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.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
The present volume of this series covers the period from August 1643 to June 1647, or four years less one month. It embraces the most critical events of the civil war from the time when the queen joined her husband at Oxford to the king's removal, as a prisoner from Holdenby house. But in spite of the crowded and momentous events in the record, the bulk of material has shrunk to less than one half the amount of the volumes immediately preceding. This shrinkage is due entirely to the death of the Venetian Secretary Agostini, on the 3rd February 1645, with which the regular flow of despatches abruptly ceases. The Venetian ministers were not usually reticent about their ailments, and Agostini's end must have come suddenly for he says nothing about any indisposition in his last despatch of the 27th January. His death seems to have caught the Signory entirely unprepared. The embassy was abandoned to the care of underlings of whom the most important was no greater a personage than the interpreter named Capella. This individual seems to have forwarded information of some sort to his government, but no trace of his advices appears to have survived, and they were clearly considered inadequate (Nos. 201, 233).
Although they were simultaneously without the services of a minister at the Hague, the Signory took no immediate steps to fill the vacancy, influenced no doubt by the uncertain issue of the civil strife in England. But three months later the situation was altered by the sudden descent of the Turks upon Candia, involving the republic in a serious war. They could no longer afford to neglect one of the chief maritime powers of the world and they realised the importance of being kept fully and punctually informed about the progress of a domestic struggle, the solution of which might affect so nearly their own affairs. Accordingly early in June they instructed their ambassador in France to send them advices of English affairs week by week with his ordinary despatches (Nos. 233, 238).
The ambassador at the time was Giovanni Battista Nani, who became later one of the best of the native historians of the republic. From the 4th July, 1645, onwards he forwarded regularly every week a sheet of advices from London, which were usually sent about a fortnight after the date on which they were made up. The task could hardly have been in better hands and these advices are much more than ordinary news letters. At the same time, considering the obvious difficulties of checking and verifying items of news at a distance, it is unfortunate that there should not be some clear indication of the sources from which Nani obtained his information. The only clues he affords are a casual mention that the dowager countess of Clare, then residing at Paris, was among his acquaintance (No. 349), and the fact that when his secretary Suriano went to London to try and secure levies for the republic, he seems to have looked for assistance chiefly to the earl of Clare and viscount Conway (Nos. 356, 360).
Apart from these advices and Nani's covering despatches the usual sources of material at the Frari yield very scanty results for these years. Talbot, the English minister to the Signory, left Venice in May 1645, and was not replaced, and thereafter the series Eposizioni Principi becomes a blank for English affairs. Of the other foreign courts the despatches from Rome give some interesting particulars of Sir Kenelm Digby's mission there. The Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, though his country was virtually at war with the Turk and he was confined to his house under strict surveillance, continued to send his despatches to the Senate every fortnight, and he describes at some length the serious differences between the Ambassador Crow, a royalist, and the English merchants, whose sympathies were with parliament. In the year 1643 the Venetian republic appointed Alvise Contarini to represent it at the peace congress to be held at Munster. His despatches form a separate series of eleven volumes (Dispacci Munster), coming down to 1649, and these contain scattered references to English affairs, mostly derived from the Hague where Contarini kept a secretary named Domenico Condulmier. The latter's letters to his chief are preserved among the Contarini papers in the library of St. Mark at Venice, but they contain very little that is of historic value. The outbreak of the war of Candia made the Venetian government very anxious to increase its naval resources and steps were at once taken to hire English ships, both as transports and for active service in the war fleet. The ships thus employed were naturally taken from merchantmen engaged in the Levant trade and this line of activity lends more than usual importance to the despatches from the Venetian Resident at Florence, because Leghorn was the principal resort of the English traders in the Mediterranean at that period.
A large proportion of the material here printed will be found among the papers at the Public Record Office. These include transcripts of all the letters of the Secretary Agostini from London, (fn. 1) the Advices of London forwarded from Paris (fn. 2) and the Esposizioni Principi, (fn. 3) in the original Italian. Another volume contains numerous extracts from Nani's Paris despatches as well as an English translation of many of the London Advices. (fn. 4) Among the Venetian Mss. are four volumes of the Register of the Ambassador Contarini at Rome, from December 1644, to the year 1648. (fn. 5) Volume 44 of the Dispacci Inghilterra in the State Archives at Venice, containing the last of Agostini's despatches, has suffered seriously from the damp and from September 1644 to the end the last five or six lines on each page are almost completely obliterated. The Public Record Office transcripts give no help here as the documents were clearly in as bad a condition when they were made. Volume 78 of the Dispacci Spagna for the year 1643 is also badly damaged and much of it is completely illegible. Some papers which should have been in the files of the Esposizioni Principi could not be found there. The omission has been made good from Mr. Rawdon Brown's copies, but it is not clear how he obtained them.
