Venice: October 1645

Pages 213-219

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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October 1645

Oct. 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
281. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The French Resident in London informs me that one of the colonels reported has decided to come and see me. Encloses advices.
Moret, the 3rd October, 1645.
Enclosure. 282. Advices from London, the 21st September, 1645.
Montrose is still absolute master of the field in Scotland and of the whole country, finding no further resistance, his arms terrifying them on the one hand while the plague is making great ravages on the other. It is not true, however, that Edinburgh surrendered to him, but only made terms to avoid an assault and a sack, paying a ransom of 20,000 Jacobus and releasing various prisoners of the king's party. The Scottish army besieging Hereford, finding it a hard nut and having lost many men, has raised the siege to attend to affairs at home. (fn. 1) Parliament in London has promptly granted that to reinforce them they may take as many men as they consider necessary from the garrisons in the North. There is a hidden craftiness in this, as the English want the garrisons removed from Carlisle, Newcastle and other places which the Scottish forces are garrisoning in England. Apparently the others do not incline to this, so as not to deprive themselves of the pledges they have in hand and a means of advantage in case of any treaty with the king.
In England things are proceedingly differently, because the siege of Bristol has reached such a point that the besieged cannot get relief by their furious sorties and are beginning to parley for a surrender. Prince Rupert asks for a free passage for himself and all the garrison, and ten guns, security for the town and inhabitants and that the Anglican bishop be left in his rank and position, contrary to the principles of the Puritans. Fairfax sent word that he has orders from parliament to occupy that place, but not to grant such terms, and he has sent an express to London to ask for their consent. While this is going on, possibly in order to delay the attack, the king is making every effort to increase the relief, counting, if the blow succeeds, to catch the enemy army in the midst.
The agreement between the Catholics of Ireland and the king with the Protestants there of his party, is far advanced towards a conclusion, and if it is quite settled his Majesty hopes for a powerful reinforcement of ten thousand effectives from that country.
Oct. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Rettori. Venetian Archives.
283. Resolution to suspend until further order the case before the Magistrato dei Forestieri against the Company of English merchants trading in the Indies, and in the mean time that there be suspended and revoked the sequestration and inhibition made under the laws on the 10th February last, in the hands of those nominated therein, of all that they hold or which may come into their possession in respect of the company aforesaid ; all of which is understood to be without prejudice to the claims of the parties. (fn. 2)
Ayes, 77. Noes, 0. Neutral, 7.
Oct. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
284. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Colonel Rosbuy, an Englishman, has come here with letters of the French Resident in London on purpose to offer me a levy of 1,000 soldiers for immediate requirements. He has leave from the parliament to enlist and take them where he pleases, and the men will be all ready for embarcation at any time they are wanted. The colonel has gone back to London, where he will await my answer. I thanked him in general terms and said I must wait for orders from your Serenity. The Colonel suggested terms based upon those arranged for the levies raised in Holland, but perhaps the fact that the men are all ready may give an advantage in treating.
The advices from London are enclosed.
Moret, the 17th October, 1645.
Enclosure. 285. Advices from London, the 28th September, 1645.
When some rays of hope seemed to illumine the king's party hostile fortune has struck it two blows which have reduced it to the last stages of decadence. One is the defeat of General Montrose in Scotland, where after his victory over the parliamentary forces he held all the country in subjection and terror. The Scots under General Lesley, raising the siege of Hereford, marched to that kingdom, and swollen by some remains of the troops on their side, grew so superior in force to Montrose that they did not fear to give him battle, (fn. 3) the issue of which, going in their favour, has dissipated all the hope that was left for the king. The authentic news has reached parliament in London with a rejoicing that comes from the great apprehension they had about that affair. Further particulars are awaited with impatient curiosity.
The other mortal stroke to his Majesty's interests is the surrender of Bristol to General Fairfax, Prince Rupert coming out on good terms of war from one of the most important places in the kingdom. (fn. 4) The parliamentary army is thereby set free from a very great task to go wherever it may be most advantageous. It is yet uncertain where this will be, but it is thought they will go in pursuit of the king. He is now uncertain about his retreat, as with the loss of Bristol he loses a gate by which to leave the kingdom or for introducing succour, while the defeat of Montrose precludes him from seeking a refuge in Scotland.
