Venice: March 1641

Pages 126-134

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 25, 1640-1642. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1924.

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March 1641

March 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
165. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament has not yet made any reply to His Majesty's last speech about the marriage of the Princess Mary and the alliance with the Dutch. But the Upper House, while thanking the king for the confidence requests him to delay the final conclusion of the marriage until they have fully examined the proposals and can report to him what they think will be best for his greatness and the service of the crown. From this unexpected demand, the true motives for which have not yet transpired, the Dutch ambassadors fear that some fresh difficulties may interrupt the thread of the business, which may suffer some alteration yet, if it is subject to the changing caprice of this people. Meanwhile I enclose a copy of the proposals for an alliance given by the ambassadors and presented by the king to parliament. They may be of use, although they are only bare proposals, which will be developed in the negotiations. I will carefully watch every stage.
On Monday parliament sent four members to the king to petition him to ratify without further delay the law for the triennial meeting of that body with the provisions reported if the king failed to summon it himself. (fn. 1) The king, moved by this action, the effect of which would be to ruin his authority entirely, became very angry and displayed very little inclination to consent. He sent back the members with a severe answer, but nothing definite, though he assured them that he would let them know his intention within two days. When the members made their report parliament was seriously moved. Throwing aside all restraint they loudly threatened the most extreme designs and decided to suspend all business until they obtain this satisfaction, unjust as it is and full of temerity.
The king was informed of everything at once, and after he had carefully considered for many hours the ruinous effects that a longer resistance would produce, he yielded to necessity and decided to comply. On the following day he put on the royal robes and went to parliament where he said : that although he was aware of the serious prejudice that the confirmation of this law would constitute for himself and his successors, yet in his desire to prove his sincere good will he had decided to give satisfaction to his subjects in this also ; but he could not omit to point out to them the hurtful consequences of depriving their own sovereign of credit and all authority. He reminded them that while they showed zeal for preserving their liberty they should not neglect to maintain the royal Majesty in its primal vigour, without which it would be impossible to govern this well founded monarchy with just proportion. With this he ended his speech and announced the act of ratification. The members expressed their humble gratitude, and afterwards, by public order, directed that bonfires should be lighted that night throughout the city. This was gladly done amid universal rejoicings, though equally resented by His Majesty. At present nothing is left to him but the title and the naked shows of king, and he does not know how to conceal the passions which naturally torture him.
Encouraged by the ease with which they attained their end the Lower Chamber decided two days ago to intimate to the king and queen that they must dismiss all the Catholics from their service and forbid the Court to four persons who are those most favoured by His Majesty, against whom it is alleged that last year, when the king was at York and in need of money, they tried to raise a contribution of 120,000 crowns from the Catholics of the country, for His Majesty's service, at the instance of the queen.
Cardinal Richelieu has written personally to the queen in a confidential manner, persuading her to give up the idea of going to France intimating that the Most Christian will not approve. Accordingly she is now talking of going to Ireland, but she does not hide her strong feeling against the Cardinal, whom she calls the sole author of this decision.
On Friday in last week the Duke of Vendome saw their Majesties, who received him privately, though with every indication of affection and esteem. He tried to show his respect for the queen with his lips, but Her Majesty drew back and would not permit this liberty, in the sight of all the Court, with some mortification to the duke.
Since the adjustment with the Scots of the sum to be paid for an indemnity, they have renewed their negotiations with the parliament for a perpetual alliance between the two kingdoms. They ask for the dismantelling of all the fortifications on the frontier, those of Berwick in particular, for the greater security of the peace. Unbiassed persons recognise that these proposals are intended to keep the king here and the others, for the future, for ever dependent on their subjects, and they will serve to prolong their sojourn in England, from whence, even now, there is no assurance that they will withdraw by the sole means of negotiation.
I have this day received your letters of the 26th January and the 1st ult.
London, the 1st March, 1641.
