Venice: October 1641

Pages 221-231

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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October 1641

Oct. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
262. Niccolo Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Irish troops have not yet appeared which are anxiously awaited at Corunna. It is stated that at the time of their embarcation some difficulty arose in England, but that being overcome, they should not tarry.
Madrid, the 1st October, 1641.
Oct. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
263. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Since parliament rose nothing remarkable has happened here. The point that gives most cause for consideration is the motives that have led to the conflicting resolutions of the Upper and Lower Chambers about the liturgy of this Church. In some places in the country and in those parishes of this city where the Puritans prevail, the resolution of the Lower House has been gladly adopted ; but elsewhere they have refused to receive it and the people protest roundly that they will stand fast to the ancient observance without any alteration, as the Upper House directs. Thus the schism between the Puritans and the Protestants becomes more and more evident, a point worthy of deep consideration.
With the return of the members to the country the original approval of their deliberations is on the wane. Many have gone back to their constituencies complaining that everything in the parliament has been guided by the sole arbitrament of a few individuals, who boldly seized the reins of the government and prevented others from stating their own opinions for the common benefit on the matters dealt with, and that this time there has not been that freedom of speech which is proper and which has always been the rule in the past.
These reports have aroused a strong feeling in many and it is freely stated that when parliament meets again in November the first action it will take will be a protestation that everyone, without having to give a reason, may propose and register that which he considers best for the general welfare. If this takes place it will be necessary for the hotter spirits to proceed with more reserve, and it will encourage those who are inclined to favour the king's side, but who have not dared to do so from fear for themselves. It therefore looks as if, through time and divisions, that the royalist party may increase its numbers and subsequently produce something for the service of the king, as one would expect from the prudence of his offices and those of his ministers, although, if the truth must be told, more caution would be desirable in some of them and more sincerity in others.
All the English troops which were at York have been disbanded. They have not been able to give full payment to the commanders and officers, but have given them sureties for payment within a definite period. These, however, are retained on half pay, although the real object is not known. Whatever it may be it will probably fall through, as all the others have done.
General the earl of Holland promises to be in this city on Monday to give an account to the commissioners of parliament of what has happened. The soldiers of the garrisons of Berwick and Carlisle are ready to embark when the ships arrive which have been sent for them, and the orders have been issued for the complete demolition of the new fortifications at the earliest possible moment.
Meanwhile the remnant of the Scottish army, reduced to 5000 foot and 1000 horse, remains stationed on the frontier. They state that when the garrisons of the fortresses mentioned have gone out that army will be disbanded with all speed. Thus with both parties laying aside their arms, and with his Majesty persuaded that by virtue of the satisfaction given to the Scots they will not in future give their assistance to further escapades of the English, it looks as if the king has given up all idea of using force and arms and that he will try by means of negotiation and by the fear of his resentment to subdue the temerity of the most obstinate, and in this way endeavour if it be possible, to rid himself once for all from the annoyance of this parliament. Time will show. No one would venture without imprudence on a prediction under so inconstant a sky, where their principles and resolutions are changed every day.
The declaration of the Scots in favour of the Palatine has been printed and I enclose a copy for those of your Excellencies who care to see it. You will observe the caution and the generalities in which this resolution is couched. This, in addition to the knowledge of their powerlessness to proceed to action indicate their disinclination to go any further, and their only object, as I have reported before, is to make this paper strike fear, instead of taking the vigorous steps that are necessary. All the same the Palatine is treating with officers for levies and announces that if he does not receive satisfaction from the Austrians within the month of April, the Scots will give him 10,000 infantry and he will then proceed to Germany with a powerful army. But few believe this, since it is known that he lacks money, not to speak of strength, good counsel and ability.
In satisfaction of his Majesty's request a decree has been passed in Scotland for restoring to the Catholics of that country their country and goods, with permission to live quietly in the future. This event has greatly consoled those of England, who hope that the example may facilitate the like advantage for themselves. If this is obtained it will serve for the greater glory of God and for the benefit of those concerned, but it will not bring that additional advantage to the king's position that might be imagined. For with the efforts of the Catholics to enhance his authority it follows as a matter of course that when he announces himself in favour of Catholicism they trust in his greatness for their personal safety ; but when this stimulus ceases and they recognise that the substance of their fortunes depends upon parliament, their interest in spreading the royal authority will decline, and it may be doubted whether they will not become of the same mind as the rest and conspire to keep it subject to the observance of the laws and with a limited command.
