Venice: February 1640

Pages 14-20

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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February 1640

Feb. 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
24. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In order to show the king the sincerity of the desire of the Princes of Savoy to make peace with their sister in law, Prince Tomaso's gentleman has assured their Majesties that if the duchess is of the same mind they will readily concede to her all that she claims in the wardship of the little duke and the regency, on condition that they have their share in the government, and sign all state papers after her. Without committing himself his Majesty commended the proposals and their desire for quiet. He most earnestly desired it for that crown. The queen and her mother have informed the duchess of these proposals ; but I gather that the ministers here, for many excellent reasons, have no great inclination to mix themselves up in these sordid affairs, and many have reminded his Majesty that if he decides to take them up, it will be necessary to invite your Excellencies to join in making representation to the crowns, so that they may not spoil the conclusion. After these overtures this person further begged his Majesty to resume his efforts to recover for that house the protection and confidence of your Serenity. The king frankly replied that he could not do anything more without definite incitement from Madame, from whom, as guardian of the duke, such things must come and not from others.
A vessel of the fleet was sent to Dunkirk last week to fetch the Marquis of Vellada, ambassador extraordinary of the Catholic, who is expected at Court in a few days. (fn. 1) Besides the instructions reported he is strictly charged to incite the king to take action against Normandy, and to seize the present opportunity to re-establish the ancient rights of his crown in that province. In their own interests the Spaniards try to persuade his Majesty that aided by the alliances and the diversions created by Caesar and the Catholic against France, and united with Denmark, even a great effort will prove easy. In order to win the support of ministers through liberality Vellada's offices will be backed by remittances for 150,000 crowns, provided by his master for secret service, that being the most powerful means for surmounting even the most serious difficulties in this country. The matter is worthy of consideration.
The Ambassador Bellievre was presented with rich hangings and has set off home with all speed. He has left a young secretary here. (fn. 2) The ministers here are somewhat offended at his departure, as they think it disrespectful of France to be without a minister of rank here. They do not approve either of the king pledging himself, if the Most Christian releases the Palatine from prison, that he shall not leave France, considering this absolutely contrary to the dignity of the crown, and that by this demand the French wish to obtain from here a tacit acceptance of the arrest of the prince, and thereby escape the fear of resentment. Yet if there be some one to take up the matter tactfully in the right way. it may not prove impossible to induce his Majesty to give this satisfaction, supposing France persists in wishing for it, which all do not believe.
They have increased the garrison of Jersey by 500 foot, as they still suspect that the French intend to annex it.
The Treasurer has at last got the Scots to accept the securities sent by the king for their deputies, and got them to make a fresh choice of four. (fn. 3) They will be here soon to resume the old negotiations for an agreement. Although hope in these is revived, they do not slacken their military preparations. They press on the levies with all their might and this week they sent 500 horse and a lot of infantry to Berwick, since his Majesty is persuaded that nothing will better assist an advantageous accommodation than to make that people believe him to be powerfully armed.
With the death of Monsignor Coneo, to whom the pope promised the Cardinalate at the queen's request, her Majesty is now asking the same favour for a brother of the duke of Lennox, one of the most conspicuous persons at the Court from his close connection with the royal house. (fn. 4)
London, the 10th February, 1640.
Feb. 10.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
25. The Secretary of England was brought to the Collegio and the Doge informed him of the Senate's decision of the 8th inst. He said :
Your Serenity has always shown favour and kindness to my nation, for which I thank you heartily and promise to show as much devotion as your own subjects. He then repeated his instances for Henry Hider, asking that his affair might be referred to some naval authority, as the doge might see fit.
The doge replied that in this matter also they would try to give him every possible satisfaction, and without saying any more the secretary made his bow and went out.
Feb. 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
26. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Their High Mightinesses have sent an express to their ambassador extraordinary in England directing him to ask for an immediate reply to his proposals and, that obtained, to return at once. This is to forestall the arrival of the Spanish ambassador at the Court, from whose offices they expect the business introduced by Harsem for making good, with complete satisfaction to the king, the impression caused by the recent affair with the fleet, will be notably worsened. If the ambassador cannot obtain a reply he is to try and leave the Court, after performing all proper offices with the king.
The Hague, the 13th February, 1640.
Feb. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
27. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Bellievre, returned from England, has practically assured the Cardinal that the King of Great Britain is in no condition to undertake anything against France this year. His wrath at the detention of his nephew is much less than the necessity of employing his forces against the Scots. The ministers here, all the same, considering that it is always in his power to pacify Scotland, still apprehend that some extraordinary and unexpected blow may be struck by the embassy of the Marquis di Vellada against the approaching campaign, which will confound it entirely. None the less they remain firm in requiring the satisfaction which I reported for the release of the Palatine, and before taking other steps they are waiting for the views of the King of Great Britain.
