Venice: November 1644

Pages 148-156

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 27, 1643-1647. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.

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November 1644

Nov. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
164. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
No decision has yet been taken upon the affair of the Palatine. A few consultations have been held at Fontenblo. His minister is now pressing the matter and in his master's name is trying to dissipate the suspicions caused by the Prince's journey to London. He asserts absolutely and persistently that two considerations alone impelled him. The first was the necessity of procuring from parliament a continuance of the assistance which he receives from England alone to relieve the narrowness of his fortunes ; the other that in the articles of peace which are being discussed between the king and the parliament there may be included the point of the re-establishment of his house in the whole of its patrimony. For the rest there is no truth in the reports that he aspires to the sovereignty of that kingdom. The minister protests that no such idea ever entered the prince's mind and that he had never attempted anything to the prejudice of the king.
Paris, the 1st November, 1644.
165. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The queen of England has arrived at Fontenblo. Consultations are being held about the form of her reception. It is expected that she will prefer a private welcome. Meanwhile the English ambassador Goring is taking leave, yielding the place to his own queen.
Paris, the 1st November, 1644.
Nov. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
166. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king has issued a proclamation announcing his intention to approach London to put an end to these calamities and give a happy peace to this kingdom, with the punishment they deserve to certain rebels who obstruct it. He invites his loving subjects to assist him. Preceded by this announcement, his Majesty was marching with (fn. 1) determination to give (fn. 1)
On this supposition parliament has decided not to refuse battle, so as to avoid encouragement to the royal party in the city, which is suppressed but not extinct. They have assembled all the forces possible at Basingstoke, even sending for several garrisons. With these it is the more numerous army, but not the more alert or determined. The Generals Essex and Manchester, the first more advanced than the others, has made a prompt retreat, avoiding by a few hours the blow which the royalists had prepared for him. Parliament has accordingly sent two commissioners to communicate the public wishes, to prevent dissension, to assist and to advise. On Tuesday they celebrated a solemn fast and expected a bloody battle on Wednesday (fn. 1) to the amazement of everyone (fn. 1) that his Majesty (fn. 1) prudent, that the king, having given up his design, is going there to take up winter quarters, and keep idle such large forces in a country already wasted by the parliamentary soldiers, who have been there so long, or he may think it safer to wait for the troops which Prince Rupert is collecting near Bristol, and for the release of the force besieging Plymouth, when that place is taken.
(fn. 1) made by those of Cornwall of 20,000 men paid for the enterprise of London. It may be that his Majesty hopes that time will do more for the wasting of these forces, than an engagement, with all its risks, and already, from lack of food they have been obliged to retire to Reading, whence we hear that a regiment of infantry of Essex has deserted to the other side.
They have not yet found a means of sending the peace proposals to the king. They know these to be outrageous and unworthy of his consideration. The others fear that the introduction of negotiations on any terms soever may prejudice them, although as his Majesty has grown strong and is determined to conquer or die, he will not surrender any part of his prerogative.
The Irish remain together in Scotland and do not lose heart with (fn. 1) leader of the royalists to harass the Scots, on whose cavalry he has inflicted a severe blow, so that Lesle has been obliged to succour it with a part of the cavalry he kept in England, leaving him with but few troops in the season (fn. 1) under Newcastle. (fn. 1) of the breach, by the news which arrives to-day, has arranged terms of surrender. (fn. 2) This footing in England which the Scots have never before possessed, gives them a great advantage over London, because of the control of coal supplies. It will add force to the instances of the Scottish commissioners for the payments due, of which they have received little or nothing, and for the introduction of Presbyterianism and the destruction of the sects allowed by the English, but which they detest, and to bring pressure on the English to co-operate in their present aims. Thus the hurt suffered by the king through the loss of this place may easily be compensated by dissensions between the two kingdoms.
The Prince Palatine, disappointed in the promises made to him by everyone remains here because he does not know where (fn. 1) to remind the parliamentarians of him by his unsuccessful hypocrisies. He has asked parliament to allow him to take part in the synod, in order to hear the discussion on points of religion, and this has been granted.
The French resident has returned from the royal army. He treated to obtain permission from the king for French ships to trade at his ports, hoping to obtain the same here, a point on which the Dutch ambassadors have met with considerable difficulties (fn. 1) his Majesty pointed out (fn. 1) at the end with a declaration to abandon his own interest to serve France.
