Venice: November 1642

Pages 189-204

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 26, 1642-1643. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1925.

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November 1642

Nov. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
169. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
The levy of a company of guards for the Queen of England, connived at by the States, proceeds without delay, having been started at the Hague six days ago, and will reach its full compliment soon. They are to assemble shortly in the neighbourhood and proceed to England with her Majesty. The start is announced for the 16th inst. the States having half promised to have enough vessels ready by then to take her Majesty over. She has accordingly sent the Bishop of Angoulême back to France to explain to the Most Christian that present circumstances favour her return to England, but she thanks him the more for the invitation to Paris. He is to arrange something with the Cardinal in the interests of the royal cause.
The queen has learned with great satisfaction that the last ship which sailed from these shores with a copy of the military provisions for her husband, has arrived safely at Newcastle.
Their High Mightinesses have decided on their reply, in non commital terms to the proposals of the parliament commissioner, which turn chiefly upon a separate alliance with this state, excluding his Majesty. It expresses the regret of these Provinces at the present troubles of England, disseminated, so they say, by the intrigues and inventions of the covert enemies of the kingdom. They hope, nevertheless, that God will dispose the hearts of his Majesty and the parliament to think rather of a perfect reunion than to ruin their country by intestine war. These Provinces have the best intentions for employing their good offices for an adjustment, if they are assured that their offices will be useful and acceptable to both parties. They are ready to perform this act of friendship in return for similar offices performed by the kings of England in the past for them. Finally to avoid occasion for dispute with either of the parties, they have judged it expedient to prohibit by special decree the export from this country to England, either to the king or to parliament, of arms, munitions of war, officers or soldiers in the pay of this state, as they do not wish to provide material to either side for waging endless war. The government wishes to contribute every means for a reunion, namely that the king and parliament shall come to an agreement between themselves, and then the States will gladly take up more definite proposals for the renewal of an alliance between Great Britain and these Provinces. (fn. 1)
The commissioner did not much like this reply, because he expected one much more favourable. The Hollanders are equally dissatisfied, because they are entirely disposed to favour the parliament. In order to show their partisanship more clearly the Hollanders have issued a special paper, stating that while they agree with the reply of the General Assembly as it stands they would have preferred to see some definite statement in it that the past export of arms and soldiers to his Majesty had been done without any knowledge of the States of Holland, whose intention has always been to adhere to a strict neutrality between the King of Great Britain and the English parliament.
The Hague, the 5th November, 1642.
Nov. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
170. To the Ambassador in England.
Under the pressure of necessity you have chosen the best expedient for approaching the king to take your leave and to set out on your journey before the season grows worse, in the absence of any other alternative for performing this duty. You acted wisely with the earl of Holland. The success of your negotiations about currants will appear from what follows, and while the injurious decrees remain in suspense the interval turns to our advantage in the hiring of ships and in the commissions sent to the islands for the purchase of cargoes for them. Tomorrow we will send orders to the Resident Vico to provide passports for your journey. We enclose the usual sheet of advices.
Ayes, 96. Noes, 0. Neutral, 3.
Nov. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
171. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Never does the Almighty fail to afford his assistance to a just cause or to protect innocence to the confusion of the impious. Arrived at Merdid, as I wrote, his Majesty received word that General the earl of Essex had removed his army from its quarters at Uster and was following him with all speed for the purpose of catching him between his own army and that which parliament is preparing here to oppose him. This important news in no way perturbed the king or those with him either, but changing the order of march his Majesty entrusted the care of the rear guard to Prince Rupert, as the post most worthy of his greatness, because he had the enemy at his back. Pursuing his way in this direction without making an attack on Coventry or any other place, the king advanced on Saturday, the 1st of the present month to Edgiel, 60 leagues from this metropolis. There, hearing that the enemy forces were constantly drawing nearer, he decided to make halt. On the following day after having disposed his army in battle array over a wide country (disposto in battaglia sopra una larga campagna l' esercito suo), he ordered Prince Rupert to attack the enemy, as he did valiantly at three o'clock in the afternoon. Essex sustained the attack and the fighting growing hot on both sides the conflict endured until night, with the shedding of much blood. But in the end the royalists remained masters of the field and forced Essex to withdraw on Monday with great loss to Warwick.
