Venice
March 1663

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1932

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232-239

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'Venice: March 1663', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 33: 1661-1664 (1932), pp. 232-239. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90114 Date accessed: 19 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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March 1663

March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
302. Pietro Ricardo Neostad to Alvise Sagredo, Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
The two Houses of parliament assembled yesterday. His Majesty went thither in state in the usual way and welcomed them with a few and appropriate remarks. He went on to say that he had convoked them to discuss with him and resolve upon important matters for the kingdom; and first of all, there being divers persons who adhered to the tenets of the Presbyterians, who wished all the same to live and die in that communion, and who, for the rest, were his good and faithful subjects, to whom he wished to extend his clemency, he desired that a way might be found whereby they might be left secure and at peace, with some liberty to practise their creed. After his Majesty had repeated “You are very welcome” the Assembly separated without more ado.
To-day they are to meet again to convey their reply to his Majesty at the palace and they will continue day by day until the conclusion. The chancellor is not there as he is confined to his rooms still feeling the effects of his late indisposition, so frequent consultations continue to be held at his house, in which the king takes part. Some foretell that fresh disturbances are likely to break out but one may hope that they will all end peacefully thanks to the king's prudence and from the disposition to oblige (dalla disposizione di compiacenza.)
At the petition of Anabaptists imprisoned in different parts of the country upon suspicion of complicity in the last conspiracy, the king has directed prompt measures to be taken for their release, and he does not seem excessively anxious to learn further particulars, although one of the accomplices, who is at present in the Tower, has offered, if he is promised his life, to point out distinguished persons who were leaders and many who had a share in it, because his Majesty does not wish to embitter the people by severe punishment or to confound them by making known the magnitude of the crime.
The king has suspended the conferment of some vacant benefices of the crown until parliament has passed judgment upon the capacity and merit of those upon whom he proposes to confer them. He has also suspended some levies for war until the need can be ascertained.
News has come from Jamaica that the governor of that island has attacked and taken by assault the fortress of Sant' Iago in the island of Cuba, because the Spaniards of those parts molested the inhabitants of Jamaica by frequent raids, carrying off men, animals and property. The English governor repeatedly warned them to abstain from such excesses if they did not wish to force him to make reprisals. As they persisted in their insolence, he got together as large a force as he was able, attacked unexpectedly and captured the fortress. After demolishing the fortifications and some small forts outside, capturing seven guns and six ships which he found in the port, he set fire to 300 barrels of gunpowder and returned to Jamaica with considerable booty. (fn. 2)
Some days ago, to the sound of trumpets, peace with Algiers was proclaimed throughout this metropolis, and the people were invited to go and trade there. (fn. 3)
Two ships have been wrecked by the last gale on the Goodwin Sands (nelle secche delle Duine.) It is not yet known whence they came, what they are or what they carried.
The Presbyterian ministers of Scotland who have been dismissed have obtained some extension of time for their departure, because they have been unable to leave owing to the gales, which have been more severe than any one has ever experienced.
The king has conferred the bishopric of Lincoln, vacant by the death of Lord Robert Sanderson, upon Lord Benjamin, bishop of Peterborough, (fn. 4) a prelate of outstanding ability. The diocese of Peterborough remains vacant, to be provided at his Majesty's pleasure.
London, the 19th February, 1663.
[Italian.]
March 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Ceffalonia.
Venetian
Archives.
303. Michiel Pisani, Venetian Proveditore of Cephalonia to the Doge and Senate.
With reference to the English and the instructions of the 25th October last, to see that no undue charges are imposed upon them and for the prevention of extortion, in order to encourage them in the exportation of currants, I had already paid attention to the subject long since, as being the proper attitude of a just government in dealing with foreigners, both for the general advantage of the people here and equally in the interest of the public revenues. Thus, although the Proveditore General Mocenigo, being occupied with the affairs of Corfu, was unable to devote his personal attention to this island, with his habitual zeal, the currants have been disposed of on advantageous terms and the merchants have gone away content, free not only of the former contribution of a real per miaro, but of every other vexation, even the smallest.
Cephalonia, the 3rd March, 1663, style of Venice.
[Italian.]
March 6.
Inquisitori di
Stato.
Busta 418.
Venetian
Archives.
