Venice: May 1639

Pages 535-544

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 24, 1636-1639. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.

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May 1639

May 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
647. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
By the king's command the Marquis Hamilton has proceeded to Scottish waters with six ships of war, many other small vessels and 6000 foot, with the purpose of occupying some important position in that kingdom, if he can. The Viceroy of Ireland also has orders to move at the same time, for an attack from that quarter, as they have definitely decided no longer to delay drawing the sword against that people, all hope having disappeared of bringing them to their rightful obedience through negotiation. This plan does not coincide with the sympathies of the generality, and all the remarks one hears in this city are entirely favourable to the constancy and interests of the Scots.
The Marquis of Ontele, and all those, although Catholics, who have so far shown a faithful promptitude in his Majesty's service, have joined with the others and signed the confederation, so the rebellion is now seen to be a general one. For the government of the country they have, by common consent, chosen twelve persons, taken by proportion from all ranks, indicating that they propose to lay the foundation of a democratic state after the example of the Dutch.
In order to keep the English Puritans steadfastly in their favour the Scots distribute many papers in this country, in which they point out that the steps taken by his Majesty were solely due to the interested advice of ministers, won over by the pope, who, under the pretence of reforming the liturgy of the churches of the two countries, proposed to introduce the mass as well, and to reduce these realms once more to subjection to the Roman Court, which is most hateful to them. These ideas acquire the more credit with the people because only the Catholics speak against the rebels.
At the interposition of the Duke of Lennox the king has released the Lord Treasurer of Scotland, but on the express condition that he shall not appear in his Majesty's presence, but proceed to Scotland to exercise his most important functions. This command leads men to prognosticate the most pernicious consequences.
With the object of making sure of the loyalty of the troops and those who follow him, the king has decided that all, without exception shall take a new oath to him, with words carefully designed to bind everyone to pursue the Scots to the last gasp. All obeyed readily, but Baron Ceii and Viscount Bruc, Puritans of rank and influence, gave the rein to their passions and refused, pointing out that the prerogative of drawing up such oaths, however proper they may be, belongs solely to parliament and not to his Majesty. In great wrath at the freedom of such incautious ideas, the king had them both arrested, causing a very great murmuring, everyone freely saying that this severity will only hasten greater troubles in England. (fn. 1)
His Majesty will leave York on Monday for Newcastle. As they still suspect that the French ambassador persists in his intention to keep near his Majesty, they have sent orders to intimate once more to the ambassadors that he is going to a country unfitted for the residence of foreign ministers, and so they must not stir. Thus the hopes of that minister of seeing the events of this war are utterly quenched. Apparently he was very eager to do so, in the interests of his master.
All the lords lieutenant of counties have orders to return to their posts without delay and to collect fresh troops to be sent where his Majesty commands, as they have definitely decided to add strength and reputation to his arms by new levies.
A satisfactory detailed pardon from the king has reached the Duchess of Chevreuse from France. She says she will soon cross the sea to return there. With her absence from this Court the interests of the Catholic will lose the active support which she has given them in the past.
London, the 6th May, 1639.
May 7.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti. Venetian Archives.
648. To the Ambassador in London.
Advices of events. We shall be glad of the return of Colonel Douglas as soon as possible, as we have need of his services.
Ayes, 134. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
May 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
649. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Joachimi reports the remonstrances of the French minister about the embarcation of Spanish troops on English ships as likely to lead to war with France and these Provinces, as if Spanish troops were found by the French or Dutch fleets on English ships, the flag would not be respected. The king told him and Joachimi also that he could not prevent the numerous merchant vessels in Spanish ports from taking what cargoes they pleased, but he would not allow an escort of his own ships of war. This has not entirely satisfied their High Mightinesses and indeed their suspicions seem quickened of some correspondence between Spain and England in the present troubles of the latter country. They take advantage of that here as affording them an opportunity to express themselves with less reserve and to take a higher tone than they usually have done.
The Hague, the 7th May, 1639.
May 10.
Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia. Risposte. Venetian Archives.
