Venice
February 1628, 17-29

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1914

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593-607

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'Venice: February 1628, 17-29', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 20: 1626-1628 (1914), pp. 593-607. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89146 Date accessed: 20 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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February 1628

Feb. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
747. To the Ambassador in England.
You did well in seizing an opportunity of speaking to the king and Buckingham about a reconciliation with France, showing our zeal and exhorting some better sign of an inclination for peace. You also did well in sending your letters open to Zorzi, to whom we have repeated our instructions. As the Huguenots constitute the only difficulty and the Danish ambassadors and others have interposed, we may hope for good results, indeed the present disposition of affairs is very favourable. We can only await the result of the negotiations in France. You will continue your offices and never let slip any opportunity. We enclose our reply to Wake. You will speak to his Majesty in conformity.
Ayes, 122.Noes, 5.Neutral, 11.
[Italian.]
Feb. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
748. That the following be read to the English ambassador in the Collegio:
With regard to his Majesty's letter in favour of Despotino, the republic will leave nothing to be desired, and the magistrates will show every justice. We have asked for information upon the memorial of the English merchants trading in the Levant and will try to satisfy them with that affection which we have always shown to your countrymen. We have ordered a process to be drawn up in the matter of theft from the merchant you spoke of, and we will inform you as soon as the matter is cleared up.
We have given the necessary commissions for the transfer of the pictures for his Majesty, which shall be done as you requested. We also thank you for the advices you communicated recently.
Ayes, 122.Noes, 5.Neutral, 12.
[Italian.]
Feb. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives.
749. To the King of Great Britain.
We shall always gladly do anything for those who enjoy your Majesty's patronage. Dr. Despotino may rest assured of this, and he shall have full justice in his suits here. We should be glad to show our esteem and affection for your Majesty in greater matters, and we wish you long years and constant prosperity.
Ayes, 122.Noes, 5.Neutral, 11.
[Italian.]
Feb. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
750. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I confirm the meeting of parliament, although opinions vary about the result. Many doubt, and if the king means to have the 200,000l., on which he apparently insists, before the meeting, by reason of the necessity for arming, which does not admit of delay, I have little hope. All business remains in suspense until then. If the king obtains money the war with France will continue, especially with the diversion they hope for in Italy, to which they pretend here that the French are pledged. So the tendency towards peace grows less as although parliament in general would lean towards Denmark and the Palatine, as it did before, the Puritans will not consent to the loss of La Rochelle and the Huguenots. But everything depends on the kind of members returned. Meanwhile the king has gone away for his country diversions.
The ports are rigorously closed against passage to France, Holland or elsewhere, so that no report may get abroad. This may be because of parliament, or of the succour destined for La Rochelle, as nothing else is being done here. It may last for weeks or months, so I mention it beforehand, not knowing whether this letter will have the luck to get across, as I hope. The duke has a notion that the late reverses were caused by a forewarning received through the advices; so he is determined to do his utmost to stop them, to the manifest ruin of the kingdom, because of the interests of the merchants, which they heed but little.
The Dutch ambassadors extraordinary have arrived at Gravesend, and will make their entry soon. To-morrow the ambassador in ordinary goes to confer with them, and will perhaps send his secretary thence to Calais to do the like with Fonsbergh, provided he can get a passport, which, I hear, is very doubtful.
They have decided in Council to confiscate all merchandise belonging to France, imported or which may be imported hereafter by any nation soever, including the English themselves. This is the final blow to the Low Countries and to trade, nor was anything so sudden ever known. The merchants have not had time to cancel the orders given to their agents. It all comes from such a mass of ill-digested decisions that one might suppose the Spaniards and the Jesuits to be intriguing as successfully at this Court, as elsewhere, especially as many of them frequent the Duke of Buckingham's house.
Owing to this prohibition of trade and the closing of the ports, which is apparently to last, the whole kingdom is practically blockaded, and everything doubled in price. My expenses have increased enormously, and I ask the Senate to succour me.
London, the 17th February, 1628.