As the transcripts at the Public Record Office have long been available for students and were certainly used by Prof. Gardiner in compiling his History it will be the object of this introduction to draw attention chiefly to matters not so generally known, passing over or touching lightly upon many things which are possibly of greater significance. As pointed out in the preceding volume the queen's return to England was followed by a marked change in the situation, greatly to the disadvantage of parliament. (fn. 6) Things indeed looked so black that some of the leaders were accused of sending gold to foreign parts in order to make themselves secure. Hotham, the ex-governor of Hull, excused his disloyalty to parliament on the ground of his alleged knowledge of this transaction, which showed him that the leaders thought ill of the state of affairs (No. 2). The army was suffering from ill feeling between its commanders. Essex was not popular with a large section and efforts were being made to raise up Sir William Waller at his expense. Waller was ambitious and aspired to an independent command. Although he had only recently been defeated at Roundway Down he was the darling of the Londoners and succeeded in getting himself made commander of a new army being raised by the city (No. 4). Essex resented the favour shown to this officer and demanded that an enquiry should be held into his conduct in the West. The general's own loyalty was under suspicion and it was even said that he was conspiring with his officers against the government (No. 2). Parliament did its best to smooth things over and sent commissioners to try and mollify Essex, but this did not prevent them from taking away some of his largest guns and giving them to his rival (No. 6).
In the midst of this deplorable wrangling came the news of the fall of Bristol. With the second city of the kingdom in his hands and a strong royalist party in Kent waiting for a helping hand Charles seemed to have an exceptionally favourable opportunity for striking a decisive blow while his enemies were distraught and divided. The queen urged him to march on London forthwith, but the king, distrusting his own judgment, consulted his military advisers who said that it would be best to secure his rear by first taking Exeter and Gloucester. In turning aside to besiege these places the king lost his chance of catching London unprovided and in confusion (No. 12). The obstinate resistance of the two cities gave parliament time to recover and to set its affairs in order.
The relief of Gloucester not only ruined the king's plans but served to restore the prestige of Essex. Waller had not distinguished himself on this occasion. The army he was so busy over failed to materialise and contained more officers than privates (No. 16). Essex returning after an important achievement could afford to treat him with a humorous contempt and told him that he might take as many men from his army as he pleased for such enterprises as he might decide upon (No. 30).
In spite of the miscarriage of the original plan London remained the king's main objective and if he could not take it by assault he hoped to reduce it by famine. He tried by proclamation to prevent any supplies being taken to the capital (No. 2) and such peasants as were caught infringing this order were dealt with very severely. These measures had so much success that real scarcity was experienced in London (No. 4). At the battle of Newbury, which the king tried hard to avoid (No. 26), he gave orders that no quarter should be given to the Londoners (No. 28).
The major operations having proved indecisive the rest of the year was passed in minor affairs. The king held out the sack of London as an inducement to his followers (No. 63), but he was in no position to make the promise good. While he remained ineffective the parliamentary commanders resumed their quarrels. In parliament a member brought an indictment of 16 articles against Essex, while the general made a violent attack from his place upon Waller (No. 33). The royalists did not constitute a party any more harmonious. Keen resentment was felt at the influence exercised by certain youthful favourites of the queen (No. 73), and in the case of the prime favourite Jermyn scandal did not stop short of the most shameful insinuations (No. 77). It was observed moreover that whenever the king's fortunes seemed most flourishing he always suffered some serious misfortune, or lost his opportunity by feeble action, and this could only be attributed to the disloyalty of his advisers, to whom he often deferred against his own better judgment from fear of making mistakes (No. 66).
Parliament's plans for the year 1644 were seriously deranged by the defection of Colonel Grenvile, who went over to the king early in the year. He had been a member of the Council of War and was able to divulge to the king all their most secret intentions (No. 95). As a consequence their generals were left without a plan and their intended offensive was converted into a very feeble defensive (Nos. 95, 118). The king for his part was not anxious to hazard a battle, as the impending invasion of the Scots made it necessary for him to husband his forces (No. 119). An advance which he made into Buckinghamshire did indeed occasion considerable alarm in London (No. 124) but it was only a demonstration without serious intent.
The rash advance of Essex into the West gave Charles an opportunity that he can scarcely have looked for. The state of his own army did not promise him any striking success. His forces were numerous but half of his men were without weapons and they were all very dispirited (Nos. 142, 154). He did not even feel safe among them, and Wilmot the commander of his cavalry was put under arrest on suspicion of plotting to deliver him to Essex (No. 147). In despair of a military success efforts were made to bribe Essex to come over to the king's side (No. 143), a method of defeating the enemy apparently much favoured by Lord Digby, the new secretary of state.
