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.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
The present volume begins with March 1642 and ends in July 1643, a period of 17 months ; from the time of the queen's departure for Holland to her rejoining the king at Oxford. The material is drawn exclusively from the state archives at the Frari, Venice and is of substantially the same character as that of the volume immediately preceding. Domestic affairs engross an even larger proportion of the space and with diplomatic activity at a standstill the despatches from the foreign Courts yield a very meagre harvest. The only exception is Vienna where Roe was making a final effort for the Palatine House ; but with Roe's recall in July 1642 this series becomes as silent as the rest on English affairs. The despatches of the Venetian Resident in the Netherlands acquire a special interest from the presence of the queen of England in the country, not to speak of the natural concern of the Dutch in the affairs of their near neighbours. But this source of information expires before the end of the volume. It had been the intention of the Senate for Agostini to succeed Zon at the Hague so soon as the new ambassador arrived in England (No. 139). But owing to the civil war Giustinian's successor never came and when Zon left the Hague in March 1643 Agostini in London had to send reports for both Courts, obviously an unsatisfactory arrangement.
The proportion of new material in this volume is considerably larger than in the last. The Record Office possesses transcripts of all the despatches of Agostini from the time he took charge in December 1642, of the bulk of the extracts given from those of Zon and of the full text of the Esposizioni Principi. (fn. 1) Strangely enough, of Giustinian's voluminous letters from March to December 1642, the most critical period of all, it only has a few scattered extracts in translation, (fn. 2) amounting in all to less than 10 printed pages out of over 150 occupied by these despatches. This material would seem to be made generally available for the first time, as Dr. Gardiner appears to have confined himself to the transcripts and though Ranke probably consulted the originals the examination seems to have been of a somewhat perfunctory character. (fn. 3) This detailed record week by week is probably the most complete account in existence of the events which led immediately to the civil war. It is of value as the result of the observation of an independent trained observer, even when every allowance has been made for a strong bias in favour of the king and an inability to see into the deeper causes of the struggle. During the whole of the time the ambassador only left London twice, while Agostini never once went outside the city. Giustinian saw the king at Theobalds in March and again at Oxford, immediately after Edgehill. In the main he had to depend for Court news on his informants, but during the whole period of tension communication between the Court and London seems to have been regular and even rapid. It is not until the end of September that one hears of parliament having all the letters from Court seized and preventing their distribution (No. 149), and even this seems to have been an isolated action. In mid October all letters to and from the secretary of state were seized (No. 159), showing that correspondence was still proceeding, while letters from the secretary and other notabilities at Court, describing the battle of Edgehill were being shown in London very shortly after the event (No. 171). As the struggle proceeded greater stringency was no doubt observed, and at the end of January all communication with Oxford was forbidden except by special licence (No. 218). Up to that time, at any rate, it is probable that the Venetian ministers had no difficulty in obtaining first hand information from the Court and at least on one occasion the ambassador had a direct report from a member of his own household (No. 151).
The volume containing Giustinian's despatches (Senato Secreta Dispacci Inghilterra vol. 44) has suffered from damp at the edges and some portions of the text are consequently illegible. This is at its worst in the month of July 1642, but the gaps are not often serious enough to leave a doubt as to the meaning.
When Charles escaped from London it is uncertain whether he had formed any definite plan beyond the desire to escape from a galling restraint. It is probable, however, that some scheme of action was decided upon between him and the queen about this time. The first step would be to get her safely out of the country. To this end he showed a compliant disposition in meeting the demands of parliament. But two days after she had landed in Holland he set out for Theobalds, proceeding four days later to Newmarket, and by the end of the month he had reached York. As the king drew away from London his tone became more and more independent. Already at Theobalds his attitude convinced a deputation from parliament that he had no intention of complying with the latest demands of that body (No. 8). From Newmarket they heard that Charles had issued orders to all governors of fortresses not to obey any commands but his own and that he had summoned all the country gentlemen to join him with all speed, a clear indication of his intention to throw off the yoke (No. 16).
Parliament, which believed that it had reduced the king to complete submission, (fn. 4) now perceived with alarm that he was slipping from their grasp. While the king was still at Greenwich they had tried to prevent the Prince of Wales from joining his father, on the pretence that it was unsafe for him to be so near the sea (No. 3). But Charles ignored their objections and carried the boy northwards, keeping him ever at his side. Realising their helplessness parliament sent commissioners after the king with instructions to leave no stone unturned to induce him to return to his capital, and giving them powers to offer 1,600,000l. a year for the requirements of the royal household (No. 16). But it being evident that the king would not yield to these blandishments parliament immediately set to work to consolidate its position and to render abortive any schemes that the king might be maturing. Among other things they sent to secure the important magazine at Hull, directing that the garrison should be reinforced by the local trained bands, and placed Warwick in command of a squadron of 30 ships, to prevent foreign interference, recalling Pennington, who had escorted the queen to Holland. To meet expenses they voted four subsidies, ostensibly for Ireland and to pay the debts due to the Scots (No. 23). An important point to consider was how far Charles might be able to obtain assistance from abroad. The Prince of Orange was supposed to be ready to supply him with money (No. 16) ; the papal nuncios at Paris and Madrid were reported to be urging those Courts to send troops to England to restore the king's authority (No. 23), while the king of Denmark was believed to have a powerful fleet ready to sail to help his nephew (Nos. 30, 36). The position at home looked none too secure. Now that a conflict seemed inevitable few were prepared to go to the extreme lengths that the situation demanded. A large number of members withdrew to their country seats rather than become involved in a dispute fraught with such serious consequences (No. 33). In London, the very centre of their power, the city had been seriously alienated by the appointment of Skippon to command the trained bands. The control of these forces was claimed as prerogative of the mayor, and a petition against the nomination had been presented to the king by a number of leading citizens, who went so far as to threaten to leave the capital and withdraw their trade if this privilege was taken away (No. 3). The opposition was so strong that at the end of March 1642 the citizens and merchants refused to grant any further supplies (No. 30).