Enclosure. 166. Proposals made by the Dutch Ambassadors on 22nd Jan., 1641, with the offer that His Majesty may take the whole or part, at his pleasure. (fn. 2)
1. Offensive and defensive alliance against the Spaniards and their allies.
2. Defensive alliance against all foreign enemies, whether temporary or permanent.
3. A mutual promise not to assist the enemies of either.
4. An agreement to hold a consultation to find expedients to secure the Netherlands and England against the forces and devices of enemies.
[Italian, copied from the English.]
March 7.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
167. Suspension for the year 1641 of the decree of 28th February last, allowing the exportation of oil from Crete ; after which the matter must come up for reconsideration.
Ayes, 96. Noes, 6. Neutral, 14.
March 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
168. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The most important business dealt with by parliament this week has turned on the trial of the Lieutenant of Ireland. The despatch of this, demanded impatiently by the universal voice, will follow soon, and from it we shall be able to judge of the hopes for quiet or the fears of greater disturbances in this kingdom. Meanwhile His Majesty is exerting all his influence to save his favourite from the threatened ruin. He has created several lords, with the object of increasing friendly votes in the Upper Chamber, who are the judges (Ha creato molti Baroni ad oggetto d'accrescergli voti favorevoli nella Camera Superiore a cui appartiene il giuditio). To six members of the higher nobility, leaders of the revolt last year and his most obstinate persecutors, the king has distributed the highest offices of the crown, and given them the ensigns of councillors of state, (fn. 3) all with the sole object of winning them for this occasion, without a care for the evil example of using honours as a reward for sedition. Still not satisfied, his Majesty went last Wednesday unexpectedly to parliament at the moment when the prisoner was summoned to make his defence, in accordance with the use of the country. There, to the disgust of the judges, he had a long secret conversation with the prisoner, and later took the unprecedented step of assisting at the reading of the process, and further, when the Lieutenant appeared at the bar, i.e. the place of the accused, he could not refrain from showing him great honour, which served to increase hatred and envy.
The Lower Chamber, suspecting that these interventions of the king will suffice to save the minister, has grown very wroth, and in conjunction with the city is threatening the most audacious decisions if this victim is not sacrificed at the altar of the public satisfaction, though he is possibly innocent. Thus men are doubtful about the event and fear that if it is not in accordance with the will of the people the most serious disorders may occur in the country.
Difficulties are also increasing with the Scottish Commissioners who complain that the 25,000l. a month, promised to them is not being paid with the promptitude promised, and intimate that if the means fail for the further support of the troops quartered at Newcastle, they will not hesitate to advance further into England, unless their requirements are promptly met. To these lamentations they have added an insolent paper, presented to parliament, in which they ask again for the severe punishment of the Lieutenant of Ireland, as the original author of the present movements, and have since had it printed, to win them the applause of the people, and to excite still further the universal indignation against the prisoner.
On Saturday there arrived in the port of Plymouth a Portuguese ambassador, sent by the new king to the United Provinces. He states that other ships will come soon bringing the one chosen for this king. (fn. 4)
His Majesty has not yet come to any decision about his reception. Many ministers, however, hold fast to the inclination to receive him and advance as their strongest argument that Philip II received those of Ireland, which rebelled against Queen Elizabeth. The Spanish ambassador, on his side, makes the strongest representations to disparage this precedent, pointing out that the open disputes between the two crowns at that time induced Spain to receive those ministers.
The Dutch ambassadors had audience of both their Majesties on Monday, and since then, their suspicions dissipated, they seem to have no further doubts about the marriage being carried out. Meanwhile the Upper Chamber has appointed commissioners about their proposals for an alliance, (fn. 5) and has promised to give the king their opinion next week, whether they shall advance to a conclusion or let the matter drop altogether.
The queen mother, being reduced to the last extremity, without any means of relief, is impatiently awaiting the report of the gentleman she sent to the Most Christian and Cardinal Richelieu. She has made up her mind to submit in everything to their pleasure.
