Venice: December 1642

Pages 204-221

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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December 1642

Dec. 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
183. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
With the ships all ready to take her Majesty to England news arrived which decided her to postpone her start for a fortnight. She hopes, meanwhile, that the second advantage recently obtained by the royal forces over the parliament (fn. 1) will put the king's cause in a better position and allow her to go straight to London with her Court. With this idea she informed the States the day before yesterday of her decision about her departure, leaving them at liberty to send away to sea the ships told off to serve her, so that they may join with the others against the Dunkirkers.
The people here, who have always objected to her Majesty's proceedings, attribute all the damage inflicted by the enemy in these waters to her irresolution. They pour violent curses on the king's enterprises and look upon this delay in the queen's departure as a presage of misfortune to this state. In spite of this 200 soldiers were secretly sent to the royal camp last week, and her Majesty's captains are now secretly collecting more. They are trying to hire ships to transport them to Newcastle, with military stores, but encounter fresh difficulties owing to the constant opposition of the Hollanders, who observe the queen's proceedings closely. They propose to send them over in the same ships which escort her Majesty, or with some other opportunity, if possible, so that they may arrive opportunely for the royal requirements.
The Hague, the 3rd December, 1642.
Dec. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Ceffalonia. Venetian Archives.
184. Francesco Contarini, Venetian Proveditore of Cephalonia, to the Doge and Senate.
The fears of the people here about the sale of their currants has constrained them to decide to send about two millions of the fruit to Venice by the Marciliane, since there is no money of any sort for them here. Since then 600 thousand have been laded by one of the English merchants who live at Zante on the ship William John of that nation. Recently a Fleming and a Jew laded about 500 thousand each upon the galleon Turchia. The first lot was bought at from 12 to 16 reals the thousand, and the others at 15, 16 up to 17 reals the thousand.
Cephalonia, the 24th November, 1642, old style.
Dec. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
185. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The energy devoted by the parliamentarians here in preparing a vigorous resistance to the measures which they feared the king might take against this city and in repressing the movements in his favour which were known to be most imminent (nel ripressione li movimenti riconosciute per bene vicini a favore di lui) have proved so successful that they have dissipated the hopes his Majesty at first conceived of making himself master of London without much bloodshed or exposing himself to the hazard of very serious perils. Accordingly in view of these most weighty considerations he has decided that it is the wisest course to put off until a more opportune moment the execution of a plan of such importance. Reflecting that in the narrow limits of Otland and its district it will be impossible to feed his army for long, while the place is inconvenient for the arrival of the troops which he expects from the North and from the other provinces, he has abandoned those quarters and on Saturday in the present week he began his march on the way back to the neighbourhood of Oxford, for the purpose of refreshing the troops after their late fatigues in the fertility of that country, as well as to keep all that district steadfast in its loyalty to him.
This unexpected retirement of the king is not approved by men of ordinary judgment (uomini d' ordinario sentimenti) who consider it little calculated to maintain the reputation of his army. But those of most experience consider it very well timed, because he will no longer remain under the eye of the enemy forces, in the neighbourhood of a city so contumacious and populous from which it can most speedily receive powerful succours, while forcing them, if they decide to follow him, to leave behind them their quarters where they are supplied with every comfort and betake themselves to a more open country, where, in the event of other engagements the royalists will have greater opportunities of using their cavalry to advantage, an arm in which they are overwhelmingly superior to the other side.
Before setting out his Majesty sent the Sieur di More with letters to parliament in which he states that the late engagement at Brancfort, at a time when overtures for peace were on foot, was due solely to the fact that the two armies were such a short distance apart, and he had not been able to prevent the affair. To relieve the citizens here from apprehension about his arms he had decided to proceed to Oxford, and that he might perform all the duties of a pitiful prince he would there await the commissioners with the full powers required for getting on with the negotiations for an accommodation ; or else he would await the parliamentary army, to decide their differences by the proof of another battle and relieve the people of the misfortune of these vexations, under which these states undeservedly groan, to the exceeding grief of his Majesty. (fn. 2)
When this prudent and generous letter of the king was read in the Upper House it was decided, after mature deliberation, to resume the thread of negotiations for an accommodation. But when it was taken, together with the resolution, to the Lower House, which numbers at present only 80 members out of 500, it did not meet with such a ready reception, This was due to the repeated offers of the Council of this city and also to the efforts of those who, at the cost of public calamities, seek to keep for themselves the usurped position of a fortune more than private. The matter was disputed with great heat and for a long time. At last it was resolved by a small majority to pursue the negotiations and to send commissioners to his Majesty for the purpose.
