Venice: September 1639

Pages 569-576

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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September 1639

Sept. 1.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
699. The 1st September, 1639, in Pregadi. (fn. 1)
To the Proveditore of Zante, and the like to the Proveditore of Cephalonia.
We have asked the opinion of the Magistracy of the Five Savii and that of Sig. Zuanne Capello, returned Inquisitor in the Levant, about the affair of Thomas Simons, who went as a general agent of the English merchants to your island, for the purchase of currants, with special reference to the trade in currants, which is the essential commodity of our subjects in those islands.
We have decided that Simons shall return to those islands and stay there for the next two years, so that we may see how he comports himself and decide, according to his behaviour, about his further stay there. Enquiries to the hurt of our subjects must not be allowed, but liberty to trade is to be granted. Purchases must be made in a suitable straightforward manner, and we direct you to warn Simons to abstain from anything that might lead to a more severe decision. He may sue for his debts and you will support him with the arm of justice, as will be convenient, exercising the ordinary authority of your office. If he acts differently you will inform us of what takes place.
That when the Secretary of England comes to the Collegio he be informed in conformity with the foregoing.
Ayes, 141. Noes, 2. Neutral, 9.
Sept. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
700. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Scots opened their ecclesiastical assembly at Edinburgh last week, as arranged. They closed it after only three sittings, in which they unanimously confirmed their decision to yield nothing of their old proposals, and to uphold their claims to their last breath. They further declared in most arrogant papers printed and carefully circulated in that kingdom and this, that the terms hitherto published were merely to gratify the king, and to save his face, asserting freely that by secret promises he granted them all that they asked. This disagreeable news has rendered his Majesty very bitter. He has protested in public proclamations the falsity of these divulgations, and he has forbidden, under severe penalties, anyone to read or even keep these papers in his house. He enjoins every one to present them within a week to the Secretaries of State, and that they shall be burned in public squares by the common executioner, and this has been done. He seems determined not to pass this over and circulates reports that he will take the field in the spring to humble the pride of that people. This may be very well, but in practice it is confronted by insuperable difficulties, as besides the lack of money there is the spirit of the people of England, who all loudly and openly applaud the spirited action of the rebels. Meanwhile the king loses no time in furnishing the frontier fortresses with more troops, and he has urgently ordered the improvement of the fortifications of Berwick and Carlisle. He also thinks of sending the fleet to Scotland to cut off their trade as well as their hopes of assistance from foreign princes, whose promises, they suspect, have fomented this revolt.
Amid these troubles the Palatine stays on, though he seems unable to persuade his uncle to take those spirited steps that his cause requires. The Ambassador Joachimi says that his masters have become suspicious of secret transactions between the crowns for an agreement excluding the Dutch and the other allied powers. Such negotiations cause apprehension not only because of the Palatine house but for their own interests also, as if these great princes are set free, one might devote its attention to supporting the rebels in Scotland and the other proceed with his pernicious designs upon Ireland, where the Spaniards have an influential party.
Count Rossetti of Ferrara arrived in this city on Monday from the Court of Rome, and was met publicly by the leading ladies. He comes as agent of the pope in the place of Monsignor Coneo. He saw her Majesty two days ago, and performed the first complimentary offices. As the king also was designedly present, he offered compliments to him as well, on behalf of Cardinal Barberino, to the scandal of the Puritans, in particular. (fn. 2)
The Prince of Ratisvil, seeing the Palatine is staying longer than expected in this country, has taken leave of his Majesty and gone to the coast on his way to Holland ; one of the king's warships will take him.
London, the 2nd September, 1639.
Sept. 3.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
701. The Secretary of England was summoned to the Collegio and informed of the Senate's decision about Simons, that he might return to Zante, he said :
I confess my special indebtedness for the relief given to this person. My king will hear of it with great satisfaction, and will be ready to respond when an opportunity occurs, for the advantage of merchants of this nation, and to show his desire for ever closer union and cordial relations with this republic. I ask your Serenity also to despatch the affair of the merchant Hider, who laments his ill fortune and would like relief. I am sure your Serenity will terminate that difficulty also. The doge expressed his willingness, and with this the secretary departed.