It was about this time that the king reached York. In that ampler air, away from the shackles of London he hoped to rally his supporters about him, defy parliament and reassert his authority. Outwardly his reception in that city left nothing to be desired. The mayor came out to meet him with protestations of duty and service and the people of the whole district seemed eager to support the royal fortunes (No. 30). It became a matter of the utmost importance to parliament to know what attitude the North would be likely to adopt. Deputies were sent thither to observe and report and letters were written to those gentry of the county who had shown a disposition to take the popular side, to confirm them in the cause (No. 30). At the same time parliament determined to be ready to thwart any sinister designs that the king might entertain by calling out the militia and directing their newly appointed lords lieutenant in the counties to exercise their functions forthwith, irrespective of the royal assent ; but the measure was only partially successful (No. 35). At this moment a proposal arrived from the king that he should go in person to Ireland to put down the rebellion, to which end he asked them to grant him supplies to support a force of 2000 foot and 200 horse. Such a proposal only served to increase alarm and uneasiness since shrewd men could not believe that the king seriously intended to leave the kingdom at such a crisis and concluded that it cloaked some sinister design. All agreed in refusing the supplies asked and sent to inform Charles that if he persisted in his plan and left England the ordinary supplies for his household would not be continued (No. 41).
The king never meant to go to Ireland but the suggestion possibly indicates what was passing through his mind. His reception in the North had been outwardly satisfactory, but it was as yet uncertain whether the professions of loyalty from the people there could be taken at their face value. If the necessary support were not forthcoming from Yorkshire Charles might have to retire to Newcastle, to Wales or even further, to find a place where he could rally his supporters unmolested, and this contingency was present in his thoughts (No. 50). It was therefore natural that the first overt struggle should take place in an effort to secure control of the North. Hence came the well known incident at Hull. To secure the important magazine of war stores at that town became a matter of the first consequence. At the beginning of the year parliament had sent a governor thither forestalling the earl of Newcastle, whom the king had appointed. When the king started northwards, they thought at once of Hull, and sent orders that the garrison there should be reinforced by the local militia (No. 23). It came as a shock that the authorities of the county refused to consider an order not countersigned by his Majesty (No. 30). It is probable that this check led parliament to direct that a portion of the stores should be conveyed to the Tower, an order that likewise met with local resistance (No. 35). The king, when approached by parliament, refused to consent to the removal, and a resolution to remove the stores by force had already been carried (No. 41) when the king took action. The mere report of an intention to remove the stores to the Tower aroused strong feelings in the North, particularly among the gentry, who regarded them as a necessary resource in case of attack from Scotland. These sentiments suited the king's purpose admirably and he thought the occasion a favourable one for getting possession of a place of such consequence. To feel his way he first sent thither the duke of York and the Prince Palatine ostensibly on a pleasure excursion. The courteous reception there of the young princes persuaded Charles that he might expect a similar welcome (No. 46). The rebuff which he sustained filled the king with fury and he at once set to work to devise a way of avenging the insult. Calling together all persons of substance in the county he told them that he confided the defence of his person and family to their hands. He appealed to them to help him to vindicate his honour, avowing that he would rather lose the three crowns he wore than pass over such an affront without severe chastisement (No. 50). Parliament, on the other hand, heard of the incident with complete gratification and passed a resolution declaring the king's attack on Hotham to be a breach of privilege (No. 46).
It had now become apparent that the quarrel could only be settled by an appeal to the sword. Parliament no longer hesitated to send the ships to fetch away the stores at Hull. At the same time steps were taken to secure the place in their interest (Nos. 56, 59). Of their own authority and contrary to the king's expressed wishes parliament directed its lords lieutenant in the counties to take up their charges, fill up the ranks of the trained bands, replace officers suspected of royalist sympathies and hold themselves in readiness to carry out the orders of parliament (No. 56). To emphasise the significance of this action a review of the London trained bands was held which the parliamentary leaders attended in state.