After this resolution, so distasteful to the self interested, the Lower House presented to the Upper four articles to be presented by the commissioners to the king, with a declaration that if they are not granted in full that House will never consent to any other means for an adjustment, which shows quite clearly how little they wish to arrange one.
The articles consist in petitioning his Majesty to return to London and assist at the parliament ; to permit his loyal servants, pretended delinquents, to be judged and punished, religion to be reformed in accordance with the creed of Scotland, which means the establishment in England also by public decree of the dogmas of Calvin, which are repugnant in their essence to the Protestant profession ; and finally, the order of bishops to remain prohibited and removed from the Anglican Church.
The Upper House, on the other hand, which has a strong and fundamental inclination towards peace, perceiving that these demands cannot possibly bring it about or be accepted by the king, is making the most strenuous efforts to urge moderation upon the Lower, but without success up to the present. It represents that it is desirable for the moment to confine themselves to generalities with his Majesty, that is to say to petition him to move to some place near London, wherever he may be pleased to select it, with offers to give him all the necessary guarantees ; to preserve religion, the liberty of the country and the privileges of parliament, and to grant a suspension of arms during the progress of these negotiations. These requests are all reasonable, but even if they are accepted by the Lower House they may yet be accompanied by equivocations sufficient to render it difficult to adjust them in such a way as to secure the reciprocal satisfaction of the parties. For this reason opinion is in suspense and while awaiting the event there are few who feel any confidence that these transactions, tossed about by such different passions and interests, will bring about any good result such as is so greedily desired by all right thinking and unprejudiced persons.
While attention has been devoted to the negotiations for peace, they have not given up making the most energetic efforts for strengthening their forces. These are increasing with every day, although they do not improve in quality. London has undertaken to maintain 3000 dragoons and 1000 cavalry at its own expense so long as the war lasts, on condition that these forces shall be commanded by a leader selected by the Council of the city and employed where he may consider it to be best in the interests and for the convenience of the citizens. Such a reservation is detrimental to the despotic authority of parliament, and also strikes a shrewd blow at the office of the General Essex, who for this reason and on other grounds is not perfectly satisfied, and it becomes more and more apparent that he is cherishing increasingly bitter feelings.
Since these proposals for an agreement manifest indications of lack of confidence have appeared between the Upper and the Lower Houses, and suspicion between these two sections of parliament does not sleep. If this goes on and leads to greater divisions it may provide his Majesty with a useful means of ultimately subduing the obstinacy of the most rebellious by the arm of their own dissensions.
It is on this account that many parliamentarians have resigned the military offices which they discharged, and in others there are signs of an inclination to recover their place in the king's favour and secure their private fortunes more solidly against accidents in the future. From which one may foresee with the evidence of the facts that time should ultimately serve as the most efficacious medicine for the ills of this most noble house, when every effort and the most severe remedies have so far proved without avail.
The ambassador from Denmark, having set out from Newcastle, should reach the Court to-day. Every one is waiting with impatient curiosity to learn the most authentic news of his offices. Meanwhile the parliamentarians here confirm that he brings instructions to busy himself for an adjustment and if this does not ensue he has determined orders to announce that if warlike operations continue that crown cannot refrain from assisting his Majesty in consideration of the justice of his cause as well as in regard to the close blood relationship which he has with the royal house here. If the vigorous offices of the ambassador correspond with these reports they will afford a motive for inducing even the most obstinate to show themselves less exacting in consenting to a reasonable composition.
London, the 5th December, 1642.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
186. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch ambassador Joachimi has obtained permission from his masters to proceed to his native land for some days to attend to his private concerns, as he does every year. He is waiting for a squadron of ships from Holland to convoy him across the sea. I shall take advantage of one of these, if I am able, to proceed to the Imperial Court.
Meanwhile although the disorders of these times have reduced the king's purse to great penury he has not on that account forgotten to give proofs to myself and the Secretary Agostini of that liberality which usually accompanies the departure of ambassadors. Whereas in the past the Venetian ambassador received 1200 ozs. of plate while the others had 2000 ozs. his Majesty sent orders for me to have the same as the ambassadors of France and Spain ; and yesterday evening the Master of the Jewels presented me with 2000 ozs. of gold plate of Germany. I have secured that this order of the king and its fulfilment shall be recorded in the books of the Office of Jewels, so as to create a precedent. On my side I have given very large rewards to the ministers who are of consequence, following the example of the ambassadors of France and Spain. I beg that the Senate will permit me to keep the present of the king in view of my heavy expenses.
His Majesty gave the Secretary a gold chain, according to custom, and he also asks permission to keep it.
London, the 5th December, 1642.
