned out ill (No. 350).
Yet Richelieu took a high tone. When the English fleet was momentarily expected he returned a very haughty reply to the Rochellese, who asked leave to send to England to inform the king there of the state of affairs, that the Rohans might be pardoned and that they might send out of the town some who were reduced to penury (No. 400). He relied chiefly on a considerable increase in the royal forces, when the English should appear, and that his foes would not show any better qualities than they had in their previous attempts (No. 221). On both accounts he was fully justified by the result. At the news of the coming of the English, the nobles flocked to the royal camp from all the neighbouring provinces (No. 452); the fleet under Lindsey made no better display than Denbigh's had done before him.
The fleet arrived off the Isle of Re on the 29th of September. Drawn up in battle array it afforded a magnificent spectacle, which the king and Richelieu with all the grandees of the Court went down to the coast to admire. Advancing slowly into the bay towards La Rochelle it cast anchor about a mile from the shore (No. 443). For two days they remained thus. Early on the morning of the 3rd of October a frigate was sent in to reconnoitre the gap between the ends of the mole, after which the fleet weighed anchor and approached as if to attack, sending forward a fireship, which burned away rapidly without doing any harm. The fleet then proceeded to engage the batteries on shore, which replied; but after three hours of this rather purposeless cannonading the vessels withdrew to their stations and again cast anchor, in crescent formation. The king, accompanied by the Count of Soissons and other gentlemen, watched the action from one of the batteries. The French were chiefly impressed with the want of enterprise shown by the English. Very early on the following day another attack was initiated by sending in six fireships, but as the fleet stood well out, leaving them entirely unsupported, some small craft sallied forth from the French shore, boldly grappled these smoking volcanoes and towed them to places where they burned away innocuously. The king again witnessed the spectacle and the French forces were held in readiness to resist any attempt at a landing, but as they only had 8,000 men to cover all the points that might be threatened, it would not have been possible for the royal troops to resist with success if the English had actually landed and made some show of naval attack, while the Rochellese sallied out from their town (No. 452). No idea of attempting a landing seems to have occurred to the English admiral, although he had troops on board for the purpose.
After the delivery of the second attack, Lindsey moved two leagues further out to sea (No. 465). There he remained inactive until the 23rd of October, when a third attack was delivered, very similar in character to the second. Six fireships were sent forward, and were towed away to a place of safety by French small craft. A vigorous bombardment at long range did very little harm, although 3,000 to 4,000 shots were fired. The French, taking courage from the want of enterprise shown by the enemy, advanced to within musket shot, and only withdrew when the English did so themselves. This time an English force did land, but well away from the French, and all it achieved was the burning of a granary (No. 506). Exactly a week later, on October 30, La Rochelle capitulated; the English fleet remained in full view, but never stirred (No. 524). It did not finally sail away until the 11th of November (No. 550). King Louis refused to leave the neighbourhood of the conquered fortress before he had seen it go (No. 617). Disaster overtook this inglorious expedition on its return. The royal ships suffered much damage, five large vessels were wrecked off the French coast and fifteen of the provision ships were lost (Nos. 595, 617, 633). The failure of the expedition was a bitter blow to Charles. After La Rochelle had actually fallen, though he did not know it, he had sent fresh orders to Lindsey directing him to attempt the relief, which everyone felt to be impossible (No. 530). The king would have liked to punish some of the captains for the cowardice and disobedience shown by them on this occasion, and only refrained because it would involve an appeal to martial law, which would have been highly unpopular. When Lindsey was accused of not having shown enough severity, he pointed out that had he done so the whole force would have mutinied (No. 708). The men from the fleet, both soldiers and sailors, were all paid off and sent to their homes almost immediately after their return (No. 595). By the irony of events, the sea broke the mole at La Rochelle, which was supposed to be so impregnable, within ten days after the fleet sailed away from the French coast (No. 605).
It has already been shown that the republic of Venice alone seemed likely to bring about that reconciliation between England and France that was so much desired by all those who dreaded the ambitious designs of the Hapsburgs. (fn. 1) At the same time this did not prevent others from making the attempt. In March, 1628, the lieutenant of Bourbonnais was supposed to be in England with the intention of using his good offices for the purpose (No. 54). One of the commissions of the Danish ambassador, Rosencranz, who reached London in the following July, was to try for an adjustment between the two crowns (No. 245). Although the idea of the mediation of the Duke of Savoy had been much dashed by the revelations which culminated with the seizure of Walter Montagu by the French, yet the duke did not give up hope in a cause which he expected would redound to his personal advantage, relying upon the promises that the matter should be left in his hands (No. 492). More persistent than these and perhaps more deeply concerned was the Dutch republic. Their first suggestion was to draw up a paper to be shown simultaneously to the two Courts to ascertain where the chief difficulties lay (No. 15). Somewhat later the Dutch ambassadors in England made a faint suggestion of co-operating with the Venetian representatives, although they did not approach Contarini formally (No. 75). Other efforts were made from time to time from the same quarter, but without success, because the Dutch were neither esteemed nor loved either by the French or the English (No. 97).
It therefore remained to the Venetian ambassadors to see what they could achieve. But the path did not lie easy before them. Both France and England, indeed, desired a reconciliation, but besides the obstacle of national pride, which prevented either from making the first advances, there remained the question of La Rochelle. This was felt to be the only real impediment to peace. Richelieu was determined to reduce the place, while Charles felt bound in honour to do his utmost to save it. This was the governing consideration, although personal feeling entered sufficiently into the quarrel to justify the accusation that it was a war of favourites. Richelieu was largely influenced by his personal resentment against Buckingham and his upstart pretensions (No. 68), while Buckingham had long been cherishing the thought of vengeance against France because he considered that he had been slighted (No. 273).
The task of mediation was manifestly a most delicate one. No serious effort was made before the sailing of Denbigh's fleet, and even for some time after its return the general feeling was that the proper moment for negotiating would only come after the second attempt had been made (No. 223). As time went on, however, and the situation in Europe became more and more threatening and as the fitting out of the English fleet took so much longer than had been expected, it was decided to make a special effort in order, if possible, to bring about a reconciliation before events should take place which might embitter the quarrel and lead to a prolonged war. Accordingly the Dutch, Danish and Venetian ambassadors made separate representations both to the king and his ministers. These overtures met with such a favourable reception as to lead to the suspicion that there was something behind. Charles promised that if the French would send envoys to a neutral place to treat for peace he would do the same, although he did not intend to delay the fleet or wish his name to come out unless it proved successful (No. 247). Contarini at once wrote off to his colleague Zorzi to inform him of this pledge and to urge the extreme importance of making some start with the negotiations before the English fleet appeared off the French coast (No. 250). Zorzi lost no time in securing an interview with Cardinal Richelieu, and in spite of some objections raised by that minister to the idea, he found him much more favourably disposed than he had expected. Indeed, Richelieu went so far as to discuss the terms of peace in some detail and promised to give a passport for sending back word to England. At the same time he stipulated for secrecy, so that it might not be said that he had been asking for peace (No. 370).
Meanwhile the preparation of the fleet to relieve La Rochelle went forward in England. Charles would not hear a word said against it sailing (No. 223). In response to representations in favour of peace, Buckingham railed against the French for the policy they had followed, declaring that they had thrown the whole of Europe into confusion and adding recklessly that he thought matters could not be restored to good order except by a general overthrow of everything (No. 291). At the last interview he had with Contarini he betrayed his deep distrust of Richelieu and his fear that the cardinal would betray him to the Spaniards, just as he had betrayed his allies over the peace of Monzon (No. 351).