The surrender of Essex's army seemed once again to afford the king a great opportunity and the more enterprising among his followers wished him to march forthwith into Kent and strike a decisive blow to recover his crown (No. 156). He did indeed issue a proclamation announcing his intention to move towards London to restore peace to the country, but the dilatoriness of his movements and his disinclination to fight excited universal astonishment (No. 166). It is remarkable that Agostini describes the second battle of Newbury as no more than a few skirmishes in which the loss on both sides did not exceed 600 men (No. 168). The king's army was really in no condition to attempt any considerable enterprise, and, in spite of this recent success, was constantly growing weaker (No. 168) although the disorder of its enemies allowed it the run of the country for the time being (No. 179).
The disaster of Lostwithiel seems to have left the parliamentary forces in the south in a state of demoralisation. The old commanders and the old armies were thoroughly discredited, though strangely enough the majority in parliament still wished to keep Essex in the supreme command (No. 158). He certainly was in no danger from his old rival Waller. The earlier confidence in that officer, built upon very slender achievements, had entirely vanished away. He had early shown a disposition to avoid troublesome enterprises (No. 36). He had been given a powerful army to march to the relief of Essex and his failure to achieve anything might well be attributed to his well known ill will to the general (No. 147). He could still count on powerful support in parliament, but his careless management of things made him very unpopular with the soldiers, who deserted in large numbers (Nos. 138, 171). His wife, a masterful lady of the Fane family, aspired to command the troops herself, and Waller was lax enough to suffer this. The men deeply resented this petticoat government and parliament was obliged to summon the lady home, in order to appease them (No. 150). Of the old order the only serious rival to Essex was Manchester commanding the forces of the Eastern Association. After the surrender in the West he and his army constituted the only force on which parliament could rely with any confidence in the emergency. But Manchester was only half hearted in the cause and was for ever inventing pretexts for avoiding an encounter which he could not bear to contemplate (No. 161).
The parliamentary army of the early part of the war had never been entirely satisfactory. Voluntary enlistment failed to provide the numbers required and gradually ceased altogether, so that by the end of 1643 not a recruiting office remained open in London (No. 63). To fill the ranks men were pressed by force, often with such violence as to lead to rioting with sometimes fatal results (No. 12). Men obtained in this way were not likely to be good for much and from the army that went to relieve Gloucester Essex sent the pressed men home, considering them worthless for such a service (No. 14). The core of the army was formed by the London trained bands (No. 82). But these citizens objected to going away from their homes and contended that they were not liable to serve except under the command of their mayor, so that after any special effort, such as the relief of Gloucester, the ranks rapidly thinned (No. 33). To keep them with the colours it was necessary to threaten severe penalties, even death (No. 36). The permission granted by Essex to find substitutes did not greatly help matters, as the substitutes received a higher rate of pay, and this caused discontent among the other troops (No. 39). The distinguishing character of such an army was the extraordinary ease with which it melted away, a small action or a couple of months in the country sufficing to destroy the most flourishing force (No. 136). This state of affairs was no more than ordinary, but a serious symptom at the end of the year 1644 was the obvious break down of discipline, the troops, without pay and without leaders, ravaging the country round (No. 184).
It was fortunate for parliament that Charles was in no case to profit by their disorders. Even after a striking success his army was not equal to any great enterprise. He suffered all along from a lack of infantry. Those he possessed were not always of the best quality, and in the critical action between Hopton and Waller at Cheriton they disgraced themselves by a panic flight (No. 99). It was a sign of weakness that for the campaign of 1645 the king was relying chiefly upon the Irish and Welsh (No. 184). It was probably the destruction at Naseby of practically the last serviceable infantry left to the king that rendered the reconstruction of his army all but impossible. In the account of that battle given here it is stated that the king had the advantage of numbers and that the result was due to treason, since few were killed and the prisoners were numerous.
Throughout the war parliament retained the command of the sea ; but there seemed a chance in the summer of 1643 that it might be wrested from them, at least for a time. When Bristol fell into the king's hands he found there a number of armed ships and at once ordered the rapid equipment of a fleet, which would be stronger in numbers if not in quality than that of Warwick (No. 6). At Dartmouth a few weeks later he obtained some forty more ships, belonging to London merchants. With such a respectable naval force, commanded by an experienced officer like Sir John Pennington, the king was in a position to blockade Plymouth by sea (No. 36). Parliament considered the danger a serious one and to meet it gave increased powers to Warwick, making him Lord High Admiral of England. Their concern proved groundless, for beyond the capture of a few small fishing craft this embryo royal navy never seems to have achieved anything (No. 40). The king's attempts to obtain vessels from abroad fared no better. Some 20 to 25 ships were armed in Holland at French expense to go and serve Charles, but the Dutch government suspected the use for which they were intended and put a stop to further proceedings (Nos. 297, 354, 371). A similar attempt of the queen to hire ships at Dunkirk seems to have broken down for lack of funds (Nos. 349, 383). How little effect the king's naval efforts produced is shown by the ease with which parliament was able to send reinforcements by sea to its hard pressed garrisons in Exeter, Hull and Plymouth (Nos. 9, 12, 21).
