Venice: November 1645

Pages 219-224

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 1645

Nov. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
295. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador shows letters from the English captains in the service of your Serenity in which they complain bitterly that when they and the Flemings offered to attack the Turks with an undertaking not to allow a single galley to return to Constantinople, they were not permitted to do so.
The Vigne of Pera, the 1st November, 1645.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Nov. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
296. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
At a second audience Cardinal Panfilio assured me that he had no sleep day or night from constantly thinking about these affairs. He would tell me in confidence that he had been turning over in his mind every possible expedient. He had spoken to the Resident of England about hiring ships. It is their intention to do something of moment to be carried into effect when the pope gives the order.
Rome, the 4th November, 1645.
Nov. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
297. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A fleet of 20 to 25 ships is arming in Holland for the king of England. Other events of those parts are in the enclosed sheet.
Paris, the 7th November, 1645.
Enclosure. 298. Advices from London, the 26th October, 1645.
The city of Westcester has also been obliged to yield to the parliamentary arms under General Fairfax, and with it one of the chief entries into the realm. Another parliamentary army is besieging Leicester, of no less importance, but Goring has succeeded in throwing relief into it, with which it is hoped it may hold out and by detaining the forces of General Fairfax, allow the Prince of Wales, who would otherwise be hemmed in, to retire or to supply himself.
Cromuel has made an important capture for the parliament in taking Rasinous, which is a private house made into a fortress by its situation and by art, and had thrice successfully resisted the parliamentary arms. (fn. 1) The Earl of Winchester, its owner and one of the leading Catholics of the country, was there with his wife, and children, a good number of religious and other Catholics, who have all been taken prisoners to London, as well as a notable booty of the wealth of all the country round, stored there.
The king has left Newark and is believed to be moving towards Scotland, because he is practically shut out from all the strongest places of England, and in that other kingdom he hopes to find the people less hostile, and to give a hand to Montrose who is rallying his forces very well. Before he went his secretary of state Digby wrote to General Lesley inviting him to a treaty of peace and to join the royal side. Without breaking the seals Lesley sent this missive to parliament in London.
Nevertheless the Scots insist on peace and do not like the complete perdition of their king. On the other hand, parliament in London, while ostensibly discussing the means, drags out the affair amid difficulties and delays. There is in fact no other way to prevent the king's ruin than to make a separate agreement with the Scots, or that disagreement over religion or jealousy over the command may increase between the two countries and parliament, and so prepare the way for happier events.
Parliament has issued an edict requiring all who have followed the king's party to ask pardon for the offence committed against the laws and the state, before entering into possession of their houses and goods.
His Majesty has sent 500 horse to Oxford, to establish a new command there, and has ordered that on their return they shall bring Prince Rupert to him as a prisoner, so that his excuses and apologies may be heard.
Nov. 14.
Senato. Secreta, Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
299. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Buglion offered the king of England a levy of 5,000 to 6,000 infantry of those on the frontier of Flanders, to cross over and bring him succour. But when the queen came expressly to Paris to obtain the permission of their Majesties, it was denied her, since they are perfectly aware that this levy could not be furnished by Buglion out of his own forces, but that he would have to do it with the money of the Spaniards, in accordance with the suggestion made by the Scevrosa at Brussels, to be transmitted, not to England, but against France.
Monsignor Ranuccini has sailed at last from la Rochelle on his journey to Ireland. (fn. 2) The rest of the English news is enclosed.
Paris, the 14th November, 1645.
Enclosure. 300. Advices from London, the 2nd November, 1645.
The king's journey to Scotland has not proved successful, and so the best hopes of setting up his party in that country and of increasing his power in England, have vanished. The plan was that Montrose with his scanty forces should advance to the frontier, where Colonel Digby, sent on by the king with 5 or 600 horse, should join hands, and make it easier for the king, to pass with the rest. But Montrose was detained longer than he expected by some small place, while Digby, being repulsed with loss by the parliamentarians in crossing a river, has retired again to Newark. His Majesty finding himself still harder pressed there with a siege imminent has gone to Oxford with only 100 horse.