At the same time influences were at work to make Buckingham more disposed to a peaceful solution than he sometimes appeared to be. He felt the difficulty of the enterprise on which he was embarked and the serious consequences to himself which failure might entail. In reply to a hint from Lord Carleton, who had previously spoken with Contarini, that it might be advisable to suggest to the Rochellese and the Huguenots generally that if they could contrive to make peace with their king it would be agreeable to the King of England, Buckingham sent word to Contarini that he had power from the king to use his forces according to circumstances, and when he should arrive with the fleet in sight of La Rochelle, instead of proceeding to hostilities, he would prefer to hear that the Rochellese requested him to desist, because they had obtained satisfaction from their sovereign (No. 304). In spite of the opposition of Soubise and of the two Rochellese deputies, David and Dehinsse (No. 351), a letter was written by the third Rochellese deputy, Vincent, to the Huguenot government at La Rochelle advising them to consider any proposals for an accommodation that might be brought forward by the Venetian ambassadors (No. 306). Contarini's secretary, Agostini, was to go to France for the purpose of getting the peace negotiations well started before blood should be shed. At the last minute, however, the current seems to have changed, Vincent's letter was never sent and Agostini was detained at Buckingham's special request. The final idea was that Buckingham himself should negotiate with Richelieu, when he should arrive off La Rochelle, and that Zorzi should prepare the way for this interview.
The assassination of Buckingham threw everything out of gear. The new admiral was not considered equal to negotiating with so astute a diplomatist as Richelieu. Fundamentally, however, the tragedy rendered the prospects of a reconciliation more favourable. In so far as the quarrel had been a war of favourites, it ceased to have a raison d'etre. It was all to the good that with matters of personal pique eliminated, the dispute should be confined to the actual points of difference between the two countries. Although Charles remained as determined as ever that the fleet should sail, he and his Council were really bent on peace with France (No. 389). He himself drew up a paper to be read to Contarini in which he stated that if the King of France should give up the siege of La Rochelle he had authorised the Earl of Lindsey to begin a treaty of peace. The fleet would merely provision La Rochelle and then sail away without doing any further hurt (No. 390). Encouraged by this step, Contarini forthwith proceeded to draft articles to serve as a basis for the peace negotiations. (fn. 2) He went soon after to discuss the matter with the king, who appointed commissioners to treat with him. They agreed substantially with every one of Contarini's articles, except the one about the queen's household. They made three demands in addition, namely that peace with England and the Huguenots must be made simultaneously; that when matters had begun to take shape they were to send a gentleman to France with powers to treat, under cover of being sent by the queen to her mother, and thirdly that all these advances must appear to come from Zorzi and not as the decision of the king and Council (No. 423). To further the good work begun so auspiciously, Contarini enlisted the good offices of the queen, to serve as a mediator both with her husband and her mother. Contarini's secretary, Agostini, took his draft articles over to France, where Zorzi discussed them with Cardinal Richelieu. The articles were accepted practically as they stood with the exception of the one about the household. Even here no question of principle was involved, but as Richelieu had caused Bassompierre's treaty to be rejected as inadequate on that score he felt himself bound to secure better terms than the marshal had arranged (No. 491). For the rest the only points left for discussion were the course of procedure that should be followed.
Meanwhile the English fleet had sailed and appeared off the town of La Rochelle. After it had lain there rather more than a fortnight, having indulged in two entirely fruitless demonstrations in the interval, Walter Montagu, son of the Lord President of the Council, went ashore on the pretext of visiting the Duke of Chevreuse (No. 492). The duke introduced him to Richelieu, to whom he opened out on the desirability of peace between the two crowns; all his king wanted was that the Huguenots should be left unmolested. Richelieu received these advances in a conciliatory spirit, but he asked if it was reasonable for England to meddle with the Huguenots when the French did not interfere with the English Catholics. The only means of reconciling the two crowns was for the English to think no more about La Rochelle, which was already taken, or of the Huguenots, who were also lost, if they did not keep within bounds. The punishment of the town was for rebellion not for religion. He assured Montagu that out of regard for the King of England, no other place or person of the Huguenot party should suffer in person, goods or privileges, provided they did not abuse the royal favour and continue in their errors (No. 501). (fn. 3) After Montagu had been taken to see the mole and the other siege works, to convince him of the impossibility of relieving La Rochelle (No. 539), he was given a passport to return home by way of St. Malo. In England Montagu reported the result of his interview and dilated on the impossibility of relieving La Rochelle. The matter was laid before the Council and Montagu was sent back almost immediately to France, where his prompt return was expected and awaited. The answer he took was to the effect that peace might be negotiated after the result of La Rochelle but not before. The king inclined to it, but neither accepted nor rejected the overtures. Montagu also took orders to Lindsey to attempt the relief (Nos. 529, 530). Before Montagu got back to France La Rochelle had fallen. He had a conference of several hours with Richelieu, but it proved abortive, and he returned to the fleet without having settled anything (No. 550).
An element of mystery pervades the whole of this episode of Montagu's intervention. The employment of a minor and officially unrecognised agent upon negotiations of first rate importance at a time when negotiations for the same end were, at least semi-officially, entrusted to the Venetian ministers savours strongly of the methods of Buckingham. But Buckingham was dead and can have had nothing to do with it. It seems incredible that Montagu can have acted without the knowledge of the king, if not upon definite instructions, yet Charles seemed disgusted at his return and suspected that he had allowed the French to outwit him (No. 530). It was intimated in the Netherlands that the king was not pleased with his employment (No. 615), and when Montagu returned to England the second time he was in disgrace and Charles refused to receive him (No. 633).
There is a hint that this action was the result of a collusive arrangement. Although the sequence of events that led up to the fall of La Rochelle admits of a different interpretation it is remarkable that Zorzi foretold them with wonderful accuracy more than four months in advance, and pointed to Montagu as the prime mover. He explained the extraordinary confidence shown by the French after the first unsuccessful attempt to relieve La Rochelle as being due to the fact that peace had already been arranged by Montagu, and even signed. The English had abandoned La Rochelle to its fate, but, to save appearances, they would send the fleet once more to attempt the impossible, and after its fall they would make public the accommodation (No. 161). Even while the English fleet was actually lying off the French coast, a proposal was made for sham hostilities between the fleets, now and then, for the purpose of deceiving the Spaniards (No. 529). The French appeared confident throughout that peace would ensue. The employment of Montagu was in itself significant. He had been engaged in intrigues with Savoy and Lorraine for the purpose of stirring up domestic trouble in France. On his way back to England he had been seized on the frontier of Lorraine and carried to Paris. While in the Bastille he had become the centre of active intrigues carried on by a strongly pro-English party at the Louvre (No. 69). As a consequence of this Montagu, who had enjoyed considerable liberty, was more strictly confined, yet before the month was out he had been released and sent back to England, nominally as the result of the representations of the Duke of Lorraine, but apparently as the consequence of a bargain arrived at between him and Richelieu, one item being that Buckingham should be allowed to come to France on an embassy extraordinary in the following winter (No. 161). Almost immediately after this Montagu was reported to be engaged upon a peace, in conjunction with the Duke of Lorraine and the Duchess of Chevreuse (No. 121). His action at La Rochelle was taken very ill by Savoy, and the duke's leading diplomat, the Abbot Scaglia, was exceedingly angry (No. 524). Carlisle and Wake, who were thoroughly Savoyard in sympathy, did not hesitate to declare that Montagu's action was responsible for the fall of La Rochelle (Nos. 585, 613). Charles tried to mollify the Duke of Savoy by telling him that Montagu's proposals had really been volunteered without request by Cardinal Richelieu (No. 618).
The Venetian ambassadors were naturally not a little astonished at the negotiations being taken out of their hands, without the least intimation being given them. In their zeal for the cause which they had at heart, they concealed their annoyance and worked as whole-heartedly as before to bring about a reconciliation, no matter what means might be employed. At the same time it became evident that Montagu's interference had done considerable mischief. His report excessively anxious for peace, and dreaded the negotiations that England was conducting with Spain (Nos. 529, 530). So far was this from being the case that Richelieu promptly raised his demands, to include the restoration of the ship St. Esprit, taken in the Texel, which he said Montagu had promised (No. 648).
