Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 23, 1632-1636. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1921.
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Like its immediate predecessor the present volume shows the great falling off in the amount of material which became noticeable immediately after the conclusion of the peace with France in 1629. Beginning with September 1632 and ending with May 1636 it embraces a period of 45 months in rather less than the usual number of pages. No sources have been drawn upon outside the state archives of the Frari, and with one exception it has not been necessary to go beyond the series usually consulted. This exception consists of some particulars of Edward Courtenay, a Jesuit, who had got into trouble over a pamphlet on the oath of allegiance required from Catholics. These papers are in the series "Miscellanea di Atti Diversi" and in the same case as the documents relating to the Bishop of Chalcedon controversy, described in Appendix 1 of Vol. XX. of this Calendar (Nos. 399-405). They are in English and the handwriting appears to be contemporary, but there is nothing to show how they come to be in the Venetian Archives nor do the despatches from the Venetian ambassadors throw any light on the subject.
The material in general calls for no special comment. The victory of the Allies in the Great War has incidentally led to the redress of an anomaly. The original despatches of the Venetian ambassadors to the Imperial Court (the series Senato Sec. Dispacci Germania) are now available in their legitimate home, to which they have been restored from Vienna, where they were retained at the time when the despatches from the other Courts were returned to Venice. Hitherto a student at Venice has been obliged to rest content with copies the accuracy of which has not always been above suspicion. Before the War, Austrian scholars were engaged in editing and publishing this valuable series, but it is to be feared that prevailing conditions will put a stop to this useful work for a long time to come. Owing to the mission of John Taylor and later of the Earl of Arundel to Vienna these volumes have a special interest for English readers at the time with which this Calendar is now dealing. Of the other series consulted the Dispacci Spagna are in a deplorable state for the whole period, literally falling to pieces from damp and decay, so that it is impossible to handle them. It has consequently been necessary to rely upon a modern official copy, which is necessarily incomplete and often fragmentary, owing to the state of the originals. This is the more to be regretted since from the accessible portions it would seem that the Venetian ambassadors had some light to throw on the rather ambiguous dealings of Charles with the Court of Madrid at the time.
Of the despatches of Anzolo Correr, who arrived in England in October 1634, the Public Record Office possesses copious extracts made by or for Mr. Rawdon Brown. These have been used by the present editor and a careful comparison with the originals shows them to possess a high standard of accuracy. The Record Office also possesses the original register or letter book of Alvice Contarini containing his despatches from the Hague from November 1631 to September 1634. (fn. 1) This is of equal value to the original despatches themselves and the series is important because of the frequent references to English affairs.
The transcripts referred to above have been freely used by Prof. Gardiner for his "History of England," while Prof. Ranke seems to have consulted the despatches from London themselves, if somewhat hurriedly, for his "Englische Geschichte." Yet though the field has thus been worked by these eminent historians, not to speak of others, the present volume will be found to contain a great deal that is new for some four years more than usually full of stirring events. It will naturally be the business of this Preface to draw attention more particularly to this fresh matter, passing over altogether or with a brief mention what has already been made the common property of historical students.
The last volume left Gustavus Adolphus in the full tide of victory in Germany. His success enabled him to take an attitude of independence, and he had convinced himself that nothing was to be expected from England. He refused to commit himself to any promise about the Palatinate, and the English envoy Vane became convinced that Sweden meant to retain all her conquests in that province until the end of the war. (fn. 2) It was evident that Vane could serve no useful purpose by remaining and he was recalled and back in London before the end of the year. Although Curtius was left to follow the king as agent, there was no disguising the fact that Vane's recall amounted to a complete breaking off of the negotiations, and it was consequently looked upon as a victory for the Spanish party (No. 64). Charles was staggered by the disdainful treatment of his proposals by the Swedish king, which was so different from what he had been led to expect (No. 22).
Anstruther, his envoy at the Imperial Court, fared no better. His family made strenuous efforts to have him recalled from a mission that was obviously futile (No. 55). The government seemed unable to make up its mind about him, as he was alternately told to return and then to stay on. The situation was summed up by a leading minister in the remark that with the Austrians England had been unable and with the Swedes unwilling to do what circumstances required for the interests of the Palatine (No. 42). At length Anstruther's importunity to make an oral report to the king on the true state of affairs was successful, and he arrived home in the middle of December, only just escaping orders to remain in Germany which crossed him on the road. He gave such a convincing account to the king in Council of the way in which the Austrians were deceiving him and abusing his patience as to impress even the opposite party and led Charles to exclaim that he would to God he was served thus by all his ministers (No. 103). Towards the end of October 1632 the Marquis of Hamilton returned from Germany with patents from the king of Sweden to raise a force of 12,000 foot. But he brought no money for the purpose and there was no prospect of obtaining any in England, where the professional soldiers openly taxed the Marquis with the responsibility for the destruction of the force he had previously taken out (No. 28). Consequently, before the end of the year England appeared to have withdrawn from all share or participation in the struggle on the continent.
Two events occurred about this time which materially affected the aspect of affairs. Gustavus fell at Lutzen on the 16th November, and 13 days later the Prince Palatine died of the plague at Mainz. Charles seems to have been really grieved at the loss of his brother in law and the forlorn condition of his sister. He at once sent over Nethersole with his condolences and an assurance that the allowance made from England would continue to be paid (No. 75). The ministers suggested to the king that he should invite the princess to come and live in England, and Weston at least hoped that if she came it would be possible to make a considerable saving on her allowance of 20,000l. a year (Nos. 79, 110). The king did not at first take kindly to the idea, (fn. 3) but moved by letters received from his sister he decided to send her a formal invitation by a most stately mission, headed by the Earl of Arundel. Though strongly urged to accept by both Arundel and Anstruther, who went with him, Elizabeth did not wish to leave the Hague, and only hesitated because she feared that she might offend her brother by declining (No. 99). This was the more likely because the king was led by her letters to expect acceptance and preparations for her reception were already in full swing (Nos. 107, 110). In the end she sent by Nethersole, not a definite refusal, but an explanation that under the circumstances she thought it better to defer her visit until a better opportunity (No. 112). Charles accepted the explanation with perfect good temper and assured his sister that his only desire was to give her pleasure (No. 114).
The removal of Gustavus gave Charles a fresh opportunity of effective intervention in the affairs of Germany, and he decided to send at once to the princes of the Swedish party urging them to hold together and to select a commander to take the place of the dead king (No. 68). The instructions to Anstruther went too late to stop him returning, but it was decided to send him back to Germany almost immediately. The king was firmly determined to give all the help in his power (No. 79). As Dutch help and co-operation were considered desirable Anstruther was to accompany Arundel to the Hague and to make proposals to the States. In Germany he was to make much the same suggestions to the princes as Vane had made to Gustavus with such scant success (No. 116). At the Hague Anstruther had very little to offer and he gave the impression that he had come to listen rather than to make proposals (No. 111). His chief suggestion was that the old and childless Duke of Bavaria should be elected king of the Romans, to detach him from the Austrian side for which he had no real love (No. 103). The Dutch, however, were cautious and had no great confidence in the professions of England. They were not disposed to commit themselves in any way unless Charles produced prompt remittances of money and men all ready to supply the assistance he promised (No. 109). The idea about Bavaria struck them as good but they thought it unlikely that the duke would break away from the Austrians, as he was before all things a good Catholic and would scruple to ally himself with the Protestant party, while such a step would expose him to the vengeance of the imperialists (No. 114).
From the Hague Anstruther went on to confer with the Duke of Simmern, brother of the late Prince Palatine, who had undertaken the administration of the Palatinate during the minority of his nephew. The Agent Curtius, on behalf of England, made him ample offers of co-operation and of every kind of assistance, and it was the promises from England that had done more than anything to induce him to accept the responsibility (Nos. 112, 133). After a satisfactory conference with the Administrator Anstruther proceeded straight to the diet of the allied princes at Heilbronn where his chief business was to be transacted. He was convinced that money was the thing most needed from England, that and not men, who were apt to die and go to the bad (no doubt he was thinking of the fate of Hamilton's force). (No. 114). He gave out that he had instructions to offer up to 10,000l. a month, but he must have known how little substance there was behind such an offer, and on his way out he wrote home pressing for a provision of ready money by letters of exchange, as this alone would give him a handle in his negotiations with the princes (Nos. 103, 123). The only response to this appeal was the despatch of 15,000l. sent by Colonel Douglas, who was sent out to inspect the fortresses of the Palatinate together with Colonel Peblitz, and report what was required for their defence and maintenance. It was not intended to send anything beyond this very modest sum, at any rate for the time being (Nos. 161, 166, 167).
With such slender backing Anstruther was called upon to do the best he might. His first task was to arrange for the Duke of Simmern to take over the Palatinate from the Swedes, who held it by right of conquest. The Swedes, very naturally, demanded their war expenses, which were described in England as "ransom money" (No. 160). By the plan suggested the Duke of Simmern was to find the garrisons and everything else required for the defence, the cost being supplied by the monthly subsidy from England (No. 147). It was at length arranged that the whole of the Lower Palatinate held by the Swedes should be handed over to the Administrator with the exception of Mannheim, which they wished to retain. The Swedes were to receive 60,000 thalers in two instalments in discharge of all their claims, one half only being paid down by the duke, probably with the help of the money received from England. The Palatinate was to be made eventually responsible for the payment of this sum, for Anstruther was most careful to see that England should not be committed to anything in any part of the agreement (Nos. 151, 156, 157). There was little prospect that the unfortunate province would be able to meet this obligation, for it was utterly wasted, the Swedes having done more harm there in one year than the Spaniards did in ten (No. 168).
Besides this special transaction Anstruther urged upon the allies the necessity of union in the common cause, holding out the hope that when the Palatinate was restored England would supply them with money (No. 148). Fears were entertained that the Electors of Saxony and Brandenburg might be induced to break away and make a separate peace with the emperor, a misgiving that increased as time went on. Accordingly from the assembly at Heilbronn Anstruther was sent with special instructions to John George of Saxony to make the strongest representations and to urge that if any accomodation should be made it must be one that would restore Germany to the condition it was in before the outbreak of the war (No. 182).
