Venice: February 1642

Pages 286-298

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

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February 1642

Feb. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
333. To the Ambassador in London.
With reference to the pretensions of the merchant Obson, we have obtained information through the Five Savii alla Mercanzia and this has enabled us to indicate to his Majesty, the ministers and the interested parties themselves, on the grounds of that justice which is impartially adminstered to all, that Obson's claims are baseless, as shown by the numerous sentences which have been pronounced. At the moment when we believed the difficulty to have been adjusted the Secretary came into the Collegio with letters of his Majesty improperly obtained, without previous information of the state of the affair, which he presented accompanied by an office of his own of which we enclose a copy together with our reply. You will make use of this, with an appropriate office which will make the truth plain, though it is evident enough, about the illegitimate attempts of Obson, his claims, which are utterly inequitable, our friendly disposition and readiness to listen to everything that he has had to adduce, with a corresponding desire to gratify his requests. But where his demands have shown themselves in so many places so entirely opposed to what is right, the republic cannot prove untrue to itself in giving sentence in favour of one who is completely in the wrong. The seeds sown by a man of evil intent cannot find a place in the mind of his Majesty, who with all his sincerity and prudence well knows that the object of merchants is their own advantage which very frequently prevents them from seeing fundamental things or the baselessness of their demands. And since this man has upon other occasions threatened in a very audacious manner to obtain letters of marque, which amounts to acts of hostility, it will be part of your business to keep a close watch on his proceedings in order to prevent any sort of attempt of this kind which would prove no less injurious to the customs revenue and to his Majesty's own interests. This is a point which should be covered by the authority of the Senator Somso, (fn. 1) who is mentioned in his Majesty's letters.
No letters have reached us from you this week. We enclose the sheet of advices.
Ayes, 149. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
334. That the Secretary of the King of Great Britain be summoned to the Collegio and that the following be read to him :
Every prince knows that the upright administration of justice is an essential foundation of good government. This principle is so thoroughly rooted in the hearts of our representatives that no force that exists can affect it or alter it one jot. The reputation of our magistrates for scrupulousness is of no recent date, and it must be well known to yourself from your sojourn in this city, since it is notorious to everyone. Thus the numerous judgments that have been rendered on several occasions in the causes of Obson ought to be admitted as lawful and pure. To him and to any other subject of his Majesty will be given, whenever an opportunity occurs or equity permits, the most unequivocal proofs of protection and of favour.
Ayes, 137. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
335. To the King of Great Britain.
Where considerations of justice are at stake the republic could not possibly show greater zeal in its upright administration to all and sundry. In the causes of Obson which have been before many magistrates and have undergone numerous judgments, which were all alike, our disposition has always remained most upright as has been proved by our actions, of which your Majesty will learn orally from the lips of our Ambassador Giustinian, with every particular, for your personal satisfaction. This is a testimony to our sincere desire to see that, so far as is possible, your Majesty's subjects shall be protected and content. This is the legitimate fruit of our ancient and deeply rooted relations and of our most cordial affection and esteem for your Majesty, to whom we wish a long succession of glorious events.
Ayes, 137. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
Feb. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
336. Thadio Vico, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Palatine affair continues to drag along. In order to silence the complaints of the Ambassador Ro to Count Traumesdorf, and his threats to depart, they seem to have contemplated sending an ambassador extraordinary to England to assure the king of the emperor's good will and to arrange some compromise. But the Spanish ministers here persuaded them not to do so, as they want the Catholic ambassador in London to have charge. But when Ro got wind of this he intimated plainly that this would not induce him to stay any longer, indeed it would rather tend to hasten his departure, for which he had the permission in his pocket, the more so because he would know by that their intention here to create delays to drag the matter out and that they did not mean to settle anything to the advantage of the Palatine.
Vienna, the 1st February, 1641. [M.V.]
Feb. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
337. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
It has been proposed, but not carried, in the General Assembly, to send an ambassador extraordinary to England to interpose between the king and parliament. The question remains in suspense and there are indications that this duty may be performed through the ordinary ambassador Joachimi.
The Hague, the 3rd February, 1642.