In Yorkshire 1,600 royalists have been defeated and dispersed by the country people, and some cavalry of Prince Maurice have also been defeated elsewhere, leaving the prince's banner with the enemy.
His Majesty's cause suffers not only in the open but in the loss of the strongest places. Langford has surrendered to Cromuel, and Colonel Jones is beginning to press Cester hard, having erected a fort which incommodes it greatly. In all the counties small places keep surrendering to the parliamentary forces. Amid all the captures there is a report of some advantage gained by Goring over Fairfax's army, but this is not confirmed, beyond a small engagement in which 160 parliamentarians were left dead on the field.
The two Houses in London, puffed up by success and beginning to despise the Scots, have jointly published a law in reply to their demands. Leaving out all mention of religion or the peace they promise them 30,000 Jacobus by the 10th of next month if they have besieged Newark, while deducting from their claims for pay the damage said to have been inflicted on the country and the contributions exacted. They order them besides to withdraw their garrisons from all the places they have taken in the North, so that parliament may introduce English ones. (fn. 3) The only opening for the king is that dissension may arise between the two countries, because for the rest, his affairs are in the last stages of decay.
Nov. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
301. To the Ambassador in France.
With regard to the offer made by a person of position in England, of a number of men and ships, we think, for the moment, it will be advisable for you to make enquiry and find out his name and all particulars, learning what his terms are for infantry troops only and for as many ships as are required for their transport and nothing more. You will report this with your customary diligence, so that we may decide in accordance with the service.
Ayes, 110. Noes, 2. Neutral, 7.
Nov. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
302. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Resident of the Queen of England is going to leave very soon to go and find his mistress and then go on to the king. He will take with him orders and instructions to urge that king, in the pope's name, to declare himself altogether a Catholic and to recognise the pope as the head of the Church. In such case he offers the king every possible assistance in money and all the weight of his authority with the Catholics there. This Resident maintains that there is now no other means than this for restoring his king's authority, but this is very difficult to believe owing to the inveterate aversion of the people there against the Catholic religion, and it is very remarkable how the pope has allowed himself to be drawn into an affair of this kind, where success is practically impossible, to promise a large amount of money under existing circumstances. He has also already sent bills for 50,000 crowns for Monseigneur Rinuccini, who left for Ireland, and who they hear has been taken prisoner.
This same Resident of England, in calling upon me, made the offer that if your Serenity has need of ten or twelve English ships, at little cost and with great advantage, he would arrange for you to have them at once, and without having the slightest interest in the transaction himself he will give all the directions for the negotiations, if instructions are sent to the Ambassador Nani in France, because he thinks that the best conditions can be obtained there. I have thought fit to report this for what it may be worth, since he asked me to do so.
Rome, the 18th November, 1645.
Nov. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
303. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices from England.
Paris, the 22nd November, 1645.
Enclosure. 304. Advices from London, the 9th November, 1645.
The retirement of the king to Oxford is contradicted as he is still at Newark, surrounded by various parliamentary forces which are practically blockading the place. The two Houses are urging the Scottish army to advance and lay formal siege, and the result will show the unity of the two countries and their inward feeling towards his Majesty.
Colonel Digby, unable to advance by land to join Montrose, is trying to go by sea. He has marched with a few troops to occupy some place on the coast, to provide a port for the ships expected from Holland with succour and to send some reinforcements to Montrose as well.
Fairfax, with all his army, has gone to besiege Cester, which he has not yet been able to surround completely, because Goring, who is the last hope of the royalists, has entrenched himself in a suburb with 1,500 horse.
The province of Wales, which at first followed the king, is now coming over to parliament, the majority having accepted the conditions granted them to escape the calamities of war, not finding the king's forces strong enough there to support his interests. Mainmuth has surrendered to parliament with other places of less importance.
