116. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
To prevent the dissensions which were daily increasing between
the two Houses from taking root, the city of London has presented
a paper to the Commons, thanking them for their application
and zeal and asking them, if the Lords do not promptly fall in
with their desires, to proceed with their deliberations as they may
see fit, putting aside every consideration for the sake of the public
liberty. This new explicit union between the two supreme heads of
this great body, encouraged by the Independents and other sects,
has so intimidated the Lords that they are disposed to accept everything,
without opposition, and they have already agreed to the
Council of the two nations without limitation of time or authority.
General Essex also, whose fidelity they suspected, fearing that he
was intriguing with the king, has dissipated all these shadows by
acts of hostility. Accordingly the parliamentarians now flatter
themselves with the hope that these affairs will not last much longer,
and they display great energy. To-day they are holding a review
of the trained bands, which they intend to send as a reinforcement to
the general in question.
The king, after staying some days with his army a short distance
from the enemy, did not think fit to offer battle, accordingly he
has abandoned Reading and retired to Oxford. It is expected
that he will leave that city well supplied and move to the West,
whither Waller is preparing to follow him.
The Prince of Wales had a request presented to parliament
that some papers might be sent to him to go to Cornwall, to take
the investiture of that Duchy, which belongs to the king's eldest
son ; but they refused citing the example of the king himself,
who never took that investiture. It is believed that he acted
thus for the object of currying favour with the people there for
contributions and to have the possession of that duchy approved
by parliament, to its prejudice.
The Marquis of Newcastle is still at York invested by the
Scots, and Prince Rupert does not come to his assistance, nor is
it known for certain where he is at present. Yet the Marquis
constantly harasses the enemy by sorties, while his cavalry, with
augmented force, is in Leicestershire wasting the country. To
put a stop to this the Earl of Manchester has sent Colonel Cromwel,
and he intends to besiege Niuvarch afresh.
The royalist Scots who entered from the South and sacked
Donfris, have been repulsed at Carlisle, but they are still keeping
up the disturbance in that quarter, as does the Marquis of Ontlet
on the other side, although by the last advices he has been driven
The parliamentary ships have captured a vessel laded with
arms and munitions for the king by merchants at Rotterdam. (fn. 1)
It was convoyed by two ships of war, but when they saw the
English, they abandoned it to its fate. This shows the various
sympathies of the Belgian peoples (dei popoli Belgici) in respect of
The Ambassadors of the Provinces are still at Oxford, and talk
of going to Exeter to take leave of the queen, their negotiations
for peace having so far proved fruitless, although they sent a
most urgent office to the President of the Commons after their
M. di Sabran has arrived here as resident in ordinary for the
Most Christian. The Earl of Warwick escorted him across the
sea. Although he has not yet seen the king he goes about
visiting the chief lords here with letters from the Count of
Harcourt, but he says he visits them as peers of the realm and not
as members of parliament. He says he has no definite commissions
to treat of peace, but he will not miss any opportunity
that presents itself. Another French minister came here at the
same time and set out for Scotland. But he has been arrested
in the north by Fairfax's army, who has sent word to parliament.
M. di Sabran has not yet made any representations for his release,
though he means to do so. (fn. 2)
A great personage has shown me in confidence the articles arranged
between the French plenipotentiaries and the States for this year's
campaign. I have not been able to get a copy, but from a cursory
glance I noticed from the preamble that the French do not mean to
make peace at Munster, but to gain time. For the rest the treaty
resembles those of past years, only with increased subsidies. The
second contains only a few articles about naval assistance from the
Dutch for the capture of St. Omer or Gravelines, for blockading the
port and supplying the French army with provisions. The French
are already preparing this enterprise, and time will disclose whether
the Dutch will fulfil their obligations sincerely, since it is not in their
interest to give the French facilities at sea so near themselves.
London, the 3rd June, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
117. To the Secretary in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters of the 20th ult. The Senate
is always glad to hear particulars of the incidents of the war as
well as of the suggestions for peace which happen to be passing
so as to be fully enlightened about everything.
Enclose advices about Italy.
Ayes, 119. Noes, 4. Neutral, 5.