650. With regard to the memorial of the English ambassador about Thomas Simons, we find that on the 16th July last the secretary of England informed your Serenity that the Levant Company had elected Simons as consul for the islands of Zante and Cephalonia, and asked for your Serenity's patents. On the 29th of that month our predecessors reported that they considered this appointment desirable. It seems, however, that Simons went to Zante before the patents arrived, not to act as suggested, but to the hurt of the inhabitants and to carry out the instructions of the Company and without presenting himself to the Rectors, arranging to buy up currants at very low prices and to obtain absolute control of the trade. This led to his removal from the island.
We are of opinion that the question whether Simons should act as consul and in addition serve as an agent for the Company is a matter for the decision of the Senate. At the same time we would point out that it is most difficult to prevent arrangements devised by the English. No doubt it would be advantageous if the vendors also combined. But they are so numerous and the fruit is so perishable, and cannot be kept for more than a year. Consequently they are compelled to sell. The whole produce of currants in the islands is about 11 millions, which greatly exceeds the demand. 1½ millions suffice for Italy, the same for Flanders and about 5 millions for England. Accordingly everyone is anxious to sell and the price may even go lower.
We consider that the Secretary of England should be asked to see that the grievances of the islanders are removed, which are due to the limited authority of the Company, and the Rectors of Zante and Cephalonia might be instructed to make enquiry and discover the principal interests of these English and to inform the islanders that it is not the desire of the state that their interests should suffer. We may add that if the decrees of your Excellencies were carried out the number of currant plantations would not be so abundant, and no doubt a small harvest would be an advantage.
Dated at the office, the 10th May, 1639.
Francesco Zen Savii
Girolamo Trivisan
Piero Foscarini
Geronimo Morosini
May 10.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
651. The Secretary of Great Britain came into the Collegio and said :
Before he left the ambassador presented a paper about the English merchants at Zante and of Ider in particular, to which a reply is earnestly requested. Hider has now sent another memorial to the ambassador, which I present.
He then said, I take this opportunity to assure your Serenity that if in the past I have not been able to merit your favour, I will endeavour to win it in the future by some satisfaction for the many favours I have received.
The doge said they were glad to see him. They knew his sincerity and qualities. The evidence about the affair of the English merchants was under consideration, and they would gladly do what they could for them. With this the secretary departed.
May 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
652. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In the matter of the Palatine's passport I have thought it expedient to write to the Ambassador Giustinian in England, to obtain if possible an official document, expressing the desire of the King of Great Britain as to asking or no for a passport for the Palatine, and his decision, approving or otherwise of a special conference at Brussels, so as to have something wherewith to shut the mouths of those who continue to speak against the truth, and to put an end to the tricks by which they seem to be trying to delay the meeting of the congresses.
Paris, the 10th May, 1639.
653. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Fildin has arrived here by the posts on his way to England. He wished to see the king as a private individual, but as he claimed to cover, contrary to the custom here, he could not have it, although they offered to grant his being received in audience as ambassador, if he wished. Apparently he was not satisfied with this. I paid my respects to him, and if he does not leave too soon, I shall make an effort to call on him.
Paris, the 10th May, 1639.
May 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
654. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The march of the troops towards Newcastle proceeds diligently. His Majesty and most of the ministers who attend him have already set out thither. Everyone is waiting impatiently for news of the result of the efforts of the Marquis Hamilton against the Scots. These remain on a bold defensive, under the command of Captain Leslie. They have sent forward 10,000 foot with 3000 good horse towards Berwick and they labour ceaselessly at fortifying the frontier, on which both men and women are engaged, the leading ladies showing marvellous devotion. His Majesty writes to the queen that although the Marquis of Ontele signed the confederation with the other rebels, yet he became suspect as a professing Catholic, and they suddenly arrested him. They are glad of this and hope that it will produce changes in that country favourable to the king's interests.
In order to put a stop to the dangerous murmurs which have been very general, against the oath laid on the troops, the king has ordered the modification of some of the terms, and he subsequently ordered the release of Baron Ceii and Viscount Bruch, but on condition that they immediately returned to their country houses, and do not leave them until his Majesty decides.
