Venice: February 1646

Pages 240-245

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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February 1646

Feb. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
339. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The bishop of Angoulême in the assembly of the clergy asked in the name of the queen of England for a gift of half a million crowns. If this is granted he promises that the king will give the Catholics freedom of worship and hand over a church to them. The answer has not yet matured. Meanwhile Emery has paid the queen 40,000 doubles on account of 800,000 francs which their Majesties granted to her for her relief.
The scanty news from England is attached.
Paris, the 6th February, 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 340. Advices from London, the 25th January, 1646.
The governor of Plymouth (fn. 1) has been tempted by Sir [John] Digby to hand over that place to his Majesty, but he refused all proposals and sent the letters to parliament. The two Houses commended his fidelity and sent him a present of 500l. sterling. To give further proof of his constancy he sallied out and captured the fort of Contoribie and a church which the royalists had turned into a fort and which harassed the place.
The parliamentarians have been successful in various encounters in the country, but there has been nothing of consequence except that the slightest blow is now serious to the king's tottering party.
At Newark the Scots are only waiting for reinforcements from the troops which took Skippon. When they arrive Newark will be formally besieged.
The report persists that in spite of the refusal the king will come to London without a passport, but it is not very likely that he would risk his life among his bitterest enemies.
Feb. 10.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
341. To the Ambassador in France.
In the matter of completing the larger number of troops for our requirements the steps now being taken for new drafts of soldiers from London falls out very opportunely and we shall wait to hear of the agreement, with the conditions of the other and with greater advantage. Not having been able to find accommodation through England we send you letters of credit through France for 40,000 ducats so that you may be able to make use of this sum for the requirements aforesaid.
Ayes, 108. Noes, 0. Neutral, 4.
Feb. 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
342. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Secretary Suriano, on reaching London, found that there was no lack of obstacles in the way of the levy of Atkins, amid the turmoil and disorder of that unhappy country. Atkins, who went before him to enlist the men, was thrown into prison the moment he reached the country, as the knowledge that any one has served on the other side is enough to render him unsafe for ever. Another individual who aspired to undertake this levy had a hand in this arrest, but after a few days Atkins was set at liberty. The permit of which he not only assured me, but actually produced, now turns out to be inadequate, either because he fraudulently misrepresented it, or because a certain Wolter has obtained another from the Houses, with preference over all those granted before. He holds out hopes, however, that he will have it very soon. Meanwhile no money has been paid out, and Suriano writes me that he will not give any unless he is absolutely certain of results. I have sent back word that if the affair of Atkins falls through, and little good can be expected if he was guilty of fraud over the permit which he showed, he is to treat with Wolter, because all the others who have made offers have been more free with their expectations of obtaining prisoners than successful in obtaining them. If the present state of affairs in the country does not allow of anything further being done, it will be necessary to recall him in two or three weeks' time though I will gladly put up with the inconvenience if any good results are likely to follow.
Encloses advices from London.
Paris, the 13th February, 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 343. Advices from London, the 1st February, 1646.
The Prince of Wales, to resist Fairfax and open a way to join forces with his father has issued a proclamation calling upon all subjects capable of bearing arms to unite with him to establish legitimate authority against usurpers and rebels. (fn. 2) Parliament has taken offence at this and has discussed issuing a counterblast declaring the prince incapable of succeeding to the throne ; but this has not yet obtained general assent. The prince's army has not increased and he is not in a position to act as vigorously as was supposed, indeed Fairfax has surprised a quarter of his cavalry, inflicting loss. He also keeps Chester closely blockaded, and Exeter too, sending word to Portsmouth that he expects its surrender soon. The royalists have left Plymouth after the capture of the fort and church. The men of Newark have inflicted loss in two furious sorties on the enemy's quarters, but they were repulsed.
The king has again sent a trumpet to the Lord of Warche, speaker of the Upper House, repeating his request to come to London in person. The reply was a curt refusal, that for many reasons parliament did not think it advisable for his Majesty to come here.
Montrose after remaining in the mountains and collecting 3,000 men, besieged Ardervesse, but being attacked by the parliamentarians he had to take to flight, losing his camp, baggage and arms, his own brother in law being slain.
Feb. 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
344. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir Kenelm Digby has arrived from Rome and brings word to the queen of England on the part of the pope of slender hopes of feeble succour. His Holiness has opened out to him on several occasions upon current events with the crown of France and he has reported here that there is no hope that the pope will relent in his determination. He confirms that the Grand Duke encourages this state of mind and that that prince easily allows himself to be ruled by the Cardinal, his brother, (fn. 3) and that he lives in an atmosphere completely Spanish to induce his Holiness to a rupture. To an intimate of his, who passed it on to me, Digby remarked that the pope had told him that he knew he was on a friendly footing with everyone in France except Cardinal Mazarini, who had always been his enemy and was the only one who thwarted him at the present time, but as he was determined to settle accounts with the Barberini, so he would know how to do the same with Mazarini as well, very quickly. Digby will have told this to the Cardinal also, with whom he has conferred several times about the affairs of Rome. Your Excellencies may judge whether this is calculated to soothe tempers which are already only too inflammable. It is likely that Digby has at any rate told the queen of England, and she will have passed it on to his Eminence undiluted.
