Venice: August 1641, 16-31

Pages 197-207

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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August 1641, 16-31

Aug. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
242. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Even after just satisfaction had been accorded to me, as I wrote, touching the imprisonment of my chaplain, the Secretary of State has done his utmost to prevent this from being carried into effect, and to deprive me of the striking honour that was granted. However, neither his Majesty nor the parliament would listen to his passionate pleadings and two days ago they gave me the public audience, the Earl of Warwick fetching me from the house, with the royal coaches, accompanied by those of the ministers of the Court and of all the ambassadors. With an expression of great satisfaction the king expressed to me his concern at what had happened. He had no share in it. He hoped I would excuse the incident and that he had not been able sooner to give me such satisfaction as he impatiently desired to afford. He poured out a stream of phrases expressing his esteem for the infinite merit of your Excellencies and of regard for me personally. He informed me later of his approaching departure for Scotland. In reply I expressed the most complete gratification and assured him of the most cordial regard of the Senate.
To day the queen also chose to express her ever growing regard for your Excellencies by further demonstrations in a public audience. And so I have terminated this affair amid all the most honourable signs of mutual satisfaction. The result has proved so advantageous for upholding the dignity of this office that I do not regret the incident, which has enabled me to demonstrate the regard of the whole parliament as well as of his Majesty in the presence of so many foreign ministers.
Although I am informed on very good authority that his Majesty is very dissatisfied with the Secretary of State for his violent procedure in everything and has decided to remove him from his office, yet I have considered it a wise course to dissimulate this entirely. To-day I have seized the opportunity of his journey to Scotland to call upon him, and demonstrations of the utmost cordiality passed between us. I report this in order to assure your Excellencies that I will not lightly commit you under any circumstances. I have fortunately been able to succeed in this during the long years of my pilgrimage, upholding the dignity of my prince in the greatest Courts of Europe.
Two days ago the pursuivants of the priests arrested two English chaplains of the Portuguese ambassador not far from their dwelling. The ambassador's household and that of the French ambassador, quickly got news of this, and rescued them from their hands before they had been taken to prison, amid considerable disturbance.
The Scottish commissioner, the Earl of Lodon, arrived in this city on Monday. He brought the ratification of the articles agreed upon with the parliament here, and subsequently made a long disquisition upon the perfect disposition of that people for a good understanding with this crown.
As regards the withdrawal of their troops from England, which is the most delicate point and the one which the parliament is most concerned about, he stated that four days after the sums which have been promised them have been paid in full the Scots will notify the precise date of their departure, but before this they will not give any positive assurances about the time.
Parliament is much perturbed at such uncandid behaviour, and is making serious efforts to plumb the depths of the more secret objects of these arms, and to do everything in their power to prevent the king from taking that journey, propounding numerous difficulties and preferring many requests, not easy to be granted. Among the most remarkable it asks him to appoint a Viceroy with full powers, during his absence, to assent to all the laws which are passed by parliament. His Majesty does not seem disposed to grant this request, which is considered a weighty matter because of the important consequences involved, to which due weight is attached. His Majesty does not seem disposed to accept it either, while no representations have sufficed to dissuade him from his first intention of going to that kingdom. His start is fixed for Monday.
The real intentions for his Majesty are kept wrapped in secrecy, and even more doubtful are the results of this step, on which may depend the reestablishment of the royal authority, or the more solid confirmation of that of the parliament. No one would venture to form a definite opinion on the subject ; time alone will show.
A certain amount of money was sent to the Scottish army this week and they never relax in their diligent efforts to provide the remainder, for the purpose of discovering the ultimate intentions of the enemy.
Both orally and in writing the Spanish ambassador here has again made the strongest representations to the king for the grant of the Irish levies, or at least that the 150,000 crowns disbursed by him to the officers and soldiers may be returned. He only received from his Majesty an answer in general terms, about his perfect friendliness towards the Catholic king, but that he could not decide anything before hearing the opinion of parliament. As they do not seem disposed to give this minister a favourable hearing, it will not be easy for him to recover his money, not to speak of the loss of reputation for allowing himself to be deceived by this people, whose real idol is money, and the only one.
Since the return from Holland of M. di More a courier has reached the Dutch Ambassador Joachimi here charging him to inform the king and the queen mother that their High Mightinesses have found out about the promises privately sent to her Majesty by the Prince of Orange about the safe passage of her three ministers, for whom a consideration of their existing relations with France does not permit them to grant a safe conduct, and they think it necessary to inform their Majesties frankly, that these promises of the Prince will not avail to prevent the carrying out of the decisions formulated by those Provinces or from satisfying the demands of the Most Christian king in this particular.