The Prince of Wales has withdrawn to a strong castle on the coast in the extremity of Cornwall, so that he may be able to escape from the kingdom if need be. The advanced season will soon put an end to the campaigning. It is becoming very cold, especially in the north, and this may serve as an excuse to the Scots for not undertaking further enterprises in England.
Nov. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
305. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The pope has been having long discussions recently with the Resident of England to find out the cost, the manner and the time for getting ten or twelve armed English ships. He seems to lean to these rather than to galleys, as he fears that he would have difficulty in getting crews for the latter, while the hulls of his are old and ill fitted for service in the coming year. The Resident assured me that for 24,000 ducats a month he reckoned they could keep ten or twelve well armed ships and that the amount did not appear excessive to his Holiness.
Rome, the 25th November, 1645.
Nov. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
306. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I have been unable to come to terms with Rhosby about the English levy, as he could not give a caution in Paris. It was his intention to supply this in London, not from the merchants, but from subjects of the parliament, out of whom it would be impossible at the present time to obtain any satisfaction. Moreover he would not agree to embark the men all at one place, but he intended to pick them up from almost all England, a few at a time. There is also the danger of mutiny among the men taken from prison and conducted to the ship practically by force. An individual has left here for England on purpose to treat with another who has made offers, and I have written to others again Colonel Pater, an Englishman, has been to see me and offered a regiment to be taken to Candia at his own expense. He has three ships of his own of 500 to 600 tons each and armed for war with 30 guns apiece.
I enclose the advices from England.
Paris, the 28th November, 1645.
Enclosure. 307. Advices from London, the 17th November, 1645.
Prince Rupert has sent an express to parliament in London requesting that he, Prince Maurice his brother, and forty other gentlemen and officers may have a pass to leave the realm in safety and go beyond the sea. He pledges his word never to do anything against parliament either by arms or counsel. The Houses have greedily seized upon this opportunity for detaching these princes from the king, whom they consider his right arm, and to open the door to others beside. They have decided to grant the pass, but one difficulty remains, whether they shall oblige him to come to London and leave the realm that way, or let him choose which way he pleases.
Besides the suspicions already conceived against his nephews, their decision has influenced many others to abandon the king's side every day, under the pretext of the favour and unmeasured power which the king imparts to Digby, his secretary of state. Not content with wielding the pen and having guided the counsels, this individual now wanted to take the sword and command the army which his Majesty intended to enter Scotland. He is credited with the arrest of Prince Rupert at Oxford and with the change of governors there and at Newark, as being partisans of the prince. There is a report, as yet unconfirmed, that while proceeding with this army to Scotland Digby has been attacked in Cumberland by Col. Broune and lost 800 horse, taking refuge himself in an island hard by.
The king is still at Newark with 6,000 men. In prospect of a siege he is introducing supplies. The place itself is strong both by nature and art. But a parliamentary leader has surprised a strong place only 8 miles away (fn. 4) and is trying to harass them, though it is not believed that the Scots think of advancing and pitching their camp there this year. Fairfax also, owing to the rain and cold has been obliged to leave Cester and will occupy quarters in that district, which Goring will dispute with him as best he may.
The parliamentarians announce a victory of their party in Ireland with the loss of 1,500 on the other side. Mons. Rannuccini, the papal nuncio has arrived safely in that kingdom to assist the Catholics, who with the collapse of the king of England fear their own destruction.


  • 1. Basing House was stormed on the 14-24 October.
  • 2. On Monday 16th October in the frigate S. Pietro. Aiazzi. Nunziatura in Irlanda di Monsig. Rinuccini, page 64.
  • 3. The resolutions of the 21-31 October printed in Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VII., pages 653, 654.
  • 4. Shelford House stormed by Col. Poyntz on Monday 3-13 November. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1645-7 page 220. It is quite 12 miles from Newark.