Paris, the 13th February, 1645. [M.V.]
Feb. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
345. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It is thought that the levies for the queen of England will be stopped by the capture of Plymouth, the parliamentarians having occupied that place, which is the only landing place she can use, as your Serenity will see from the enclosed sheet of advices.
Paris, the 20th February, 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 346. Advices from London, the 8th February, 1646.
In spite of incessant rebuffs about his coming to London the king has made the utmost efforts to gain his intent and in his letter for a pass has made various suggestions for peace : that religion be established as ordained by Queen Elizabeth and continued under King James ; that those who wish to profess other beliefs shall have liberty of conscience ; if his proposal about the armies is not approved, he will consent to any other that may be suggested, to avoid suspicion ; that a means be found to pay the debts of the city of London and to satisfy what is owed to the Scots. That for Ireland he will not refuse what the other two kingdoms deem advisable. He asks for a prompt reply. The Houses sent it in these terms : they had already informed him why his coming to the parliament at Westminster was inopportune and now repeat the same. He had caused the war, shed the blood of his subjects, introduced foreigners into the country, fomented the rebels in Ireland, and still remains armed in the face of London, while the prince his son is at the head of an army in the West, with many places held in his name and withdrawn from the common body of the state. So they could not believe that his object in coming to London was peace. This suspicion was increased because he did not speak of entering his parliament to live and die united with his good and loyal subjects, but intended to depart after a brief space. The Houses were slighted by his asking for a pass from the Council of London and the generals, as well as themselves, because these others are entirely dependent on parliament. They would soon be sending his Majesty a form for peace containing the conditions which alone could give the country security and quiet and by accepting this his Majesty will be able effectively to show his desire for peace. (fn. 4)
This haughty reply is accompanied by further successes for the parliament's arms. General Fairfax has gone to Dartmouth and taken it by assault. (fn. 5) Two forts guarding the mouth of the river have also been taken without prolonged resistance. 100 guns remained in the hands of the parliamentarians with a quantity of food and arms. Two ships of war, laden with various provisions, many other craft and 600 persons of quality were taken. The blow is the more sensible because this was the only port left to his Majesty facing France, through which he looked for succour in ships and men.
The Scots reviewing their troops under Newark found 7,000 effectives. A deputation of commissioners of London which was travelling through the neighbouring counties holding meetings for filling vacancies in parliament, has been surprised and captured by 200 horse who sallied from Oxford.
Feb. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
347. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Atkins has again been imprisoned in London on an old charge that while he was serving on the royal side he tried to corrupt some of the commanders of fortresses for the parliament. He was condemned to death at the time and it is thought that he may easily be sent to the district where he committed the offence, for the punishment to be carried out.
The Secretary Suriano, who is most punctilious in everything that is likely to help the business, is conducting negotiations with Wolter and others, but here also there is no lack of obstacles, and he sends me many particulars which I will keep back until next week, when I expect to know definitely whether the affair is broken off or arranged. At any rate the money is safe, as nothing has been supplied to Atkins and nothing will be paid to the others without the best safeguards that can be expected amid the disorders of that troubled country.
The king of England is reduced to the unhappy straits that your Excellencies may see from the enclosed sheet. Adequate succour can no longer reach him from here, and it is suggested that he may do well to withdraw to the Highlands of Scotland and with what little is left to him lie hidden in the safest and most inaccessible parts of one kingdom while waiting to see what fortune may bring him in the other, in the course of time.
Paris, the 27th February, 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 348. Advices from London, the 15th February, 1646.
Chester has been obliged to surrender at last, (fn. 6) being hemmed in by Fairfax's quarters and reduced to great distress. The king has thus lost the finest place he held, and has now no means of subsistence left, as he holds neither country nor town. There are left, Exeter, blockaded by the parliamentarians, Newark, invested by the Scots, Oxford and a few small places of no importance in the heart of the country, unable to receive succour or to supply him with men or money to resist the powerful fortune of the other side. In London the news of the capture was celebrated with great rejoicings, and they have ordered solemn prayers and a fast for this series of great successes. Under these circumstances the Houses are more disinclined for peace than ever, and hope that in a short time they will by arms rid the country of the royalists and remain absolute masters.
A deputation of commissioners to reside in Scotland has been sent from London.
After the capture of Dartmouth the parliament left the royal standard flying for some time to deceive any ships bringing provisions and levies to the king from France. Only one fell into the trap, and the others being warned, there can be no further loss.
The Prince of Wales has had one of the leading men arrested, (fn. 7) and suspicion in the camp has become so rife that the royalist forces themselves are in constant alarm and shadow.
Parliament has intercepted letters from the queen to her husband and learns from these that he contemplated sending his son to Denmark. She dissuades him and urges him rather to send the prince to some port of France.


  • 1. Col. Ralph Weldon appointed in December. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IV., page 375. Kinterbury fort was taken on the 27th Dec. and St. Budeaux church soon after. Worth : Hist. of Plymouth, page 130.
  • 2. Proclamation from Tavistock of the 29th Dec., O.S. Cal. S.P. Dom, 1645-7, page 282.
  • 3. Giovanni Carlo de' Medici.
  • 4. Reply of 13 January, O.S. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1645-7, page 306. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VIII., page 99.
  • 5. On 18-28 January.
  • 6. On the 3-13 February.
  • 7. Sir Richard Grenvile on the 16-26 January.