Feb. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
338. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
By 12 commissioners sent to Windsor, parliament made a respectful reply to his Majesty's courteous letter, and afterwards requested him to return to live in London. The king sent them back with assurances of his readiness to afford every just satisfaction to his people and to parliament also. As regards his return he showed little inclination to come as soon as they wish, and this causes no slight annoyance to the members of the Lower House because of the loss suffered by the trade of this city when his Majesty is away, and also because the execution of their numerous plans is delayed by his Majesty. They have many of these in their minds and others have been matured recently, all calculated to beat down the monarchy and to establish a democratic state upon solid foundations.
After much debate the Lower House has passed a resolution to represent to the king in a printed paper that for the safety of the realm and the quiet of those concerned he will be pleased to permit that all officials of the crown, lieutenants of the counties, governors of fortresses, sea captains, councillors of state, his own Household and all others shall resign their charges and that these shall afterwards be given to trustworthy men with the consent of both Chambers. This done parliament will have power to introduce into the fortresses that matter most (piu gelose) the food and munitions of war that it thinks proper, also to put up fortifications where needed to enable the kingdom to resist any attack by foreign arms or other domestic movement, which means giving parliament the sole control of the distributive power and the custody of the crown itself, together with the safety of his Majesty personally and of those who follow his fortunes.
That the queen's Catholic servants, French and English alike, shall be dismissed from the Court and all the priests who serve them. That the bishops, and Catholic lords shall be forbidden to attend parliament. That the book of the ancient liturgy of this Church shall be suspended, as being full of many scandalous ceremonies with rites which conform to the Roman religion, and that a synod be assembled as soon as possible, composed of 150 preaching ministers, to reform the religion of England by their advice. That the princes of the royal house shall not in the future be allowed to leave the realm or marry Catholic potentates, without the consent of parliament, and finally that his Majesty shall take a solemn oath not to receive any counsel from the queen in civil or ecclesiastical affairs, while she is to promise not to meddle in affairs of state.
They sent notice of this important resolution to the Upper House to receive its approval, as usual, and then be jointly presented to the king for his consent. But after lengthy debates the most prudent have refused to agree to such licentious and undutiful demands. Those of the nobility who for their own ends support this policy, after having made much capital out of this refusal, told the others roundly that if they persisted in their opinion they would denounce them to the people as enemies of the state, and that laying aside all regard for their own private interests they will unite with the Lower House for the utter destruction of the Upper. But the others, who are stronger in numbers though less influential, do not seem as yet to fear these threats, and stand fast to their original opinion, which they consider just and calculated to benefit the community as well as individuals.
Meanwhile the most influential members of the Lower House do not cease to work upon the common people to induce them to support their wishes and compel the other side, by the terror of fresh disturbances, to agree to their private wardship, the which, in the despair felt by the interested parties about advancing their own fortunes in peace, or securing their safety, give the strongest impulse to these disturbances (et oblighi col terrore di nuovi movimenti il contrario partito a condescendere alle loro private pupilita, le quali nella disperatione in che si trovano gli interessati di avanzar nel riposo le proprie fortune o assicurare respettivamente la salute, danno l' impulso piu efficace a queste turbulenze).
It causes some astonishment that the Scottish commissioners also, led by their partiality, favour the demands of the Lower House, although it is not to the advantage of their country that these should be granted, as if parliament controls the distribution of offices the Scots will lose what they now enjoy, and the hope of obtaining them in the future. But in the present serious crisis, amid such different passions and uncontrolled appetites, there is no room to find out the aims of individuals or to foretell the outcome although the animosity of the parties renders it likely that they will appeal to arms to decide the issue.
Meanwhile Mr. Digby has crossed to Holland in a royal ship. His departure is generally attributed to the desire to put himself in safety from the blows with which he is threatened by parliament. Others contend that under this pretext he is taking instructions and letters from his Majesty to the Prince of Orange for help to support his falling authority.