The queen works her hardest to raise money, of which the need becomes greater every day. She has written in forma precaria to all the gentry and ladies as well, earnestly begging for fresh help in these emergencies, and not to contribute less than 100l. They hope these efforts will prove successful, as it is thought that no one will have the heart to refuse so just a request to so great a lady.
The Admiral has withdrawn the prohibition to ships to bring troops from Spain to Flanders, and they have sailed safely to those parts. To the repeated offices of the French and Dutch ambassadors, they have replied that as the ships belong to private individuals, they cannot prevent them from going on such voyages as suit their interests best, and if they fall in with hostile fleets the captains will find a way to obtain by force that satisfaction which the king cannot grant them, because of the neutrality he professes. This decision has greatly offended those ministers, and as it is a consequence of these harmful suspicions that the French keep on encouraging the rising in Scotland, so those may not be altogether beside the mark who fear that if the French fight the English ships, the bitter feeling caused thereby may lead to other important changes between these great princes.
In discussing whether the persistence of these disputes may not force his Majesty to resume once more the negotiations at Brussels about the Palatinate, the Spaniards try to attract his Majesty by lavish but possibly vain promises.
The Ambassador Fildin has not yet arrived here. His mother awaits him eagerly, and is making every effort to marry him to another very rich lady. (fn. 2) She declares, as do all the ministers, that a few weeks after his arrival he will return to your Excellencies. Your letters of the 8th ult. have only reached me to-day, with the information about this ambassador. No overtures have been made to me about reopening relations between your Serenity and the House of Savoy. If this occurs, I will answer briefly and cautiously, but I am much afraid that such offices are rather due to the feelings of this young minister than to any orders from his master to introduce the matter. However I will try to make sure of this, and send word.
London, the 13th May, 1639.
May 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
655. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Fildin decided to continue his journey without appearing at Court. Despite my weakness I called the day before he left, and he returned the call after a few hours. He expressed his great devotion to your Serenity and said he was determined to arrange in England for some assistance in case a rupture with the Turks could not be avoided. I assured him of your esteem and encouraged his friendly disposition. To secure his co-operation I told him what I had written to Sig. Giustinian about the passport for the Palatine. He approved of the expedient of getting the wishes of the King of Great Britain in this matter set down in writing. He said that his Majesty would be greatly indebted to your Excellencies for thus taking up the defence of his nephews.
Paris, the 17th May, 1639.
May 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
656. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The efforts of the Spaniards, who have tried to introduce fresh negotiations at Brussels for the Palatine House through a private religious, (fn. 3) have so far succeeded that the king, contrary to his promises to France and to other declarations, has sent orders to the ministers to admit the Catholic minister and hear from him the particulars of the proposals. They amount to this : that at the intercession of the crown of England the Austrians will see to the complete restoration of the Palatinate, although without specifying anything about the electoral vote, on condition that two of the fortresses there, selected by them, shall remain in Cæsar's hands, and the Palatine shall pay for the garrisons out of his revenues ; or instead of these, two others which the emperor may choose to construct in those states where it may suit the imperialists best. In return for these advantages this crown will be bound to enter a defensive league with the House of Austria, with the undertaking to give the Catholic the assistance of some ships of the fleet for the defence of Flanders, and some other remarkable facilities (convenienza) so far not disclosed.
The French ambassador, at the report of these proceedings, which they do their utmost to keep secret, does all he can to thwart their progress. He labours to show that the offers are deceitful, expressly devised in order to involve England in a rupture with France and the Dutch, under specious titles.
The Marquis Hamilton has arrived safely in the river of Edinburgh with all his force. He remains at anchor, feeling doubtful as to where he can land with the least resistance and the greatest advantage. They think he will not do so before the troops destined to invade from Ireland have also marched. They have sent more officers there to take part in the proposed operations.