He left in his Majesty's hands 20 ensigns of infantry, 16 cornets of cavalry, 9 pieces of artillery and all the baggage. 2000 soldiers of the parliamentary army were left on the field, including many lords, and, it is said, Baron Fildinch, sometime ambassador to your Excellencies ; the wounded are 1500 ; more than one company made sure of its safety by flight.
On his Majesty's side 1500 men were missing, but they report that 900 turned up at the rendezvous. General the earl of Lince was made prisoner and mortally wounded with the lord of Wilibi, his son, and other leaders of repute.
In the heat of the conflict the parliamentarians captured the royal standard, but being afterwards charged furiously by the royal troops they were forced to let it go and it was brought back safe to the royal camp. The king on this occasion performed all his duties with prudence and also with spirit. Contrary to the general expectation he gave proofs of great courage and established the devotion of his troops to his cause (ha contro l' espettatione dell' universale dato saggio di grande animosita et bene confirmato gli animi della militia alla devotione sua). For quite three hours he was taking part in the fighting, always with his sword in his hand, and more than once he placed himself, without reservation, at the head of the army. The Prince of Wales and the little duke of York were also in the affair, and thank God they are both in excellent health. On Tuesday the king was still resting at the same place and there is no certain knowledge as yet what his plans may be. They say, however, that at this moment he is marching towards Oxford, to refresh his army there, reorganise it and then decide upon the plan that time and circumstance may suggest to him as being best adapted to advance his interests.
All unprejudiced persons declare that his Majesty's army consists of 20,000 and more combatants. The Marquis of Erford and the earl of Arbi are still in the rear with other men and they state that from Cornwall Sir Ralph Opton is marching with a following of 6000 men to join the royal forces.
After the battle his Majesty, by a public proclamation, offered pardon to all those who, repenting of their past licence, should come over to his side, but with the exception of the six members of parliament whom he accused of treason last year, as I reported. Such is the account sent by the Secretary of State and the relation of all those who were present at the affair, from whom I have since learned the same particulars. I have also seen the letters of many lords of the Court.
The parliamentarians, on the other hand, fearing that the news of this mishap might increase the perturbation of those who adhere to their party, represent it otherwise and try to make the generality believe that the advantage was on their side ; that the king lost the field of battle, 3000 men with 7 pieces of artillery, and they are proceeding to take severe measures against those, who being informed of the true facts of the case, speak differently, all with the object of keeping the people here steadfast in their allegiance to the malcontents and to extract fresh contributions and assistance more readily from their liberality.
Meanwhile although they cause the circulation of these reports which all unprejudiced persons know to be false, they do not cease to provide with energy for the defence of London, or for the means of reinforcing Essex. They have sent a number of parliamentarians to the surrounding provinces with instructions to get together the largest number they can of their trained bands, with the intention of despatching these subsequently to where the remains of the parliamentary army are quartered. They have brought a number of the companies of these trained bands of the country into this city. All the troops are kept constantly at arms. There is no street, however little frequented, that is not barricaded with heavy chains, and every post is guarded by numerous squadrons. At the approaches to London they are putting up trenches and small forts of earthwork, at which a great number of people are at work, including the women and little children. They have issued a new manifesto to the people full of the usual representations against the present procedure of the king, for the purpose of arousing their enthusiasm still more in the support of this cause.
Parliament has removed the little duke of Gloucester, his Majesty's youngest born, and the Princess Elizabeth, his sister, from their usual dwelling place of St. Giles, on the extreme confines of the suburbs of London, (fn. 2) and has had them brought to a private house in the middle of this city, under the specious pretext of securing them against injury from the armies but with the secret design to avail themselves of these innocent victims as hostages if the king comes back victorious to his residence here, as they feel persuaded that the precious pledge of these children will serve them in the utmost peril as an opening to obtain a pardon from his Majesty more easily as well as safety for the persons and the fortunes as well of the rebels.
