Venice: July 1639

Pages 551-561

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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July 1639

July 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
670. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
His Majesty has sent a gentleman of rank express to tell the queen at the persuasion of his ministers he did not break off negotiation, and the Scots having sent six deputies to the camp, they have every hope of a composition, and nothing remains to complete it but the signature of the articles agreed upon. This should happen in a few days. (fn. 1) Meanwhile, as a sign of his sincere goodwill he had permitted the Scots to kiss his hand, and prepare themselves, when the troops have been mutually disbanded, according to the agreement, to proceed to Edinburgh to take part in the parliament, by whose means the things established are to be confirmed. The particulars of these are not yet published amid the great rejoicings everywhere at the happy news. All laud to the skies the steadfastness of the Scots, and everyone feels sure that these troubles will have cured the king completely from making revolutionary changes in the future, and that he will also be more anxious to please his people here.
To prove his devotion the Scottish General Leslie has expressed to his Majesty his readiness to take his force to the service of the Palatine, and he asks for no assistance but the maintenance of his men until they have crossed to Holland. When there he has no doubt about obtaining what is necessary from the enemy's country, while he can also serve the king's nephew. The offer pleased the king, but they have not yet decided about carrying it out, as just now they seem more inclined to assist that house by negotiation than by arms. At Brussels they are expecting plenipotentiaries from Cæsar and Bavaria for this purpose, and at their arrival a minister will certainly be sent from here, in addition to Gerbier, to set the affair going. But they keep this decision a most severe secret, as his Majesty is not altogether sure whether the Imperialists will send their deputies there in the manner they promise.
The Dutch Admiral has taken up a position in the Channel between the Downs and Portland, with twenty six well armed ships. He is waiting for the fleet which is to bring troops and money to Flanders from Spain. The Dunkirkers also have sailed from their port and boldly attacked many ships taking money from France and the French ambassador in Holland. The last was killed in the fight and the ship was captured by the enemy. The same fate has befallen ten small Dutch ships which sailed from the Downs last week laden with goods and other munitions of war, on their way to their own country.
London, the 1st July, 1639.
671. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have seen the Ambassador Fildinch since his return from the Court and he repeated his determination to set out for Venice in a few weeks. He said he had fresh instructions to confirm his Majesty's willingness to assist the public cause vigorously in the present affair with the Turks. He added, as is customary with this minister, a long rigmarole about his master's goodwill to the Senate. I responded suitably assuring him of the value your Excellencies placed upon his Majesty's offers and generous proposals. I tried adroitly to discover how far the most serene republic could count upon help from this quarter in case of need. I observe that the offers represented by this ambassador and made to me so freely by his Majesty have no other object so far as the king is concerned than to perform the courtesies which the situation demands, and the ambassador is only trying to show his devotion to your service.
News comes today that six English ships have arrived at their ports from Spain, laden with infantry for Flanders and with sixty chests of specie. Three fell in with the Dutch fleet. After some firing the Dutch Admiral said that he wanted nothing except the Spanish troops in accordance with the old standing arrangements. The English captain wisely decided to hand them over promptly, and so 800 Spaniards remain in the hands of the Dutch. Everyone observes with curiosity the others, who without allowing themselves to be seen by the enemy, were brought by the other ships to Plymouth. (fn. 2) They will be escorted to Dunkirk by the royal ships. The restraint shown by the Dutch captains in taking the men and leaving the money, has done much to assuage the ill feeling caused by overhauling the other English ships, which anchored off here just recently.
With your Excellencies' letters of the 4th ult. I receive the paragraph from Corraro's. With respect to what he wants about the passport for the Palatine and about not treating of the affairs of that house at Brussels, Fildinch has spoken to the king, as the result of what Corraro said to him at Paris, and his Majesty directed the Secretary Cuch to inform me, so that I might assure his Excellency that he had never agreed to the treaty of Brussels. All that Tellier did at the Imperial Court was without any commissions whatever, as he had not even the insignia of a minister of the crown. When he returns he will be punished as he deserves. I need not comment upon this, especially as I have written more than once that in the present disturbances of the realm, their fixed idea is to prolong this business, and not entirely break away from the secret negotiations with the Austrians, intent on dragging the negotiations to Brussels. I know your Excellencies would not approve of your minister committing himself in a matter which, according to the habitual duplicity of the ministers here, would not be observed, to their shame, or to instances which, if published might although unreasonably, cause offence to some of the parties.