Postscript.—One of the deputies from La Rochelle (fn. 1) is going to the Low Countries to implore assistance and to facilitate the declaration, by means of the States, or the preachers. To–day at the election of a member of parliament for Essex, some of the villages were excluded; so they rose and enforced the election of another member. The first named supported the duke; the other those who last year refused to pay the subsidies. (fn. 2)
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
751. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Duke of Guise arrived here on Monday from Provence. I called upon him at once. He told me of his quarrels with Don Federigo of Toledo. He gave me two reasons why France could expect nothing from the Spanish fleet against England. First, they had scarcely arrived and found the siege of St. Martin raised and the island quite free from the enemy, so Toledo declared that nothing more remained for him to do in France. Second, that he was as short of men, munitions and artillery as he was abounding in caution and reserve. Accordingly he concluded that the Spaniards had appeared more for pomp and show than to attack the English. We have gained this much this year, he said; we have learned from our enemies what we may expect for the future.
He added: I am going to Provence to get together twenty galleons. I expect to have them ready in a month. I have left 22 at Morbihan, 18 in Britanny and 12 at St. Malo. These with those newly built are all ready. We are expecting some from Amsterdam, so without reckoning the smaller ships, which do not count, the cardinal calculates that the royal fleet will number seventy or eighty vessels, all of 700, 800 and 900 tons each. It has been arranged with Spinola that I shall be in Portugal at the end of April or the beginning of May to unite with the Spanish fleet. They have not yet told me what design in particular they may have, but one must believe, with France and Spain united, that the storm cannot break anywhere except upon England. I am the king's servant and must obey; but God knows with how much pain, as in victory I foresee our loss and the ruin of the public cause, if the war continues and peace between the two crowns is delayed.
I told him that the best cure for the evil he lamented was for him to publish it and to help me to find a remedy. The queen mother had supplied me with some particulars, which I could represent elsewhere, with proper reserve. This would serve as an introduction and perhaps success would not prove so difficult.
I did not want to lose an opportunity with the prince, who amid the universal ruin of the others is the only one who is not looked on with disfavour at the Louvre and who enjoys some esteem at Court. He promised that he would speak to the queen and let me know, though I do not build greatly upon this.
Paris, the 17th February, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Feb. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Constantinopoli.
Venetian
Archives.
752. SEBASTIANO VENIER, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Although I have interfered no more than was absolutely necessary in the dispute about the Jesuits, yet I have not escaped the deep resentment of the French ambassador, saying he did not wonder at the English ambassador, who was his enemy, or at Flanders, as they were of a different faith, but only at me, and I had encouraged the others to act. I arm myself with patience and try to avert any ill effects.
The ill feeling between the French and English ambassadors is very strong and one may fear that it will lead some day to a grave scandal in this part. The accident of Metaxa took place on the very day that the English ambassador had arranged a ball for his merchants, according to the custom of his country and as he did last year. Of all the ambassadors, I was the only one invited, France being left out because of present circumstances and Flanders for personal reasons. The leading Peroti were present, many Greeks, and all the merchants of our nation. The English ambassador was persuaded that France had contrived the affair for that day in order to spoil the sport, as he has done on other occasions. England has since declared that he is assured that France arranged to have Metaxa assassinated, and so he sent to warn the Caimecan.
When Stefano and Florio Crassa arrived from Cephalonia the French ambassador sent for them and questioned them about Metaxa. They said he was an honest gentleman, considered a saint in his religion. The ambassador said he knew he was a captain. He was a Lutheran, graduated in England, and saturated with English ideas.
Owing to these events and others which I pass over, the English ambassador fumes and rages. The last time he was here he said he could not contain himself any longer and would certainly express his resentment. I tried to mollify him and urged him to be prudent, reminding him of the country we were living in. He is a prudent man but very quick and mettlesome. I will do my best to prevent scandal. He told me one day in connection with the slanders of the French ambassador and the Jesuits that although they were not of the Roman rite his country was adorned with most beautiful churches and the worship of God was performed with every decency and splendour. If they had no church here, while other non-Romans had, such as Greeks and Armenians, it was merely a matter of prudence and modesty, owing to their numbers. One of his predecessors had obtained from the king a catecumaggior to have a church assigned to him for Christians in Galata, and the Peroti then came to beg him not to carry this into effect, pointing out the evil consequences, and so he desisted.
