Venice: May 1640

Pages 40-49

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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May 1640

May 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
60. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament has not so far come to any decision about granting the contributions demanded by his Majesty. They have spent the whole of this week in an enquiry into the misconduct of several ministers, all the disorders of the present government, and the introduction of fresh gabelles, with long speeches about correcting the former and escaping the latter. The king, on his side, being carefully informed of everything, with the object of putting a stop to these designs and abbreviating the satisfaction claimed, sent for the members two days ago, and repeated with emphasis his request that they should vote without delay the subsidies he asked for, admonishing them not to spend time on other matters, but postpone the discussion of them to a more opportune moment when he will be ready to give just satisfaction to his people and in particular to suspend ship money. That is the point upon which the parliamentarians seem to lay most stress, especially in the Lower House. It does not appear that these new offices produced any fruit, when the parliament met again, and all prospect of providing in this way for the serious requirements of the crown seem as uncertain as ever.
The Lieutenant has arrived at Court from Ireland. His Majesty received him with the most conspicuous graciousness. By his advice they have released one of the Scottish commissioners ; but the others remain prisoners, (fn. 1) and they continue the proceedings against the one who signed the letter to the Most Christian. By his Majesty's order they have printed this with an addition expressing his Majesty's assurance that so great a king will not listen to the odious requests of a rebellious people.
They have sent strict orders to the governor of York to send 6000 of his militia to the frontier with all speed to prevent the enemy from attempting some surprise attack, because at the news of the arrest of the deputies they fear the Scots may invade that fertile country, destroying by fire and plunder the food stuffs destined for the royal army.
As letters from France lead the Duchess of Chevreuse to believe that her husband's journey to these parts draws nearer and nearer, she has besought his Majesty to extend his protection to this circumstance, and induced the Ambassador Vellada to ask for assurances ; but the king declined on the plea of not wishing to separate husband and wife. Accordingly, from fear of trouble, the duchess decided to cross to Flanders, and she set out for the coast (fn. 2) on Wednesday, accompanied by the royal coaches and the Spanish ambassadors. Three ships of the fleet will take her over to Dunkirk. Before she left the queen gave her a rich jewel worth 12,000 crowns. The Catholic ministers greatly regret her departure, owing to the strong support which they lose at this Court and equally because they conclude that his Majesty's reluctance to grant the protection desired was to avoid offending the Most Christian, and Cardinal Richelieu most of all.
The Ambassador Malvezzi made his public entry into this city yesterday, and it is thought he will have his first audience of his Majesty on Sunday. After this the ambassadors should produce the details of their instructions, about which everyone is very curious. I have not yet visited them. I will do so as soon as my health allows. I have been obliged to keep my bed for several days. Meanwhile mutual courtesies have been exchanged, promising relations on an equality.
Vilinbanch returned from Paris on Friday. From his report and the overtures made by the French secretary here they have sent powers to the Earl of Leicester to hear and report all that is said to him about some arrangement with that crown in the interests of the Palatine House, and to urge that the liberty of the prince be not limited by the obligation not to leave that country without the Most Christian's consent. They desire this for reputation more than for anything else.
They have granted permission to the Duke of Lorraine for the recruits he wanted, and the Marquis Villa, having fully despatched his master's affairs, crossed to Flanders with Madame de Chevreuse.
London, the 4th May, 1640.
May 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
61. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The alliance with the King of England is considered a certainty, as it is stated that that sovereign is most determined to arrange it, and for this purpose he has brought over to his side the leading men of the parliament, who are discussing the best way of sending the troops who have been promised to him. So far no news has come of the arrival or negotiations of the Marquis Malvezzi.
Madrid, the 5th May, 1640.
May 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
62. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
On the side of Normandy, with the incitement of the English, they are always afraid of some troublesome intrigue. For this reason the Duke of Sevrosa has set out for England, from whence he is to try to remove his wife, who is considered the more dangerous instrument in the present troubled state of affairs. From the same considerations they are about to grant leave to the Palatine also to return. If the King of Great Britain would make up his mind to treat here they would readily agree to give him the control of the Weimar forces, especially now the duke of Longueville is out of the way.