In spite of these cross currents and interruptions the fall of La Rochelle undoubtedly smoothed the way towards peace. When Montagu's ill-timed intervention had been eliminated, Contarini's draft articles became once more the basis of negotiation. The only point requiring adjustment was the question of the queen's household, to which was subsequently added that of the St. Esprit. Neither involved anything essential or sufficient to justify a war between two great nations, since it was admitted that the Queen of England was happy and well served. The task of the mediators resolved itself into devising some formula that should satisfy the pride of both parties. The cause of the Huguenots was practically abandoned by the English. Charles contented himself with expressing the wish that the Duke of Chevreuse should come as ambassador extraordinary to complete the peace, and requesting the French king to give peace to his subjects. He also asked for the good offices of the Venetian ambassadors in obtaining pardon for the Huguenot leaders, Rohan, Soubise and Laval (Nos. 693, 694).
The only danger in the way of the completion of the peace, and that a very real one, was the deeply rooted suspicion of the French that prevailed at the English Court. After the fall of La Rochelle it seemed as if the French did not mind what course England might take. The delay of the French in answering the advances made from England caused a very bad impression (No. 639), which was strengthened by the news of an attempt to gain possession of the principality of Orange by treachery (Nos. 657, 768). Reports of naval preparations even led to the fear that an attack on the Channel Islands or an invasion might be attempted (Nos. 639, 744). The publication of the royal edict against those Huguenots who still remained under arms created a great stir. It was stated that when the edict was registered in the Parliament of Paris, abuse was freely poured upon the English and their king (No. 738). Everyone believed that it was merely a pretext for crushing the religion completely (No. 744). It was felt that they had been duped, and the English almost repented of having gone so far with the peace (No. 743). In an interview with Contarini, Charles told him roundly that he had come to the end of his concessions. He would not move a step further. He had done everything possible to show his willingness for a reconciliation. He expressed his utter distrust of the French and ended by saying that the French were deceiving both the Venetians and himself; he knew it for certain, and they would very soon see it (No. 778).
While the position in England assumed this unsatisfactory guise, in France confidence in the eventual arrangement of the peace remained unabated. The Dutch ambassadors extraordinary on returning to the Hague from Paris, announced it as already made (No. 775), and the queen mother told the ordinary ambassador, Langarach, that she considered it settled, although, for certain reasons, the announcement was delayed. The French boasted of the peace everywhere, to intimidate their neighbours (No. 768). Although this was going in advance of the facts, steps had already been taken which were calculated to bring home to both sides the advantages of a reconciliation. As the result of representations by Lord Carleton, Charles consented to the exportation of salt fish to France for the coming Lent season, granting the shippers permission to bring back wine with them. The effect was almost instantaneous and in one day alone thirty ships entered the Thames laden with wine and merchandise from France, a thing that had not happened for two years (Nos. 664, 695).
The quarrel with France completely eclipsed the older one with Spain, which had become of quite secondary importance. While Spain was at war with the Dutch, England could look upon her hostility with indifference. The naval forces of Spain were quite inadequate to cope with those of the two northern powers, and she was not in a position to inflict any serious injury upon England, for the question of the Palatinate was rather a sentimental and dynastic one and it did not affect the country very nearly. In really vital matters England was perfectly immune from Spanish attack. Apart from trade, the English had not received the slightest hurt from the Spaniards since war was declared, and the Prince of Orange declared that they had not lost a single man, though he overlooked the Cadiz expedition (No. 127).
The only spot vulnerable to Spanish attack was Ireland. At one time there seems to have been some fear that the French and Spaniards would unite to attack the island (Nos. 92, 223), and some such scheme seems actually to have been in contemplation (No. 490). In October, 1629, the Lord Deputy of Ireland reported that he had discovered a conspiracy between the natives and the Spaniards, though this was supposed to be an invention of his own in order to enrich himself out of the forfeitures (No. 505). A more definite step in the direction of co-operation with France against England was the sending of a squadron to help against La Rochelle. Similar assistance was offered both in July and October, 1629, but without result (Nos. 244, 460). The danger was more apparent than real. The interests of France and Spain were too incompatible to allow such an alliance, and the question of the Mantuan succession in Italy, which was coming to the fore, made it much more likely that they would be enemies than friends. The French did not believe in the genuineness of the Spanish offers of help and openly derided the succour sent to the siege of La Rochelle. They declared that it only appeared when all was over, and when news arrived of the coming of fresh ships from England, the Spanish squadron hurriedly made off (No. 42). Richelieu considered that the offer was only a trick of Olivares (No. 460). The count duke soon after infuriated the cardinal by sending to reproach him for not taking up the offer of joint action against England, and threatening to conclude peace with England, when he would make France feel the mischief which she had in her vitals (No. 490). The cardinal responded with a sarcastic allusion to the proffered naval help against La Rochelle, adding that whether that town fell or no, the French king would not abandon the Duke of Mantua (No. 553). He was quite justified in his suspicions of the genuineness of the Spanish offers, for the fall of La Rochelle was a great blow to the Spaniards, who felt it as much as if they had lost a province (No. 604).
But if Spain was unequal to inflicting any material injury upon England, the English had it in their power to do immense harm to Spain. By privateering they were able to make war actually profitable. In the Mediterranean, subjects of the Spanish monarchy were obliged to trade under the flags of Venice or Florence, to avoid capture (No. 758). The safety of the treasure fleet, upon which the finances of the country so greatly depended, was always a source of anxiety to the Spanish government, and even at a time when relations with England seemed more friendly, the Spaniards knew that the English would not lose an opportunity of capturing the treasure fleet if one occurred (Nos. 486, 502). That they had good grounds for their apprehensions was shown by the general outcry in England against the prospect of peace with Spain when the news arrived of the capture of a very rich treasure fleet by the Dutch Admiral, Piet Hein (No. 618). When the English fleet lay off La Rochelle, the Spaniards were in a constant state of anxiety, and kept unremitting watch along their coasts from fear of an attack after the conclusion of the operations in France (No. 540). They dreaded most of all some accommodation with the French which would permit the English fleet to sail into the Mediterranean, capture their galleons, make raids and incursions, interrupt their trade, occupy positions and generally inflict great injuries upon Spain (No. 589). They had no hope of offering any effective resistance to an attack they dreaded so much, as their own naval forces, with the exception of the Dunkirkers, were in poor condition (No. 560).
Because of these lively apprehensions of the Spaniards the policy adopted by England towards Spain was a matter of considerable importance to other powers. All those who had reason to dread the ambitions of the House of Hapsburg and its great strength on land fervently hoped that England would continue at war and supply this very useful diversion. The offices of France and of the Venetian and Dutch republics were constantly devoted to this end. The Duke of Savoy, on the other hand, because of his ambition to share a part of the Mantuan inheritance, and his consequent dread of France, wished to see Spain relieved of the English menace. Accordingly he sent over Baroccio to sound the feelings of the English Court, and to justify his own union with the Spaniards (No. 143), while he offered his mediation to bring about a peace between England and Spain (No. 207).