Dec. 6.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
187. In the Pregadi on the 6th December 1642.
It being considered desirable to continue the concession made to the merchants who trade in the West, which the Five Savii alla Mercantia have reported to be of great advantage to the state :
that the concession in the matter of the duties on wool coming from the West be continued for another four years, from the time to which the last concession extended, in order to increase the trade of those parts with this mart.
Ayes, 114. Noes, 2. Neutral, 8.
Dec. 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Signori Stati. Venetian Archives.
188. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary in the Netherlands, to the Doge and Senate.
The marts here suffer serious injury from the Dunkirkers through the ships waiting here for the embarcation of the queen, and the people here violently blame this as the real cause of all that their trade has suffered, owing to her postponing the day of her departure, because of events in England, and using ships for the benefit of her husband, contrary to the wishes of the supporters of the other side, who dislike her stay here as much as if she was the fiercest enemy of this state. Yet they have hired ships in her Majesty's name, and in addition to the 200 who crossed last week, they have embarked 500 more, who will leave these shores to-morrow for the royal camp, with some other military provisions for the king. When the parliament commissioner presented a memorial to the government, trying to stop this, they merely told him that if the soldiers had not deserted and if the officers did not complain, they could not prevent it, as it had been done before with other friendly princes, without difficulty. He being thus discountenanced by the General Assembly, the States of Holland have not shown so much eagerness to support the cause of the parliament, since the Prince is exercising all his authority in support of the Crown, without reserve.
Since present circumstances in England seem very favourable, the States recently revived the proposal to send the already selected embassy extraordinary to England immediately, to compose the differences there, but the Hollanders oppose it again, and the project has once more been relegated to oblivion.
The members of the India Company at Amsterdam have presented the queen of England with a large quantity of porcelain and other most rare Oriental dainties, to the value of 50,000 florins.
The Hague, the 10th December, 1642.
Dec. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
189. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Insuperable difficulties beset the negotiations for an agreement which were introduced in respect of the late resolution passed in parliament owing to the insistence of the Lower House in refusing to consent to a treaty of accommodation except upon the conditions reported, that his Majesty should return to his residence here, that he shall agree to give up for trial those who have loyally and successfully served him and that religion be reformed on the model of the doctrine of Calvin, which amounts to saying that the government of the church here no less than that of the monarchy shall be completely democratic. With such demands which the interested parties themselves consider meet for refusal (giudicati da gli interessati medesimi degni di rifiuto) Mr. Chilegre set out on Saturday of this week for the king. Being by this time well aware of the audacity of his subjects, his Majesty, after listening to the tenor of the proposals, sent Chilegre back with a promise that after he had considered the matter ripely he would let them know more precisely what his intentions were. Thus two days ago another gentleman arrived with other letters from his Majesty. Although the subject matter of these is not yet published I gather that in substance they are to the effect that parliament does not merit his royal attendance in view of the disrespectful treatment which he has received. That he will never approach London, except arms in hand, but as he has at heart a perfect good will for peace, his ears will always be open to listen to proposals and commissioners will be received with every mark of courtesy.
I do not hear that any reply has yet been matured to these new advances of his Majesty. It will follow very soon but men do not believe that it will be couched in terms likely to facilitate the speedy conclusion of a peace.
Many nobles of the first nobility, although in the past they have been openly opponents of the royal interests, perceiving from experience that this inflexibility derives from the ambition of those who are contriving to establish themselves firmly in the saddle and from the eagerness of others to bring the government into conformity with that of Holland, to which they perceive the inclinations of the people here tend, are strongly opposed to such a plan, and apprehensive of the prejudice to which, in such case the greatness of the nobility would be exposed, they are trying to interrupt the course of designs so pernicious to the king and to themselves and their country as well. Thus there are increasing indications that in the end we shall see an open division between the nobility and the people, from which the royal authority may arise to power again, to the final ruin of the worst of the rebels.
Meanwhile his Majesty has proceeded to Oxford, followed by a portion of his troops. In that city and in the places about it he has billeted his military forces. At the most suitable positions in the circuit he is setting them to work at the construction of four forts, for the purpose of preventing hostile attacks and to secure the winter quarters of the army. To many captains he has distributed patents for the enlistment of soldiers on foot and for cavalry, with instructions that they shall be completed at the opening of the coming season. This seems to point to the fact that his Majesty is at present thinking more of increasing his forces for the coming campaign and of the recuperation of his soldiers in good and commodious quarters than of attempting any other enterprises.
Before approaching Oxford he stayed for some days in the town of Redin owing to a heating of the blood (ebollizione di sangue) by which the prince was overtaken, so violent that he had to take to his bed, and preventing him from continuing his journey. (fn. 3) He is now in perfect health and remains at his Majesty's side.
