Venice: August 1639

Pages 561-569

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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August 1639

Aug. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
686. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I gather that two weeks ago, because of my offices with the Ambassador Fildin about a declaration from the king of England upon the conference of Brussels and the passport for the Palatine, the Secretary Cuch had orders to write to me. This seems to be delayed and without this step, it appears from what the Ambassador Grimani asserts, that it is impossible to obtain any satisfaction from Cæsar.
Sciarleville, the 4th August, 1639.
Aug. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
687. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Persuaded by very strong letters from the queen and the whole Council of State the king has decided not to go to Scotland, and they hope he will make up his mind to come back here speedily, where the ministers await him with impatience. They propose to send a commissioner to take part at the parliament at Edinburgh. They have not yet appointed anyone, as all try to evade the task, which is recognised as very weighty and little likely to bring honour to whoever takes it up, since the Scots have now learned his Majesty's weakness by experience, and utter very high flown ideas. Without regard to the agreement they have issued a new protest at Edinburgh, at once insolent and seditious, in which they quite openly display their fixed intent to keep entire the authority they hold in the kingdom, leaving the king with the title and the mere shadow of authority. I enclose a translation of this protest.
When returning from Scotland to England the fleet fell in with five Dutch ships of war, which it seized without resistance and brought into the Downs. The reasons for this seizure have not yet transpired. (fn. 1) Everyone is curious about it, and those who most favour the Spanish party hint at the beginning of some ill feeling owing to past events between this crown and the States.
To the regret of the wisest ministers we have heard here the sad news of the death of the Duke of Weimar. (fn. 2) This utterly puts an end to the hope that his army might proceed to recover the Palatinate, as he seemed to intend, after completing his operations in Burgundy. Many English officers felt disposed to fight under the glorious flag of so distinguished a captain. Colonel Douglas in particular, a servant of your Excellencies, intends to go in that direction, and then offer himself to you for new employment. We hear rumours, though not sufficiently accredited, of negotiations for exchanging Prince Rupert against Prince Casimir of Poland.
In order to secure against accident the money destined for Flanders, the Catholic minister here, under the guise of a private person, offers his Majesty 12,000 crowns if he will allow a ship of the fleet to proceed to Spain to lade that money. As yet the king does not agree to the proposal which the French ambassador does his utmost to oppose. This makes it probable that the Spanish minister will not find it easy to obtain this convenience.
With the growing heat the plague makes progress in this city. Several houses near this embassy are seriously affected, compelling me to take great precautions to avoid danger.
My letters from your Excellencies this week are of the 9th ult. When his Majesty arrives I will execute my commissions, communicating the last very weighty advices from Constantinople, and expressing appreciation for the prudent offices of the English minister at the Porte. I have got his Majesty's orders repeated to the new ambassador, and if your Excellencies see fit I can easily get new orders sent, although it will always be most difficult to obtain any assistance from this crown beyond mere words and offices.
London, the 5th August, 1639.
Enclosure. 688. Protest of the Scots (1) that they will stand by the Assembly at Glasgow. (2) that the deposed bishops shall be treated as men accursed. (3) that they intend to maintain the Covenant. (4) that all who advised this thing evilly shall be punished in the next parliament. (5) that judges and subjects who fail to appear at the next sessions, shall be excused, and its acts, if any shall be null and void. (6) that they mean to retain full liberty and the right to increase their powers.
[Italian ; 3 pages.]
Aug. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
689. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch ambassador has made the most vigorous remonstrance to the royal Council this week about the arrest of the five ships of war. They offered every excuse and expressly stated that it had been done without orders from his Majesty, and at the first opportunity they would send firm instructions to the commanders of the fleet to release the ships promptly. This entirely satisfied the minister and settled the matter, to the disgust of the Hispanophiles at this staying of further quarrels between this crown and those Provinces. The king left Berwick and arrived yesterday at Theobalds, ten miles from here. The queen, followed by all the Court has gone there to meet him, and they are expected in this city to-morrow, with much joy.
Things in Scotland remain as before, without sign of improvement. The people are quite determined not to receive bishops, and to punish severely their past liberties, which means that they propose to sever themselves from obedience to this crown under this pretext.
With these constant troubles, openly supported by the applause of the Puritans here as much as by the Scots, and to secure himself from greater dangers the king has at last been obliged to conquer his repugnance, and grant England a parliament also. It is quite clear that in this there is very serious trouble in store not only for the Catholics but also for His Majesty's most confidential and experienced ministers.