Suresnes, the 8th May, 1640.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
May 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Zante. Venetian Archives.
63. Marco Foscolo, Venetian Proveditore of Zante, to the Doge and Senate.
I enclose evidence of the existence of an understanding between Hyder and Valpano about the purchase of booty taken by pirates of Tunis. Three persons who were at Modon at the time have declared that if Hyder had not supplied the money the pirates would have been obliged to give up the booty, as Valpano had no money, and others would not have risked the cost in the presence of the galleys. They also declare that Hyder and Valpano recently sent a polacca to Messina with a cargo of wool and hides which formed a portion of this booty.
Zante, the 30th April, 1640, old style.
May 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
64. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Sunday the Ambassador Malvezzi had his first public audience of their Majesties, which was merely complimentary. The next day he saw the king privately and set forth the commissions with which his master had sent him here, asking that commissioners might be appointed to confer with him. From what I gather his commissions are confined to inviting this crown to make a mutually defensive alliance. The Catholic proposes the following conditions apart from others which are as yet kept secret. That this crown shall secure to the Spaniards the navigation of the Channel and co-operate in the defence of the Flemish coast towns with a naval squadron which shall patrol this section of the sea. It is subsequently to assist the forces of the Catholic in the Indies with a definite number of ships, to turn the Dutch out of Brazil. The Spaniards, on their side, offer the king powerful assistance to reduce the Scots, to supply a monthly subsidy sufficient to pay for the ships, and to grant to English ships and men every freedom in the Indies. No reply has yet been given to the minister, and there seems no likelihood of the proposal being embraced, since everyone recognises that this is only a specious device to lead this crown by slow degrees to make those declarations which it has so far most studiously avoided.
The Ambassador Vellada has not yet negotiated anything, and it has not yet transpired whether his instructions are the same or 'different from those of Malvezzi, though it should be known very soon. Meanwhile little or nothing has been said about the marriage of the princess here since the departure of Madame de Chevreuse, and the queen becomes more and more suspicious that the Spaniards do not really mean to conclude this business. In my weak health I have visited both ambassadors, and they have left me with nothing to desire in the matter of equality. In the matter of Cardinas' coachmen I have received no other satisfaction than a private statement that the resident had nothing to do with it.
As a grandee Vellada will not show the papal resident to the queen the courtesies which the French and Spanish ambassadors have conceded to him without question. This minister has asked me to speak to Vellada, but though I expressed my readiness to help him, I shall act with caution and only if sure of success.
After many offices by his Majesty to induce parliament to grant subsidies the Upper Chamber at length voted in favour of gratifying the king's demands before receiving the satisfaction claimed from him. When the Lower Chamber, without whose consent money cannot be granted to the king, was informed of this decision, not only did they refuse to concur in these sentiments, but protested against the encroachment of the other house in taking such action by itself, and claimed that it should be struck out of the records. The king, realising more and more the difficulty of obtaining by gentle means the contributions for which he has asked parliament, has intimated clearly that if the members remain so obdurate he will dissolve the assembly without more ado and will use the royal authority alone to compel the people to pay the taxes required to meet the expenditure for present emergencies. If this occurs we may foresee dangerous risings in this kingdom also, involving irreparable ruin.
The Scots have established their quarters on the Tweed, four miles from Berwick. They are entrenching themselves strongly and have recently taken prisoner some of the king's soldiers. The royal forces are marching with all speed to the frontier. The Earl of Northumberland has orders to be there within twenty days. Rumours from the palace state that when his Majesty has got rid of parliament he will take the field himself, but it is not thought that the nobility will go with him as they did to York. Meanwhile the Scots are harassing Edinburgh castle. Besides completely cutting off all the water they hold all the approaches and prevent food getting in. The governor defends valiantly, frequently firing his guns on the city which receives but little harm, being protected by the new fortifications. They await the latest news here with great impatience.
