Venice: April 1640

Pages 32-40

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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April 1640

April 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
49. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters from Antwerp relate that an English ship is expected there bringing two million florins from San Lucar for the use of the Cardinal Prince and the Flemish merchants. (fn. 1) But they believe there that the English have treacherously taken the ship with the money to Barbary, and accordingly the Antwerp merchants are offering their shares at a loss of 80 per cent. Amsterdam feels the blow as well, since both towns have many interests in common, both collectively and individually.
The Hague, the 2nd April, 1640.
April 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
50. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Prince Casimir has left for Brussels with the Ambassador of Poland. The Prince Palatine is lodged in the quarters where Prince Casimir stayed, royally entertained at the king's cost. The conditions under which he came out of the Bois de Vincennes are that he will not leave France without the king's consent, having meanwhile signed a paper in which he declares that in passing incognito through this kingdom he had no intention prejudicial to the king's service, but was going to the army of the Duke of Weimar with no other end than to advance their interests here. They are now waiting to see how the news of this event will be received by the king of Great Britain, in order, if possible, to suggest overtures for arranging with him some way of putting in order the distresses of this afflicted house. The Prince seems resolved to follow the advice and support the decisions of the king and cardinal here.
Paris, the 3rd April, 1640.
April 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
51. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the king and ministers did not seem pleased about the release of the Prince Palatine, yet the foreign ministers have offered their compliments, and I thought it advisable to add the same, with some circumspection, as your Excellencies have always used your influence in favour of that House. The king seemed highly pleased by the office. He intimated that he did not fully understand all the conditions upon which his nephew had come out of the Bois de Vincennes, and he expressed his especial gratification at the offices performed on his behalf by the ministers of the Senate.
The negotiations for a composition with the Scots go on as before without any better hope of progress. Finding that the way to a perfect adjustment becomes ever more difficult, they are perfecting their military preparations with great energy, as well as taking all other steps necessary to render vain any attempt to use force on the king's part, if he tries to subdue them on the interruption of negotiations. They recently attempted to increase some earthworks in the fortifications of Edinburgh, but the governor, with loyalty to the king and a corresponding detestation for the people, threatened to fire his guns at the city if they continued, thus upsetting their plans. This has pleased his Majesty the more because it increases his confidence that the castle can be depended upon to afford useful support to his forces, and that it is also valuable for humbling the overweening pride of the people there.
They talk of the despatch of an ambassador extraordinary from the King of Denmark to this court. It is supposed that his mission will be to inform his Majesty of the alliance against the Dutch said to have been arranged between the Spaniards and that crown, to make tempting proposals and invite him to join them for the same objects. The Ambassador Joachimi, fearful lest these overtures may find his Majesty a willing listener, exerts his skill to avert serious trouble from his masters, although the present internal disturbances should in my opinion suffice to relieve them for the time being of all apprehension.
The Earl of Leicester, owing to many slights which he reports having received at the French Court, presses hard for permission to return to England as soon as possible. As the king inclines to grant this, the Ambassador Fildinch is working hard to secure the appointment to that post. If he succeeds his nomination to Venice will fall through, and as the ministers here consider it unnecessary to keep an ordinary ambassador there, it may easily happen that no one will be appointed to take his place, as past experience has shown, especially now that the expenses of the crown are multiplied, and they are trying hard to cut down those which are least profitable.
The disastrous news is confirmed that the English ship Rebecca has fallen into the hands of Turkish pirates together with a Hamburgher. They were sailing from Cadiz for English ports with a cargo of 1,800,000 ducats in money with their property. The merchants of this mart feel the blow severely, especially owing to the well founded apprehension that on the strength of this booty the pirates may scour the waters of the Ocean more vigorously in the future, and completely cut off the trade of this nation, which brings such great profits to the public revenues and to private purses.
The Marquis of Vellada, having heard from the Catholic minister here of the resentment felt at the Palace at his long delay in coming to this Court, has put all other considerations on one side and sailed on Monday from Dunkirk. Being favoured by the wind he put in at Dover yesterday.
London, the 6th April, 1640.
April 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
52. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
They are affording the Palatine all the honours that were done to Prince Casimir. The Earl of Leicester intimates that the King of Great Britain does not entirely approve of the form of his release, and holds out very little hope of entering into any negotiations about his interests while he remains in this conditional liberty.
Suresnes, the 10th April, 1640.