Buckingham had avowedly begun his operations against the French for the purpose of compelling them to join whole-heartedly with the other allies in resisting the triumphant progress of the House of Austria. His personal resentment, and the failure of the operations directed against the French, caused him to forget his original purpose in the heat of his desire to humble France. To achieve this he seems to have come to the conclusion that it would first be necessary to make peace with Spain. Informal negotiations had long been on foot through the two painters, Rubens and Gerbier. Savoy offered mediation, but the Spaniards insisted that England must make the first advances. Accordingly Buckingham decided to send Endymion Porter, Olivares having intimated that whoever was sent would be received willingly with fair hopes of an adjustment (No. 505). The resentment cherished by Charles against the Spaniards from the time of his visit to Madrid formed the chief obstacle in the way of these proceedings. This was finally overcome by the joint efforts of Buckingham and that astute Savoyard, the Abbot Scaglia (id.). But though Charles consented to the mission of Porter to Spain, the commissions of that envoy were drawn up, not by him but by Buckingham (Nos. 385, 574). The king's share in the proceeding was to write a letter to his sister, the Queen of Bohemia, at the Hague, telling her that offers had been made to him on behalf of the King of Spain to treat for an accommodation, and that in the circumstances and for the interests of his state he could not refuse. Carleton, the English agent at the Hague, made a similar communication to the Prince of Orange (No. 245).
The Prince Palatine and his wife received this announcement with surprising unconcern, remarking that the King of England could not make war with everybody (No. 258). But the Dutch government was seriously perturbed at the news. Their ambassadors in England at once sought an audience of the king and there told him that a report was circulating in the Netherlands and they had it on good authority that peace had been concluded between his Majesty and the King of Spain. They besought him to give them particulars as the whole world was full of it. Charles at once replied, "It is not at all true, those who say so lie. I confirm what I have always told you, that I will not treat or abandon my friends." When the ambassadors persisted that his own minister had said so and there were letters in the king's own hand to his sister, Charles still persisted in his denials. When the Prince of Orange drew the attention of the Agent Carleton to this denial, Carleton was beside himself with confusion and said, "I swear that the king knows it full well, and that I spoke to your Excellency by his order" (No.308). In England the ministers, including even the Secretaries of State, were ignorant of the steps that had been taken (No. 253). They all denied the possibility of any such thing, expressing their astonishment (No. 273). Whatever the exact truth about these negotiations may have been, there can be little doubt that they depended entirely upon Buckingham and were brought to nought by his death. The news of this catastrophe reached Scaglia, Porter and Rubens at Basel. They broke out into exclamations and tears, for they realised what the duke's death meant for the business they had in hand (No. 507).
Although the main operations collapsed under this deadly blow, the Abbot Scaglia did not give up hope, and he endeavoured to reach his end by another means. During a brief stay at Brussels he tried to induce the Infanta Isabella to arrange for commercial relations to be reopened between Spain and England. They would not listen to him, because they were afraid that any facilities that might be granted to the English would be taken advantage of by the Dutch (No. 469). In Spain itself the idea met with a much more favourable reception. Spanish trade had suffered severely by the war, and a commercial arrangement suited the interests of the Spaniards without committing them to make any concessions about the Palatinate. Chiefly by the influence of the Jesuits permission was granted in the autumn of 1628 for a limited amount of trade with the English and Dutch, an arrangement that practically permitted trading without limit (No. 520). It was felt that without the trade of England the country was condemned to poverty (No. 735), and there was a great desire among Spaniards for the resumption of commercial intercourse (No. 545). The feeling was so strong and the need of the Spaniards so great as to render ineffective any official efforts to put a stop to the trade (No. 814). On the English side efforts to restart commercial relations did not meet with so much success. A Malaga merchant did indeed obtain permission to export goods up to the value of 200,000 crowns (No. 656), but the venture was so uncertain that he had great difficulty in finding any partners who were willing to share the risks (No. 695). Charles, indeed, assured Contarini that if his subjects traded in Spain they did so at their own risk (No. 818). Parliament ultimately intervened, and caused four ships that were being laded for Spain by the Malaga merchant to be sequestrated at Dartmouth (No. 737).
As the prospect of a reconciliation between England and France became more and more imminent, the Spaniards took alarm and began to make great efforts to prevent the realisation of the hopes of the Venetian ambassadors and to render their labours fruitless. Once more there was vague talk about the restoration of the Palatinate, the object of which was rather too obvious (No. 778). The Abbot Scaglia is said to have remonstrated strongly with the Count of Olivares for not embracing the proposals for an agreement with England in the way that had been suggested by him (No. 763).
One of the strangest diplomatic developments of the time was the mission of the Earl of Carlisle to the continent, which began in April, 1628. He seems to have set out with no very definite intentions, with a kind of roving commission. He was not on good terms with Buckingham, and it was averred that he really wanted an honourable pretext for absenting himself from Court. He also wished to see Italy and especially Venice. (fn. 4) There was further the desire to render France uneasy and to make some show of zeal for the cause with no intention of doing anything (Nos. 26, 528). Carlisle even proposed to include a visit to the pope in his programme (No. 165).
In the past Carlisle had been considered pro-French and anti-Spanish. He had enjoyed considerable popularity in France and was one of the chief agents in bringing about the French marriage. He was thought to be devoted to the common cause, no friend to the Spaniards and anxious for peace with France (No. 92). His instructions were merely to justify the king's proceedings against the French, urge those princes who favoured liberty to counterbalance the union of France and Spain, and so forth (No. 60). But though in favour of a reconciliation with France, Carlisle insisted that it must be made with honour, otherwise he would prefer to see everything go to wrack and ruin. He would rather face any disaster than that his king should ask for peace first (No. 120). The French were inclined to look upon the mission with suspicion and at one time even contemplated sending envoys to the various Courts to counteract it (No. 165). A sinister influence was certainly at work in the person of Abbot Scaglia, who, in the interest of Savoy, favoured Spanish interests as against French ones, and endeavoured to further his ends by an appeal to Carlisle's vanity (No. 127).
The first stage of the journey was the Hague. Carlisle's formal entry was postponed a day in order to allow him to appear in his finest clothes, a characteristic touch of vanity that amused the Prince of Orange (No. 120). Carlisle did no serious business there. Up to the moment of his arrival, negotiations with the Dutch had been in the much more experienced and capable hands of Lord Carleton. Before taking his departure Carlisle merely touched on the Amboyna question and the strengthening of the alliance, though it was feared that he might encourage the Dutch in their inclination towards a truce with the Spaniards.
From the Hague Carlisle proceeded to Antwerp, where Rubens obtained for him an invitation to the Court at Brussels. He saw the Infanta twice and was very well received. It is unlikely that he entered upon any serious negotiations, though it was definitely stated that he had treated with the Infanta to arrange an accommodation between England and Spain. The news of the visit created a great stir, especially at the Hague, because Carlisle had assured the Prince of Orange and the Prince and Princess Palatine that he had no intention of going to Brussels at all (Nos. 145, 162, 167, 176). In England Charles assured the Dutch ambassadors that the earl had done wrong, he had disobeyed his instructions and should be reprimanded (No. 167). Somewhat later the king told Contarini that Carlisle had seen the Infanta against his wishes and contrary to his instructions (No. 207). These denials left the Prince of Orange sceptical. He did not believe that Carlisle would have ventured on such a step without definite instructions (No. 226). According to Contarini, Carlisle had urged the necessity of taking this route, in the Council, before he started, because of the effect it would have on the French. The king did not at all approve, but Carlisle chose to act on his own initiative (No.208).
After leaving Brussels, Carlisle spent twelve days with the Duke of Lorraine, and then proceeded from Nancy to Basel, where his reception was not magnificent enough to please him (Nos. 219,229), though this was more than made up by the extraordinary honours accorded at Turin (No. 246). It was evident that the Court of Savoy meant to win the English ambassador over to the strong anti-French sentiments prevalent there at the time.