I have received the state missives of the 11th October. If the king goes to Oxford and stays there some days I will try to go to him there and perform the final offices.
London, the 7th November, 1642.
Nov. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
172. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Since I wrote yesterday evening news has come that the king is at Oxford with all his army. I will leave for there to-day with the Master of the Ceremonies and his officials. I must travel with a numerous suite for the honour of the state and my personal safety. I hope that your Excellencies will approve and that the public liberality will take the expense into consideration. God grant His protection and defend this house during my absence.
London, the 8th November, 1642.
Nov. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
173. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
The journey of the Queen of England is the favourite topic of popular conversation. Her departure was announced for the 16th inst. Nothing more definite can be stated now, although appearances at her Court point to her speedy return to that kingdom. The States have assured her Majesty again that sufficient ships will be ready to take her over, at her slightest sign. But this office, repeated expressly by deputies from the Assembly, did not please her Majesty, as it clearly indicated, as she said, the desire of the States to get her out of the country as soon as possible. Moreover her levy of guards encounters obstacles, and people consider it unlikely to be effected, both from lack of money and because of difficulties in the way of taking soldiers out of this country. They seemed to consent to it lately, but since the reply to the parliament commissioner, promising not to permit men or munitions to leave the country for either side, the commissioner has felt encouraged to insist upon this and to apply to the states of Holland for the observation of their pledged word. It thus looks as if the queen's plans would fall to pieces, although they keep up the hopes of the few men enlisted so far by the two captains nominated by her Majesty to lead the troops to England when she goes there herself.
The people of Amsterdam have presented her Majesty with a golden bowl containing 40,000 florins.
The Hague, the 12th November, 1642.
Nov. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
174. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The bishop of Angoulême returned recently from Holland together with the Sieur de la Thuillerie, the latter on his private affairs. The former brings word of the complete gratification of the Queen of England over the invitation from his Majesty to come to France. But to carry this into practice she must wait for further letters from the king, her husband. The affairs of that monarch are taking a more favourable turn, according to all accounts and she says she wishes to cross to England to take part in the soothing of the troubles there and also to cherish more intimate relations between that crown and the king, her brother. The Cardinal has sent a reply in courteous terms, commending her idea of going to England and again assuring her of a welcome here whenever she cares to come.
Paris, the 18th November, 1642.
Nov. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetain Archives.
175. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
The Hollanders have for a long time been cultivating the Zeelanders with the idea of uniting these two leading Provinces, separating them from the others, and erecting a new Council. Their object is to diminish the authority of the General Assembly and consequently that of the Prince, whom the Hollanders systematically oppose. The question now is the reorganisation of the troops in which Zeeland seems disposed to support Holland, since their Pensionary supports the parliament, which the Prince considers reprehensible, being himself too friendly to the king, contrary to the institutions of the country. He has the support of Chenut, a leading Zeelander in the General Assembly and a strong partisan of the House of Orange. He has supported him not only with his mouth but with his hands, striking the Pensionary such a severe blow as to seriously endanger his life. (fn. 3) This has excited a furious commotion in the country against him. Every one anxiously awaits the issue. It is feared that it may lead to a split between the Provinces, as Holland and Zeeland have long been planning to have a Council to control the government, owing to their dissatisfaction with the present regime, where everything is done solely for the gratification of the House of Orange.
With the news of success to the royal arms in England the queen has decided to start at the end of the month, sailing from Rotterdam to Newcastle. The ships are all ready and the baggage on board to a great extent. Her Majesty still hopes to take with her a small force of quite 2000 to serve her husband, as she had a promise from the Prince that ten soldiers should be taken from each of the companies here to make up that number, unless fresh difficulties were raised by the Hollanders, who support the parliament and watch the queen's departure closely. This would prevent the realisation of this plan.
The Hague, the 19th November, 1642.
Nov. 19.
Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia, Riposte. Venetian Archives.
176. Recommendation to continue for four years longer the exemption from export duty of wool brought to Venice from the West, as the exemption has produced good results in the past and has favoured the bringing of wool to this city (favorito il concorso delle lane in questa citta).