Paris, the 14th February, 1639. [M.V.]
Feb. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
28. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The deputies of Scotland arrived here two days ago, accompanied by the Treasurer. The Court awaits anxiously the proposals they will make to the king. His Majesty declares roundly that he will not accept them unless they are couched in very humble form and accompanied by offers to agree to bishops residing in that kingdom, but that he will go forward with his plans, and obtain by arms what they refuse to concede to reason, after such long negotiations. This course is strongly encouraged by the Lieutenant of Ireland, the new and influential minister, for his own ends ; but the others, although less influential, show more caution and urge his Majesty without ceasing to put an end to the present civil discords at any cost, as if they persist the crown must look for ruinous consequences. Thus amid the conflict of different passions one cannot yet see how far these commissioners will help towards the tranquillity of the kingdom.
After the Dutch ambassadors have waited so long for an answer the king has at last sent them a sheet full of exaggerations and serious complaints about the late affair in the Downs, and other things done in the Channel to ships of this country, and strong remonstrances at their having permitted the rebels in Scotland to obtain food and even munitions of war from Holland. The ambassadors have not yet replied to these fresh charges, but they have withdrawn at this unexpected blow, and do not appear at the palace. Perhaps they are waiting for fresh instructions from their masters as to how they shall conduct their offices in the future, in order to restore the former relations with this crown.
The king has even removed the old first secretary of State, Cuch, who has always been a staunch supporter of the Dutch as well as of France, and granted the post to the Secretary Vilimbanch, who is known to be entirely Spanish in interest and sympathy. (fn. 5) Similarly ministers partial to France and Holland are not employed or summoned, as usual, to the ordinary secret deliberations of the Cabinet, a thing which causes remark.
Don Antonio d'Ochendo is at Dunkirk, ready to sail with 26 large ships, selected to take the Flemish troops to Spain. He is only waiting for a favourable wind. The Dutch Admiral Tromp is diligently scouring the Channel with 48 admirably equipped ships, determined to prevent this voyage of the Spaniards and to engage them in a new battle.
The Duchess of Chevreuse is working hard so that the king may receive the Catholic Ambassador Vellada with every demonstration of honour and esteem. She is the openly avowed author of the present operations of the Spaniards at this Court. She asks that the royal barques shall be sent further than usual for him, and that quarters be prepared for him at the palace. As his Majesty is very friendly to Vellada, from having known him in Spain, she hopes to obtain these advantages for him, and if so, the ministers of other crowns will have cause to claim the same.
Prince Tomaso's gentleman remains here. He says he has ample powers from the princes of Savoy not only to arrange an agreement with Madame, but to conclude an alliance with this crown as well. They have come to no decision about his proposals yet, indeed they seem inclined to let the whole matter drop.
Several English ships on their way to Virginia encountered the Barbary pirates and after a long fight, fell into their hands, to the serious loss and dismay of the merchants of this mart. They have appealed to the king to make strong representations to the Porte, to put a stop to this serious pest. The Ambassador Fildinch has been here to assure me that, in conformity with fresh orders from his Majesty, he has decided to set out to his Post next month, without further delay.
The courier of Antwerp has arrived to-day and I receive your Excellencies' letters of the 20th ult. I am sorry that contrary winds have prevented mine from crossing the sea.
London, the 17th February, 1640.
Feb. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
29. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Four days ago the English ambassador formally thanked me in his king's name for my efforts for the release of the Palatine. His promises have been arranged according to the attached copy. The ambassador said that his king could not oppose this, but as regards what was asked of him personally, he neither could nor would do it, for his reputation's sake, and he would neither speak nor treat about the interests of the Palatine before he was at liberty. The ambassador added as from himself that the liberty might be understood if he was out of the Bois de Vincennes and could stay at the Court, even on the condition of not leaving it. As mildly as possible I told His Eminence the substance of this reply, which he did not much like. He remarked to me very haughtily that the English expect to gain something by their stiffness. They are greatly deceived. Reputation is the soul of the good government of states and they will never abandon it.
In spite of these sharp words I have learned from another quarter that some way may be found to show the world that the Palatine is not unjustly detained, and that they will freely render him his liberty now that the affairs of Scotland seem more smiling ; as their apprehensions of some understanding between England and the Spaniards becomes ever greater. In the present state of affairs great harm might result from this, as if the King of Spain received the assurance of a certain number of ships, the English could nullify all the advantage which they hope to enjoy from the recent victory of the Dutch over General Oquendo in the Downs and consequently compel the fleet of the Archbishop of Bordeaux to remain in these waters, abandoning all the plans which they propose to carry out with it in the Mediterranean. There is also the fear that the King of Great Britain himself or the Spaniards assisted by him may land in Normandy or Britanny, where, finding the people disaffected, they might easily kindle a fire which could not be extinguished without the abandonment or at least the upsetting of the interests of Italy and all the other projects for this year.