It is certain that the English are highly esteemed here, owing to their strength at sea and because of their relations with the King of Persia, whereby they can inflict great losses or confer great benefits on this empire, so that we can never feel sure that their opponents will prevail. This is a matter worth the consideration of the court of Rome and of all those who have zeal for the Christian faith and who wish to avoid scandal and inconveniences. I pray God this affair may end well.
The Vigne of Pera, the 19th February, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Signori
Stati.
Venetian
Archives.
753. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Prince of Orange is very uneasy, seeing himself surrounded on every side. He is very anxious about what the ambassadors to the two crowns will do, especially since he has learned how little the Danish ambassadors who recently arrived in France expect to effect by their offices. M. Aerssens has at length started for France, having recovered from his indisposition, and being reassured by Langarach about his reception. Here they consider the queen mother more interested than the king in the capture of La Rochelle. All the offices will be devoted against the English interfering. I may add that all who know the business consider the offices of Denmark and the States both very ill adapted to the emergency.
Here they are expecting one Dulbier from England, who is coming to make a levy of a thousand horse. The French may object to their granting this convenience to England as a breach of their neutrality. On the English side they argue that it cannot be refused since the Dutch are supplying the Most Christian with ships. It will all serve as a pretext for mistrust, and to bring pressure upon this state to say to which side it leans.
Nothing more is said about the coming of the Earl of Carlisle; Carleton thinks now that he will not be employed.
We hear from Hamburg that the Count of Suarzemburgh has intimated to the Ambassador Anstruther that he must withdraw from that town, since the emperor is determined he shall not remain there. This is extraordinary, especially on neutral ground.
The Hague, the 21st February, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
754. ALVISE MOCENIGO, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The French ambassador has frequent conferences at the Palace with the Count Duke. There is a suspicion that they are proposing some plans against the English. Although one sees no preparations for a fleet, yet the Count Duke is devoting great attention to this matter, and I hear that they will collect a great force for this object.
Madrid, the 23rd February, 1628.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
755. MARC ANTONIO PADAVIN, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The Council of War has discussed the question whether it is in the emperor's interest to waste his army over the siege of Staden and other towns which hold out for the enemy; as without exposing his troops he could cut off these places from the continent, and as the wealth of the citizens consists in the goods brought from England and Holland, they would have to submit to Caesar or die of hunger if they could find no outlet for their goods. I am told that one of the councillors said they ought always to adhere to this view, as the empire would be losing nothing necessary in this way, since they could get their supplies from the Most Serene republic, with which their good relations were confirmed.
Prague, the 23rd February, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian; copy.]
Feb. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
756. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Falsberg has complained to the queen mother about the detention of Montagu after the promise to set him at liberty. After several consultations she sent him away with the usual inconclusive reply, that from Montagu's examination they had found out several particulars, which it required time and patience to clear up, and so the duke must have patience and accept what France can give him without hurting herself. To soften this refusal the queen has sent one of her gentlemen to Lorraine to pay her respects, apologise for the detention of Montagu as a necessity, and promising to do all in his power to get the Duchess of Chevreuse recalled to the Court. They hope in this way to make the duke forget the past offence, though they are quite determined to do nothing in either case.
News has come that Fonsbergh, one of the ambassadors extraordinary of the States, has arrived at Boulogne. M. de S. Michiel, who is taking a rich present to the queen of England in the name of the Duke of Savoy, (fn. 3) has passed this way on his journey to Calais.
Paris, the 24th February, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Feb. 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Venetian
Archives
757. To the Ambassador in England and the like to the Hague.
Various English and Flemish ships have arrived recently at Leghorn with rich cargoes. Some were for other parts, but most were to be unladed there. This traffic is the more worthy of observation because these merchants used to come here, and recently Savoy had drawn up some articles in favour of Villefranche. You will speak to some of the leading merchants to find out the reasons which lead them to prefer Leghorn to other places, the advantages they enjoy and the arrangements which they may have made with the ministers of the Grand Duke, in order to give us full information. You will also tell them that they will always have every honourable convenience and facility from the republic, and will try in this way to find out what they think and want, so that we may bring back here that trade which we always favoured, with advantage to both nations.