Meanwhile the king's efforts to secure a firm hold in the North appeared to be succeeding. His appeal met with an encouraging response. To check the movement parliament sent orders for Lords Newport and Savile to return to London forthwith, since they were supposed to be chiefly responsible for the king's action. The two noblemen not only refused to obey but persuaded the king to have the messenger arrested (No. 59). At the meeting summoned by Charles Lords Saville and Lindsey succeeded in preventing the presentation of a petition prepared by the parliamentary faction. Instead of being driven further afield the king was beginning to establish himself with a considerable following. From the men of the county who answered his summons he selected a guard of 500 to defend his person, at a regular wage, increased soon after to 1200 foot and 200 horse, composed of persons of quality, of whom the Prince of Wales became the nominal commander (Nos. 62, 63).
Matters having reached this stage many persons proceeded to join the king from London and other parts of the kingdom, while the more timid, foreseeing the storm, retired to their homes. Thus only the more determined spirits of the parliament party remained at Westminster to carry on the struggle. Their numbers were so reduced that by the summer the Commons did not muster more than 80 out of some 500 members, while of the Lords no more than sixteen attended (Nos. 63, 115). It was found necessary to pass a resolution that ten of the Commons and five of the Lords should form a quorum in their respective Houses (No. 97). A parliament so constituted was bound to be extreme and it did not hesitate to pass a series of very drastic measures. It was determined to get together an army of 10,000 foot and 2,000 horse to be sent to York, ostensibly to seize the recalcitrant noblemen. To meet the cost members of both Houses were asked to put down 200l. each and they applied to the city of London for a loan of 100,000l. All those members who had gone to the king were required to return to Westminster by the 26th June under severe penalties (No. 69). At the same time an appeal was made to the country at large to devote their resources to resisting the king's design to destroy parliament by force. To this appeal the popular leaders among the Lords responded liberally ; but the members of the Commons were not so open handed and many felt that the threat to use armed force against the king was going altogether too far (No. 75). On the whole, however, the claim of parliament to act independently of the king and to have control of the militia met with complete approval among the generality (No. 69). The chief supporters of parliament were found among the commerical classes of the Puritan persuasion and in the lower orders of the metropolis (No. 75).
Although an immediate appeal to the sword was now indicated a vigorous paper war continued on both sides. The king had scarcely started on his journey north when he sent to London for printers, clearly indicating his intention to use the press for propaganda (No. 23). But the wordy warfare only served to confuse the people by its conflicting statements (No. 81).
Attempts to reach an accommodation never ceased all the time, though with little hope of success. Neither side was willing to grant terms that the other would be likely to accept and each presented lists of persons to be proscribed, which naturally included the foremost men on the other side. Parliament seemed to be prepared to make considerable concessions both in the matter of appointments and in the surrender of Hull ; but many considered that these overtures were not intended seriously and that it was merely manoeuvring for position in order to throw all the odium of a rupture on the king (No. 101). On the other hand those who had staked their fortunes on the king's side feared that Charles might make an accommodation that would abandon them to the vengeance of their enemies. They were rendered particularly uneasy by a mission to London of Sir William Murray, a confidential servant sent by the king from York in August, who engaged in secret conferences with the parliamentary leaders (No. 115). The fate of Strafford perhaps justified their mistrust.
Each side was now busily engaged in getting together an army. Parliament had the advantage of being established at a great centre of population and wealth. They had great reserves of men and money on which to draw. They made Essex commander in chief and instructed him to enlist as many men as he could (No. 109). Offers of good pay brought recruits in considerable numbers including 4,000 of the London apprentices (No. 115). But it was no easy matter to weld this miscellaneous material into a trustworthy fighting force. Moreover a widespread reluctance to take arms against the king manifested itself. Professional assistance was arranged for by issuing orders to the officers going to Ireland to wait for further instructions, with the intention of using these troops against the king. But their sympathies were mainly royalist and they were more likely to join the other side (No. 97).
In the sister service success was achieved more easily and completely. Early in the year it had been decided to arm a strong force. (fn. 5) When the king started northwards parliament almost immediately appointed Warwick to command the ships which were being equipped for sea (No. 23). The earl took up the task with energy, in spite of the obvious risks. It was problematical how far the fleet would accept the change. In the event the captains and crews accepted Warwick's command without difficulty, though it is stated that they did not look on him with a friendly eye (No. 41). Charles tried hard to keep the navy under his control. There was a squadron in commission under Pennington which had escorted the queen to Holland. Pennington was a loyal officer who could be trusted. He refused to resign his charge unless removed by the king, although parliament required him to do so. Charles supported him and refused to acknowledge Warwick (No. 33). The earl established his control by the dismissal of 5 captains who seemed ready to follow Pennington (No. 95). Other vessels of the king were lost or captured and by the beginning of July Charles had not a single ship left to fly his flag (No. 158).