3000 Spanish infantry have arrived in the Downs from Corunna. Without landing they proceeded to Flanders, escorted by a ship of the fleet.
London, the 11th May, 1640.
May 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
65. Giovanni Grimani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
News has reached here of the release of the Palatine and of the stately manner in which the Most Christian and the Cardinal treated him. I fancy that the emperor, on his next journey, will release Prince Rupert, when he passes through Linz, and thus compete with France in his courtesy and favour to this second son, in order to win him over by such means to devotion and attachment to their own side.
Vienna, the 12th May, 1640.
May 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
66. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In a special audience of His Majesty lately the English ambassador referred to the Scottish mission to his Majesty and read him the letter written by them to him, asking for his help and protection. He intimated how little it would accord with the good relations between him and the King of Great Britain if he decided to give ear to the latter's rebels. The king replied that he had no knowledge of the matter and the ambassador could assure his king that he would not listen to any proposals to his disadvantage, especially from his subjects. These words apparently satisfied the ambassador, but at bottom the English do not feel quite sure that here they would not be glad to see the troubles of Scotland increase, to ensure them against any invasion in concert with the Spaniards, which the Spanish ambassadors in England may be negotiating. These apprehensions contribute greatly to the advantage of the Normans. The Court of Aides of Rouen has obtained its licence and they are working for the restoration of the Parliament there.
The Palatine still remains at Paris, no longer defrayed by the king but at his own expense. Little or nothing is said at present about his departure.
Suresnes, the 15th May, 1640.
May 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
67. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
As requested his Majesty appointed five commissioners for the Spanish ambassadors, all professedly well affected to that crown. (fn. 3) They held their first meeting on Tuesday in the house of the Lieutenant of Ireland, who is one of them and with most influence. The ambassadors afterwards sent a courier with all speed to Spain with an account of their negotiations to date. It is confirmed that their proposals correspond exactly with what I wrote. With respect to the amount of money, which was not specified, they have definitely offered that the Catholic will pay the king 4 million ducats at set terms on condition that he maintains 35 armed ships in the English Channel and undertakes the defence of the ships and towns bathed by those waters, Dunkirk, Gravelines and Ostend being named. The Catholic to provide himself with ships, men and every other provision of war in the ports of this country, without asking for fresh leave or paying any imposition.
The king and ministers highly commend these great offers as advantageous and decorous, but many important considerations oblige them to proceed with caution in carrying the matter through. The chief reason which makes his Majesty hesitate is his persuasion that the payments will not correspond with this liberal offer of four millions, since he knows well the present state and most urgent needs of that crown leave no hope of its being able to meet so great a payment. In the second place his Majesty has great misgivings that in fulfilling the articles of alliance English ships will not be able to avoid a collision with Dutch ones, and in consequence this crown will become involved in a breach with those Provinces, with whom they judge it expedient to maintain the old standing peace. Meanwhile the ambassadors, in order to remove his Majesty's suspicions that their master will not make the payments he promises, announce that they have remittances here sufficient to meet the first payments, and for the future they say that in case of default his Majesty can compensate himself from the money which passes this way from Spain in great quantity every year, on behalf of the Catholic.
The Dutch Ambassador Joachimi works hard to thwart these Spanish transactions, trying to discredit their offers and pointing out the considerable harm they will do to this monarchy. But his efforts do not make the impression that he and those interested in the public cause would desire, because the most important affairs of state here are now in the hands of ministers disposed to assist at all costs the success of the Catholic's plans ; and if France does not soon decide to send an ambassador here, to counteract the intrigues of the Spanish ones with vigour, they may find that the king, in his grave need for money, has at last yielded to the promises and arts of the Spaniards.