Some anxiety was felt in England at certain advances made by Denmark to the imperialists with a view to mediating a peace, since it was feared that he was actuated by purely selfish motives, though there was the reassuring thought that so near a relative would not make any arrangements without considering the interests of the Princess Palatine and her children (Nos. 133, 149). At the same time, if peace was to be made, England wished to have a share in it (No. 186). So the peripatetic ambassador was given yet another mission, and after a visit of condolence to the widowed Queen of Sweden at Wolgast Anstruther proceeded to Holstein to confer with King Christian. But that monarch considered that he had already burned his fingers sufficiently over the Palatine business at the instigation of England. He had an outstanding grievance over the money which he claimed had been promised him for his efforts in that cause, and which had never been paid, as well as for sums advanced which had never been returned (No. 202). Accordingly nothing satisfactory could be arranged, although Anstruther remained at Hamburg for some months making frequent visits from that place to Gluckstadt for the purpose of negotiating some settlement of the outstanding differences with Denmark (No. 231).
Meanwhile events in the south were exposing the hollowness of the arrangements made for the Palatinate unsupported by anything solid behind them. In July 1633 the Spanish Agent Necolalde informed Cottington that the Duke of Feria was about to lead a Spanish army from the Milanese into Germany, to make a determined effort to drive out the Swedes and to open the way to Flanders (No. 177). English ministers took comfort in reflecting on the difficulties in the way of this enterprise, though they realised that should Feria succeeed in overcoming these obstacles the fortresses in the hands of the Duke of Simmern might not be secure against attack (No. 191). Unhappily for these comfortable reflections the threat speedily materialised in a formidable manner for Feria successfully crossed the Alps and effected a junction with Aldringher, the imperialist commander operating on the Upper Rhine, while the Regent Isabella in Flanders was preparing a force to join hands with them (No. 223). The Dutch themselves took alarm and joined with the Princess Palatine and her Agent Dinley in representing to England the perils of the situation and the need of prompt measures to meet it. Finally the Agent Curtius arrived from the Administrator. In special audience of the Council he represented how the arrival of Feria had changed the situation, that the fortresses of the Lower Palatinate were without garrisons and the country destitute of troops, and entirely at the mercy of any one who wanted to take it. It was estimated that 6000 foot and 1000 horse might suffice to defend it, involving an immediate outlay of 20,000l. and a monthly provision of rather more than 6000l. It was utterly impossible to hold what had been won back from the enemy without some assistance from England. The Dutch minister was not very hopeful of any favourable result from this appeal, but the king was undoubtedly impressed and it was observed that Weston was making a special effort to raise a large sum and was trying to induce the farmers of the customs to pay for three years in advance (No. 226). But relief had already come. By the brilliant capture of Ratisbon Duke Bernard of Saxe Weimar successfully checkmated Feria, who found himself thereby condemned to inaction, while his army thenceforward wasted away. The English government gratefully seized upon the excuse for doing nothing, believing that the advantage of the imperialists had practically disappeared and that the parties in Germany were fairly well balanced (No. 233). Thus in spite of repeated representations from Curtius and Dinley supported by the ministers of France and Holland and Venice, nothing could be obtained from the English ministry but fair words and evasions, convincing all of them that the only desire was to procrastinate without actually breaking off negotiations, and so avoid the unpleasant necessity of finding large sums of money (Nos. 245, 258).
These demands for assistance were presently reinforced by the appearance on the scene of John Oxenstierna, son of the Swedish chancellor, who came as the envoy of Sweden and of the allied princes assembled at Frankfort. He had been in England a year before but in a private capacity. The Court had then entertained him magnificently and did their best to impress him with all that they intended to do for the common cause in Germany. In spite of this he came away with the impression that while England was lavish in promises she was slow in performance (No. 135). This time he felt more sanguine because his requests were so just and reasonable (No. 263). He came to ask support for the common cause and for permission to raise a force of 10,000 men. For the latter purpose he brought with him Sir Patrick Ruthven, destined to become commander in chief of the royal forces in the civil war, and remittances for 150,000 crowns. The money was supplied by the allied princes of Germany, though with some reluctance, as the men could not reach Germany before the end of the summer and it was feared that they would then in all probability be sent against the Poles (No. 272).
Arrived in England Oxenstierna prosecuted his negotiations with great energy, but with no better success than the other ministers. He found himself constantly put off on one pretext or another and was finally refused, not only the money, which he had hardly expected, but the levies also, on which he had counted with confidence. He was told quite frankly that money was out of the question for reasons commonly known, while owing to the numerous drafts in recent years for different parts of the continent, the country had been denuded of men, and it had been considered necessary to issue a proclamation forbidding the granting of levies to any one soever. It was necessary to consider the requirements of home defence, especially when neighbouring powers were fully armed (No. 293).
Oxenstierna had pressed his case in the conviction that what he could not obtain at the moment it would be utterly hopeless to expect from England at any other time (No. 284). Such a refusal he could only interpret as a complete abandonment of the common cause. He determined to waste no more time on a fruitless mission. At a ceremonial leave taking and before a crowded Court he spoke for half an hour in polished Latin. He spoke in a loud voice so as to be heard by all the bystanders, towards whom he repeatedly turned his head. Recapitulating his negotiations he said he had been sent on a matter that concerned the dignity of the English crown as well as the public good. The English ministers had, always assured him of their sovereign's good will. He had been asked to obtain a categorical declaration and the postponement of this under various pretexts had been interpreted by his superiors as an open refusal. He had performed his duty though neither his representations nor the lamentable case of the king's sister and nephews had served to move this realm, at one of the most favourable opportunities, to support the party in Germany who were so sympathetic in religion and in everything else. The aged Coke began to make a reply, also in Latin, but stumbled badly, although corrected more than once by the king in English. So the king himself took up the tale from the beginning, using the French language. He spoke in a very low voice, but was understood to say that the only reason for delay was the incompleteness of the envoy's powers, and that Anstruther would arrange everything satisfactorily at Frankfort (No. 309). Such a lame conclusion naturally made no impression on the convictions of the disappointed minister who thenceforward gave up all hope of help from England. Oxenstierna attributed his failure to Spanish influence and suspected secret intrigues with the Court of Madrid (No. 289). He showed his resentment by firmly refusing to accept the present sent to him by the king (No. 312).
It was under such auspices that Anstruther arrived at the diet of Frankfort in the summer of 1634. The reports sent by Oxenstierna had excited deep feeling there. The princes were scandalised by England's neglect and some suggested the abandonment of the Palatinate, seeing that England cared nothing about it (No. 306). Anstruther thus found himself utterly discredited, especially as the hopes of pecuniary assistance held out at Heilbronn had never materialised, and the princes had never received a penny of the very modest sum promised for the maintenance of the garrison. They said openly that they had made their last trial of what England would do (No. 324). The return of Oxenstierna only made matters worse for him (No. 352). His efforts to convince the princes of the good intentions of his master failed to make an impression (No. 385), and seeing that his further stay was manifestly useless, it was determined to recall him (No. 392). The failure of Oxenstierna's mission marks a definite turning point, the princes realised that it was to France they must look for the foreign assistance they required, and England once again slips into the background.
While the influence of England on the continent was thus dwindling, Richlieu was gradually preparing the way for the predominant role which he designed that France should play, and to secure his own ascendency. Before the way was quite clear for a spirited policy abroad he had to deal at home with a troublesome opposition from the malcontents who grouped themselves behind the queen mother and Monsieur; but the rising in the south west was crushed by a skirmish in which Montmorency, the most formidable of his opponents, was taken, and Monsieur fled to join his mother in Flanders. In England the sympathies of the queen were with her mother and younger brother and against the Cardinal, while the ministers, who looked askance on the negotiations proceeding between the French and the Swedes over Germany, did not wish to see France too strong and were inclined to regret the complete defeat of the insurgents, fearing that the French might get a footing in the Palatine's dominions (No. 98). The Ambassador Fontenay was aware of this feeling and was somewhat anxious lest the queen mother and Gaston should come to seek asylum in England. He took courage from his knowledge that the Court by no means viewed such a prospect with satisfaction, because of the expense it would involve (No. 79) and also because they desired French co-operation in the interests of the Palatine (No. 117). Jerome Weston, who was in Paris at this time, was instructed to offer a definite alliance and a money contribution in lieu of troops for the reinstatement of the Palatine (No. 133). But England had little hope that France would do anything effective, more especially as Feuquires, the French ambassador to the German princes, refused to recognise the status of the ministers of the Duke of Simmern at the diet of Heilbronn (No. 147). So it is not surprising that the offer came to nothing, and when Fontenay left in June 1633 no successor came to take his place. Richelieu probably felt in no hurry to send a minister to a Court which was so unsympathetic to himself personally. The pretext given was a trifling matter of punctilio, that as Anstruther, the ambassador designate, did not come from England, for he was otherwise engaged in Germany, France could not send Guron, who had been selected to go to England.
Meanwhile English ministers observed with concern the complete reduction of the princes of Lorraine to subservience and the indications of the determination of France to gain control of Alsace. So in October 1633 one Boutard was sent over to explain the policy adopted towards Lorraine, to induce England to do something for the common cause and to do his best to counteract the influence of the Spaniards (No. 212). Boutard arrived only just in time to prevent congratulations being sent to the Duke of Orleans on his marriage with Princess Margaret of Lorraine. He represented that this would amount to the approval of an act which France was resolved to regard as null and void (No. 206). For the rest Boutard did not prosper with his negotiations. He was mystified at the action of the ministers, who kept raising difficulties about a co-operation for which they were supposed to be anxious (No. 240). They made no reply to his written proposals, and it was quite clear that nothing was to be expected from them ; they were only trying to gain time without any intention of doing anything eventually. He had instructions to return if he found that success was impossible, and accordingly he departed after a stay of a few weeks (No. 253). Before he went he mortally offended the queen by too warm a defence of the late Ambassador Fontenay, to such an extent that she wrote to the king, her brother, to complain of him (No. 245).
