Venice: April 1646

Pages 250-255

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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April 1646

April 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
360. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
It being impossible, owing to the opposition of the merchants who trade in the Turkish dominions to obtain from the Lower House the confirmation of the assent given by the Upper to Earl Holles and Viscount Connuel raising a levy for your Serenity, the Secretary Suriano has returned. From his account of the country, which is thoroughly democratic and disordered, I can see clearly that your Serenity can expect nothing from that quarter. The French and Spaniards have realised this, as though by their resident ministers they flatter parliament by recognising its sovereignty, they have spent a great deal of money, but have not succeeded in obtaining the men.
Paris, the 3rd April, 1646.
Enclosure. 361. Advices from London, the 22nd March, 1646.
General Fairfax, pursuing his advantage in Cornwall, has hemmed in the remains of Hopton's forces on the shore, so that with no retreat open, they must either perish or surrender. He has offered very liberal terms to Hopton, to induce him to change sides.
The Prince of Wales, being unable to resist or to join his father, has sailed away to find a refuge elsewhere. Where he has gone is yet uncertain. It is thought he may steer for France to find his mother, but he may have gone to Ireland to gather up the wrecked fragments of his father's crown. Peace between the Catholics there and his Majesty was said to be confirmed, but the only news is that the Catholics themselves have agreed to some terms which concern their goods and consciences, and placed them in the hands of the nuncio, declaring that they will recognise the king if he will agree to them. This manner of proceeding renders the affair still more suspect to the Protestants. They are assembling a national council in Ireland to reform and to correct the abuses which have introduced themselves into religion in the confusion of the country and in the fighting. Parliament, on their side, by sending a new viceroy with ample powers, (fn. 1) is trying to add vigour to its own forces in that country, which is practically the only one left for it to subdue.
Lord Biron and Sir [Jacob] Ashley, governor of Worcester, are collecting men to try and join the king at Oxford, but others are daily making their peace with parliament, abandoning the ruins of the royal party before they are reduced to subjection.
April 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
362. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Prince of Wales, being forced to leave England, has taken refuge, with a few followers in the island of Kil, (fn. 2) opposite these shores, a place barely two leagues in circumference, uninhabited and untilled, where he cannot live for long. He has sent a gentleman here to learn whether it is his mother's wish that he should proceed to Ireland or to France. She inclines to have him near her, and has obtained the permission of their Majesties here, from compassion, for him to come. Some of his people have already landed in Britanny and the prince himself may have arrived by now.
The enclosed sheet will show the parliament's plans against him, and other matters.
Paris, the 10th April, 1646.
Enclosure. 363. Advices from London, of the 29th March, 1646.
Hopton, hemmed in on the coast by Fairfax, has had to make shameful terms of surrender. (fn. 3) He himself is allowed to go to Oxford with 50 horse. The other soldiers are granted their lives but give up their standards, arms, horses and baggage. Fairfax gives the cavalry a pound sterling per head to go where they please, but not to bear arms any more, and half this to the foot.
When the Houses heard of the Prince of Wales leaving the kingdom, they were much moved, and after long consultations, they have decided to get Fairfax to write to the prince to return, offering him a safe retreat in districts under parliament, in a place chosen by himself and accompanied by those whom he shall approve. The object is either to get the heir to the throne into their power, or to obtain from his absence a pretext for rendering him as criminal as his father.
The king has settled the peace in Ireland, but the reinforcements he hoped to draw from thence can no longer sail, as parliament occupies all the positions and coasts. So the king is practically surrounded in Oxford and without succour it is equally difficult to defend himself or to retreat. In Wales some of his party have collected about 2,000 men to support his Majesty, who still has some cavalry, though in a deplorable state. At Newark they made a furious sortie against the Scots, inflicting losses, but were repulsed in the end. Parliament is most solicitous in supplying money to the army, to avoid the losses which the country suffers.
Exeter is in extremity and is beginning to speak of surrender, indeed the whole royalist party is falling, without hope, unless Scotland changes its mind, of which there is not much sign.
April 16.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
364. Terms of agreement made on the 12th April with William Spenser, captain of the ship Anna Buonaventura, of 5,500 stara burthen, with 40 sailors and 24 guns, whereby he undertakes to convey provisions and troops, etc., to Candia, after which he will be free to go wherever he pleases.
Approved in the Senate on the 16th April.
Ayes, 107. Noes, 1. Neutral, 11.
April 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
365. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices from England.
Paris, the 17th April, 1646.
Enclosure. 366. Advices from London, of the 5th April, 1646.
The 2,500 horse collected by Lord Ashby to take to the king at Oxford were blocked on the road by the governor of Gloucester. The fight, at first doubtful, ended in favour of parliament. Ashby is captured and his whole force destroyed. (fn. 4) The king, who left Oxford to join hands with him, had to return and shut himself up again there. The governor of Gloucester (fn. 5) has approached to within 5 leagues of the city, having occupied a royal house in the district. Fairfax also, having cleared all Cornwall by Hopton's surrender, is marching on Oxford, to hem in the king, who neither has force enough to take the field nor provisions to stand a siege. As a last resource his Majesty has written again to the two Houses in London, offering extreme conditions of despair and of peace. He only asks that those who have followed him or who are at present with him may be allowed to go home to live in quiet, free to enjoy their goods, and not bound to take any oath contrary to the ancient laws of the realm. On these terms he offers to dismiss his armies, to dismantle all places where he has garrisons, and to come to London merely with his ordinary Court, putting himself into the hands of parliament, with a mutual promise to forget the past. He leaves the conditions of peace to parliament to decide what it considers best for the public weal and the repose of the kingdom, which means bending his neck to the yoke and retaining only the name of king. He proposes nothing for Scotland but leaves it to parliament to suggest to him what it thinks reasonable and satisfactory to that country. (fn. 6) This has roused the suspicions of the Scots who fear that the English will get unequal conditions, especially as they claim half the appointments in the army, of which parliament claims the sole direction for itself. The two Houses have held long debates on these proposals. Nothing has been decided, but they incline to reject them, as it does not suit them to allow his Majesty to come to London before he has signed the conditions which they intend to propose to him. They delay sending these in order to make the most of their increasing advantage in the field and to be in a stronger position to carry through the peace they intend, which means the abolition of the royal authority.