In this same town, which was so rebellious, the king has left a numerous garrison of armed squadrons, and has caused earthworks to be raised, thus rendering it safe from movements from within as well as from anything that may be feared from the other side. The city of Chichester also, the capital of Sussex and bathed by the sea, has openly embraced the king's side, with offers to send him assistance in men and money to the extent of the capacity of the people there.
After his Majesty's departure from Otland the earl of Essex set out from Branford and advanced with all his army to Kingston. There he occupied the bridge and the quarters abandoned by the royalists. They are sending the new troops in that direction. Others are being despatched to Ferman, a small place 30 miles from here which they have surprised, taking prisoner 80 of the king's soldiers who guarded it. It is now stated that Essex is contemplating an approach to the quarters of his Majesty and attempting to gain some advantage over his troops ; but as the report of his intentions has got about the royalists will have time to avoid any injury and may possibly make the damage recoil on the heads of those who contrive it with such lack of caution.
The earl of Warwick has refused the command of the new troops which they offered to him these last weeks and has returned to the Downs to attend to the direction of the naval force. Lord Fildinch also, who was falsely reported slain in the late battle, has resigned his office and is trying by every means to reestablish himself in his Majesty's favour. (fn. 4)
The Council of London has paid out to the parliamentary treasurers 30,000l. sterling, collected in a few days from the private purses of the people here, to be used for paying the army to which a large amount is due. As this sum is not enough to meet requirements parliament is asking for 200,000l. to follow, with a statement that if this provision is wanting it will prove impossible to maintain the army any longer. Accordingly they have made application to the Companies here, that it to say the guilds, to induce them to give their plate, left to them in common by deceased freemen of the company, and amounting to a considerable sum. But the directors opposed this vigorously and so far the utmost efforts have not availed to obtain their consent, although they have threatened to take the plate away without their good will.
In the county of York baron Farfax, commander of the parliamentary forces in those parts, is keeping the city of York strictly blockaded. The earl of Cumberland, on the other hand, who commands the royal troops in that country, united with the earl of Newcastle, is advancing in that direction with numerous squadrons, for the purpose of engaging the enemy, and delivering, if it be possible, that important fortress from the peril of falling into the hands of the parliament, and they are waiting for news of the result here.
The ambassador of Denmark arrived at Court and saw his Majesty on Saturday. After another private audience he went back to the coast to take ship and return to his sovereign. He brought offers to the king of the most powerful assistance imaginable from that crown, but no well authenticated information has arrived with particulars of this assistance, and it is awaited with anxious impatience.
The parliamentarians here have heard with no little sorrow the unexpected news of the death of Cardinal Richelieu. (fn. 5) They fear that now the obstacle of the representations of that minister are removed, who was ill disposed towards the interests of the sovereigns here, the queen will be able more easily to obtain assistance from the Most Christian, her brother, for her husband, whereas they were confident of obtaining support from that quarter for their cause.
The insurgents in Ireland continue their series of successes with new enterprises, and are steadily gaining a firmer hold upon the possession of the country occupied. They have 30,000 combatants under their banners, they keep 30 well armed ships at sea and they have recently captured a rich vessel which was on its way to the ports here laden with goods from the other side (cotesta volta).
Following upon the honours done to me by his Majesty, parliament also has appointed the earl of Holland and lord Fildinch to pay their respects. They called at this house two days ago and expressed the regard of the parliament for your Excellencies and a desire for the continuance of cordial relations. They expressed regret at my departure. They also offered a ship to take me to Holland. I made a suitable reply. Lord Holland made excuses for not telling me anything about the affair of the currants. He assured me that the present disturbances had prevented him from doing it, but he promised that nothing should be done to disturb the trade between the two states.
London, the 12th December, 1642.
Dec. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Rettori. Venetian Archives.
190. To the Proveditore of Zante.
Our ambassador in England writes of the desire of the king there that the trade with the most serene republic be not interrupted. He is to keep on the alert about smuggling and take care that it is prevented. He is to find out what orders the English in the island have from their correspondents, and to send full particulars.
Ayes, 125. Noes, 0. Neutral, 8.
191. To the Proveditore of Cephalonia.
There is a manifest prejudice and irregularity in that while a prohibition is in force preventing English merchants from lading currants in the islands, these same merchants are able to dispose of their cloth and kerseys and they do, even in this city. Accordingly we charge you to cause the reception and sale of English cloth and kerseys in the islands to be prohibited under pain of the forfeiture of the cloth and double its value.
That an instruction be given to the Avogadori di Comun to cause to be published the total prohibition of every sort of cloth from England.