Thus diplomatic relations were again suspended between France and England for some months. Meanwhile Richelieu's plans were maturing. The English Court looked with considerable jealousy on the negotiations of the French minister Charnass at the Hague, which were expected to result in an alliance, and much resented the reticence of the Dutch ministers on the subject (No. 265). By April 1634 a formal agreement had been reached of which the Dutch ministers informed Charles at a special and very long audience, making great efforts to remove his suspicion that there was some article prejudicial to the interests of England (No. 289). In his dealings with England Richelieu seems to have relied on the character of Weston, who was indeed reported to be in French pay, owing to the well known pacific character of his policy (No. 459). But at this particular moment his influence was known to be seriously shaken and fears were entertained that if he were removed England might wake from her torpor and take an active part in German affairs, which would by no means suit French plans (Nos. 299, 300). It was at this very moment that the indifference of England was driving the allied princes into the arms of France. The Duke of Simmern, who had broken off negotiations with the French in the hope that Oxenstierna might induce England to act, resumed them on hearing of the failure of that mission, to put the Palatinate under their protection, in order that the province, which was utterly defenceless, might not fall a prey to its enemies. The princes at Frankfort began seriously to consider handing over Philipsburg to France, the key to the Palatinate, as the price of her assistance (No. 306), a transfer that was eventually effected, and caused great concern in England. The Princess Palatine, who had declared that she would rather the imperialists had Philipsburg than the French (No. 236), found herself writing to her brother a few weeks later to justify the duke's action (No. 259) and before the year was out she herself was co-operating to place the Palatinate under French protection and to deliver to them the fortress of Mannheim (No. 386).
It was under these circumstances that Richelieu decided to waive punctilio and send the Marquis of Pougny as ambassador to England. In the agreement with Holland there was an article providing that England should be asked to join the alliance. This was a point to which the Dutch attached importance, and the Dutch ambassador kept urging Pougny, after his arrival, to unite with him in making the proposal. Pougny showed no alacrity in responding, and it was not until he had been in England two months that he received definite instructions to make overtures to the king about a better understanding with the Dutch and to propose an alliance between the three powers for the common benefit (No. 352). When, after some difficulty he succeeded in getting hold of the king, Charles raised various objections and asked that the proposals should be made to him in writing (No. 367). This was obviously merely a put off, but Pougny lost no time in sending to France for the necessary instructions. No notice was taken of this at Paris for four months and it was not until January 1635, and after much pressure, that instructions reached Pougny to renew his proposals and to leave them with the king in writing (No. 414). Clearly France was not very deeply in earnest about the alliance. Yet in the following March they sent over Senneterre to reinforce Pougny. The new arrival seemed sanguine of success, telling Correr that from what he had been able to gather from the king's own lips he did not consider the affair so hopeless as it had been represented to him, though in a short time, after he had been repeatedly put off on one pretext or another, his hopes speedily began to fade (No. 473). Actually France realised that she could not get much out of England, with things as they were, and she would be content if she could succeed in preventing the Spaniards from receiving any advantage from her (No. 352).
That England was conducting some sort of negotiations with Spain was fairly generally known. In August 1632 Alessandro Rota, a Capuchin, was sent to Spain by Necolalde, the Spanish Agent in England (No. 34). There is no record of his business there, but as he proceeded shortly after to Vienna to advocate an alliance between the House of Austria and England (No. 90), it is not unlikely that his visit to Madrid was for a similar purpose. In the spring of 1634 there was a whisper in London that instructions had been sent to Hopton at Madrid to make advances for more friendly relations between the two crowns (No. 281). Shortly afterwards the Venetian ambassador at Madrid wrote to his colleague in France that Hopton was busy over an alliance between Spain, England and Savoy (No. 286). Not long after Buwinckhausen, a former envoy of the princes, wrote from Germany to a fellow countryman, a familiar of Coke, to ask if there was any truth in the reports spread by the Spaniards of such an alliance (No. 306). The alliance was discussed in the plazas of Madrid (No. 283) and a few months later the English were looked upon as an allied nation and applauded in the playhouses (No. 357). When the Cardinal Infant made his state entry into Brussels towards the end of the year, the English Agent Gerbier distinguished himself by the exuberance of his demonstrations (No. 378). Charles had actually drawn up articles for an alliance in conjunction with Necolalde. (fn. 4) It interesting to note that at this very moment the astute Spanish minister was supposed to be in disgrace at Court because he had expressed with too much vivacity his resentment at a judgment over the matter of a ship, in dispute with the Dutch, and that John Taylor was sent to Spain to obtain his recall in consequence (No. 370). It was not until a much later date that the Venetian Ambassador discovered that this apparent retirement from Court was only a cloak and that Necolalde was in the habit of going incognito at night to Windebank's house to hold lengthy conferences, although by day he never went out and never saw a minister (No. 489). Negotiations dragged on for several months ; probably neither side was very sincere. England claimed the restoration of the Palatinate and free trade in the Indies, if they helped towards the recovery of Brazil, a point the Spaniards would never concede. The Austrians desired a defensive and offensive alliance while Charles did not wish to go beyond the former. There was also talk of a marriage between the Infant Baltasar and the Princess Mary, though no one seriously believed in it. When the nuncio remonstrated with Olivares about these negotiations with heretics the Count Duke replied with a smile that he did not yet know what would happen about the alliance but his Holiness might rest assured that the king would do nothing unworthy of his predecessors (No. 455). Both the English and the Spaniards took delight in making the most of these negotiations in order to excite the apprehensions of the French (Nos. 357, 382).
Amid all these outward fluctuations the main policy of England was directed to preserving a strict neutrality and thereby avoid adventure and expense. With all the continent at war it might be possible to draw profit from the troubles of her neighbours and to induce others to do the work and sustain the burdens which she might naturally be expected to undertake, in a cause that touched the English dynasty so nearly. It was not a very glorious or heroic policy, though it was all that was possible on a limited revenue unless foreign affairs were to be abandoned altogether. For any measure of success it depended on maintaining the island kingdom safe from attack and in taking care that no one of the contending parties should gain an overwhelming preponderance over the rest. It was therefore essential for England to make sure that the equilibrium was maintained. Early in 1635 the doctrine was freely canvassed that excessive power of either of the two crowns ought to be equally suspect to England. The principles of good government taught them to keep the forces of their neighbours as nearly balanced as possible and not to give encouragement to the more powerful. The country had always been governed on such principles (No. 422). The doctrine of neutrality was expounded by Charles himself to the Dutch ambassador Joachimi somewhat earlier : he was resolved to live at peace with everyone and to keep himself a general friend. He did not wish to be more partial to one side than to the other. He did not want the House of Austria to advance to excessive power ; but neither was the increase and too evident aggrandisement of France a thing to desire (No. 364). There were ministers who openly proclaimed the advantage of standing aside as mere spectators of the misfortunes of others and so to enjoy peacefully that blessedness which God had chosen to grant to their country amid such universal calamities (No. 534).
There were unquestionable advantages in the attitude, contemptible as it might seem. Much trade that had formerly gone to the belligerents was diverted to England, with profit in every way (No. 588). Secure from trouble and without any effort on their part the English received the respect and esteem of all the nations much more easily than they would if the nations were not in difficulties or if they themselves had sided openly with one of the parties (No. 500). Moreover, in spite of the lethargy which seemed to hold the country in its grip there was always the possibility that it might come suddenly to life, when its weight might easily decide the contest in favour of the party whose side it took. This was a contingency that must ever have been in the minds of the belligerents. "England is a woman" wrote the Ambassador Michiel from the Hague, "who at the present moment finds herself in great request with the Austrians and French, who court and flatter her, while she is watched with great jealousy by the States here, who are trying to win her friendship by means of presents and by patience" (No. 559).
The steady progress of France was very disturbing to this complacent mood. The reduction of the Lorraine princes, so nearly allied in blood, the advance towards the Rhine, the assumption of the role of protector to the allied German princes, above all the secret negotiations with the Dutch, with the menace implied to the neighbouring coast of Flanders, aroused apprehension and violent animosity in England. The French, Dutch, Swedes, Venetians, the Prince of Orange and the Princess Palatine herself attributed these feelings to Spanish influences. But this impression was only true in part. It found emphatic expression in Sir John Coke, the one man of the inner circle least open to the suspicion of being Hispanophile. The Cardinal is the finest intellect in Europe, he told Gussoni. His ideas for the aggrandisement of his king are greater in reality than appearance, though the appearance is great enough (No. 261). On other occasions he remarked that France was marching with great strides to a strong ascendency (No. 281); France was advancing too audaciously to excessive power. The French were naturally ardent and would not rest content with little. He believed they wished, by turning everything upside down, without drawing the sword, to make the dominion of the world fall into their arms (No. 388). The reports of the negotiations of Feuquires in Germany excited exasperation and his demand that the Palatine's claims to the Electorate should be conceded to the French king created a sensation. Satisfaction at the recovery of Heidelberg was dashed by the thought that it was a French success (No. 407). Early in 1635 the king in addressing the Council said : The arms of France have Fortune too much in their favour. I do not see how it can be a good thing to afford them encouragement. Some balance is not a bad thing for powers which advance excessively (No. 424). In Switzerland Fleming declared that the king wished to form a coalition of all the neutral powers to enable him to counteract France, whose progress should fill every one with alarm, and to try and check the course of their brilliant successes whereby the French king was aiming at making himself dictator and to attain to universal sovereignty (No. 406). At the Hague the Princess Palatine hinted at the possibility of an alliance with Austria for the recovery of the dominions of the Duke of Lorraine (No. 397).
