252. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
The Lower House has at last finished its discussions with a
refusal to grant freedom of intercourse during the armistice.
With this decision the commissioners left for Oxford on Monday,
the king being advised of their coming through Chiligre. Lord
See, refused by his Majesty, has remained behind, and they would
not appoint anyone in his place. Some of the lords of royalist
leanings have stated in confidence that his Majesty has not taken the
best course in refusing to receive this person. They had him included
in the commission because he had great credit with the Lower
House, which had placed the matter in his hands practically without
reserve, while his poverty and venality would render it easy to
win him over, whereas he will now be thrown more completely into
the arms of the other side.
When the commissioners had reached the Court and the king
had heard their proposals he sent a gentleman here with a message,
who was followed by Chiligre on behalf of the commissioners, to
take back the reply and instructions. The king states that he
is resolute in desiring the armistice by sea and by land and
freedom of intercourse. He also asks, supposing the armistice
is arranged, if the commissioners have authority to treat for
peace, and if it is not, whether parliament is willing to treat
for peace while the war goes on.
The Lower House which was sitting yesterday evening when
the messenger arrived, took the matter in hand at once, and
decided again not to alter the conditions sent in the smallest
particular ; but that if the armistice is not arranged the commissioners
may treat for four days and no more upon the first
two articles of the peace, viz. the disbanding of the armies and
the restitution of ships and fortresses to the king. They do not
give them any authority to conclude without the approval of
parliament. These answers and orders have not yet been sent
because the Upper House has not discussed them ; so there may
be occasion for disputes and alterations. I will keep watch
and report in my next.
The queen is still staying at York, where the marquis of
Hamilton with other lords for the kingdom of Scotland have gone
to pay their respects. She replied more in accordance with the
requirements of the situation than of her personal sentiments,
since she has conceived the utmost dislike of the marquis after the
discovery of his designs which since the very beginning of the disturbances
of Scotland have been directed to the betrayal of the king
for furthering his own ambitious pretensions in that kingdom.
Nothing is said yet about her Majesty leaving there, and yet
every reason calls her to reinforce the king, who, if he does not
unite the forces which he has scattered in various counties cannot
take the field in sufficient strength to make those resolute and vigorous
efforts which are requisite for the perfect restoration of his authority.
Prince Rupert, since his return from the unsuccessful affair
at Bristol, advanced with some troops towards Alsberi, intending
to push on in this direction, but he has returned without attempting
Parliament has not neglected to turn to advantage the affair
of the conspiracy at Bristol, reputed the greatest and richest
city of the kingdom after London. It has ordered that all the
goods of the conspirators shall be taken and themselves chastised.
They are now devoting themselves to discovering their names
and say it will be a matter of some importance, especially as it
extends to the neutrals as well, as they are trying to make them
In the county of Chester Sir [William] Bruerton has utterly
routed the royal army commanded by Sir [Thomas] Aston. (fn. 1)
In Cornwall viscount Obton, after his failure at Plymouth,
wanted to make an arrangement which would leave him free to
come and join the royal army. But the orders sent to Stanford
not to grant him any conditions have thwarted this plan, which
it will be difficult to carry out by force owing to the hostile
feeling against him in the trained bands of the neighbouring
The king has sent two proclamations, but parliament has
forbidden the publication or observance of both. The first
orders captains of ships and other commanders in the fleet not
to exercise their offices without express licence from his Majesty.
The second orders those who owe debts to persons who have
contributed to parliament, not to pay them until further express
order from the king.
London, the 3rd April, 1643.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
253. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
On Saturday last Chiligre went back to the commissioners at
Oxford to report that not the least alteration would be allowed
in the articles for the armistice. On the supposition that it
would thus fall through he brought permission for the commissioners
to treat upon the first two articles of the peace, but
without authority to conclude and limited to four days, which
terminated yesterday evening. No news has yet come thence
except that the king has deputed commissioners, as he will not
for his part throw the slightest difficulty in the way of a real
peace though without prejudice to his prerogatives.
The queen, who remains at York, is strengthening her party.
She has succeeded so well that Sciomle, who commanded the
parliamentary cavalry in Fairfax's army, has gone over to her
with 400 horse.
The earl of Newport, who escaped arrest with Savil and Gord,
by flight, has left the parliamentary party and gone to justify
himself to her Majesty. Considering dissimulation advisable in
present circumstances, she listened graciously to his excuses,
and apparently restored him to favour. But while he was proceeding
incognito to Oxford to perform the same office with the
king, he was seized by rustics on the way and brought prisoner
The earl of Northampton was besieging Lizfil, previously
taken by lord Bruch, as reported, but hearing that Sir [John]
Gils was moving from the neighbouring county of Stafford with
a powerful parliamentary army, to drive him away, he courageously
decided to go and meet him, considering it more profitable
to defeat that force than to take the place. This would have
succeeded had not the earl himself been slain at the first shock,
while one of his sons was wounded. In spite of this the fight
lasted several hours, quite 500 being slain on both sides, and the
royalists remained masters of the field in spite of the loss of their
commander. (fn. 2) Prince Maurice immediately sent them reinforcements
In Lincolnshire the royal forces are having continual success,
capturing places which, if unimportant, serve to enhance the
credit of the party.