The lavish enlistment of men for the army and the upkeep of a large fleet involved heavy expenditure. When the war had been in progress little more than a month it was estimated that the daily expenditure would amount to 15,000l. London was expected to provide the necessary financial backing ; but the mayor, Gurney, was royalist in sympathy. Under his influence the Corporation informed parliament that they would not consent to the payment of money to meet the cost of the new levies or do anything inconsistent with their duty to the king (No. 82). It became necessary to remove him, and this was effected without serious disturbance, although the most substantial citizens declared that never in its history had London suffered such an indignity (No. 97). The Puritan party acclaimed the deed ; the rest might grumble, but they accepted the affront rather than risk the consequences of resistance. The task of raising funds from the city was thus rendered easier, but even so, before the end of the year seventy of the most substantial merchants were in prison for refusing to contribute to the war against their sovereign (No. 180).
In the sparsely populated North the king had no such resources at command. It looked at first as if his flight would prove no more successful than his previous escape to Windsor had been. (fn. 6) There was no sign of any considerable movement in his favour (No. 23). But this did not last long and a growing reaction in his favour began to make itself felt. Parliament considered it necessary to deal severely with the Kentish petitioners for fear that they might find imitators (No. 33). The example was, in fact, soon followed by Somerset (No. 88). Then came a unanimous declaration for the king from the leading men of Nottingham and Derby, while Wales sent profuse professions of loyalty and devotion (No. 59). Similar declarations followed from Lancashire, Leicester and Buckingham (No. 75). Hereford published a declaration in support of the crown and condemning parliament, which took active steps to have the paper suppressed (No. 97). From Lincoln came an intimation that if parliament would not come to terms with the king they would give him their whole hearted support (No. 101). The universities of Oxford and Cambridge sent their loyal service and a gift of 20,000l. (No. 101). In Middlesex a large number of the militia refused to obey the summons of the parliamentary lord lieutenant and returned to their homes (No. 63). Among the country gentlemen in particular a growing disposition manifested itself to support the king's cause and from every quarter of the land numbers of them hastened to join Charles at York (No. 81).
Thanks to this state of affairs the king was able to make a much better showing than had at one time seemed probable. Although his army could not compare with its enemy in numbers, it more than matched them in quality, especially in a force of 3,000 horse, composed almost entirely of the gentry. The officers of the force assembled for the reduction of Ireland went over to the king in a body (No. 62). The professional soldiers mostly took the royal side.
Hostilities began early in July, but these were rather in the nature of private war (No. 88). A month later parliament virtually authorised private war by permitting anyone to raise a force against the royalists. Regular operations of war were begun when the king laid siege to Hull, though it was rather an investment to reduce the place by famine than a formal siege. On receiving the news parliament accused the king of having begun the war and hurried troops and munitions to the North (No. 97). They themselves were soon involved in a more strenuous siege by the defection of Goring at Portsmouth. Before declaring himself Goring, with characteristic guile, had persuaded parliament to provide him with 30,000l. and a good supply of guns and munitions (No. 120). Growing suspicious of his fidelity parliament sent two of its members and a force of horse to secure the place (No. 115). These arrived too late to save the fortress for parliament but their presence enabled siege operations to be undertaken at once with energy.
The civil war was not formally begun until the king raised his standard at Nottingham at the beginning of September, n.s. But even in the act Charles sent to parliament to suggest a conference for the peaceful settlement of all differences. This being curtly rejected he almost immediately sent Falkland to London at the head of another deputation with fresh overtures. Such a yielding disposition displayed after the haughty mood shown just previously convinced the parliamentarians that the king was disposed to purchase peace at any price (No. 133), and that necessity alone reduced him to offer such concessions (No. 138). They therefore took courage to reply boldly and to increase their demands. They looked to Essex to march direct on York and wring from Charles anything they might choose to ask of him. (No. 129).
The opening of the campaign proved most disappointing to the royal expectations. It became clear that Hull could not be reduced ; parliament seemed likely to recover Portsmouth ; an attempt to secure Warwick castle failed ignominiously and Charles himself was repulsed with loss at Coventry, where he intended at first to raise his standard. These accumulated failures, which were quite unlooked for, tended to discredit the royal arms and to discourage the soldiers (No. 129). The captains and country gentlemen about the king began to fear that he had lost heart, and once again suspected that he was preparing to purchase peace at any cost, regardless of the interests of his followers. Many even began to consider how they might best provide for their own safety. Warned of this danger and fearing that he might find himself deserted, the king made a public announcement to his followers that these overtures of his had no other object than to make manifest the justice of his cause and to avoid shedding the blood of his subjects if possible. If they were rejected he would joyfully take the field to recover his rights and expose himself to hardship and danger like any private soldier (No. 138).
In June 1642 Charles sent to Holland for his nephews Rupert and Maurice intending to give them commands in his army (Nos. 72, 75). The invitation was withdrawn soon after, as Charles wished to avoid exciting the suspicion that their coming would certainly arouse (Nos. 81, 92). There was no such objection once the war had started. The two princes landed at Newcastle on the day of the king's repulse at Coventry. On his way to York Rupert was thrown from his horse and dislocated his shoulder. He did not allow the injury to confine him for long and, receiving the command of the royal cavalry, his energy and enterprise at once infused a new spirit into the army. He began with a series of raids in which he sacked rebel villages and the houses of known malcontents, thereby arousing great indignation among the parliamentarians, who were unprepared for such ruthless methods of warfare (No. 133). A series of striking successes soon made a great name for the prince, glorious among the royalists and a terror to the rebels (Nos. 151, 158, 168).
