Venice: May 1646

Pages 255-261

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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May 1646

May 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
372. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of England.
Paris, the 1st May, 1646.
Enclosure. 373. Advices from London, of the 19th April, 1646.
General Fairfax has demanded the surrender of Exeter, and the garrison, seeing no hope of succour after such a long time, has begun to parley. If this occurs, and the news is expected momentarily, all the rest of the royalist forces will have to gather at Oxford about the king. Foreseeing the straits he is likely to be in, the king is getting all the provisions he can into Oxford. When it is supplied he intends to leave, after garrisoning it suitably, so that too large numbers may not consume the provisions too soon. His Majesty thought of going to Farenton, about a league away, but the parliament troops began to block the way and defeated 300 horse on the road. It is generally thought that if the king leaves Oxford it will be immediately invested on all sides and will surrender without a long resistance, and it is equally dangerous for the king to stay there or to go away. Parliament suspects that he may try to steal away to Scotland, but he cannot take his army, the ways being already closed and the country occupied, while he will not find safety travelling with a few, as his party is declining in that country also. The king sent to induce the governor of Vousborch, who commands 600 horse of the other side, to escort him to London. He excused himself and sent word to parliament.
The Mayor of London (fn. 1) has become suspect to the Houses of encouraging his Majesty's design to come to London in person, and of forming a secret party, to declare itself in the light of the royal presence. They have accordingly deputed commissioners to question him, but he admits nothing. In spite of the severity of the decrees but few of those who previously followed his Majesty have left London, preferring to take the risks rather than incur the certainty of perishing from hardship and hunger in the country.
May 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
374. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Prince of Wales, being blockaded in the Island of Cil by parliament ships, has succeeded in getting away safely, a high wind having driven the ships away, so that he proceeded to Granze, an island opposite Normandy, (fn. 2) and it is thought he may have crossed from there, and he is expected at Court this week. Letters of the king, his father, permit him to go to the queen, charging him to obey his mother in everything, except in changing his religion. This has greatly offended the Queen regent, who was full of zeal and hoped to instruct him in the Catholic faith. She has remarked to the queen of England in confidence, that while no one will influence her son in the faith which he drank with his mother's milk, it is advisable for him to abstain from appearing publicly at the place outside Paris where the Huguenots meet for their public worship, (fn. 3) not only to avoid scandal, but not to encourage the Protestants by seeing a prince at their head.
Parliament in London has informed the French Resident that the welcome given to their king's son in Paris cannot fail to cause them suspicion and offence. But they will not refuse him access for this reason, in the hope that when one day a general peace comes, to have this pledge in their hands will give them a great advantage in dealing with that kingdom.
Other news of London is contained in the enclosed sheet.
Paris, the 8th May, 1646.
Enclosure. 375. Advices from London, the 26th April, 1646.
Exeter has surrendered to Fairfax on good terms and the garrison and commander have come out. (fn. 4) It was the only place of any importance left to the king ; and the small district which recognises him is surrounded and blocked in. Fairfax at once sent 3,000 men to begin the investment of Oxford. The king has made several efforts to leave it, but his cavalry has been repulsed. He is now surrounded without succour or escape.
The more satisfied the English are with his Majesty's difficulties, the more the Scots, who are less averse to him, begin to feel for him. They are not without suspicion of parliament, being unable to agree about a common religion, and realising that the English are seeking their own and not the Scots' advantage. This is the only way to restore the king's interests, but hope is faint because the king cannot proceed to that kingdom and his friends are in no state to form an army which could cut its way through.
The Scottish forces are still besieging Newark. They demanded its surrender, but the commander replied that he would hold it to the uttermost.
The city and council of London are offended at the mayor being subject to examination on empty suspicions and they have chosen deputies to make bitter complaints to the Houses.
May 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
376. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Reports an offer of service from Giovanni Francesco Rubati, a Piedmontese, who has spent his life in the wars of Italy, Spain and Flanders, and in the last with the king of England. He is obliged to leave since the agreement made between the parliament and General Hopton.
Paris, the 12th May, 1646.
May 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
377. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of England.
Paris, the 15th May, 1646.