April 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
367. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador complains of the wrong done to him by the publicity given to the presence of English vessels in your Serenity's fleet, which has led to the arrest of certain individuals here and to danger of worse. I replied that no definite announcement had been made by me, but it was impossible to conceal the fact, since it was published in the gazettes and the Turks had seen the ships last year at Candia. With all this he has chosen to break things off, and he omitted to pay the usual compliments last Easter. I will keep in my place, taking notice ; but he indulges in these outbursts so that complaints may not be made to the king, who certainly would have marked him down by now on account of his numerous eccentricities (che certo sin hora l' haverebbe documentato di tante sue bizzarie).
The Vigne of Pera, the 18th April, 1646.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
April 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
368. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A fortnight ago two Englishmen arrived here secretly sent by the parliament of England to conduct some secret business between this crown and the parliament there. The motive was to make a riposte to France, which is secretly assisting the English king, and so they are induced to balance this by opening negotiations here with Spain. The king listens with half an ear, not from any real inclination, but from a feeling of pique, having discovered that the king of England has asked help of the duke of Braganza and has friendly relations with him. Castel Rodrigo in Flanders has set this business going with England, and already in England they have granted a levy of 2,000 infantry in favour of Spain for Flanders. Presumably this has been carried out by now and they are now coming closer together in the negotiations with respect to the ports of Flanders, and of Dunkirk in particular. It does not suit the English that this should pass into the hands of either the French or the Dutch, the former ancient rivals and the latter powerful neighbours. Here the negotiations are not yet on a firm foundation, but they are proceeding within the limits of an interested correspondence, stimulated by vindictive sentiments, the Catholic king against the English sovereign over Portugal and the parliament against the French because of their assistance to the king of England.
Madrid, the 21st April, 1646.
April 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
369. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A safe conduct has been sent to the Prince of Wales so that he may be at liberty to come whenever he wishes. The rest of the London news is in the enclosed sheet.
Paris, the 24th April, 1646.
Enclosure. 370. Advices from London of the 12th April, 1646.
Parliament has met the king's advances about peace with the usual excuse that his presence in London would not contribute to tranquillity, but would rather increase jealousy and suspicion, unless the articles of peace are signed first. To prevent the royalists from entering London and to drive out those already there they have decided that all his Majesty's adherents who venture to come to London without the consent of the two Houses shall be arrested and punished as spies. Those who have made their peace with parliament and are here in safety, must withdraw to other places, but subject to parliament. But fearing lest the king, in desperation, should decide to come to London, without permission, to try by his own presence to arouse the respect and affection of the people, they have added a decree that directs the councils of war, in case his Majesty should decide to come here before peace is concluded, to provide for the safety of his royal person, which means arresting him and putting him in the Tower of London.
The peace proposals which have been so long under discussion have not yet been sent to his Majesty and they are holding them up on the pretext of communicating them to the Scots, and settling them by joint consent, because with every day the king's necessity to accept any terms grows greater. In the terms they leave his Majesty scarcely the name of king. Whereas in the conference of Oxbrig the direction of the militia was asked for 7 years only, under a body appointed equally by the king and the Houses, now parliament claims it for itself for ever, so that it will be able to control at pleasure both arms and money, without the consent or permission of his Majesty.
The king having lost a strong place in sight of Oxford, is devoting himself to fortifying that city, and there is a report that he may leave and try to get to Scotland to join the remnants of Montrose's force, but the ways out are held ; he can receive no further succour, and cannot even retreat to Scotland or Ireland.
April 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Munster. Venetian Archives.
371. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at the Congress of Munster, to the Doge and Senate.
I would suggest the employment of Adam Teran. He is the one who undertook to fight the whole of the Turkish fleet with none but the Dutch ships in the service of the republic. He was to have commanded the fleet of French ships against the parliament of England, but he is now free and offers his services, because the Provinces have forbidden anything more to be done with that fleet, at the instance of that same parliament, in spite of all the money that France has thrown away upon it, over the advance of which it will be necessary to go to law.
A propos of England news has arrived here that the king has undone the king, in going alone to London privately after having consented to the conditions prescribed to him by the parliament, which are that he shall no longer have any control over the forces on sea or on land with all that pertains to them, or over the fortresses and ports of the realm or over any public matter whatsoever, without the approval of parliament which, during his life shall remain in perpetual session at London. Confirmation is awaited with interest in the spectacle of a monarchy reduced to a republic in our day, upon which, with the passage of time, the French will have cause for reflection more than any others.
Munster, the 27th April, 1646.


  • 1. Philip Sidney, Viscount Lisle, his commission is entered in the Journals of the House of Lords on the 9th April, Vol. VIII., page 261.
  • 2. He sailed for the Scilly Islands on the 2-12 March.
  • 3. On the 14-24 March.
  • 4. At Stow on the Wold, 21-31 March.
  • 5. Thomas Morgan.
  • 6. On the 23rd March, O.S.