I have learned from a person who has seen the letters written this week by the secretary of state to this minister, that the duke of Orleans, moved by affection for his sister, has suggested to the Council the desirability of assisting her with 4 millions of florins, and this was approved by the princes. Thus it is probable that when the queen arrives at the Court she will obtain the order and the payment, unless Cardinal Mazarini is strong enough to prevent it. This will prove a considerable and opportune succour for the king in his present circumstances.
London, the 4th November, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
167. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The queen of England was received at Fontenblo by the Commendatore Soure and the count of Berlise, on behalf of the queen regent and the Princess Maria de Nevers. She proceeded slowly towards Paris, where she arrived on Saturday evening. The duke of Orleans and Mademoiselle d'Orleans, his daughter, went out to meet her. The Regent, the king and little Monsieur awaited her just outside the suburbs, where compliments were exchanged. She was then escorted to the Louvre, where the crowd of people that gathered was the most remarkable circumstance of all the function. Their Majesties will defray her for ten days, after which she will have an assignment of 12,000 ducats a month. They have given her guards both horse and foot, all dressed in her colours and wearing her device. The parliamentarians will keep a very sharp look out upon her negotiations, but here they will endeavour with every possible art to diminish the suspicions which will be conceived from her merely staying here.
Since the death of the queen of Spain there has been some idea of the possibility of Mademoiselle marrying the widowed king. (fn. 3) That is likely to be a difficult matter ; many also believe that the queen of England, before her departure may bring on to the carpet some such proposal for the Prince of Wales, her son.
Paris, the 8th November, 1644.
Nov. 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
168. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Avoiding a battle, the king proceeded from Newbury to Donington castle his army entrenching with the aid of a small stream. But pressed by the parliamentarians, who grew stronger every day, through being so near this city, he decided to retire, as he did on Sunday, after a few skirmishes, in which the loss on both sides did not exceed 600.
The hurry as well as the (fn. 4) obliged his Majesty to abandon eight inferior pieces of artillery of which the enemy promptly took possession, 7 other pieces of more importance being left guarded by some royalist troops at that castle, though not without danger that it might fall if besieged, as is threatened. With a part of the cavalry the king has returned towards Bristol, unsuccessfully followed by the parliamentarians, as falling in on the road with Prince Rupert (fn. 4) arrived there without further loss. The rest of the cavalry with many of the infantry have betaken themselves to Wallingford and Oxford, to secure those places, which are subject to the danger of a siege in the difficulty of aiding them with a field army so far away, with the season so far advanced and more severe than usual.
From the result it may be inferred that his Majesty's coming with the declaration reported was prompted by the dissensions among the parliamentary commanders, and even more upon the hope of some rising in the city than upon his own forces, which were not in themselves capable of making such an effort. But these vain hopes have vanished and delay will not help him since his own party keeps growing weaker, unless misunderstandings between the two kingdoms increase, or the dissensions among the commanders and other parliamentarians.
The incident has some compensation in the chasing away of some parliamentary troops which were going to besiege Banbury again (fn. 4) compelled to abandon some guns (fn. 4) come out with troops from Oxford (fn. 4)
Confirmation has arrived from the North of the capture of Newcastle by the Scots, making them masters of the coal mines, so necessary to this city. Tynemouth, at the mouth of the river is still in his Majesty's power, but it is invested and cannot hold out for long. This loss is of great disadvantage to his Majesty, for while on the one hand he was able to inconvenience this city enormously by preventing the coal from coming, he supplied Holland with what they required. On the other hand many believe that this place may in the end prove a stone of offence between the two nations, as the Scots now they have a firm footing in England and such an advantage over London may press their claims vigorously both for the sums due to them and for the establishment of religion. This bridge will not be crossed without great divisions, and those are the most vigorous arms from which the royal house can hope for advantage.
The Common Council of London has presented to parliament the articles which they claim must be granted by the king for peace, to be combined with those decided on by parliament. As they are very numerous and insubstantial they have been sent back for revision, and so time is wasted, to the end that with changing circumstances the leaders may prosecute their designs.
Having obtained permission to sit in the synod the Prince Palatine has been there for the first time, accompanied by the master of the Ceremonies and one of the ministers, when, in a brief speech, he commended its zeal, though he did not escape censure and general merriment (che non va esente pero dalla censura e riso universale). The king has written him a high toned and disdainful letter, of which I enclose a copy. He has replied briefly pointing out that his interests compel him to neutrality that he would like the king to believe that he professes (fn. 1) [The French resident returned] from the royal army with his Majesty's permission for the trade which I reported ; he has presented to parliament a paper with the same request, but first complains that he has had no reply to another request on the same subject made two months ago. He is entirely taken up with this affair, in which he will receive no better satisfaction than the Dutch ambassadors.