This feeling which had kept gathering head was checked to some extent by the series of successes which now fell to the Austrian arms; beginning with the victory of Nordlingen. An appeal from the Palatinate for assistance against the conquering arm of the king of Hungary stirred some spark of generous feeling in the king, but when some of the Council were consulted they all told him that these affairs had nothing to do with England. They ought to consider it a piece of good fortune that they had not pledged themselves in the past and consequently that they were not at present bound to make any open demonstrations. It would be very unfortunate in his Majesty's present difficulties as the Palatine's interests could only be upheld by large forces and his Majesty was in no position to prepare them. At the same time they anticipated, with great vexation that France would profit out of the misfortunes of the Swedes (No. 360). The surprise of Philipsburg in January 1635 made a great impression on the king and the repeated successes of the Austrians excited increasing alarm in England, because of the threat to the Palatine's dominions, yet the unpleasant subject was pushed aside and the efforts of the foreign ministers to get something done only met with evasion (Nos. 426, 429).
At the beginning of May this stolidity received a rude shock. France was ready at last and had decided on war with Spain. The ambassadors were notified on the 2nd and went at once to inform the king and to ask for his support now that the balance could no longer be maintained. Charles replied formally, wishing his brother in law every success and asked for a few days to consider his answer. Joachimi who saw him soon after found him strangely discomposed, though he did not then know the reason (No. 475). The Franco Dutch designs against the Spanish Netherlands had been known to Charles in January and only three days after the ambassador's communication the king had in his hands the actual plans for the partition of Flanders. (fn. 5) Thereafter the Council was in constant session discussing what steps should be taken to meet the situation. They felt that the aims of the French and Dutch must be closely watched with a very jealous eye, and their successes must be a matter for regret, as likely to aggrandise the only powers which could disturb the peace of the kingdom. The most steadfast advocates of neutrality changed their tune, feeling that circumstances had altered, and that the French must not be allowed to make themselves masters of Dunkirk or the coast thereabouts, because of trade and other more important considerations. To meet the emergency it was proposed to arm 40 more ships, and orders were issued to send 10,000 men to garrison the sea ports. 400 recruits, drafts for the English regiments in Holland, were stopped at the coast, though all ready to embark (No. 477).
The French ambassadors, had not expected such a consequence of their announcement, and found all their work destroyed at a blow. They did their utmost to convince the king and ministers of the disinterestedness of their master's aims, but without much avail. Measures for defence were still pushed forward. A general census was instituted of all men of military age, between 16 and 60, musters were called out and the gentry were summoned to assemble near London, on horseback, at the beginning of July (Nos. 491, 499). An envoy from the Cardinal Infant played upon these fears, representing the peril of the Flanders coast, from the joint fleets of the French and Dutch, and how important it was for England to prevent any attempts there on the part of the French (No. 504). Correr suggests that the whole agitation was promoted by the Spaniards in their own interests, and was supported by the ministers in order to raise money. But English sensitiveness about that strip of coast was nothing new and needed no outside stimulus, while the measures taken were more likely to lead to the spending of more money than the king could expect to raise on such pretexts.
It seemed as if the Spanish Netherlands could not possibly hold out against the combined attack. Reports of successes gained by the Franco Dutch allies against the Spaniards only served to fan the excitement. After congratulating Pougny on the victory at Avein Charles bluntly asked him : What do you Frenchmen propose? To ruin the world by kindling a conflict in so many quarters? (No. 487). Correr declares that the anti French agitation was so intense that if those who fomented it had had to deal with a nature less pacific than the king's they would have induced him to take violent measures (No. 504). The extreme tension of feeling was shown by reports in France of an English landing at Oleron, and in England of an engagement with the French fleet (Nos. 509, 495). The king did not desire a conflict with France and realised the danger. After the alarm caused by the latter report, the English Admiral Lindsey received orders to keep out of the way of the French fleet (No. 497).
While the current was running thus strongly against France there arrived the news of the peace of Prague between the emperor and Saxony. One of the articles declared that the electoral dignity and lands of the late Prince Palatine were forfeit. It was therefore at once an affront and a challenge to Charles. The Princess Palatine wrote to him despairingly, begging him to consider the wretched state of her House (No. 513). The French ambassadors promptly seized upon the opportunity to urge the king to show his resentment effectively while the Resident of Savoy offered sympathy and help in a manner too effusive to be altogether palatable (Nos. 526, 534, 536). In a Council meeting held on the 5th August Charles spoke affectionately of his nephews and his obligation to look after their interests. The blood relationship obliged him to support their House. His reputation was affected if he permitted the Austrians to break the promises and assurances so often repeated, by declaring that the Palatine is perpetually excluded from his rights.
In response to these representations the councillors expressed the opinion that the forces of the country were all required for its defence at the moment, though they admitted that something must be done at once. The only way open seemed to be by way of diplomatic representations. The unlucky issue of Anstruther's negotiations rendered a conspicuous embassy unadvisable, and so it would be better to send a simple gentleman to make remonstrance to the emperor. John Taylor was selected for this mission, with instructions to start at once and to demand the revocation of the obnoxious articles, threatening otherwise that the king would take steps to right himself. Charles consented to this measure with some reluctance, for he probably perceived that it would only serve to give the imperialists time to consolidate their position. He expressed emphatically his determination, if this effort did not prove successful, to employ all those means which reason or necessity showed to be most proper. Brave words, which the king's natural indolence rendered unlikely of fulfilment (Nos. 524, 530). The ministers considered that the mission was enough by itself, and that they might safely leave France to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, as the French were too deeply committed to draw back (No. 536).
Meanwhile Flanders had developed unexpected powers of resistance. The French and Dutch found themselves unable to overrun it as they had expected, and by the surprise and loss of Schenkenshantz their whole plan of campaign was thrown out of gear. These circumstances combined did much to damp the ardour of the ministers against the French and rendered them more disposed to listen to the proposals of their ambassadors (Nos. 524, 526). Yet popular feeling against the French was always ready to break into flame at the slightest provocation, and the French treatment of English ships, particularly two, the Isaacand the Pearl, in which they were accused of gross barbarity, roused the people to fury (Nos. 534, 555). In London, the Venetian ambassador's servants, being taken for Frenchmen, were set upon by the populace, and a fatal riot ensued (No. 526), while a dead cat, covered with filth, was thrown into the carriage of the Ambassador Pougny near the queen's palace (No. 534). Quarrels about ships and merchants cropped up in swarms almost daily and the situation threatened to end in disaster (No. 600).
At this crisis the situation was relieved by the unexpected arrival of the Palatine. The young prince was on the eve of his majority, of 18 years, and came over to please his mother, against the advice of the Prince of Orange, to solicit in person his uncle's help to recover his inheritance (No. 638). He informed the king by the same despatch of his wish to come and of his departure. Charles was not too well pleased at this fashion of doing things, though he seemed glad at the prospect of seeing his nephew (No. 560). He sent to warn him, however, not to bring too many attendants, ostensibly on account of the plague (No. 568). The prince landed at Dover on the 1st December, but the start was not very auspicious, for in firing the salute the gunners, to show their skill (!), used shotted guns and contrived to hit the prince's ship, killing five persons, including two who were standing by him (No. 576). When the prince reached London it seemed as if the king could not do enough for him, keeping him near his person and treating him with the utmost familiarity and affection (No. 579). The Court had never been so thronged. Comedies festivities, and balls were the order of the day and the greatest lords vied with each other in entertaining the prince at sumptuous banquets (No. 581). Indeed so lavish was the entertainment that the prince fell ill of a slight fever caused by the excessive hospitality (No. 594).
Yet amid all this show and excitement the prince felt that his cause was not advancing one whit. The French ambassadors aroused some resentment by refusing to give him the title of "Electoral Highness," thus affording Necolalde an opportunity to create a mild sensation by reappearing at Court and giving it out, ore rotundo, it is supposed at the suggestion of Windebank (No. 581). But nothing was done to any purpose and the prince grew restless and melancholy, began to wish he had never come and threatened to leave (No. 588). Ministers were opposed to any serious effort being made on his behalf. His affairs were considered a dynastic rather than a national interest. England was only concerned on the point of honour, and if the matter was settled in any tolerable way she would not trouble about it any more. One of the ministers did not scruple to tell the prince as much, advising him to do his best to get the suggested exchange of Lorraine against the Palatinate accepted. Accordingly the prince broached the subject to the French ambassadors but naturally did not receive much encouragement from them for such a one sided proposal (Nos. 594, 596).
The reports that came from Vienna were not calculated to raise his spirits either. When Taylor arrived at the imperial Court the emperor showed no alacrity to see him, on the plea that he wished first to consult the Duke of Bavaria (No. 573). When Taylor at length obtained audience he intimated that the Palatines would be satisfied with something less than complete restitution, but that his king would not suffer their complete deprivation. The emperor replied that it did not depend upon him but was a question for the empire, promising to say more when he returned to Vienna (No. 577). At a second audience the emperor said he must have the demands in writing. Taylor demurred saying he had no instructions for this. The emperor insisted, whereupon Taylor, greatly moved, broke in with ; "eo sumus tempore quo mundum non calamo sed gladio regitur," and with that took his leave. So great a show of determination alarmed the emperor and his ministers and they decided to appoint commissioners to treat with the envoy. These similarly asked for a written statement; but instead of another outburst, Taylor mildly intimated that the Lower Palatinate only should be restored and added that if they gave the Upper Palatinate as well he would undertake to induce his master to make an offensive and defensive alliance with the House of Austria. Such a rapid transition naturally convinced the ministers that there was nothing which need cause them alarm, and they set to work to devote their energies to dragging out the negotiations as much as possible. When Taylor called upon the Spanish ambassador subsequently, and enlarged upon the might of his sovereign, Onate merely smiled at his tirades (No. 591). Taylor had no real backing for a mission of such consequence. In England the ministers would never admit that he had powers to engage in any particular negotiations. They raised their eyebrows and said he had only gone to ask the emperor whether the declaration in the treaty of Prague represented his final determination about the Palatine (No. 619). At Vienna the imperialists, accepting a suggestion of Onate, who was actually the directing mind at that Court, decided to send an envoy to negotiate direct with the king in England, a decision which utterly dismayed Taylor, as it took the business out of his hands altogether (No. 601). He kept himself in countenance by going to the emperor soon afterwards and suggesting, on his own account, the advisability of sending a special embassy to London (No. 615).