Sir [William] Waller, who raised the siege of Plymouth with
the trained bands of the counties near Cornwall, continuing his
operations, has taken Malmesbury, a place important itself and
because of its neighbourhood to Oxford, only 20 miles away.
Pretending to move for the recovery of Sisister, he went to
Gloucester, where he encountered the Welsh army of lord
Herbert. A battle ensued, disastrous to the king, 600 being
slain and as many taken. (fn. 3)
The governor of the Island of Giarnese, (fn. 4) in whom parliament
placed great confidence, has declared for the king. He thought
that the town would support him and bring with them the rest
of the inhabitants of the island ; but not finding them so friendly
as he expected, he had to threaten them with the guns of the
castle. But they still objected and sent the news to parliament.
Considering the matter of importance because of the fear of help
from France, which is within easy reach, and which they dread
more every day because of the progress of the negotiations for
a universal peace, parliament has sent ships for the defence of
the island and to bombard the castle in case of need. They
have pronounced the most severe sentence against the governor,
whose goods have been sequestrated as he held rich possessions in
They have passed a resolution in the two Houses of parliament
to confiscate all the goods of those who are known to support the
royalist party in any way. It is believed, however, that they
will not find it so easy to profit from this as they think.
The Scottish commissioners at Oxford are about to return home
in a dissatisfied frame of mind, as the king would not on any
account permit them to go to London. They say here that
Lesle has orders to collect troops to enter England, but those
who best know the state of that kingdom consider this report
due to passion rather than to truth. Meanwhile it is certain
that the marquis of Hamilton and the other lords staying too
long with the queen, have received an intimation to return, and
it is thought that they will do so promptly.
Although the term allowed to the Capuchin fathers to stay here
had not expired, the Lower House, without the knowledge of the
Upper, sent three of its members with a good number of troops
to their dwelling place yesterday evening. After breaking in
the doors they smashed the altars, broke and defiled the images
and burned the ornaments and all the books, carrying off the
religious as prisoners to the house of one of the sheriffs, to await
an opportunity for sending them to France. (fn. 5) After this execution
the Commons informed the Upper House of the reasons for
their action. Being founded upon illegitimate violence it cannot
be approved except in virtue of such violence. The French
agent requests the release of the fathers and that they may be
lodged at his house, for such time as may enable him to inform
the Most Christian of the incident and receive his commands.
He has not received any reply as yet, though he presses for one
energetically. A favourable one might be expected if the Upper
House possessed as much authority as good will.
London, the 10th April, 1643.
254. To the Secretary in England.
It is desirable and necessary that currants should arrive in
that kingdom from our islands openly, without the prejudice of
having to unlade them furtively, with opposition. Our case
should be supported with the arguments which have been advanced
on several occasions, the object being to get opponents
out of the way and to establish this business on its original
footing, which was so advantageous to both states and to their
subjects. The change for Ider in the Morea will be helpful to
this affair, to prevent the competition of the fruit of that country,
which is so different and of inferior quality. You will keep on
the alert and endeavour to discover whether there is any change
in the orders given to the one who replaces Ider, informing him
of the difference in the currants and of the advantage in taking
the ordinary ones.
Ayes, 123. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
255. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
The four days' negotiations of the commissioners at Oxford
having expired without result, Chiligre arrived here last Saturday
for a further extension and also for power to conclude an armistice
with freedom of intercourse as desired by the king. He was
sent back at once with directions to the commissioners not to
alter the conditions prescribed for the armistice, and allowing an
extension of eight days, but they are to return here at once when
these have expired. On Chiligre's arrival with this reply the
king sent a messenger reproving parliament for its captiousness,
by which it is deceiving the people in this matter of the peace.
To prove his own sincerity and his desire for this boon he offers
the armistice even without freedom of intercourse, but on condition
that they define the limits of the armies until certain
terms prescribed by him. The Lower House had a long sitting
upon this business, in which the members showed themselves more
averse than ever from a true accord. They are also suspicious of
the king's intentions in defining limits, believing that he aims at
uniting his arms without risk with the army of the queen and Newcastle,
which they call Papistical. Accordingly they have decided
not to make the smallest alteration in their decisions about the
armistice, but to show, at least in appearance, that this is not
to prejudice the peace, they have added another six days for
treating, so that even without the armistice the benefit of the
prescribed twenty days may be enjoyed. But very little is expected
from this negotiation, both because of the lack of sincerity on
this side, and because the commissioners have no latitude or power to
conclude, and this is unlikely to be given them, as little confidence
is felt in them since the exclusion of Lord Se, who had the secret.