The behaviour of the parliamentary forces in these and other encounters showed that the easy victory originally anticipated could not be looked for (No. 158). A change in tactics followed, and instead of leading his army to York to dictate terms Essex was nominally to go to present a petition. He himself felt no confidence in his troops. Though he had the advantage of numbers he was reluctant to adventure his raw soldiers in an encounter with the enemy. He judged it wiser to adopt Fabian tactics and try to wear the king out, as Charles was not supposed to dispose of sufficient funds to pay his men for any length of time (Nos. 145, 151, 168).
Essex did not resolve to leave London until late in September, when he marched to Worcester by way of Northampton. His men were of good appearance and well clad, but quite undisciplined and lacking officers of experience. Many of the captains intimated that they would not fight against the king (No. 145). Essex declared that he could not enforce discipline in an army of this character, without exciting a mutiny (No. 149). Arrived at Worcester he lapsed into inactivity while he plied parliament with demands for more money and more recruits. He explained that it was impossible to look for great results from the courage of his soldiers or to place much confidence in the loyalty of the officers ; so it was advisable to proceed with caution in engaging the royal troops (No. 168).
The king, for his part, was eager to try conclusions. By the beginning of October his generals considered the army strong enough for its purpose. Though inferior in numbers it was superior in quality to that of the enemy, and they did not wish to incur unnecessary expense by adding to their ranks (No. 151). From information received of the disorders and dissensions in the parliamentary ranks Charles decided that he would march straight on London and there crush rebellion at its headquarters (No. 158). In London itself many believed that if the king persevered in this determination no one would venture to oppose him (No. 163). On the 22nd October, n.s., the king set out from Shrewsbury, his army marching in order of battle to be ready for instant action (No. 168). Essex followed close behind and Rupert moved from the van to the rear to take the post of greatest danger. At Edgehill Charles took an active part in the fight and displayed a personal courage that had not been expected of him (No. 171). In speaking of the affair to Giustinian soon after he blamed his cavalry for pursuing too far, whereby they lost the opportunity of destroying the parliamentary army utterly (No. 179).
The news of the approach of the royal army caused intense excitement in London. Twelve captains of the trained bands resigned and those who wished well to the king took courage to declare their sympathies by wearing a rose coloured favour in their hats (No. 163). The government met the crisis with firm determination and took energetic measures to defend the capital. They decided to raise a fresh army of 10,000 men out of the trained bands of the country as well as the town. This was to go out and meet the king, detaining him until Essex came up and so catching him between two fires (No. 168). At the news of Edgehill provincial trained bands were brought into the city, the troops were kept constantly under arms, all the streets were barricaded with chains, and trenches were dug to guard all the approaches, women and children taking an active part in the work (No. 171). After the battle Essex hastened to London and set to work busily to fill his depleted ranks, enlisting provincials and sailors as well as citizens (No. 180). Measures were taken to secure Rochester and to see that the king did not pass into Kent and rally the royalists there about him. Parliament showed its confidence in Essex by making him a grant of 5,000l. and giving him absolute powers to direct the military operations (No. 182).
Before this determined attitude the king's hopes of taking London by assault evaporated and on the 29th November, n.s., he drew off his forces to Oxford. This unexpected retirement was much criticised but circumstances may have rendered it imperative (No. 185). London was well provided, but the royal army found a difficulty in obtaining supplies. The cavalry lived on the country to a great extent, but Charles wished to spare his subjects and to moderate their excesses (No. 180).
With this retirement the war died down for the winter while preparations were made by both sides for the coming campaign. It was generally expected to be very sanguinary (No. 235). The struggle tended to become more bitter and less scrupulous. Charles had reason to fear assassination, a course that seemed to be countenanced by some preachers in London (No. 239). Parliament issued letters of marque to merchants with permission to seize all stores intended for the king (No. 202). Charles riposted by sending to Dunkirk to buy frigates to prey upon parliamentary shipping (No. 255). Parliament declared any Catholics serving in the royal forces to be outside the law and liable to be slain with impunity (No. 204). An offer of Sir Edward Baynton to raise and maintain a force in Wilts out of the forfeited goods of Catholics and royalists was accepted as a counsel of despair, and the same principle was extended elsewhere (Nos. 207, 214). They would suffer no neutrals, every one was called upon to declare himself (No. 204). The earl of Stamford, embarrassed by the number of his prisoners, made the startling suggestion to exchange them for slaves in Barbary (No. 223). Warned by the recent peril parliament resolved to surround London with defensive works, and called in experienced Dutchmen to plan them (No. 244). These were designed not only to repel attack from without but to repress revolts within (No. 250). The work was pushed on with the greatest energy and enthusiasm, even on Sundays, despite the Puritan regard for the day, largely by the aid of volunteers, who received nothing beyond their food (Nos. 249, 264).
