Venice: August 1645

Pages 201-208

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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August 1645

Aug. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
252. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A gentleman has arrived at St. Germain from England to inform the queen of the sorry state of her affairs, which are steadily approaching the last extremity, as the enclosed sheet of advices will show.
Paris, the 1st August, 1645.
Enclosure. 253. Advices from London, the 20th July, 1645.
The French successes in Flanders and especially the capture of Mardyke have greatly perturbed parliament, as if France enlarges her borders on the Channel they foresee that the dominion of the sea will not only be contested, but navigation itself prejudiced and ruined. The merchants in particular think of the loss they suffer through the closing of the port of Dunkirk against them, as the Spaniards, who used to bring silver and other goods to England to transport to Flanders, now find that port either closed or well guarded. They have held serious consultations on the matter, but with their internal affairs not yet consolidated they have not been able to apply themselves to events abroad. However they have sent an Agent to reside with Castel Rodrigo at Brussels, (fn. 1) who was so well received that immediately some ships which were kept in detention were released. Some Spanish captains who held patents from the king of England to go privateering have been obliged to give them up promising moreover that his Majesty's ships which harass the parliamentarians shall no more be received in the ports of Flanders. The Spanish ambassador constantly increases in favour and esteem with the parliament itself.
They have resolved on the other hand to send away the Resident of Portugal from London. Knowing that his despatches were stopped and opened he has irritated the Chambers against him by a ridiculous jest, already incensed as they were. He did up in a packet an old sheet of printed advices, a figure of a man hanged and some pairs of spectacles, with an explanation that they were used to serve for the better deciphering of those sheets, which were full of grotesque figures. Parliament intercepted the despatch and finding this lampoon, immediately ordered his departure. The French Resident, to protect him, has asked for an audience in which he will try and adjust the quarrel, but he has not yet obtained it. The Portuguese, meanwhile, has his house defended so that they may not force the doors, as they did the imperialist's.
The Scottish army invading England has taken Carlisle. It is an important place and according to compact should be delivered to the English, but the others have put a garrison there. Parliament in London is accordingly suspicious, because this place with Berwick and Newcastle, which the Scots also hold, gives them the master keys of England. After this it seems that they are advancing on Worcester. General Fairfax has advanced on Tampton to raise the siege there. Colonel Goring made an assault to try and storm the place, but being repulsed with loss he had to leave it. Prince Rupert has assumed the command of those troops, causing some offence to Goring.
The leaders of the Protestants in Ireland write to parliament that they cannot make head any longer against the Catholics and they must either send help or allow them to come to terms or to retire and give up the field.
Aug. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
254. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The nuncio for Ireland delays his departure on the pretext that the Catholics there are treating with the Protestants, and as an agreement may result with some prejudice to religion he thinks it better to await the issue and not give it the sanction of his presence.
Paris, the 1st August, 1645.
Aug. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
255. Giovanni Ambrogio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses for approval the terms for hiring four ships. Two English ships are on the way to Zante for currants. They are in the Strait and negotiations are well advanced for them to go with the four hired ships and offer themselves to Sig. Cavazza for the transport of troops, Has undertaken that they shall not be detained or hindered in their trading. The English consul, (fn. 2) who is a man of great sagacity, is not quite satisfied and thinks that the General may detain them by force.
Leghorn, the 5th August, 1645.
Enclosure. 256. Terms for the hiring of the English ship Sarah and Judith, of about 3,000 salme burthen, Captain Theophilus Flecher, carrying 30 pieces of artillery for 250 ducats a month.
Aug. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
257. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In England also Fortune has turned her back on the king there, as the enclosed sheet will show.
Paris, the 8th August, 1645.
Enclosure. 258. Advices from London, the 27th July, 1645.
After raising the siege of Tampton on the appearance of General Fairfax Colonel Goring could not avoid a battle. Being pursued by the parliamentarians he had to risk one and suffered defeat. The news has reached London much exaggerated by passion and interest, with an estimate of 20,000 including killed, prisoners and scattered, but actually the losses on the king's side are estimated at 5 to 6,000, which in his Majesty's present difficulties reduces him to extremity, as from those troops he expected his only nucleus and reinforcement.
Parliament celebrated the event with public rejoicings, and their hopes are rising of finishing the war in this campaign and forcing the king to leave the realm. There was a report that Goring, having lost his army, was negotiating to change sides and save at least his own interests, but the news is not yet substantiated. Fairfax pursues the defeated, and the king feeling them closing in is pursuing negotiations with the Irish, to prepare himself a retreat in case he is forced to leave England.