118. Gerolamo Agostini. Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
The two powerful parliamentary armies under Essex and Waller
have advanced towards Abingdon, where the king was with his
force, not now exceeding 10,000 combatants. They are not
united but at some distance, to avoid collisions, seeing the ill
will between the leaders. His Majesty decided to demolish
the fortifications there, as indefensible and retire towards Ustock,
so as to discover the intentions of the enemy with regard to the
siege of Oxford, a few miles away, as well as to take an opportunity
for a battle in a country adapted for cavalry, in which his
Majesty is the stronger. He stayed there for two days and seeing
that it would be more difficult than the parliamentary leaders
supposed to attack Oxford, which is well fortified and supplied,
he entered the place, leaving his army in good order at Ustock.
When Prince Maurice has brought the siege of Lyme to a conclusion,
which is hard pressed, he will go to augment those forces,
though the king does not pretend to do more than temporise,
without loss, in order to disappoint the Londoners of their hope of
ending their troubles in this campaign.
What the two generals will decide upon remains doubtful.
Their first plan disappears owing to the difficulties, and to undertake
another they will have to wait for the orders of the Council
of the two nations, which is now confirmed as absolute.
The affairs of the North are recommended to Prince Rupert,
who with strong forces has marched close to York to raise the
siege and unite with Newcastle, who harasses the besieging Scots
by frequent sorties. He finds Manchester an obstacle, however,
who is opposing his plan with numerous forces, although he has
not been able to interfere with Newcastle's cavalry, which has
passed into Lancashire after gathering much gold and doing
a great deal of mischief in Leicestershire.
The disturbances in Scotland are worse than ever. Although
the royalist party in England has received a check in Cumberland,
yet they keep the Scots opposed to them busy, who should be
engaged in the siege of Newcastle. The numerous and brave
garrison of that town recently entered the district of Sunderland
where they chastised those who were getting coal to send here
and burned the mines, so that London may feel the miss of it,
which will be unbearable next winter, as they have felled most of
the trees in the neighbourhood.
In view of the present forces of parliament the king has not the
advantage, but if he holds on he may look for it in time, as those who
have exceeded their strength in contributions in the hope of the end
will feel the fruitless expense, and many may become less obstinate,
indeed this is happening every day. Parliament has therefore
issued an order that all families that are in the slightest degree
suspect, shall be expelled from the city and all their goods confiscated,
and this is being carried out without remorse.
Although the Irish commissioners left Oxford before a total
conclusion of the peace, the king, driven by necessity, has
consented at last to the chief point they desired, i.e. that only
Roman Catholics shall attend their parliament, in return for which
they promise him the help of 15,000 men in England, and 10,000
men under the Earl of Ormond, their Viceroy, for the defence of
the Protestants against the Puritans, who want to disturb the
The trial of the Archbishop of Canterbury proceeds and a fresh
charge of treason has been brought, that he altered the oath taken
by the kings at their coronation, and that the present king took
it in that form, from which very serious consequences are to be feared.
Parliament has had the house of the Resident of Lorraine
stripped and his servants and himself arrested on the pretext
that he holds correspondence with Rome and that he attempts
to convert young Englishmen, he himself being English. (fn. 3) He
has applied for assistance to the Spanish ambassador and to all the
other foreign ministers. I expressed my sympathy, but thought
it best to abstain from any office, to avoid suspicion, without
instructions, the more so as the Spanish ambassador himself
is lukewarm in the matter and he is moreover shut up in his
M. di Sabran, the French Resident is still here, not having as
yet been able to get his passport from parliament, especially
to go to the queen who is still at Exeter. The physician Mayerne
has made up his mind to go there to attend her and her usual
midwife has arrived from France.
London, the 10th June, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
119. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
The parliament armies encircle Oxford, although at some
distance. Skirmishes have taken place recently with loss to
them. Some dispute broke out between the generals, Waller
complaining that he had the most dangerous and inconvenient
quarters. Essex promptly met this by exchanging them, but it
did not suffice to mollify the other, who yearns after the independent
command which he has not yet succeeded in getting. The
king has come out of Oxford with his son, leaving it well supplied
with men and food, and his army is in a position which ensures
its retreat to Bristol or Wales to wait for reinforcements either
from the Irish or from Prince Rupert, when he has released himself
in the North. He desires no more at present than to avoid a
battle and to render vain the great preparations and outlay of
parliament. They are already pressing the city for a fresh
provision of 200,000l. I am assured in confidence that General
Essex has orders from the Council of the Two Nations to get
possession of the king's person in some way as the readiest means of
settling the business. So it is thought that as his Majesty has come
out of Oxford they are more likely to follow than to lay formal siege
to the place, the capture of which would not further their purpose.