With the consent of both Houses they have decided to arm 62 ships of war, to be divided into three squadrons. 30 are to proceed to the Barbary coast, to secure for English ships the navigation of the Mediterranean and to make vigorous attacks on these barbarous pirates. 20 will be charged to cruise in the waters of Ireland and to prevent the ships of foreign princes from approaching those ports with help for the rebels. The remaining twelve will guard the English Channel and be charged to defend the shores of England from any attack. For the support of the first they have set up a fund by putting a tax of one per cent. on all goods entering or leaving the realm. Nevertheless thoughtful persons do not think it will be easy to send so powerful a force to sea, which will call for considerable sums of money and other requirements, which are mostly lacking at present, the money especially. They think that the sole object of this resolution is to give an apparent satisfaction to the merchants of this mart, who complain aloud of the losses which they suffer daily from the pirates, and at the same time to cause alarm to the Irish, and subsequently to use the money from the tax on goods for other emergencies, which certainly are plentiful.
The Spanish ambassador has some misgivings that in assembling this fleet for the purposes indicated they may be secretly aspiring to make conquests in the Indies at the expense of the king, his master, and he is therefore watching the progress of this affair.
Since the Irish rebels withdrew from Dublin they have invested and taken the fortress of Corch. (fn. 2) As it is on the sea, this is considered a matter of great consequence, and at this moment the rebels are masters of the most important ports of the island, while many of the leading noblemen have declared for their party.
London, the 7th February, 1642.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 11.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
339. To the Ambassador in London.
The Secretary of England has had a reply about Obson's affair, although the baselessness of the claim was evident. You will keep a look out to see what the minister here writes home, in order to prevent any attempt by evil disposed persons to damage trade. We commend the reserved attitude you preserve amid the troubles of England. We enclose sheet of advices.
Ayes, 128. Noes, 0. Neutral, 9.
Feb. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
340. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the majority of the lords did not agree last week to accept the proposals of the Lower House about the appointment of councillors and the other extraordinary demands reported, all aimed at stripping the king of the remainder of his authority and bringing this government into line with that of Holland, yet at length even the more prudent have given way, influenced by fresh movements among the common people, who openly support the designs of the most seditious, and these most important resolutions have now passed both Houses. After this they sent yesterday 20 commissioners of both Houses to Windsor to urge the king to place the custody of the fortresses, of the ports and the armies with the distribution of appointments, under the control of parliament, and to permit them to take such further steps for the defence of the realm as may be considered best under the conditions of the time. What his Majesty will say in a matter of such moment has not transpired, and the return of the commissioners is awaited with great impatience to learn his exact intentions. These should supply some safe indication of the future and of the course affairs are likely to take. Fresh and unexpected movements are constantly rendering the outcome more dubious and difficult to foresee while they make men apprehensive of more mischievous events. The most influential members of parliament intimate quite freely that if the king refuses to grant what they claim, they will throw aside all respect and carry out their resolutions even without his assent. If this takes place all hope will disappear that the ornaments of the royal prerogative will ever be peacefully restored to his Majesty as there is also fear of a decision equally inconsistent with the continuance of his fortunes, in the wretched condition to which they are reduced.
Meanwhile the commissioners charged with the task of arming the 62 ships are busily at work to hasten the realisation of the decision. The shipmasters show every alacrity to accept service and pay is assigned to them upon the revenues of the customs, which were formerly devoted to the needs of the royal Household. For this reason the Household in addition to other inconveniences suffers from having no means of supplying the usual outgoings, which renders the condition of their Majesties the more unfortunate and truly deserving of pity. The public pretext for collecting this fleet is that of the pirates of Algiers, and to put down the rebellion in Ireland. But the more secret object is to increase the power of parliament and to prepare sufficient force to put down any movements made by malcontents in favour of the king, as well as those who all unprejudiced, observe the violence with which they are attempting to destroy the fundamental laws of the crown and to change the ancient form of government.
Amid these events the trade of this city and the kingdom is stopping altogether. The ordinary course of all trade has been interrupted and those who obtain their daily food by the work of their hands alone are reduced to the limits of despair. These ignorant people, persuaded by those who profit from trouble, that these calamities proceed from the presence of the bishops and Catholic lords in parliament, have appeared more than once at the Houses of Parliament this week, and tumultuously demanded the exclusion of the bishops and of the Catholic lords also, and that the goods of both shall be distributed for the relief of their present needs, otherwise they threaten orally and in writing that necessity will compel them to take more violent measures ; and so fresh disturbances may break out in this city at any moment.