Dated at the office, the 19th November, 1642.
Zuane Capello Savii.
Alvise Morosino
Giovanni Francesco Venier
Nov. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
177. To the Secretary at the Hague.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters of the 29th ult. and the 5th inst. If their High Mightinesses have any opening to interpose in the affairs of England upon the reply given to the person of the parliament he is to obtain full particulars and report them.
Enclose two letters for the Queen of England and the States General which he is to keep in his hands until the Ambassador Giustinian arrives so that he may profit by them in the complimentary offices he performs there on his way to Germany.
Ayes, 120. Noes, 0. Neutral, 3.
178. To the Ambassador in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters of the 24th and 31st ult. There is nothing to add. Enclose copies of letters sent to the Secretary at the Hague for the States General and the Queen of England, with which he can perform the offices incumbent on him.
Ayes, 140. Noes, 0. Neutral, 3.
Nov. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
179. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After performing my offices with the king and the ministers I have returned from the Court, overwhelmed by the hardships and by the demands upon my purse, but rejoiced at having put straight the matter of the currants and the treatment of Venetian ministers, so far as present circumstances permit.
A few hours before my arrival the king had arrived with all his army at the city of Oxford, one of the chief in the kingdom, 60 leagues away from here. The same evening I had the honour of seeing him privately and was most honourably received. When I appeared in the room where he happened to be, before the fire, surrounded by a number of military men, he came out from the midst of them and advanced five steps to meet me. After he had embraced me affectionately we retired apart and he gave me a detailed account of the engagement with the enemy, blaming the royal cavalry for having chosen to pursue the parliamentary too far and thus prevented the utter destruction of the remnants of that army (incolpando la cavalleria reale che per havere voluto seguitare troppo oltre la parlamentaria haveva impedito di distruggere affatto le reliquie di quelli armi).
After compliments I informed his Majesty of the league arranged with the Grand Duke and the Duke of Modena. The king was pleased and asked me to express his thanks for the communication. I went on to speak about the affair of the currants, representing the mischief that a prohibition of their importation would do. He said he recognised the injury that would result to the revenue and to trade, and he would never give his consent. I went on to speak about the mistakes in the reception of Venetian ambassadors and asked that the Most Illustrious Contarini might be treated on a par with the ambassadors of crowned heads. The king promised me every satisfaction on the subject, assuring me that Contarini should be met by an earl when he arrived. I asked his Majesty to confirm this in his reply to the letters of your Excellencies about my leave taking. He promised to have the particulars inserted in the letters. Your Excellencies will observe that he gives me the title of "Excellency," which has never been done with any of your ambassadors and may serve as a precedent. I have sent a copy of this new order to the Master of the Ceremonies, so that the contents may be properly recorded. He gave me a quiet hint that he expected from me on this occasion some token of exceptional liberality, as did the Secretary of State also, who has had great influence with the king in the matter of the currants. To keep these ministers well affected I will leave something with the Secretary Agostini, to be given them in my name.
The day following my private audience was appointed for the public one of leave taking. By the king's order I was conducted from my dwelling to the Court in the royal coaches by the earl of Bristol, who at present is the favourite and the one who conducts all business. The king received me very graciously. I told him that the time had come for me to take leave. The Most Illustrious Contarini had been chosen to take my place to maintain the cordial relations. I expressed every good wish for his felicity with other compliments. With an expression of great kindness on his face the king replied, I am extremely sorry that you are going, adding words that I may not repeat. He said he would never fail to preserve the best relations with the most serene republic. The present disorders are the sole reason why the Signory has not yet received the satisfaction due. He would always remember his obligations to me personally. Without doing wrong to the other foreign ministers, he added, I wish to say that if all had behaved with the same moderation the rebels in this country would not have arrived at their present pitch, my affairs would not be where they now are, and trade would not be in its present disturbed state. I promise myself, however, to emerge very soon from these distempers, and I will then restore the trade between this kingdom and the dominions of the most serene republic to the selfsame condition in which it was formerly. I replied with fresh assurances of esteem. On my taking leave his Majesty received the respects of Sig. Antonio Boldu.