In Scotland, however, the Marquis of Montrose, who is upholding his Majesty's cause with an Irish army, has gained a notable advantage over the enemy. He has lost 1,500 men, but the loss on the other side was greater. He remained master of the field and parliament, which was being held in another city, because of the plague at Edinburgh, has been obliged to retire, not feeling itself safe. (fn. 3) This event may prevent the Scottish army in England from advancing further, and allow the royal interests in that part some breathing space.
In Ireland also the Catholics are pursuing their advantage, some of the Protestant towns having declared on their side.
The French Resident has at last succeeded in obtaining an audience, through the interest of merchants (per interessi de' mercanti). A special committee of members of both Houses was deputed to hear him. In this way parliament has overcome the difficulty about hearing ministers when they will not treat with it in the same form as they did with the king, claiming that the royal authority resides in them.
The letters captured from the king have mostly been published, to render his name more odious to the people and his designs suspect.
The Resident of Portugal has not yet gone. The Houses have sent to his king their complaints and reasons why they will not endure him any longer in that capacity.
English merchants are very distressed and perplexed because since the capture of Mardyck the French have announced that any ships trying to enter Dunkirk will be sunk, whereby their trade is stopped.
Aug. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian. Archives.
259. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Mr. Thomas Sachevile, an English gentleman, (fn. 4) who is living in this country while the disturbances continue in his own, having taken refuge at Rouen offers a command of a certain number of vessels for the taking of which the king's permission is promised, and to maintain them in service without fearing any prohibition which the parliament may promulgate. I have thanked him.
Paris, the 15th August, 1645.
260. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
When the queen of England comes to Paris I will not fail to show a proper regard for her and for her husband. Encloses the usual advices of England.
Paris, the 15th August, 1645.
Enclosure. 261. Advices from London, the 3rd August, 1645.
Parliament has celebrated the victory over Colonel Goring with public rejoicings, studying by every art to keep the attention of the people attracted to their greatest successes. As a consequence of the victory General Fairfax attacked Bridgwater and took it by storm, taking 500 prisoners. The fort of Burugh close by has suffered the same fate, (fn. 5) and the king's forces being unable to keep the field, leave the whole country at the discretion of the enemy.
His Majesty has retired to Wales, in ever greater difficulties. The Scottish army, having crossed the Severn, is advancing rapidly to force the king to leave that district and disband the remains of his feeble army. To spur on the Scots parliament has sent from London 20,000l. sterling and so far it does not seem that the successes of the king's forces in Scotland are affecting their activity in England.
Parliament is still busily strengthening its forces, increasing them by new levies. 1,500 horse are gathering in the associated counties to be sent as a reinforcement to the army. The people of Somerset and other counties having taken arms, claim to be neutral and to defend their country from the troops of either side entering it.
Aug. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
262. Giovanni Ambrogio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses a list of ships. Of the 17 now in port 16 have been hired for different parts and in three days all will be gone. Only one is at liberty and might serve as a transport. Will do his utmost to get the English ships Merchant Exeter and Rainbow, which are leaving empty in two days for Smyrna and Constantinople. They might go to Civita Vecchia to take on troops, but the English consul has just told him that he fears the captains may object, as if the Turks know that they had carried troops for the republic they might be molested on arriving at their destination.
Leghorn, the 21st August, 1645.
Enclosure. 263. Extracted from list of ships in port at Leghorn, on the 21st August, 1645.
George, English, leaving this evening for Zante.
Anna Buonaventura, English, leaving empty for Zante, in company with the former.
Rainbow, English, leaving in two or three days for Smyrna.
Merchant Exeter, leaving in two or three days for Constantinople.
Aug. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
264. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Forwards the usual advices from London.
Paris, the 22nd August, 1645.
Enclosure. 265. Advices from London, the 9th August, 1645.
Bridgewater, captured by Fairfax, has been in large part consumed by fire some bombs having been thrown, and the fury of the victors not sparing fire or sword. In it the parliamentarians found a good number of guns, the remains of the king's artillery who is still more enfeebled with this loss added to the others. The town occupies an important situation as it commands five or six neighbouring counties to which it opens the way for the parliamentary forces.
There is no news of the king, his Majesty being merely engaged in collecting such forces as his weakness and circumstances permit.