The French ambassador is waiting to hear the king's reply to the commissioners, and it if is not one to give general satisfaction and remove the fear of greater disorders, he intends to send his wife and children back to France, apprehending the danger of staying here. I also beg your Excellencies to consider the case of a devoted citizen who has served continuously for 12 years.
The ambassadors of Portugal have at length terminated satisfactorily their negotiations for the establishment of relations and trade between the two nations. On Monday the articles were ceremoniously signed by both parties. They concern economic interests only and do not extend to matters of greater consequence. All the same the ambassadors express extraordinary satisfaction at the conclusion of the matter, from which they claim that the new king, their master, will derive very considerable profit for his support. The exact details of the treaty have not yet been published, but I hope to be able to send them entire.
The French ambassador is conducting negotiations with the Scottish commissioners for a levy of 6000 of their countrymen, under the command of the son of the Earl of Arghil. (fn. 3) The Spanish ambassador tries to prevent this by private representations, but he is not likely to succeed since that nation shows itself absolutely disposed to second the designs of the Most Christian as well as to embrace all occasions of profit.
At the end of three weeks when the bad weather has prevented the couriers from crossing the sea, I have received your Excellencies' letters of the 9th and 17th ult. with those for his Majesty, which I will present at a suitable moment.
I have enquired about Henry Ider and learn that he is consul of the Levant Company here in the Morea, and has some trade, though of slight consequence, with some merchants of this city. He does not enjoy great credit here or backers of consequence.
London, the 14th February, 1642.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Ceffalonia. Venetian Archives.
341. Pietro Gritti, Venetian Proveditore of Cephalonia, to the Doge and Senate.
In reply to the ducal missives of the 21st and 30th September, last I have to say that the demands of the England merchants in London are directed solely to lower the price of currants. The more your Serenity and the republic try to direct this affair by sound regulations, the more these merchants profit by it, and belief in receiving favourable treatment only encourages them to despise everything and to possess them with the idea that we must give in to them. There are none domiciled here, but they have their dwellings at Zante. When they chance to come here to lade their ships I give them such a friendly welcome and do so much to facilitate despatch that nothing more can be desired.
The sole remedy for these very great evils is to have at least one half of the currant plantations uprooted, as by diminishing the quantity the trade will take a better turn, and it will be more beneficial if those lands are brought back to the cultivation of cereals.
Cephalonia, the 6th February, 1642, old style.
Feb. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
342. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
There is general talk of the Queen of England coming here to take shelter from the parliamentary storm, and that to make herself more acceptable she will bring her daughter, the Princess Mary with her in order to conclude the marriage with the young Prince of Orange. This is said seriously by persons who have a large part in the conduct of the matter. It is certain that the prince, after receiving a despatch from England last week, is having work carried out with all speed at his old house at Nordende, in order to render it more suitable for the reception of the queen. But as no news has been received of her for a week the report seems doubtful and their High Mightinesses are waiting with great impatience to learn the truth.
The Hague, the 17th February, 1642.
Feb. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
343. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After performing their offices the commissioners returned here on Saturday. The king gave them a general reply promising that after he had examined their demands he would announce his definite intentions to parliament in writing. His answer, adapted to present conditions and to give general satisfaction, is to the following effect. Being anxious to relieve the minds of his people of the apprehension of perils and other anxieties, he approves the decision to put the kingdom in a state of defence, with this reservation, that he be advised of the steps they propose to take in order to carry this into effect with advantage. He will also agree to appointing persons agreeable to parliament to the command of the countries, fortresses, seaports and militia on condition that it is first stated what authority it is proposed to give them, how long they claim to exercise this important prerogative, and finally that three persons be proposed to him for each office, against whom his Majesty has no just grounds for want of confidence, so that he may select the one whom he considers most suitable for the service and for his own satisfaction. As regards depriving the bishops of their vote in parliament he has taken time to consider a matter which involves such serious consequences.