This intimation has made no small impression upon their Majesties. Not only has the queen mother postponed her departure for some days but it has stirred the tongues of the more speculative to promiscuous talk about the degree of confidence existing between the Dutch and the Prince of Orange.
This is all that I have to relate this week of events worthy the notice of the state. I will pass on to thank your Excellencies for the liberality with which you have appointed me to a new and distinguished office. I feel unable to express adequately my gratitude for this munificence.
London, the 16th August, 1641.
Aug. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
243. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The English resident has presented a memorial in the name of his king, requesting the government here to permit the queen mother to pass privately through this state with her Court. Their High Mightinesses made a most effusive reply, so they expect the queen at any moment. It is arranged that she shall proceed with all speed to Gorcum without seeing the Hague, and continue her journey by the Meuse to Cologne, where the emperor has directed the magistrates to receive her with all the honour becoming her rank.
The Hague, the 19th August, 1641.
Aug. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
244. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament has made the most strenuous efforts to prevent the king from taking the journey to Scotland, but all in vain, as your Excellencies shall hear in the succession of events which I will report in detail, as I think it necessary to give the fullest particulars about the difficult situation in which this poor prince now finds himself, in which it is necessary for him either to recover his former extensive authority or to sink completely under the domination of his subjects, with some danger, if he does not succeed in the first, of even more pernicious consequences.
On Saturday in last week, the king went to parliament and after a full expression of his perfect intentions towards his people he confirmed as unchangeable his decision to set out on Monday for Scotland, in conformity with the promise given to the people of that country with the consent of parliament here. The members of parliament heard this decision with much fear and perturbation, and subsequently they spent that night and the day following in unbroken and perilous discussions as to the best means of preventing this journey.
The Lower Chamber, which is composed of persons of little experience in government, made many violent proposals to the Upper. To obtain their intent they suggested a demonstration to parliament by 20,000 working men, who should boldly protest by their shouts that the king must not go. Or they should give him guards to secure his person, while some even went so far as to suggest depricing him of the crown and giving it to the prince or the Palatine, or else to set up a democratic government. But the Upper Chamber, with more prudence, boldly rejected these inequitable suggestions, so little in accord with their own interests.
Accordingly it was finally decided with the approval of both Chambers, that parliament in a mass should go to the king and beseech him to postpone his journey for a fortnight, so that by the payment of the sums stipulated with the Scots there should be an opportunity of rendering it obligatory on those forces to retire to their own country. In addition to this it was decided to send eight deputies to the Scottish commissioners charged to induce them to bear with patience this short postponement of his Majesty's start.
The king was fully informed about these decisions and the late debates and secretly sent word of everything to the Scottish commissioners, begging them to stand fast to their original demands. While thanking his Majesty for the confidence they sent back word that they would not allow themselves to be persuaded, that they would make their loyalty conspicuous and their determination to sacrifice their lives for the reestablishment of their prince in his original authority. Thus when parliament went to the king and the deputies to the commissioners, his Majesty replied that he could not postpone his journey any longer, being constrained by important affairs and by a public promise given to the people there. However, in order to prove his good will towards the English he was willing to wait one day longer in order that it might be possible, in that interval, to deal with those affairs which parliament considered most pressing.
The reply of the commissioners to the deputies was in the same terms. Having failed to stay the king by these means, the members of parliament resumed their deliberations for finding some way of compelling him to do as they wished. They decided to petition him to come to parliament on the morning of the following Monday, under the pretence of clearing up some matters of consequence. When he went he found at the entrance 400 of the citizens here, assembled by some of the more factious members, with the design of intimidating him. When the king appeared, these citizens set up a loud shout begging him not to go. Dissimulating his feelings at such a liberty, his Majesty told them that it was highly gratifying to him that his English subjects desired his presence as much as the Scottish ones did. In this suave manner he rid himself of these folk and proceeded with hasty step into the House of Parliament. There they brought fresh pressure to induce him to remain in this city four days longer, but he refused definitely and soon left the members without hope of attaining their end.
With matters in this position, and everyone discussing the affair according to his personal prejudices, the mayor of this city appeared in parliament accompanied by the aldermen, that is to say the leaders of the people, and said that as it seemed proved that the Scots were aiming at their private advantage, and under the pretence of defending the public liberty were cherishing secret designs against it, they recommended the expedient of stopping on the way the 500,000 ducats sent to the Scots last week, on account of the sums due to them. The Lower Chamber adopted this suggestion, but the Upper refused to agree to it, for fear of exciting the wrath of those forces and affording them a pretext for pushing further into this country.