The plague has increased somewhat this week again. I am still in this city owing to the slowness of the person who has let me his house in the country. He promises to let me have it now one day now another.
Of the time of his Majesty's return to this country they still speak with uncertainty. It is believed that he will come within a month, but it is not known whether the plague may not oblige him to go to Cambridge, to spend some time there. I report this so that your Excellencies may favour me with your commands, when his Majesty returns to England, whether I also am to go where the Court and the ambassadors are. Meanwhile, until clearer instructions arrive I shall stay in the country as directed ; and if the king comes back earlier to this neighbourhood, which I think unlikely, I shall feign that considerations of health and the approaching delivery of the ambassadress keep me there.
London, the 4th October, 1641.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
264. Act of the Parliament of Scotland upon the Manifesto in favour of the Palatine made by the English Parliament, presented by his Majesty, promising their assistance to forward the king's designs if he does not receive satisfaction through the present negotiations.
Read, noted and passed in parliament the 28th September, 1641. (fn. 1)
Oct. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
265. Thadio Vico, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
In reply to the Danish Ambassador about the release of Prince Rupert, the emperor said that he might go anywhere in the hereditary dominions but not beyond their limits until the cause of his House was decided. But the reply did not satisfy the ambassador.
Vienna, the 12th October, 1641.
Oct. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, haya. Venetian Archives.
266. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
They are discussing the sending of an embassy extraordinary to England, where the States are invited to arrange an offensive and defensive alliance, favourable at once to the interests of the Palatine and to the marriage of the young Prince of Orange. This should be finally concluded with the arrival of the Princess Mary at the Hague at the return of the ambassadors extraordinary, if the alliance is concluded as proposed.
The Hague, the 14th October, 1641.
Oct. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
267. To the Ambassador in London.
We approve of your action about the chaplain and of your taking a house in the country, as reported in your letters of the 27th ult. When the king or the queen returns you will pay your respects to their Majesties, following the style adopted by the other ambassadors. You will not omit any office that will serve for the advantage or decorum of the state, but with such circumspection and avoidance of observation as may seem to you best fitted for the existing circumstances. You will, however, keep up confidential relations with the ministers as usual.
Ayes, 73. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
Oct. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
268. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
While it was thought that the king's return to England must be very soon, M. di More appeared at Otland two days ago, being sent by his Majesty to the queen, and brought her the report that owing to the extra time taken in completing business in the parliament there the king is obliged to extend his stay in Scotland for another month. This gentleman states that some difference about the appointment of the Lord Chancellor has supplied the strongest motive for inducing the king to remain there, and he is devoting all his efforts to securing the selection of an individual favourable to himself, since, in order to remove occasions for fresh changes his Majesty has at length agreed to listen to the request of the people there touching the distribution of appointments in the kingdom. He has granted them the privilege of presenting three candidates for each vacant office in the future, from whom he is bound to select one, and in no other way. This is a remarkable diminution of his despotic authority while it also deprives him of the most fruitful means of keeping his subjects obedient to himself. He loses this most useful dependence of the officials on the crown, with the certainty that in the end they will be relieved from his service while those who have stood out for loyalty and obedience will be subject to the censure of rigorous examination and will hazard their own safety.
The English acclaim this important decision, being persuaded that this event will suffice to enable them to obtain soon the same advantage, and so sedition, instead of being punished, will be rewarded in the two kingdoms. This example will afford a very salutary warning to easy going princes not to allow changes in their government to avoid exposing themselves to such prejudicial contingencies.
Since parliament separated the commissioners appointed have not rung out any changes. They are devoting themselves at present to putting in order the matters which are to be dealt with when the session is resumed, in twenty days' time. Meanwhile in London during the present week bills have appeared posted in public places boldly attacking those members of parliament who took the leading part in the past acts, accusing them of being the authors of seditious deliberations, traitors to the king, the kingdom and the nobility and of having conspired with the Scots to the hurt of the people here. It threatens that if they are not expelled from parliament all those who profess the true Protestant religion are determined to take their life, as the enemies of God and of the public weal. In the country and in the county of York in particular other libels similar to these are circulating, and a universal dissatisfaction with the efforts of the parliament is openly expressed. Accordingly it seems likely that when they reassemble they will proceed with more moderation and that their deliberations will be guided by the concurrence of all and not by the passions of a few only.