That a copy of the above be sent to Florence so that the secretary there may find out all he can and advise us.
Ayes, 100.Noes, 0.Neutral, 5.
[Italian.]
Feb. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
758. ZORZI ZORZI, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the DOGE and SENATE.
The king arrived at Paris on Thursday, and after giving a hasty audience to the ambassadors and seeing the queen, he left late on Sunday for the country and his usual pleasures. I had the first place among the ambassadors, owing to the illness of Mirabello. I presented the ducal missives and congratulated the king on the success of his arms and his good health. He seemed greatly pleased and said he hoped I might soon have to congratulate him on the capture of La Rochelle and the defeat of the Huguenots. I replied that the republic would always desire his success. Unfortunately, while he was fighting his own subjects, the House of Austria was marching towards the dominion of Europe without opposition. I dwelt upon two points, reminding him of Mantua and suggesting peace with England. For the latter I told him that I had offered to the queen mother the good offices of the Most Serene republic, and I renewed this offer to himself, solely for the public cause, for the reconciliation of these two crowns, which are equally friendly, as being the only way to keep the Austrians within bounds.
The king replied as follows: I neither esteem nor fear the English. They were the first to attack me without cause and now let them be the first to ask me for an accommodation if they want it. He stopped there, without moving his lips or opening his mouth, with so much determination that I was compelled to repeat that this was playing the game of the Spaniards, whereas the favorable disposition of the parties was sufficient to upset their designs. I knew the great forces of this kingdom. France was absolutely in the right and England had acted very badly; but she had paid for her temerity. His Majesty might rest content with this, and pass over his private grievances for the sake of the common cause.
The king repeated: I have said that those who began the war must be the first to ask for peace. That is only right, and whoever loses sight of it does not desire an agreement and is no friend of justice. I can say no other. These were the sole words of his reply. I felt hopeless, and as I stood debating whether I should take leave or make another attempt, I let slip, I know not how, that this was a hard response to the good will of the republic and my devotion, especially in a matter in which France and the other princes were rushing to their hurt, mildly pointing out the need of the world and the condition of the times. This was my last attack, and I hope I acted as your Excellencies desire. The king repeated for the third time that those who had begun the war should be the first to ask for peace. After a pause he added: But as you do not seem to accept this, speak to Arbo and tell him what you think, and everything possible shall be done for the gratification of the republic and the common cause.
These were the king's last words. Although extracted by force they might give some hope elsewhere and at another time. But here passions rule unchecked, and so I expect less, especially as the Cardinal, Sciombergh and the most influential ministers are not here, and I must treat with this worthy man, who is not ill disposed, but is a blank sheet and deaf to everything that does not jump with his humour.
Paris, the 28th February, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Signori
Stati.
Venetian
Archives.
759. GIOVANNI SORANZO, Venetian Ambassador in the Netherlands, to the DOGE and SENATE.
Dulbier has arrived here and with him Colonel Balfour. They have commissions to levy 1,000 horse. The French ambassador has made every effort to prevent this being granted. But from what Dulbier and Carleton have told me they have always proposed to make the levy on the confines of Germany. I think they would gladly make a place d'armes at Hamburg, if they did not fear some mischance, owing to what has passed between Sualzenburgh and Anstruther. It is some time since the orders were issued, and they profess to have already enlisted a good number.
About Anstruther Carleton told me that before the Imperialists declared themselves, he had perceived by their refusal of passports that they did not want a minister of his king in that city. He had therefore advised him to withdraw. But now the Imperialists act so high handedly and make themselves arbiters in neutral territory, he had withdrawn that advice and urged him not to move without special commissions from the king. He did not think they would go so far as to lay hands on the ambassador, but he seemed to fear it, as they permit themselves to do anything in the full tide of their success.
The news that parliament has been summoned for the 17th prox. makes them fear here that they are determined on war, and so the offices of the ambassadors extraordinary will prove fruitless.