Paris, the 21st February, 1639. [M.V.]
Feb. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
30. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
This week has passed without incident at the Court, where the pleasures of the Carnival usurp the place of all affairs. Since the severe declaration in writing to the Dutch ambassadors about recent events, the king has informed them that he does not intend this as a final reply to their proposals but hopes that after they have considered the matter they will take the course which they think best suits the interests of this crown as well as of those Provinces, for which his Majesty has a singular affection and esteem. These expressions have not only assuaged the fears of those ministers, but have revived Arsem's hopes of inducing the king to approve openly of the justification offered by his masters. He works incessantly to obtain this before the Catholic Ambassador Vellada arrives here, whose occupation at Dunkirk over the despatch of Ochendo has delayed him up to the present. They await him at the palace with great impatience, hoping through him to complete the desired marriage of the princess here to Spain, which has been in negotiation so long.
Favoured by a fair wind the Catholic fleet sailed last Friday, and pursues its voyage towards Spain without opposition. The Dutch ships, after remaining several days off Gravelines, have been driven to the Isle of Wight by the stormy weather. They may think of attempting something against the enemy there, but as a squadron of English ships has proceeded thither designedly, it is not thought that the Dutch will venture to attack them in English waters and in sight of English forces, in order to avoid fresh differences.
The deputies of Scotland remain at Court, without seeing the king. They are treating privately with the ministers, to see if they can arrange the principal articles of the agreement before they appear before his Majesty. He persists in the demand that they must come as suppliants, and not as commissioners, and that they must promptly restore the bishops. They, on their side, stand fast to the point that they have no powers to do so. Their protest that the Scots will not be disposed to disarm very soon, for their own safety's sake, makes an adjustment seem more and more difficult, and the wisest men predict that they will return home without arranging anything, so that this crown will not be able to avoid the mischief of a troublesome civil war. For this reason they continue to press forward their military preparations. Many English captains have arrived from Holland and others are expected soon, to assist in commanding the royal troops.
Many ships have arrived here from Cadiz this week, bringing a large quantity of silver, which will be transported to Flanders. The merchants there have received orders from Spain recently to pay the Cardinal Infant 5,400,000 crowns, in nine monthly instalments. If their provisions correspond to their commissions their disbursements will exceed those of past years by one third. This very reasonably causes the Dutch ambassadors some apprehension, while the reports of secret negotiations for an accommodation between the crowns causes equal misgiving, since in their own interest they would like to see the calamities of war prolonged for those princes.
London, the 24th February, 1640.
Feb. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
31. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It appears that the king of Great Britain has felt some offence and suspicion at the departure of Bellievre, and it is said he intends to recall the Earl of Leicester, on the pretext of giving him some conspicuous post in his forces. They would not like that at all here on account of the consequences, and they announce that they are soon going to despatch the Count of Moruer as ambassador. But from another quarter I am assured that his nomination to that post is not yet settled.
Paris, the 28th February, 1639. [M.V.]


  • 1. The Bonaventure. She was delayed until the 1/14 March to escort a ship with gunpowder to Dunkirk. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1639-40, pages 400, 514, 521. Hist. MSS. Com. 3rd Report, page 80.
  • 2. Jean de Montereul. His first despatch is dated the 2nd February. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
  • 3. Charles Seaton, earl of Dunfermline, John Campbell, earl of Loudoun, Sir William Douglas and Robert Barclay. Cal. S. P. Dom., Add. 1625-49, page 618.
  • 4. Conn died at Rome on 10 January, 1640, and was buried in S. Lorenzo in Damaso of which he had been a canon. According to Salvetti it was proposed to recommend the bishop of Angouleme or Ludovic Stuart for the red hat but ultimately an English religious was sent to Rome to urge the promotion of Walter Montagu. Despatches of 17 January and 19th March. Brit. Mus. Add MSS., 27962H.
  • 5. Salvetti mentions the intention of removing Coke in his despatch of the 27th January. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 27962H. There is some ambiguity about the precise date of these occurrences, Montereul says that Coke surrendered the seals on Thursday (i.e. 9th Feb.) P.R.O. Paris Trans. 16 Feb. Weckherlin writes that Coke resigned on Friday (10th) and Vane himself states that he was appointed the following day (Cal. S.P. Dom., 1639-40, pages 433, 434), and this is confirmed by a letter of Northumberland of the 6/66 February (Hist. MSS. Com., 3rd Report, page 80). But the grant of the office to Vane is dated 3/16 February, Cal. S. P. Dom., 1639-40, page 419. Vane's province was France, Holland, Germany and the Baltic States, while Windebank was to attend to the affairs of Spain, Flanders and Italy. Id., page 433.