The control of the sea thus exercised by parliament not only discouraged any interference from abroad but served as a powerful argument to induce foreign powers to treat parliament with respect. The sentiments of most of them were naturally with the king and against his revolted subjects and would have prompted them to help him. A series of circumstances, among which the existence of the fleet was certainly the most influential, prevented any one of them from doing so. Of all the foreign monarchs the king's warlike uncle, Christian of Denmark, was most anxious to assist his nephew. In the summer of 1643 a Danish ship laden with munitions of war for Charles fell into the hands of parliament. In reprisal Christian seized a rich English ship in the Sound and clapped English merchants into prison (Nos. 5, 21). To meet this attack parliament contemplated sending a mission to the estates of Denmark, to remonstrate, ignoring the king (No. 21). Eventually envoys were sent in the usual way and succeeded in obtaining from the king the release of both ships and goods (No. 49). The invasion of Holstein by the Swedes, which occurred soon afterwards, gave Christian something else to think about (No. 76), and the envoys returned home bearing most courteous letters to parliament from the king and his son as well (No. 122). By 1645 matters had gone so far that the possibility of an alliance between England and Denmark was being discussed at the Hague (No. 214).
Where sympathy was unlikely to take the form of armed assistance Charles had some hopes that it might materialise in a money contribution. The relations of his House with Venice had always been most cordial and at the beginning of 1645 he wrote asking the republic for a loan of a million ducats, for which he was prepared to pledge all the goods of his subjects (Nos. 206, 209). The application arrived at a most unfortunate moment, as the war of Candia was just beginning, and it was obvious that the struggle would absorb all the resources of the republic. But even under happier circumstances it is unlikely that such an application would have been seriously considered. The mere rumour that such assistance was contemplated had disturbed Agostini in the preceding summer and he had taken pains to assure the members of parliament that it was entirely baseless (No. 124). Another possible source of supplies was the pope. In November, 1645, Sir Kenelm Digby took assurances from Rome that if Charles would declare himself a Catholic and recognise the pope as head of the Church he should have every possible assistance in money and all his authority with the Catholics in England (No. 302) ; but his Holiness may have felt very certain that his conditions would not be accepted.
During the greater part of his reign Charles had maintained friendly relations with Spain, and his leading counsellors had been notorious for their Spanish bias. Popular feeling, traditionally anti Spanish, had been rather intensified by this attitude of an unpopular Court, and it was reflected in parliament. One of the earliest results of the ascendancy of parliament had been the destruction of the Spanish party at Court. (fn. 7) This hostile attitude was only intensified by the Spanish General Melo seizing at Dunkirk some munitions intended for parliament (No. 6). The ambassador Cardenas found his position in London a very uncomfortable one. So little respect was shown him that a gentleman of his household and a priest were forcibly removed from his coach, nor was the minister able to secure the release of the latter, though he was a Spanish subject (No. 9). When General Piccolomini landed in England on his way to Flanders it was strongly suspected that he came to bring help to the king, and the ship which brought him was detained (Nos. 104, 106). But in spite of these antipathies and suspicions, circumstances were too strong and combined to bring the parties together. In the struggle with France, Spain was largely dependent upon England for the maintenance of its communications with Flanders. Money for Flanders had to be sent through England for safety and there one third was regularly coined into the money of the country for which bills of exchange were offered. The Spaniards winced at these conditions but did not see a way out (No. 199). Parliament on its side became alarmed at the progress of the French arms along the Flanders coast. Thus it came about that Cardenas was the first of all the foreign ministers to recognise parliament. He tried very hard to persuade parliament to intervene on the Spanish side (No. 125), and the Dutch seemed to fear that he might succeed (No. 128). A formally accredited minister went from parliament to Brussels in the summer of 1645, and though the Spanish ministers apologised for not being able to receive him definitely as resident (No. 265), it was at the suggestion of Castel Rodrigo that two English envoys appeared at Madrid in the following spring to conduct some secret business between the Spanish crown and parliament (No. 368).