Meanwhile Charles had written with his own hand to the emperor asking him to restore to the Palatine that which belonged to him by birth, and not to force England to contemplate measures which he did not desire to take (No. 588). Such a missive was not likely to make much impression, especially when it was followed soon after by instructions to the ambassador in Spain to express to Philip the king's gratification at the manner in which the emperor and the Catholic king were dealing with the affairs of the Palatine family (No. 620).
The young prince Palatine grew sad and weary with all this elaborate trifling. To satisfy him the Council met three times in the king's presence when the pros and cons of the case were elaborately discussed. But in the end the invariable decision was to wait and see, and to seize any opportunity that might turn up. Actually they only wished to keep the prince quiet by the appearance of doing something, whereas they considered that the prudent course was to sit fast and to avoid a policy of adventure. The prince saw through their manoeuvres and complained that he was not being treated straightforwardly (No. 619). At length in despair he made a special appeal to his uncle showing that the Spaniards were only trying to spin matters out. In response to this the Council met once again and this time decided to send the Earl of Arundel on a special, mission to the emperor to obtain a definite reply. At first this measure raised the prince's hopes and he went at once to thank his uncle, who received him with tender affection. But on learning subsequently that this decision had been taken by Arundel's own advice he broke out into a violent tirade against the earl. He said that Arundel had got the affair into his own hands so as to keep up the habitual irresolution and thus satisfy his own private sympathies, which were always guided by the interests of his own house in particular, and that as a general rule he avoided anything that would serve or please the great (Nos. 631, 634).
The Princess Palatine who shortly before had felt perfectly certain that her son would leave content and that the king would hazard his own kingdom to re-establish his nephew (No. 629) was reduced to absolute despair. She told Michiel that Arundel had always shown himself a Spanish partisan. She perceived that the Austrians would certainly beguile her brother. She felt strongly that if under the existing conditions, with all the world at war, she did not recover her dominions it was useless to think about it any more (No. 636).
Arundel however, loudly protested his devotion to the Palatine's interests, and took his mission seriously. He was probably anxious to succeed, as his reputation was at stake and moreover he hoped to obtain as a reward the title of Duke of Norfolk, anciently enjoyed by his ancestors (No. 653). Before leaving he told Correr in great confidence that his commissions only contained generalities, but he had secret orders from the king and powers not only to enter into negotiations but to conclude what he considered to be for the service of the Palatine and the honour of the crown. The king was resolved to get at the emperor's real intentions about his nephews and then to make demands, reducing them subsequently to fair limits. He would insist on the restitution of the Lower Palatinate and on the death of Bavaria he would treat about the rest, giving an efectoral vote for the Upper Palatinate. As the restitution of the Lower Palatinate did not depend entirely on the emperor, the king meant to propose a general peace, under the cover of which the Palatine might be able to enjoy quiet possession of his dominions, while England would be relieved of all obligations (No. 635). Accordingly the hopes centered on this mission depended entirely on the measure of success that might attend this proposal for a general peace. It was pleasant hearing for the Spaniards, giving them solid grounds for believing that they had no cause to fear molestation from England (No. 638).
A fortnight after Arundel's departure Clement Radolti, the imperial envoy, reached London. He was the second choice for the position, the original selection, Werdtmann having been passed over because of his dilatoriness in making a start. By his instructions Radolti was to offer an establishment for the Palatine family on condition that they humbled themselves and appealed to the emperor's clemency. The question of the electoral vote could not be discussed because of the terms of the treaty of Prague. At the same time the Austrians were anxious not to give offence to England and if there was any chance of an alliance on honourable conditions, Radolti was to embrace it (No. 627). His first instinct on reaching London seems to have been to hide, and even Necolalde had the utmost difficulty in inducing him to accept his hospitality. After a week's seclusion he emerged from retirement but from the manner in which he went about his business he convinced everyone that his main object was merely to gain time. He indulged in vague generalities about the desirability of peace, but carefully abstained from any reference to the Palatine House. When the king asked him straight out what was his particular business he only replied with a confused rigmarole of the same tenor and intimated that he had nothing more to explain. Charles was greatly annoyed and the Palatine, who was present, remarked openly that this was one of the usual tricks of the Austrians and they would go on playing them until they were compelled to do something proper by force (No. 662). Radolti allowed the king to leave London for his country sojourn without seeing him again or explaining to the ministers what he had come to negotiate. He did go, however, to pay a ceremonial visit to the queen, when he made a speech in Latin lasting an hour and a half, of which she did not understand a word, and which the secretary was unable to interpret to her. It served at least as a good joke among the ladies at Court for the rest of the day (No. 668).
During these transactions the French proposals for an alliance made no progress of any kind. The ambassadors were always ready to renew them with every fresh opportunity that presented itself. But there was no real confidence on either side. Senneterre suffered the strange disability of being considered too clever, because the ministers and the king as well were always suspicious and fearful that his subtlety would induce them to take some step they did not wish to (No. 596). In response to the sending of the French ministers Scudamore had been appointed ambassador some months before. His only contribution to the solution of the difficulty was to put forward the suggestion for the exchange of Lorraine against the Palatinate, a proposal which was firmly and promptly rejected as was only to be expected. For the rest his behaviour gave only too much colour to the belief that he had been sent on purpose to augment the differences between the two countries (No. 555). In England Correr declares that the ministers obstructed the negotiations out of pure animosity against the French nation (No. 624). Considerable surprise was therefore felt at the sudden nomination of the Earl of Leicester on the 9th April 1636, to go as ambassador extraordinary to France, since it was not clear what useful purpose he could serve. It appears, however, that it was really a pendant to Arundel's mission, of which he was to inform the French Court, assuring them that if the emperor did not speedily make up his mind to concede what was asked of him England would lose no time in taking the most vigorous action, and to intimate, though not to state explicitly, that this would mean a union with France in the closest bonds of alliance that could be desired (No. 653).
When this offer, conditional and guarded though it was, appeared to give some hope of the realisation of the desires of France, the whole horizon was suddenly clouded over by an untoward incident. The Miniken, a ketch of the royal navy bringing mails from Dunkirk, was seized by the French and taken into Calais after a sharp encounter. The governor there at once released it and sent the letter bags to Dover, but neither this nor the explanations of the ambassadors sufficed to mollify the king, who was furious and breathed nothing but vengeance. He declared that if he did not receive a disclaimer from the French king in person he would give orders to his fleet to fight any French ships they might meet with (No. 654). The French fleet had already been sent to the Mediterranean, to avoid the possibility of a conflict, but the ambassadors thought it advisable to warn the governor of Calais not to allow any ships to put to sea until the matter had blown over (No. 658). The danger of a conflict was thus avoided and the principal consequence of the affair was an order to ships of the royal navy to escort to Dunkirk a very large amount of money that came from Spain, while the ministers announced that they would continue the practice, in spite of the expostulations of the ambassadors (No. 663).
The projected marriage between the King of Poland and Elizabeth, eldest daughter of the Princess Palatine, has been dealt with at some length by Mrs. Green, with her usual diligence in utilising unpublished materials. (fn. 6) These papers contain further particulars of interest which throw some further light on the subject. The ambassador Michiel paints a pleasing portrait of the lady. She is very well made. Her complexion is not entirely white but tinged with brown, forming a very pretty and attractive tint. Her eyes are full of sparkle. Her speech is full of grace ; her dancing astonishes everyone. Her beauty stands of itself and she abhors extremely all feminine artifices. She speaks many languages, German, Italian, French, Spanish, English, Flemish and it is supposed Polish also. She would not let this appear because she never wished to betray hopes of being queen (No. 661). When Charles was in Scotland in the summer of 1633 John Zawadski came over from Poland on a special mission and went on to see the king. The object of the mission was somewhat of a mystery, though Correr states at a later date that he then made the first proposals for the match (No. 621). (fn. 7) Such a suggestion would certainly have been welcomed in England and Prince Radzivill was said to have favoured the idea (No. 174). Whether this was so or not, the question seems to have slept for some months.
When Pougny first came to England he greatly pleased the king by adroitly suggesting that he should join with France in mediating for a prolongation of the truce be Sweden and Poland, in the interest of the common cause (No. 327). It was not until much later in the year that the suggestion was acted upon and Sir George Douglas was sent from Frankfort with orders to co-operate with the French ambassador in this task (No. 375). Fleming, on the other hand declared that he had been sent by Weston for the purpose of drawing Poland into a coalition against France (No. 406). Douglas gave some colour to this view by the strong bias to Poland which he showed in the negotiations. At a private audience of the king of Poland he went so far as to tell him that if his master found the Swedes obstinate about accepting a reasonable composition, he would be disposed to side with the party which more nearly approached what was right, thereby affording great encouragement to the war party in Poland (No. 458). Such bias in a professed mediator was naturally resented by Sweden, and was the subject of a strong remonstrance made by Skytte, the Swedish ambassador in England in the spring of 1635 (No. 472). Some connection between England and Poland was at least on the carpet. Somewhat earlier in the year Alexander de Przypkowski, called the secretary of Poland, had gone to the Hague to confer with the Princess Palatine and then proceeded to England to see the king and ask his opinion and consent (Nos. 416, 426).
