Venice: October 1646

Pages 281-286

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 1646

Oct. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
427. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir John Douglas, a Scot, who left the service of your Excellencies four years ago for that of the Duke of Parma, is most anxious to return to it, under present circumstances. He has come here on purpose to offer himself. He states moreover that some money and arrears of pay are due to him.
The advices of London are attached.
Moret, the 2nd October, 1646.
Enclosure. 428. Advices from London, the 20th September, 1646.
They are still trying to find a way to secure to the Scots the payment of the sums promised them for withdrawing. The assembly has been held at Edinburgh, in which they decided to ask the English to admit the king to London and to parliament, and then treat amicably for peace. They also ask that, in accordance with the agreement between the two countries, the question of religion may be decided among the first. This will not please the English, religion being in the utmost confusion, while they wish to have the king as a prisoner rather than as a leader.
The quarrels between the Presbyterians and Independents continue and some trouble between them is the only thing that can give the king any opportunity of improving his fortunes.
With the plague working great havoc in London they have decided that his Majesty's children shall be taken to a country house, but under guard and with orders that no one who took the royal side may approach them. (fn. 1)
With all England acknowledging parliament General Fairfax is dividing his army among the counties, in their quarters. Many castles are being demolished and the garrisons disbanded, so that the country may not be eaten up by revolutions.
In Ireland the army of the Protestants is being restored and many ships are scouring the sea to prevent that country from communicating with foreigners. In spite of this Digby has crossed to Scotland with some troops to reinforce those who still cling to the royal side.
Oct. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
429. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Four days ago an English ship arrived here with a very rich cargo of woollen, silk and gold cloth. They would not permit it to enter the Castelle until the English merchants here obtained a command to that effect giving pledges that the goods were on their account. This has never been done before to a ship coming in, although it has been customary to stop them for three days on leaving and to search them thoroughly, for goods and slaves. There may be two reasons for this procedure, first that under the pretext of trade ships may introduce enemy goods ; and second that ships coming from Venice to our merchants may masquerade as English.
This particular ship left Leghorn fifty days ago. Two other English ships are expected. The business of that nation multiplies exceedingly, although they are so loaded with debts that they are accounted bankrupt. By the last ships that sailed the merchants say they have written and sent letters of the first Vizier to have a new ambassador sent. I do not see how that king can send any orders in favour of the ambassador here and it may possibly happen that parliament will send one. In such case I shall be glad of instructions how to proceed as it is probable that the French ambassador will support the present minister.
The Vigne di Pera, the 2nd October, 1646.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Oct. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
430. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I had audience of the pope the day before yesterday. Among other things I pointed out the republic's urgent need of help. I reminded him of the briefs and the help for the Christians of Bosnia, I intimated that if the piety of his Holiness thought fit to employ it in Ireland, it would be no less profitable in this quarter, which is so near the States of the Church, against an enemy much more formidable. He answered that he had given some orders. But there was a difference as Ireland is a Catholic kingdom, and it is necessary to preserve it, having begun to do so. I retorted that it was much more important to defend onesself against an enemy who utterly destroys both religion and the church. With his eyes on the ground he admitted that was right, but it was necessary to think of arming at sea and of assisting Poland. Following on this he has referred the matter to the congregation de propaganda fide.
Rome, the 6th October, 1646.
431. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Digbi the Resident of England has arrived from France. His journey was retarded owing to a personal attack made upon him when on the way.
Rome, the 6th October, 1646.
Oct. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
432. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The nuncio and the clergy of Ireland have sent an express to this Court to complain that Lord Digby who has concluded a peace for the Protestants with the Catholics there which is disadvantageous to the latter and infamous, has been profuse both with the money and the name of this crown to induce many to agree to it, and that the treaty may be authorised by the presence of the French minister resident there. Here they do not deny having promoted the peace, but they had nothing to do with the terms, their sole object being to raise the king's name and party, which were beaten down in Ireland also. They are, however, devising some way to modify the treaty in order to calm down the dissensions which have arisen, as your Excellencies will learn from the enclosed sheet.
Paris, the 9th October, 1646.
Enclosure. 433. Advices from London, the 27th September, 1646.
They are still considering how to find the money for the Scots. The two Houses sent for the mayor and council of London to get the city to supply a great part, but found them reluctant and a claim was made in their behalf for a reduction in their contributions equivalent to the money they decide to pay out.
For the rest arms are laid aside in England, there being no one left to conquer, and the king is at Newcastle in his usual state, with Bellievre at his side, uncertain what his fate will be. The Independents and the Upper House as well seem ever less averse from the royal name. It looks as if they were beginning to open their eyes and to perceive the plight into which they would fall themselves if a popular and irregular government were established. Commissioners of Scotland are with his Majesty and they urge him to accept and sign the conditions of peace proposed.
The peace concluded in Ireland has given rise to fresh trouble there, because all the conditions are unfavourable and dishonourable to the Catholics and the religion there. The clergy have unanimously rejected them and sent an express to the pope at Rome, protesting that they will not accept it. The people are divided, some accepting the arrangement, others witholding their approval. Quarrels have arisen over this and the clergy have fulminated excommunication against those who have accepted it or who do accept it in the future. Some towns have opened their gates to the Protestants of the royal side, with whom the agreement is concluded ; others will not admit them. Thus the Catholics are in confusion and consequently weakened, making themselves a prey for the parliamentarians, who will soon be hastening to subdue them with all their power.
Oct. 13.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