Oct. 18.
Bibl. S. Marco CI. VII. Cod. 1923.
286. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at the Congress of Munster from Domenico Condulmier, his Secretary at the Hague.
Encloses agreement made with William Balfort.
Amsterdam, the 18th October, 1645.
Enclosure. 287. Agreement of William Balfort with Domenico Condulmier.
To serve in the capacity of bombardier, master of artificial fire, bombs and fire ships.
To serve as long as the republic desires.
To be paid from the date of sailing from the Texel at the rate of 6 ducats 4 lire a month.
To bear the cost of the voyage to Corfu.
To receive two months' pay in advance, before starting.
To receive two months' pay when discharged, for the journey home.
Dated the 17th October, 1645.
Oct. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
288. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
An English ship which has come straight from Naples in 18 days reports having seen a fight between the Western fleet of Prince Lodovisio (fn. 5) and the Barbary ships. The French ambassador pretended to have no news of it. I also spoke to the English ambassador, but he was elusive although he professed a desire to serve your Excellencies and me personally, in particular. But the English are most keenly on the alert to see the issue of this war and they would like the Turks to capture Candia so that they may have free trade there in muscat. As for the ambassador, with the position of his king's affairs and the sorry plight they are in, while he is left alone and independent, so to speak, he bolsters up his position with his title and has no other concern but his own personal interests and gain.
The Vigne of Pera, the 18th October, 1645.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Oct. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
289. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
One Augier, who resides here in a private capacity, but virtually as agent of the London parliament has handed me the enclosed proposal from the Secretary of the English Council of State, offering a person of high rank, who would enter your service with 4,000 men and 20 or 25 ships. I understand from another quarter that this person, whose name it is difficult to guess, is one of the first in the kingdom, having held military command and filled eminent posts, and he feels sure that parliament will give him leave at the least hint.
I enclose the sheet of advices from England. Many offers have been made to me of less consequence than the one mentioned above. In this country also it is incredible how the offers and instances increase with every day that passes.
Paris, the 24th October, 1645.
Enclosure. 290. Copy of letter from Weckerlin, Secretary to the Council of State, to M. Augier in Paris.
An Englishman of quality and renown is anxious to serve the Venetian republic and asks you to inform their ambassador in France, showing him the proposal. He desires a reply and the ambassador's opinion.
He offers to go next spring with a squadron of 20 or 25 ships of war well found and armed, of an average of 400 tons. Besides the officers and crews he would bring 4,000 soldiers to serve on shore, divided into four regiments. If his proposal is accepted he wishes to have a commission from the republic as chief of his fleet and forces, subject only to the generalissimo. If accepted he hopes to receive another commission to raise 1,500 cavalry wherever he can abroad, formed into 3 regiments. He will send a secretary to any place appointed or come in person to arrange everything and settle the terms, and he will never ask for anything but what is reasonable, and that the conditions shall be as profitable for the republic as honourable for himself.
I ask you to hasten this matter, with all secrecy for the person will be admitted by everyone as unexceptionable. Before giving his name it must be known whether the offer will be accepted. Tell the ambassador that he is unexceptionable and his name will be given as soon as they decide to treat with him. You know that time is precious and you will therefore ask the ambassador to procure a speedy reply from Venice, so that the applicant may be able to sail at once and before the spring.
From London, the 5 Oct.-25 Sept., 1645.
[Signed] G. R. Weckerlin.
291. Advices from London, the 5th October, 1645.
The victory of the Scottish parliamentarians over Montrose is confirmed. After the first battle Lesley again came up with the remains of the royalist party, who were trying to unite, and so all were routed, Montrose being forced to take flight with only eleven horsemen, and he is now invested in a small place, in danger of falling into the hands of the enemy.
In Bristol General Fairfax found 140 guns, a great quantity of arms, munitions and food for about two years, besides a quantity of ships in the port. It is not yet known whither he will turn his arms.