Pure love was understood to be the guiding motive of the Polish sovereign, and the Prince of Orange declared that he had stated clearly that he would either have the princess or would never marry at all (No. 584). But strong political motives were mingled with these more tender affections. These were somewhat mixed if not contradictory in character. The king hoped to get the marriage recognised by the emperor and the Protestants also and to use it as a means for securing the restoration of the Prince Palatine to his dominions. This would put England under an obligation to lend naval assistance to help him to vindicate his claims to the crown of Sweden. By this means the forces of England and Poland would be united against the most bitter enemies of the House of Austria (No. 474). In England Przypkowski seems to have limited himself to the more modest request for permission to hire ships and men to form a squadron in the Baltic for the purpose of resisting Swedish exactions (No. 427). It was a curious request to make of a mediator and may possibly be explained by the line of action adopted by Douglas. The result of the interview did not transpire, but from outward indications it appeared to be satisfactory. Yet some misgiving was caused by the report that the king of Poland had concluded a marriage with the Princess of Florence and because the ambassador returned to Poland without seeing the Princess Palatine again (Nos. 435, 440). But the report proved to be without foundation.
On the Austrian side the possibility of this marriage caused considerable alarm. They did all in their power to prevent it and pointed out to Poland how unlikely it was that England would give them naval help against the Swedes (No. 469) and later on the Capuchin Magno was sent from Vienna to Poland to do what he could to prevent it (No. 573). At Madrid also they discussed in the council of state how they might prevent the pope from granting a dispensation for this match (No. 589). His Holiness had declared that he would not grant one (No. 469), but it was reported that he had said, under his breath, that he would not refuse his blessing once the marriage was concluded (No. 616).
The only real difficulty in the way of the alliance seemed to lie in the objection of the estates of Poland to having a queen who was not a Catholic. In the spring of 1636 Gordon, the English Agent, sent home glowing reports that these difficulties were practically overcome and that a Polish ambassador was to set out soon to make the final arrangements (No. 621). Douglas, on the other hand, never made the slightest reference to the subject (No. 588). He was suspected of having been bribed by the Spaniards to prevent the marriage. The king was very angry with him and would not listen to what his friends advanced in his defence (No. 598). The ambassador was recalled peremptorily, in disgrace, but he escaped the punishment that might possibly have awaited him by dying very suddenly in Pomerania, on his way home ; so there is no further light thrown on his line of conduct in a somewhat singular and ambiguous mission.
The ambassador announced by Gordon actually started on his mission a few weeks later, accompanied by Gordon himself. This was Zawadski, the same minister who had gone after Charles to Scotland in 1633. He reached the Hague early in May and had several private conferences with the Princess Palatine, producing a portrait of his master which he had brought with him. The only difficulty was that of religion, on which, contrary to what Gordon reported, the Polish estates would not give way. The ambassador hoped that the influence of the queen of England might be used to induce the young princess to give way on this point. But her mother remained inflexible on the subject though public opinion at the Hague refused to believe that she would allow the whole affair to break down on this score. Yet it was ominous that the ambassador left the Hague for Brussels, instead of going straight to London (Nos. 657, 661, 666).
In England opinion on the subject waxed hot or cold with every fresh report. One moment the Palatine princes there felt confident that the match would be concluded, the next they had lost all hope. In one of these moods of depression the Palatine's ministers declared that the lukewarmness of Poland in the matter was due to the attitude adopted in England towards the Palatine family and that the question of religion was only a pretext. The estates of Poland would not give their consent from fear lest, when the marriage was concluded, the whole family would proceed to Poland to share their sister's good fortune, and would thus give England an opportunity to escape from the burden of supporting them (No. 619).
The state of mind induced by this affair is illustrated by a remarkable and somewhat comic episode. Shortly before the Prince Palatine crossed to England and when he was expected almost hourly there arrived at Court an Italian, who announced himself as Antonio della Valle, of a noble Roman family, and that he had been sent on in advance of the ambassadors who were expected from Poland to arrange about the marriage. The ministers accepted his account of himself and the Venetian Ambassador Correr gave him quarters in his house and kept him as his guest for over two months. (fn. 8) He listened sympathetically to his complaints about the coolness of his reception and the absence of preparations to receive the promised ambassadors, and endeavoured to soothe his susceptibilities. At Court, not content with the affair in hand, the Italian represented that the King of Poland would like to negotiate a second marriage between his half sister and the Prince Palatine himself. Made reckless by success he saw both secretaries of state, said he had spoken twice on the business with the king and asked them to get an answer. When Coke reported this Charles declared that he knew nothing about it and had never even seen this Italian. Rendered suspicious by this Coke tried to get him to show his credentials, but this the man dexterously evaded, though he thereby only confirmed the secretary's doubts. Correr also had misgivings and on making enquiries of other Italians then in London he learned that the man's story of himself was absolutely false and that he was really a poor featherbrained priestling.
Meanwhile the impostor, having some foreboding of disaster, suddenly disappeared from London. Returning incautiously he was promptly arrested. On examination he persisted that he was all he claimed to be and audadaciously called upon some young Polish gentlemen who were passing through to bear him out. But these declared they did not know him and indeed he had tried to deceive them by a false command of the king of Poland he had shown them, professing to be the king's secretary. Further enquiry confirmed that he was a religious and that he had been guilty of other escapades and frauds. Accordingly he was committed to the Gatehouse. Matters seemed likely to go hard with him when with native ingenuity he contrived to make a collier drunk and escape in his clothes. The king was exceedingly wroth at this evasion and the most diligent search being made for the man he was apprehended at Great Yarmouth this time in the disguise of a preacher, brought back to prison and put in chains (Nos. 568, 570, 572, 576, 598, 609), and so he disappears from these pages.
It is a fundamental maxim of state in England, wrote Gussoni, to take care always that they are actually more powerful at sea than all their neighbours (No. 460, p. 364). Of the importance of sea power Charles was fully conscious and devoted a great deal of attention to the navy. When Gussoni was in England (up to May 1634) only four guardships were kept at sea in full commission, 24 were stationed at Rochester and 12 at Plymouth and although these were all dismantled the full equipment of each ship was kept all ready in its own special store at the dockyard. These arrangements were not found to be adequate to the requirements of the time, many of the old ships were beyond repair and it was considered desirable to keep more ships at sea in order to have a squadron capable of dealing with the pirates off the West coast, who were far too active. With the idea of bringing the total number of ships up to 80 the decree of 1618 for the building of two new warships each year was renewed in 1633 (Nos. 28, 120, 460, p. 365).
Some drastic measures seemed to be necessary for so far from being supreme at sea the English flag was being flouted in all directions and in the very home waters. When Jerome Weston was returning home from his continental tour the Bonaventure in which he sailed, fell in with a fleet of eight Dutch Indiamen. When they fired guns to require the merchantmen to vail their topsails as a mark of respect, the Dutchmen replied with shot and drew up in battle array so that the Bonaventure judged it expedient to stand off hurriedly and let the matter of etiquette pass (No. 135). In May 1633 the Dutch entered the Downs and cut out three Dunkirkers which had taken refuge there (No. 149). In July following, with even more audacity, they pursued some Dunkirkers right into Yarmouth where they continued the conflict, and when their opponents landed followed them on shore and carried them off prisoners with their ships, in spite of the efforts of the inhabitants of the place to save them (No. 184). In September Dutchmen entered the Thames and carried off a pink of Dunkirk lying at Leigh (No. 202).
The Dunkirkers on their side showed no greater respect and their practice of chasing Dutch ships right into the ports of England and capturing them there was made the subject of repeated complaint by the English minister at Madrid (Nos. 273, 283). In the summer of 1633 some Biscayans entered the port of Dublin and fired on the people there who were trying to protect a Dutch ship which had gone there to trade (No. 186). In short neither side showed the slightest respect for the English flag and both Spaniards and Dutch abused to excess the king's patience (No. 320). When, much later, a Dutch offender was captured by an English squadron, the Venetian Ambassador admitted it was only reasonable that the English should, once in a way, take some redress for the damage which the Dutch were constantly inflicting on them, without any consideration (No. 536). Besides these affronts the English resented the Dutch claim to blockade the coast of Flanders and the consequent capture of English ships plying there (No. 309), while the activities of the Dunkirkers on their side threatened to cut off all intercourse with Holland (No. 449).
Clearly, to maintain the honour of the flag and to prevent the paralysis of trade something more than the usual four guardships was required. But the empty exchequer seemed to shut out all idea of increasing their numbers, until the ingenuity of Noy found a solution. Precisely how far ship money was intended as a step towards absolutism and how far it was honestly designed to meet national requirements will always be a difficult question to decide. These papers indicate at least that it met with acceptance only so far as it was recognised as being designed to meet a real emergency. The first announcement caused a great outcry, but the government remained firm and apart from a few of the upper classes, who resisted, the contributions were paid and the agitation died down (No. 418). Much more irritation was felt at the dilatory way in which the fleet for which they were paying, was made ready for sea, and the people regretted much more than the cost to see the hurt they were constantly suffering from all nations, borne with such long suffering, and to see the dominion of their home waters slipping from their grasp through want of looking after it (No. 449). A suspicion that some of the money was being diverted to other purposes, revived the outcry against the tax with all its original violence (No. 427).
When finally assembled the fleet consisted of 26 ships. (fn. 9) It was commanded by the Earl of Lindsey assisted by Monson and Pennington, seamen of high repute. From the quality of the ships, the number of soldiers and the experience of its commanders it was considered equal to any enterprise (No. 462). A month later with the French declaration of war on Spain this supreme adequacy was doubted and steps were at once taken to strengthen it by equipping 12 more royal ships and laying an embargo on all vessels suitable for war then in port (No. 478). It was not until the end of May that Charles reviewed the fleet in the Downs and gave Lindsey his instructions sealed, directing him to exact recognition for the flag from all the vessels they might meet (Nos. 489, 494). On the 7th June the fleet put to sea. About the same time ten ships from Spain with 1500 men and a considerable sum of money for Flanders, entered the English ports. The Dutch had been preparing to attack them, but on hearing of the movements of the English fleet, they refrained. For a short time these transports lay safe in harbour while the commanders were haggling with the English who claimed 25 per cent, for escorting them over. Judging that they would be quite safe under cover of the fleet, they finally slipped quietly across without the payment of anything, much to the annoyance of the bargainers on this side (Nos. 491, 494).