The Savii ai Ordini.
Ayes, 15.
192. To the Secretary Agostini in England.
Seeing the uncertainty whether the decree made by parliament prohibiting the subjects of that kingdom from going to lade currants in our islands of Zante and Cephalonia, will be withdrawn, and to afford support to the good will of the king, who inclines to cause the ancient use and commerce to be continued but who may encounter difficulties in view of the revolutions of the kingdom, we have accordingly decided that it shall be prohibited to the English to dispose of their cloth in this city or in our dominions. This will be enforced and practised until the decree of the parliament is withdrawn. If you hear any talk on the subject and if any one speaks to you about it, you will say, as if of yourself, that the English nation has always been favoured and received in the most friendly fashion and has enjoyed the greatest advantages and when this innovation introduced by parliament has ended you feel sure that this order will be withdrawn. You will also intimate to the people there the advantage of doing this in the interest of the subjects of both powers.
The Savii ai Ordini.
Ayes 15.
Dec. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
193. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The queen of England sent her gentleman by land to Paris yesterday, to negotiate for her reception at Court. (fn. 6) She did this without informing the French minister here. He complains bitterly at the slight.
Under the pretence of revisiting their own homes a large number of officers are passing to England to take service on the side of the king. The Hollanders complain bitterly about this to the Prince, because he allows them to go and gives passports to every one of them without any difficulty. He defends himself on the score of the time of year when he does not require the assistance of the captains for his own affairs, as he does in the summer time, and also on the ground of inveterate custom to allow the English to return to their homes in the winter and to stay there for some time.
The Hague, the 17th December, 1642.
Dec. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
194. To the Ambassador Zustignan, designate to his Imperial Majesty.
Approval of his leave taking of the king and for obtaining from him not only an oral statement but letters in favour of the title of our ambassador to treatment on a par with the ambassadors of France and Spain, and also for allowing the continued importation of currants from the islands into that country. In recognition of his services and of the fresh and heavy expenditure he has to incur, 1000 ducats is granted to him as a gift, to be paid to his agents by the Camerlenghi di Comun. †With regard to the expenses incurred by him on the presents he left for the sake of convenience and decorum for the Master of the Ceremonies and the Secretary of State to put them under an obligation for the punctual fulfilment of the king's wishes in the matters aforesaid, he may put them in his accounts and they will be allowed to him.†
Ayes, 155. Noes, 1. Neutral, 7.
On the 15th December in the Collegio.
Ayes, 13. Noes, 7. Neutral, 4.
Second vote :
Ayes, 12. Noes, 9. Neutral, 3. Pending.
On the 19th December in the Collegio :
Ayes, 16. Noes, 2. Neutral, 2. 4/5 carried.
The question of 1000 ducats as a gift submitted separately.
Ayes, 126. Noes, 24. Neutral, 15.
Second vote :
Ayes, 105. Noes, 27. Neutral, 14. Pending.
On the 18th December in the Collegio, without the words between the signs.
Ayes, 16. Noes, 4. Neutral, 5.
Second vote :
Ayes, 14. Noes, 5. Neutral, 2. Pending.
In the margin :
The question of the donation standing over the letters were sent without the part between the signs†, the rest being carried.
Dec. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian. Archives.
195. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After performing all the necessary offices I am setting out for the coast. I shall take the first opportunity of a safe passage, though with the disturbed conditions and the severe weather it seems incredibly inconvenient and increases discomfort as well as expense.
The ships expected by the Ambassador Joachimi have not yet reached these shores from Holland, and I am doubtful about accepting his offer because of the fear of an encounter with the Dunkirkers, who are scouring this Channel with sixty well armed ships, without resistance and have recently made booty of several rich Dutch ships.
Baron Bruch, a leading member of the rebel party in parliament, called at this house two days ago, and repeated the offer of a ship of the parliament to cross to Holland. But I sounded the king's sentiments and found that he would not be pleased for me to accept this courtesy. So I have given up the idea and elect rather to venture on a private ship, though it involves more trouble.
At the moment of my departure his Majesty has sent a gentleman on purpose to express his friendliness and his satisfaction at the way I have discharged my duties. The secretary of state has also given me the privilege usually granted to all the ambassadors of your Excellencies, of bearing the lions on their arms. He also gave me the enclosed letter, asking me to move the Senate in favour of Mr. Talbot, of other English subjects and for the continuance of good relations between his Majesty and your Excellencies. I enclose my reply. I thought it useful to tell them of my instructions to visit the queen in Holland, and present the letters of your Excellencies of which I have sent a copy.
I have exchanged visits with the Dutch ambassador this week. He accepts the title of Monsieur from me while he calls me Excellency. This will serve as a precedent.