Meanwhile while the king was busy about his journey for the coming day, parliament requested him to appoint one or more commissioners with full powers to confirm all the acts passed in his absence and to grant a pardon to the members of parliament for everything that may be said or done to the prejudice of the royal authority. The king promised courteously to make the appointment and to grant the pardon as well, but on condition of leaving the deputies a limited and specific authority in matters which he would designate, and the pardon to include not only the members, but everybody alike, with the aim of including his fugitive ministers and the queen's servants as well. And so without delay the king nominated seven deputies and issued a decree for the pardon, with the limitations indicated ; but as these did not satisfy the parliamentarians, they refused to recognise the former or to accept the latter. But the king, encouraged by the presence of the Scottish commissioners, did not seem to trouble about their sentiments. As he was unconcernedly proceeding with the carrying out of his original decision, parliament decided to send to him a third time, the Earl of Linse, Lord High Chamberlain of the Realm, and the Earl of Warwick, to persuade him not to go. But the king, irritated by such pertinacity, told them that he meant to go, whatever happened and he would give those who laid hands on his horse's bridle cause to regret it. Accordingly he took the post coaches on Tuesday at noon, and set out, leaving the members of parliament much incensed and greatly perturbed. He took with him the Palatine and some Scottish lords, but would not allow any English ones to follow him, and this has added enormously to the suspicion and ill feeling.
The Scottish commissioners have intimated quite frankly that their country will employ all its strength to restore the king to his pristine authority ; that on his appearance in Scotland all their civil differences will cease and that they will all serve their natural prince together on this momentous occasion. If their actions correspond with these very tall declarations there can be no doubt but that the king will recover the former ornaments of his government and will make himself quite absolute ; but if these fulsome offers are not realised in fact, those who are most competent foretell the utter ruin of the royal house. A few days should show what turn these events will take.
The Irish deputies also, by order of their parliament, have offered his Majesty 15,000 men, and it is known that they are ready to embark the moment the order is received. The king has issued orders to the officers of these troops who are staying here, to proceed with all speed to their quarters. The event must show what will ensue.
Meantime parliament is much perturbed and greatly afraid, not the least those who have made themselves known as disaffected to the king's service. Under the pretence of following the Court they have sent individuals in their confidence to observe and report his Majesty's proceedings as well as those of the Scots, so that they may be able to take subsequently the course that seems most expedient.
Before the king left he appointed the Earl of Bristol his first gentleman of the Bedchamber, (fn. 1) and delivered to his son the patents to proceed in the capacity of ambassador in ordinary to the Most Christian Court. This is all an affront to the parliament, to whom these lords are anathema, as I have written before. His Majesty has granted other favours to some other persons who have shown themselves well affected towards him and has promised more on his return.
London, the 23rd August, 1641.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
245. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The queen mother left this city yesterday. She will travel by short stages as far as the Downs, and will then be escorted across the sea by ten ships of the fleet and will land at Dunkirk, to proceed to Brussels. When she was about to start she received the passports she asked from the Cardinal Infant. It is said that after the death of the Count of Soissons and the accommodation of the Duke of Buglione with the Most Christian, the Spaniards make capital of her Majesty's name in order to strengthen the declining party of malcontents against France, and to forward their interests in this way. The king has made her a present of 10,000l. sterling and has promised that if she stays at Cologne he will supply the means for her support. The queen, her daughter, will accompany her for two days and will then withdraw to a country house. It is not yet known whether she will remain in this neighbourhood, or if she will go nearer her husband. Everything is very uncertain.
After numerous representations the Spanish ambassador here has at last obtained permission for a levy of 4000 Irish, in lieu of the 8000 which were granted. Following this example the French ambassador has obtained the same advantage, and both are busy arranging for these troops to cross over as soon as possible, the first to Spain, and the others to Normandy.
Among several fresh appointments to the Council of State his Majesty has nominated the ambassador recently returned from Constantinople. (fn. 2) He professes himself a devoted admirer of your Excellencies, and exalts to the skies the Bailo Contarini, as deserving well of all Christendom. This praise repeated here tends to raise the estimation of Sig. Vincenzo, appointed to serve you here.
Fresh disturbances have occurred at the house of the ambassadors of Portugal, because of the great crowd of Catholics who frequent their chapel, and because they keep several English chaplains. However, the king and parliament have taken steps to ensure that the house shall be better respected in the future, as is only right.
