Venice: November 1646

Pages 286-290

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 1646

Nov. 2.
Capitano General da Mar. Venetian Archives.
443. Note of Zuane Capello, Capitano General da Mar, of the 2nd November, 1646.
The vessels which have at present contracted for service are three in number, as follows :—
Lefort or Fortezza, Captain Laffey, burthen 2,000 salme.
The English (l'Inglese), Captain Colony, burthen 2,000 salme or thereabouts.
Nov. 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
444. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir [Kenelm] Digbi, Resident of the Queen of England, called upon me yesterday and passed a complimentary office with me in her name. I responded in a manner that seemed suitable to the time and the occasion. He then began to tell me that since he left here he had informed me of his ideas for the service of your Excellencies, and he has been constantly engaged in seeing whether they can be profitably carried into effect. He did not treat the matter lightly, but on a perfectly sound basis. He had not confided in the good will expressed towards him personally by various Englishmen, but on his return from France he had passed through Leghorn and had entered into negotiations with the consul of his country, who has the control of business amounting to more than 300,000 crowns. He found that he could count upon having sixteen well armed English ships east of the Strait, and that with the help of his friends he could have eight more, making 24 in all, admirably equipped. With these he would undertake to search out the Turkish fleet next spring, meet it in the Dardanelles or wherever else they pleased, engage and defeat it. He would guarantee the result even if they numbered 200 galleys. For this they would give security or pledges for the sum claimed until that time, at Amsterdam or any other mart. They would require 30 to 40 frigates for use in calm weather and to tow the ships, or your Serenity's galleys might serve the purpose. They would not ask these to take any part in the fight, but only to tow the ships forward to the place where they were wanted. They would remain in the background until the enemy fleet was crushed, when they could advance and finish off the victory. They did not want any of our nobles to take command, but only a Proveditore or two to assist at the payment of the ships, take part in deliberation and see what was being done. They knew quite well from the disasters of this year and last that these nobles are rather a hindrance and a cause of confusion than any help. He was not surprised at this because in England also he had observed that young nobles, lacking experience and failing in spirit and courage, had caused similar mishaps. This might be made good in time, but meanwhile your Serenity has to consider your interests and not to allow the Turk to prevail another year as they have done in the two preceding. It was quite certain that as they could not prevent single vessels from entering Canea, so it was impossible to believe that a whole fleet could not have been brought to combat if any opposition had been offered. He did not wish to have any interest in this matter beyond the good will of your Serenity, and it would be enough for him to refer you to the individual with whom he had negotiated, that is to say the English consul referred to. Your Serenity would thereby effect a considerable saving and receive much better service.
I thanked him for the offer but said I did not think the republic was in the habit of entrusting the command at sea to any but its own citizens. There were many difficulties. Wind and numerous other untoward circumstances had prevented the Venetian fleet from opposing the Turks.
He replied that it was not always necessary to cling to the same principles. This was a question in which great damage was threatened to Christendom and to the republic itself. The commanders of the ships in question are men of honour and of courage, who would take their orders from any minister of the republic we liked and carry them out with perfect loyalty.
Rome, the 3rd November, 1646.
Nov. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
445. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 6th November, 1646.
Enclosure. 446. Advices from London, the 25th October, 1646.
The deputies of the two Houses have long and frequent meetings with the Scottish commissioners, but they have not yet come to any decision about the king. The English persist in their claim that the care of his person belongs to them, to which the Scots so far will not agree. The king still insists on being allowed to come to London or near it and, pending the result of the conference, he does not give his assent to the proposals. The marquis of Argyle urges him in the name of the Scots, but has not yet succeeded in persuading him. Meanwhile the Houses have appointed three persons to guard and use the great seal of the realm, to be changed every six months.
To prevent the growing confusion in matters of religion the synod has presented a confession of faith to the two Houses. They have decided to discuss a certain point with the whole body of parliament at an opportune time and meanwhile they have permitted it to be printed. It contains propositions at once impious and absurd. (fn. 1)
It is confirmed that the marquis of Ormond has come over to parliament, indeed his deputies have arrived in London bringing most ample offers for him and all his forces, with professions of his readiness to leave Ireland if his stay there is suspect and to go where they may direct him. What little remains to the king in Ireland is thus depressed and the enemy's strength invigorated. He asks prompt succour for Dublin because the Catholics who refuse the peace are pressing it hard.
