Venice: June 1641

Pages 158-170

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


June 1641

June 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Haya. Venetian Archives.
197. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir [Thomas] Roe, ambassador designate to the emperor in the interests of the Palatine, arrived here from England last Tuesday. He was received with the customary ceremonies and treated with the greatest honour. He informed the States of the reasons which had moved his king to send him, and asked advice on the subject. He assured the government of the gratification of the king and queen at the union between the young Prince of Orange and the princess, their daughter. He set forth the reasons which had induced their Majesties to make an alliance with the House of Orange. Finally he asked their High Mightinesses to maintain certain conditions recently established in the renewal of the old alliance, touching freedom of trade. They granted this without cavil.
The disturbances in England and the progress of the Imperialists in Germany keep the Princess Palatine on tenter hooks. She knows that the greater the prosperity of the emperor and the difficulties of her brother, the less hope she has of an accommodation for her son, and she cannot conceal her distress.
I paid my respects to this English Ambassador. He responded, expressing the utmost devotion to the most serene republic.
The Hague, the 3rd June, 1641.
June 5.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni Principi. Venetian Archives.
198. The Secretary of England came into the Collegio and said in substance :
I recently presented a letter of his Majesty recommending the English merchants in general and Mr. John Hobson in particular. His case consists of two things, one about the judges and the rejection of his arguments. The king requests justice and I hope Hobson will obtain satisfaction. The other is the deposit of the goods which Hobson has in hand, which belong to other merchants who are absolutely unconcerned in this affair. It is clear that it serves to divert trade from this mart, and yet the deposit must soon be made in the Mint. I beg your Serenity to be pleased to consider his Majesty's request and that I may have an answer to my representations as soon as possible.
The doge replied : We gave full instructions some days ago to our representatives to show consideration to the English merchants in the islands where they are accustomed to trade, so as to afford them every facility and relief. With regard to Hobson, this is a civil case about money, subject to the laws of the state, and the Courts are open. Hobson may be sure that he will find everything that he can desire there.
The Secretary, without further reply, made his bow and retired.
June 7.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
199. To the King of Great Britain.
Our action in the interests of the English merchants is constantly showing the exceeding friendliness of our disposition and the affectionate respect which we bear for your Majesty. To this end we have recently repeated special instructions to our representatives that these same merchants who trade in our islands shall be well treated and protected from all molestation, not otherwise than if they were our own subjects. The merchant John Obson, likewise recommended by your Majesty's letters of the 1st April last, will also experience our good will, subject to the aim which we always keep in view, of the maintenance of justice and the laws to which our will is subject, corresponding to the goodwill and upright intentions of your Majesty, to whom we wish all prosperity.
Ayes, 116. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
200. To the Ambassador in England.
We enclose an exposition of the secretary of England and a copy of the paper presented by him about the merchant Obson. This is for your information. If the subject is raised you will answer that our constant aim is that justice shall be allowed to follow its due course.
With regard to the English merchants trading to the islands you will make use of the reply given to the king and to the secretary, of which copies are enclosed.
Ayes, 116. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
201. To the Ambassador in England.
Commendation of his reports of events. Promise him consideration of his expenses incurred in connection with the arrival of the young Prince of Orange. Enclose advices from Vienna and Naples. Commend his reply about Prince Rupert's offer of service. He is to let the matter drop dexterously while making profuse assurances of affection and esteem, but without committing the state in any way.
Ayes, 116. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
202. That the Secretary of the King of Great Britain be summoned to the Collegio and that the following be read to him :
We are always pleased to see you and are anxious to gratify his Majesty by giving satisfaction to your requests, as a sign of our devotion to him. We have already issued suitable orders for the favourable treatment of the English merchants trading at our islands in the Levant and for the removal of difficulties. These orders have been recently renewed. As regards the merchant Obson, since his case is purely civil it should be settled by the ordinary course of justice. Obson will find our Courts full of good will towards his cause whenever he cares to apply to them. He should, however, make his demands through the channels and in the ways provided by the laws, which are quite well known to those who have charge of his affairs. This is our answer, and we will ask you to forward as well what we are giving you to send to his Majesty. (fn. 1)
Ayes, 116. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
June 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Inghilterra, Venetian Archives.
203. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch ambassadors and the Prince of Orange left this city on Monday. The prince made presents to all the Court, but rather on the side of mediocrity than with excess of magnificence. Their Majesties on the other hand presented him with a rich sword, set with large diamonds and other jewels, to the value of 170,000 crowns. He faithfully promised the princess that at the end of the campaign he would return here and stay all the winter, in the hope of persuading their Majesties to let him take her back with him in the following spring.
They say that the ambassadors also will return in November to add their offices about the bride and also for the proposed alliance. Although, as I reported, the old defensive one is prolonged, yet this was done by a private promise between the king and the ambassadors, without the customary formalities or affixing the great seal, possibly with the idea, before going further, of seeing what the issue of the agitations in this kingdom will be and then to establish the negotiations more solidly in accordance with the times and interests, with the approval of parliament.
The people here are awaiting with great interest the report to be made by the commissioners appointed for the process, which I reported. It is maintained that the conspiracy is perfectly clear and if it had not come to light the liberty of the country would have been at the mercy of the king's ambition, and of his most favoured ministers. The consequence of such views may be foreseen and at the palace they live in great perplexity, their Majesties not being quite sure whether these revelations are fabricated or if they are proved by the depositions of witnesses.
After long disputes in the Upper Chamber about the demands of the people for the total expulsion of the bishops, they have decided not to pass it or even the bill for their exclusion from parliament. The lords rightly suspect that this move of the people, that is to say of the Lower Chamber, covers designs to take away all authority from the Upper in the course of time, and to render themselves complete masters, as the course of events so far plainly indicates. The Lower Chamber expresses great resentment at this event, which works to the king's advantage, as by this means he preserves the strongest nucleus of his party in parliament. Incited by the popular support, the Commons are devising new means to obtain by violence those impious ends which they have not succeeded in getting by their efforts. So they are kindling these bitter feelings and many believe an open division may come between the Houses and offer an opportunity to His Majesty to raise his present fortunes. But he will have to bide his time, which is the only thing amid all these disorders that can straighten out what is most harmful.
The truce with the Scots is again prolonged for a fortnight, and the negotiations for an accommodation are in the same state as before. The lack of money multiplies delays and the testing of the sincerity of the boasted readiness to withdraw when the sums agreed upon are paid or merely false pretexts for keeping possession of the most fertile part of England and the most necessary for the provision of this city.
The Prince Palatine never ceases to urge the parliamentarians to take up his cause vigorously, but so far his efforts have produced scant results. Some hope has been held out of printing a manifesto that if the Austrians do not satisfy England this time with the restitution to the Palatine House of its states, the whole forces of the crown will be employed for its relief. But the only aim of such a declaration is to give force to the offices of the Ambassador Roe at the Diet of Ratisbon, with the rigid determination to do nothing to put the threat into execution. This is well known to the Palatine and in confidence with me he deplored his unhappy state, going so far as to say that he could expect nothing vigorous in the way of assistance from England.
The queen mother is busily preparing for her departure. She has sent her gentleman to Brussels (fn. 2) ostensibly to ask a passport of the Cardinal Infant, but I find he has secret instructions to try to get her received again in that country and that the former liberalities of the Spaniards may be granted to her. With their present dealings with the malcontents in France this does not seem a difficult request, as her name and living in Flanders might augment the credit of that party and consequently induce the Catholic king to embrace the proposal.
The Spanish ambassador has swallowed his first feelings about the reception of the Portuguese ambassadors, and resumed audience of the king yesterday. He protested strongly at the constant molestation of Catholic subjects of his king who dwell here. He asked that parliament should provide for this disorder, which, to tell the truth, disturbs the quiet of everyone, and even this house does not escape. The ambassador took the opportunity to offer his Majesty advice for resisting the proud temerity of his subjects and to restore his old authority. Although these offers won very slight credit they were most graciously received.