Neither I nor the Secretary Agostini has any present to give to your Excellencies and I beseech the Senate to take into consideration the extraordinary expenses I have incurred, during the last five years in particular, as well as the cost of the journey to Germany.
London, the 21st November, 1642.
180. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
From the city of Oxford his Majesty continued his march with the whole army in this direction and reached Egam, a small village only 20 leagues distant from this capital, and 3 from Windsor, which, from the nature of its situation is convenient for closing the passage by the river and for incommoding London considerably. It is therefore considered of great consequence and up to the present has been diligently guarded by numerous garrisons of the parliament. Prince Rupert, who at present commands the vanguard and precedes his Majesty's march with the cavalry, invested the place, but as he met with a vigorous resistance we do not hear that he has been able as yet to capture it, nor do we hear either very definitely whether his Majesty has resolved to engage his army in besieging it or whether he has other plans in view for the achievement of his more far reaching designs.
On the way he surprised the castle of Riding and other places of slight consideration, which, under the influence of the uncontrolled licence of these times, had supported the interests of the parliament by their deeds and by their outspoken approval. In these he took away the arms of the inhabitants and punished their past licence by obliging them to a present payment of money for the support of his troops, which, the cavalry in particular, support themselves for the most part upon the country. However, the king has not permitted any other acts of hostility to be used, professing himself extremely avaricious of the blood and fortunes of his subjects, even the rebellious ones. Clemency is the one virtue which among so many others his Majesty inculcates more than any other (clemenza che fra tante virtu e la piu predicata nella Maesta Sua), but possibly it may not turn out to be more useful than the rewards and punishments, which are the two strongest pillars for keeping states in repose and princes in security.
Owing to the proximity of the royal forces this city is in a great stir. They have doubled the guards at all the posts and planted cannon on the principal streets, which are constantly attended by artillerymen with their fuses burning to be ready for all emergencies. At the trenches out side which are to cover the part most exposed to hostile attacks, they are working incessantly with a great number of pioneers, and for the rest they are making every preparation which is likely to prove most effective for offering a stout and valorous resistance for an open city which is so populous.
General the earl of Essex also, abandoning his quarters at Warwick, has taken a route away from the royal army and come to this city with the remnants of his troops, for the purpose of raising the spirits of his partisans and at the same time to put a bridle on those who being at heart faithful subjects of the king might, on the approach of the royal army, attempt some stroke to the detriment of the rebels.
The army of Essex consists of 5000 infantry and 1000 cavalry. With the greatest energy and application he is endeavouring to increase it with fresh men from this city, with others from the country and with sailors, with the idea of leading it out later on to try conclusions once more with that of his Majesty. The interested parliamentarians assert persistently that within a very short space they will have got together under their banners a force of 12,000 men on foot and 3000 horse and that they will march very soon to confront the king.
To meet the expenses of these levies and of so many other requirements which multiply hourly, they are making application to everyone, without distinction, for contributions. Those who do not promptly consent have their plate taken by force, with the best of their goods which are found in their houses, and are subsequently sent to prison, without remorse, as enemies of the state and adherents of the contrary party. Seventy of the most substantial merchants of the mart are now in prison for this cause being determined to perish rather than give any encouragement by the profusion of their fortunes to those arms which are directed against their legitimate sovereign.
Even in the churches the preachers here do not cease to urge the people strongly to resist his Majesty. They falsely induce the most simple to believe that he intends to suppress by force the religion and liberty of the country. Although these tricks are fully recognised by men of good sense, yet they make an impression on the common people, who are ignorant for the most part and easy to persuade by plausible demonstrations.
