Venice: June 1639

Pages 544-551

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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June 1639

June 3. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives. 661. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Earl of Arundel has advanced to the Tweed with 12,000 combatants. He is two miles from the enemy, and as they number 15,000 foot and 3000 horse he has decided not to proceed further before reinforcements reach him. These are being got ready with the utmost haste everywhere, and several couriers have reached the magistrates of this city from the king with resolute orders to supply 6000 foot without delay. They have begun to assemble them and very soon they will be sent off to their destination.
Meanwhile the Scots have intimated while they have not so far gone beyond a desire for the preservation of the privileges of their country, yet, if this intention to trouble them by arms is persisted in, they will make the first attack upon England, in order to assist their defence by this diversion. These words cause apprehension among those who have most credit and influence with the king, and give them the cue to point out how dangerous spirited measures are in existing circumstances, and how beneficial will be the adoption of a persevering clemency towards that people, whose success is impatiently desired by everyone, since all hold fast the hope that this example will facilitate the satisfaction which the English claim also.
M. di Pree, a Scottish captain of experience and reputation, has reached the Court from Flanders, sent by Count Piccolmini at the order of the Cardinal Infant to offer his Majesty 4000 German horse. He asserts positively contrary to the belief of the wisest, that they will be ready to cross the sea whenever it pleases. The king expressed his gratitude but did not accept the offer, well knowing the trickery and pernicious designs behind this courtesy ; as in addition to the scarcity of money, which makes fulfilment impossible, the exceeding jealousy of the people here does not allow him to entertain the idea of introducing foreign troops into the country.
With great industry the Treasurer has sent to the army 30,000l. received from the merchants, advanced upon the revenues of the crown, which are now pledged up to the end of 1644. They are constantly enquiring into the means to obtain fresh contributions from the wealthy by blandishments (con soave mano) and they have applied again to the leading officials of the crown, asking for speedy and very considerable payments. The Catholics also, urged by the papal minister here, hold lengthy meetings to arrange for giving active assistance in the present emergencies. The Catholic minister has continued his negotiations with the secretary of state, seeing him very frequently at night, and with great secrecy. (fn. 1) I find that nothing has yet been arranged, however, as they are waiting for the opinion of the Court about his proposals. Many couriers have gone thither and the queen herself has sent Mr. German with all speed. When he comes back it will be less difficult to find out the particulars of these transactions.
The Prince of Denmark arrived in this city last week ; after seeing the queen he went off hurriedly to the king. On the arrival of a gentleman expected from France the Duchess of Chevreuse announces that she will set out for that country ; but her frequent conferences with the Catholic minister here afford material for observation and comment.
They do not speak so confidently of the return of Fildin to the Venetian embassy as before, indeed his mother is making every effort to get him a post at the palace. If this succeeds it will be some time before they decide to send another minister to your Excellencies. The Count of Egmont has again offered his services, saying that he desires nothing so much as to testify to the ancient devotion of his house to your Serenity. I made a formal reply.
Your Excellencies' letters which reach me this week are of the 7th and 12th ult.
London, the 3rd June, 1639.
June 4.
Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia, Risposte. Venetian Archives.
662. With regard to the memorial presented by the English Ambassador on behalf of Henry Hyde, the matter has been settled by your Serenity, and the process is being drawn up. Accordingly it is not seemly to transfer it to another hand, especially as Aquila and Boldu may not stay in Zante and Cephalonia, so that they cannot prejudice the process. We also think that the matter can be more easily settled by your Serenity.
Dated at the office, the 4th June, 1639.
Francesco Zen Savii.
Girolamo Trivisan
Piero Foscarini
June 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
663. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The present week has passed without anything remarkable happening about here. The king has joined the army, which has not moved from the Tweed, and has been living in tents for several days. The enemy, securely entrenched in his original positions, makes no move. There is talk of fresh overtures for a composition, but the wisest do not think this will be easy. Many of the most trusted ministers tell his Majesty that the sole means of touching the people and destroying the machinations of the most obstinate seditious is to go unarmed to Scotland and be present at the parliament there, which is prolonged for some days more. So far the king does not seem disposed to adopt this advice, as being unsafe as well as unworthy of his dignity. The Marquis of Hamilton remains at his islands, and the fleet, abandoning its original plans is cruising about the waters there preventing all ships from entering the river and approaching that coast. When some Scotch ship approached bringing several officers from Holland to serve in the war, it detained it and made the officers prisoners.
Meanwhile all the property belonging to Scots in this kingdom has been seized and sold, though on the express condition to deposit the price to be restored to those of the owners who voluntarily return to their allegiance and repent their past errors.