The Portuguese ambassadors were received in the Council of State on Tuesday, together with merchants of this mart. They treated of the establishment of reciprocal trade, but nothing was settled. The Portuguese claimed to prohibit the subjects and ships of this country from trading in the Indies, which is what they desire more than anything else, so that if they do not agree on this point the ambassadors will leave without a decision, though they will have the advantage of their official recognition.
The Marquis of la Vieuville came to this house last week and informed me that he was going to Holland to perfect himself in arms in the next campaign. When I told him that I had no reply about his offers, he begged me to repeat them.
The queen has expressed to me her great appreciation of the promptitude shown in the despatch of her letter. Yesterday also I sent another letter of hers with my packet for France.
London, the 7th June, 1641.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 10.
Sonato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
204. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir [Thomas] Roe has gone on his German embassy. He has left an impression of great ability. Their High Mightinesses wanted to present him with a gold chain, but he asked that this honour might be saved up for his return, as he hoped to do something to deserve it by the success of his negotiations. He announced here that he had instructions to inform the emperor of the steadfast determination of his king to assist the Palatine with all his might, adding that the English parliament was maturing some pregnant decision in favour of the Palatine House, to be put into execution if Caesar showed any hesitation about granting reasonable satisfaction to the claims of the Prince Palatine.
Reports persist of the queen mother coming to Utrecht, and their High Mightinesses are trying covertly to prevent it happening.
The Hague, the 10th June, 1641.
June 11.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizionim Principi. Venetian Archives.
205. The decision of this Council of the 7th inst. having been read to the Secretary of England, he spoke as follows :
His Majesty is sure of the excellent disposition of your Serenity to our merchants trading at Zante, and he will be very pleased at the facilities promised. I will inform him and thank you most humbly for it. As for Hobson, he desires no more than the despatch of his cause as a matter of pure justice, in which he has confidence.
The doge replied that all due and proper facilities would be afforded to the merchants. With this the secretary made his bow and retired, taking a copy of the office.
June 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
206. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The ambassadors who arrived from England on Tuesday with the young prince, proceeded to the army without visiting the Hague, to make report to the Prince of Orange of their negotiations. The States do not disguise their displeasure at this lack of respect, but out of regard to the Prince of Orange they have abstained from expressing publicly their resentment against the ambassadors.
The young prince seems quite placid although he has come back without bringing his bride. He says that the tender age of the princess and her constitution render her too weak to be exposed to a change of air and of diet. He wishes her to keep well and is satisfied with the promises made that in less than two years he shall enjoy the possession of her here at the Hague.
Further letters from Brussels of the 12th inst. report the arrival of the Queen Mother at Dunkirk, on her way to Cologne, and thence to the dominions of the Grand Duke. They say she is unwell and desires to stay there, fearing the trials of a long journey.
The Hague, the 17th June, 1641.
June 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
207. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After their long secret enquiry the commissioners about the alleged conspiracy began their report to parliament yesterday. They state that the queen, determined not to suffer meekly the insults which she considered that she and her husband had received from their subjects, had persuaded the fugitive gentlemen and others to sound the English army and induce them to march on this city and second her designs. In the first instance she thought of forcing the Tower and releasing the late Lieutenant of Ireland. In the meantime the Master of the Horse, one of the absent and the most favoured, had orders to proceed to Portsmouth, and secure that place for their Majesties, by intelligence with the governor, and then proceed to France to ask for help to support these efforts. A leading person was charged to collect a thousand horse and the leaders of this party had an understanding with the bishops for their maintenance. The prince was destined to command the forces under the guidance of the Earl of Newcastle, his tutor, with the idea of crushing the liberty of the country completely in the end. Such is a summary of the commissioners' report. It is of the highest consequence, but I cannot say if the proofs bear out their assertions, as the process has not been read and the account is not yet completed. Many believe that the bias of the commissioners may have affected the sincerity required in a matter of such moment. The queen is tortured by cruel distress and even her spirited nature has not been able to prevent her eyes from performing their tender office. She fears that hate and temerity may induce parliament to take steps unbecoming her greatness and innocence, the more so because Colonel Goring, governor of Portsmouth, despite his promise of loyalty and secrecy, has revealed the particulars of these designs. Even if they are true they certainly have not gone beyond their intentions here (li quali quando siano anco veri non hanno trapassato l' intentione certamente). For these important reasons the queen sighs impatiently for the arrival of the French ambassador, who has been several days at Dieppe on his way to this Court, where his presence cannot fail to be very helpful to her Majesty.