Upon this favourable declaration of his Majesty, which men of temper consider more prudent than spirited, they have had careful discussions in parliament, and although many would wish to be free of such limitations, they have accepted it, with the answer that the power of making appointments should last as long as the parliament, which means for ever, since by the late resolution it cannot be dissolved except with the consent of both Chambers, a thing not likely to be obtained easily or soon.
Meanwhile they are preparing the means for carrying these last decisions into effect. Orders have been sent to all the counties to provide arms and munitions and to enrol the names of those capable of bearing them. On the other hand they are ceaselessly and energetically at work on the preparation of the fleet, while they are carefully considering the persons to select to present to the king. Not without reason men of experience have some misgivings that disorder may occur owing to the number of competitors for the appointments, which will provide the opportunity for fresh changes and for those useful decisions, which the efforts of the king have not so far sufficed to obtain, as would seem desirable for his own service and that of his most loyal followers.
Encouraged by these successes the parliamentarians have requested his Majesty to make known the justification of his accusation of treason against the six, or else to abandon his motion. The king, who is at the moment as dispirited as he is weak in force, responded that while in the past most righteous considerations obliged him to proceed against them, now that conditions had changed he thought it best not to proceed further in the matter, and he was ready to grant a general pardon in the form that parliament would wish, to calm the spirits of his people and give them the most definite proofs of his good will towards them.
Everyone comments on this declaration according to his personal sympathies. While it greatly increases the popularity of the accused among the common people it throws a strong light on the facility with which the king starts on an action and his lack of firmness in sustaining it. This is a strong inducement to the more cautious to avoid mixing themselves up too closely with his plans, to avoid exposing themselves to the risk of being miserably abandoned, to their certain destruction, without gaining anything. For this reason some of those who with evident danger to themselves have hitherto vigorously held to the royal side, realising that they can no longer resist the violence of the other side, although they are less numerous, have withdrawn to their country houses, while others propose to cross the sea, sick at heart at seeing the government of their country under the control of the shameless cupidity of a few, supported by the passions of a licentious populace which considers nothing but the satisfaction of its appetites, who for their own ambitious ends have stripped England of the quiet and the greatness which she has so long enjoyed. Thus the Upper House at present numbers no more than 25 out of 180, while the numbers of the Lower are also much reduced.
The queen also, unable to bear any longer seeing the contempt of the people for her husband and herself, at the persuasion of the Dutch ambassador and M. d' Enflit, minister of the Prince of Orange, has decided to cross to Holland, ostensibly to take over her daughter the bride of the young prince there. The king has informed parliament of this plan, possibly hoping that they would beg her not to go, and that he might in this way constrain them to proceed with him in the future with more respect ; but the parliamentarians are of opinion that with the queen away it will not be difficult for them to direct the king's will with complete freedom. Thus although they are not without misgivings about the journey they have not thought it desirable so far to prevent it.
Her Majesty left Windsor yesterday, she will pass tonight at Grinvich on her way to take ship at Dover. She will take with her the Princess Mary, to the great delight of the Dutch ministers here. The king will accompany her to the coast. She will be escorted by ten ships of the crown to Rotterdam, attended by the Dutch fleet, which is waiting off Dover for the purpose.
The English Catholics are apprehensive about her Majesty's departure because of the support they will lose for their faith, which has fallen to the lowest depths. The Capuchins, abandoning their chapel at Somerset House, are obliged to withdraw, to the great mortification of the French ambassador, who is afraid that he will be blamed by his sovereign for not having insisted with sufficient vigour on their remaining, in accordance with the articles of the marriage treaty.
The queen announces that she will stay a year in Holland, and will return to England when the ornaments of his original authority are restored to the king, otherwise she talks of going to France. I shall go to Grinvich to day to perform the offices of courtesy with her Majesty, like all the other ambassadors.
I am advised most confidentially by a person of great credit and influence that the queen's journey is taken in secret concert with France and covers very extensive designs. As these do not correspond with the present outward policy of the Most Christian, or with the declarations of the princes here, we must wait for what time will disclose. In the meantime I will keep a close watch on a matter which if realised might lead to very remarkable changes here and serve as a means for introducing quiet elsewhere.