The Scots who have less aversion from the royal name than the others have sent deputies to London to discuss two points. One, that some means be found to support their army without oppressing the people, because being without their pay they have to inflict on the country extortion and billetting, with loss not only to the people but wasting of the army itself. Second, that as they only took arms to defend themselves against wrongs to which they were forced at first to submit, that they shall now make a treaty of peace with the king if they can obtain reasonable terms. This point has dashed parliament considerably, because it not only shows the propensity of the Scots towards the king, but touches a key that many of them detest. The two Houses accordingly met together to discuss their answer. Those who are opposed to quiet and who hope to finish the war in this campaign, go about pointing out how inopportune it is at this season to talk of peace, as it will cool the ardour of the soldiers in the prosecution of their victories as well as the readiness of the people to contribute men and money.
The minister sent to Brussels by parliament, (fn. 6) after his original welcome has not been able to attain to the post of Resident, to which he aspired. The Spanish ministers, fearing to offend the king and his authority, have apologised for not doing more owing to the necessity of writing to Spain and awaiting orders from the Court.
Another was sent from London to Holland, but when he claimed audience of the States General he was refused. But the deputies of Holland have heard him separately and he hopes to achieve the same from the other Provinces. He is instructed to ask for the punishment of the last ambassadors, by whom the two Houses pretend to have been affronted, and to foment the disagreement which seems to prevail in the States about the interests of England.
The French Resident is labouring to get some arrangement about navigation and commerce ; as all the ships of that crown are badly used by the English, it is feared that they will soon have recourse again to reprisals.
Aug. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
266. Giovanni Ambrogio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
I had succeeded in inducing the captains of the ships George and Buonaventura to return after they had sailed and agree to transport troops ; but the merchants protested because of the great profits they would earn if the ships went straight to England with currants, so I was defeated at the last moment. I approached the captains of the ships Rainbow and Merchant Exeter, but they would not run the risk of the loss of the rich capital of the English.
Leghorn, the 23rd August, 1645.
Aug. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
267. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses the events of England.
Paris, the 29th August, 1645.
Enclosure. 268. Advices from London, of the 17th August, 1645.
The Chambers have decided to satisfy the Scots by embracing the overtures for peace, and sending the proposals to the king, while protesting that if these are not accepted they will never speak about it again, but the war will be pursued to the end, until the destruction of one of the two parties. The proposals are contained in six articles, all tending to the extermination of religion and of the king's power. The principal is to destroy Ireland and all the Catholics in it. It is expected that the king will reject the proposal at once, its object being to sow jealousies in the treaty of peace which the king is at present negotiating with the Irish, and by giving umbrage to these to deprive his Majesty of the only succour, which he hopes and expects from that quarter.
Meanwhile the king's affairs continue in the utmost depression, himself being confined in a corner of his kingdom, without money or forces, his troops dipersed and unable to keep the field. In London their audacity has gone so far that they have thrown all respect to the winds and published a sheet of advices which has been hawked in all the streets by the newsboys for two days running, and has also been sent to foreign countries. It is in the following terms : Anyone who finds a king, obstinate, a traitor to his promises, perfidious in his words, who has now absented himself from his parliament for four years to bathe his hands in the blood of his subjects, should report it to the Court Mercury. To distinguish him, any one who gets him to speak will see that he is a stammerer, that he cannot speak the truth or talk plainly. After feeding the hatred of the vulgar with such publications parliament has had the publisher sent to prison. (fn. 7)
Montreuil has arrived in London, who is to go as Resident of France with the Scots. Neither party approves of his mission, the royalists because they think the people get too puffed up by having ministers sent to them, and the parliamentarians because they suspect an attempt to break up their union and to cultivate covertly some other party.
General Fairfax has occupied Bath, not far from Bristol, and is marching on Exeter with the intention of attacking it. Goring has collected 5,000 soldiers for the king. The Scots are in the neighbourhood of Hereford and Monmouth. A report has come that the peasants have risen and occupied some passes, killing a good number, but this is not confirmed.


  • 1. Dr. Walter Walker. Letters of credence were drawn up for him on the 6th August, but he was already at Brussels. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VII., pages 518, 531.
  • 2. Santhill by name. Levant Co., Court Book for 25 July, 1646. S.P. For. Archives, Vol. 150.
  • 3. Montrose's victory at Alford on the 2-12 July. Parliament moved from Stirling to Perth.
  • 4. Thomas Sackville of Saddlescombe co. Sussex. Thomas — Stanford : Sussex in the Great Civil War, page 128.
  • 5. Bridgewater surrendered on the 23 July. Borough Bridge was taken on the 13th.
  • 6. Dr. Walter Walker.
  • 7. Published in the Brittanicus for which Robert White was condemned to the Fleet on the 5th August and Capt. Audley to the Gatehouse on the 6th. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VII., pages 523, 525, 528.