Carleton, whether in a burst of truth, or in the interests of Buckingham, told me that they did not expect much from parliament, as it is not possible to meet the king's present and pressing necessities in that way. They want munitions and food for next month for the fleet and the payment of the sailors, to whom great sums are due, and such men will not serve while they are not paid. To remedy all disorders and provide for the more necessary things he told me the king was asking a loan of 200,000l. sterling from the cities of the realm, but there were difficulties in this, and with all these impediments he did not see how they could supply all their needs.
The Hague, the 28th February, 1627 [M.V.].
[Italian.]
Feb. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
760. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I have lately received copious letters from the Ambassador Zorzi for my guidance in the present emergencies. He tells me of the offices he has orders to perform with the queen mother and the ministers about the peace, and says that the French will neither renounce La Rochelle nor be intimidated by England in her present weakness.
After a long delay I have received a whole batch of letters from Italy, the last dated the 14th January; so I determined to see the king. I began about the intercepted packets, and went on to say that now-a-days affairs are conducted by artifice rather than by force, showing how assiduously the enemies of this crown and the public cause sow discord among the sovereigns for the sake of crushing the liberty of Europe, without excepting his Majesty, who is bound to keep his eye upon it lest they succeed. I alluded to the stopping of the Dutch ambassadors by France and other affronts, compelling the States to withdraw from this good work. There were also intrigues on foot to create suspicion between Denmark and Savoy, and malignant persons also sought to make crowned heads distrust the ministers of Venice, as if the republic were not bound by every tie of statesmanship, confidence and ancient friendship to wish England all good and tranquillity, and all glory for her king. I enlarged on this to dispel bad impressions, encourage reliance and prepare the way for another step.
The king answered that he was well aware all these devices were prepared by the enemies of his crown and of the public cause, so he would be on his guard. He made Secretary Coke impart to me the advices from France. He was perfectly satisfied and knew me to be an honest man, not by my deeds, but by the reports of his ministers before and after I came to this Court, and I might rely on having lost nothing of his confidence or affection, which had, indeed, increased from his knowledge of my proceedings.
I rejoined, Sire, now that I am convinced of your affection, I will tell you that the republic in its desire for the welfare of Europe, and knowing how the present misunderstanding with France stands in the way, commands me to repeat the considerations which accord with your greatness and advantage and with the support of your friends. Our ambassador in France has orders to make the same representations to the queen mother and the ministers and to keep up a close correspondence with me, so that if the government there is not adverse to the good result which your Majesty seems to desire, means may be found for realising it, as all good men desire. Two things are necessary for this, letters must circulate freely and speedily, lest malignant persons intercept them, and I must have the honour to confer with one of the ministers whom you may appoint. I assure your Majesty that none shall avail themselves of my privileges, as they never have done before, and you shall be convinced of my sincerity in aiming solely at the public welfare. I will say no more about the misfortunes of Germany, but pass on to the impending ruin of the rest of Europe. The Emperor will be ready armed at sea, which is a terrible novelty for the North. Walstein has received the Duchy of Mecklenburg and been made a free prince of the Empire, with hopes and promises of even greater things. They now intend to give the bishoprics of Halberstadt, Magdeburg and others of even greater importance to the emperor's son. War between Poland and Sweden is certain, and there is peace with the Turks. The armies, numbering 100,000 men in all, are in good condition and unopposed. Tilly has advanced into West Friesland and requires the Dutch to withdraw their garrisons, despising all decencies. The approach of this formidable ascendance to this kingdom is worthy of your Majesty's consideration, so that everything else may be put aside in order to prevent the advance while there is yet time and as acknowledgment for the friendly advice of those who believe that the sole remedy is to treat with France for the conclusion of peace, or at least to overshadow her union with the Spaniards, which if prosecuted must cause just suspicion to your Majesty's own realms.
He answered, I am certain the republic deems my interests her own, nor does she deceive herself, for such they will always be. I clearly perceive the public ruin, but no one can complain of my not having given succour, as the policy of the French compels me to break with them, and they may rely upon it that I shall have them for my friends whenever they will agree with me about mutual reparation. I give you my word for this, and assure you that I am obliged to the republic for taking so much care for my welfare. You shall have the passport immediately, with an express order for your letters to pass to and fro, nor shall the late mischances, which displeased me extremely, occur again. You can communicate with Buckingham or one of the secretaries whatever may be necessary, and they will always be glad to attend. Without speaking of La Rochelle or the fleets, as he used on all former occasions, he seemed greatly pleased with my office.