The king's position deteriorated relatively during the winter. His forces were scattered up and down the country and left his main army too weak for decisive operations (No. 252). (fn. 7) Negotiations for peace had been in progress all the winter, but the king's sincerity was suspected and towards the end of April Essex received instructions to move against Oxford. He directed his attack first against the royalist outpost at Reading. When he raised objections about the difficulty of the task parliament insisted on the absolute necessity of taking the place on the score of prestige. The besieging army suffered dreadfully from the severe weather and lack of food as well as from war casualties. Londoners, unused to the horrors of war, were shocked by the stream of sick and wounded that poured incessantly from the camp, flooding out the hospitals (No. 262). Failure seemed imminent when a chance shot disabled the commander. His second, Colonel Fielding, surrendered without his chief's knowledge, after the king had failed in an attempt to relieve the place. This failure distressed the king grievously, especially as treason was suspected (No. 264). The affair also served to disclose division in the royal camp, the soldiers clamouring for Fielding's death, while some of the councillors defended him (No. 274). A wide cleavage also existed on the general situation. A strong party in the Council advocated peace at almost any price. Their opponents contrived to have them excluded from the council of war and they were even reported to be under arrest (No. 265), but they remained strong enough to induce the king to make further humiliating overtures to the enemy (No. 268). His situation at this time was truly unhappy. After Reading he could not trust himself in Oxford (No. 264), and he was obliged to keep the field, ready and even anxious for a decisive battle in which he had everything to lose and little to gain (No. 265).
The return of the queen to England was followed by a radical change in the situation. She went to Holland ostensibly to convey her daughter to her husband and establish her in the country of her adoption, but more truly to obtain assistance against parliament for which she was ready to offer another marriage between the Prince of Wales and the eldest daughter of the Prince of Orange. The start was inauspicious as on the voyage across, through neglect of an injury, a ship was lost with all but a few hands and the entire cargo, including the queen's chapel ornaments, a piece of the true cross from the Tower and the personal effects of her ladies (No. 12). On arriving the queen saw little to encourage her. The Prince would willingly have helped but feared to compromise his position with the States ; the powerful province of Holland, in particular, being jealous of the influence of the House of Orange (No. 19). Being democratic themselves they inclined to favour parliament. A special embassy to offer mediation was considered enough to satisfy the queen (No. 39), but even so the ambassadors had instructions to return at once if their mediation proved unacceptable. It was clear that the Dutch only wished to keep on good terms with both parties and that nothing effective would be done for Charles (No. 53). In the end the queen herself prevented the embassy from going, saying that it was better to wait and see if matters would not adjust themselves (No. 67).
To counteract the queen's influence and prevent supplies being sent to the king parliament sent over Walter Strickland on a special mission. The queen was indignant at such a mission, but she could not prevent the envoy being received. The province of Holland favoured Strickland, declared itself neutral and ordered cargoes of arms to be unladed, inducing the States General to follow suit (No. 142). They assured Strickland that they would not allow any munitions of war to be exported (No. 156). Yet the Dutch contrived to do a thriving trade in war material with both sides (No. 145), as English industry could not supply all the arms that were required (No. 133).
In spite of all these difficulties the queen succeeded in sending a considerable amount of help to her husband, raising money on her jewels. Although the majority even among her personal attendants hoped that parliament would win (No. 137), she found many among the English veterans in Dutch service who were ready to serve their king. The Hollanders did their best to prevent these men getting across, but by virtue of the Prince's goodwill and the connivance of the States General numbers were sent over in small detachments (No. 148). Encouraged by this the queen instituted a regular levy of 2,000 men, horse and foot, to be called the queen's guards. The Prince advanced money for this and the Dutch were to provide transport (Nos. 165, 169). To fill up the numbers the Prince promised ten men from each company serving (No. 175). Numbers of officers also passed over, to whom the Prince readily granted passports (No. 193). They offered themselves freely though informed that by going they would forfeit their posts (No. 199). Among the veterans secured by the queen was James King, who had served with Gustavus Adolphus and whom she designed to take supreme command of the royal forces (No. 203).
The news of the king's advance on London inspired the queen with a desire to return to England and to abandon her intention of going to Paris (No. 165). On hearing of Rupert's success at Brentford she even hoped she might be able to go straight to London with her Court (No. 183). Difficulties about an escort delayed her start, and when at length she got away in January she was driven back after tossing at sea for eight days (No. 221). But her ardent desire to be at her husband's side drove all fear from her heart (No. 232), and three weeks later she sailed again, landing eventually at Bridlington.