304. Giovanni Battista Ballarino, Venetian Resident at Constantinople, to the Inquisitors of State.
I informed the Senate on the 2nd February of the permission obtained from the Reischitap to embark the corpse and goods of the Ambassador Capello on a ship then leaving. Two days later the corpse was taken from my house by Tomaso Gobato, a pretended commissary, and I found that he had consigned it to the English ambassador without my knowledge. This took the affair out of my hands, as his Excellency, at Gobato's request, took over the charge of it and informed the Reischitap, so that I could not approach him again. (fn. 5) His Excellency informed me through Sig. Padavino that the commissary of the will so wished it, and if the Turks make inquiry about the corpse he will deny to everybody that it is in his house since he has hidden it in an undiscoverable place. Thus, if I had made any sort of move or demand to any minister of the Grand Turk I should have been thought a liar if I had said that England is keeping it, while I should not have been able to make any other declaration, without an increase of bitterness, which for my part I avoid with all my might under existing circumstances, thanking God who marvellously assists my efforts.
Pera of Constantinople, 6th March, 1663.
[Italian; deciphered.]
March 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
305. Alvise Grimani and Alvise Sagredo, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
M. de Vantelet has been to see me, Grimani. He professed to be on very intimate terms with the ambassador of England now at the porte, and to have taken him to Constantinople in his ship when he went there with his wife, (fn. 6) and this gentleman lived there in a private capacity, out of curiosity to see the city and country. He intimated to me that this same ambassador had remarked to an intimate friend of his that the king of Spain was trying by means of the imperial minister to introduce an embassy of his own at the Porte; he is doing his best to prevent this and is the more anxious for Vantelet to arrive there just now so that together they may be the stronger to thwart this plan of the Spaniards.
Paris, the 13th March, 1663.
[Italian.]
March 15.
Senato,
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
306. Pietro Ricardo Neostad to Alvise Sagredo, Ambassador in France. (fn. 7)
Last Saturday the whole body of parliament went to the palace to give their answer upon the late proposal of his Majesty. (fn. 8) This took place in the Royal Hall with the customary formalities. It consists of two parts: first to tender cordial thanks for the observation of the amnesty and oblivion of the past; for the aversion expressed for the arbitrary usurpation of the military forces; for the invitation to make laws against the increase of the Catholics; for the expression of the resolution to maintain uniformity; for the recommendation to put right abuses in expenditure and to promote trade. The second to humbly pray his Majesty to believe that unwillingly and with deep regret they felt bound to disagree with what his Majesty thought fit to propose to them in favour of other religions. While they had no doubt that the excesses of some and the conspiracies devised in the late vacation of parliament had led his Majesty to incline to give some mitigation to malign humours by his declaration and hope of indulgence in the matter of religion, with the consent of parliament, especially as they claimed it also by virtue of the declaration of Breda, yet they of the parliament, by way of vote and advice, would humbly remind his Majesty that it was not desirable to show any indulgence to persons who presume to dissent from the uniformity of religion already established by law. Having considered the nature of that declaration they were of opinion that his Majesty ought not to be pressed to carry it into effect, since it was not an absolute promise per se, but an intimation of his intention to do what he could and of what he would advise his parliament. That body never gave such advice and did not think it good. It could not be interpreted in any other way in view of the Act of Uniformity, for which no dispensation could be given except by act of parliament.
Having further considered the nature of the indulgence proposed by his Majesty they found that serious consequences would necessarily arise therefrom, namely that schism would be established by law. It would render precarious the whole government of the church and its censures of little or no consideration. It did not become the gravity and sobriety of parliament to pass laws of uniformity in one session, and in the next, with the conditions unchanged, to nullify or mitigate their effect. His Majesty would be exposed to continual importunity by every sort of sect and opinion and by all manner of persons who might presume to separate themselves from the Anglican Church. It would encourage the growth of sects and sectaries, whose numbers would proportionately weaken the Anglican religion, which would in the end have a difficulty in defending itself. On the other hand, and what is of more consequence, this number, seeing that by importunity they can obtain the indulgence from the government, with increasing numbers will become increasingly troublesome until at length they will be able to achieve the general and free toleration against which your Majesty has already declared, and at an opportune moment some prevalent sect would even dispute its establishment. It would be a precedent without example, would take away the means of convincing the recusants and is incompatible with the method and procedure of the laws of England.
Finally it would appear that the proposed indulgence is not aimed at the peace of the realm and might indeed cause great disturbances; while, on the other hand, the confirmation of the laws and of the religion established according to the Act of Uniformity was the most likely means of procuring and preserving peace and obedience throughout the realm; for when the diversity of religions is seen to be openly conceded the sight of men divided into different parties gives them occasion to count their numbers and consider their animosities, and as a consequence pride encourages factions and open and inevitable confusions result. His Majesty could have no assurance that the doctrine or respect of the factions, which were all governed by different rules, would agree together for peace. If anyone should presume to disturb this in the country, those of the parliament, in all humility, declare that they will be ready, always and upon all occasions with their forces and goods to support and serve his Majesty, in accordance with their duty and office.