Although the Upper House has indicated to the Lower the most just reasons which induced it not to pass the bill for the expulsion of the bishops from parliament, it has not been able to alter their original idea, and they seem more obstinate than ever to attempt new means to force the lords to pass the bill removing the bishops entirely from this false Church. The Upper House, however, stands fast to its opinion that this change would be equally hurtful to the nobility as well as to His Majesty. With the progress of these disputes, some considerable disagreement between the nobility and the people seems inevitable, and this is the sole means of delivering the king from his present troubles.
Meanwhile amid all these agitations the negotiations for an accommodation with the Scots proceed slowly. The truce has been prolonged for another fortnight, the Lower Chamber carefully protracting a conclusion so that the troops may not leave their quarters in England before all their machinations have been carried to perfection, that about the bishops in particular, upon which the Scots are equally zealous.
Parliament is busily engaged in providing sufficient money to pay the English army at York and the sums granted to the Scots. They have entered into negotiations with Hamburg merchants to arrange for 200,000l. A careful enquiry has been made into the proceedings of the last customers and the discovery made that they have illicitly enriched themselves at the expense of the crown. They have been condemned to pay 160,000l. which will all be devoted to these forces.
In this connection it has come to light that the United Provinces remain in debt for loans made to them by Queen Elizabeth for 720,000 ducats. They propose to ask for satisfaction without delay, or to hand over this credit to the Scots in compensation for what is due to them. If this decision is acted upon it will not add to the cordiality with that government.
The deputies sent have arrived in Ireland. They report that the troops will disband without disorder and the Spanish ambassador has already arranged with their commanders to bring over six regiments of that nation to serve his master. The Portuguese ambassadors, on the other hand, urge strongly that this permission be witheld, showing that such a numerous force arriving opportunely in Spain will increase the danger of the Duke of Braganza in holding that crown : but here they only think of the opportunity for gain, so it is not thought that these ministers will get much satisfaction. At present their proposals to establish the correspondence between the two kingdoms upon a solid basis, remains the subject of negotiation. There remain to be settled not only the question of the navigation of the Indies, but numerous exemptions which the English claim and to have a public church in Lisbon for the exercise of the reformed religion. With regard to the exemptions the ambassadors declare that they will make satisfactory offers, but they persist in their original refusal on the subject of trade in the Indies and the public use of religion. They promise, however, that the merchants of this nation living in Portugal shall not be disturbed in their own houses, and may live privately in their own way.
For the purpose of harassing the Catholics further parliament has directed that all convicted recusants, as they are called here, and those suspected of being such, shall take the oath prescribed in the time of Queen Elizabeth, i.e. to acknowledge the king as supreme head of the Church, with other particulars obnoxious to the authority of the Apostolic See and to the pope's briefs. The most zealous, who have flatly refused, are forced to prison and to lose all their goods. Others, although few, terrified by the penalties and persuaded by the Jesuits that they can take the oath with a safe conscience, have done so, to the disgust of the papal minister here, who is exerting himself to suppress this new doctrine, which shamefully affects the decrees of the Roman Church and is capable of producing a scandalous schism among Catholics. Such will be the result of the help of the Jesuits in this country to the service of God and His Church.
The Cardinal Infant has refused the queen mother the passports she asked for, on the plea that he has not the authority to grant them. She has therefore changed her plans and is uncertain where to go.
London, the 21st June, 1641.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
208. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen Mother will remain in Flanders for some time, on the plea that she is unable to stand a longer journey.
The Hague, the 24th June, 1641.
June 28.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti. Venetian Archives.