In the Netherlands opinion was divided. The Prince of Orange wished to help the House to which he had recently allied himself while the province of Holland strongly favoured parliament. Generally speaking the Dutch people were content that the trouble in England should continue. It brought them considerable advantage, as artisans and persons of substance kept coming over to find an asylum among them, bringing skill and wealth to the country (Nos. 38, 47). Early in 1644, after much hesitation the States decided to send an embassy extraordinary to England. The Prince of Orange felt it to be a matter of urgency because he feared that the threatened attack by the Scots, which was then impending, would be disastrous to the king's fortunes (No. 72). The ambassadors were sent primarily to mediate a peace and it was their policy to maintain an attitude of studied reserve. This did not prevent them from trying to derive advantage from the situation by offering to restore to the king the jewels pledged at Amsterdam, if he would grant them liberty to fish off the English coasts for four years (No. 87). Parliament resented their interference, especially as they brought no special credentials for parliament. The ambassadors were hindered from pursuing their negotiations upon one frivolous pretext after another, and their letters were returned to them on the pretence that being in French there was no one who could read them (No. 95). After wasting five months in the country the ambassadors decided to recognise parliament. The Speaker remarked sardonically that they had taken a long while to make up their minds (No. 122). Parliament also was in no hurry and another month passed before they were received in audience, when their reception was extremely cool and formal, though the trophies captured at Marston Moor were displayed for their benefit (No. 134). It was suspected that the victory had had not a little to do with their resolution. In the matter of mediation the ambassadors made not the slightest progress. They stayed on some months longer to deal with questions of trade and depredations upon shipping, but when they returned to the Hague in the following year they came empty handed, and it even looked as if a rupture between the two countries was imminent (No. 214). The States were certainly not disposed to be complacent with parliament and gave their naval captains instructions not to veil their topsails to parliament ships, as they did to royal ones, and to resist by force any attempt to make them do so (No. 191). But parliament relied more upon the Dutch people than on their government, having evidence of a friendly feeling among them (No. 95). In respect of the embassy they took a high tone sending over to demand the punishment of the ambassadors for an alleged affront, and though the States General refused to admit their envoy, he was formally received by the Province of Holland (No. 265). There was no real danger of a breach and in 1647 parliament was contemplating sending over an embassy to suggest a close alliance between the two republics (No. 501).
The king's connection with the royal house rendered relations with France peculiarly delicate. The natural inclination of the French Court, was to help Charles with all their might and the French Agent Gressy declared roundly that his mistress would spend her last crown and devote her last soldier to assist the king (No. 3). More definite and substantial was an offer of the duke of Epernon and other nobles to bring over 12,000 volunteers at their own expense (No. 161). The duke of Orleans proposed that four million florins should be granted to his sister, and this suggestion was approved by the princes (No. 166). But all these shows proved to be empty wind. Beyond occasional supplies of munitions of war Charles received no assistance from across the Channel throughout the war. The troubles in England indeed suited French policy admirably, as it enabled that country to pursue its conquests in Flanders without check. At the same time the French knew that the naval forces of England were controlled by parliament and this made them anxious not to do anything which might give offence to that body (No. 160). Thus in spite of Court pressure Mazarin set his face against any interference in English affairs and even objected to the reception in France of Queen Henrietta, for fear of the influence she might exert (Nos. 112, 129).
It is probable that the mission of the Count of Harcourt to offer mediation, in the autumn of 1643, was not very seriously meant by the government. Harcourt himself was most anxious to succeed, and to that end he cheerfully put up with all manner of inconvenience and deliberate slights. He found the queen weary of all the trouble and hardship and intensely eager for peace (No. 42). But parliament viewed his mission with suspicion and dislike, and every time that he surmounted obstacles and difficulties they gave him additional cause for offence (No. 39). After trying his hardest he was finally compelled to abandon the task as hopeless. Returning home in February 1644, he reported that if France wished to go on with the business she should address herself to Scotland as the interests of the Scots coincided with those of France and they would have the controlling voice (No. 83). But French relations with Scotland proceeded no more smoothly than those with England. The renewal of the old alliance had been negotiated by Loudoun (No. 53), but the queen regent quarrelled with the commissioners sent to her and protested that the Scottish invasion of England was a breach of the terms of the alliance (Nos. 28, 33). As a further misfortune a French agent sent to Scotland fell into the hands of Fairfax when on his way north (No. 116). In the end French policy to Scotland settled down to be the same as that adopted with England, namely to interfere as little as possible, in the hope that the troubles would last a long time, to the great advantage of France (No. 95).
Although suspicious and hostile parliament was not greatly concerned with the attitude of France until the queen crossed over to that country in the summer of 1644. They knew the fervour of her hate ; she was reported to have said to Cond that her husband would not deserve to be a king unless he hanged all the members of both houses of parliament (No. 171), and it was feared that her presence might inflame the French Court to take decisive action. Accordingly they sent over Augier, who had previously served as agent for the king, nominally about trade affairs, but chiefly in order to watch her proceedings (No. 182). Augier was not received at Court, but the ministers made no difficulty about negotiating with him. For the rest there was no sign that the government had any intention of interfering with English affairs. Some amount of tension certainly existed and a good deal of lawlessness at sea. In particular the French complained of the violence shown to their merchants and threatened to vindicate them by reprisals (No. 176). No notice being taken of their remonstrances, they proceeded in January, 1645, to lay an embargo on all English ships and goods (No. 195) ; but four months later this was removed and the ships and goods were released on no better security than the hope that this show of good will would induce parliament to respond in a similar spirit (No. 231).