April 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
53. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Marquis of Vellada, ambassador extraordinary of the Catholic, made his public entry into this city two days ago, with great pomp. To-day a courier arrived from Farmoud (fn. 2) with the unexpected news that the Marquis Virgilio Malvezzi has arrived at that port from Spain, also in the capacity of Spanish minister to this crown. Here they are utterly in the dark as to the objects of this sudden mission, and everyone, especially his Majesty, is full of impatient curiosity to learn the particular instructions of this second ambassador extraordinary. It has excited the more remark since it comes at the very time when Vellada was expected, and because of the intimacy of this gentleman with the Count Duke. Meanwhile they will send to meet him to-morrow, in the usual way, and he will soon be here. It is not yet known whether Vellada will see the king before Malvezzi arrives in this city.
With the Marquis of Vellada the Marquis Villa crossed from Flanders for this Court, being sent in the capacity of gentleman by the Duke of Lorraine. He had private audience of his Majesty without loss of time, and from what I hear he merely asked for recruits for the English and Irish regiments among the duke's forces. If he brings other affairs, as some think, they will come out so soon as the Catholic ambassadors begin operations.
The ambassador of Prince Tomaso has long secret conferences with Vellada and states that he has commissions from his master to co-operate for Spanish interests at this Court. I will keep my eye on them all and send full reports.
The activity in pushing forward warlike preparations here and the orders for troops to advance to the frontier have so increased the exasperation of the Scots, that, laying aside every other consideration, they have not only resumed work on the fortification of Edinburgh, but have sent the Earl of Argyle hurriedly with several companies of soldiers to the neighbouring islands in order to force the inhabitants to take their side, as they have done, inflicting the extreme penalty on some who remained loyal to his Majesty and tried to withstand the earl. Having subdued the islands he is now scouring the waters there with numerous vessels, devoting his activities to the defence of several positions on the coast, with the design of keeping off his Majesty's fleet, if he decides to send it there, as announced.
The king was much incensed at the news of these liberties and sent an express to the warden of Edinburgh to fire his guns on the people if he cannot otherwise prevent them going on with the work. If this happens it will bring to the ground the negotiations carried on here with the commissioners, so far without result, and will involve this crown in the disagreeable necessity of a most troublesome civil war.
However, the Irish parliament has opened auspiciously. It unanimously voted four subsidies to the king, amounting to 200,000l. of their money here, and the Lieutenant reports the willingness of the people there to give all they possess in order that the crown may recover its authority in Scotland. On the other hand the parliamentarians in England, resolute in upholding the cause of the rebels, let it be clearly understood that they will not consent to any contribution for this purpose. Accordingly his Majesty's hopes of obtaining any good from the meeting of parliament grow less and less while those of the Scots grow brighter for throwing off the yoke of their natural obedience to this prince.
London, the 13th April, 1640.
April 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
54. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador has tried every way but in vain, to obtain the release of thirty English slaves, taken in England itself, who were on board three bertons of Algiers which arrived here recently. The masters of the bertons have been in the Divan and the first Vizier condemned the excess as contrary to the capitulations, warning them not to repeat it in the future, but in the meantime they have kept their slaves. (fn. 3)
The Vigne of Pera, the 14th April, 1640.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
April 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
55. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Troops from Ireland reach the Cardinal Infant almost regularly and in good numbers. It would seem that England has agreed to their coming over although the king of England is proceeding more and more energetically with his military preparations, and he is so short of leaders of experience to command his forces that he is trying to draw away as many as he can from this country attracting them with the most tempting inducements (attirandoli con ingordissimi allettamenti). He has made an offer of an exchange to these States, to take eighty veteran soldiers, selecting one from each company, and although from the ranks to give them commissions as captains, while he would send to this state in the place of these 80,200 or more soldiers from his kingdom. This proposal has been referred to the prince for decision.
The Hague, the 14th April, 1640.
April 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
56. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Windebank has left, partially satisfied about the release of the Palatine. He declared that his king did not agree to the manner of it and will not treat at all for the good of his nephew until he enjoys a liberty free from all conditions. They talk at Court, but I know not on what grounds, of sending the Palatine to England accompanied by the Duke of Scevrosa, and that the journey may serve also to bring back his duchess to France, as under present circumstances they cannot see her remain at that Court without suspicion.
Suresnes, the 17th April, 1640.
April 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
57. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Without waiting for the arrival here of the Ambassador Malvezzi the Marquis Vellada had his first public audience of their Majesties on Wednesday all the leading lords and ladies of the Court being present as well as a large crowd of people. His first offices did not go beyond the usual terms and from the future private audiences we shall discover the particulars of his proposals, on which I shall keep a sharp look out. Meanwhile Vellada does not seem entirely satisfied with the way in which he has been lodged by the king's order, and he seems inclined to shorten in every way his stay here, perhaps being persuaded that the civil disturbances of the kingdom make the success of his master's plans very difficult, while the hopes of progressing with the marriage between the princess here and Spain die down in the ministers here, who suspect that the Spaniards are not sincere in the matter.