The grant of a passport when the ports are rigorously closed, the appointment of the persons with whom I am to confer, the praise of the republic and the repetition of regret about the packets, which had never caused him any suspicion, as he was convinced of my sincerity, show that he accepts my mediation and is well inclined. I am confirmed in this belief by conversations I have had with some of the ministers, particularly with the Earl of Carlisle, who is very averse to the Spaniards, most eager for the peace and hopeful of being employed upon it. He favours it all he can, as a negotiation of this sort would yield him much profit. I will proceed cautiously with Buckingham, without distrusting him, but I shall avail myself of every opportunity of treating with the king, as I can but speak well of him and anticipate the best result. I am only sorry that he is beginning his hunting again. I shall wait to see what happens about the letters, as though I have so ample a promise and a passport from his Majesty, the duke has different ideas and may spoil it. They often prevail, and although the king does not approve what was done about my packets, the duke hinders such satisfaction as is being made. It is also a great pity that the service must depend on boats, as accidents may occur, especially as private passion must be added to the general distrust between the two countries. The Dutch foresaw this and have secured two ships of war to use solely as passage vessels. I will proceed with all caution and address, but cannot advance until I hear from France, and the sooner the better. Meanwhile, I send a copy of my despatch to Zorzi, as parliament and the events in Italy may easily change the whole scene. The French presumably are pledged to make the diversion, and parliament to supply money, the want of which has mitigated the king's harshness. The negotiations with the queen mother are not held in much account here, because of her dependence on the cardinal, who is supposed to intend merely to lull the English by manifesting a desire for peace. So, unless the English arm and negotiate sword in hand, the French will use their victory insolently, as is their wont, so the negotiation will be vain, and should armed forces bring about peace they might be used for the needs of Germany, when once on foot and the expense incurred. I therefore represent them as extremely useful, happen what may, and would they were in a greater state of forwardness. Should La Rochelle be lost as many anticipate, opinions vary as to whether the war with France would go on or cease. All give good reasons, though the distrust at sea will probably continue. It is difficult to succour La Rochelle, and there is the possible union between the French and Spaniards, it may be not without foreknowledge of the pope, in order to obtain money from the clergy, a point of great importance to both crowns, thus aiming at some greater expedition, so that the Spaniards may remain masters, as they did of yore in the kingdom of Naples, after taking it with their French allies.
London, the 29th February, 1628.
[Italian; deciphered.]
Feb. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
761. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
I enclose a copy of the decree about the intercepted packets. It will be seen that they imprison a servant of the Lieutenant of Dover, who will remain in confinement during his Majesty's pleasure, lose his post, and is declared ineligible for any other. I believe he was nothing more than a mere servant and these forms are more apparent than real. A few days after he had me petitioned to pardon him, apologising for having erred through ignorance, not knowing the language, in the general order from his master to open all letters. I answered that I wished his punishment to be prolonged, but everything must depend upon your Serenity. I shall persevere in trying to get some sentence passed. But it required all my efforts to obtain this little, so I cannot say what more may be expected. I spoke to the king, who announced his kindly intentions, and for his own honour, the duke's only means to prevent an outcry against this tyrannical act, is to obtain the man's full release, as he is certainly quite innocent. But as his Majesty sent to tell me that after close examination he had been found guilty, and he had himself confessed it, because I believe, he had been ordered to do so, I cannot but inveigh against him. Meanwhile, I humbly ask for your Excellencies' commands, because this remaining a prisoner during the king's pleasure means that he will be set at liberty when the duke chooses; and I repeat, that the king and the whole country disapprove of such a step, taken without consideration, as the object might have been attained without offending anyone. So everybody rails against the author, and abuses him infinitely more than I do, as I have never unbosomed myself on the subject to anyone out of regard for the public service and present events.
London, the 29th February, 1628.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosed in
the preceding
despatch.