When the Speaker of the parliament had finished he received a brief reply from his Majesty, to wit that he thanked his parliament for their consideration and love, for which he might consider himself happy compared with any other king. As their arguments were set out at considerable length time would be taken for their consideration, when he would let them know what he had in mind, which could not be different from their opinion, unless it was that he had expressed himself badly or they did not understand him properly since their interests were so closely united that they could not be distinguished.
It seems that no further resolution will be taken on this point and that on the king's side no other proposal will be made, for by tacit connivance his Majesty can soothe the spirits of the Presbyterians and win their affection for himself.
Among those who were condemned last week for robberies committed there was a rich Irish gentleman of noble birth, who held a military appointment in his Majesty's guards. His relations stirred up the queen to ask his life of the king, because he had recently entered into partnership with the others and had not hitherto performed any act of such infamy, indeed he had only consented. His Majesty laid the information before parliament, and received the answer that he might of himself grant pardon but that it behoved them to take justice into consideration. So the sentence was carried out, to the mortification of the queen, as this was the first time she had interceded and it was fruitless.
I have nothing to add except a request for some reply to what I have written about my claims.
London, the 15th March, 1663.
[Italian.]
March 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
307. Giovanni Cornaro, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Important news has arrived from the West Indies, where the English with six frigates of war and a number of barques, transporting to the island of Cuba, have made themselves masters of the fortress of San Giacomo with great ease, for as soon as they put in an appearance, the Spaniards with their commander took to flight, leaving the place to the mercy of the enemy. These first sacked and then demolished it, carrying off guns and a wealth of booty. They announced that this was a just act of resentment for the refusal of provisions and other requirements to the new colony established in Jamaica under the direction of Cromwell. In addition six vessels fully laden were also carried away from the port. It is a notable act of reprisal owing to the great value of the goods and the plate.
The first news here was that the place had been strongly fortified and that the English were expecting to proceed to the conquest of the remainder of that very large island… If this should happen the fleets would have to run the gauntlet of the most inevitable perils, with the English fleet lying in wait for them at the passage.
Madrid, the 21st March, 1663.
[Italian.]
March 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
308. Pietro Ricardo Neostad to Alvise Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 9)
His Majesty has been confined to his appartments two days running as the result of some slight symptoms of catarrh caused by the frolics practised at the last ball with which the carnival here terminated at Court on Tuesday in last week; and on Wednesday he did not go to the chapel, to allow the cure to proceed. Now they have resumed the frequent consultations on matters of state at the chancellor's.
On Thursday the two Houses of parliament met when the Upper House at once moved for some moderation and indulgence in matter of religion, but after long debate and constant opposition from the Lower, that the laws must be maintained, they separated without results.
Moreover the committee upon religion has begun to take in hand the affair against the increase of the Catholics, they being the first to proceed against, the other sects being dealt with later on similar grounds. They propose to renew the laws of 23 Elizabeth and of 3 James, called the laws in force, and to direct all judges and sessions of the civil government to enforce them again, and to prescribe penalties for those who neglect to do so; further that all vicars and rectors of parish churches, likewise under penalties to be enacted, must give in writing every three months to the officer the names of those persons who do not frequent their churches and who do not receive the sacrament at the accustomed time; similarly penalties are prescribed for those who omit to present or remind the sessions of the names of delinquents; that those who refuse to take the oaths of supremacy and worship or one of them, shall be considered as lawfully convicted of disobedience, and such refusal being certified in the Court of Exchequer will provide grounds for forming a process, as if the party had been lawfully convicted, according to the aforesaid laws in force.
These points have been approved by the Lower House and the committee has been directed to make revision of the said laws and further to set down on paper the points which they consider desirable in order to put a stop to the increase of the Catholics.
For the better preservation of the kingdom of Scotland in the present peaceful rule a royal ordinance has been published that all higher officials, members of parliament, counsellors and magistrates must, before they are admitted to discharge their functions, declare upon oath that it is not lawful for subjects, under any pretext whatsoever of reformation or anything else, to bear arms against the king or his representatives, and that all the conventions passed to that end in the late troubles were unlawful and seditious, and consequently that the oath, called the National Covenant of 1638 and subsequently the Solemn League and Covenant imposed on the people, was against the fundamental laws and liberty of the kingdom, and that by virtue of them no one was obliged to procure any change in the government of state or church differing from the present administration.