But there is some mystery in their attempt to convict the Archbishop
of Canterbury, on very slender grounds, of having falsified the royal
oath, in order to deduce the invalidity of his Majesty's coronation,
whereby they would pretend to justify all their action to the people.
Prince Rupert, after his long delay, shows the more energy in
Lancashire, where he has taken Bolton and slain 2,000 soldiers
who under Meldron opposed his passage. (fn. 4) He marches victoriously
on York without fearing the forces of the Earl of Manchester,
who does not venture to challenge him, as the Prince has over
10,000 combatants and increases on the way, taking with him
very rich spoils from that disloyal county. The Marquis of Newcastle
is not only holding out in York, but having discovered an
understanding between the aldermen of the city and the Scots
he feigned ignorance and used the conspiracy to their own hurt,
so the besieging forces receive no additions.
Although the Marquis of Ontlet, who made the rising in Scotland
in favour of his Majesty is a prisoner, yet Lord Widdrington
joining with the Scots who were repulsed at Carlisle has formed
a force for his Majesty which will either invade Scotland afresh
or will at least cut off the retreat of their forces under York and
others from joining them. Prince Maurice also holds out hopes of
very soon having Lyme, having completely cut it off from succour
by sea. If this happens it will give his Majesty the advantage
of a considerable place and the addition of 4,000 good soldiers
to his forces.
A commissioner has arrived here from Ireland, sent by some of
the Protestant party, to remonstrate against the peace granted
by the king to the Catholics there. (fn. 5) He found open ears and ready
disposition. They have appointed commissioners for him, but
their pockets will be closed by their powerlessness, and he
will take away nothing but declarations and words, and in the
mean time the army promised by that kingdom to his Majesty is
In this crisis the Dutch ambassadors have roused themselves
and under two white flags, in token of peace, have gone to the
army of General Essex to negotiate one. But he, after taking
counsel, sent them word that though he considered it necessary,
he could not listen to their proposals, because of the limitations
of his commissions, and so they must address themselves to
parliament. With this they returned to confer with the king
and arrived here yesterday evening. But they will find no better
disposition than before, and they are not entirely satisfied here with
the reply given by Essex who is blamed besides for letting the king
leave Oxford. The French Resident Sabran has at last obtained
his passport for the queen as well, and started last Monday.
In competition with Bristol they are sending ships and orders
from here to fetch currants from the islands of your Serenity,
and to encourage this the more parliament has confirmed its
decree, of which I sent a copy, for a year beyond the six months,
and they intimate that it will be continued. I promise the
merchants the very best treatment, as your Excellencies command.
London, the 17th June, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
120. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople,
to the Doge and Senate.
With his last letters the English consul has received information
from the heads of the trading Company that the parliamentarians
have intercepted letters which the ambassador here wrote to the
king, in which he advised his Majesty that the inclinations of the
merchants here were all contrary to his service, but that in spite
of this he would not fail to execute his Majesty's orders. That
in consequence of this assertion parliament contemplated sending
an ambassador here, and in such case the Company does not wish
to have provisions or advantages contributed to this one. In
addition they have ordained that a declaration shall be made
to the secretary and the dragomans that in so far as they depend
on this ambassador they shall no longer receive their customary
I understand that outwardly the ambassador preserves a very
unruffled appearance, but at bottom he must needs be disturbed
because the great advances which he makes here all depend on
the trade. It is certainly absolutely true that the merchants
here are all openly declared sympathisers with the parliamentary
party, just as, on the other hand, the ambassador supports the
royal position. If the business goes any further and the parliament
sends an ambassador it will be a fine thing for the Turks
as if on account of the proprieties he ought not to be admitted, the
merchants will achieve all their intent by the power of gold.
I beg your Excellencies to supply me with the necessary instructions
to guide me in such an eventuality.
The Vigne di Pera, the 22nd June, 1644.
121. To the Secretary in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters of the 3rd inst. Approval
of his diligence in sending to the ambassador at Munster the
particulars about the agreement between the French and the
Dutch. Enclose advices.
Ayes, 130. Noes, 1. Neutral, 4.
122. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
The king leaving Oxford well supplied with the Duke of York
and many lords, is retiring with the prince and the army. Having
crossed the Severn he is now in Worcestershire, whence he can
recross the same river and throw himself into Bristol, or keep
higher up and enter Wales, a country well affected to him and from
which enemies can easily be shut out, convenient for the landing
of the Irish and for a junction with Prince Rupert if he can free
himself from the North by some success.
The retreat of his Majesty having increased the growing suspicions
of the parliamentary leaders about the proceedings of General Essex,
they and the Council have written to him very angrily. They have
communicated the secret of their design to seize the royal person to
Waller charging him to follow the king. He is doing so and reports
in his last letters that he is not more than two miles away, but he is
on this side of the Severn, the bridge across being broken.
To avoid increasing suspicion by idleness Essex has started a
march to relieve Lyme, straitly besieged by Prince Maurice. If
this succeeds he will go further west, perhaps towards Exeter, as
letters have been intercepted from the queen begging the king to
give her safer quarters as the people there are no less rebellious
than those of London, so that if she is not hampered by the neighbourhood
of the port, (quando non sia impedita dalla vicinanza del
porto) she will go to Bristol.
Oxford at present is free from any siege, but Sergeant Major
Brun has orders to start at once with 5 regiments of this city to
occupy the positions and practically blockade it, raising contributions
from the country round, which has so far been for the
Henry Ven, one of the chief directors of the present machine,
left 4 days ago for the North to confer with the leaders of the Scottish
army. There is much speculation about sending such a one. Some
say that as he enjoys great influence with that nation he is going to
urge them to act with greater energy : others, to oblige Manchester
to unite with them ; others again, to take them money. But I learn
on good authority and in confidence that these are all pretexts, that
the real object is something greater, to persuade the leaders of that
army to agree to the deposition of the king, if, as a great part of the
English desire and hope, he is taken prisoner or leaves the kingdom.
The Scottish deputies in the Council are opposed to this, explaining
that such an important and audacious question is not stated in their
commissions. It is likely that Ven will meet with no little resistance,
as the Scots would be excluded from appointments and subjected
to the English, who are so antipathetic.
The army in question has advanced to the walls of York with
some idea of delivering an assault, as it is not sufficiently numerous
to environ the city, which is very large. The Earl of Manchester
has advanced to Selby and has orders to join them, but whether
from reluctance to go far from the Associated Counties or for lack of
courage, he has always shown himself very slow in carrying out
Prince Rupert has left Lancashire and is going to unite with
Widdrington and with the army raised by the Scottish royalists,
intending to fall afterwards upon those at York. United with
the forces here he will have little less than 20,000 combatants, and
if he gains the victory he will be able to succour the king when he
has time to attend him.
Admiral Warwick having taken from the Dunkirkers a Dutch
ship which they had captured with sugar and other goods, the
Spanish ambassador, by writing to the President of the Lower
House and by appearing himself in the Council of State, introduced
by the master of the Ceremonies, has obtained its restitution.
Not only this, but the parliamentarians go about saying that the
ambassador is the most worthy person whom the Spaniards
could employ, since he has been the first to recognise parliament.
Following this example the resident of the emperor has been to
complain of his house being searched ; but on perceiving that
these offices have been taken for recognition, they are both trying
to excuse their action through the need of applying to those who
have the power. The parliamentarians make the more of this
recognition as at the same time the commissioners have returned
who went to Denmark with letters of parliament for the recovery
of the ship seized by the king there. His Majesty and the Bishop
of Bremen, his son, answer in most courteous letters, which are
the outcome of their present situation, but they are directed to
the Upper House only. (fn. 6)
Unable to wait any longer in this almost universal competition
the Dutch ambassadors, who have his Majesty's permission,
have sent to the President of the Lower House to tell him that
they would like to have audience of the two Houses together.
The President remarked to the bearer of the message that they
were late in making up their minds to this, since the Spanish
ambassador, who was unsympathetic and unfriendly, had been
the first to recognise them, however, he would report the matter.
He did so and they have appointed 27 commissioners to consider
whether they shall give this audience and in what way the
ambassadors should be received. This is now under discussion
and some are opposed to granting it. I hear that they have
letters of the king to present, and they hope that they will be able
to make some impression on the generality.
The Prince of Orange sent a present of linen for the queen's
delivery, with a little money for her ; but the ship was captured
by those of Warwick. The letters arrived this week from France
and Flanders have been opened by commissioners of parliament,
but mine, as usual, have not been tampered with.
London, the 24th June, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]