Sept. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
702. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The usual pleasures of the chase have detained his Majesty in the country latterly, and so they have done no business of consequence at Court all this week. News comes from Scotland that on the completion of the ecclesiastical assembly his Majesty's deputy (fn. 3) confirmed without cavil the most prejudicial decisions taken therein, and with his consent they are getting ready for the meeting of parliament to ratify the things established. As these things are completely contradictory to the sentiment of recent proceedings here and the severity of the proclamations issued this causes amazement in everyone including the wisest and most influential ministers, as no one yet knows whether it is due to the partiality of the commissioner for the Scots, or because of secret commissions from his Majesty, for the purpose of putting a stop to more pernicious disturbances, and awaiting a more favourable opportunity for his most righteous aims.
They talk freely at the palace about the approaching change of many of the leading ministers. The queen's master of the Horse (fn. 4) has already been declared Vice Chamberlain, which means the Council of State. It is also confidently asserted that besides the Treasurer, the Lord Keeper and the Chamberlain, old but Puritan ministers, will soon be changed, also of set purpose, in favour of persons entirely dependent on his Majesty, with the idea of cautiously weakening the Puritan party, especially with a parliament here. It is thought that the king cannot long put off the meeting of that body, of which men speak with increasing freedom, while the people murmur and protest, after the example of the Scots, that they will not suffer further delay.
The Palatine is waiting with impatience for the answers of the King of Denmark and the Swedes to the invitation to unite with this crown to set up the fortunes of his house. Although the ministers purposely circulate reports that the king will grant that prince a levy of 4000 Scots and as many English, giving him his pension for six years in advance for the cost with promises from his Majesty to maintain those troops, there is no sign of anything that would justify hopes of this being done. Although the French ambassador performed a special office on the subject he got nothing from the king calculated to start a stable agreement.
Meanwhile the Palatine is enjoying the pleasures of the Court. His suite state that the air of the country suits him and he wants to prolong his stay as long as possible though it is not thought that his uncle will allow him.
A sharp fever has kept the queen mother to her bed for some days. Her last attack yesterday was so much less severe that the physicians hope she will soon be well and relieve this crown of the cost of such a long and troublesome entertainment. The growing expense forces them to try and reduce it, and they propose to make her assignment 2000l. sterling a month instead of 3000l.
Monsignor Coneo leaves for Rome to-day. He had rich gifts from the queen and the leading lords at Court. The queen ordered that a ship of the fleet should escort him to France, as if he were an ambassador. (fn. 5) He takes very many gifts to the pope and the Barberini on behalf of her Majesty.
The marriage of the Ambassador Fildinch is made and consummated. (fn. 6) He tried in vain for the post of Vice Chamberlain, and now seems to have made up his mind to wait no longer but return to his embassy at Venice with his wife.
The letters from Italy have not arrived this week, the way being blocked by the forces of the late Duke of Weimar. For the command of these the Duke of Longueville has been selected by France, but the Palatine has not given up aspiring to it, as he hopes that the ministers here will not consent to Germans fighting under any but their own countrymen.
London, the 9th September, 1639.
Sept. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
703. That the Secretary of the king of Great Britain be summoned to the Collegio and that the following be read to him :
The ways of justice are never interfered with in the republic, and in the case of Laurence Hider the delegation of special judges would only lead to confusion and would prejudice justice itself, so we feel sure that the ambassador will recognise the impossibility of our doing more.
Ayes, 116. Noes, 0. Neutral, 8.
Sept. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
704. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Lester is back at Paris from England. He has intimated to the Court that he has instructions to ask for the exchange of Prince Rupert, to discover if there is any inclination to grant it. Very little can be seen at present, indeed the Cardinal said to me recently that the King of Great Britain was not on such intimate terms with France as to claim the power of recovering his kinsmen at her expense.
Lyons, the 18th September, 1639.