209. To the Ambassador in England.
We have received this week your letters of the 24th ult. and those of the 31st, which show an increasing upheaval in the constitution of that government. With your customary prudence you should observe their actions and opinions with the sole object of inculcating the peace, welfare and tranquillity of the community. We approve of your cautious behaviour. As you are on the spot and these events are passing under your eyes the more reserve and caution you display the more peace of mind you will enjoy. You will endeavour above all not to commit the public reputation. We will consider your request in due course and would desire that you should be relieved so far as our service will allow. We enclose a summary of advices.
Ayes, 125. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
June 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
210. Giovanni Giutstinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The report upon the conspiracy has been completed in the Lower Chamber, and those implicated had some confidence that the proofs did not suffice to justify the charges made when the Earl of Northumberland suddenly brought forward in the Upper House letters written to him by Lord Percy, his brother, one of the accused and a fugitive, in which while commiserating his own misfortunes he gives the earl a clear account of all the transactions, discloses other accomplices and begs him to obtain immunity for himself by an offer to disclose every particular. Upon this information they have arrested Lord Wilmot and two others, both leaders of much credit in the English army and named in Perey's letter. (fn. 3) After a long examination it is asserted that these men have revealed the whole plot and there is no longer room to doubt its truth. After these exertions the Upper Chamber sent six members to the king petitioning him that as reports are circulating on every hand of pernicious intrigues against the liberty of the realm, he will be pleased to make them public, for the consolation of his subjects, and so divert those dangers which a more extended investigation might generate in so thorny a matter. To this demand, which capable men consider a trick to obtain a confession of guilt from the king himself, His Majesty replied, that he assured them he had not taken up anything against the laws of the realm or the liberty of the people. He protested this before God and the world and had nothing more to tell them. With this they departed and are now examining many persons. The end of this enquiry remains uncertain, and it keeps the whole Court in a state of anxious expectation. Meanwhile as they are searching ancient documents to find out what was done with other queens in like circumstances, the fear grows that parliament intends to force the queen to clear herself, and will possibly take steps even more injurious.
The officers of the English army have sent letters to the parliament remonstrating at the calumnies directed against them of having conspired against the liberty of the realm. They demand that these vain suspicions be swept away, otherwise they protest that they will right themselves by such means as they find most convenient. These protests have only increased the suspicions of the parliamentarians, in the Lower House, especially, that this army is very disposed to support His Majesty's fortunes. Accordingly, on the plea of diminishing expenditure they have proposed to the Upper House to disband five regiments. But as the Lords did not consider it safe or honourable to weaken the army while the Scottish troops remain in England they refused the proposal. This has increased the ill feeling, and it looks as if that division between the two houses will finally declare itself, which is so impatiently desired by the king's most devoted servants.
In Scotland the king has conducted intrigues similar to those contrived here, to raise a party of malcontents to the hurt of their forces and of the new government, in the hope of facilitating the success of his manœuvres by troubling both kingdoms simultaneously. But being conducted with bad fortune or with scant caution these designs have been discovered by the Scottish commissioners. Rendered suspicious by His Majesty's despatch last week of Colonel Stuart to the Earl of Montrose, a leading noble of the country, they reported their misgivings to Scotland, where this gentleman, who is a kinsman of the king, was arrested on his arrival and the king's letters taken from him with others that he was carrying to Montrose. Some of these, written in cipher, only increased the suspicions of the government and they decided to secure the earl with two others, reputed to be fellow conspirators. It is feared that they will all pay the extreme penalty. The Scots sent news of the event at once to the commissioners, charging them to remonstrate strongly at the king's laying fresh snares against the liberties and privileges of his subjects there in the middle of negotiations for an agreement. His Majesty on the other hand denies that he had such intentions and declares that the letters to Montrose contained nothing but formal acknowledgment of his faithful service on many occasions, and states that to render his sincerity more manifest he will have the letter printed. But these excuses do not affect the universal belief, and His Majesty's popularity with his people is clearly waning. The king is now exerting himself to induce parliament to take some months' rest in their work, now that the season is calling everyone to his private affairs in the country, so that time may soften the existing asperity and allow the people to forget. But there is no sign as yet that he may look for such advantage, which might possibly prove the best and safest of all.