From the first the French ambassadors had felt uneasy about the English claim to dominion at sea and were anxious about the precise tenor of Lindsey's instructions. Soon after the alarm occasioned by the report of an encounter between the English and French fleets a fresh incident brought the whole question to a head. Falling in with a Dutch ship Lindsey had the captain on board and questioned him as to the whereabouts of the French fleet, declaring that if he met it he had instructions to make it lower its flag and these orders he meant to carry out. The French ambassadors were told to see the king at once and demand whether the commander had orders to proceed to hostile acts without previous cause. Charles exhibited every sign of impatience and irritation at the remonstrance, declared that there was nothing exceptional in the instructions and referred the ambassadors to Coke. The secretary told them much the same, declaring that the instructions were identical with those issued in the time of Queen Elizabeth, to which no objection had ever been taken. The ambassadors retorted that in those days the two crowns were allied and consequently the circumstances were quite different. To avoid the danger of a collision they suggested a modus vivendi, but although this was accepted for consideration they realised that a satisfactory arrangement would be a matter of time and much difficulty (No. 507).
Anything that was likely to lead to an encounter being designedly kept out of its way, the fleet was naturally condemned to idleness for the most part. Through the summer weeks it lay inactive at Portsmouth while the people complained bitterly that the captains thought of nothing but smoking tobacco and emptying wine casks, while they were wasting time and damaging the purse and reputation of the nation. During this time the Dunkirkers showed great activity, taking many prizes from the French and causing serious loss and annoyance to English merchants by searching their ships for enemy goods and detaining and forfeiting their goods unless they could prove these were really their property. So this great force had not realised the expectations raised by it, and things seemed worse rather than better. A quantity of the provisions having gone bad and sickness breaking out among the crews, the fleet moved towards the Downs to revictual (Nos. 525, 526, 530). For some time it lay in the Downs while there was some talk of a cruise to the north, but after a few days Lindsey put back again, the remainder of the old provisions having gone bad and further sickness being rife among his men (No. 552). After protecting a Spanish squadron for Dunkirk orders were issued for dismantling most of the ships in the autumn, only seven being left in commission under the command of Sir John Pennington (No. 562). Before laying down his office Lindsey exercised his prerogative as general by knighting seven of his subordinates on the flagship. The act did not please the king and to the generality it seemed ridiculous to confer honour where none had been earned (No. 565).
In spite of the unsatisfactory results of this first fleet measures were taken early for repeating the experiment in the following year on an extended scale and there was even talk of a fleet of 100 sail. The tax was extended to the inland counties which caused murmuring, but was accepted because the people hoped it would serve to establish the sovereignty of the sea, for which they were eagerly jealous (No. 525). They bore the new impost more easily than in the preceding year. There was indeed a considerable amount of opposition still, many refusing to pay and others declaring themselves unable, so that collection was slow, but the tax was gathered all the same by dint of mingled cajolery and severity. The king himself sent for some of the leading men in the counties and in a suave and pleasant manner tried to persuade them to contribute, asking them to consider the necessity of being found armed at sea for the safety of the realm and of trade and for the honour of the crown. By such means bitter feeling was to a great extent removed and the people were rendered more inclined to satisfy the king. (fn. 10) In the end the tax was paid by practically everybody to the bitter disappointment of those who hoped by hangback to compel the king to convoke parliament (Nos. 562, 579, 585, 603).
The new fleet was to consist of 50 sail, 28 of the navy and 22 merchantmen. (fn. 11) A new admiral was appointed in the person of the earl of Northumberland. Some difficulty was experienced in finding enough captains of ability to command so many ships, as the country was not so rich in competent seamen as it used to be (Nos. 598, 617, 624). Some delay was caused by a mishap to the Anne Royal, the Vice Admiral, which bilged her own anchor when brought into the Thames, and became a total wreck through gross carelessness. The fleet was ready by the end of May, when Northumberland put to sea, though only with 27 sail (No. 668).
The king's aims and intentions were heralded early in the year by the publication of Selden's Mare Clausum, laying claim to absolute jurisdiction at sea, to prevent disputes between the other nations and secure trade for every one. It was accompanied by a more specific demand that those who wished to fish would have to pay for a licence for the privilege (No. 598). Such extensive claims naturally roused intense feeling among all the powers affected, and particularly among the Dutch, whose fisheries constituted one of the chief sources of their wealth. The Prince of Orange declared excitedly that it was not a time to think of an alliance but rather of being in readiness to defend their own rights (No. 641), yet almost simultaneously the Dutch ambassadors in England were offering naval co-operation against Spain (No. 638) and shortly after Beveren spoke to Charles of the desire of the States for an alliance with him (No. 663). In fact, all the nations concerned, much as they disliked it, felt constrained to bow to necessity (No. 625) and when Arundel crossed to Holland on his way to Vienna the Dutch showed him every possible mark of respect, dipping their flags even in their own ports.
The results of the first ship money fleets have been represented as practically nugatory. That is a rather extreme view of the case. In one important and vital matter they certainly rendered a very real service. (fn. 12) Threatened by the united power of the French and Dutch the Spanish Netherlands isolated as they were, could hardly have maintained a prolonged resistance. That important coast line would have constituted a direct menace to England in the hands of either of the allies. The presence of the ship money fleet was one of the chief factors in warding off this calamity. It prevented a combined attack by the allied fleets ; it made the Dutch apprehensive and relax their blockade of the Flanders coast, and in duced the eventual withdrawal of the French fleet to the Mediterranean. Not only this but by protecting convoys of men, money and supplies and by securing the transport of provisions it saved the province from the collapse that must have quickly come about without such timely assistance. Great scarcity had begun to be felt, but owing to the quantities of food stuffs that crossed from England under the protection of the fleet, the people there had every thing in abundance (Nos. 629, 656). More resolutely handled it might have produced even more decisive results. In April 1636 Michiel wrote from the Hague, "England enjoys great prestige at the moment, because she is arming." For that reason the Spanish ministers were greatly perturbed and the Austrians seriously contemplated the necessity of making some real concessions about the Palatinate (Nos. 615, 620, 636).
In spite of great unpopularity in the country and of intrigues at Court Weston still maintained his ascendency in the royal councils. His progress in the king's affections was indicated by the marriage of his daughter to Lord Fielding, nephew of Buckingham, whose memory the king constantly cherished (No. 100). In February 1633 he was created Earl of Portland with every mark of the royal favour (No. 120). It was confidently expected that he would receive the office of Lord High Admiral held by the late favourite and vacant since his death (No. 129). Attacks only seemed to strengthen his position, the Earl of Holland nearly ruining himself by quarreling with Jerome Weston and only escaping by the queen's intervention (No. 147). But his numerous enemies were both determined and persistent. In the spring of 1634 Weston narrowly escaped ruin on what amounted to a charge of peculation, that he had acquired for himself, at a very low price, a royal forest that was to have satisfied the claims of the builders of two ships for the navy. By this the crown was said to have been defrauded of 100,000 crowns. Weston could make no real defence against this charge and absented himself from Court in a state of deep depression, under the plea of in disposition, while he got his creatures to recount the services which he claimed to have rendered to the crown. The king's affection and the pleadings of Lennox and the widowed duchess of Buckingham finally prevailed in his favour and Weston returned to Court to kiss hands, where the king received him with all the ordinary signs of his customary confidence. Thereafter he continued to enjoy the king's favour as before though much discredited with every one at Court. For that he cared little and went about making his profit (Nos. 293, 295, 297, 306).
A few months later Holland's position as Justice of the Forests enabled him to renew the attack by prosecuting four offenders for unlawfully cutting timber in the forest of Dean. One of these was Weston's secretary and others were his creatures. They were convicted and heavily fined, Weston himself escaping, though every one felt certain that if the Treasurer had not a hand in it the others would not have ventured on such a perilous enterprise (No. 340). To save himself Weston drove his secretary from his house and absolutely forbade him to make any defence. This despicable conduct only served to excite compassion for the victims while Weston lost nearly every vestige of the respect that he once enjoyed (Nos. 372, 375). His unpopularity increased rapidly and it was on his shoulders that the populace laid the blame of ship money, though it was not really his device (No. 406). His death shortly afterwards came suddenly and unexpectedly. The king was deeply afflicted by his loss as he had been a devoted servant of the crown and if he had looked after his own interests unduly, he might easily have done much more for himself and his family (No. 449).
His administration was one of petty expedients and cheeseparing economy. By fresh duties and by veiled monopolies he was said to have increased the royal revenues by 40,000 to 50,000 crowns yearly, (fn. 13) but the royal credit was at so low an ebb that the goldsmiths of London refused to provide a gold chain for the Dutch envoy Brassert upon his unsupported promise (No. 338). In domestic politics Weston had made the avoidance of parliament one of his chief aims, while in foreign policy it was he, more than any one else who insisted on the necessity of adhering to neutrality. It was hoped and expected that his death would make some change in these important respects (Nos. 449, 456).
As was the case at Buckingham's death, Charles hesitated as to the succession to the post of chief confidential minister, the man who should enjoy absolute trust and be supported against all attacks. (fn. 14) There were many candidates for the vacant post of treasurer, but the king decided to appoint commissioners who should discharge the office for the time being. Laud was the man whom the king esteemed above every one else in the realm (No. 452), but Charles did not raise him to pre-eminence over the rest, though he was made chief of the Council for foreign affairs. The archbishop is represented here as an ambitious intriguing man, ignorant of affairs but eager to have a prominent part in directing them. (fn. 15) Before his elevation to Canterbury he had been manoeuvring to oust Coventry and get his office of Lord Keeper (No. 129). In this he was unsuccessful, but he enjoyed so large a measure of the royal favour that he could confidently count on succeeding Abbot at Canterbury. Not only did he get the primacy as anticipated but he was able to procure at the same time the appointment of Juxon to succeed him at London. He celebrated the occasion by giving a most sumptuous banquet to all the Lords of the Council (Nos. 188, 202). The changes in rites and ceremonies, which he at once set about to introduce, did not, at least at first, meet with the royal support, as the king, being advised that trouble might ensue, directed that nothing of this sort should be carried out without the matter being first laid before the Council (No. 198). Laud and his old adversary Coventry led the attacks on Weston in 1633 with great animosity (Nos. 293, 295) and he was even reported to have gone the length of advising the king to summon parliament (No. 299). Even after the attack had failed Laud persisted in going to see the king privately and holding long conferences supposed to be directed against the Treasurer. In particular he made a great impression on the king by showing him a letter from Wentworth complaining that the Treasurer ignored his most pressing representations, and protesting that he would not be responsible for any disorders that might occur in consequence of this negelct (No. 302).