His Majesty is now near Newcastle. By an act of praiseworthy clemency he has recently announced a general pardon to the rebels, with offers to establish all that they desire in Scotland by means of a parliament, if they will quietly agree to the customary residence of bishops in the kingdom, which is the crux of the dispute. In response the Scots have notified the king that if he is disposed to take up the thread of negotiation again and give security to their deputies, they will send persons to treat for an agreement. They not only accepted this promptly, but the Earls of Arundel, Essex and Bristol and the Secretary of State Cuch were appointed to hear the proposals.
The levies granted to France in Ireland and among the Scots proceed lamely. The ambassador has been obliged to go to the king to obtain an extension of the time appointed in the patents to the colonels. But his principal object was to act energetically to destroy the machinations of the Spaniards and to prevent the ships bringing troops from Spain to Flanders being escorted by the eight ships of the fleet, stationed in the Downs for the defence of the Channel.
The Earl of Leicester has returned from Court, where he was made a Councillor of State. (fn. 4) He declares that he will go back to his old post in France in the course of next week.
Your Excellencies' letters received this week are of the 23rd and 29th ult. The chronic sterility of events here increases the difficulty of useful service.
London, the 20th May, 1639.
657. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Fildin arrived in Court on Wednesday. (fn. 5) Without giving me time to call he came here at once and overflowed in compliments. He again expressed his readiness to foment his Majesty's inclinations in the present serious affair between your Serenity and the Turks. He assured me that after seeing the king he will start back for Venice in a few weeks. After the manner of officials here he went on to speak at great length of the overtures made to your Excellencies in the king's name, to restore correspondence with the House of Savoy. He represented that the duchess desired it with impatience and is ready to give every possible satisfaction to the Senate. She had Pere Monod arrested, not only at France's request but chiefly to show that she did not approve of the indecency of his writings, which have interrupted a good understanding with the republic, to the loss of her House and her own private grief. (fn. 6) The ambassador pressed me hard as to whether I had any instructions on the matter, and if the conditions he suggested coincided with the state's wishes. If not he would try to correct them. The replies he had received did not seem to him particular enough, and he wished to ascertain your Serenity's feelings privately, so that he might bring the matter to a successful conclusion. His Majesty and the queen, who he said would speak to me on the subject, desired this exceedingly and hoped that their interposition would induce the republic to take that House under its protection once more. In reply I expressed the Senate's gratitude for his Majesty's efforts in the public cause, in the certainty of profiting by results worthy of such a great king. I thought it opportune to communicate to him in confidence the advices sent me on the subject. I also assured him of your special esteem for him. With respect to Savoy I told him quietly that I had no orders and I thought he had a special knowledge of the very sincere intentions of your Excellencies.
London, the 20th May, 1639.
May 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
658. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
I will await the good pleasure of the state about the book of Grasvinchel, to gratify him by the expression of the public will, which he desires exceedingly.
The Hague, the 21st May, 1639.
May 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
659. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Catholic minister has held more than one meeting this week with the ministers here, but as he adheres to the bare request that they shall send an ambassador to the Cardinal Infant at Brussels to advance the conclusion of the treaties, the matter remains as before, as his Majesty does not feel inclined to commit himself by such a public declaration, to avoid exciting too soon the suspicions of the princes of the party and of the Most Christian in particular. Yet it would by no means displease them here if the question of the Palatine House provided a motive for delaying the meeting of the congress for the general peace, as during the present disturbances of the realm they think it highly advisable to make every effort cautiously to keep at a distance all hope of an agreement between the crowns.
To achieve their intent the Spaniards cultivate with all their might, through the duchess of Chevreuse, the old leaning for a marriage between the princess here and their prince. These proposals are most acceptable to the queen. They say freely at Court that to facilitate it she allowed the Chevreuse to take the princess to the mass secretly.
The offers of the Scots to hold a conference have entirely fallen through as they would not allow the ministers sent by his Majesty to publish the general pardon in that kingdom, indeed they have printed a new paper in which they contend that it is lawful for subjects to take up arms against their prince for religion. The king, on his side, to dissipate the very general idea that he inclines to Catholicism, is issuing a manifesto protesting his utter aversion from it and that he never had a thought of changing the old liturgy practised in the country.