Enclosure. 378. Advices from London, the 3rd May, 1646.
The Scots in published papers have made divers complaints against parliament, accusing it of seeking its own profit and abandoning their interests, not paying the money promised, not introducing conformity in religion and in making proposals to his Majesty subversive of the fundamental laws of the realm, aiming not at limiting the royal authority, which was the common object, but at abolishing it altogether. Parliament has published its answer, enumerating the sums paid to the Scots on several occasions, and the places they hold in England, to justify their procedure, and that the proposed conditions of peace are the only ones likely to ensure quiet.
The king hopes to profit from these dissensions, but it does not look as if they were such as to promise him much advantage, since both kingdoms are agreed to abase his Majesty's power if not his name.
Fairfax is advancing on Oxford, and as the king cannot escape, it is thought that he may surrender to this general, but they will not allow him to come to London unless he first accepts the peace proposals and carries them out. His Majesty and the princes Palatine tried to relieve Vodstak, but found all the ways guarded and had to turn back.
The important places of Pendenis and Mont (fn. 5) have surrendered to parliament, the commanders preferring to preserve their property rather than to hold out loyally. It is whispered in London that if the Prince of Wales leaves the kingdom he will be declared incapable of succeeding his father, a fundamental law providing that the princes must not leave the state.
May 16.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
379. To the Ambassador in France.
The Senate feels the necessity of facilitating overtures for peace. Seeing that there is a resident of England at Constantinople it is desirable to send a secretary to England in succession to Agostini, in order to induce the king there to instruct his resident to assist the Bailo, whenever he is requested to do so, and to persuade peace. This is sent so that the ambassador may touch on the question when he sees the queen of England, when he will express the republic's regard for the king.
That a secretary be chosen with the usual forms to go as resident with the king of Great Britain, with the usual donation, salary and other appointments.
The Savii ai Ordini : Ayes, 6.
May 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
380. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Prince of Wales has not yet arrived in spite of the constant entreaties of his mother. Some Englishmen who are with him, thinking of their own goods and interests, advise him to put off as long as possible going to a country where he will be only a private individual. We hear indeed that at their suggestion he has sent some one to treat with the parliament and to make a last effort to see if any terms can be obtained.
From the enclosed sheet from London your Excellencies will see that the penultimate act of the tragedy is played with the flight of the king, and nothing is left except to see them shed his blood. This may be at hand if we may believe the announcement of Oger, the parliament agent, that his Majesty has fallen in with a trumpet on the way, and being recognised is a prisoner ; but this needs confirmation.
Paris, the 22nd May, 1646.
Enclosure. 381. Advices from London, the 10th May, 1646.
With the advance of Fairfax's army to besiege Oxford the king perceived there would be no way of escape, and so he got away on the 6th inst. He concealed his intention by profound silence even from those about him in whom he could trust less than others, so that they might not tell enemies. He ordered the gates of Oxford to be shut for two days, allowing no one to come in or out, while he himself in disguise with only two companions escaped by a secret door. The associates in this unlucky decision are Digby, Secretary of State, and a valet. (fn. 6) The king disguised himself as the servant of these and followed them with the valises on his back. It is not certain what way they have taken. Some think he has gone to Ireland, guided by secret ways known to Digby's secretary, but the long journey with no port to embark from would leave him exposed to wind and wave, so that he might easily fall into the hands of the other side. Others think he is going to Scotland to find the remains of his party and see if there is less aversion for him there. But it is a very long way and as he must pass so many towns and through the very jaws of the hostile army, so that it will be almost impossible to avoid mishap. There are some who believe that he is hidden in London, ready to disclose himself, through favour of the mayor and Council, who are offended with parliament for the reasons reported, but this would be so venturesome that it is very unlikely.
The king has left in Oxford his second son, the Duke of York, his nephews, the two Palatine Princes, the duke of Richmond and all the other leading men who have hitherto followed his fortunes. Of these Richmond and some others went immediately to parliament to surrender, protesting loudly that none of them had suggested this plan to his Majesty and they did not even know of it. The two Houses have directed that they shall be kept in Warwick castle, to do afterwards what may seem fit. The others left in Oxford will have to do the same, one by one, or to surrender all together, the moment the army appears.