So much for this week, as I will leave the Secretary Agostini to report the news. His zeal for the public service will leave your Excellencies nothing to desire.
London, the 19th December, 1642.
Enclosure. 196. Edward Nicolas to Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador.
Has sent an order of his Majesty to the king at arms for an augmentation of the ambassador's arms much greater than has been used with his predecessors. Wishes him a pleasant journey. The king's satisfaction with the way he has discharged his duties. Feels sure Mr. Talbot will not need his good offices with the republic, or this realm for the continuance of true and sincere relations with Venice.
Oxford, the 30th November—10th December, 1642.
[Italian, from the French.]
197. Gio. Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador to Edward Nicolas, Secretary of State.
Thanks and compliments. Desire of the republic for the maintenance unchanged of friendly relations and to treat all the king's ministers and subjects as their own. To show esteem for the royal house, has instructions to see the queen in Holland and deliver her the letter of which a copy is enclosed.
London, the 13th December, 1642.
Dec. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
198. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After performing the complimentary offices with the king and Court and with some of the lords here, and receiving unusual marks of esteem in return, the Ambassador is proceeding to the coast, where he will await a favourable opportunity. It is to be hoped that he will reach the Imperial Court without too great inconvenience. Here I will endeavour to fulfil my task to the best of my ability.
During the rest which the season imposes upon the armies negotiations for an adjustment have been opened. Some of the leading parliamentarians, chiefly among the lords, are repenting tardily of using their authority for its own destruction in despoiling the king. But the rebels of the Lower House, well knowing that for such a conclusion nothing can be derived for their own profit except an unconditional pardon, hold fast to their principles, fortified by the people of this city which supports them, and so nearly all hope of this boon has vanished.
The proposals for peace made by parliament to the king were all summed up in the chief one, calling upon his Majesty to reside here, with all the consequences involved, for which an unbridled people, ambitious of rule might be expected to be prepared.
The answer brought by the gentleman from the Court, was vigorous and a response to the demand, though the king did not show any unwillingness for the end proposed, provided on this side they were ready to meet him in a sincere spirit. Nevertheless the more hot headed of the parliamentarians were incensed so that they did not allow the printing of the letter, in the usual way. Neither have they yet made any further reply to his Majesty, using all their energy to prevent the well disposed from exerting their influence, which though praiseworthy and necessary, suits their interests the less on that account. But the discomforts felt by the people may cause disturbances which may force even the most obstinate to yield. The occasion may arise when they insist by force on the collection of the taxes imposed by parliament this week. From the courtesy of those who favour their party they have so far obtained the money for maintaining the war. They requested all to lend in accordance with their ability and as they offered 8 per cent. yearly, many of the most enthusiastic promptly obliged, supposing, as they were given to believe, that this loan would suffice unaided to deliver the country from its troubles, the Puritan religion from censure and perhaps the kingdom from monarchy. But with these offers ceasing and the requirements increasing it was necessary to provide a remedy depending upon force rather than upon courtesy. Parliament therefore decided that everyone must pay a fifth of his income, and those who have no income, 5 per cent. of their capital, declaring moreover that the fifth must be paid in money and plate, and menacing those who object with severe penalties. They are now busy about the method of exacting this. It will not be easy, as it is generally unpopular, especially among the merchants, many of whom protest they will absent themselves, as it does not suit them to make known their capital and still less to pay for others.
The Danish ambassador, besides the money and arms which he brought the king, offered him in his master's name at a secret audience, more vigorous assistance still. With the gift of a jewel worth 1000l. sterling he has returned home, without intervening in the peace, as was expected, and he does not even pass through London.
The policy of that king, the death of Cardinal Richelieu, who showed his partiality, and the suspicion that the influence of the Prince of Orange will suffice to overcome the leaning of the Provinces to their party, all help to cause apprehension to the parliamentarians that the king, strengthened by foreign auxiliaries, may be able in the next campaign to make the attempt against this city which he did not venture to institute for lack of a party, which will increase as discontent grows.
For this reason they have urged the earl of Essex, at present quartered at Windsor, to advance to attack the king's quarters, before he can take any advantage from the junction of the other forces which he expects. But the unsuitable season, the new fortifications erected by his Majesty, and more than all, the desire of the commanders to fill their own purses, have so far prevented anything being done.
Six lords of the Upper House, with the permission though without the orders of parliament, have gone together to the said general, under the pretence of visiting the army, but as there are some friends of peace among them I am advised that they will secretly attempt to persuade the general, otherwise strongly opposed, to second their efforts. I shall know the truth when they return.