Lengthy despatches from the Ambassador Ro have reached the king. He gives a clear account of what has happened in the Diet touching the amnesty ; of the proposals made to him about the interests of the Palatine House and of the emperor's request that he would follow him to Vienna together with the other ambassadors. Your Excellencies will have heard all this from the proper quarter. This minister reports that the Swedes have secretly made him offers that if England will agree to send a powerful force to Germany in the service of the Palatine family, they will be ready to make an alliance with her and to strengthen the forces there with 10,000 foot, so that in the end they may procure the most just relief of those princes, acting jointly. They have replied to the ambassador approving of all that he has done in these negotiations, directing him to continue his dealings in the matter of the adjustment and to go wherever it may please his Imperial Majesty.
Meanwhile the Sig. dall' Isola Borgognone, the person who was sent to the Count of Suisson some months ago, reached London on Friday in the character of gentleman sent by Caesar to the king here. (fn. 2) He remains incognito for the time being and has sent word to the king of his arrival, asking whether it is his Majesty's pleasure that he shall wait for him here, or if he shall proceed with all speed to Scotland to fulfil the first offices of his charge. This gentleman declares that he enjoys the most complete confidence of the favourite, the Count of Tramestorf, and that he brings the secret for facilitating the success of the negotiations in favour of the Palatine House. I gather, however, that his instructions do not go beyond an assurance of the emperor's willingness to afford satisfaction to his Majesty and do good to that House, with the object of sounding the real intentions of England, and if need be, to put a stop, by the finesse of such insinuations, to those generous decisions which the manifestoes published by these parliaments may have led them to expect there is some intention of putting into action. But those who have true information about the condition of this crown and of the disinclination of the people to commit themselves to fresh expenditure do not believe that the published protests will be supported by deeds, or that the English will send, as they announce, a squadron of well armed ships to the West Indies to injure the Catholic king if they do not this time receive the satisfaction which they claim from the Austrians.
The parliamentary commissioners held some discussion about this project of an expedition to the Indies, with the idea of laying the proposal before parliament as a whole later on, but those with most experience did not consider that it could easily be done, owing to the insuperable difficulties involved. The ambassadors of France and Portugal encourage the idea among the members of parliament with all their might and the French one promises that his master will second the efforts from this quarter with a useful diversion in Germany.
The earl of Arundel has written from Holland informing parliament of the progress of the queen mother's journey, and that he accompanied her as instructed. He promises to return soon to this kingdom, and intimates that he will take the road through Brussels, merely to satisfy his curiosity. I report this to show that private and not public reasons have induced this leading minister to visit that Court.
The merchants of this mart are greatly perturbed by the wreck in English waters of a ship which was bringing from Spain to these shores a cargo of 300,000l. sterling in silver, as well as spices and goods worth quite as much. (fn. 3)
As announced, the judges who sentenced my English chaplain published the annulment of the sentence on the day after the Michaelmas celebrations, and so his release has been made known in the most honourable and conspicuous manner.
This is all I have to report from this solitary apartment. I hope that the state will consider my necessity for keeping two establishments, especially now it has pleased God to increase my posterity and give your Serenity another devoted servant.
Barvel, the 18th October, 1641.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
269. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The embassy extraordinary to England remains in suspense. The prince proposes to send his own son there, but cannot quite make up his mind, because he wants first to have the absolute certainty that his bride will come back with him. As this remains uncertain, it does not become his dignity to expose himself to the ignominy of a repulse. Moreover the States do not view this mission with a friendly eye, and display scant inclination for an alliance with England embracing the interests of the Palatine and including those of the House of Orange, as proposed.
The Hague, the 22nd October, 1641.