In the weighty matter of the bishops, although fresh discussions have taken place in the Lower Chamber, nothing has been decided owing to the strong resistance of the Upper. But with the people persisting the Lords may not be strong enough to avoid compliance. The parliamentarians say freely that next week they will give the final stroke to this hierarchy and all the other dignities dependent upon it in the Anglican Church. They propose to place its government in charge of commissioners, until new rules have been settled for the exercise of religion. They propose to establish the same as is now practised in France by the Huguenots, in Scotland and in Holland, which inculcates that peoples shall not support the yoke of monarchy. Already in the public pulpits the ministers licentiously teach that no government is legitimate or acceptable to God except one which divides the rule among all indifferently ; so that, led by such scandalous principles, the people here abhor any other kind of government.
The queen mother, although she seems very hurt at the Cardinal Infant's refusal of her request for passports, has repeated her demand with greater insistence. The king has added his offices and has spoken to the Spanish ambassador in a pressing manner. A further reply is expected and meanwhile he has sent a gentleman to Holland (fn. 4) with the pretext of obtaining the queen's passage through that country if the Spaniards persist in their refusal. As this gentleman is one most deeply in the king's confidence and carries letters in His Majesty's own hand to the Prince of Orange, it is believed that more important business than the passage of the queen mother has occasioned this despatch.
London, the 28th June, 1641.
211. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The directors of the Levant Company have recently presented several memorials in parliament touching the hurt they receive from the Barbary corsairs, and also as regards means for the improvement of the trade with the islands of Zante and Cephalonia. I enclose their petition which before presenting the directors secretly sent to their correspondents at Venice, to consult them and find out what they are likely to gain by the threat of force towards obtaining those unjust profits to which they vainly aspire. Having got wind of this I have cautiously obtained full information of their aims. I find that while nothing has been said in parliament about this affair their aims are all directed to lowering the price of currants at Zante by parliament forbidding their import into this kingdom, where the consumption is so great and the use so universal that the people would not support the lack of them with patience. It is unlikely that they will get this order owing to the serious loss that would result to the ship masters, who draw large profits from the freights for this merchandise, and to the wool trade, which would no longer be able to dispose of the quantity of cloth which they send out to exchange for the currants. Moreover if this trade was interrupted the customs would suffer, owing to the duties paid by the currants in coming in and the cloth in going out.
With the object of improving the conditions of purchase at Zante this Company once tried to introduce currants from the Turkish dominions, but they did not find the market they expected and gave up the practice entirely.
I have sent these particulars, but without express instructions I have not thought it advisable to make any protest, to avoid betraying a premature alarm, which would only act as a stimulus upon those who are interested in these demands.
London, the 28th June, 1641.
Enclosure. 212. Petition of the Levant Company to the House of Commons.
Your petitioners have for many years past traded in the Islands of Zante and Cephalonia and have transported thence to England every year a great quantity of currants. For this they have had a number of ships built, to the increase of navigation and profit to his Majesty's customs. The trade has been going on since 1570 favoured by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth and King James and confirmed by the present king.
At the beginning of this trade the state of Venice imposed a duty of 40 per cent. on the currants exported, with which they were satisfied ; but in the process of time they imposed a charge of 10 ducats per thousand, which was also paid. Not satisfied with this, that State some fifteen years ago imposed another additional charge of 5 ducats the thousand, and at the same time compelled your petitioners to constitute themselves the payers of the revenues of the Prince, called the tenth, a thing which gave rise to many controversies between the factors of your petitioners and the Greeks, and between your petitioners and their own factors, it being most unjust and unreasonable that the State should impose upon foreigners the collection of what had previously been collected and paid for the benefit of the Prince by the subjects of the country, as ought to be done.
In addition to the above they have imposed a further charge of 15 per cent. with a due of 2 gazette per thousand for the Islands, so that your petitioners pay more to the State in taxes than the ordinary cost of the currants.