The news of Naseby made a great impression in France. That England should be distracted by civil strife suited them perfectly, and they would have been content to see a moderate form of monarchy eventually established. But the rise of a republic likely to be powerful at sea was not at all to their mind (No. 142). Queen Henrietta endeavoured to alarm them by pointing to the danger of a general Protestant alliance against the Catholic powers (No. 187), and they were probably aware that some months earlier a Swedish minister had been in England who had made offers of the most liberal description to parliament for an alliance (Nos. 183, 188). These considerations probably led the French government to decide to send a minister to Scotland, with the idea of sowing discord between the two parliaments (No. 250). In the Mediterranean it was reported that the French had declared that they would attack the parliament ships wherever they found them, and English merchants were much alarmed in consequence (Nos. 277, 280). All the time the French were pressing their successes in Flanders and the capture of Mardyke, not long after Naseby, greatly perturbed parliament, especially as the French forthwith announced the blockade of Dunkirk and threatened to sink any ships that tried to enter the port, to the infinite detriment of English trade (No. 258). The French for their part, now that England was relieved from the preoccupation of the civil war, were greatly afraid of their interfering in Flanders and taking definite action to save Dunkirk for the Spaniards (No. 319). Yet with all this the French showed extreme anxiety to avoid an open breach. For a proud nation they showed extraordinary meekness in accepting without open resentment the affronts to which their ministers in England were constantly subjected. Parliament almost seemed to be testing how far this complacency would extend. The Agent Montreuil was stopped on his way to Scotland and his papers seized and opened (No. 418). The Ambassador Bellievre was forced to put up with very mean quarters in London because the Commons would not allow him to occupy the house which had been prepared for him by order of the Lords (Nos. 477, 485). When the governor of Boulogne was moved to reply sharply to some complaints made by the English Vice Admiral he received a warning from the Court not to provoke ill will (No. 518). But the most extreme instance of this complacency was shown in the matter of the Swedish ships. Their success in Flanders had directed the attention of the French government to the importance of sea power (No. 142). To form the nucleus of a new navy they purchased at great cost eight large Swedish ships. These vessels when on their way to France were attacked by an English squadron and after a fierce fight, in which some of the Swedish ships were sunk, the rest surrendered and were brought into the Downs (No. 514). Subsequently parliament decided to restore the captured ships to the queen regent, as a matter of compliment, protesting that the incident was fortuitous and unavoidable and that it should have no effect upon the existing friendly relations (No. 518). But the French had already decided to dissimulate the affront and to pretend that the ships belonged to private merchants (No. 516). Parliament had at this time a very powerful fleet at sea consisting of 70 sail, for the express purpose of preventing any interference from France (Nos. 477, 493).
The only place where foreign interference became at all effective, was in Ireland, and there only for a brief period. The war in England compelled parliament to leave that country largely to its own resources for a while. The king looked upon it as the most hopeful recruiting ground for his army and he drew thence not only native levies but 1,500 English soldiers, the remnant of the parliament army sent to repress the rebellion, who landed at Bristol in high disgust at the way in which parliament had neglected them, and at once entered the king's service (No. 83). Throughout the war bodies of Irish were constantly coming over in spite of the efforts of the fleet to prevent it, although any who happened to be intercepted at sea were at once thrown overboard (No. 112). On land parliament allowed no quarter to the Irish and those taken were promptly shot. The execution of some taken in a raid upon Dorchester was the occasion of one of the few acts of reprisal during the war (No. 138).
To secure the largest possible number of recruits for his army it was the king's interest to bring about peace as soon as possible between the warring factions in Ireland, but all his dealings with the Irish were hampered by the objections of his Protestant followers to his making any concessions to the Catholics in matters of religion. Commissioners from Ireland came to the king at Oxford in the spring of 1644. After lengthy negotiations it was agreed that in return for concessions in the matter of religion the Irish should supply him with a considerable army (No. 118). The Protestants of Ireland lost no time in denouncing this settlement and their refusal to accept it is represented as one of the most serious blows dealt to the king's hopes (No. 142). In spite of this failure other commissioners came over at the end of the same year, when it was hoped that the Protestants would show themselves more pliant, since Ormonde had been won over by the garter and other honours (No. 177). A second agreement was signed for military assistance not only in England but in Scotland (No. 183). These commissioners had the misfortune to fall into the hands of parliament on their return journey (No. 194).