The Prince Palatine has unexpectedly decided to cross from Holland to this kingdom. After landing he sent a gentleman to the queen while he hastened to the king. It is supposed that by his presence he hopes to work upon his uncle's feelings (tenerezze) and dispose him to do something to relieve the fortunes of that most noble house. (fn. 3) In the present troubled state of affairs and the very great scarcity of money it is not likely that his reasonable requests will meet with any response.
The negotiations for the very rich match for the Ambassador Fildin (fn. 4) are approaching a conclusion, and then they say he will return to his post at Venice without further delay. The Earl of Leicester similarly says he is going back to France at the earliest opportunity, where he has instructions to press again for the exchange of Prince Rupert for Casimir of Poland. This is all I have to relate of the most poor occurrences here. I have received your Excellencies' letters of the 21st ult.
London, the 12th August, 1639.
Aug. 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
690. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Some Dutch vessels have captured the English ships which were conveying 1000 infantry from Cadiz to Corunna, whence they were to transport them to Flanders with others who were there. The soldiers were made prisoners and the ships released and allowed to continue their voyage.
Madrid, the 13th August, 1639.
Aug. 17.
Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia, Risposte. Venetian Archives.
691. With regard to the memorial about Thomas Simons, seeing that Western merchants trade in every place in the Levant, it is in their power to limit purchase by their agents. But as vendors have equal liberty in selling we do not see what regulations can be imposed upon these English. The most that can be done is to order the state representatives to render every assistance to the inhabitants, not permitting the English to make themselves a monopoly in the purchasing. On the other hand it is to the public and private interest to sell the currants. Accordingly we consider it both useful and necessary to satisfy and encourage this nation to proceed under favourable conditions.
Dated at the office, the 17th August, 1639.
Alessandro Basadonna Savii.
Alvise Morosini, the second
Piero Pisani
Aug. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti, Venetian Archives.
692. To the Ambassador in London.
You must continue on the watch as to whether the Ambassador Fildin really means to return to Venice or to remain in England. The difficulties with the Scots have not ceased and all particulars of the progress of that affair are of importance. Our differences with the Turks have been finally adjusted, with honour to the republic. We enclose a copy of the information imparted to the foreign ministers here. You will speak to the same effect to his Majesty and the ministers, expressing the state's appreciation of what he has done and for his promise of help. We agree to the suggestion to reckon the time spent by you in Spain in the length of your public service.
Ayes, 89. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
On the 19th August in the Collegio :
First vote : Ayes, 16. Noes, 4. Neutral, 2.
Second vote : Ayes, 19. Noes, 4. Neutral, 1. Pending.
On the 25th in the Collegio :
Ayes, 16. Noes, 5. Neutral, 1. It requires 5/6ths.
Aug. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
693. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king proceeded from Theobalds to this city on Saturday, and on the following day I went to congratulate him on his safe return, assuring him that your Excellencies would rejoice that by his authority and prudence he had assured the tranquillity of these most noble realms and augmented his own glory. His Majesty spoke in the most friendly way of your Serenity and said that the happy termination of his civil discords would make it easier for him to respond in the relations he wished to maintain. I then referred to your appreciation of the recent offices of his ambassador at the Porte, declaring that he had admirably vindicated his Majesty's zeal and piety. I went on to tell him the very serious news from Constantinople, showing how it concerned the common welfare of Christendom. The king said he was very glad to hear of the good offices of his minister. He remarked that the threats of the Sultan would provide the best means for producing quiet among the Christian princes, and he was inclined to procure this by the most energetic offices. I applauded this as worthy of his lofty spirit and of the just intentions of your Excellencies.
The Palatine arrived here with his Majesty. He laid aside his claims to the electoral title and consented to see the French ambassador with that of Highness only. After calling on him for the usual offices of courtesy, I hastened through the Master of the Ceremonies to inform the prince of my readiness to visit him on the same terms. The Palatine sent back word that he would be very pleased to, but as he did not deal with the Venetian ambassadors at the Hague on the same footing as with the French, he could not do it here either. I expressed the utmost astonishment at this monstrous idea, and maintained that I could not believe that the ministers of your Excellencies had put up with a treatment different from that of other crowned heads. They have equal treatment at all the Courts. But the Palatine stuck to his point that he had made this distinction. In order not to seem to beg of this young princeling that which is readily granted by the greatest powers, I told him that my intention to see the Palatine was only as a further testimony of respect to his Majesty. With this the Master of the Ceremonies departed, and he has not let me know anything more on the subject, which means that they have tacitly allowed it to be untenable. This unheard of pretension has disgusted all the foreign ministers and compelled me not to see this tactless prince. I have sent word to the Ambassador Giustinian at the Hague.