Oct. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
270. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
By a person in my confidence whom I have charged to keep me advised of events in London, I heard on Monday that John Obson, the Englishman out there, who is engaged in a considerable suit with a certain Bonicelli, a Greek subject of your Serenity, has written to the merchants here who are interested in the dispute, among whom is an alderman, of influence in these licentious times, (fn. 4) that Bonicelli through favour is hindering the course of justice and he had thereby suffered most grievous hurt. The magistrates there had recently confiscated valuable property without hope of redress and his very safety was in jeopardy through the influence of the opposite party. The letters of his Majesty to your Serenity had borne no fruit, and he asks that vigorous measures may be taken to recompense them for their losses. That the merchants, seriously agitated by such news, have gone to the directors of the Levant Company and drawn up a petition to the commissioners of parliament asking them to give them letters of marque against the ships and goods of your Excellencies. That on the Exchange they indulge publicly in scandalous charges throwing discredit among merchants on the stainless justice of the most serene republic and the trade in your dominions.
I made enquiry about these things without delay and find they are quite true. I considered it advisable to send the Secretary Agustini to London with instructions to go as usual to the Exchange, where the merchants gather, and there, without affectation or committing the state in any way to take suitable opportunity to unmask the falsity of such ideas and if possible to assure those interested of the unimpeachable justice which is rigidly practised in your Excellencies' dominions to everyone and particularly to his Majesty's subjects, who are treated as your own. Accordingly he went there and was at once informed by the secretary of the Levant Company and by some others of those concerned about the news they had from those parts. They confirmed frankly their intention to ask for letters of marque for the compensation they claim and even showed him the very memorial which they intend to present. The secretary, fulfilling his instructions with prudence maintained with vigour that there could be no doubt about the upright justice of the magistrates. This was shown to all without respect of persons and there was no room for influence of any kind. The English nation was liked and protected by the Senate. He suggested tactfully that Obson's report might cover private ends for his own advantage and to their detriment. In this way he calmed the merchants to some extent, but they have not entirely given up the idea of presenting the petition to parliament.
I will keep on the watch to prevent any harmful decision, and will support if necessary the most just decrees of the state's tribunals. I have sent this information in order that your Excellencies may give me precise instructions how I must proceed if they persist in their intention, and to uphold here the renown of Venetian justice against the detractions of this headstrong race which respects nothing but its own interests. However, I do not think it likely that parliament will listen to such unjust demands, because everyone knows that at Venice justice is adminstered to all alike and with expedition.
Barvel, the 25th October, 1641.
271. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
All the efforts of the king have not sufficed to induce the parliament of Scotland to accept the individuals proposed by him for the offices of Chancellor and Treasurer of that kingdom. (fn. 5) They have insisted obstinately that the choice must fall on the earl of Arghil and baron Lodon who were the first architects and principal leaders of the recent revolt, although they have since submitted to his Majesty and apparently profess the most perfect obedience.
All the officials of the kingdom have received orders to resign their offices to the parliament, to receive them back at its pleasure, the object being to deprive the most faithful servants of his Majesty and to benefit those who have audaciously engaged in promoting seditious designs.
The Court resents these events, the queen particularly, as they destroy her first hopes of using the Scottish arm to tame the licence of the English here, who are seeking to establish their own fortunes upon his Majesty's weakness.
Parliament has promised the earl of Montrose and the others accused of having conspired against the privileges and liberty of that kingdom that if they will confess their faults with acts of penitence, their trial shall be submitted to his Majesty's discretion ; but so far they have not accepted the offer, maintaining their complete innocence and the merit of having behaved as obedient subjects and in a manner befitting their birth.
By law they have prohibited in Scotland under pain of idolatry (sotto penna d'idolatria,) all paintings or sculpture representing the Majesty of God in any form soever. Those in the churches or elsewhere they have had destroyed, amid the remonstrances of many in whose hearts some sparks of piety still exist.
By a courier who arrived two days ago the king has informed the queen that by the 8th of next month he will be in this kingdom. It is not yet known where he will stay, because of the plague, which troubles London and the country alike.
The French ambassador is bringing forward fresh incitements to induce the parliamentary commissioners not to temporise any longer with the House of Austria, and to seek generously by force of arms to obtain those rights for the Palatine House for which England has so far sighed in vain. He offers that if this crown decides to attack Flanders vigorously, the most Christian will readily allow English troops to land at Calais, on condition that they arrive 600 at a time, and he will assign them a convenient place near the frontier as a place d' amies, with all the provision that is necessary. He further offers that the moment they move here, the French will push a powerful army into the Palatinate, and promises that all the fortresses which they recover shall be handed over to the Palatine himself.