The Marquis Villa also has seen the king again. After informing him of his master's interests he wanted to give the king the manifesto published by the duke on the invalidity of his marriage ; but the king roundly refused to take it, and the queen also, both declaring that they were more closely related to the duchess than to the duke, and so they could not fall in with his aims in this matter. They have given him no reply about the recruits so far, and the Marquis does not press the subject, as he lacks the necessary remittances to meet the cost of the levy.
The Scottish commissioners stay on in this city, but since their last conference with the king they have done nothing upon their very difficult business. As no further news has come from Scotland this week they are impatient at Court to hear from the warden at Edinburgh if he has succeeded in preventing the rebels from completing the fortifications they began. Meanwhile all their energies are devoted to increasing the army and in sending troops to the frontier with all speed, especially cavalry. In Ireland 8000 men are ready, who have undertaken to raise the people there, at their own cost, to invade Scotland from that quarter when his Majesty gives the signal.
The scarcity of grain in Holland owing to the prohibition of trade with Denmark has compelled the States to apply to the king to permit the merchants of Amsterdam to export some quantity from this kingdom for the needs of those Provinces. This was readily granted, to the disgust of the Spaniards, who tried to prevent the Dutch government from obtaining this convenience.
To the great satisfaction of the Catholic ministers here five ships arrived in these ports from Cadiz last Monday, bringing 500 chests of money, destined for the campaign in Flanders.
I have to-day received your Excellencies' letters of the 23rd ult. As instructed I will make every effort to find out who is the English captain who bought from pirates at Modone goods from the ship of San Giovanni di Patino, so as to have him punished, but I shall want some more information.
London, the 20th April, 1640.
April 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
58. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament was opened in state on Monday. His Majesty went to open it, accompanied by the leading lords and officers of the crown. He gave a significant account to the members of the continued disobedience of the Scots and the need of bringing them to their duty by force. He asked for prompt contributions for this most just cause, giving his royal promise to grant them every possible satisfaction in September. He did not wish them to deal with any affairs at present, as the question of getting the army into the field was too urgent. To throw into relief the guilt of the rebels and at the same time induce the members to grant what he asked, the king opened an intercepted letter from the Scots to the Most Christian, sent by a gentleman, now a prisoner here, to beg for help. After having this read with great emphasis, he made the most of it by his comments, which the Lord Keeper enlarged upon in a long speech. This concluded the first acts of the session. So far they have done nothing further, as they have devoted themselves these last days to the cognisance of the powers of each and to the choice of the ministers who serve as go between for the king and parliament. No one believes that parliament is disposed to give satisfaction before receiving it, while it is suspected that now all the humours of this great body are stirred up and united it will not be easy for his Majesty to rid himself of this assembly without making important concessions to the people, with scant hope of obtaining adequate assistance for his present serious requirements from their liberality.
Two days before parliament met his Majesty had the Scottish commissioners arrested and all their papers taken away, under the pretext that the continuation of their negotiations was a sham, with the secret design of temporising and concluding nothing, but chiefly because one of them was a signatory of the letter to the King of France. This one is in the Tower, more strictly guarded than the others, to be subjected to a severe examination, and it is freely said that the king means to have him condemned to the extreme penalty for his grave crime. This has entirely broken off the negotiations, and in this matter everything tends to a conflict. (fn. 4)
The Scots on their side show no lack of watchfulness and activity to oppose a vigorous resistance to the first assault. They have perfected the fortifications of Edinburgh, without seeming afraid any more of attack from the castle. They have sent forward their troops to the frontier, which are understood to be both numerous and perfectly disciplined, under leaders of reputation and experience. So much cannot be said of the king's army, composed entirely of new soldiers with officers more skilful in showing their discipline and service at Court than in the field.
The Ambassador Malvezzi has arrived in this city incognito. He is lodged in Vellada's house and they have orders from Spain to live together. He is now engaged in preparing for his appearance. Vellada has not seen the king since his public audience ; neither does he receive visits, possibly intending to do this with Malvezzi. Both have long and frequent conferences with the Duchess of Chevreuse. On behalf of the Count Duke Malvezzi brought her a present of the portraits of the prince and little infanta of Spain, in a costly setting of diamonds.