While everything here remains subject to such violent agitations, the most important members of the Upper House, justly apprehending that on whichever of the rival parties Fortune may chance to smile by granting success, the result will be equally injurious to their personal interests foreseeing in the victory of his Majesty their certain ruin, and in that of parliament their falling inevitably under the subjection of a licentious populace, with loss of authority and peril to their fortunes as well, have consequently proposed to send deputies to the king with the request that he will be pleased to assign a place for holding a conference for an agreement and to bring back this kingdom to its original peaceful state. They sent this project to the Lower House. That body brimful of violent opinions, after great difficulties and considerable disputes, finally accepted the proposal, more for the purpose of putting on time and to escape the blame which might recoil upon them for not inclining to an accommodation, than with any sincere desire to arrange one without great advantage and the ultimate ruin of the royal authority.
After this resolution they despatched a gentleman to his Majesty with instructions to learn his good pleasure and to ask for a safe conduct for the commissioners. (fn. 4) He has returned and brought answer that the king will never be averse from listening to the proposals of parliament or to admit its commissioners, for whom he has, without delay, delivered the safe conduct desired, with the exception of one of those nominated, because he has been declared by his Majesty guilty of treason. (fn. 5) This exception has afforded a plausible pretext to those who aspire to exalt their own fortunes amid the troubles, to employ every means for interrupting the course of the negotiations, under the excuse that this reservation strikes at the very centre of the privileges and honour of the parliament. But the well intentioned offered a stout resistance and disputing the point hotly they have finally carried it by a majority of votes that the passport shall be accepted in the form in which it was sent, and the commissioners despatched. They have set out to-day. But few have any confidence in this mission, wisely judging that with passions so much inflamed on the two sides and with so much mistrust it will be no easy matter to find some compromise which is likely to cause reciprocal satisfaction. Final judgment will be pronounced most securely by the results. In the county of York the royalists and the parliamentarians continue their warlike operations against each other. Accounts differ as to what has happened and every one speaks in accordance with his personal bias.
From this side they have sent to Scotland a gentleman (fn. 6) express to obtain from that nation some vigorous assistance in accordance with the terms of the last treaty between the two parliaments. If the Scots are disposed to declare themselves and to take the side of the parliament it is not possible to escape the fear that prolonged and deplorable calamities are in store for these states, once so fortunate in the enjoyment of a perfect repose.
The earl of Holland to whom I gave the information touching the affair of the currants has informed me that parliament has referred the consideration of this affair to some deputies, with a disposition to bring it back to its original state. That the pressing occupations of this time have made it impossible to do this up to the present, but before I left he hoped to give me more definite information. He added that he was not ignorant of the injury that would result to the Levant trade from such a step ; that the demands of the interested parties could not be reconciled with the service of this kingdom, and they were prejudiced. So I think that when these troubles have ceased the demand for currants will increase, there being at present a great quantity of the fruit in England, and all the efforts of the merchants will prove vain.
London, the 21st November, 1642.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
181. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Hollanders resumed their session the day before yesterday, from which in a few days some strong declaration about the organisation of the troops is expected soon as well as a rigorous prohibition against sending all kind of military provisions or men from this country to England.
Although the queen of England announced her departure for the end of this month and hurried the embarcation of her baggage, in the assurance of the king's success, she now seems inclined to wait for further news here, under the pretext of a state masque which they are preparing at the Court to present to her Majesty. Meanwhile the ships are kept ready to take her, and the Admiral has been sent for on purpose, because the States want to see her go as soon as possible, and so they smoothe the way by providing every convenience and security.
As the government considers the stay of their minister in England useless or unprofitable during this rebellion, they have permitted him to return when he pleases, and we already hear that he has landed at a port of Zeeland.
The Hague, the 26th November, 1642.
Nov. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
182. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty has not considered it wise to try and capture Windsor castle by more prolonged and vigorous efforts. After giving orders to Prince Rupert to abandon that undertaking until a more opportune moment, he advanced further forward with the remainder of the troops and on Thursday in this week he lodged at Colbrach, a village 16 short miles distant from this capital. He stayed there for two days and listened with great mildness (con molta humanita) to the deputies of the parliament, whose offices consisted in representing to him their just regret at the continuation of the present troubles. Prompted by a genuine zeal for the good of the country, the greatness and security of his Majesty, they cherished in their hearts a sincere desire to see these differences assuaged by means of a perfect composition. Accordingly they beseech him not to proceed any further forward ward and to appoint a place where parliament can send other commissioners with the particulars of their intentions.