434. To the Ambassador in France.
We will consider the proposal of a levy of Englishmen and advise you of the public will.
Ayes, 122. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
Oct. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
435. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 16th October, 1646.
Enclosure. 436. Advices from London, the 4th October, 1646.
The earl of Essex, commander in chief of the parliament forces at the beginning of the civil war, is dead, (fn. 2) and the Presbyterian party has lost one of its strongest leaders.
The Houses have held a long discussion about what they shall do with his Majesty and decided that, as he is in England, he shall remain at the disposition of the parliament in London. They are therefore anxious to get the Scots out of the country and are busy collecting the 200,000l. promised them. The Scots are also pressing his Majesty to order those of his party in their country to lay down their arms as promised. The king pleads that he has not the power. To content the Scots he has repeated his orders, but they are not obeyed. The Scots are also pressing the king to accept the peace, but he says he cannot bring himself to abolish the episcopal order, which he swore to preserve when he mounted the throne. To give some mark of his sovereign authority the king has created various knights and lords. Before deciding upon a positive answer about the peace he is waiting for a reply to the despatches sent by the Ambassador Bellievre. Montreuil who carries them has arrived in London, but the Houses have not yet answered his request for a pass to go to his Majesty.
The Scilly Islands are on the point of surrendering to the parliament of London. The dissensions among the Irish Catholics continue. The marquis of Ormond, his Majesty's viceroy there, when on his way to a town with 1,000 men to assist those who wished to carry out the peace, was nearly cut to pieces in an ambush. Being warned he just succeeded in escaping.
Oct. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
437. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
We hear from Brussels on the most excellent authority that all the industry of the Spanish ministers is devoted at present to stirring up the Dutch and the parliament of London and to disseminate misgivings among them that the power of this crown at sea will become too extended.
To bridle the English they are seeking every means for raising up the royal party in Scotland and Ireland, as well as to give some substance to the royal name, for the purpose of keeping up the internal divisions of that kingdom and to prevent it from attending to foreign affairs.
Advices of England enclosed.
Paris, the 23rd October, 1646.
Enclosure. 438. Advices from London, the 11th October, 1646.
The estates of Scotland have agreed to accept the 200,000l. offered by the English, and to withdraw their troops from England as the payments are made. The city of London offers to supply the sum, the revenues of suppressed bishoprics being assigned as security. These same estates have conferred full powers on their commissioners in London, to treat about the disposal of the king's person, a long step towards leaving him in the hands of the English, destroying his Majesty's hopes that they would never consent to this but would take him with them. The Upper House has deputed 12 leading men and the Lower 24 to negotiate and settle this matter with the commissioners. The isle of Scilly has surrendered to parliament. The earl of Antrim, holding out in the Highlands of Scotland, roundly refuses to lay down his arms until honourable and secure terms of peace are granted to him.
The Spanish ambassador asked audience of the Upper House to inform them about Flanders and of the hurt which the loss of Dunkirk would inflict upon England. He was referred to the committee for foreign affairs.
Clothes and provisions have been sent to the army in Ireland, and to support it better they are looking about for funds and have sold the goods of some of those excluded from the peace and pardon, whom parliament considered its enemies.
Oct. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
439. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir Kenelm Digbi, Resident of the King of England, is a man full of imagination and idle fancies (pieno d'inventioni e di chimere). He has offered to the pope that if he is supplied with 800,000 crowns he will undertake, entirely at his own cost, to collect and assemble forty English ships, from those which have passed through the Strait of Gibraltar, and will set out this spring to attack and destroy the Turkish fleet. That to find this money it would be a good thing to urge your Serenity to disarm and to leave this enterprise to him, since it would be to your advantage to do so, as you spend 800,000 ducats a month, while for him 800,000 for a whole year would suffice to provide for everything. I see no indication that this suggestion has met with approval, as the pope has not said anything to me about it, since he knows quite well the insuperable difficulties in the way.
Rome, the 27th October, 1646.
Oct. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
440. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Reports the arrival of a Flemish ship. Most of the cargo was laded at Venice by Englishmen and Jews. Suffers greatly by the loss of the cottimo, since they pay it extensively even now to the new resident of the English merchants, so that over 4,000 reals have been lost to the cottimo on the goods brought by the last four ships.
The Vigne di Pera, the 28th October, 1646.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Oct. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
441. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses the usual sheet of London.
Paris, the 30th October, 1646.
Enclosure. 442. Advices from London, the 18th October, 1646.
The Houses granted Montreuil his pass to Newcastle, and on the road he announced that he was taking to his Majesty from France exhortations to agree to the peace. The Scots about the king seem somewhat more content as he seems inclined to consent to what has already been agreed between the two countries and has allowed the preachers to remove some doubts which most troubled his conscience about religion and the bishops.
In London they have agreed that the 200,000l. shall be paid to the Scots on the frontier. Parliament has 4,000 horse and 4,000 foot in that district ready to enter the towns immediately the Scottish troops leave. The deputies of the two nations are still meeting to decide what shall be done with the king for the benefit of the kingdom. They have held numerous meetings, but whither these tend does not transpire. Many of the Upper House are in favour of allowing his Majesty to come to London or near by, to negotiate near the spot, but others oppose this.
It is said that the marquis of Ormond, seeing that the peace treaty in Ireland is impossible, has declared for parliament and is sending deputies to London to arrange terms. If this be true it will be a great lift for the parliament party there, as the marquis would bring with him the towns and forces which still stand by the king. They are sending reinforcements from England and as the soldiers are unwilling to go to that country, they give them three months' pay in advance.


  • 1. Northumberland obtained leave on the 28th August, O.S., to remove the royal children to Syon House. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IV., page 657.
  • 2. On the 15-25 September.