In London the paper dispute between the English and Scots is still going on, and when they no longer have the king to fear, which still keeps some sort of accord between them, discord and confusion between the two countries will break out more furiously.
May 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
382. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses a memorial from the owner of the frigates, giving his terms and an abstract of the agreement with the king of England and the queen. He has four ready and can supply the rest in a short time.
Paris, the 22nd May, 1646.
Enclosure. 383. Memorandum of Sig. Haesdoneg, Admiral of the Frigates which serve the King of Great Britain.
By the treaty made with the king his Majesty undertook to give four armed frigates, supplied with men, food, munitions and all other necessaries 5l. sterling a month per ton. The queen of England, owing to the lack of money, has made a reduction, and having sent the frigates to the Prince of Wales, has granted them four pistoles a month per ton, paid in advance on the 1st of each month. The Admiral would give his services to the republic of Venice on the following conditions.
10 Articles.
May 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
384. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English parliament is very angry and suspicious that France has had a hand in the king's flight, as there was clearly an understanding with the French resident sent to Scotland. So there is ill feeling and some threats have been made of sending troops to Flanders to help Spain. But if France can succeed in reuniting the king and the Scots it will have matters exactly to its mind, as there will be neither an end to dissensions nor peace, but parties will remain balanced so that she will have nothing to fear from either side. The enclosed sheet shows what else is happening.
Paris the 29th May, 1646.
Enclosure. 385. Advices from London, of the 17th May, 1646.
Reports of the king's arrest have ceased and it is now confirmed that he went to the Scottish camp before Newark and proceeding to the quarters of the French Resident Montreuil, placed himself in his hands. The Resident immediately informed the general as well as the commissioners for Scotland, who were also in the camp, who were much surprised at the news. They have sent word to London and with some words of respect for the royal person, they protest that they wish to maintain the agreement between the two countries. In London the Houses immediately assembled, and considering very justly that the affair is the most important thing that could happen, they have sent back in great haste to the army earnestly praying the Scots, for the common good, not to dispose of the king's person except by decision of the Houses themselves. They have also sent their decree which is that his Majesty be taken to Warwick castle and kept there until tranquillity is thoroughly secured and established, and that the servant (cameriere) who had the chief hand in the flight be sent to London to render account of it, as one of those who was long ago declared to be excluded from pardon for ever.
The issue is awaited with anxiety because parliament fears that the Scots will not go to extremes against the king because they have never detested his name so much, indeed when they learned the designs of the English to uproot the royal power, they have always expressed the wish to moderate but not to abolish it. It is believed that with the king in their hands the Scots will want to make themselves the arbiters and authors of peace, proposing conditions less hard for his Majesty, and will either induce parliament to give way or war will break out between the two countries.
Newark was on the point of treating for surrender, but the king's arrival may change the aspect of affairs, because it is thought that the place will surrender to his Majesty, who will hand it over to the Scots, to bind them more strongly to himself and render them with it masters of the whole of the north of England, and so much, the more powerful against the other side.
Since the king left Oxford ten or twelve strong and important places in various counties have submitted to parliament. They have directed Sir [William] Waller to attack the islands of Jerze and Grense where the Prince of Wales is, to reduce them to obedience and get the prince into their hands.
May 30.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
386. The Proveditore all' Armar has reported in the Collegio the mutiny of some English sailors at Malamocco, against the captain of a ship. Colonel Morati was sent there with his company and the sailors, who had landed, were reduced to submission. The Podesta of Malamocco drew up a process on the subject which has been read. That this process be consigned to the Avogadori di Comun with instructions to report to this Council, so that proper steps may be taken.
Ayes, 132. Noes, 1. Neutral, 4.


  • 1. Sir Thomas Adams.
  • 2. He left Scilly for Jersey on the 16-26 April.
  • 3. Charenton.
  • 4. On the 9-19 April.
  • 5. St. Michaels Mount surrendered on the 15-25 April but Pendennis held out until August 17-27.
  • 6. He went with Ashburnham and Hudson.