Sept. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
705. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king returned to this city on Friday, but only for two days. Although suffering from fever I saw his Majesty on Sunday, and told him of the honourable arrangement made by your Excellencies with the Turks in the matter of the Barbary galeots. This has added to your reputation at this Court, and I have not failed to point out that your Serenity chiefly considered the public welfare and to spare Christendom a troublesome war, at a time of division among its princes, and to secure that the pirates shall not be supported in the future by the Ottoman House and ministers, but that they may be attacked everywhere, without consideration. I went on to speak of your appreciation of his Majesty's offers. The king beamed with pleasure and said he had already heard the good news of this accommodation, and his gratification was doubled by my assurances.
The ministers, in the presence of the king and Palatine have held further lengthy meetings both here and in the country about the unhappy affairs of that house, but as they persist in their old principles of not going outside their professed neutrality, while the shortness of money grows worse daily, their deliberations suffer from their original uncertainty. Yet they propose to send back Flam with all speed to the Swiss, in order, through him to get that nation to take up the affairs of that prince.
A reply to the king's letters has arrived from the commanders of the Weimar army. It amounts to this, that if this king will support his nephew with monthly subsidies sufficient to maintain their troops in vigour, they have no objection to receiving him to command that force. They are now diligently circulating from the palace the report that the Palatine will very soon proceed thither. Everyone knows that this is done designedly in order to alarm the Austrians, especially at a time when the King of Denmark is negotiating with the Imperialists for the benefit of this house.
Don Antonio d'Ochendo arrived in the Channel on Friday from Coruna, with 66 ships. When he arrived between Dover and Dunkirk he found the Dutch Admiral waiting for him with 28 well armed ships, full of courage and impatient for the fight. A fierce battle took place, lasting two whole days. (fn. 7) At last Ochendo, showing more discretion than spirit, approached Dover with all his fleet, to take refuge under the castle. The Dutch followed closely and took up a position a short distance from the Spanish fleet. They have cast anchor and are now waiting for the enemy to attempt to get to Dunkirk, in order to join battle again. The Dutch have only lost two ships, one burned and the other sunk by gun fire. An equal number of the Spaniards were captured, and the Dutch have sent with all speed to Holland and France for reinforcements, which are now ready and very powerful, so we hear. The Resident of the Catholic here is doing his utmost with the ministers to induce the king to allow the fleet to help his master's cause in this emergency, but so far he has made no impression on his Majesty. Although he greatly dislikes the action of the Dutch, which is prejudicial to the authority he claims in these waters, yet the king completely dissimulates his feelings, and seems disinclined to meddle between the two powers. Meanwhile everyone is awaiting the outcome of this conflict with the utmost eagerness. All say it is the greatest since the famous rout of the Armada of Philip II glorified their seamanship here.
Eight other English ships have reached Plymouth from Spain recently. There they landed 1,800 foot and 900,000 ducats, both intended for Flanders, affording just cause for remonstrance to the French and Dutch ambassadors. (fn. 8)
The parliament in Scotland goes on. Bowing to necessity alone his Majesty has at last agreed to all the prejudicial enactments of the last assembly. Besides the expulsion of the bishops the Scots have ordained that the ecclesiastical order shall never at any time be admitted to the political or economic government of that kingdom. This considerable encroachment on the royal authority causes his Majesty great apprehension that the same pernicious sentiments may raise their heads in this kingdom as well.
The Ambassador Fildinch is making fresh efforts to obtain a post in the king's household. His mother and all his relations are working hard for this. They are favoured by present circumstances, when they are anxious to cut down all unnecessary expenditure, such as they consider the embassy to your Excellencies, where the distance between the states and the dissimilarity of interests separates you from the concerns of this crown.
London, the 23rd September, 1639.
Postcript : a courier has just arrived from Dover with the news that a reinforcement of thirty Dutch ships has reached their Admiral and he now has sixty-three well equipped vessels.
Sept. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
706. To the Ambassador in London.
Unjustifiability of the Palatine's claims with regard to the treatment of the republic's ambassadors. Nevertheless the republic will not relax its efforts with the emperor on behalf of that House. To gratify the Signory the emperor has consented that the Palatine shall be at liberty to attend the congress at Cologne, which had been refused before. You will refer to this in such manner as you think proper, informing his Majesty of it at a special audience.