I have received your Excellencies' letters of the 2nd inst. and in accordance with my instructions I yesterday again assured Lord Fildin of the state's appreciation of his continued offices in the interests of your Serenity and those of the allied princes. He replied with the utmost modesty. I must not forget to report that Fildin and the Secretary at Venice are devising some way of approaching the Senate about a fresh treaty in favour of the English merchants trading at Zante and Cephalonia. They express the intention of prevailing by their representations to bring about an alteration in the ancient laws of the state, more particularly with respect to relieving Englishmen of the obligation to appear before the magistrates of Venice in case of litigation. These ministers hope subsequently to obtain considerable advantage for themselves from the interested parties, in return for their offices. I have received notice of these particulars from a person well affected to your Serenity, and have thought proper to report it. At the same time I have not failed to notify the chief of the merchants here who trade to the islands of your Excellencies, of the new and positive orders sent to the Rectors there to treat them well and to remove every just occasion for complaint, more especially about the long detention of their ships and the compulsion to buy currants of bad quality. They have expressed entire satisfaction with this, and I do not think there is any fear now that they will go on with their original demands. These would not be taken up, and even if they were, which I consider improbable, the result would be a considerable falling off in the revenues of this crown and in those of individuals as well, causing an outcry among the people. I put forward these considerations to serve their purpose, and I lose no opportunity of advancing any argument which seems most likely to prevent from taking a prejudicial decision.
Fildin asked me, when an opportunity occurred, to confirm to their Majesties the satisfaction of your Excellencies at his employment, and to ask that means may be supplied to him for proceeding to Venice without further delay. I promised to do my best ; but I shall proceed with caution and decorum, avoiding committing myself to anything acting merely by way of suggestion, and then only if I find a suitable opening, the object being that this crown may not postpone any longer its proper correspondence by sending an ambassador to your Excellencies.
While I am writing this a gentleman has come to this house from the Secretary of State, who is absent, and handed me the attached letter from the king for your Serenity, asking me to forward it. His Majesty also has given me to understand that the sons of the Earl of Corch (fn. 3) are going to Venice merely out of curiosity. He asked that I should let them have letters to some of the Rectors on the frontiers and to some of the noblemen at Venice so that they might have facilities for observing what is most curious and remarkable in our country. I promised to forward the king's letter, presuming that it contains nothing prejudicial, for I have not been able to see a copy, as I should have done, owing to the secretary being away. I have also supplied letters of introduction for these gentlemen to the Rectors of Brescia, and to Sig. Bortolamio Gradenigo, Girolamo Mocenigo and Lorenzo Delfino at Venice.
London, the 23rd August, 1641.
Enclosure. 246. Charles, King of Great Britain etc. to Francisco Erizzo, Doge of Venice.
Request to receive Paolo de' Medici as one of the soldiers of the republic, as an act of friendship to himself.
Dated at Westminster, 30th July, 1641.
[Signed :] Carolus Rex.
Aug. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
247. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The queen mother has not arrived yet. We hear that she is staying outside London, in poor health. Their High Mightinesses have directed that she shall be courteously treated on her passage, but without ceremonies. They hope in this way to satisfy the French ambassador, who is trying to remove every excuse that would enable the queen to make a stay in this state, such as indisposition, so as to stop where she is least wanted.
The Hague, the 26th August, 1641.
Aug. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
248. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After travelling with all speed for five days his Majesty reached the city of Edinburgh on Saturday in last week. The people of that capital met him with demonstrations of applause. We are now waiting with impatience to hear what real sentiments his presence will arouse among them, and whether the lavish promises of the commissioners will prove sincere and will result in corresponding deeds, since many feel doubtful about it, more particularly because of the lack of union among that people, a defect that cannot fail to be most injurious to the king's fortunes on this occasion.
On his way the king saw the remains of the English army and passed through the middle of that of the Scots ; where he was received and entertained by General Lesle with every sign of the utmost respect. It is said that to attach him the more the king promised to give him the rank of an earl of England, with other rich advantages.
General the Earl of Holland has informed parliament of the passage of his Majesty and of the way in which Lesle received him. He reports that the Scots, under the plea of honouring the king, have greatly increased their forces, His letters express the scant confidence he feels in the sincerity of that commander or in the affection of the people of the North for the parliament, and he urges them to prevent by prudent council those evils which he believes to be threatening this kingdom.