It was about this time that the pope considered that the favourable moment for him to intervene had arrived. Accordingly he appointed a nuncio to represent him in Ireland and kept him liberally supplied with funds. The person selected was Rinuccini, bishop of Fermo, and on arriving in France he announced that his instructions were merely to exhort the Irish to obey God and the king. But the royalists generally viewed his mission with disfavour and Queen Henrietta in Paris refused to receive him on the ground that his title was an infringement of her husband's sovereignty (Nos. 231, 236). Rinuccini showed no anxiety to proceed to the scene of his labours and seemed content to remain on indefinitely in France, where he tarried until Mazarin practically forced him to go (No. 242). At first all went well and the pope waxed enthusiastic over the victories won by the Catholics in Ireland, and congratulated himself on having expended his money to good purpose (No. 424). But it was obvious that there would be another story to tell as soon as parliament had leisure to attend to Ireland. Meanwhile the royalists did their best to make things easier for the enemy. A peace arranged in 1646 by Lord Digby with the support of France, was at once denounced by the nuncio and clergy of Ireland as too detrimental to the Catholics, and they sent to France to remonstrate (No. 432). They also forwarded their protests to Rome (No. 433). But the pope by this time had lost faith in the venture and was not disposed to waste any more money upon it. He considered that everything was lost when the English and Scots had come to an agreement whereby the latter handed over the king to the former (No. 481). He thought it probable that the two countries would unite to send powerful forces to reduce Ireland, and considered the poor king to be already as good as dead (No. 487). Sir Kenelm Digby told him roundly that all the misfortunes in Ireland were due to Rinuccini, who had shown himself a fanatic rather than a statesman, because he wanted to make them all Catholics together, a thing not then possible (No. 503). Of the other foreign powers interested in Ireland France and Spain looked on the country chiefly as a recruiting ground for their armies. It is interesting to note that a Spanish agent who had gone to Ireland to get levies was expelled the country because Spain was too friendly with the parliament (No. 354). Service in Ireland had always been very unpopular with English soldiers. Parliament sought to overcome the difficulty in part by sending over some of their numerous prisoners of war to fight there (No. 279).
The direction of the war and the government of the country not under the king's control, rested nominally with parliament. This body though much reduced by secessions to the king and by absentees was yet far from single minded. The two Chambers of which it consisted were often at variance and it was itself no longer a free agent. The city of London, which provided parliament with a safe asylum, with the bulk of its revenues and the pick of its troops was not likely to rest content with a purely passive share in events. It was indeed determined to assert its influence and authority and after a year of war the Venetian minister does not hesitate to say that the city had already usurped practically absolute power (No. 12). By this statement he appears to mean that it exercised authority through the members of parliament who relied upon its support (No. 6). The independence and assertiveness of the city had reached such a pitch that it wished to have an army of its own and, disliking Essex and his dilatory ways, it made a hero of Waller, even when he returned after a serious reverse (No. 2). The relief of Gloucester helped to rehabilitate Essex and to check this tendency. It was further curbed by the new arrangements with the Scots rendered necessary by their entry as active participants in the war. It was at the suggestion of the Scots that the Committee of Both Kingdoms was set up. This was not done without much opposition and heated controversy. The Lords, recognising that the new body would altogether supersede parliament and deprive their own Chamber of what little authority remained to it, resisted obstinately step by step. They tried first to make it merely an advisory body, and when driven from that position, wished to set a definite period after which it should cease to function (Nos. 83, 84) ; they also objected to the Committee dealing with foreign ambassadors (No. 95). This opposition was led by Essex, who may have suspected that his own authority was in danger. But the resistance of the Lords collapsed utterly when the city took part in the fray with a petition to the Commons to decide the matter for themselves if the other House continued to resist. Under this menace, in great alarm, the Lords swallowed the Committee whole, without limitation of time or authority (No. 116).
One of the first acts of the new body was to set about limiting the powers of the general and it seemed determined to do everything possible to force his resignation. But Essex recognised the influence which his position gave him both for himself and for the Chamber in which he sat and he was not disposed to oblige them (No. 87). Accordingly he humbled himself and even submitted the names of his officers for their approval (No. 93). It did not take long for parliament to find out that Essex had been in the right and that it had made a mistake in delegating such powers to the new body. The Committee took control of everything and did not even inform parliament of what was going on. When complaint was made about this, the sittings of the House were cut down to two a week, so that there might be no time for introducing motions of this character (No. 125). This was a speedy reversal of the position taken up when the Committee was originally contemplated. It was then resolved that the two Houses should meet from 9 until noon every day and that those who absented themselves should be fined a shilling each time, in order to keep up the attendances, because it was feared that business might be scanty and of slight importance (No. 84).
The two Houses did not have to wait long before they found abundant matter for discussion and disagreement over the attainder of Laud and the quarrel between Manchester and Cromwell, leading to the Self Denying Ordinance. After some show of reluctance to sacrifice the archbishop the Lords gave way and passed the attainder, in spite of a dignified remonstrance from Essex against yielding to popular clamour (Nos. 179, 188). To the Ordinance they offered the most strenuous resistance, declaring that they would rather die than submit (No. 191), and eventually they summoned sufficient courage to throw out the bill (No. 194) although its eventual passing into law was inevitable. With Agostini's death further particulars fail with regard to these cross currents, and the only subsequent hint of such things is a statement in May 1646 that the city council was supporting the Scots against parliament (No. 390).