The French ambassador has arranged the levy of 4000 men with the Scots, on the express condition that in the event of a breach in the relations between that crown and this, those troops shall have full permission to recross the sea, or to go wherever best suits their interests. This not unreasonably causes remark and shows that they are not altogether at ease in their minds here about the intentions of that crown.
No letters have come from Ireland this week owing to the continued bad weather, which also stops letters from Italy.
London, the 20th February, 1642.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
344. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I paid my respects to the queen yesterday at Grinvich, who received me graciously. She said she was going to Holland to stay until the troubled aspect of affairs should change. She told me positively that to settle affairs it was necessary to unsettle them first, as she considered it impossible to re-establish her husband's authority in any other way. She said she hoped to see me in Holland when on my way to the Imperial Court. The king, who was in the room, approached, and after compliments I told him I had a letter for him from your Excellencies which I had not presented before to avoid troubling him in the midst of his multitudinous affairs, and asked him to excuse the delay. He thanked me warmly. The queen then took my hand and leading me nearer to the king she said : He will urge Baron Dandovert in the strongest manner to proceed to Venice. Hearing this the king said : I will do so, he will go very soon. Write this to the republic assuring them of my cordial regard. I know they are really friendly and it is not a mere compliment. I made a suitable response to this friendly advance which I know was made with all sincerity.
I found the Court much agitated over this unexpected departure of the queen, everyone being fearful of the object and of the results of this journey. Many, however, still cherish the hope that although the queen will go to the coast, something will happen which will prevent her from proceeding further.
The princess, to whom also I paid my respects, announces a natural satisfaction at going to her husband ; but the other princes, in their filial tenderness, are grieved at the going away of their mother and sister, and so is the king also, whose love for the queen is beyond expression, and on this account he suffers greatly at seeing her go.
London, the 21st February, 1642.
Feb. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
345. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Queen of England has not arrived yet, but they expect her at any moment with the Princess Mary, her daughter. They have nominated deputies to receive her Majesty in the name of the Provinces in general. The Admiral has received orders to go and meet her and quarters have been prepared for her.
The Hague, the 24th February, 1642.
Feb. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
346. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Their Majesties set out from Grinvich on Friday in last week, on their journey to the coast. They stopped three days at Canterbury, and reached Dover yesterday. The queen says she will embark tomorrow and cross to Holland with the princess without further delay. Only a few ladies and lords of the Court accompany her, and many are still doubtful whether her Majesty will persist in her determination or whether she will change her mind and return to live here to suffer the present indignities until time affords her the consolation that she does not now enjoy. The event will soon show and the news may arrive before this letter.
Before leaving Grinvich the king made up his mind not to resist the demands of parliament any longer and also to make it plain that the queen did not prevent him from consenting to gratify his subjects. He therefore sent powers to six leading lords of the Upper House to agree to the expulsion of the bishops from parliament, and to give full consent to the bill passed by the two Houses. He has thus deprived himself of 28 votes which were always in his interest and afforded a precedent for other innovations even more hurtful. This is felt to be imminent by unprejudiced persons who observe the aims of the members of the Lower House. Their chief aspiration at the moment is to unite the two Houses in one body, deprive the nobility of their ancient prerogatives, and secure the continuance of their own authority. They do not consider success difficult as many of the chief nobles are conspiring for the same object, considering their present fortunes unstable unless the people is established in full command.
In order to redeem his popularity his Majesty has sent a paper to parliament stating that as the two Houses consider it desirable to continue severity against the Catholics, he will consent to the punctual execution of the laws on the subject. He suggested that a new proclamation shall be issued ordering all priests to leave this island within 20 days, promising, if they do not obey, that he will not spare the lives of any who are arrested in the future.
Parliament and the people have displayed great satisfaction at this step, and as a sign of rejoicing they lighted bonfires about the city and have sent commissioners to express their gratification and the hope that he will support all that the parliament wishes, which means leaving the reins of government and the sceptre as well to their absolute will.