London, the 8th March, 1641.
March 15.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti. Venetian Archives.
169. To the Ambassador in England.
We enclose a copy of a paper presented in the Collegio by the Secretary of England about the seizure of goods on a ship, as contraband. We have sent for information. If you are provoked on the subject you will answer that the aim of the republic is to secure that his Majesty's subjects shall be treated with complete justice and equity.
Ayes, 72. Noes, 5. Neutral, 10.
March 15.
Senato, Dispacci, Inghilterra. Secreta. Venetian Archives.
170. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although His Majesty in letters in his own hand, warned the Prince Palatine not to come to this Court just now, he arrived here unexpectedly two days ago. He declares that he did not meet the courier sent and announces that the chief reasons for his journey were the hopes of improving his own interests by his presence during the meeting of parliament and the negotiations of the Dutch ambassadors. The king did not conceal his vexation at the news of his arrival, or the queen either, but upon reflection they dissimulated their first feelings and received their nephew with the usual display of affection and esteem. It is thought, none the less, that they will get rid of him as soon as possible, because of the danger amid the present agitations of the sojourn in the kingdom of a prince so near to the succession, the son of a mother acclaimed by the people, and one for whom they have always displayed the greatest affection. So far he has transacted no business with his uncle, and nothing has yet appeared which might lead him to expect that powerful assistance from the king's hand or from the liberality of parliament which he may have looked for.
The Portuguese ambassador who is going to Holland, has arrived in this city from Plymouth, and the one for this Court has reached Flemovo. The former is having translated into English a manifesto which he wishes to publish. He is trying to get the grant of a royal ship to take him to Rotterdam, and that the one who is to stay here shall be received as ambassador of a crowned head. To induce the merchants to use their influence with His Majesty he has made them large promises of considerable advantages, and in particular to exempt from all duties the goods which the English take to the markets of that country. He has intimated that if this crown embraces the cause of the Portuguese and is prepared to give them vigorous assistance, the new king will assign to them in compensation rich states in the Indies, and will offer a marriage between his eldest son (fn. 6) and the king's second daughter. Interested parties, dazzled by these specious promises and by the hope of more, have repeatedly petitioned His Majesty to admit the ambassador, pointing out how advantageous such a step would be. But so far they have only obtained ambigious replies, and the final decision is as yet uncertain. The Spanish ambassador though he does not cease to employ every effort to prevent harm to the king, his master, is afraid none the less that the powerful stimulus of interest will prevail against his offices.
This minister has sent one of his gentlemen to me to inform me of his arrival in this city and to communicate the state of affairs in that kingdom, and perhaps to note some declaration to his advantage. Everyone is acting with caution and thinking it necessary to show some reserve I excused myself from admitting him, as I was still keeping my bed, which was true. I thus avoided the encounter, and shall do so until I receive precise instructions.
The king has shown extreme irritation and so have the majority of the parliamentarians at the seditious paper published by the Scottish commissioners (fn. 7) as likely to encourage licence among the people and with which they have dared to lay down the law and interfere with the government of this monarchy. Many discussions have been held upon this important circumstance, and they finally decided that His Majesty should seriously admonish the Commissioners, as he has done. They on their side excused their temerity with false reasons and offered to prove their sincerity by a new declaration, which will also be printed.
Meanwhile this unheard of proceeding has aroused alarm in the minds of many of the parliamentarians that under the specious name of the public liberty the Scots are cherishing more ambitious designs. Accordingly the prolonged sojourn of their troops in the country excites no little uneasiness, and they seem inclined to withdraw the monthly assignment of 25,000l. promised. If these very natural suspicions gain ground, as His Majesty tries his hardest that they shall, there may be some hope yet that time will supply a favourable opportunity to enable him to restore his authority to some extent and to regain credit with his subjects.
Owing to the distraction of these new differences with the Scots parliament has not been able to apply itself to the case of the Lieutenant of Ireland, and has not imparted to the king its opinion upon the proposed alliance with the Dutch either, so both these affairs remain as before, without any alteration whatever.