London, the 1st July, 1639.
July 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
672. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Expectation of French attack on the treasure fleet. Oquendo has orders to bring it safe to port without running risks. Meanwhile the ships from Naples have reached Cadiz. In their place they are sending the infantry required in Italy by English ships, which have undertaken to convey them. A large proportion of them have died or are dying for lack of necessary provision.
Madrid, the 2nd July, 1639.
July 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
673. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Admiral of the States sent an express who arrived yesterday, with news of the seizure of 1070 Spanish soldiers, called "bisogni" but destitute of every requisite (bisogno), whom he found on three English ships. After a mutual exchange of canon shot he boarded them and searched them carefully, without finding any cash beyond 15,000 florins, consigned by the Spaniards to the English sailors, in anticipation of some such encounter, for the cost of transport, in advance. These ships were surprised in the mouth of the English Channel. It is said that it was a precaution of the Spaniards in order that they might estimate the chance of sending the rest of the fleet, believing that by sending these on they would serve as couriers along the route and to test the possibility of following.
The Admiral has fresh orders to so dispose his fleet that he can keep a careful watch between Boulogne and the English coast. The Admiral has landed the Spaniards in France, only keeping the officers.
The Hague, the 4th July, 1639.
July 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
674. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The composition with the Scots has been arranged, to the great joy of the people and of the Puritans in particular. I enclose the articles. All the foreign ministers conveyed to the queen and prince their gratification, myself among them. After the signing of the peace the king chose to proceed to the hostile army, reduced to 20,000 picked foot and 4000 good horse. After his Majesty had seen them they were all to be disbanded within 48 hours. It seems that General Leslie's offer to serve the Palatine House in Germany has not been accepted, his Majesty adhering steadfastly to his inveterate maxim to avoid anything that might affect the neutrality he professes, which maintains a fruitful quiet here.
The king, impatient of remaining away from his wife any longer, is expected next week at Theobalds, a house of the crown ten miles away. They think he will stay there incognito and then proceed to Edinburgh to assist at the parliament, as agreed, which is to be held there next month. Although we hear that the Scots are prepared to insist pertinaciously therein that everything shall go as they please, yet everyone adheres to the belief that fresh troubles will not be started, since his Majesty, from mere necessity is disposed to give them every satisfaction, even without consideration for the rights of his own sovereignty.
If the king receives ambassadors at Theobalds I shall not fail to go there and perform offices according to circumstances, expressing the gratitude of your Excellencies for his offer to support the public cause in the affair with the Turks, and I will try to increase his professed goodwill.
The Catholic minister here has landed at Dover 400 Biscayan soldiers, who were brought from Spain and did not fall in with the Dutch fleet. He intends to send them over to Flanders one by one in English barques which go to Dunkirk every day. The others remain in the hands of the enemy. It seems that the Dutch admiral, to avoid the useless expense of keeping them, thinks of taking them again to the coasts of Spain and landing them there in several places, not permitting the Spaniards to avail themselves of that levy any more. The colonel and all the officers of the regiment, who were not recognised and so got off, have come to this city. They complain aloud against the English captains for giving up the soldiers to the Dutch after a slight resistance, when they had made such solemn promises. (fn. 3) Meanwhile all those who have the greatest interest in the route to Spain are using every effort with the ministers so that the king's ships may be commanded to return as soon as possible from Scotland to the Channel and prevent foreign fleets from troubling the ships of this nation any more. They are all afraid that if the Dutch and the French fleets unite they will completely destroy the trade of Spain, which is so profitable to this mart.
London, the 8th July, 1639.
Enclosure. 675. Articles of the peace concluded the 27th June, 1639. (fn. 4)
[Italian, 2 pages.]
676. Reply of His Majesty to the Lords of the Covenant touching their demands presented to him on the 2nd June, 1639. (fn. 5)
[Italian, 6 pages.]
July 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
677. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The States have debated upon the capture of the 1070 Spaniards reported, as some disapprove of the Admiral's action in not keeping the ships and prisoners. Some would have wished them sunk, in order to strike terror, and not to have let them off unscathed. The English could not make this a grievance, as the king expressly told the ambassador that he had not granted his ships for the transport of men and money to Flanders, and the merchants acted at their own risk and without his consent. They think that this gives them an opportunity to deal rigorously with the ships engaged in this traffic, and they are inclined to send for the admiral to defend his action. But after two days' discussion they decided in favour of the Admiral.