In the eyes of the Dutch the queen had been the source of dissension at home and difficulty abroad. They disliked both her religion and her politics and chafed at the repeated postponement of her departure. They regarded her as an enemy and rejoiced in the prospect of greater prosperity when she was gone (Nos. 132, 183, 188, 217). In England the attitude of the parties towards the queen seemed curiously inverted. Among the parliamentarians there were many who favoured an appeal to her to act as mediatrix in the quarrel, an idea that survived until the very moment of armed conflict (Nos. 36, 41, 115). Even after her arrival Fairfax sent to offer her a safe conduct to Oxford (No. 250) and the earl of Holland made a similar proposal in parliament (No. 255). On the other hand the king's followers regarded her coming with some apprehension as they feared that she might interfere harmfully in the conduct of affairs (No. 223).
The queen brought with her 1000 men and 300 officers, 8,000l. in cash and harness for 20,000 men (No. 244). Her troops were probably more remarkable for their quality than their numbers, for it is difficult not to attribute to their arrival the dramatic change that followed almost at once. Before the end of the following month the royalists had gained the upper hand in Yorkshire (No. 256) and a few weeks later the parliament forces there were reduced to a precarious hold upon Hull where Fairfax was closely besieged (No. 298). From the North the influence spread over the whole country. Already in May it was possible to send the king a reinforcement of 2,000 horse and thirty carts laden with munitions of war (No. 266). The munitions, especially gunpowder, arrived very opportunely. The horsemen were redundant because of the scarcity of fodder. The king, however, detached a portion of them to help Hopton, hard pressed in the West, and so contributed to the success at Stratton, which completely turned the tables on the enemy (No. 268). On the 25th July, n.s., the queen herself arrived safely at Oxford, with men and supplies, thus enabling the king to assume the offensive in his own sphere of the war. The efforts of the parliamentary commanders to prevent this junction failed utterly, not without suspicion of treason. Accordingly Meldrum was despatched to take command in the North, arrest the Hothams and send them to London (No. 286). Essex himself came under suspicion and seems to have lost heart, for he suggested that it might be prudent and even necessary to make terms with the king under proper safeguards (No. 293).
Parliament's confidence in victory rested on three props : London, the command of the sea and the Scots (No. 250). As hopes of a speedy success died away it became increasingly evident that without help from the Scots ultimate victory would be difficult if not impossible. On the king's side it was recognised that Scottish intervention was the worst thing that could happen (No. 239). At the time when hostilities began Charles seemed confident that he had nothing to fear from that quarter (Nos. 115, 120). The Scots were too much divided among themselves (Nos. 59, 163) and their Council decided not to intervene unless both parties invited them to mediate (No. 69). The Scots did not wish the king to be deprived of all his prerogatives, more especially that of making appointments, from which they had benefited greatly in the past (No. 50). Petitions were even presented to the Scottish Council suggesting armed intervention to rescue the king from the tyranny of parliament (No. 75).
Charles took no special pains to conciliate the Scots and even introduced garrisons into Newcastle and Berwick, contrary to the last treaty with them (No. 81). He also caused considerable irritation by detaining the Scottish commissioners at Oxford and preventing them from going on to London. The Scots accused the king of breaking faith and ordered the commissioners to return to Edinburgh forthwith (Nos. 239, 250, 253, 256). But Scottish interests were too closely bound up with those of the English parliament for there to be any doubt about intervention should the latter find itself in serious difficulties. The Chancellor Loudoun made this plain to Charles in the early days at York (No. 50). After Edgehill, when London seemed in danger, a special appeal for help was sent to the Scots (No. 180). Thereafter active intervention drew steadily nearer. The English began to buy war materials for the Scots in Holland (No. 235). The Scottish parliament assembled at Edinburgh before its time and against the king's wishes (Nos. 235, 286). Hoping to influence its deliberations Charles ordered some of the Scottish nobles with him to go and take part. They told him that they would gladly sacrifice their lives in his service, but begged him not to expose them to the fury of the people, as it could do no good for his cause (No. 235). The nobility had, in fact, lost all their influence and could only subscribe blindly to the dictates of the people (No. 227). Six lords did eventually go there, but owing to the seizure of their correspondence they were denounced as traitors before their arrival (No. 265). In consequence their proposals were received with suspicion (No. 274) and they were eventually placed under arrest (No. 286). Four lords sent by the Scottish government to the queen similarly fell under suspicion and received peremptory orders to return (Nos. 253, 256). By this time the intervention of the Scots was assured, but they did not intend to incur the risk and expense without a definite understanding about their reward and presented a categorical list of their demands. The Commissioners deputed to examine these kept their nature secret from parliament to avoid discouraging that body. Parliament appointed a deputation to go and arrange matters with the Scots but the task did not look attractive and three of the six chosen cried off on one pretext or another (No. 298).
While these things were going on a Scottish mission passed through London on its way to France. They went nominally to arrange about the regiments of their nation serving the French crown ; but in Paris it was said they had come to treat for the renewal of the ancient alliance between the two kingdoms, as they had thrown off the yoke of their sovereign (Nos. 212, 230). Nothing seems to have come of this affair.