While still in England, Carlisle had informed Contarini of his intention to visit Venice on his ambassadorial tour (No. 92), but he did not state in what capacity or what his commissions would be. At Turin Carlisle expressed considerable annoyance because the republic had not sooner realised that he intended to come in the character of ambassador extraordinary (No. 289). The Senate had not been made aware of this until Wake appeared in the Collegio on the 3rd of August (Nos. 260, 262). They at once proceeded to take steps to accord the earl a reception worthy of the dignity of the republic. A palace was equipped for the earl to live in during his stay and orders were sent to all the principal towns through which he was likely to pass. On the 7th September, Carlisle, accompanied by the ordinary ambassador Wake, appeared in the Collegio and presented a paper which set forth the general state of affairs in Europe and asked for advice, so that they might be able to act jointly (No. 366). As might have been expected, the Senate responded by urging the pressing need, before everything else, of a reconciliation between England and France (No. 373). From a statement made subsequently by Wake, this answer and the attitude of the Senate convinced Carlisle that nothing more could be done there (No. 508). A second paper was, however, presented, setting forth the grievances against France, and with this Carlisle's negotiations practically came to an end. He lingered on a while in the city and did not finally take leave until the 3rd of October. He received the usual presents and went away expressing the deepest gratitude for the magnificence of his reception. His presence at Venice caused some misgivings to the French, and Bethune, the ambassador at Rome, in particular, was very curious to know what business he was transacting there, and very relieved when he went, as despite all the assurances of the republic the French suspected that Carlisle was engaged upon negotiations for an alliance between England and Spain (Nos. 376, 485).
The projected visit to Rome had to be given up. The Savoyard ambassador at Rome begged the pope to receive the earl, showing that other pontiffs had received the representatives of heretical princes. But the pope gave it clearly to be understood that without the vote of the cardinals he would on no account admit Carlisle to his presence (No. 376). It is probable that French influence contributed not a little to this decision. Bethune had already remonstrated with the pope because the Nuncio Gallo had treated with Carlisle (No. 353). Later on it was taken in ill part at Rome that the Cardinal of Savoy shared with the other members of his house in the efforts to ingratiate himself with the English ambassadors (Nos. 418, 552).
From Venice Carlisle returned direct to Turin, accompanied by Wake, who remained on there long after the earl had returned home. On the way he heard of the assassination of Buckingham, and this quickened his desire to return to England, where he had hopes of succeeding to the position of chief favourite. He obtained permission to return without difficulty, but he did not leave Turin before the 18th of November, after a stay of a month. He travelled homewards by way of the Rhine, narrowly escaping drowning in the neighbourhood of Cologne (No. 696). At that city he met a courier coming from England, who brought him orders to visit Brussels once more on his way back (Nos. 678, 689). Wake was perhaps unnecessarily anxious to impress upon the Venetian ambassador that he had no negotiations to conduct there (No. 696). Carlisle ended his tour, as he had begun it, at the Hague. Throughout his wanderings he had expressed very freely his resentment at what he considered the misrepresentation by the Dutch of his previous visit to the Infanta (Nos. 505, 660). At the Hague he went so far as to decline the lodging that had been prepared for him by the States, and only relented when the Prince of Orange pressed him to accept. He sarcastically thanked the Venetian ambassador, Soranzo, for the share he had taken in spreading similar reports (No. 673). His only other noteworthy action was in getting Rusdorf to draw up a written paper on the relative advantages and dis-advantages of peace with France and with Spain respectively, apparently for the purpose of influencing the Prince Palatine (Nos. 699, 743).
The strong anti-French bias which Carlisle had imbibed from his relations with Savoy made the Venetian Senate very anxious about his return home, as they feared that he would use all his influence to upset their nearly completed work of reconciliation (Nos. 624, 637). They therefore urged Contarini to make every effort to get the peace arranged before Carlisle should arrive (No. 651). The danger was certainly considerable, for Baroccio, who had been sent on purpose from Savoy, waited a fortnight at Dunkirk, in order to reach England at the same time as Carlisle (No. 719), while Scaglia himself was expected to come from Spain. Before this dangerous trio arrived on the scene Contarini had succeeded in committing the king very deeply to the peace with France. Lord Carleton, who saw the danger, congratulated him on his success (No. 693). When Carlisle reached England he found it advisable to tread with caution (No. 718). He realised that his blustering only tended to hurt the interests of Savoy, that it did not move the king from his determination to make the peace, and that his attitude was likely to rouse the queen's hostility against himself (No. 719). Yet his activity was such as to convince contarini that he had forestalled him only just in time. He devoted his energies to spreading mistrust of the French and pouring doubt on the genuineness of their policy towards Italy. He declared that the peace arranged by the Venetian ambassadors was indecorous for England (No. 758), and made a great outcry because the Huguenots were not included in it (No. 541). Finally he announced that France, by her minister Bautru, had thrown over her friends and made a treaty with the Spaniards, as at Monzon (No. 793). The report gained very general credence, until Contarini was able to prove that it was entirely without foundation. The king himself exclaimed, "I must believe nothing but the advices of the Venetian ambassador, for I see that the others often invent news." Carlisle at last began to see that he was on the wrong track, and announced that if the French chose to act in earnest he would go post to make an adjustment between them and Savoy. As a critic of the French he incurred the risk of losing all credit, for he found that there were stauncher Spaniards at Court than himself, and in his own interest he must be an opponent and not a follower of that party (No. 805).
While England was wasting her energies upon a quarrel with France over matters relatively unimportant, vital interests of the country were being seriously endangered by the determined efforts of the Imperialists to win the command of the Baltic. Realising the importance to England and the Netherlands of their trade, the Hapsburg powers contemplated taking measures to destroy or to cripple it where they could do so. Offers of an alliance were held out to the Venetian republic, baited with the prospect of transferring to the Queen of the Adriatic the trade with the empire in cloth, drugs and spices which was in the hands of the northern powers (Nos. 1, 10). But the command of the Baltic offered the more alluring prospect of the complete destruction of the enormous English and Dutch trade carried on there (No. 28). Bruneau was sent to Flanders to concert arrangements for preventing this traffic (No. 79), and the shipyards of Dunkirk and Ostend were busy building vessels to form a Baltic fleet (No. 7). Wallenstein conceived the most grandiose plans and proposed to cut a canal through Holstein to enable Imperialist ships to pass to the open sea without going through the Sound (Nos. 28, 715). To further this scheme great efforts were made to bring the Hanse towns under Imperialist control. They would gladly have maintained their neutrality, because of their trading interests with both sides. At a diet held at Lubeck they did decide that they would not supply succour to the emperor against Denmark. But weak and disunited as they were, they could not hope to offer any serious opposition to the imperial demands unless they received help from outside (No. 21). These demands constantly increased. Hamburg and Lubeck were asked to receive Imperialist garrisons (No. 638); not long after the whole confederacy was required by Tilly and Wallenstein to renounce their neutrality with Denmark and Sweden and to supply ships to the emperor (No. 695). Wallenstein having received twenty-five good ships from Dunkirk as a nucleus for his fleet, styled himself the Lord High Admiral of the Baltic (No. 805). Already, early in 1628, the Baltic ports and even Hamburg were considered unsafe for English ships (No. 76).
The urgency of the danger was fully recognised. The generous minded King of Sweden suggested a defensive and offensive alliance between England, France, the Dutch and the Hanse towns to secure the sea against the encroachments of the Spaniards and Imperialists (No. 56). In England parliament picked out the need of helping Denmark as one of the most pressing of the questions that required attention (No. 77). The prospect that the English fleet for the relief of La Rochelle might be sent to the Elbe, if peace should be arranged between England and France, caused Tilly considerable anxiety (No. 487), and he was correspondingly relieved when he heard that the English were determined to introduce succour into the town at all costs (No. 541).