The Spaniards use all their arts to encourage the old suspicion that the French and Dutch are fomenting the rebels. The Cardinal Infant has this week sent to the Court a Jesuit father to represent to his Majesty the decision of those princes to afford their vigorous assistance, and offering to join the Dunkirk fleet with his and jointly thwart all attempts. The king is well aware that by these proposals the Cardinal only aims at obtaining protection for Dunkirk, threatened by the French fleet, which cruises in the Channel unchecked, eighty sail strong. He decided not to accept the offer and sent back the religious to his master with only a ceremonious answer. Yet he does not give up his inclination to thwart with caution the enterprise of the French, which is considered most mischievous to the safety and repose of this kingdom.
The Earl of Leicester has orders not to delay any longer his return to the Most Christian Court, and his departure is fixed for Saturday. His instructions differ in no way from the original ones, though I find that he is charged very secretly to temporise in his transactions rather than work to secure a conclusion, although with the purpose not to cut the thread of negotiation altogether.
The Duke of La Vallette speaks of his troubles with more passion than prudence, announcing his intention to adopt the most hazardous courses in order to show by his animosity the innocence of his actions, and there are not wanting those who encourage him by possibly ill founded promises, to attempt some pernicious revolution.
The French minister here has lost all hope about the Scottish levies. He has been deceived by many and finds no one willing to take up the charge honestly during the disturbances in that country.
London, the 10th June, 1639.
June 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya, Venetian Archives.
664. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Resident informed the Assembly in the States, by royal command, that the Scots have been declared rebels. By virtue of the friendly relations with his Majesty he asked them to forbid their merchants to trade with the Scots, and to uproot their mart which is planted at Rotterdam. Their High Mightinesses heard this demand with no good will and with little intention of paying any heed to it, since it means cutting the throat of a well established trade which brings a considerable benefit to the people here for the disposal of their cloth. They replied that in order to give due consideration to the proposal they must take time to discuss it.
At the moment they are devising some excuse or colour to justify their refusal and so to evade the request. They believe that the king has been moved to prefer this in order to sound the disposition of these Provinces over the affair of these Scots, and to forestall any disposition on their part to afford them assistance covertly. The king is very uneasy about this, not only because of the way in which the Scots in their acts, have followed the principles of the government here, but also by reason of the tacit connivance shown here in past months over the transport of arms to that kingdom.
The Hague, the 10th June, 1639.
June 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
665. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Several couriers from the king have reached the queen lately and all bring hopes of an approaching agreement with the Scots. They show the most perfect readiness for it, and having obtained a safe conduct they have sent a deputy to his Majesty to express their sincere desire for an adjustment, and with powers to develop the terms. After he had held several conferences with the ministers, they gave him the king's proposals in writing and allowed twelve days to hear the precise intentions of his superiors. Meanwhile the armies on both sides remain idle in their quarters, and the Scots have been ordered by the king to keep twelve miles from Berwick. They have confirmed this command by an edict of their own, to give some proof of their obedience. All show the greatest exultation at the reports of these hopes, which are designedly spread everywhere from the palace. But those who weigh the real value of these things, without prejudice, consider the enemy's proposals merely a device to gain time, and to give them the means to withdraw from the campaign without spoiling the harvest of the present year. The future will soon show what is the truth.
Several ships have sailed from Dunkirk which, in addition to capturing some French barques have detained other vessels which were taking horses from Holland to Scotland. This circumstance affords further confirmation of the inclination of the Dutch to give a cautious support to the revolt, and increases their ill feeling here.
In order to remove the suspicions of the French minister here that this crown is once more treating with the Austrians for an adjustment of the affairs of the Palatine House, the king has directed the Secretary of State to make him some explanation, pointing out that the last overtures were started by the Cardinal Infant, and were not taken up here ; his Majesty holds steadfastly to his original principle, not to budge from the agreement made with France on the subject. But the ambassador is well informed and knows that their actions do not coincide with these statements altogether. He is by no means satisfied and tries to obtain more open declarations that will pledge his Majesty to break off utterly all negotiations with the House of Austria. It is not easy to achieve this ; as their increasing desire, encouraged by the Spaniards, to marry the princess here to the Prince of Spain, and their fixed determination not to bind themselves to the arbitrament of France alone, do not allow them to let drop absolutely the means of negotiating with the Catholic.
The ship London has reached these shores from Smyrna, having made a good passage with favourable winds. The captain assures the ministers that he heard there that the Persian arms had won a glorious victory over those of the Grand Turk. This news has given just satisfaction and they sent it to the king. I have tried to obtain more absolute assurance of the truth of this but have failed to get any satisfactory confirmation.
This ship brings a heavy cargo of currants, taken from the Turkish states. The use of this was introduced into that country a few months ago, and those interested in the Levant Company hope to make very considerable profits therefrom, to the detriment of those of Zante. (fn. 2) There is no more to record, and I deeply regret that the barrenness of the soil does not permit a minister to gather fruits fit to assuage the just curiosity of your Excellencies. I have your letters of the 20th and 27th ult.