As the English Resident was going home they sent deputies to inform him of the circumstances and to complain of this open encouragement of the Spaniards to the prejudice of an allied and friendly state, and even hint at taking further steps if occasions arise in the future.
The Prince has issued a proclamation to prevent English soldiers from leaving the army and taking money and a passport from the Spaniards to cross from Dunkirk to England, as many have done, grown tired of idleness.
The Hague, the 8th July, 1639.
July 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
678. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Princess Palatine and her children are pleased at the settlement arrived at between the King of England and the Scots. They think that with this difficulty removed that king may be able to devote himself more to their relief, and use the forces he has raised for the restoration of his kinsmen as well as for the advantage of his kingdom. The hope is encouraged by the news that he has assembled a large number of ships, without the object being known. The Palatine family interpret this to their advantage.
The Hague, the 10th July, 1639.
July 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
679. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Talk of the king's return here has stopped and so have the preparations for him at Theobalds. It seems that his Majesty has changed his mind and he will not leave Scotland until the things agreed upon are fully completed through parliament, and an assured quiet established in that kingdom. Hopes of a thorough re-establishment of the royal authority depend solely upon the duration of that quiet. Meanwhile everything is being arranged for the meeting of parliament, and they proceed with caution in order that it may take place without disputes. The Scots have promptly dismissed all their troops and the king has done the same with most of his, only keeping some companies for the protection and dignity of his own person. This goes to strengthen the belief that everything will pass quietly.
From Holland the Princess Palatine has sent the agent of this crown to greet his Majesty and implore fresh help for the tiny forces of her son, which cannot take the field owing to recent disasters, for lack of money. She feels confident that the successes of the Swedes over the Imperialists which they announce there as remarkable, (fn. 6) render it easy for the Palatine to attempt something promising.
The Dutch ambassador has instructions to perform the most vigorous office for helping that prince to realise his spirited designs, and thereby increase the difficulties of the Austrians. But his Majesty and all the ministers are more partial to the interests of that House, and the ambassador has no chance of doing anything useful. This person has gone post to the Court in order to set things going, but so far one hears nothing of his negotiations. Their successful progress will meet with a serious check from the exceeding scarcity of money in the exchequer, caused by the exigencies of recent events in Scotland.
The Dutch Admiral has avenged by capturing many Dunkirk ships the injuries inflicted by the Dunkirkers on the ships of his countrymen which sailed from the Thames these last weeks. He sailed away with all the fleet from the shores of England, and proceeded to Dieppe, where he landed the Spanish infantry, so that they may be recovered by the enemy for the usual ransom. He has now taken to the sea again, and has his fleet spread off the port of Grave, inflicting constant and serious discomfort on the Dunkirkers.
At the instance of the merchants his Majesty has remonstrated with the Dutch ambassador through the Secretary of State, to the end that the States shall direct their naval commanders to abstain in the future from overhauling in the Channel ships carrying the English flag. Everyone feels sure that this office will induce the Dutch to act with more restraint than hitherto, in order not to cause greater offence.
French malcontents hold very frequent meetings in the house of the queen mother, constantly discussing schemes for making trouble for that crown. Leading ministers do not cease either, with the influential support of that queen, to induce the king to connive at this, so that they may get a good start with their ill devised and reckless plans.
Two extraordinary couriers, from Spain and Flanders respectively, have arrived at Court to-day. At their appearance it was noticed that the minister of the Catholic had a long conference with the Secretary of State. The object of these unexpected missions has made everyone curious, but limit of time has not permitted me to find out. I will try to do so and send word next week.
I beg your Serenity to have money voted for me for couriers and the carriage of letters.
London, the 15th July, 1639.
July 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
680. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English announce that the negotiations at Hamburg are on foot again and are making great progress. But M. d'Avo reports differently. The Ambassador Leicester does not appear at Court. The Agent Oger expresses ideas about the affairs of Scotland better calculated to foment ill feeling than to establish unity and confidence between the two crowns. Madame de Chevreuse, despite her satisfaction as announced, does not leave England, and her proceedings cause reasonable suspicions.
Amiens, the 16th July, 1639.