While Charles persisted in that enterprise all hope of any effective interference in the affairs of Germany was vain. He was not blind to the importance of the question, but he had his hands full with other matters. Hard pressed by the Danish ambassadors, he was forced to admit that he was himself responsible for the disasters which had overtaken his uncle, their king (No. 14). He wrote to the Senate of Hamburg exhorting them not to listen to the deceitful flatteries of the enemy, but to consider the interests of the King of Denmark, whom he would not fail to assist (No. 715). Past experience showed how little reliance could be placed upon such promises.
The only real help supplied to Denmark in the hour of need was a small force under Sir Charles Morgan, which offered a gallant resistance to the Imperialists in defending the town of Stade. Morgan was a capable and determined officer, but a hot-tempered man and unpopular with his soldiers on account of his avarice, although his honesty was not in question (No. 715). He had a hopeless task at Stade, as beyond a sum of 6,000l. Which was supplied to him at the outset, he begged in vain for help from England, which turned a deaf ear to all his appeals (No. 77). He was obliged to capitulate on the 7th May, though he obtained very honourable terms. His troops were sent to Holland. He himself proceeded to England to try and obtain the very considerable arrears due to his men. He spoke very freely to the king about the delay of succour and impressed upon him the importance of Stade and the positions in the neighbourhood, because of the command of the Elbe, the trade of Hamburg and the danger that threatened Denmark. Charles only replied that he could do nothing until he saw the result of parliament, which was then sitting (No. 169). With this scant encouragement, Morgan proceeded at the end of the year to Germany once more with a force of 1,000 men, to assist in the defence of Gluckstadt, then besieged by Tilly. Charles hoped that the force would have been increased by the Dutch allowing men from the English regiments serving in the Netherlands to join it, and he was very angry with the States General for refusing to consent to such an arrangement (No. 595). This second siege was no more fortunate than the earlier one. The governor of Gluckstadt at first refused to admit Morgan and his men, because the place was short of munitions and proper accommodation (No. 619). After he had been admitted, for the strange reason that the plague had broken out in the fortress and in the imperial camp outside (No. 638), quarrels broke out between the governor and Morgan, in which their troops joined, as to who should have the chief command (No. 682). Morgan found himself unable to obtain money, food or quarters for his men; and the mismanagement of affairs by both Denmark and England filled him with disgust (No. 715). His operations were further restricted by four commissioners appointed by the King of Denmark, without whom he could not decide anything. Small wonder that Colonel Kniphausen, who returned to England from Emden, reported the condition of Gluckstadt as desperate (No. 805).
Sir Thomas Roe, who had recently returned from the embassy at Constantinople, endeavoured to rouse the Council, in the king's presence, to do something for Denmark. He showed how forty ships might be fitted out and 6,000 foot raised in the course of March, 1629, and employed to advantage before the imperial forces, scattered in their winter quarters, could meet again. They listened, commended, and referred him to another meeting, the date of which was never fixed (No. 537), in spite of the serious news that the city of Danzig had granted ten good ships of war to the emperor at the request of the Poles. The only hope of any good rested with parliament. With the dissolution of that body soon afterwards, the Danish ambassador, Rosencranz, despaired of obtaining any help from England for his master's cause, and prepared to leave the country. It was considered probable that when the King of Denmark heard the news he would make peace with the emperor on any terms he could obtain (No. 805).
Among the minor consequences of the wars being waged with France and Spain was the issue of large quantities of letters of marque to privateers, who were thus let loose in considerable numbers upon the sea trade of the enemy countries. The appearance of one of these rovers off Zante has been recorded in the preceding volume. (fn. 5) By the spring of 1628 they seem to have entered the Mediterranean in appreciable numbers. Trading in that sea soon became dangerous for the subjects of France and Spain, who were forced to masquerade as neutrals under the flag of Venice or Florence (No. 758). As one of the principal English industries in those waters was the currant trade carried on with the Ionian islands, under Venetian government, it was only to be expected that English privateers should show a special activity in waters with which they were peculiarly familiar. This was so much the case that the Venetian Proveditore of Cephalonia wrote home that unless the Senate made speedy provision all navigation by ships of the enemies of England would be stopped in those waters (No. 38). The privateers showed great audacity and were not over careful of the neutrality of the Venetian ports (Nos. 23, 38), causing bitter complaints to be made by the Spaniards and the French (Nos. 77, 251, 311).
The exploits of one man overshadow those of all of his countrymen in this method of warfare. Sir Kenelm Digby, nephew of the Earl of Bristol, desiring a life of adventure, sold his property and fitted out two ships, the Eagle, of 400 tons, and the George and Elizabeth, of 250 tons. He obtained letters of marque on the 23rd December, 1627. (fn. 6) He at first intended to sail for Guinea, to take some island and found colonies, but as the East India Company raised objections, he changed his plans and sailed for the Mediterranean instead (No. 274). He left England at the beginning of January. He touched at Algiers and seems to have captured his first prizes off the island of Sardinia (No. 103). He appeared in the Ionian sea about the middle of April, and after chasing a Venetian ship into Cephalonia, he entered the port of Argostoli in that island, intending to refit and dispose of his prizes and booty there (No. 94). To the Venetian governor he was by no means a welcome guest. Mudazzo felt uncomfortable and helpless in the presence of this audacious free lance from the northern seas. He did his best to provide for the defence of the island in case of need. He maintained the forms of courtesy, but refused Digby the prattike he asked for, on the score of the sanitary regulations. He had to contend with the islanders, who demanded that Digby should have what he required, and who insisted on dealing with the English captain, whether they had permission or no (Nos.94, 112). Mudazzo's one preoccupation was to get rid of the Englishman as soon as possible, but Digby proceeded to make himself very much at home. In spite of the refusal of prattike, his men went on shore, where they behaved with great license and engaged in an armed brawl with fatal results. Digby himself enlisted men from the island to make up crews for his prizes, by the offer of liberal terms. The Proveditore repeatedly requested him to depart, but Digby took his own time, although he promised to go as soon as he had finished his repairs. The approach of the Captain of the Gulf with seven galleys did not cause him the least concern (Nos. 133, 141). It was feared that the English intended to make the port of Argostoli a place of repair from which they could dispose of the booty captured (No. 141).
During his stay at Argostoli Digby seems to have increased his squadron by manning and equipping his prizes. The ships with which he sailed from England carried 90 men and 26 guns, 50 men and 20 guns respectively. He had 50 men and 18 guns on each of his two prizes, and in addition to these there was a tartana, more lightly armed (No. 561). From Cephalonia he proceeded to Zante where he again asked for prattike, but found the Venetian authorities equally anxious to get rid of him, although they allowed him to revictual his ships (No. 152). As Zante was fortified, it was not possible to take the same liberties as at Cephalonia, and Digby made no long stay there. His next cruise led him on to his famous fight with the Venetian galeasses in the bay of Iskanderun. These papers contain five independent accounts of that action. (fn. 7) Digby entered the port with the intention of capturing four French ships which were lying there. The Venetian great galeasses and galleons which were also in the port intervened to prevent him effecting his purpose. A sharp action ensued, lasting four hours, but without any decisive result. Each side claimed to have inflicted considerable damage to the other. It is probable that the Venetians suffered much the more severely. They carried much heavier artillery, but their ships were more difficult to manœuvre and their gunners were probably inferior to the English. Although Digby was not able to carry off the French ships as prizes, it is admitted that his men boarded them, and it seems established that they carried off a considerable sum of money, and indeed everything that they found on board, leaving the ships absolutely stripped. Digby thus enjoyed the fruits of victory. The damage suffered in the action was not sufficient to prevent him from sailing away on the 28th June, just a week after the fight, with his entire squadron (No. 218). The Venetians, on the other hand, were unable to leave the port before the 15th September (No. 478). During the week that Digby stayed on at Alexandretta he was left absolutely unmolested. The combatants treated each other with mutual respect. Before the action Digby invited the Venetian commander to settle the difference between them by a duel (No. 187). When Digby sailed away the two squadrons saluted each other.