London, the 19th August, 1639.
694. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Since his Majesty's return letters have arrived from the Lord Treasurer of Scotland stating that with the exception of the question of the bishops, the nobles there are inclined to satisfy his Majesty, and the chief difficulty lies with the common people, who persist in keeping up the rebellion. With the seeds of dissension growing between them and the nobles, there might be an opportunity of intervening with arms amid their discords, which he did not neglect to encourage, to re-establish the royal authority.
Meanwhile the ecclesiastical assembly opens this week, and this Treasurer is appointed to act in his Majesty's stead there. The city granted the king 10,000l. sterling as a testimony of its satisfaction at his happy return, but he, mindful of their steadfast refusal of the help he asked, refused the gift with stern remarks, thus increasing the ill feeling among the citizens here.
The chief reasons which induced the Palatine to come here are the desire to obtain his uncle's assistance about Brisach, and to obtain the command of the army of the late Duke of Weimar, or, if this is impossible, to induce its commanders to turn against the dominions of Bavaria. They hold long consultations at the palace, discussing the best way to set these very difficult plans going. Their chief architect is Sir [Oliver] Flam, who recently returned from his residence with the Swiss. They have sent letters in haste to the Weimar officers in order to find out their leanings, and to the Swiss, upon whose movements their best hopes of success are founded. The king has also written to urge them strongly to support his nephew, with specious promises, profiting by their nervousness at the proximity of the French. They have not yet formally approached the French ambassador, but only sounded him through a private individual. They certainly fear that the Most Christian may spoil the success of their projects. The wisest recognise the very serious difficulties in the way, multiplied by the lack of money, the only thing that can give these transactions life. The king is the more attached to them as they raise vain hopes of alarming the Austrians without committing himself and inducing them to make some honourable composition.
The Polish prince of Rasuil has arrived at Court under the pretext of private curiosity. The Palatine took him to see the king, and says he will do so again. This excites the belief that he brings instructions from Poland to smoothe away past ill feeling and to arrange with France for the exchange of Prince Casimir against Prince Rupert.
The cost involved by the queen mother's stay at this Court becomes ever more troublesome. They have sent expressly to ask leave from the Cardinal Infant for her to return to Flanders. His reply is very reserved ; that it must depend upon the Catholic's wishes, to whom he has written. Everyone agrees that the Spaniards will not agree to her return in order not to lose, while adding to their own expenses, the very great advantages which her stay here gives to the interests of that crown. The French ambassador, on the other hand, has some misgivings that, persuaded by her daughter and by necessity, with the withdrawal of her monthly allowance, the queen mother may cross unexpectedly to France.
London, the 19th August, 1639.
Aug. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
695. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Their High Mightinesses have learned that the king of Great Britain has released the four Dutch ships of war seized in the Downs. (fn. 5) This act, by evading the consequences, may be due to his reluctance to make the concession and it therefore tends to intensify still further the bad impression which is nurtured among the members of the government here about the disposition of the king of England to prefer regard for the House of Austria to the interests of these Provinces. There are some here who do not fail to deduce from past emergencies the evidence of mutual ill feeling between England and these Provinces, for the purpose of using incidents which happen to occur to form a basis for evil impressions.
The Hague, the 19th August, 1639.
Aug. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
696. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The restitution of the ships by England does not seem assured. Accordingly the disposition towards the most jealous feelings is stimulated more and more, intentionally provoked by the interests concerned. This feeling has been further intensified by news originating from Hamburg that the English ambassador, having recovered some jewels to the value of 120,000 reichs thalers, deposited with the king of Denmark, (fn. 6) has opened negotiations with that monarch for an understanding and to consolidate it by the signing of an alliance. This is very far from what was expected and equally remote from the interests of these Provinces, for in the present state of affairs the union of those two crowns by no means suits them.
The Hague, the 22nd August, 1639.