These letters have stirred fresh suspicion in the hearts of the parliamentarians, in those of the Lower Chamber in particular. They have recently held frequent consultations as to the best means of preventing any move by the Scots, and also of keeping in check the people of England, so that they may not support the king, if, with those forees at his back, he should decide to throw off the yoke to which the new laws have subjected him, and to take vengeance on their authors.
With this end in view they proposed to send deputies to the parliament of Scotland with instructions to prevent any prejudicial decision, and to observe carefully the proceedings of the king. But after a long discussion the idea fell through, owing chiefly to the opposition of the Lord Keeper, who protested boldly that the authority of parliament did not extend to the sending of persons with public commissions to foreign princes or parliaments without the express permission of the king.
This first suggestion being thus abandoned they decided to send three deputies to his Majesty, two of the Lower Chamber and one of the Upper, (fn. 4) on the specious pretext of asking leave for the deputation indicated, but in order that these three may perform that office in secret, and they are to perform privately that which it is proposed to send to the parliament of Scotland. Many members of parliament of the highest reputation have been sent through the counties of the realm to propagate among the people ideas favourable to the parliament but inimical to the king's service and to the intentions of the Scots as well. They are hastening the despatch of Colonel Gorin to the fortress of Posmoud, of which he is governor, to go without further delay, and they will give him 20,000 crowns for the completion of the new fortifications there. In the Tower of London here they have augmented the garrison of citizens, and for greater safety and to cause less inconvenience this is changed every evening. They have given the charge of it to the Earl of Newport with instructions to provide it with everything necessary.
The members of Parliament have also held numerous conferences with the Scottish commissioners, with the object of giving them the most complete satisfaction. Although the commissioners try to have it believed that when the leaders of their government have received the money down together with security for the remainder, their forces will leave Newcastle before the 5th of next month, this is not entirely credited. They consider it a device for the purpose of making sure of the outlay and to prevent them here from hastening to provide a valid resistance. Amid so much suspicion and mistrust it is impossible to foresee the course of events, subject as they are to so many contingencies. Only time can decide.
Meanwhile the parliament of the Upper Chamber has assembled to the number of 34 only. All the rest have gone away to enjoy the pleasures of the country, with the good excuse of the plague or of domestic cares. Possibly they feel a prudent desire not to mix themselves in the uncertainty of these difficult affairs, tossed about by such different interests and passions. At present the Lower Chamber does everything, or rather those who profess themselves interested in the past deliberations, and who have offended the princes here more than anyone else, cloaking their private cupidity under the mantle of zeal for the public welfare.
Being anxious to uphold its credit with the Puritans the Lower Chamber has again brought forward the proposal to exclude the bishops of this false Church, but they have not been able to settle anything because of the resistance of the Upper House, and the absence of the king, whose consent is necessary.
Since his Majesty's departure the Superior of the Capuchins who serve the queen, has been arrested. The Lower House together with the remains of the Upper have seized this opportunity and decreed two days ago that these religious must leave the kingdom, hoping by such a decision to win the applause of the people. But the French ambassador, having early information about all this, has obtained the release of the prisoner by his vigorous representations, and has also stopped for the moment the execution of the decree, as being contrary to the marriage articles arranged with that crown.
The queen is much annoyed at this event as well as at the steps taken. She announces that she will not stay any longer in this kingdom if circumstances do not change. She repeats her determination to proceed to Holland, declaring that she has been invited to stay there by their High Mightinesses and by the Prince of Orange, with the most courteous offers.
Fresh difficulties have arisen about the transport to Spain of the Irish troops granted to the ambassador, and the result of that business seems more uncertain than ever. It clearly shows how little trust can be placed in the promises of this government, and the difficulties which surround the successful conduct of affairs in this country.
With the increase of the heat, which is remarkable, the plague is making great strides and everyone is making haste to leave London. This house is surrounded by three neighbours which are attacked by the disease, and I am not unnaturally perturbed by this fresh misfortune, among those with which it has pleased God to visit me. I am sending word of the progress of the plague here to the Sopra Proveditori and to the Proveditori alla Sanità, so that they may take steps to safeguard the public health.
London, the 30th August, 1641.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. Sworn on Sunday the 18th August. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1641-3, page 81.
  • 2. Sir Peter Wyche was made a member of the Council on Sunday the 18th, Salvetti on 23 Aug. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 I.
  • 3. Francis and Robert Boyle, sixth and seventh sons of Richard Boyle, earl of Cork. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 4. The earl of Bedford, Sir Philip Stapleton and John Hampden. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1641—3, page 93.