Meanwhile the earl of Newcastle, crossing the Bishopric of Durham with 6000 infantry and 1000 horse, has proceeded to York, driving away the parliamentary forces which were blockading the city. He will stay in the district to encourage the royalist party, to secure the landing of foreign succour at Newcastle, and to prevent an invasion of the Scots, who are urgently called upon to assist the party here, in accordance with agreements already made. But the two armies in Wales and Cornwall will advance at the earliest moment to reinforce the royal army. 1000 horse have been sent to them from Oxford to enable them to overcome any obstacles on the way and to open a passage through the disaffected country they have to cross.
London, the 19th December, 1642.
Dec. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
199. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
At the instance of the Hollanders their High Mightinesses have authorised the old-standing declaration that all officers of their army who enter the service of foreign princes immediately forfeit their appointments, especially those who go to England. They have written directing their ambassador there to inform all officers in that country of this. They mean to act with the utmost rigour in the matter, making no exceptions, even for those of high rank.
The false ministers of the word of God here detest the Prince's actions which show his favour to the royal cause. They speak audaciously and exaggerate the assistance supplied to the king of England as being a certain proof of his inclination to Catholicism, thus seeking to discredit him with the people and to undermine his authority. He tries to conciliate the populace and adheres to the name of Calvinist. To this end and contrary to custom he has issued a most rigorous edict against the Catholics whereby he hopes to recover his former influence and thus be enabled, in the course of time, to carry out his plans.
The Hague, the 24th December, 1642.
Dec. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
200. To the Ambassador in England.
Approval of his intention to set out without regard for the season of the year. Permission to keep the present made him by the king of England. Similar permission for the Secretary Agostini to keep the chain given him by the king.
Ayes, 169. Noes, 0. Neutral, 4.
201. That the plate amounting to 2000 ozs. of gold granted to Giovanni Giustinian by the king of Great Britain on his taking leave be allowed to him as a token of the satisfaction with his merits and his admirable services, and in relief of his heavy expenditure.
The same for the chain given by his Majesty to the Secretary Agostini.
On the 26th December in the Collegio :
Ayes, 16. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
For the Secretary :
Ayes, 17. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
In the Secreta :
Ayes, 169. Noes, 3. Neutral, 0.
Dec. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
202. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Great and remarkable commotions have taken place in this city during the present week, which might have been expected from the taxes recently ordered by parliament, as I indicated. At the moment when they were about to begin the exaction of these, some Protestant leaders, rousing from their lethargy and stimulated by their own interests to throw aside their fear of the opposing Puritan party, drew up a petition, to be presented to parliament, signed by a considerable number of their party. This petition merely expresses their desire to have a peace honourable for the king, out of consideration for the present disorders and the fear of worse to come. But while they were collecting signatures the mayor heard of it, and although the demands were reasonable, he knew that it would give rise to hurtful divisions, and so he had it taken by force from those concerned. But they, gathering in great numbers at his house, obliged him to give it back, and no one could prevent them from completing their work.
There were difficulties about presenting it because parliament had ordered that no paper of the city of London could be admitted without the approval of the Council there. It was therefore necessary to apply to them. Both parties met there, numerous and powerful, and a scandalous riot occurred in which some were injured. But in the end the Puritan party prevailed because they were armed. Accordingly the Council decided to propose itself what seemed proper to itself, undertaking to give previous notice to the promoters, a part of whom, however, they afterwards imprisoned on various pretexts.
Not satisfied with this, but rather more incensed, the Protestant party, joined with some of the less fanatical, without waiting to hear further from the Council, presented themselves to the number of 3000 to parliament on Wednesday morning to present this petition. But this was not allowed, only ten or twelve being permitted to appear, as they did yesterday. They were put off to another time to see what the Council will say, which is likely to correspond with the wishes of the parliamentary leaders.
Meanwhile in the Upper House, the peers, most of whom sincerely desire an adjustment, perceiving all authority to be passing to the party of the people, which will be all powerful, have taken advantage of this stir and of the impression which the six returned from the army claim to have made on the general, the earl of Essex. They have held continuous debates upon the formation of articles, which have been engrossed, 16 in number. But as they have not been voted or communicated to the Lower House, their contents cannot be known. I understand that they are quite reasonable, but while they do not insist upon the punishment of his Majesty's favourites, yet they are unanimously determined that the present parliament shall continue in London during the pleasure of the two Chambers. This rock wrecks his Majesty's authority, and it is probable that he will try to evade it by some pretext or other, especially now that he is favoured by the civil discords in London, which affords hope that he will come safely to port.
