Venice: June 1640

Pages 49-54

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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June 1640

June 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
71. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the rioters have done nothing else since their assault on the prisons and the archbishop's house, yet in the fear of more mischievous attempts in the future they maintain exceptional guard in this city. The king seized with serious fears that the discontent of his people may induce him to the straits which overtook some of his predecessors in the past, has wonderfully changed in a moment his decision to compel them to pay by force, and now all his thoughts are turned to conciliating the good will of his subjects once more. To this end he has promptly released the aldermen who were imprisoned, and it is reported that he will soon, by a public declaration, relieve the kingdom of the payment of many duties recently imposed. In order to disabuse the minds of those who profess the greatest hostility to Catholicism of the notion, most hateful here, that in secret he leans to the Catholic faith he has renewed orders to the magistrates concerned to resume the former severity against the Catholics. This city, to show its appreciation of his Majesty's good will, has spontaneously granted a loan of 50,000l. of their money, to use for present emergencies.
They have also deliberated a great deal this week about the affairs of Scotland. It seems that they discover more and more, by experience, the reluctance of the people here to take up arms against them. This cools their ardour about continuing the war, and they incline to return to fresh negotiations for a composition. His Majesty has therefore unexpectedly released one of the commissioners in custody, and it is said they will do the same even with the one in the Tower, accused of signing the letter to the Most Christian.
The affairs of the Spanish ambassadors remain as they were without further progress. Owing to the agitation at Court these last days and because the Lieutenant of Ireland has fallen seriously ill, they have not negotiated with the commissioners. Meanwhile M. d'Enflit has arrived from Holland, sent by the States to the king with instructions to offer strenuous opposition to the operations of these ambassadors. He has seen their Majesties, and is making great efforts to expose the deceitfulness of their proposals which are intended solely to commit this state to break with France and the Dutch. In order to cut away the pretexts of those who favour the interests of the Catholic he assured his Majesty that his masters have no idea at present of any attempt upon Dunkirk, nor do they aspire to any conquest which might cause uneasiness to this crown, with which they desire to preserve the best relations, and in the event of a treaty of peace or a trues with the Spaniards they will gladly appoint his Majesty as moderator within reasonable limits. If this courteous intimation does not suffice to upset the negotiations, I learn that his gentleman has instructions to protest definitely that if his Majesty supplies the Spaniards with ships for the Indies, Dutch vessels will engage and treat them as enemies even if they fly the flag of this crown.
In addition to these matters they say he has brought an invitation from the Prince of Orange to the queen mother, to go and live quietly in Holland away from the civil disturbances of this country, assuring her that if the States will not consent to supply what she needs, the city of Amsterdam will gladly do so, out of gratitude for favours received from her when she was regent of France. It is thought that if the event proves the report of these offers to be true, it will afford especial satisfaction in France, as depriving her of the opportunity of helping the Spaniards at this Court, and at the same time depriving the French malcontents of so great a support.
Two ships have arrived here from Cadiz this week with a considerable sum of money. This will be sent over to Flanders with the usual escort of his Majesty's ships. I have just received your Excellencies' letters of the 11th ult.
London, the 1st June, 1640.
June 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Rome. Venetian Archives.
72. Anzolo Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Nothing is said about promotion. When anyone mentions it to the pope he gets the answer that the creation of cardinals is a formal election of so many enemies to his House. Barberino also does not seem in any hurry about it.
The King of Poland has announced that if M. Visconti is not made cardinal he will dismiss the nuncio and break off all correspondence with this Court. They are also expecting the Queen of England to nominate someone, who is expected to be the brother of the Duke of Lemos or the Cavalier di Montagu. (fn. 1)
Rome, the 2nd June, 1640.