The insuperable reluctance of the Lower Chamber to vote the subsidies asked for has at length forced the king to dismiss them. So on Monday, in the royal robes and other insignia, he went unexpectedly to parliament, where he ordered the Lord Keeper to publish the act of dissolution, everyone being ordered to withdraw to his own house. They did so, amid the murmurs of the people, who felt certain that England will not see parliaments for a long while, and that the king, throwing aside all respect for the ancient laws, will lay fresh taxes on his people. A decree has already issued obliging everyone strictly to make a loan for the expenses of the levy which they are actively making everywhere, although with some difficulty, as the people show themselves unwilling to bear arms against the Scots.
Strong steps are being taken against those who seditiously oppose the king's demands in parliament, and they say the prisons will soon be full of people of rank. Among many others they name Lords Bruc and Se, nobles with a large following and both leaders of the Puritan party, which is the predominant one in this country.
The Scots prosecute the siege of Edinburgh. At the palace they fear that with food giving out the place will fall into their hands. Accordingly they have written with all speed to Ireland so that the 8000 foot and 1000 horse assembled in that country may be sent across to Carlisle without delay, so that they may invade Scotland with the whole of the king's army, and try to relieve the castle by this diversion.
The naval force also will be ready in a few days. Twenty ships, admirably equipped will sail from the Thames for Scotland this week, with orders to cut off the trade there completely, as the generals consider this the surest way of subduing the obstinacy of the rebels.
London, the 18th May, 1640.
May 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
68. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The bulk of the Cardinal Infant's army is said to be of little use for fighting. Yet an encounter is feared as the Prince has sent for the two nations which are most successful in deeds of arms, the Scots and the English, who are accustomed to achieve miracles through the incitement of the rivalry between them.
The Hague, the 20th May, 1640.
May 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
69. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The dissolution of parliament has increased the irritation of the people here to such an extent that, throwing off all restraint, they have not hesitated to break into open revolt against the present government. Last Saturday several placards appeared in the most conspicuous parts of the city urging every class to preserve their ancient liberty and chase the bishops from the kingdom, as pernicious men ; inviting them to meet on the Monday in fields near by to secure in union the death of many leading ministers, reputed enemies of the commonweal. They threaten by name the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Marquis Hamilton and the Lieutenant of Ireland, being the persons who have most influence with his Majesty. Accordingly on that day two thousand men assembled at the appointed place supplied with weapons and with drums beating proceeded in a riotous manner to the archbishop's house with the purpose of slaying him. Being warned of his peril a few hours before, he fled secretly to the palace leaving armed men to defend his house from the insolence of the rioters. (fn. 4) Having ascertained his flight they decided without more ado to withdraw, announcing that they would come back and visit the houses of other ministers in even greater numbers and better armed. Regardless of respect they affixed to the royal palace on the following day fresh placards stating that all the efforts and authority of the king and queen would not suffice to save that minister and the others from death.
In the county of Dorset and others where they are collecting soldiers to send to the Scottish frontier, when the news of the dissolution of parliament arrived as they were about to march, they stopped and steadily refused to serve against that people. Such acts as these meet with great approbation and declarations that the example will be followed.
The king and all the ministers attach a due importance to these events and in order to prevent the mischief from spreading, as everyone justly fears, they have brought several companies of horse into this city, and have issued strict orders that diligent watch shall be kept in every parish, to prevent people gathering, at all costs.
They have taken four pieces of artillery to the archbishop's house, and the lieutenant's is also well defended as well as those of everyone who might fear popular tumult.
The Spanish ambassadors also conduct themselves very discreetly, as many, especially the Puritans, complain that their offers of money to the king have hastened the dissolution of parliament, and so they also are publicly threatened.
To the Counties where the disobedient troops are they have sent the Earl of Suffolk and other lords of credit and influence, to induce them to move and to scour the country in order to prevent the peasants revolting, about which they are very uneasy at the palace.
They are making great efforts to discover if the rising in London is encouraged by persons of rank and quite fifty of the mutineers are prisoners at this moment. From their statements they hope to obtain more definite information about the number, condition and objects of the malcontents, to guide their conduct and prevent greater disorders in the future.