762. At Whitehall, the 6th February. Present:—
The President.The Earl of Morton.
The Admiral.The Earl of Kelly.
The Steward.Viscount Conway.
The Chamberlain.Baron Wimbledon.
The Earl of Suffolk.Baron Grandison.
The Earl of Exeter.The Bishop of Durham.
The Earl of Salisbury.The Bishop of Bath and Wells.
The Earl of Bridgwater.The Treasurer.
The Earl of Carlisle.The Comptroller.
The Earl of Holland.
Pursuant to his Majesty's order, notified to the board, it was this day ordered that Edward Ingam, prisoner by order of this Council in the prison of the Fleet, owing to complaints made by the Venetian ambassador, do remain prisoner during his Majesty's pleasure, be deprived of his place, be declared incapable of exercising any similar office and be bound to sue humbly to the ambassador upon his offence, and that the clerk of the Council do register this order in the Council's book of causes.
Signed. THOMAS MEUEIS.
[Italian.]
Feb. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
763. ALVISE CONTARINI, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the DOGE and SENATE.
To continue the usual inconstancy parliament has of late been in very great agitation. After the riot in Essex, the meeting was postponed until the 29th of April. In lieu of it, letters with very large privy seals were sent to the chief personages to obtain a considerable loan, and to the provinces demanding three subsidies within ten days, with the obligation to repay the money at the end of one year, under the plea that the requirements of the war did not allow them to await the decision of parliament. This alteration was universally resented, more than can be told. Many of those from whom extravagant sums had been demanded, complained, and others refused to pay, being certain that much worse would befall in the provinces. In consequence of this, the Council again met several times. The original decision for parliament to meet on the 29th of March was confirmed, and the privy seals and writs for the loan were withdrawn. Every one tells me that they will not change their mind again, as to-morrow the king leaves for Newmarket, where he will remain until parliament meets. The duke stays in London, negotiating and working with all his might, so that the members returned for the Lower House may be on his side. But following the example of Essex, it is understood that many other counties mean to return members, who, as they say, suffered for the country and its liberties by going to prison rather than pay the late subsidies, which were illegal. Opinions vary about the result. Those who desire a tranquil settlement would wish the people, who know the king's affection for the duke, to renounce their accusations, and think of nothing but giving money. Others declare it would be a violation of their liberties to tolerate abuses and not remove their cause. It is said that the king will protest at the opening that they are to debate nothing but the mere money grant, as otherwise he will exercise his prerogative and impose contributions. In short, the whole bulk of this great burden rests on a pivot; if it turns to good resolves, well and good, but if not, it would have been better not to have provoked a contest, which may produce very serious disturbances.
The Dutch ambassadors extraordinary made their entry. The royal barges met them at Gravesend, but at the Tower the coaches did not, as is usual, so they used mine, which was followed by many others. They complained of this proceeding, and to make amends decided to make a second entry three days later. On Sunday last they had their first public audience, after a banquet in the Council Hall, which nowadays serves instead of the usual board. They despatched the secretary of the ambassador in ordinary from Gravesend to France, according to arrangement, as they had decided to make the same proposals to both Courts simultaneously. He crossed by a man-of-war belonging to the States, which they left for the purpose at the mouth of the Thames, as they could not obtain the passport for which they were asked. It is impossible to understand these cabals, for the king and the whole Court acknowledge the efforts of those who are exerting themselves for the peace, but the duke prevents the transmission of the letters, the two things being incompatible. So they obtained two ships from the States, which always remain off this coast for the conveyance of their despatches, and very much to their advantage, these will not pass through the hands of others.
The Earl of Denbigh went to Plymouth to hasten the fitting out of the ships, which will not be ready so soon as expected. They think of sending sixty men-of-war, besides twenty-one transports with provisions. Possibly owing to this protracted delay they will no longer arrive in time, for some boats from La Rochelle, who have come hither with the families of their crews report the passage of that channel to be very difficult since they sunk the ten ships, and it cannot be made except at high water, in small boats not too much laden. So unless the beating of the sea assist them, they apprehend the loss of La Rochelle.