In Ireland many of those who had absented themselves or been exiled for the rebellion and massacre of 1641, on proving their innocence, have been restored to their former possessions.
Of two ships which left Virginia with heavy cargoes of goods, one arrived safely these last days at Pleimuth; the other was wrecked on the sands, with (fn. 10) a total loss, except of the persons, causing notable prejudice to some of the merchants here.
London, the 12–22 March, 1663.
[Italian.]
March 19/29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
309. Pietro Ricardo Neostad to Alvise Sagredo, Ambassador in France. (fn. 11)
Last Thursday the chancellor went to parliament for the first time, by the king's order. Hs announced to them that his Majesty's desire was that they should proceed with the conduct of affairs with reference to the peace and welfare of the country, the greatness and dignity of the king and the preservation of the royal House, as might seem best to them. His Majesty was naturally averse from extreme severity and the effusion of blood and he had no doubt that they also would be of the same opinion and that so they would agree well together. He declared further that it was his Majesty's wish to approve of their just decisions as well in matters of religion as in those of state. He would support these and carry them into effect, announcing his disposition towards the same end.
By this he went a good way to soothe the ill will of some members of the Lower House, who were moved to express themselves for various reasons against his past administration, and chiefly for the alienation of Dunkirk from the crown of which he is considered the most interested author.
As a consequence they are pursuing the business against the Catholics and the other different religions. In addition to the points already reported about the care to be taken in every parish over those who do not frequent it, some other measures have been ordained to be presented to his Majesty for his approval, to wit that conventicles shall be prohibited in private houses, as well as those of Catholics as of the other sects, upon pain of fines; that priests, both secular and regular who are native Englishmen or who belong to subject states, shall be turned out of the king's dominions under the penalties contained in the laws, and that foreigners of the same character, whether priests or friars, must withdraw after a certain brief period. That it shall not be lawful for any one, except the queen mother and the queen consort, to keep any one soever, and they must not exceed the number granted at the conclusion of their marriages, and they must be of their own nation, that is French or Portuguese or of another, provided that they are not English or subjects of his Majesty. The like is conceded to ambassadors and residents of Catholic crowns now present or to come, and they ought to be requested and questioned about this on behalf of his Majesty.
Great diligence is being applied to smoothe matters for the sects of Presbyterians, fanatics and Anabaptists, for their consolation, and it is believed that it may be carried that if they attend the parish churches on feast days they will not be compelled to special formalities.
They have also taken into consideration the business of the troops, whether it is necessary to carry out the levy of five regiments, as proposed by his Majesty for the protection of the country against internal troubles. In consideration of the burdens which would arise for the people for their maintenance, while there is no pressing need for the moment, the forces already on foot being considered sufficient to resist any risings that might occur among the sectaries, they have put off doing anything for the present.
In Ireland many have been purged by the past rebellions, but quite as many accomplices are known, as well among the Catholics as among those of the reformed religion, thus while the former are being restored to their possessions, the latter are subject to the penalties. For the rest the affairs of that country, between the parliament, the viceroy and the royal commissioners seem likely to turn end in conformity with what would result in this parliament namely the observance of the fundamental laws of the country.
The chancellor entered parliament on Monday and again to-day, the feelings of those who thought to counterpoise or even to overthrow his ministry being greatly moderated.
London, the 19th March, 1663.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of 13th March.
2 An account of the attack is given in the Kingdom's Intelligencer of Feb. 23 to March 2. The force was commanded by Lord Windsor; they landed on 1st October and took the city of St. Iago on the following day.
3 Proclamation of the 29th January touching the articles of peace with Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. Steele: Tudor and Stuart Proclamations Vol. i., page 407, No. 3377.
4 Benjamin Laney.
5 Giovanni Capello, the Venetian bailo, died on 4 November. Winchelsea says that the bailo, on his death bed, asked him to have his body conveyed to Venice, to be laid in the family vault, and that Ballarino out of envy to him or malice to the dead, tried to prevent this. Hist. MSS. Comm.: Finch Papers Vol. i., pp. 241–2.
6 Winchelsea travelled to Constantinople in a ship of the royal navy, the Plymouth.
7 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of 26 March.
8 This was on March 10, new style, according to which this letter is dated. The text of the answer is printed in Journals of the House of Commons Vol. viii., pp. 442–3.
9 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 13th April.
10 A ship of 130 tons, cast away on the Scilly islands. Mercurius Publicus, March 5–12.
11 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 13th April. From this and the absence of the Chancellor from the House of Lords on March 5–11 (Journals of the House of Lords Vol. xi., page 491), the date would seem to be old style.