London, the 17th June, 1639.
June 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
666. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Admiral of these Provinces recently boarded an English ship coming from Spain, on which they found troops or money for the Spaniards. The King of England remonstrated and sent 7 men of war to the Admiral, asking by what authority he had made this search.
The Hague, the 17th June, 1639.
June 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
667. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Two weeks ago an extraordinary courier from England reached their ambassador here. He at once saw the king and the Count. It transpires that he had business of importance. So far as one can gather he promised the alliance of his king with the House of Austria on condition of obtaining help against the Scots. He stated, however that it was not proved that France had any hand in those disturbances as the Most Christian had cleared himself very satisfactorily. He urges the marriage alliance between the prince here and his king's daughter, declaring that in that case they will see more than ever the results of the alliance that he offers. The Count, as usual, was profuse in his expressions and promises, but it is not clear how they can be fulfilled.
Madrid, the 18th June, 1639.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
668. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
To appease the king of England with respect to the trade with the Scots, which their High Mightinesses are reluctant to stop, they propose to take in hand the affairs of the Indies, thus returning to a subject which has lain dormant for a long time and to revive it with the object of satisfying the English by way of justice. The people of Amsterdam do not agree to this project and protest that they will not abide by any judgment except that of the directors of their Company.
The Hague, the 23rd June, 1639.
June 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
669. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The conditions proposed by the king did not satisfy the Scots, and they sent back their deputy a second time to his Majesty with the terms which they demand. In these they persist that his Majesty shall confirm in their entirety the things carried in their Assembly ; that the fortresses of the kingdom shall all remain in the power of some of the confederates, and that the king shall undertake to withdraw all his troops from the frontier immediately. On the other hand the Scots are to keep all their troops until the final execution of the treaty. These most arrogant demands aroused his Majesty's just wrath and he dismissed the minister without an answer. He would not delay any longer making some trial of force and he has sent to Scotland the Earl of Holland, commander of the cavalry, and Colonel Axele, with 3000 foot, 1000 horse and ten guns, with orders to attack Scels. They approached this without opposition and took up a position on a hill two miles off ; but finding the place well garrisoned and ready for a bold defence, with General Leslie quartered no distance away with the bulk of the army, they thought it advisable to retire with all speed, and in some disorder, with serious danger as the enemy followed closely. Their strength and courage constantly increase and they advanced to within sight of the royal force, and planted their quarters there, without respect. They are well entrenched and closely observe the king's movements. He is hurriedly trying to increase his army with new troops.
They have sent urgent orders to Ireland for the prompt raising of 10,000 more infantry, and have directed the county of Lancaster to supply 6000, they propose to add the latter to the army and to send the former to Carlisle under the command of Henry Bruce, an officer of repute, to make a simultaneous attack from that side as well.
Amid all these disturbances and preparations neither side has given up negotiation. When I saw the queen yesterday for the customary complimentary office, she told me she had received a letter from the king that day which left an opening for hope that the Scots might abandon their exorbitant demands and allow his Majesty to listen to an accord. She expressed her desire for this and her passionate wish to see these differences terminated without worse humours. The royal revenues are incapable of coping with them any longer. The daily increasing want of money with the impossibility of fresh provision causes the ministers the gravest anxiety. They all openly advocate, with a view to the interest and reputation of the crown, that it is advisable not to delay an adjustment.
The Ambassador Fildin returned here from the Court two days ago. He has lost his hopes of an honourable post near the king and of the marriage to which he aspired, and so he thinks of returning to his embassy very soon. (fn. 3)
The Duchess of Chevreuse still delays her return to France, and contrary to her assurances they say she inclines to go to Flanders rather than elsewhere. She negotiates constantly with the Catholic minister here, causing the attention and suspicions of the French one. He has persevered with his offices to put a stop to the invitation of the Spaniards to treat separately with this crown about the Palatinate. Here, while they profess to France that they have no inclination to take up negotiation with the Austrians again, they do not altogether quench the hopes that they will embrace the proposals which may be offered to them. So this old affair remains in a fluctuating position, which is just what the House of Austria aims at.
London, the 24th June, 1639.


  • 1. See Cal. S.P. Dom. 1639, page 189.
  • 2. The development of the currant trade with the Morea was the subject of resolutions passed at the meeting of the Levant Company held on the 10th March 1637. In the following July Wyche was notified by the Company of the appointment of Henry Hyde to be consul at Patras, and that the sole buying of currants in those parts was placed in his hands. S.P. For. Archives. Levant Co. Vol. III (Letter Book) and Vol. 149 (Court Book.)
  • 3. From a draft settlement among the state papers it would appear that Barbara Lambe, the lady to whose hand Fielding aspired, was affianced about this time to Thomas lord Wentworth, son of the earl of Cleveland. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1638-9, page 261.