A survey has been made of all the ships in the Thames capable of being used as men-of-war. They found about sixty, carrying from fourteen to thirty guns, besides three very large East Indiamen. They all require many weeks for fitting out. This is the more difficult as the king requires the owners to bear the cost, and he has ordered them to have these ships ready for the defence of the kingdom and to oppose powerful hostile fleets which are preparing to attack it. This system is adopted ad terrorem, but the parties concerned reply that they have no money, and that arrears of freight money and costs are still due to them. The intention is to form a large fleet, but I do not know how soon or in what manner, as they lack many necessaries, and above all sailors, who, in bands of from three to four hundred commit many excesses all over London, taking food wherever they find it, with the excuse that they are dying of hunger, because the king does not pay them or give them their arrears. Neither will he allow them to take service where they could provide themselves better. One of these bands in particular made a violent attack on Buckingham House and threw down the gates, so that the duke was compelled, at first by promises and then sword in hand to repel their audacity. They persisted, using bludgeons and brickbats, until the king's guard came up. They vow they will do even worse, and in the meantime the general discontent increases, even in the country, as the people are not accustomed to have soldiers billeted on them at discretion and to endure the insolence to which they are necessarily subjected by such a system. If therefore the German cavalry comes, for which they have already despatched Doulbier, and they introduce Scots and Irish, as they threaten, to curb the people, in case of exacting contributions, it will be with great risk and peril of insurrection, and may God grant that parliament quiet everything, as it would by granting the money without discussion.
Cecil, who commanded the fleet at Cadiz, has been made a member of the Council of State, (fn. 4) the number of councillors and titled persons being so constantly multiplied that they are no longer distinguishable from common people.
Gabor's nephew is now here, (fn. 5) a youth who is on his travels, after having studied at Leyden. At Brussels the Infanta treated him with great honour. Here he has seen the king, and paid me a visit, which I returned with every mark of honour. His tutor was previously at Constantinople, when he was sent back to Transylvania with the interpreter of the French ambassador, about the stir in the time of the Procurator Contarini and the Cavalier Giustinian, whom he commended as much as he complained of having been deceived by the promises of the English and Dutch ambassadors. He spoke to me at great length, justifying the retreat of his master on account of the disunion of the other princes, and he will always have it at heart to break the peace between the Turks and the Imperialists. I assure him of your esteem for this prince and your determination to maintain a perfect friendship with him, as you are convinced that his interests are those of the common cause. This young man will depart for France and then proceed to Italy and Venice, on his way back to Hungary.
London, the 29th February, 1628.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]

Footnotes

1 Vincent. He went to obtain supplies of food. See Carleton's despatch of the 26th March, o.s., S.P. Foreign, Holland.
2 "I make no doubt you have heard already how that upon a jealousy conceived by those of Essex that the sheriff, who was come to Stratford Layton about the country business, had a purpose there to make a secret election for parliament of some persons that they did not like. All the freeholders, to the number of 1,000 to 1,200, repaired presently thither to have hindered that choice, and to have named Sir Francis Barrington and Sir Harbottle Grimstone in their places. But finding that the sheriff had not yet received the writs, they all repaired back to their several houses." Mr. Beaulieu to Sir Thomas Puckering on the 20th February. Birch: Court and Times of Charles I, vol. i, page 323.
3 Salvetti writes on the 16th March: "Arrivò in questa citta Domenica passata un tale Mons. di S. Michele, Francese, mandato dalla Principessa di Piemonte con un belissimo presente a questa Regina consistente in un gabinetto di cristallo di rocca, ripieno di molte galanterie di alcune pezze di drappi d'oro e d'argento, e di molto altri vasi di cristalli pieni di acqua di Gelsomino, dicono di valuta in tutto di 20m. scudi, e che da Sua Maesta viene stimato molto." Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 27962E.
4 He was sworn of the Privy Council on the 4th February, old style. Dalton: Life and Times of Sir Edward Cecil, vol. ii. page 282.
5 Sir John Hippesley mentions his landing at Margate with six attendants, in a letter dated the 3rd February, o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1627–8, page 543. Cavazza in a despatch of the 4th March, calls him the Count of Hulst.