The king, distressed by such blows, is tortured by suspicion as much as by adverse fortune, and believes the fall of Bristol was due to craft and deceit, because a place supplied for every emergency, defended by a Prince with most efficient troops, yielded at the mere appearance rather than to the assault of the hostile forces. He has consequently conceived the greatest distrust of his nephews, the Princes Palatine, either because of actual information, or because misfortune has instilled into his heart the suspicion that they aspire to the crown and kingdom and are plotting secretly for his ruin with parliament, in concert with their eldest brother, who is living in London. Accordingly he has sent definite orders to Oxford for the arrest of Prince Rupert, who went there after leaving Bristol, and this has been done. He has also ordered him to leave that place and the kingdom within fourteen days. The king has further imprisoned the governor of Oxford (fn. 6) and it is thought that he may decide to do the same with Prince Maurice. This accident has reduced the royalist party to extremity and it will be difficult for it to hold out long against force and fraud. In this state of affairs the conclusion of peace with the Irish Catholics has come opportunely. (fn. 7) † Destitute of all succour these have had to accept terms prejudicial to the exercise of their religion, but these conditions were less harsh than any they could expect from parliament.
Oct. 28.
Bibl. S. Marco CI. VII. Cod. 1923.
292. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador for the Congress of Munster, from Domenico Condulmier, his Secretary at the Hague.
Reports engagement of Flint at the rate of 70 ducats a month. Has seen his patents which are numerous and very ample.
Amsterdam, the 28th October, 1645.
Oct. 31.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
293. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices from England.
Paris, the 31st October, 1645.
Enclosure. 294. Advices from London, the 19th October, 1645.
Free from Bristol, Fairfax's army has gone to besiege Westcester which is on the sea and serves as a port for the Irish who come to help the king. That is why the parliamentarians want to take it, as the peace in Ireland causes his Majesty to expect powerful succour. To prevent that door being closed, the king set out with 4,000 men to throw reinforcements into it, but as usual the attempt fared badly, the troops being defeated, many taken, others slain, including persons of note, and 200 horse were obliged to flee. (fn. 8) The king, after going to Wales has proceeded to Newark, almost in the centre of the kingdom, and there calling upon his followers all round he is preparing to renew the attempt and not to lose so important a place without making every effort.
Parliament having sent a convoy of munitions and money to the camp of Fairfax, is urgently recalling the Scottish army so that it may besiege Newark, and the king himself inside it, before he can take the field ; but as they do not expect such promptitude from the Scots they are collecting troops with great energy in order to carry out his plan with their own forces. Two other places of minor importance have surrendered to parliament, which, having some small organised force in almost every county, is in a position to bring the whole kingdom very speedily under its control.
The Prince of Wales, cut off from communication with his father by hostile forces, has asked parliament for a pass to send Opton and Piper to his Majesty to remind and suggest to him the means to peace. (fn. 9) This was refused, either because a treaty for peace is barred or because of the suspicion that their journey was intended for Holland, to arrange a new marriage between the Prince and the daughter of Orange. These suspicions are increased because the Dutch Admiral Tromp has been sighted cruising off Cornwall, the opinion being that he is trying to carry off the prince to Holland.
Prince Rupert is still a prisoner at Oxford. In Scotland Montrose is trying to repair his losses and raise fresh troops. The Scots, more and more inclined to peace, have made three proposals to the English, first that one form of religion be determined, second that they offer means of peace to the king, third that a means be found to supply their army with its pay.
A Scottish gentleman of the King of Denmark sent to the King of England to inform him of the agreement with the Swedes, has reached London and asked for a pass to go on. (fn. 10) He has not yet succeeded in eliciting a reply, the Houses feeling doubtful whether some other business is not concealed beneath the compliment.


  • 1. On the 1-11 September.
  • 2. Apparently in connection with the action taken against this Company because of the sequestration of the goods of Sir Peter Ricaut as a delinquent. See Nos. 217, 218 at pages 185, 186 above, and Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VIII., page 106.
  • 3. At Philiphaugh on the 13-23 September.
  • 4. 11-21 September.
  • 5. Niccolo Ludovisio, Prince of Piombino.
  • 6. William Legge.
  • 7. Presumably the treaty signed by Glamorgan at Kilkenny on the 25th August, O.S.
  • 8. At Rowton Heath near Chester on the 20-30th September.
  • 9. Hopton and Culpepper, from Exeter on the 25th September. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VII., page 600.
  • 10. Sir John Henderson. Salvetti on 20 October. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962L. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1645-7, page 181 ; Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VII., page 628.