With regard to the marriages I observe that the Spaniards contend that the suggestions made hitherto must not count for anything, but that definite proposals must be made from this quarter, since they do not wish to be the first to make overtures. On the strength of this business the ambassadors have instructions to urge upon this crown the declarations and alliance reported. The Chevreuse displays great industry and ardour to induce their Majesties here to take this initial step, and to nominate an ambassador extraordinary to the Catholic to make a ceremonious proposal of the marriages. But if her husband the Duke of Chevreuse should come to this Court, as reports state, she would not dare to wait for him, but proposes to cross to Brussels before his arrival, and so the Spaniards would lose this powerful support for their negotiations. These meet with opposition from those who are attached at once to the public cause and to France. The Dutch move cautiously to enlighten the king and queen, more particularly upon the arts with which the Austrians study to part this crown from its old friends for the purpose of obliging it subsequently to second the vast ambitious designs of the Spanish monarchy.
These two ministers also keep up a close correspondence with the French malcontents living here ; everything goes to show that they are conducting intrigues against that Crown. The Duke of Soubise, who usually spends all his time in the country, came unexpectedly to London on the arrival of the ambassadors, and he also negotiates frequently with them, very secretly. They have not forgotten to make adroit suggestions to the queen mother, to induce her to make trouble, showing her that this is the only real way to facilitate her return to that country. From what I gather she rejected all advances, possibly because her years make her reluctant to court more trouble. Moreover, Fabroni, who completely controls her Majesty, does not listen to such blandishments, and for this reason he has become suspect of having a secret understanding with Cardinal Richelieu. I will keep my eye on these proceedings and report all that I learn.
London, the 27th April, 1640.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
59. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I duly sent my coach to the public entry of the Marquis of Vellada to this city as well as to his first audience. Among those in the cortege was the coach of Don Alonso de Cardenas, the Catholic Resident, who kept away on that day. When the start came his coachmen took my station after the royal coaches, Vellada not having one of his own, and tried to seize it by force. From a window of the ambassador's dwelling Don Alonso ordered his men to withdraw. They pretended not to hear and continued their efforts to take the first place, but my men offered a stout resistance and kept their rightful place. On the way back from the palace the Spanish coachmen, more determined than ever, or by definite orders from Cardenas, who does his utmost to have the treatment of an ambassador, although only a Resident, took advantage of a small street to get ahead, and supported by some of Don Alonso's household, nothing could make them give way. In this way my coach had to go to Vellada's house. When I heard of this monstrous affair, which had happened in sight of all the Court, I thought the best course would be to correct the Resident's coachmen, and make them responsible for the mistake, though their master might be an accomplice, as many are disposed to believe. But with three Catholic ministers here, all with numerous households, I considered that this might expose me to worse scandals. So I sent the secretary Agostini to complain to Don Alonso of the conduct of his coachmen, asking him to deal with them as was due to the minister of a prince so friendly to his Catholic Majesty. The Resident expressed his sorrow and admitted the mistake, but added that on that day the coach might be called not his but the marquis's, though he promised satisfaction. The secretary objected that as the men did not wear Vellada's livery they could not be called his, and they deserved punishment. The Resident admitted this and said that after consulting Vellada he would ask me to suggest some satisfaction. He sent his secretary on Friday to repeat his offer, but asked me to confine myself to one thing. I laid the blame on the coachmen who deserved public punishment. This had been done in the similar instance with the Prince of Echembergh, imperial ambassador extraordinary at Rome, and with others. The secretary intimated that his master would render this satisfaction ; but after six days he came back to tell me that the ambassadors and resident had enquired into the matter and examined the coachmen, and they could not reprove them because the violence was on the side of my men not of theirs, as if my coach had claimed a position that did not belong to it. I replied mildly and let the matter drop, pretending to attach slight importance to the incident. As everyone talks about it at Court, condemning the imprudence of that minister, I have thought it my duty to report it, and I am sending a copy of this letter to the Ambassador Contarini in Spain.
London, the 27th April, 1640.


  • 1. The Rebecca, see No. 38 at page 24 above, and note.
  • 2. He landed at Plymouth. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1640, page 6.
  • 3. In his despatch of the 30th April, Crow speaks of his efforts for these captives, who were in three Algiers men of war in the port, "about 30 of his Majesty's subjects, captives most of them taken the last year in their passage to the Western Islands and New England being but part of near 300 of the company, taken then also, left behind at Algiers." The Vizier promised that the slaves should be released, the captains punished and steps taken at Algiers and Tunis to prevent further outrages. S. P. For. Turkey. See No. 28 on page 18 above.
  • 4. The Scottish commissioners were arrested on the evening of Saturday, 11/21 April. Dunfermline and Loudoun were committed to the sheriffs of London and Douglas and Barclay to the Justices Whitaker and Long. Loudoun was sent to the Tower on Sunday, 12/22 April. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1640, page 32. Montereul on 25 April. P.R.O. Paris Transcript.