Moreover, notwithstanding the heavy charges imposed by the State, the Rectors of the Islands, contrary to the laws and rights of all nations, compel the agents every year to take a great quantity of spoiled fruit, sometimes amounting to more than 1000 casks, at a higher price than the natives buy them at, with intolerable loss to your petitioners, and the total ruin of many merchants who have pursued this trade, at least 200,000l. sterling being lost in the last ten years.
Your petitioners tried to meet all these difficulties, having sent for this purpose a consul and principal agent to reside in the Islands, in order to put the business on a better footing ; but soon after his arrival he was banished and was not permitted to exercise his charge ; and now, instead of relief, your petitioners perceive that the evils grow worse and worse, depriving them of all hope of remedy on the part of the republic. Thus the Inquisitor General, who is sent out every five years to reform abuses, has forced our agent, as appears by letters of December, to buy from the Prince 500 casks of currants at a higher price and in a worse condition than the natives buy, and would not permit the ships to be laded until this was agreed to, causing great loss to your petitioners, not only from the long detention of the ships and the expense of maintaining them, but by being prevented from enjoying their property. Further, the Inquisitor, against all law and justice, annulled all the contracts made by our agents and compelled them to pay a real per thousand in addition to what they had agreed upon with the Greeks.
Your petitioners represent that the trade in currants is only conducted with this kingdom, and if those Islands were deprived of the money derived therefrom they would have nothing to purchase the provisions which they buy from the neighbouring dominions of the Grand Turk, as their own country does not produce food for two months ; and yet owing to our submission to this unjust violence the people of the country have become so confident as to say that this kingdom would as soon go without bread as without their currants, and this encourages them to add fresh charges and make additional trouble for us and our agents.
Your petitioners having lost all hope of any remedy or justice from that quarter, and judge from experience that there is no means to prevent these inconveniences in the future save to prohibit the transport of currants from those Islands to this kingdom, either by your petitioners or others, whether native or foreign, until the republic has ordained some suitable remedy, fixing their duties in a more moderate form and granting your petitioners liberty to buy such currants as are useful and proper to be exported, without their ships being subject to detention or their agents molested.
On all the grounds aforesaid, your petitioners humbly pray for relief either by the said prohibition or in some other way which may be considered proper.
[Italian, translated from the English.]
June 28.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Roma. Venetian Archives.
213. The papal nuncio came into the Collegio and said among other things :
I must thank your Serenity for the good offices of your Ambassador in England in favour of our minister there, Count Rossetti, who was much tossed about in that storm. The ambassador himself did not escape, seeing the peril to which everyone is exposed by the maddened people there. In speaking of a bad Christian we are accustomed to say that he spoils the Credo, but there they seem disposed just now to remove I know not what words from the Creed. I must thank your Serenity not only for the pope but for religion itself, which the republic has always protected.
Councillor Capello replied that the piety and religion of the republic had always been the same ; it was the foundation of the state. Their deeds as well as their offices would always prove this.
June 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
214. Thadio Vico, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Nothing has been said about the matter of the Princes Palatine because Doctor Spina has orders not to treat without the English ambassador, who may have reached Cologne by now. They are also doubtful about the Danish minister, because of the change of sovereign there. In any case they have little hope of effecting anything owing to the hostile attitude of the forces of Bavaria.
Vienna, the 29th June, 1641.


  • 1. A copy of the full Italian text of this reply is attached to Talbot's despatch of the 18/28 June. S. P. Venice.
  • 2. Bali Martelli. He started on Friday the 31st May. Salvetti on the 7th June. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 27962J. Montereul on the 6th June, P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
  • 3. Colonel Henry Wilmot, Colonel William Ashburnham and Captain Hugh Pollard, committed to prison on the 14-24 June. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1640-1, page 14.
  • 4. William Murray a groom of the bedchamber. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1641-3, pages 28, 30, 40. Boswell on 1 July o.s. S. P. Holland. He was expected to cross on Thursday 17/27 June. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1641-3, page 13.