The earl of Holland, who at first associated with the most ardent of
the rebels and who now supports the royal house at all risks, has
brought forward a proposal in the Upper House to send and pay
their respects to the queen, and offer her passports to come to
Oxford, if she will consent to do so with the Court only, without
troops, arms or money. Such a courtesy might easily be conceded
by the lords, but the matter must be discussed by the
Commons, and there is little prospect of their consenting.
Two days ago Prince Rupert left his quarters at Oxford with
6000 horse ; there is no certain news of his plans. Most people
think that he is going to meet the queen, but having nothing to
go upon I would not venture to assert as much, especially as
more and more reports are spread here about the Scots arming,
so that on good military principles they must not weaken that
frontier. It is true that Colonel Gorin with the queen's own
troops has gained a considerable victory over some forces of
Fairfax, who were guarding an important post under a nephew
of his. Besides 200 prisoners presented to her Majesty they
admit here that the slain numbered little less than a thousand. (fn. 6)
Meanwhile parliament is indulging in the utmost severity
against Sciomle, who with 400 horse recently went over to the
queen. He is deprived of his membership and accused of treason,
involving the most extreme sentences.
The Council of the city of London has held close and lengthy
consultations this week. These have ended with the drawing
up of a paper to present to parliament, which has not been done
yet. It laments that nothing is being done, and that they are
allowing themselves to be led aside by peace negotiations. While
the city for its part promises the fulfilment of the offers made
to parliament, they protest that if some peace is made or the war
is not prosecuted with vigour to secure a happy issue, it will
itself take control of the machine, or if it can do nothing else,
will devote itself to its own defence. They are now trying to
back this protest with numerous signatures to give it more
authority, but the incitements of the Lower House are very well
known, to reduce still further the authority of the Upper House,
which at present does nothing but oppose and delay decisions.
The report of this step by the city has suggested issuing orders
to the captains to fill up their companies and go and join the
general, who has instructions to take the field at the earliest
possible moment and go straight to Oxford. But all these orders
are no more than an excuse for demands for money, and as this
cannot be supplied very promptly, it is clear that nothing will
be done or it will be done tardily.
The king has sent merchants to Dunkirk with notes for the
purchase of 20 large frigates (fregatoni) to be employed in preying
upon the parliament's shipping. They are all ready and are
only waiting for the permission of Melo, which they expect to
get without difficulty. Considerable disorders are foreseen as
the result of this step, because the Dunkirkers themselves, under
the king's name, will not hesitate to attack the English flag,
which has hitherto been respected and esteemed in these waters.
Since the destruction of the queen's chapel with considerable
damage to the pictures and other things and scorn of the arms
of France, which were burned with the ornaments, the Capuchin
fathers have remained in confinement in the house of the sheriff
of the city, nor have the efforts of the French agent or the
friendly disposition of the Upper House been able to effect
anything in their favour. They are waiting for an opportunity
to send them to France, but before then the courier will return
who was sent to the Most Christian.
London, the 17th April, 1643.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
256. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
Since the last message to the commissioners to adhere to the
original instructions about the armistice, but to continue negotiations
up to the end of the appointed 20 days, a gentleman has
arrived from them with letters stating that the king is inclined
to yield and agree to terms which might be arranged. Yet last
Saturday, almost at the same time, a message arrived from his
Majesty in which he demands the handing over of the ships,
fortresses and magazines to persons designated by himself
offering, if they are guilty of any crimes, to submit to the laws
of England. The messenger was promptly sent back with an
absolute refusal to grant such a point, as they intend that persons
placed in authority shall be approved by parliament. When
this reply reached Oxford the king sent again asking for twenty
days more for negotiation. Not only did they refuse this but
directed the commissioners to return at once on the expiry of
the original 20 days to give an account of their negotiations.
That will be to-day. The messenger was arrested for having
had a book printed which was sent by his Majesty, reputed
seditious by parliament.
Notwithstanding all this a third messenger arrived to-day.
The commissioners knew of this beforehand but profess themselves
ignorant of the proposals he brings. These consist of
three points. First, the king requires the ships, fortresses and
magazines to be handed over. Second, the admission to parliament
of those who have been deprived for following his party.