Although the action of the Venetian commander had the full approval of his government, it is not quite clear why he thought it his duty to intervene upon this occasion. Digby was undoubtedly infringing Turkish neutrality, but it is not so obvious why the Venetians should undertake to defend it, especially when they had been so backward in enforcing it in places where their rights could not be questioned. Their action may have been inspired by resentment at Digby's behaviour in the Ionian Islands and the hope that the considerable force under Capello would teach him a severe lesson (No. 318). The republic was also, at all times, rather morbidly anxious to be on good terms with the Turks. Eager attempts were made to show the Turk what a great service had been rendered to him. These efforts made very little impression upon the Porte (No. 238). It is true that the affair of Iskanderun was turned into an excuse for plunder by the Turkish officials on the spot. The English consul at Aleppo was thrown into prison and had to pay a heavy fine to obtain his release (No. 222). But such methods are apt to strike at random, and it was by no means certain that the Venetians themselves would escape molestation (No. 686). The French also showed no gratitude for the service which the Venetians claimed to have rendered to them. They declared that the action had afforded them no real protection; that their ships had been stripped and large sums of money taken, while they further asserted that the Venetian ships had suffered severely in the fight (Nos. 218, 238, 381).
The Venetians made no further attempt to molest Digby at sea, although it cannot be said that he did not invite it. The measures they took for defence showed with how much respect Digby had inspired them. They ordered their squadrons to unite for the protection of the routes to Zante and Corfu (Nos. 346, 347); they sent a reinforcement of 300 infantry to Zante (No. 514) and they ordered a survey to be made at Argostoli, with a view to fortifying the port (No. 674).
Meanwhile Digby had returned to Zante, where his presence was as unwelcome as ever. The Proveditore refused him prattike, but was careful to avoid giving him any cause for offence. Digby on his side professed the greatest respect for the republic. He proposed to return to Argostoli for the purpose of overhauling his ships. The Proveditore sent the English consul at Zante to endeavour to dissuade him (No. 432). Seguro tried to alarm him by hinting at the approach of Spanish galleys, but Digby declared that he was not afraid of them even if there were fifty (No. 433). His continued presence at Zante made the Venetians very uneasy, as they feared that he might turn his guns on the town if he did not obtain all that he asked. It was even rumoured that he meant to make the Venetians pay for the ransom which had been exacted of the Consul Potton over the Iskanderun affair (Nos. 438, 442). Digby showed the greatest urbanity to the governor all the time, and even offered his services for the defence of the port, if required (No. 454). At the same time he behaved as if the island belonged to him. The islanders, whose trade depended entirely upon the English, took his side; his men landed and went about the place freely, taking very little notice of the Proveditore's orders (No. 442). The Venetian Molin declared that the privateers were more masters in the ports of the Ionian Islands than the Venetian navy itself (No. 455). From Zante Digby went to Patras, where his urbanity won him the good graces of the Turks (No. 482). From thence he went to Argostoli, where he captured a French ship just outside the port. As he refused to give this up, the governor caused English merchants in the island to be arrested, and this brought Digby to reason, though he still persisted that he had acted legitimately (No. 561).
Meanwhile the Senate had been employing diplomatic weapons to rid themselves of the constant embarrassment that Digby's presence in their waters caused. They induced Wake to issue a notice to all the privateers forbidding them to molest any ships in Venetian waters or to send any prizes into their ports without express licence (No. 156). Vigorous remonstrance against Digby's proceedings was also made in England. As a result of this, the printer of Digby's account of the Iskanderun affair was sent to prison (No. 690), and Digby himself was eventually ordered home, although the order carefully stated that it was issued out of deference to the Venetian republic and not because the justice of the charges against him was admitted (No. 627). On his way back Digby committed a further offence by the capture of two rich ships, the Jonas and the Longboat, which the Venetians claimed to be under their protection. The Ambassador Contarini raised a great outcry, and the matter dragged on for some months. As a concession, Charles told the ambassador that in spite of the great profit to be derived from preying upon the trade of Marseilles, he had decided not to issue any more letters of marque for the Mediterranean (No. 818). Digby arrived in the Downs in February, 1629. Opinion differed as to the success of his voyage. Some said that he had become rich through his prizes, while others asserted that after deducting expenses he would not have enough to live on (No. 743).
The authority possessed by Buckingham and the arrogance with which he exercised it made him the best hated man in the kingdom. So great was the popular detestation that he did not feel his life to be safe. Men of experience predicted that his complete ruin or retirement was at hand. It was suggested that the German cavalry who were being levied for England were intended for his personal protection (No. 8). It is at least certain that when the city gave him a banquet they found it necessary to line the streets with the trained bands to prevent any mischance, a thing that had never been known before (No. 14). A violent attack on the duke, that appeared in the Netherlands and caused him much annoyance, accused him of wishing to make himself king and to change the religion of the country (No. 242). Lord Carleton, the most competent among his dependants, was very sensible of the impending danger and anxious about his own prospects (No. 50). Buckingham himself, secure as he felt of the king's favour, was not indifferent to the risks of his position. He made some attempt to come to a reconciliation with Bristol (No. 58). There was talk of his resigning some of his numerous offices, of making advances to the Puritans and of an understanding with Arundel (No. 223). He did actually resign the office of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, but only to the Earl of Suffolk, a colourless dependant, whose docility could be relied on (No. 276). A few trifling concessions made no difference to the essential situation, especially as they were made chiefly with the view of mollifying parliament.
There is little in Buckingham's career to indicate that he ever considered anything except his own selfish interest. Compared with this the interests of the nation took a very subordinate position. When Contarini spoke of demanding reparation for the unheard of affront of opening his despatches, for which Buckingham alone was responsible, the eminent men with whom he conversed merely shrugged their shoulders and said, "You see how the other more important affairs of the kingdom, which are necessary for its welfare, are carried on, and you must have patience" (No. 27). So utter was his isolation that Buckingham hesitated to employ Englishmen, whom he did not trust, and he preferred to be served by aliens (No. 144). His complete alienation from the Puritans threw him into the arms of the party of the Catholics, and as these were mostly Spaniards, their influence strongly affected his policy (No. 143). At the same time his personal integrity was not above suspicion. It was stated that he had received a bribe of 200,000 crowns from the French on the understanding that La Rochelle should not be relieved (No. 145), a report which the Queen of Bohemia, who never loved the duke, was quite prepared to believe (No. 162). After his death there was some vague talk of the discovery of treasonable correspondence with foreign princes (No. 385). This may easily be explained by the subterranean unofficial negotiations which the favourite was in the habit of conducting on his own responsibility. But it seems clear that he received a bribe of 40,000 crowns from some merchants to allow them to trade in Spain (No. 398). One of the worst of Buckingham's traits was his willingness to shelter himself behind some obscure subordinate and allow him to suffer for his mistakes. It was thus that he let Ingam be punished for the opening of the Venetian ambassador's packets, and similarly Edward Clarke was made the scapegoat for the first failure to relieve La Rochelle (No. 177). Nor was his moral character free from reproach. When it was reported that the real motive for Carlisle's mission was the affection of Buckingham for his wife, the Prince of Orange remarked that he was full of excesses (No. 145). Speaking later of the reported negotiations with the Spaniards, the same prince exclaimed, "I swear I believe the poor king knows nothing about it, as the favourite has held the reins for a long while and drives him where he pleases" (No. 308).