Laud grasped his new position gladly, announcing that as the king had commanded him to take up this burden he could not refuse to take it provisionally, although up to that time he had professed to intervene in the Council only in ecclesiastical matters (No. 452). He was at the same time made one of the commissioners for the Treasury, where he was engaged in constant bickerings with Cottington, whom he was determined to keep out of the treasurership (No. 558). According to general opinion this was a vain effort, but in the end it was Laud who won, for the appointment of Juxon, to the disgust of the nobility and official classes, was recognised as a personal triumph for the archbishop (No. 621). Although the ambassador made this quite clear in his report it is curious that the Senate sent their congratulations to the new minister (No. 637) although they never paid a similar compliment to Laud.
In contrast with his practice during Buckingham's lifetime Charles had become very dependent on his Council and did nothing without it, however slight it might be (No. 358). In Weston's time the inner circle consisted, with him, of Holland, Carlisle, Arundel, Cottington, Vane and the secretaries Coke and Windebank, with Laud and Coventry somewhat less intimate (No. 460, p. 367). In the conduct of affairs, domestic and foreign, the king made everything subordinate to his rooted determination never again to humiliate himself to parliament (No. 494). His chief attention was accordingly directed to bringing the internal affairs of the kingdom into order and to forms which pleased him better, and until that was achieved he did not wish to commit himself to other serious transactions (No. 449). The successful imposition of ship money afforded him great satisfaction as the first step on the road to make parliaments superfluous (No. 406). The assembling of the shipmoney fleet looked like the fulfilment of his desires, and that having achieved so much the king might promise himself anything (No. 530). At the same time his arbitrary measures aroused a great deal of opposition and at the time of the alarm caused by the French declaration of war men went about saying that the king only wished to utilise the crisis in order to set up a standing army and reduce the people to subjection (No. 489). It was judged inexpedient on this same occasion to raise the force that had been contemplated, because the whole people ardently desired to see parliament summoned and if they were called upon to bear arms it might lead to a troublesome rising which would be very difficult to suppress (No. 512).
The idea of parliament could not be kept under, in spite of all that the king might do and it came to the surface at every emergency. When news arrived of the peace of Prague some persons unnamed, called "parliamentarians" by the ambassador, had representations made to the king that whenever he decided to summon parliament he might dismiss all concern about past affairs and the object which had been disclosed upon other occasions, as the only intent of parliament was to undertake to uphold the glory and reputation of England and they would undertake to furnish the means for declaring and maintaining war (No. 530). The king was not to be drawn into the snare, yet the hopes of a parliament rose since it was thought that Charles must take up the challenge cast down by the Austrians, and it was even stated with confidence that parliament would meet soon (Nos. 534, 558). With the new year the agitation was again in full swing based upon the situation in Europe and the difficulty in raising shipmoney. It was intimated to the king that the "parliamentarians" would afford him every satisfaction that he could desire, as they were determined to keep their eyes not only on the present but on what might happen in the future, and to procure in every way the welfare of the kingdom, the unimpaired reputation of the crown, and above all they would not depart in any way from the king's pleasure but would always be ready to obey and serve (No. 590). The successful collection of ship money dissipated these hopes, but the policy of governing contrary to the will of the nation was already producing its effect. All the greatest nobles, in despair of ever seeing parliament called, kept away from Court as much as possible, so that it became poorer and poorer (No. 638).
Several other matters of interest do not come under the above headings and may be here summarised. Chief among these is the king's journey to Scotland and his coronation there. The provision of the necessary funds caused the Treasurer some anxiety, but the cost was ultimately defrayed to a large extent by the Scots themselves. The king was received with great loyalty in the land of his birth. Parliament at Edinburgh showed an intense desire to afford him every satisfaction, and spontaneously offered to relieve the royal exchequer of various charges (No. 177). The coronation was celebrated with great pomp and ceremony and everything passed off most satisfactorily. Charles expressed his pleasure at seeing the country in which he said he was proud of being born (Nos. 174, 178), but he only made the shortest possible stay and after a brief visit to Stirling and Falkland to enjoy the hunting he returned to London with headlong speed. A curious idea, eventually abandoned, was that his coronation in the North required a state entry into London as a sequel (No. 184).
During the period of this volume Venice was represented in England by two ambassadors. The first of these, Vicenzo Gussoni, came direct from the embassy at the Hague. He was not a persona grata at Court (fn. 16) and seized upon permission to return home with alacrity, leaving the Secretary Zonca in charge, as his successor did not arrive until some months later. Gussoni has left an account of England (No. 460) containing a number of interesting particulars and an appreciation of the factors in the general situation at a critical time. His successor Correr came direct from Venice to his charge. His diligence and accuracy seem to leave something to be desired. He takes no notice of Panzani's arrival at Court and does not so much as mention him until many months later. It is less surprising that he says nothing of the death of so eminent a man as Sir Edward Coke. He confounds Mounts Bay with Stokes Bay, mixes up the distinct cases of the Petite Marthe and Pearl and appears to have gathered a totally wrong impression about the soap monopoly. His utter deception by the impostor della Valle must have rendered him ridiculous. He appears to have given grave offence to the king in some way for when he went to convey his good wishes at Christmas 1635 Charles heard him out and then turned his back on him without a word, leaving the unfortunate ambassador utterly bewildered. (fn. 17)
Since the departure of Sir Isaac Wake England had no regular ambassador at Venice. This neglect was a source of chagrin to the Senate and from time to time they made representations to have one nominated. Some opposition to this was offered by the Agent Rowlandson, who was protected by the Earl of Arundel (Nos. 215, 226). Eventually Thomas Carey was selected, son of the Earl of Monmouth, but he died of consumption just as he was getting ready to start. Without much delay the choice then fell on Lord Fielding through the influence of his father in law Portland and by the king's favour.
He told Zonca that in conjunction with his father in law he had chosen that embassy in preference to any other employment elsewhere. He was given the character of ambassador extraordinary and in that capacity was to visit the courts of France and Savoy on his way out. He was given powers over the English ministers in France, Switzerland, Savoy and Venice (No. 360). He went accompanied by a distinguished train and was received in great state both at Paris and Turin. He amused the Savoyard Court by a tussle for precedence with the French ambassador, and exercised his powers there by removing the Agent Hales and replacing him by his Secretary Peter Morton (No. 417). Fielding reached Venice early in 1635, where his young wife fell ill and died shortly after his arrival, two days before her father, the Lord Treasurer, expired in England. Fielding showed himself an energetic ambassador in defending the interests of the English merchants, whereby he seems to have caused some annoyance to the Signory.
The condition of Catholics underwent some amelioration owing to the queen's influence, though an Irish Dominican was executed in December 1633, on a charge of intending to kill the king (No. 226). Direct relations with Rome were established by the arrival of Panzani in England towards the end of 1634. An unnamed priest came from Rome soon after to arrange some affairs of the religious in England (No. 411). Panzani behaved with discretion and moved about the Court freely, tolerated there and by the people to the general wonder. A complaint was laid against him before the Council but he escaped through the queen's protection (No. 585).
After a long interval the English Court again had a representative at the Vatican. At the end of 1635 the queen sent Arthur Brett to act as her minister at Rome, with letters of recommendation to George Conn, secretary of Cardinal Barberini (No. 585). For some unexplained reason Brett was forbidden to travel by land, and on the way out he suffered shipwreck which brought on an illness of which he died after a few weeks (Nos. 609, 638). After a short interval the queen selected James Hamilton, son of the Earl of Abercorn for the post from more than ten candidates (No. 642). An agent was promised from Rome in return ; but these relations caused much irritation among the people in whose hearts the pope's reputation had perished for the most part (Nos. 638, 649).
An affair in the Mediterranean showed that English sailors had not forgotten how to fight. The Turkish fleet, under the Captain Pasha, consisting of 40 galleys, a maona and four bertons, caught two English merchantmen, who had been lading wheat at Rodosto. They were becalmed and could not get away. The Bey of Rhodes wished to reduce them by gun fire, but the Captain Pasha disdained such unenterprising tactics and put his galley along side intending to board. The English secured the prow of his galley, which had penetrated the side of their ship and speedily reduced it to a wreck, so that the Pasha had to escape to another ship. Other vessels closed up to board, at which the English captain threw a handful of money on the deck and while the Turks were busy in picking it up, he brought his guns to bear and destroyed them all. The Turks then gave up their attempts to board. Eventually the English captains, seeing there was no chance of escape, set fire to their own ships and blew them up, but not before they had inflicted terrible losses on the Turks, said to have amounted to about 1500 men, including the Bey of Rhodes and 800 Janissaries. One of the English captains and about sixty of the crews escaped and were taken prisoners (Nos. 172, 176, 180). Wyche, the English ambassador at the Porte laboured earnestly for their release, and it is satisfactory to know by dint of judicious bribery he had good hope of success (No. 268).
Among miscellaneous items mention may be made of the death and character of Noy (No. 340) ; a mission from the Hanse Towns to recover their property in the Steelyard (Nos. 585, 609) ; a plan for the reorganisation of New England and to send an expedition there to drive out the Dutch, under Sir Alfonso Gorges, probably the earliest project for employing ships of the royal navy on a purely colonial enterprise (Nos. 452, 456, 482).