Within a few weeks they are expecting here the Prince of Orange, the bridegroom, and the house of the Earl of Arundel is being prepared to receive him. (fn. 8)
The Spanish Ambassador Cardinas has requested His Majesty to permit the troops in Ireland to pass to the service of the king, his master. He received a very general reply and they have not held out any definite hope so far of complying. However he had a long conference this week with the secretary of state, and has since sent a courier to Spain with all speed, the object of which has not transpired though it is thought to be on this business. If he succeeds in getting what he asks the Catholic will secure the prompt advantage of a body of 10,000 infantry.
London, the 15th March, 1641.
March 22.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti. Venetian Archives.
171. To the Ambassador in England.
We enclose the sheet of advices. We have received your letters of the 22nd ult. With respect to the new ambassador of Portugal you will follow the example of the French ambassador or that of the ambassadors of other crowned heads in the matter of visits.
Ayes, 77. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
March 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
172. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Eng-England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador of Portugal, who is going to Holland, profiting by the offices of the ministers of the States here and by the pressure of the merchants has at last obtained the grant of a royal ship to take him to Rotterdam. (fn. 9) He set out on Saturday for the coast, in great state. He disbursed some money here to several French individuals who stand idle here, so that they should proceed with all speed to Lisbon, to serve as officers in the companies of the new king, his master, who is reported to be in more need of captains of credit and experience then of anything else. This minister is taking great value in jewels and spices to Holland to be devoted to the purchase of forty ships of war, to be sent with all speed to Portugal.
The one destined for this Court reached Salisbury, fifty miles away, when his Majesty sent word to him not to proceed until they had decided here what reception they should give him. He obeyed directly, and has sent a secretary here to solicit a final decision, which he hopes will be favourable. Meanwhile the Spanish ambassador in a new audience has protested strongly to the king that if they admit this minister he will leave the Court without delay, and the correspondence between this crown and the Catholic will be broken off. They do not seem to attach much importance to such threats here, indeed the ambassador has been asked, through the secretary of state, to put down in writing the reasons why the Portuguese should not be heard, and they told him further that in 1400, when the Duke of Lancaster usurped the kingdom of Richard II, his nephew, the ambassadors of the former were received in Spain without question, and so recently were those of Bavaria as Elector, to the disparagement of the declarations and interests of this crown. These representations indicate their leaning here to accept the Portuguese, and the Catholic ambassador has made no further reply, perceiving that insistence would be useless.
In a very long paper the Prince Palatine has represented in parliament the unhappy state of his affairs, and asked for powerful assistance to restore the fortunes of his house to its original state in the present opportunities. They have given him no answer so far, and there seems no disposition that indicates that parliament will undertake the protection of that house.
He tried to break the thread of the marriage of the princess to Orange, actually asking for her for himself, but his offices met with no response. The Dutch ambassadors, having discovered his designs, hastily took action to have the treaty signed without further delay. This was done on Monday and as a public testimony of the final completion and the success of the negotiations they had bonfires lighted that night.
With regard to the written proposals for an alliance the parliamentarians declare freely that they will not agree to an offensive one, so there is no change in the opinion reported that only a defensive treaty will be signed with those Provinces.
Some rumour comes from the Court that the Palatine will soon be going to Patisbon, and the English Agent Gerbier at Brussels has requested the Cardinal Infant to grant him a passport to travel through the states of the Catholic.
After many disputes in parliament about the question of the bishops the Lower House has resolved that the order shall remain in the Anglican Church but on condition that they shall not have a seat in parliament in future, and may not be employed in any temporal public office whatever. They are thus entirely shut out from the government of the country, with considerable loss to the royal party, which always had the vigorous support of the 28 bishops.