The Marquis of Antrim has left Scotland and has gone to the neighbouring islands with the scanty remnants of his forces.
Nov. 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
447. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 13th November, 1646.
Enclosure. 448. Advices from London, the 1st November, 1646. The king has at last sent some peace proposals to London after Montreuil's arrival at Newcastle. Briefly he offers to leave to parliament the control of the army and appointments for 10 years ; that bishops shall be suspended for three years and he will accept the form of religion determined by a synod to which 20 preachers nominated by himself shall have entry. There is little hope of these proposals bringing peace when the Houses have heard them.
Parliament is assembled in Scotland to decide what shall be done with the king. The commissioners in London continue to meet without any sign of results. Strange ideas are now on the lips of members, one of whom maintained in full council that having won the kingdom by the sword they can dispose of it as a just conquest. The mayor and council of London do not agree with the Houses in their severity towards the king, but seem to incline to his side and to allow him to come to London. The revenues of the bishops have been granted them for 10 years to recoup them for the 200,000l. furnished to the Scots. The city has also made an offer to find money for the war in Ireland on the understanding that all that is recovered shall belong to them. Parliament is sending five persons to that country to receive the offers of the marquis of Ormond and of the city of Dublin. (fn. 2) The Houses have no great confidence in the marquis, because they think that necessity and the difficulty of holding out against the Catholics made him change sides.
Nov. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
449. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The deputies of Dunkirk have come to the Court to protest to the king their constant loyalty and obedience. They further propose that in that town a custom house shall be opened and that they be given liberty to trade in England and Holland, promising half a million of crowns a year certain, in revenue.
[Advices of London enclosed.]
Paris, the 20th November, 1646.
Enclosure. 450. Advices from London, the 8th November, 1646.
It seems certain that the sole object of the proposals sent by the king to parliament is to afford a pretext to some who still adhere to his Majesty to declare themselves, as the refusal of such offers will show clearly that they do not mean to accept peace on any terms soever. It seems to have produced the effect already, as the matter was hotly debated in parliament, some supporting it with all their might, others steadily rejecting it. The dispute waxed so hot that some even drew their swords in the house. To prevent any favourable impression that might be made on the people, they have stopped the printing which was beginning to circulate in the city, and have tried to withdraw the copies already issued.
It appears that the Scottish parliament has issued a decree to stand solid with the English in the treaty, but that the monarchy shall be maintained and the king's prerogatives and crown retained, a point which by no means pleases the English parliament. If peace cannot be arranged on the conditions suggested by the king some think that his Majesty will give his consent to those proposed by parliament, but only during his life, leaving the royal authority and claims to his son unimpaired.
Lord Digby has sailed from Ireland for France after conferring with the marquis of Ormond. This conference has roused the suspicions of the parliamentarians and they are sending the commissioners reported to make sure of him and of Dublin, which is seriously menaced by the Catholic forces.
All foreign soldiers have been dismissed from the armies, especially the French, as a nation suspect and because, for the sake of pushing their conquests in Flanders they lend a hand to trouble in this country rather than to peace.
Nov. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
451. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I have replied as instructed to Sir [John] Douglas, encouraging him to raise some troops. He is quite willing and we have discussed how he could enlist English or Irish men. Owing to the risks and obstacles he is devising expedients and discussing means with his friends to see what can be done. For the rest, if your Serenity wishes to engage him personally, as he has occupied a high position in the king's service, he would desire a somewhat higher rank and salary than he had before, and if he brings troops, some payment in advance or the money he says is due to him for his past services. I enclose a packet from Spain but as the London mail has not arrived this week, possibly owing to the weather, I have been unable to compile the usual news letter.
Paris, the 27th November, 1646.


  • 1. 19 heads of a confession of faith were submitted to parliament by the Assembly of Divines on the 25th September. On the 6th October the House decided to go into a Grand Committee on the subject, and on the 9th they decided that 500 copies should be printed. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IV., pages 677, 685, 688.
  • 2. Sir Thomas Wharton, Sir Robert King, Sir John Clotworthy, Sir Robert Meredith and Richard Salwey on the 17-27 October. Rushworth : Hist. Collections, Part IV., Vol. I., page 419.