In virtue of his Majesty's declaration about the appointment of lieutenants of counties, commanders of troops and governors of fortresses, the Lower House has made its nominations this week for presentation to the king. Their choice has fallen upon members of the Puritan party to the total exclusion of the Protestants as well as of those believed to favour the king.
At their next meetings they will proceed to provide governors for the islands and fortresses. As these are very profitable there are many aspirants, and accordingly all vie with one another in demonstrations of respect towards the Lower House, everyone trying to recommend his claims by such means. This has not happened before and clearly brings to light the beginnings of the nascent republic. But many lords do not approve of such acts of humility and regret that instead of a great king they have to serve a number of small men, who become more and more haughty at seeing the distribution of the richest and most important offices of the crown depend on their decision alone. Thus men of experience predict that with the former growing impatient of such a yoke, through excess of pride in the latter and abuse in the exercise of their new prerogative, disputes of consequence will arise. Time will show. But while the parliamentarians were at ease in their minds, in the hope that by dint of stirring up the people they had persuaded his Majesty not to thwart the fulfilment of their designs any more, a fresh crisis arose two days ago which causes new misgivings.
Digby, who fled to Holland, has sent letters thence to the queen, the secretary of state and one of his brothers. (fn. 4) These fell into the hands of the Lower House. Being taken to the Upper they were opened, with the consent of both Houses and read, including those of the queen, arousing strong resentment in his Majesty. Digby asks that a cipher may be sent to him speedily so that he may write in security. He says he has seen the Prince of Orange and found him perfectly willing to help the king in these troubles, and he expressed a wish to be informed if his Majesty has withdrawn to a strong place, as arranged, to secure himself from the violence of the parliamentarians, whom he calls traitors. Suspecting from this the more secret intentions of his Majesty, parliament displayed great indignation against Digby, fulminating vigorous declarations against him and his posterity as well.
The Attorney General is also under censure for having taken to parliament in the king's name the accusation against the six members. They intend to punish him severely, as a warning to other ministers not to agree to obey his Majesty's orders without the approval of parliament.
Bad news has arrived recently from Ireland that the rebels, whose spirit and forces are constantly increasing, have cut to pieces in an encounter 2500 Scots and have returned to Dublin, which they keep closely besieged, with little hope that it can hold out long, if it is not succoured soon and powerfully. The rebels' lack of arms and munitions has been opportunely made good, as a great quantity of arms has reached them from Antwerp, and a good number of artisans. These, with the copious supplies of metals and saltpetre in the island, are busy making all kinds of arms and a quantity of powder, promising shortly to supply all requirements.
The city of London has offered to undertake the task of reducing the rebels and recover the kingdom completely on condition that all captures shall be possessed and enjoyed by the citizens. But the offer has not been accepted, as it did not seem desirable to increase the advantage and strength of this great city.
Parliament has remonstrated strongly through deputies with the Catholic ambassador here because the Spaniards permitted the transport of arms into Ireland.
Even in Scotland there is an interruption of the long quiet between the Covenant and the opposite party. Strife and suspicion have broken out again and each side announces its intention of opposing any movement attempted by the other.
Several despatches have arrived from the Ambassador Ro this week. In all of them he reports how little he finds the Austrians disposed to restore the Palatine to his dominions. He declares that all the negotiations will prove fruitless and asks earnestly for leave to return home.
Today I received your Excellencies' letters with those for his Majesty touching the inequitable demands of the merchant Obson. I will present these when his Majesty returns and vindicate to him the unimpeachable justice of the magistrates. I will also keep on the watch to prevent anything prejudicial to the public interests.
London, the 28th February, 1642.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. Probably Alderman Thomas Soames ; but he is not mentioned in the king's letter of the 1st April. See No. 195 at page 156 above.
  • 2. Incorrect.
  • 3. His brother must be intended, James Campbell, lord of Kintyre. Argyle's eldest son Archibald was not thirteen years of age at the time. Paul : Scot's Peerage, Vol. i., pages 350, 361.
  • 4. The letter, though beginning "My dear Brother" was addressed to Sir Lewis Dyve. Rushworth : Hist. Collections, Vol. iv. page 555.