June 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
73. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Disturbances in Catalonia. Outbreak in Barcelona. At Lisbon 1500 Portuguese infantry have been embarked on English ships for Barcelona, and if things do not quiet down they may not go on to Italy. The Marquis Malvezzi has sent word of his arrival in London. They have sent a Spaniard after him with secret instructions. They do not trust him entirely as he is an Italian. It seems that they are not so confident now about the alliance with England because of the continued disturbances in Scotland. They say, however, that the princess will be brought to Lisbon and educated by the Infanta Margherita.
Madrid, the 2nd June, 1640.
June 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
74. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Their High Mightinesses feel sure that some understanding exists between the emperor and the king of Denmark. That sovereign laments the fresh troubles in England, as by virtue of the alliance between the two crowns he expected vigorous assistance in the Baltic. In addition to a number of ships promised him by the king of England he hoped to obtain a sufficient number of persons capable of managing ships, to furnish the thirty very fine vessels which he keeps on guard at the Sound, which are destitute of sailors and full of peasants. But the disturbances of England diminish the probability of this help.
The Hague, the 9th June, 1640.
June 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
75. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish ambassadors have held many and lengthy consultations with the commissioners these last days, but it does not appear that they have approached any conclusion. His Majesty moves circumspectly on his side, doubtful whether the promises will be kept, and also fearful that to ally himself with the Spaniards just now may cause fresh discontent among his people. On the other hand the ambassadors no longer fear receiving any serious blow from the enemy in Flanders this year, and possibly they know how little able this crown is to take the steps they desire. So they move more deliberately, with the object, I gather, of awaiting replies from Spain to the despatches which they sent by courier. Meanwhile serious quarrels have arisen between the ambassadors, of which one hears frequently, with amazement, so that their differences seem likely to do considerable harm to their business here.
M. d' Enflit remains at Court. He says he will stay a long time. Since his representations for thwarting the Spanish negotiations, he has again set on foot the project of marrying the second princess to the son of the Prince of Orange, making various proposals advantageous to this crown. The queen mother has taken up the idea with enthusiasm, but I fancy that the queen does not approve, as she wants to provide better for her daughter.
Since the issue of the orders for dealing more severely with the Catholics the recent rioting has entirely ceased. One of the leaders was arrested and paid the extreme penalty for his grievous fault, affording an example for others not to mix themselves in such affairs for the future. (fn. 2)
As the hope of reducing the Scots to obedience by force grows less and less, his Majesty adheres to his inclination to try gentle measures. On Monday he sent one of the recently arrested commissioners to Scotland, (fn. 3) on the pretext of getting the meeting of parliament postponed, but with the principal object of sounding the real sentiments of the people and initiating fresh negotiations for an accommodation, if he finds an opening. To do this with greater case and propriety the king proposes to go towards York next month and to increase his army by four regiments of foot, who are now being raised with great activity. The queen does not agree with these peaceful counsels. With all her might she tries to persuade the king to pursue the war with spirit against the rebels until they are completely subdued. She not only intimates the hope of obtaining large contributions from the Catholics but even of obtaining some help from the pope. The minister of his Holiness here adroitly encourages such vain intimations, in order to improve the lot of the Catholics here, and win the king's favour for himself. It does not escape notice that the king is openly approaching the pope to get the younger brother of the Duke of Lennox, who is closely related to the royal house, promoted to the Cardinalate. (fn. 4)
The Scots on their side, know full well that it is at present impossible for the king to subdue them by force, and to save expense they have sent home the majority of their troops, with orders to rejoin the standard at the first intimation. They are now erecting a fort four miles from Berwick whereby they hope to prevent invasion by land. The fleet, however, causes them great inconvenience, as it prevents any ship at all from approaching their shores. This week many were stopped, which were conveying food and war material from Holland to Scotland.
Negotiations have been opened with Genoese merchants to induce them to advance a loan to the king. In addition to a security he offers them interest at the rate of 8 per cent. per annum. It is thought that such an advantageous offer will be accepted, and if so, the ministers hope that it will facilitate providing for the crown's future needs, without recourse to parliament. The Spaniards do not like this affair, being afraid that if the Genoese start such a profitable business at this Court, it will injure what they have with the Catholic crown.