London, the 11th November, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosure. 169. Letter of the King to the Prince Palatine.
Asks the reason for his coming and who invited him. Only curious for the sake of his mother. (fn. 5)
[Italian, from the English ; 3 pages.]
Nov. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian. Archives.
170. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The queen of England has received the ambassadors in audience and they have paid their respects to her. She thanked me and spoke gratefully of the services of the republic's ministers in London. She is now much better, though still weak and extenuated. The movement of one hand and arm are practically entirely gone, and the signs of her beauty, once so renowned, are utterly extinguished as the consequence of her afflictions and illnesses.
Paris, the 15th November, 1644.
Nov. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
171. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king retired with more loss to the enemy than himself, the loss of the guns being compensated by the capture of 5 taken at the same time from the parliamentarians who fled from Banbury, which is now safe and provided for all emergencies, as it opens the way from Oxford to Bristol. Donington castle, where his Majesty left the most important guns and munitions remains free from a siege, not having (fn. 1) parliamentarians approached (fn. 1) and the garrison itself has introduced provisions taken from the enemy.
The king, who on this occasion has given extraordinary proofs of his high spirit and courage returned at once to Oxford and with the addition of 4,000 soldiers under Prince Rupert joined to the rest of his army he is now 16,000 men strong. Determined not to leave the enemy quiet this winter, he is preparing to march with these either towards the associated counties to keep the soldiers amused, or towards this city, as is announced.
(fn. 1) diminishing and deteriorating, as General Essex has come to London seriously ill, and Manchester is summoned to the defence of the associated counties, which support him. So the charge is laid upon Waller, put there rather for the zeal he has shown for the party than for his experience and courage ; but what is worse, fallen into the lowest estimation with the soldiers. With all this it will be difficult even when Essex is better. (fn. 1)
The king's cause is also prospering in Wales, his people having recaptured Monmouth, but it is being greatly enfeebled by the losses in the North which grow worse. Besides Newcastle, Tynemouth has surrendered to the Scots and Liverpool, the capital of Lancashire, to the parliamentarians. Though these successes of the Scots may lead to quarrels with the English, hope of future prosperity does not compensate for present loss. Moreover, for their own interests and safety, both nations will be prevented from re-establishing the original royal authority. Occasions for dissension have not been long in putting in an appearance. The Scots have written to parliament stating that they propose to enjoy the benefit of the coal in satisfaction of their debts and the current payments. They also demand the destruction of the numerous sects and the establishment of a single rite. If this last point is pressed it will lead to great and perilous confusion. They have tried to prevent the letter being read publicly in parliament, but without success. The matter being discussed and to give an apparent satisfaction to the Scots and gain time, they have directed the synod to consider the question and report. It is believed, however, that the Scots will persist in this demand until it is definitely complied with.
The much discussed peace proposals are not yet ready, since the claims of the city of London, exalted with having contributed so much, had to be referred back for revision. This has been done and they are reduced to six, but these have not yet been examined.
The reception of the queen of England (fn. 1) by herself privately ; but is represented here as honourable and affectionate. This causes no small anxiety and apprehension that her demands may be satisfied, both by private individuals and by the Court. According to reports received she remarked to Conde that her husband would not deserve to be a king unless he hanged all the members of both Houses of parliament. A rumour that the queen is going soon to Normandy arouses the suspicion that she aspires to introduce Frenchmen into the neighbouring islands of Jersey and Guernsey, where the inhabitants are opposed to his Majesty, although he holds a strong castle on the sea which may secure the landing. (fn. 6) Such a diversion of a foreign army, near but not incorporated in the kingdom, may cause great alarm among the people here and produce results beneficial to the king, who has now to contemplate even the most perilous measures. To obtain advice of what is happening besides numerous spies parliament has sent M. Oger, a Frenchman but a Protestant, who was formerly the king's agent at that Court. (fn. 7)
London, the 18th November, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
172. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In face of the enemy's army the king, with a body of 8,000 men has recovered from Donington castle the guns, munitions and money which he left there at his late retirement. The parliamentary commanders with all their forces were at Newbury, in sight of the castle. On the advance of the royal troops they held a Council of War, in which only five considered that they ought to fight. So the contrary opinion prevailed and the royal forces returned to Wallingford at their ease, without harm. On hearing this news parliament was so incensed that it directed the commissioners to send persons to the army on purpose to make enquiry into the cause of such a miscarriage ; for as no military excuse was admissible there must of necessity be suspicion of intelligence and betrayal. But these have vanished from a more complete knowledge of the facts, showing that the dissensions among the commanders arise from this new canker of religion which divides them in their aims and forms. This, which has hitherto served as a pretext for the war is apparently now becoming a principal cause, and if that is so it will in the end eat into the very vitals of this realm. The vigorous endeavours of the Scots to subject consciences to the presbytery and set up uniform rites conformable to those practised by the Huguenots in France and in Holland, have roused the separatists to unite in opposition, so that there is not only division in the army, as indicated above, but in the synod and in parliament itself. There after a long discussion they have this week put to the vote and given leave to the separatists to produce reasons in favour of their doctrines, as the others have done. It will not be easy to grant this, as among these separatists the sect of Independents prevails, who are the exact opposite of the Presbyterians. So the Scots will have to support their pretensions by force, and if they wish to defeat the others they will either form a third party or unite with the king, whose interest it is to take every means to gain his ends.