The king met these instances with a declaration expressing his affectionate desire for the good of his subjects, as well as his perfect willingness to enter upon discussions for an agreement and to promote the conclusion of one on his side by proofs of the utmost sincerity, He told them that if parliament was disposed to remove from Windsor the garrison they had placed there he would attend the deputies there, and if they did not approve of that place he would not refuse to agree to some other which might prove more acceptable to the parliamentarians, all in order to render more conspicuous his desire for an accommodation, and to shake off from this kingdom the perils of those calamities with which the most serious conditions of the time menace it. He advised them very seriously to agree to the despatch of the proposal, so that the difficulties in the way of success may not be increased by delay, and he is impatiently anxious that it shall succeed.
With this favourable reply the commissioners returned on Friday night completely disarmed by the courteous treatment as well as by what his Majesty had said. They made their report upon it all to parliament on the following day, not without some signs of proceeding to a successful issue in the transaction, unless some fresh accident should arise to interrupt the course of the proceedings already begun, as your Excellencies shall hear.
At Colbruch Prince Rupert received information that at Branfort, a place on the river bank only 8 miles from this city were quartered some regiments of the enemy's cavalry and infantry, as well as a quantity of artillery and other warlike stores intended for the hurt of the royal army. He immediately began to consider what would be the easiest way to strike a blow and capture these. Accordingly on Saturday morning, the 21st inst., very early, he advanced in that direction followed by 2000 horse and 1000 dragoons, and under cover of a thick fog drew near to their quarters and attacked the parliamentary troops so suddenly that he gave them no time to prepare a defence, and striking them furiously and with great force he caused 2000 men to fall before the valour of his sword, captured a number of prisoners and compelled the remainder to take to flight to save their lives. He took from them 8 pieces of artillery with other stores and subsequently sacked the place as a punishment for having attached itself to the side of the rebels without consideration for its duty of loyalty to its prince.
At news so unexpected the parliamentarians were marvellously stirred. All those who are in the same conspiracy for their own ends, paralysed by the fear that the royal troops might draw even closer, and not knowing amid the confusion, what course they might most advantageously follow in order to meet a peril which seemed so near at hand, and in order to supply the means to their own side to cross swords, if need be, with the squadrons of his Majesty, came to the decision to recall all the troops scattered about at the most ticklish positions and to despatch them with all speed to encounter the enemy, causing them to be supported by the trained bands of this city, who, under the threats of severe punishment, were obliged that day to go forth from London, a thing that has never happened before in the most remote times or for the most pressing emergencies. But when the troops arrived at Branfort they found that the Prince, having carried out his plan in its entirety, had rejoined the main body of the royal forces. Accordingly their fears, which were considerable, died away, and without attempting anything further they returned to their station here, having suffered many hardships and accomplished nothing.
Meantime his Majesty being informed that the soldiery appointed to the custody of Kingston bridge had abandoned that position and gone to join the parliamentary forces, seized the opportunity and without losing time made himself master of that important post. He has since gone to Otland, a pleasure resort of the crown, 20 miles from here, where he is staying for the present with the whole army. It has not yet transpired what plans he is maturing. Many assert that his intention is to proceed to Kent, a large province which commands the mouth of the Thames, and bathed by the sea, where the distance to France and Flanders is shortest. As it is devotedly loyal to him he can look for assistance of consequence ; and here they are not without misgivings that such may be the more secret intentions of the king. Consequently troops have been sent in that direction and orders issued to hold at all costs the bridge of Rochiester through which all the ships pass that wish to cast anchor at London.
After this unfortunate incident the parliamentarians, influenced by the most violent sentiments of indignation publish abroad that under the specious pretext of consenting to negotiations for peace the king has deceived them. They protest that they will pay no more attention to negotiation but that they will refer the decision of these differences to the tribunal of arms alone.