The Marquis Hamilton has anchored at some uninhabited islands and landed all his troops there. (fn. 7) He is waiting for them to recover from their sufferings at sea, which has caused serious sickness among the men, prostrating many. His Majesty will march from Newcastle next week, to press on with speed to Berwick, with the determination, with all his troops together, not to delay attacking the enemy any longer. These, with renewed vigour and confidence are waiting patiently to withstand courageously the shock of the royal arms.
They are still very busy over enlisting new troops, and besides the levies commanded his Majesty has distributed patents for another regiment of 800 infantry, for the guard of his own person, to be commanded by the son of the Earl of Lince. (fn. 8)
The Earl of Rostburgh, who was sent to Scotland, before the king started, to take assurances of the king's willingness to grant what they wished, is now in strict custody, charged with not having fulfilled his commissions faithfully and having consented to a son leaving the king's service to join the malcontents. They say that his wife, who is in charge of the princess, will have orders to leave the palace. (fn. 9)
The Ambassador Fildin started post on Monday to see the king. He seems most anxious to return to Venice as soon as possible. After a long and costly journey the Secretary Agustini arrived here yesterday evening.
London, the 27th May, 1639.
May 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
660. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Sir Peter Vuechi, who for eleven years has been ambassador at this Court for the king of England, has taken his departure. He was banqueted by the Caimecan who arrayed him in the customary vestments. He took leave of me on the same day. He told me he had spoken to the Caimecan and to Bustanghi Pasha about the impropriety of my arrest, and the interest that all Christendom would take in the affair of the pirates if they went to war with the republic. He said this to them plainly, so that they might inform the king on his return. I thanked him suitably. He told me that his successor had the same commissions. He apologised for not returning my visit, telling me that quarrels and even challenges had passed between them, but he hoped the other would come after his departure. He left on an armed barque for Smyrna where two English ships are waiting to take him to Leghorn. (fn. 10)
Galata, the 30th May, 1639.
[Italian ; deciphered.]


  • 1. The oath was offered to the lords on the 21st April o.s. All took it except Lord Say and Lord Brooke who were forthwith committed close prisoners to the lord Mayor of York. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1639, page 67.
  • 2. Barbara daughter of Sir John Lambe, dean of the Arches. Her fortune in land and money was estimated to be worth at least 50,000l. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1639, page 452.
  • 3. Apparently Father Vivero is indicated.
  • 4. On Sunday the 15th. Salvetti on 20th May. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS.27962H.
  • 5. i.e. the 18th. According to Salvetti, writing on the 20th, he came ostensibly to confer with the king upon affairs but really with the intention of marrying a rich widow [Lady Bayning], whom he found already appropriated. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962H.
  • 6. Pere Monod, a Jesuit, confessor and councillor of the duchess, arrested and imprisoned at Montmelian on the 4th January, and sent on the 18th May to Miolans, the prison of felons.
  • 7. He landed 5000 "raw soldiers" on the islands of Inchkeith and Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth off Leith on the 4th and 5th May o.s. "to exercise them in the use of their arms." Cal, S. P. Dom. 1639, pages 127, 210, 225.
  • 8. Montague Bertie, lord Willoughby of Eresby.
  • 9. Robert Kor, earl of Roxburgh was arrested at Newcastle on Tyne on the 10th May o.s. and committed to the custody of the Mayor, Alexander Davison. Lord Henry Ker, his son, after taking letters from the queen to the king at Durham, went on to Scotland and joined the Covenanters. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1639, pages 155, 172. Jean, countess of Roxburgh had been governess of the Princess Mary from the time of her birth in 1631. Court and Times of Charles I., Vol. ii., page 144.
  • 10. The quarrel was over the consulage. Wyche stayed on because it was necessary for him to be formally dismissed by the Sultan. The king gave judgment in the dispute on the 20th April, o.s. Wyche to Coke, the 30th March, 1639. S.P. For. Turkey ; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1639, pages 65, 66.