July 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
681. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Since my return to the embassy the ambassadors of France and England, and the Imperial Resident have been to see me. I told them all that the principal cause of the trouble was the disunion of the Christian princes. I thanked them for their advice and their readiness to carry out the orders they had received, but, thank God, I did not need any of them. It was fortunate this was so, as not one of them was in a position to help me. The French ambassador was never at home ; the English ambassador unable to see the king and harshly used by the Caimecan, while the Resident has never been able to get audience.
The Vigne of Pera, the 21st July, 1639.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
July 22.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
682. To the Ambassador in London.
The difficulties with the Scots seem on the point of ending. If quiet is re-established you will congratulate his Majesty and the ministers in our name, expressing our satisfaction at the prosperous issue. Enclose sheet of advices.
Ayes, 108. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
July 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
683. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The carrying out of the peace with the Scots has been upset by fresh difficulties. They have re-established their original confederation, without regard for their agreements, and have sealed it by renewing their oaths. They labour ceaselessly at fortifying the coast at Leith. They stripped Edinburgh castle of all its munitions and of everything necessary for defence, and handed it over in that state to the ministers sent by his Majesty. They allow the introduction of no other munitions, save those for the daily maintenance of the few troops who guard it. This means that they intend to be able to re-enter it at will. Against those who stand fast for due obedience to the king, they persist in their hostile attitude, and show their temper in other ways, which all tend to show that they do not intend to give up their army altogether.
His Majesty, on his side, disarmed and having scant credit with his subjects still remains at Berwick, not altogether certain as to whether to advance, as arranged, into Scotland. Those who have most influence with him, advise him that it is better to send commissioners to assist at the parliament in his stead, and thus escape the insult of being a spectator of the violent proceedings of that people, it being impossible to repress their insolence by force.
All the commanders and leading ministers have returned to this city. Everyone speaks most highly of the discreet behaviour and generous proposals of the Scots, showing their strong partiality for that side. Some suspect, with good cause, that the English have secretly fomented these disturbances with the intent of forcing the king to concede a parliament to this kingdom also. That is the single goal to which the efforts and murmuring of the people aspire, the Puritans in particular, who have the most power at present.
As a counterstroke to past losses the Spaniards sent out this week from Dunkirk a number of barques well supplied with guns and troops. They fell in with seven Dutch vessels laden with sugar, convoyed by two of the States' ships of war on their way to Rouen. After a furious fight they captured the ships with their warships as well, inflicting a most serious loss on those concerned at Amsterdam. They announce the booty captured as considerable. (fn. 7)
With respect to the agreement for the restitution of some English ships seized by the Dunkirk fleet, the Agent Gerbier sent a courier last week from Brussels. One from Spain brings the Catholic's desire for the complete restoration to confidence of his minister here, with pressure to induce his Majesty to choose someone to proceed to Flanders with all speed, to conduct the overtures, which the Austrians now profess their inclination to push forward for the benefit of the Palatine house. They have informed the king of this by a courier, and the progress of this old negotiation will depend upon his precise wishes. It no longer seems strange to anyone. The queen has sent Sir [Kenelm] Digby to the pope in the capacity of agent. This does not escape criticism, because of the reputation of this gentleman as a clever pirate, and of having changed his religion three times.
London, the 22nd July, 1639.
July 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
684. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king's intention about going to the parliament to be held next month at Edinburgh remains doubtful, and the queen is waiting for more certain intelligence of his intentions with great impatience. The leading men of the Scottish covenant were to be presented to him on Monday, in order to lay before him the most difficult particulars of the proposals which they claim must be enacted in the parliament. It seems that from these they will be able to judge better of the king's intent to proceed to Scotland or to return here as the ministers would prefer.
Meanwhile the Scots have consented to suspend the work at the fortification of Lit, provided the ships of the fleet are sent back to England, affording equal satisfaction to the people of that kingdom and to the merchants of London, who hope that on the arrival of the English fleet the Dutch will show more respect for English ships in the Channel. Even to the French ambassador his Majesty has expressed his resentment at the liberties taken by the Dutch fleet with the ships carrying his flag, charging him to write to France so that the Archbishop of Bordeaux may not begin to practise the same hurtful liberty. The ambassador replied, however, roundly, that if English captains, contrary to treaty, persevered in taking munitions and money to help Flanders, under the pretext of merchandise, causing serious prejudice to his master's affairs, France was obliged to take every precaution to prevent it. They suppose this is intended to make shipmasters uneasy about what they have done, with the danger, if it goes on, of more serious consequences.