The Council of this city also, which is directed by the most obstinate Puritans persuaded by the artful insinuations of those who have no hope of security in tranquillity, has presented a petition to parliament asking them to cut short the thread of negotiations for an accommodation, and to push on to the last extremity in their operations of war, offering to bear gladly any sort of burden and to hazard with their fortunes the lives of all the inhabitants in the defence of that cause which they deem to be no less just than necessary for the preservation of the religion and liberty of the country.
The king, on his side, being inclined to quieter measures, has sent a fresh message to parliament with a declaration that even amid the successes of his arms he preserves the same desire for peace and the same willingness to appoint some place for the examination of the means which may serve to place the parties in the way or a beginning of confidence. But the parliamentarians, brimful of malice, give no sign so far of embracing this invitation, so the hopes of an accommodation disappear, and good men are tortured at seeing, for the sake of the private interests of a few individuals and to the general injury, their country exposed to the disturbances of a civil war, the issue of which cannot fail to be ruinous to one of the parties and may prove so to both.
To increase the strength of the parliamentary army they have decided upon the levy of another 5000 foot and 3000 horse, and as a scarcity of horses is being induced they are seizing those of everybody, without distinction, causing grave discontent among those who are affected.
To General the earl of Essex, as a token of appreciation of his services parliament has made a present of 5000l. sterling and granted him absolute powers for the direction of the war in the way he considers best in the interests of the party, to take action without waiting for the good pleasure of parliament or of others. This does not at all please those who aspire to reduce the government to a general equality and to rule themselves in a fashion independent of the arbitrament of a single individual (il che non riesce di soddisfations a quelli che aspirano di ridure il governo a misura uguale et di reggirsi con forme indipendenti dell' arbitrio d' un solo). Accordingly a great deal of secret ill feeling is being developed and in time this may be considerably increased.
The General has quartered his army at present only six miles from this city and he is most urgently pressing on with the collection of men, to be able subsequently to devote his attention to such enterprises as circumstances may show him to be most advantageous for the maintenance of his own side and for the injury of his Majesty's.
In the place of General the earl of Lince, who was wounded in the battle of Edgcot, taken prisoner and died quite recently in the hands of the enemy, his Majesty has chosen Baron Butten, a Scot, (fn. 7) who fought a long time under the banner of the king of Sweden. His white hairs may serve to temper the ardour of Prince Rupert, who seems to require somewhat more reserve in conjunction with his high spirit to make him an absolutely perfect commander.
The marquis of Erfort has arrived at the city of Oxford with 9000 foot and 2000 horse, which are going to make a forced march to join the forces of his Majesty. Further four ships from Denmark have cast anchor in the port of Newcastle. They bring 6000 suits of armour for the king with a considerable sum in ready money. An ambassador of the king there, accredited to his Majesty, has arrived on these same ships. (fn. 8) He has brought with him two military commanders of experience. These last while hurrying forward to reach the king have been taken prisoner in the bishopric of Duran by the parliamentary troops. There are various opinions about the business of the ambassador and so I cannot as yet assert anything positively about his instructions although common report says that he bears commissions to interpose for an adjustment between his Majesty and the parliament, and if he does nor meet with a willing disposition in the parliamentarians he is to warn them that the Danish crown will unite with the king and endeavour to recover for him the prerogatives which he has unlawfully lost amid the disorders of this time.
London, the 28th November, 1642.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. The Dutch reply is dated the 1st November and the text is printed in Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Orlogh, Vol. II, page 92.
  • 2. Parliament on the 3rd Nov. ordered their removal from the palace of St. James, and that Lord Cottington's house in Broad Street should be made ready for them. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. V, page 419.
  • 3. This helps to explain an obscure reference in a letter of Huygens. The pensionary was Cornelis van Stavenisse. Brief Wisseling van Constantijn Huygens, Vol. III, page 367.
  • 4. Sir Peter Killigrew, sent on the 13th.
  • 5. Sir John Evelyn.
  • 6. John Pickering. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. II, page 868.
  • 7. Patrick lord Ruthven, created earl of Forth.
  • 8. His name was Korfitz Ulefeldt ; his instructions were dated 24th October. Fredericia : Danmarks ydre Politiske Historie Vol. 11, page 315.