In spite of the feeling that things could not go on as they were, the assassination of Buckingham came as an unexpected blow. Felton was led to his determination by reading the remonstrance made by parliament against so many disorders, domestic and foreign, all attributed to the duke (No. 351). In the Netherlands it was reported that he struck to avenge a brother-in-law whom the duke had killed a few days before, for speaking with too much freedom (No. 384). The removal of this man, whose time of power had been nothing but a curse to the country, was heard with a sense of relief. Apart from the king and a few courtiers there was general rejoicing, and it was difficult in some parts to prevent the people from lighting bonfires and making public celebrations (No. 385). Charles would have liked to give his late favourite a magnificent funeral and to make a severe example of the murderer; but the state of public opinion did not permit of such a course. The idea of a state funeral was abandoned, and the duke was buried quietly at night on the 28th September, the trained bands lining the streets, as they had for his last city function (No. 471). Felton became a popular hero, and some hoped that he might not be put to death. Crowds flocked to the Tower to see him, departing in tears, with prayers that he might remain firm. It was out of the question to put him to the torture. He was handed over to the ordinary judges on the charge of murder, and hanged as an ordinary criminal towards the end of the year (Nos. 471, 618). Abroad Olivares heard of the death of his former enemy with deep regret (No. 453). In France the news filled Richelieu with delight (No. 416); the only fear of the Queen of Bohemia was that the report might not be true (No. 384). The king felt the loss of this strange friend very acutely. When the news first reached him he was at his devotions. He remained at his prayers, but afterwards betrayed great emotion. For two days he gave way to his grief, remaining shut up in his room and admitting no one (Nos. 351, 385). His affection extended beyond the tomb. He confirmed a number of grants to the Countess of Denbigh, the duke's sister; he paid many visits of condolence to his widow, and he sent to the Marquis of Hamilton in Scotland to come and marry Buckingham's niece, who was promised to him, but whom he detested (No. 505).
The elections for parliament in the spring of 1628 did not hold out much hope to those who trusted that a cordial understanding between king and people would facilitate a better policy abroad. All the counties with one accord rejected candidates who had even a shadow of dependence on the Court. By preference they chose those who had refused to pay the subsidies illegally demanded by the king, who were considered good patriots (Nos. 14, 26). The royal Council was prepared to take a high hand, and if parliament hesitated to make a prompt response to the demand for supplies, to dissolve it and raise money by the royal prerogative (Nos. 14, 15, 26). They were equally prepared to use force to carry this through, and Contarini definitely states that the German cavalry being raised by Dulbier were intended solely for this purpose (No. 169). At the outset matters went much more smoothly than might have been expected. It was supposed that Buckingham had brought parliament to a state of docility by reducing them to such straits that the fear of destruction made them lose sight of every other passion (No. 77). The manœuvres of Buckingham very soon disturbed the apparent harmony. A tactless claim to act as mediator between the king and people aroused general resentment (No. 92). His attempted manipulation of the House of Lords only rendered the opposition more determined and involved the defeat of his own plans (Nos. 118, 143). When the Petition of Right was presented to the king by both Houses of Parliament, Charles asked for time to consider his answer. This alone created suspicion, but the feeling was much intensified when, on the day appointed for the royal reply, Buckingham carried the king off to a country seat and kept him there many hours in familiar private conversation. When the king gave his answer two days later, in an evasive form, the Commons determined to present a remonstrance on the state of the nation, in which the blame for everything was laid upon Buckingham (No. 169). The situation was relieved for a time by the king giving his full assent to the Petition of Right, but still the Commons persisted with their remonstrance. When it was presented to the king, he heard the long document read through and then replied with great brusqueness, saying that he understood more about such matters than they did. He always supposed they knew little about them; but now he realised that they knew nothing at all. Buckingham, who was present, knelt before the king, either to speak or to thank him, but Charles interrupted, gave him his hand and raised him up (No. 208). The subsidies had been voted and the Petition of Right had become law, but the whole incident created a most disagreeable impression. This was only slightly mitigated by the act of the Commons in sending to the king, sealed, a violent libel against him which had been found on the floor of the House (No. 223). Under these circumstances the Houses separated for the recess. The king, by his action, soon showed that he did not mean to reassemble parliament very soon, indeed public business was consistently conducted with a view to dispense with parliament altogether (No. 248).
When Felton's knife struck down Buckingham, there seemed some hope of a better state of affairs, as the people were ready to give the king every satisfaction now the hated favourite had been removed (No. 385). But it soon became apparent that the old standing feeling of mistrust between the king and his people was not eradicated (No. 505). Bitter hostility existed on both sides, indeed Contarini declares that the hatred between the king and the people was so rooted that it could only be eradicated with difficulty (No. 566). Later on he states that the people hate the king and gladly avail themselves of whatever they can to cause him displeasure (No. 777).
Yet when parliament eventually reassembled, Charles felt hopeful of a satisfactory result, though he meant to be firm (No. 708). It was not long, however, before events led up to a crisis. The first difference arose on a comparatively trivial point. The king appointed a day for a general fast to implore the divine assistance. Parliament considered the prerogative of fixing the day properly belonged to them and they objected to the date appointed by the king as being one kept holy by the Catholics (No. 767). On the question of the customs duties being raised, Charles sent to prorogue the House. This led to a violent scene, in which the Speaker was held down in his chair. Thereupon the king decided upon a dissolution. The question was settled after the Council had met several times. Opinion was divided, Weston insisting on force and the course actually followed, while Coventry and several others advised gentle measures (No. 792). This step rendered the Court despondent, the country furious and foreign friends hopeless. Charles himself felt no misgivings. After he had been in state to the Lords to thank them for the satisfaction he had received from them it was observed that he returned in high spirits, as if he had freed himself from the yoke. An oath was administered to all the councillors, enjoining the utmost secrecy about all business in order that the people might be taken by surprise by the measures that might be decided upon and thus have no time to prepare resistance. There was some talk of expelling the Lord Keeper and the Lord Privy Seal from the Court, as they were lawyers and thenceforward the king did not mean to have any law but his own will (No. 805).
At the time of Buckingham's death, Charles announced his intention of undertaking the business of government himself, and hopes were entertained that this might prove very advantageous, at least in foreign affairs (No. 385). But those who entertained such hopes were doomed to bitter disappointment. The king seemed confused and unable to make up his mind, so that it appeared that he must be either incompetent or disinclined for business (No. 505). The direction of affairs passed into the hands of the Lord Treasurer Weston, who soon controlled everything, so that no one dared to oppose him (No. 618). His policy was purely passive; to evade the need for parliament, to cut down expenses in every possible way and consequently to make peace at the earliest possible moment with both France and Spain. His official position forced upon him the urgent need for drastic measures. The king's debts exceeded 30,000,000 florins and the revenues were partly sold and partly pledged to the end of the year 1630 (No. 792). By the most rigid economy he succeeded in collecting a certain amount of money, though this was done chiefly by refusing to make any payments whenever possible. As he seemed likely to succeed to a portion of Buckingham's favour he also inherited a large measure of the duke's unpopularity. A violent attack was made upon him in parliament just before its dissolution (No. 792) and the general odium against him kept constantly increasing (No. 589).
Among miscellaneous items not included in any of the above sections, the following may be mentioned: the untimely fate of the Palatine's eldest son (No. 700); discussion in parliament about forming a West India Company (Nos. 719, 720); talk of suppressing chartered companies and of allowing all to trade freely, as a means of raising revenue, and owing to the opposition of merchants to paying the duties (No. 805); the fondness of the English for currants and the trade in that commodity (Nos. 30, 476, 566, 760); the realisation by Venice that it would not be expedient to exact reprisals for the capture of the Jonas (Nos. 732, 779); the breakdown of the Venetian endeavour to prevent their merchants from hiring English ships (No. 772); the very heavy losses inflicted by the Dunkirk privateers upon English shipping (No. 169); an agreement between the English and the Barbary pirates (No. 566); references to the English type of armed ship (No. 342) and a new light gun (No. 780); and a story of Queen Henrietta Maria illustrating the poverty of the Court and the king's lack of humour (No. 276).