Amid these confusions they have at last decided to send the peace proposals to the king, and to facilitate them by admitting to pardon the two Palatine Princes, Rupert and Maurice, who have borne arms for his Majesty, although by so many articles they take the crown altogether from his head. Four members of the Lower House and two of the Upper have been selected to take them ; but their instructions are only to present them, and after waiting a suitable time for a reply, to return, without any negotiation. They proposed to send Sir [Peter] Chiligre for the passports, but changed their minds and sent a simple trumpet, who has not yet returned. The Dutch ambassadors, seizing the opportunity, have presented a paper in parliament with fresh offers to act. They have been thanked dryly, as they are by no means pleased at the appointment of commissioners by each side to examine the business which they wish to introduce.
All indications point to this effort proving vain, and so they are devising means for carrying on the war all through the winter without giving the enemy any repose. The king has supplied the most important places about Oxford with provisions for 3 months, and having little confidence in his Scottish general, has deposed him and substituted the Prince of Wales, Prince Rupert being declared his Lieutenant General. (fn. 8) His Majesty's advantage will be the greater because the religious differences compel parliament to divide its army, especially as they cannot send out General Essex supreme over all, because he is ill and under suspicion for reasons frequently stated.
A petition signed by a great number of the inhabitants of London has been presented to parliament asking that great care may be had of Windsor Castle, a considerable post for the safety of this city ; that the vacant seats in the Lower House be filled by fresh elections ; and that the Archbishop of Canterbury be punished. All these motions were promoted by the leaders of the party to strengthen themselves and ensure the success of their designs. At once, although after a long trial which began with this parliament at the outset, they found no crime against the archbishop which would make him worthy of death by the laws of the realm, he has been condemned to execution by decree of the Lower House as a person pernicious to the state. They have sent this to the Upper House for its consent, which will follow as usual. For the rest Windsor castle has been provisioned, but the most difficult point, the nomination of members of parliament, is yet undecided.
M. Oger left for the French Court four days ago. He takes letters of credence from parliament to the king and queen, as a gentleman envoy, but he will not present them unless obliged, as he feels confident that he can introduce himself to treat with Cardinal Mazarini, under the pretext of regulating trade, of which the French resident here makes so much. But his chief object is to spy out the most secret designs of the Court, and the transactions of the queen of England. They have been much excited here over a report, which is not confirmed, that the king has sent the order of the garter to the Duke of Epernon, and declared him general. As a precaution they have sent troops to the islands of Jersey and Guernsey and they are busily preparing the fleet to prevent any troops crossing from Ireland, France or Holland, of which they are afraid.
London, the 25th November, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
173. To the Ambassador in France.
When the queen of England arrives there you will be guided as to the time and manner of going to audience of her by what is done by the other representatives friendly with that crown. You will express to her in the fullest possible manner the cordial desire of the republic that the king her husband may enjoy the most complete and tranquil felicity.
Ayes, 87. Noes, 2. Neutral, 1.


  • 1. Obliterated.
  • 2. The surrender of Newcastle to the Scots on the 19-29 October.
  • 3. Isabella, daughter of Henry IV. of France and wife of Philip IV. of Spain died on the 6th October. Anne Marie Louise, daughter of Gaston of Orleans was 17 years of age at this date.
  • 4. Obliterated.
  • 5. The text in Rushworth : Hist. Collections, Pt. III., Vol. II., page 714. Dated at Tavistock the 27th September, 1644, O.S.
  • 6. Sir Peter Osborne held Cornet castle in Guernsey for the king.
  • 7. His appointment was decided by the Committee of both kingdoms on the 26th Oct., O.S. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1644-5, page 73.
  • 8. Brentford was superseded on the 6-16 November.