The governor of Edinburgh, in recent letters, has notified his Majesty that as the Scots are pressing the siege hard, he will have to surrender the castle if he does not receive help speedily. As his Majesty finds himself without the good will of his subjects or the money to increase his forces either, he has no means of supplying the help asked for, and so the loss of that important place can be foreseen soon, the only one that has taken the royal side in the country.
Amid all these troubles the king adheres steadily to his resolution to obtain from the people by force the money necessary to maintain the war against Scotland. He has demanded a loan of 200,000l. from this city. As this has been openly refused, he now proposes, in great wrath, to compel the most substantial merchants to pay it down. For this he sent for the Aldermen, so that they may divide it out among the richest ; but as they declined he has had them imprisoned, amid universal murmurs, (fn. 5) and the prediction that if he does not abate his demands and release the aldermen, it will so increase discontent that the people here will act as vigorously as the Scots.
The Spanish ambassadors actively pursue their negotiations for the alliance, but things remain as uncertain as ever and they have as yet received no categorical reply to their offices. To their proposals for a defensive alliance they have speciously hinted at an offensive one as well, promising that if this crown agrees the Catholic will so increase his contributions as to provide his Majesty with the means of subduing his disobedient subjects. But the commissioners have utterly rejected all overtures for this and accordingly all the efforts of the ambassadors are devoted to arranging the defensive one, if possible.
I have received your Excellencies' letters of the 18th and 27th ult. I will do as instructed about the English captain who bought goods of the ship Patignota from pirates, and will try to get him punished as well as Hider, consul in the Morea, the author of the mischief.
London, the 25th of May, 1640.
Postscript : since writing the above news comes that last night the rebels to the number of 7000 gathered in the country and proceeded to a house of pleasure of the Archbishop of Canterbury, six miles from here, which they utterly destroyed. (fn. 6) At this moment other bands of the same proceeded to the prisons, knocked down the gates, slew the keepers and released all the prisoners, especially those in custody for the riot of Monday. Other acts of violence are momentarily expected, and so his Majesty has reinforced the guards of the palace without delay and caused companies of armed men to patrol the whole city in order to prevent fresh disturbances, if possible. The archbishop and other ministers, who are the objects of the popular hatred, have abandoned their own dwellings and retreated to the palace, while no little confusion reigns everywhere.
29 May.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
70. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The day before yesterday the English ambassador spoke to me at length about the affairs of the Palatine. He showed that the king is much vexed at seeing the Prince bound not to leave this kingdom. To dissimulate it he was resolved to pretend to know nothing about it, he being merely told that the Palatine was free and not the way. The ambassador intimates that the Spanish negotiations in England may produce results very disadvantageous to them here, and the ill feeling aroused by this affair of the Palatine is the chief cause.
Suresnes, the 29th May, 1640.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. Charles Seaton, earl of Dunfermline, with Douglas and Barclay were all released on Wednesday the 25th April, but apparently only the first one allowed to go free. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1640, page 77.
  • 2. According to Montereul she left London on Monday the 1st May, despatch of 3 May, P.R.O. Paris Trans.
  • 3. On the 17th Montereul gives their names as the lieutenant of Ireland, the earl of Northumberland, Cottington, Windebank and Vane adding "l'archevesque [Laud] n'en a pas voulu etre pour faire croire qu'il ne se mele de rien, mais il aura part en la negotiation comme s'il en etoit." P.R.O. Paris Trans.
  • 4. The attack on Lambeth palace took place on Monday 11/21 May. The rioters assembled in St. Georges Fields Southwark. Laud fled across the river to Whitehall. See Gardiner. Hist of Eng., Vol. IX, page 133.
  • 5. The alderman were sent for on the 10/20 May. Four only were sent to prison, Sir Nicholas Rainton, with colleagues Aldermen Atkins, Geeres and Somes. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1640 pages 142, 155.
  • 6. This would seem to refer to the Archbishop's palace at Croydon, but it certainly was not destroyed.