Although suspicion of the ambitious designs of the Scots has not ceased, the truce has been prolonged for another month, and they have intimated to the Commissioners of that country that in the mean time they should set forth all their claims. But the deputies have drawn up 28 articles, more audacious than the first. These aim at abolishing the king's authority altogether, and at introducing themselves into the governance of England, so they give warning how little the Scots incline to accept a just agreement in a friendly way, or to give up the country occupied. Among the most remarkable things demanded are : that the boundaries of the kingdom of Scotland be drawn as they were anciently ; that the English shall embrace the religion practised in Scotland, which is Calvin's, abandoning the Protestant ; that the principal lords of that kingdom shall be employed in the king's household, and in those of the queen and prince ; that only those of the reformed faith be admitted to the service of their Majesties and his Highness ; that one kingdom cannot attack the other without express decree of parliament, and that neither of the two kingdoms be allowed to undertake a foreign war without the consent of the other. Finally that commissioners be appointed by the parliaments of England and Scotland, to see that the articles agreed upon are observed when parliament is not sitting, and to punish for lese majesté those who disobey. This would constitute a tribunal which would always represent the majesty and authority of parliament, to the total exclusion of that of the king. Nothing has yet been decided about these audacious proposals, and everyone is curious to see what the reply will be.
A severe decree has come out against the priests of this kingdom, obliging them to leave these states within a month. The Count of Egmont has had a letter published here written by him to the Deputies of Flanders, and urging them to seize their liberty and offers himself to serve them. I enclose a copy of the letter. (fn. 10)
They speak here with great freedom about the return of the queen mother to France, and His Majesty in particular seems anxious that this shall happen as soon as possible.
London, the 29th March, 1641.
173. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Since writing my last I hear that they had a long discussion at the palace today about the reception of the Portuguese ambassador, and finally decided to receive him, and treat him on the same footing as the ambassadors of crowned heads, announcing that they do so in consideration of the rights of the House of Braganza over that kingdom and that this prince was called to the crown amid the universal acclamations of the people. They sent him the news this evening and next week he will make his public state entry. The young Prince of Orange is also expected soon, and they say that to make quite sure of the marriage the ceremony will be performed in church on the 7th of May. The dowry of 40,000 crowns the Prince of Orange has bound himself to invest in funds in this kingdom, adding another 120,000, the whole to be assigned as super dowry for the bride. The Dutch ambassadors are pressing strongly to induce his Majesty to permit the princess to go to Holland on the prince's return, but so far the king does not seem inclined to consent, persisting in his original opinion that his daughter should not leave the Court before she has completed her twelfth year. None the less these ministers hope that the persuasions of the prince will induce his father in law to grant this satisfaction. The event will show.
London, the 29th March, 1641.


  • 1. There were five, viz. : the earl Marshal, the Lord Chamberlain, and the earls of Bedford, Hertford and Holland. Journal of the House of Lords, Vol. IV. page 162.
  • 2. These proposals, in French, are also attached to Montereul's despatch of the 7th March. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
  • 3. The earls of Bedford, Essex and Hertford, and viscounts Say, Mandeville and Savile were made members of the Privy Council on the 19th February, old style.
  • 4. Tristan de Mendoza Furtado ambassador to the Netherlands, and Antonio d'Almayda ambassador to England.
  • 5. The Lords appointed a committee to consider the proposals of the States on the 20th Feb. o.s. Journal of the House of Lords, Vol. IV. page 168. The commissioners were the Lord Treasurer, the marquis of Hamilton, the earls of Arundel, Northumberland, Pembroke, Dorset and Holland, and the Secretary Vane. Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. II. page 741.
  • 6. Theodosius, born in 1634.
  • 7. A paper drawn up for the Commissioners by Alexander Henderson on 24 February o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1640-1, pages 485, 486. Gardiner : Hist, of Eng. Vol. IX, pages 296, 297.
  • 8. Arundel House in the Strand.
  • 9. According to Aitzema he crossed in a ship of the Dutch Vice Admiral de Witte. Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. II. page 754.
  • 10. The copy is not on the file.