Aug. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
697. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Prince Palatine stays on at Court, and the ministers have met frequently this week to discuss his important concerns, the king always being present, but we do not hear of any definite decision so far. All seem to agree that it is necessary to urge France to take up sincerely the protection of this house. Everyone of the councillors declares that under present circumstances any other idea is vain. On the other hand the French ambassador does his best, to rid his Majesty of his inveterate principle of professed neutrality. He has repeatedly assured the king of the readiness of his master to help his nephew, if England supplies vigorous assistance in men and money. His Majesty only answered with generalities, and so confirms the belief that the Palatine will get little or nothing from his journey.
No news has arrived from Scotland recently, and they are waiting with impatience to hear about the first meetings of the ecclesiastical assembly. From the proceedings there they will be able to judge what measures the king shall take, whether to assemble parliament in that kingdom or to take steps a second time to reduce the rebels by force. His Majesty seems much inclined to this, and many nobles are already charged to collect troops with the idea of sending them to the frontier, and secure it against any sudden invasion.
The unparalleled scarcity of money greatly hampers his Majesty's spirited designs. The ministers hold lengthy meetings to discuss raising more. Every day they examine plans for obtaining from the people without friction the amount required by the urgency of the situation. But all involve inextricable difficulties. As the sluggish mind of the Treasurer is considered incapable of surmounting these, they think of making a change and giving the post to the Viceroy of Ireland. (fn. 7) Besides his distinguished birth this man has the reputation of great ability, and by employing him his Majesty believes he can more easily achieve what he wishes. His Majesty has in the end accepted the 10,000l. which he refused last week, and is now devising a way to induce the merchants here to pay him a larger sum.
The Prince of Rassvil remains in this city and will not leave before the Palatine does. He proposes to accompany him to the Hague. Nothing more is said about his offices. As regards the King of Poland I do not find that they went beyond the usual compliments. His Majesty showed him every attention, went with him to the chase and gave him a public banquet.
Through the Master of the Ceremonies his Majesty has expressed his appreciation of my readiness to visit his nephew. That prince has justified by false excuses his unusual conduct in refusing me this honour. He repeated that your ministers at the Hague, since his father's death, have received no treatment different from what he has observed with the Dutch ambassadors. He said he had never given the position that he is accustomed to concede to the French. To these novel pretensions I have simply renewed my former expostulation, saying that your ambassadors had never received a different treatment from those of France, and this pertained at all the Courts. Perhaps it would be well to inform the princess, his mother, and when she knows she will probably correct this odious behaviour of her son for the future.
London, the 26th August, 1639.
Aug. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
698. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The States here have reiterated their instructions to the Ambassador Joachimi to repeat his remonstrances about the behaviour of the English ships. He is to go so far as to tell the king plainly that if they continue to go on in the same way in the future, their High Mightinesses wash their hands of all responsibility for any unfortunate incident that may occur, allowing their sailors all liberty to uphold their rights by force of arms, and even supplying them with some assistance for the purpose. In the meantime it has been decided to proceed against the captains of the ships seized, because they did not attempt any resistance against the English, but voluntarily allowed themselves to be taken where they were commanded by the guns of a fort, to the prejudice of the rights of this government, which extend, so they claim, to the fullest possible use of the Ocean.
To meet the efforts of the English Ambassador Ro at Hamburg for the establishment of an alliance between Denmark and England, they attach importance to the reports spread here of some suggestion of an alliance between Sweden and these Provinces. This would be diametrically opposed to the other alliance, which has no other fundamental basis than correspondence for trade in the Baltic.
The Hague, the 28th August, 1639.


  • 1. The Dutch ships were the Utrecht, 28 guns ; the Prince William, 32 guns ; the Deventer, 28 guns ; the Overrice, 26 guns ; the Tertoole, 18 guns : they were taken at anchor off Folkestone by Pennington on the night of the 20th July o.s., because he heard that a Hamburg ship the Fortune, sailing from Dover for Madeira had been boarded and carried off by two Dutch ships. The Fortune was, however, released at once. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1639, page 411.
  • 2. He died at Neuenburg in Baden on the 18th July.
  • 3. He landed on the 6th August and set out at once for Berwick. Bellievre to de Noyers, the 8th August. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
  • 4. Barbara daughter of Sir John Lambe.
  • 5. On the 20/30th July. See No. 687 at page 561 above. There were five ships, not four.
  • 6. See Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, page 402.
  • 7. There had been talk of superseding Juxon as early as February. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1638-9, page 378.