Two gentlemen sent by his Majesty to the Palatine with letters for the Most Christian were captured by the Dunkirkers while crossing the sea, but when they announced that they were servants of the king they were promptly set free. (fn. 5)
London, the 15th June, 1640.
June 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
76. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
A gentleman of the Earl of Dunfermline, the Scottish commissioner who was sent to get the meeting of parliament postponed, arrived in Court on Saturday. He brought letters for the king stating that no representations could induce the people to oblige his Majesty, and parliament met and confirmed all the decrees passed in the recent ecclesiastical assembly. This bold action has deeply incensed the king, and all hope of settling affairs there by gentle means having failed, he is again considering how to prosecute the war ; but the lack of money renders all plans impossible.
To the twenty ships commanded by Vice Admiral Pennington they propose to add sixty small vessels, which usually bring coal to this city. Many of these have already been seized in the river by his Majesty's order.
In order to make the burden of the soldiers' pay tolerable, they have reduced the pay of the cavalry of 24 soldi a day each. The men complain bitterly and threaten to desert, so his Majesty will probably be compelled to give them the full original pay of 150 of our lire, a month.
The securities offered to the Genoese for their loan do not satisfy them and so they talk of the Court negotiating with Amsterdam merchants for a considerable sum in cash raised upon jewels or some other consignment. They have at length arranged with the customs officials to have a prompt loan of 100,000l. of their money, and they are also getting together a certain sum by the sale of titles and appointments, but not enough to meet present needs.
By a new agreement M. d' Emflit has put an end to the old disputes between the English and Dutch about the East India trade. The conditions, which are not yet made public, not only provide for a perfect understanding between the two countries for the future, but cut away the hopes of the Spaniards of obtaining ships to escort their fleets and other things. The same gentleman has also made overtures to the king to use his influence to bring about an agreement between the King of Denmark and the States, over their differences. They told him that an ambassador is expected here shortly from that sovereign, when the king will make himself master of the facts of the case and will then take action without fail to the advantage of both states. Meanwhile there is a rumour that M. Arsem is coming back to this Court in the capacity of ambassador extraordinary upon this business and other affairs.
An extraordinary courier reached the Spanish ambassadors on Wednesday, but what he brought has not yet transpired. One does not hear that they make any progress with their negotiations ; everyone believes that as the insincerity of their proposals is recognised they will ultimately depart without arranging anything.
The Earl of Suffolk, who controlled the ports of the realm, has passed away. His Majesty has granted his very important office to the Duke of Lenuox, to the disgust of the English lords, who do not think it decent or safe to hand over all the gates of England to a Scot of such eminence. (fn. 6)
Four rich ships have arrived in this country from the Indies, benefiting the customs to the extent of 40,000l. of their money.
London, the 29th June, 1640.


  • 1. Salvetti, writing on the 9th March, declares that the queen had already despatched a religious to Rome to nominate Montagu. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 27962H.
  • 2. Thomas Bensted, wounded in the attack on Lambeth and betrayed by his surgeon. He was hanged and quartered on Saturday, the 2nd June. Heylyn : Cyprianus Anglicus lib. V., page 4. Montereul on the 7th June, P.R.O. Paris Trans. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1640, page 201.
  • 3. The earl of Dunfermline.
  • 4. Ludovic Stuart. See the preceding Vol. of this Calendar, page 535 and note.
  • 5. Sir Richard Cave and Francis Nicholls, secretary to the Elector Palatine. They were taken on their way from Rye to Dieppe on Sunday the 3—13 June, and carried to Dunkirk, where they were released after a loss of three days. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1640, pages 124, 138, 147.
  • 6. Theophilus Howard, earl of Suffolk, lord warden of the Cinque Ports died at Suffolk House, Strand, on the 3—13 June. The king gave the wardenship to Lennox on the following day. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1640, pages 266, 280.