The foreign policy of Charles flickered out dismally in Roe's last mission to Vienna. It was doomed to failure from the first and Roe himself called it a caricature of negotiations (No. 51). The chief interest in Vico's reports on the subject is provided by Roe's personality. When Bavaria asked an indemnity of 13 millions he retorted that with such a sum England could collect forces sufficient not only to recover the Palatinate but to conquer the whole empire (No. 57). Roe attributed his failure chiefly to the action of Bavaria, encouraged by a secret understanding with France. He believed that the emperor meant well (Nos. 70, 90).
Parliament dreaded foreign interference in the civil war, but the spectre never materialised. Denmark alone made a definite offer. An ambassador came over with money and arms for Charles and held out hopes of still more vigorous assistance (No. 198). King Christian was reported to have a fleet with 4,000 men ready to help his nephew (No. 226). But Denmark had other affairs that required attention and parliament was too strong at sea to be attacked with impunity.
The troubles in England suited the policy of France as they allowed her to pursue her designs on the Flanders coast unmolested (No. 62). The Ambassador La Ferte cultivated the leading parliamentarians and almost openly boasted of fomenting the rebellion. He made a special visit to the House of Lords to inform them of Richelieu's restoration to favour and urged them to go boldly forward in their career in the assurance that France and the Cardinal would support them (No. 75). Besides this he frequently conferred in secret with the Scottish commissioners in London (No. 81). His behaviour roused Charles to fury and he wrote demanding that Louis should recall the ambassador (Nos. 115, 136). La Ferte had indeed gone too far. France did not desire the further spread of Calvinism in England and feared that the ascendancy acquired by parliament over the king might have unpleasant reactions at home (No. 129). Parliament wished to cultivate friendly relations with France and was disturbed by the news that Louis had invited his sister to Paris. They sent over Augier to sound the intentions of the king and Richelieu and express their good will. They feared that the French might use their influence with the Scots to persuade them to draw the sword in the king's favour (No. 151). Parliament was even reported to have offered the French their alliance (No. 137). By the death of Richelieu they felt they had lost a well wisher (No. 189) and this made them the more anxious about reports of levies for Charles in France (No. 218) and the declaration of the governor of Guernsey for the king (No. 253). At the accession of Louis XIV Gressy came over to announce the change and created some stir by declaring that France would not allow the king and queen to perish, whatever the cost (No. 277). His threats were not taken very seriously. The night before he set out to see the king soldiers entered the house of the French agent and searched it thoroughly, setting a guard over the agent and arresting two of his servants. An apology was subsequently offered but the servants were only released on the understanding that they should not accompany Gressy to Oxford (No. 281). Charles got nothing from France, except that the munitions brought by the queen from Holland were said to have been supplied by her brother (No. 217).
An early result of the ascendancy of parliament was the destruction of the Spanish party at Court and its policy was inevitably anti Spanish. Warwick's appointment alarmed Cardenas as the earl had an old grudge against Spain. The ambassador had in addition to swallow the affront of the flat denial of a levy for which he had asked (No. 56). A suspicion that the Spaniards were supplying the rebels in Ireland with munitions of war led to the cutting out of an Irish ship by an English crew in the port of Cadiz (No. 107). A suspicion that the Spanish general Melo had designs on Calais led to a careful watch along the coast by the English fleet (No. 122). La Ferte asserted that he had a promise from parliament to defend Calais if Melo should attack it (No. 126). The loss to Spain by the changed attitude of the English government was shown by an incident that occurred about this time. A fleet of twelve ships laden with money and stores for Dunkirk left the Downs early in August 1642 escorted by a royal ship. On the way Admiral Tromp intercepted the whole squadron and carried it off to Zeeland. In reprisal Warwick seized five Dutch merchantmen, but parliament instantly ordered their release as it was anxious not to offend the Dutch (Nos. 109, 114). Owing to the loss of these stores, on which he had counted, Melo's plans were completely upset and for lack of the money to supply their pay his troops soon became mutinous (Nos. 118, 147).
Relations with the Dutch have been touched on incidentally above. Generally speaking the States General and the entire populace desired the victory of parliament (No. 132), but their official attitude was one of cautious reserve. When parliament offered an alliance they returned a non committal reply (No. 169). The queen warned them that they might find parliamentary government more dangerous to them than that of the king, and this seems to have made at least a momentary impression (No. 165).
Some economic effects of the crisis are of note. In the first winter of the war coal rose to famine prices in London (No. 218). The poor were reduced to utter destitution (No. 212). Owing to the lack of employment for ships merchants were glad to take to privateering (No. 202) and parliament was asked to sanction a plan to colonise Madagascar (No. 212). When war became inevitable merchants transferred their capital in very large amounts to the Netherlands. Heavy taxation led to the concealment of wealth and Amsterdam Jews were employed to assist in the exportation of goods (No. 244). A constant stream of emigrants flowed across the sea to escape the perils of civil war, so that London and many other places lost their most substantial citizens (No. 268). To relieve the parishes of the cost of maintaining the poor it was proposed to send all the paupers to New England (No. 235). In those days also Englishmen disliked the idea of the taxation of food (No. 266).
I wish once again to express my appreciation of the courtesy of the director and staff of the State Archives at Venice.
Allen B. Hinds.
London, May, 1925.