In the summer of 1644 some members of parliament conceived the idea of putting the Prince Palatine on the throne in the place of Charles (No. 143). The young prince was accordingly sent for from the Hague and installed in the royal palace. Arrived there he did his utmost to conciliate public opinion, without much regard for his dignity or honour. There is no hypocrisy, says Agostini, that he does not practice (No. 150). But the promoters of this scheme soon found that they had made a miscalculation. Public opinion strongly reprobated such a step and even those who had invited the prince did not venture to suggest it openly, for his action was generally condemned even in parliament itself (No. 154). The prince realised too late the mistake he had made and that he had sacrificed his honour and interest for nothing. He was thereafter at great pains to prove both in England and at Paris that his journey to England was quite innocent of evil intent and that he had only come to obtain financial assistance and support for his House (Nos. 156, 164). Charles took no further notice than to write his nephew a somewhat sardonic note (No. 169). Before withdrawing again into comparative oblivion the prince, at his own request, visited the Assembly of Divines then sitting, but a speech he there delivered commending their zeal only aroused derisive laughter (No. 168).
When Charles became a captive it was inevitable that the question of the succession should again arise. Books impugning the legitimacy of the Stuart line began to appear (No. 463), but beyond a threat to remove the prince of Wales from the succession in favour of his brother the duke of York nothing definite seems to have been suggested, except the extreme course of doing without the monarchy altogether (No. 423).
In the great war of Candia in which Venice became engaged with the Turks the feelings of Englishmen were somewhat conflicting. Naturally their sympathies were against the infidel and in favour of the republic struggling manfully against so formidable an adversary. But materially they profited greatly by the conflict, and the Venetian Bailo declared rather bitterly that the English would like to see the Turks conquer Candia so that they might have free trade there (No. 288). Their business in the Levant increased enormously as the result of the war (No. 429) and Venetian merchants themselves employed English bottoms and paid the cottimo to the English ambassador. The Venetian Bailo could only wring his hands and deplore the loss as, being in confinement, he was powerless to interfere (Nos. 317, 321, 395, 440). The English ambassador at Constantinople was opposed to the ships of his nation serving the Venetians from fear of the resentment of the Turks and the injury this would do to their trade (Nos. 248, 314), and these sentiments were fully shared by his principals of the Levant Company. The latter carried this so far as strongly and successfully to oppose the efforts of the republic to enlist troops in London for the war (Nos. 356, 360).
In spite of these tendencies Venice was able to obtain a considerable amount of assistance from Englishmen and might have obtained even more had she wished. The agent Sarotti at Leghorn succeeded in engaging six large ships of war (No. 244) and others were employed for transport purposes. They were not suffered to do all that they wished, and English and Dutch captains in the Venetian fleet complained that when they offered to attack the Turks and guaranteed that not a single galley should return to Constantinople, they were not allowed to do so (No. 295). Very likely these auxiliaries were not so docile as their employers would have wished, for there is reference later to a mutiny of English sailors at Malamocco (No. 386). They probably looked down upon the Venetians as mariners. Sir Kenelm Digby, when at Rome, laid a project before the Venetian ambassador for assisting the republic. He had had experience of privateering in the Mediterranean (fn. 8) and was confident that he could get together a fleet of merchantmen from the traders frequenting Leghorn, quite capable of settling the business of the Turk. He referred somewhat slightingly to the performances of the Venetian fleet in the war, and said that if they would adopt his suggestion he would not want their ships to do any fighting, and would only require the galleys to draw his vessels into position, in case of a calm (Nos. 439, 444).
The Turks on their side were also anxious to make use of foreign ships not so much for actual war service as for transporting troops. This was more than the English ambassador or merchants were prepared to concede of their own free will, although they feared that compulsion might be used (Nos. 310, 314, 522, 525). It is interesting to note that Sir William Waller, having lost his employment through the Self Denying Ordinance, was anxious to take out a considerable fleet and fighting force to serve Venice (Nos. 290, 331). The accounts of this officer which had been sent home by Agostini were far from flattering and that may help to explain why his offer was not accepted.
Among stray matters of interest not included under the above heads attention may be drawn to the following : a rather cruel squib published in London against Charles and punished by parliament (No. 268) ; a pirate raid in Cornwall in which 200 women were carried off, including some ladies of rank (Nos. 271, 272) ; a grant of prisoners of war to the Spanish ambassador to serve in Flanders (No. 276) ; the alleged creation of peers by parliament (No. 320) ; an application of the prince of Wales to fight under the French flag in Flanders (No. 509), and the use of torture to extract evidence (No. 509).
I wish to take this opportunity to thank the officials of the Frari and of the library of St. Mark at Venice for their courteous assistance.
Allen B. Hinds.
London, June, 1926.