With regard to rendering his Majesty's disposition favourable, they have conducted to the palace of St. James with a numerous escort of coaches the two little princes, who were recently placed in a private house in the city by order of parliament, under the pretext of removing them from danger and alarm, to which they were exposed in those outlying suburbs, when the royal forces were near and a number of parliamentary forces in the district for a guard. Amid all these hopes, fears and changes they do not neglect to strengthen the army with all their might, and to urge the earl of Essex to attack Redin, where the king has 2000 soldiers posted on high ground. But the general does not seem at all inclined, which excites some suspicion among the members of the Lower House, which had already taken birth. But it is possible that he holds back from fear that the king may hasten thither with his whole army, and force him to a battle, with danger of that bad success which has been experienced by these forces on every occasion. Thus recently at Marlboro, a considerable town 20 miles from Oxford, whither his Majesty sent Mr. Wilmot with 4000 foot and 1000 horse, he half destroyed the place by fire, routed the parliamentary troops and sacked the houses of the disloyal people, carrying off several prisoners. (fn. 7)
Another encounter has occurred in Devonshire, and though the victory is claimed by this side because of some prisoners, (fn. 8) yet this has not prevented the royalists from appearing at Plymouth, to the great alarm of the inhabitants, who offered a considerable sum of money to escape the peril.
In York the earl of Newcastle united with the army of Cumberland, forming a considerable force, has entered the chief city to secure it against another siege, and also to purge it of some disaffected to the royalist cause, who were there. Fresh confirmation arrives that both will remain in those parts to prevent any invasion that the Scots might attempt.
The Scots having obtained a passport from parliament for sending here some extraordinary commissioners, ostensibly for the union of the churches, asked a safe conduct of the king. His Majesty refused this twice but finally gave way, so as not to give them any cause for offence. It is believed that they will meddle in the peace, but this mediation will certainly have no credit at Court, nor will their threats make any impression.
With increasing lack of money and the means of obtaining any, parliament is contemplating cutting off the expense of maintaining an extraordinary fleet always at sea. At the same time they do not neglect to prevent the arrival of foreign succours for the king, which are feared from many quarters, but chiefly from Denmark. However, by a special decree parliament has given permission to any English merchant to arm ships to go privateering, conceding to them, less the Admiralty's tenth, full possession of all the arms and munitions of war which they may take, directed to his Majesty, as well as the ships and goods of corsairs of every nation. They have to find security for 2000l. sterling to keep within these limits. The permission is welcome in the lack of employment for ships, but abused, as it well may be, it may lead to serious trouble. But those who rule will not mind that as they are moved by private not public interests.
A gentleman sent by parliament to the States has left for Holland. He is to thank them for their friendly disposition to this party. He will offer the continuance of mutual relations for the service of their common republics and religion and will go even further if any opening is given him. But there is no sign of this, and for the moment this mission is directed solely to strengthen the offices of the other gentleman now there, and so far as possible to render vain the machinations of the queen and the Prince of Orange.
The Dutch Ambassador Joachimi, urged by his own affairs, has profited by the opportunity of two ships which have arrived from Zeeland, and has also crossed the sea. The Ambassador Giustinian has not taken advantage of this from fear of the Dunkirkers who are strong at sea, and he hopes to get a ship less suspect and safer for his passage.
London, the 26th December, 1642.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 31.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
203. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The people here are constant in their desire for peace and speak of it at every opportunity. The Prince knows how much his authority has suffered since the alliance of his son with the princess Mary of England, because of what he has had to do in the interests of that Crown. He foresees that it will suffer still more from a peace or truce with Spain under present circumstances, and so he maintains the necessity of continuing the war. He hopes thus to recover his ancient authority and in course of time to secure the position of his son.
On account of the news which has arrived of the favourable disposition of the Londoners to peace, the queen proposes to leave for England in a few days. Yet she is trying hard to secure a safe passage to the royal camp to one Chin, of Scottish extraction, an old soldier who served as general in the Swedish army. He would command all his Majesty's forces during the war with the parliament, being subordinate to the king alone.
The Hague, the last day of the year, 1642.


  • 1. Rupert's success at Brentford on the 12—22 November, no doubt.
  • 2. Dated at Oatlands on the 18th November, O.S. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. V, pages 451, 452. The messenger was William Murray. Id. page 453.
  • 3. Salvetti, writing on the 12th, says that it was a slight attack of the measles. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962K.
  • 4. Probably his office of lord lieutenant in the counties of Denbigh and Flint, to which he had been appointed in the preceding February. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. II, page 426.
  • 5. At Paris on the 4th December.
  • 6. Walter Montagu. See Zon's despatch of the 28th January, below.
  • 7. On the 15th December.
  • 8. At Modbury on the 17th December. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. V, page 489.