The commissioners replied in general terms of appreciation ; that when parliament assembles again they will make known these proposals, so that what is considered most expedient may be determined thereafter. But those of most experience and the French ambassador himself do not believe that this will make any impression, since they well know that the people are utterly disinclined to undertake new burdens or to lose the advantage of trade with the Spanish dominions, while the parliamentarians are careful not to augment the present good fortune of France.
As arranged when the Dutch ambassadors extraordinary departed, and as I reported some months ago, they are expecting soon a new embassy from those Provinces and the young Prince of Orange as well, for the purpose of taking steps towards the conclusion of an alliance which those ministers are now putting on the carpet. There are various opinions about the real objects of the Dutch in pressing for a new alliance with this crown. Many persons of good sense are of opinion that, dissatisfied with the alliance with France and tired of remaining under the weight of such heavy expenditure, they are seeking eagerly for the support of their friendship here, so that they may thereafter apply themselves boldly to the expedient of laying down their arms decorously and with security against the Spaniards ; or if this cannot be successfully managed, to pursue the war more vigorously and not be tied to such complete dependence on the Most Christian.
The earl of Lester has arrived from his embassy in France, and the earl of Arundel from his in Holland. The latter left his wife at Cologne, intending to proceed to Italy to live in Padua to avoid the persecution from which the Catholics now suffer. Her Excellency is of this persuasion, although she has not been convicted by the magistrates.
The queen having learned of the delivery of the ambassadress, sent her confessor and a leading lady to intimate to me that as this was the first Venetian noble to be born in England she would like to act as godmother, and asked me to appoint a day when she might come and honour this house with her presence. Although I recognise that this was a tribute to the greatness of your Excellencies, yet I was doubtful of your approval, so I contrived to evade the dilemma by replying that saying that I had had the boy christened at birth, from fear that he might not live. I report this in case the English secretary makes some reference to the subject at Venice.
Barvel, the 25th October, 1641.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 31.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
272. To the Ambassador in London.
Approval of what he has done.
Ayes, 103. Noes, 3. Neutral, 1.
The Savii for instructions wish the following to be added to the letter :
It is needful that you should proceed to the emperor in Germany, as your presence is required at the Diet of Ratisbon. In the existing state of affairs in England, where the accident to the chaplain and the case of the French ambassador show the danger to your house and person amid the barbarity of an excited populace who, in their ambition to abase the royal authority, care little for the privileges of the law of nations, and with the king and Court away, you have no opportunity for the exercise of your talents and are left idle. Moreover there has been no English ambassador at Venice for a long time, and it is uncertain whether one will be chosen owing to the present state of affairs, so it is not in accordance with the interest or dignity of the state to keep up the embassy there. You will therefore take leave of their Majesties, expressing the cordial regard of the republic and all desire for their prosperity, informing the king of the decision that the Ambassador Contarini shall leave soon for England, and telling him that you have orders to start for Germany, and that in the mean time you will leave the secretary to receive his instructions and to do what may be necessary. You will perform the same office with the queen and ministers, and that done you will return home without delay.
Ayes, 21.


  • 1. This is a declaration and should be dated 28th August. It is enrolled in Acts of Parliament of Scotland, Vol. v., page 324. The act followed later. In the Summary of the acts of the Scottish parliament printed by Rushworth (Hist. Collections, Vol. iii., pt. i., page 384), this is dated the 6th November. See also Cal. S.P. Dom. 1641-3, page 165.
  • 2. Francis Paul Freiherr von Lisola. His credentials are dated at Ratisbon on 28 August 1641. S.P. For. Germany. Empire. See also Pribram : Francis Paul Freiherr von Lisola, pages 20-6.
  • 3. The Royal Merchant, Capt. Limberi (?), with 180 chests of reals, 500 bars of silver and gold and jewels worth over a "million of gold." Salvetti on the 18th Oct. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 I. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1641-3, page 128.
  • 4. Probably Thomas Soames, alderman, and member of parliament for the city of London, referred to elsewhere by Giustinian as the Senator Son.
  • 5. According to Gardiner the king's selection for Chancellor was Loudoun, and for Treasurer, the earl of Morton and then Lord Almond. Hist. of Eng. Vol. x. pages 20, 22.