The Princess Palatine, by a gentleman sent express, redoubles her instances for speedy assistance in men and money, while the French ambassador here, by order of the Most Christian, actively supports this. But all has proved in vain as yet, his Majesty merely gives his sister fair words and promises that she shall enjoy the fruits of his goodwill when the affairs of Scotland are thoroughly settled. This does not encourage the hope that anything for the benefit of that house will be done soon.
400 Spanish infantry passed through this city this week on their way to Dover, to be taken across to Dunkirk. The Duchess of Chevreuse still delays her return to France. She hints to the minister here that she has opened negotiations with the Duke of Lorraine calculated to lead to the settlement of his affairs with the crown of France, and that she is expecting to hear from that prince daily, when she can set the affair going with all sincerity. These pretences do not sufficiently explain away the suspicions aroused by her lengthened stay at this Court. The hopes of the Ambassador Fildingh for a marriage with another very rich lady have revived, and he is now bending every effort to bring it to a conclusion. (fn. 8) All talk of his speedy return to the Venetian embassy has now died away.
Today I receive your Excellencies' letters of the 24th ult. the 1st and 8th inst. With respect to the Count of Egmont I may say that he has a perfect knowledge of Italian, French, Spanish and Flemish. He has no military discipline beyond what he has learned in the wars of Flanders as a simple adventurer in the regiments of the late Marquis Spinola. His fortune is not equal to his high rank, as the ancient large possessions of his house are mostly in the hands of the Spaniards and Dutch at present. This makes it more likely that he will moderate his claims to anyone who thinks of giving him employment.
London, the 29th July, 1639.
July 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
685. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The accommodation of the king of Great Britain with the Scots has been heard of with indifference. It is thought that the decisions of that sovereign will not give rise to anything startling. The Ambassador Lester has not appeared yet. He has orders to negotiate for the exchange of the Prince of Poland against Prince Rupert. The Princess Palatine so writes to the King of Poland. There should not be so much delay over this business. They certainly say nothing about it here, as yet.
Mesieres, the 30th July, 1639.


  • 1. The Scottish commissioners were the earls of Rothes and Dunfermline, Lord Loudoun and Sir William Douglas, sheriff of Teviotdale with Alexander Henderson and Archibald Johnstone. They first came to the king's camp on the 11th June o.s. ; a second meeting was held on the 15th. The king's messenger was Sir David Cunningham. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, pages 304, 310-2, 315.
  • 2. Arrangements for the transport of troops to Flanders were made early in the year in Spain, with Benjamin Wright, presumably a merchant. The chief executive agent was Thomas Davis, master of the ship Experience. By May Davis was ready with his own ship the Providence, Rainbow, Industry and another. They took on board 1500 soldiers and though urged to wait for the fleet, then making ready under Oquendo, and offered 1000 ducats a piece for doing so, Davis persisted in sailing without escort his own ship mounting 30 guns. On the 28th June three of his vessels fell in with the Dutch squadron in the channel commanded by Tromp, then on the look out for Oquendo's fleet. He made them heave to and took off 1070 Spanish soldiers. Of the other two one got to Portsmouth and landed 300 men. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, pages 94, 274, 306, 328, 390, 391. Le Clerc : Hist, des Provinces Unies, Vol. ii, page 192. Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. ii, page 609. Salvetti's despatch of 1st July. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962H. Hopton's despatches of 28 Feb. and 8th May. S. P. For. Spain. Mem. Hist. Espana, Vol. xv., page 308.
  • 3. The colonel was Don Simon de Mascarenas. See Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, pages 391, 407
  • 4. Rushworth : Hist. Collections, vol. iii., page 1022.
  • 5. Rushworth: Hist. Collections, vol. iii., page 1020. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, page 313.
  • 6. The Swedish general Baner defeated the imperialists at Chemnitz and Brandeis in April, taking Pirna, but he achieved no further successes.
  • 7. Salvetti, writing on the same day says that this stroke was achieved by 12 large frigates of Dunkirk. The value of the cargoes was estimated at 100,000l. sterling. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962H. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, page 392.
  • 8. See No. 669 at page 551 above, and note. Lord Wentworth appears to have broken off the match some time in June, and Fielding's suit was at once revived. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, pages 320, 321, 426.