Third, that the parliament shall come out 20 miles from London
so that he may assist at it in safety. No reply has yet been
given, but it has been suggested in parliament that in the present
time of open war and when the armies are beginning to move,
it will be necessary to stop the coming of so many messengers,
whose only object is to note what they are doing here and to
contrive intelligence in the city. They believe that the king,
more averse from peace than themselves, is only trying to gain
time and the means to strengthen himself, as he only has his
own army with him and that somewhat diminished. Accordingly
without waiting for the end of the negotiations or even the
report of the commissioners, they have sent 40,000l. sterling to
Essex and again charged him to march with all speed against
Oxford, in order to besiege the king there before he becomes
stronger and unapproachable by the arrival of other armies. I
have just heard that the earl moved in that direction yesterday
with all his army, but have not had time to confirm this.
Meanwhile in order to proceed with regularity and provide
sufficient resistance against the agitations that such a move may
produce, in foreign and other assistance, the two Houses of
parliament have directed the commissioners for the safety of
the realm to obtain definite information of the state and vigour
of the forces, both naval and military, which are in being, so
that they may be strengthened where necessary and supplied
with what they lack, so far as possible.
To this end, in addition to the assignments already made from
the city and which they are obtaining from the country as well,
they are busily engaged in bringing into the public exchequer
the revenues of confiscated goods, taken from all those who have
shown any favour to the royalist cause. To make these known
they have already begun to apply the oath of association in the
country, considering those who refuse to take it as royalists.
Sir [William] Waller, after defeating the Welsh under lord
Herbert, wanted to follow up his victory, but Herbert withstood
him in an advantageous position and repulsed him with such loss
that he had to desist. So he writes to parliament that he will
wait for General Essex and join him.
Prince Rupert, who left Oxford with 6000 horse, advanced
into Warwickshire, where he took, sacked and burned Brinton.
It was expected that he would advance to support the junction
of the queen's army with the king's, but the suspicion that Essex
would move obliged him to return to his quarters, so as not to
leave his Majesty destitute of the most vigorous part of his forces.
Meanwhile the armies of the North have fought valiantly, as
Fairfax, the parliamentary general, who escaped with a few,
writes that he has been completely defeated. He lays the blame
on Otton, governor of Uls, who would not send him reinforcements.
They are considering here how to set him up again.
They have already directed Cranuil, who is in Cambridge to
join him with 4000 foot and 800 horse, but the succour will be
tardy and feeble, as the queen and Newcastle constantly grow
stronger, and are masters of that district without opposition.
An individual has arrived from Scotland, sent by the government
there with all speed to their commissioners with the king,
with letters complaining that his Majesty has broken the faith
of his passport in not allowing them to come here to treat with the
parliament. If he insists on this prohibition, they are to be
back in Edinburgh by the end of the present month. The
messenger has stated orally that his country has collected its
own money and very soon they will have a powerful army ready
with the inclination to employ it on behalf of this parliament.
But sensible men see that the forces of the queen and Newcastle,
which are at present unopposed, will afford them material for
reflection, since they can offer effective resistance.
The marquis of Hamilton and the other lords who went to pay
their respects to the queen, have returned as instructed ; but
their long intercourse has occasioned some suspicion, as the
marquis, in particular, does not now seem so ardent for his original
While the Capuchins were still in confinement letters from the
Most Christian reached the earl of Holland, of which I enclose
a copy. The agent is instructed not to make the slightest
representation but only to present the letter and receive the reply.
London, the 24th April, 1643.
257. Letter from the Most Christian king to the earl of
Extreme surprise at the violence shown to the house and chapel
of the Capuchins in London, as they were sent to serve the queen,
his sister, in consequence of a solemn treaty. Will see what
reparation is given him before deciding what he will do. Understands
the earl did what was possible in pointing out the consequences
of such action.
[Italian, from the French.]
258. To the Secretary in England.
Our Captain of the Galeasses is accustomed to reconnoitre the
ships which he meets. He found two ships, one under Cerigo
and the other under Modon, both suspicious places for pirates.
These vessels showed a reluctance to give the customary signs
of friendship, in spite of the Captain firing without shot. So he
had to use ball, when the ships lowered their mainsails and showed
themselves to be English. After this they were shown every
courtesy, and the inconvenience of failing to recognise our galleys
was pointed out to them, in the interests of the security of navigation.
This information is sent because the English may
make a mischievous report, and to enable you to make reply,
showing the propriety of recognising our ships, especially by the
English, as the republic had a special arrangement with the late
King James for the recognition of his ships by our naval commanders,
since without this their good work, which is universally
recognised, would be rendered useless. By the same agreement
British subjects trading in these waters are enjoined to keep in
close touch with our commanders. We shall await the report
and send you further particulars of the names of the ships and
their owners, when we have received them.
Acknowledge the receipt of his letters and enclose sheet of
Ayes, 104. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.