Ayes, 150. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
Sept. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
707. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spanish and Dutch fleets still remain between the Downs and Dover. The latter, reinforced by many ships of their own country, is momentarily expecting further reinforcements from France, while the former is the weaker by 14 smaller Dunkirk ships, which carried a million in cash and the greater part of the Spanish troops, which seized the opportunity of a favourable wind to proceed safely to Dunkirk. (fn. 9) Meanwhile the Spaniards do not relax their offices and other means with the ministers to obtain assistance from his Majesty that will enable them to return to Spain without a fight, and enjoy the old privileges of the realm, which provide that when the fleets of hostile powers arrive simultaneously in these ports, one must stop until the other has had twelve hours' start. The Dutch ambassador labours to prevent them having this advantage, and he protests openly that their Admiral is determined to engage in a fresh battle with Ochendo at all costs.
So far the king has replied to both in general terms. He has ordered many private ships to arm and join the fleet, which are now in the river, under the specious pretext of making sure, especially if the French fleet comes, that nothing shall be attempted by all these foreign ships, which might discredit the English shores. But the real purpose is to lay down the law to these fleets, in the present serious circumstances, and so vindicate on the one hand their claim to the control of the Channel, and on the other cautiously to favour the passage of the Spaniards, to whom they have shown a distinct partiality by supplying powder and other requirements. News comes that the Cardinal Infant has gone to Dunkirk to hasten the preparation of a number of ships and send them with all speed to succour Ochendo. Although that officer had the advantage of his enemy in the number and quality of his ships, he has not won the reputation of a brave warrior, a title conceded by all to the Dutch Admiral.
After the long discussions of late, it has at length been arranged that his Majesty shall pay the Prince Palatine three years in advance of the pension of 12,000l. that he has from this crown, with a promise that the king will further supply him with such assistance as the circumstances require, according to the amount of his success against the enemy and the spirited nature of his behaviour. The prince now declares that he will proceed without further delay to the army of the late Duke of Weimar. By means of this money and his uncle's protection he hopes he may facilitate overtures not only for the command of those forces but for obtaining Brissac as well.
In order to give some apparent satisfaction to the French minister here, especially with the Palatine going to Germany, the king has required from Telier an account of his operations at the Imperial Court. As a sign to the French that he never consented to such proposals he has had Telier sent to the Tower of London, to defend himself against the charges brought against him. Everyone recognises that this severity is designed to uphold the veracity of their original declarations, and so people believe that the matter will end with a reward for that minister instead of punishment.
The differences with the King of Denmark about the debts he claimed from this crown have been completely settled by the Ambassador Roe. With this that king has resumed his previous friendly relations and promised to make strenuous efforts with Cæsar for the relief of the Palatine House.
The sittings of the Scottish parliament approach their end without any further troubles. In England complaints come from many of the towns, which seditiously demand the removal of some rites recently introduced into the Anglican Church by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The plan of reducing the monthly assignment to the queen mother, who is now recovered and in perfect health, has failed owing to the influential offices of the queen.
London, the 30th September, 1639.
Sept. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya, Venetian Archives.
708. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Their High Mightinesses have seized the opportunity of the Spanish fleet taking refuge in the Downs to suggest that the money of the Spaniards be seized under colour of a loan to his Majesty, and as a device for avoiding the perils of transporting it, and that this be used as a fund for the purpose of enabling his nephew to take command of the army of Duke Bernard. They propose to support this suggestion by the offices of their ambassador with that king. The Princess agreed readily, although everyone sees beforehand that the attempt is doomed to failure and is based rather upon an illusory speculation than upon sound judgment.
The Hague, the 30th September, 1639.


  • 1. There is a copy of this letter in the S. P. Venice, Vol. 43.
  • 2. Rossetti reached London on Sunday the 20th August and was introduced to the queen by Conn on the following day. Rossetti to Barberini the 23rd August o.s. P.R.O. Rome Transcripts. He had left Rome on the 10th June n.s. Ferragalli to Conn, the 11th June. Ibid.
  • 3. John Stewart, earl of Traquair, treasurer of Scotland.
  • 4. George, lord Goring. He was appointed on Sunday the 4th September, this old post being given to Henry Jermyn. Salvetti on the 9th Sept. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962H.
  • 5. He had gifts from the queen, the queen mother, the Countess of Arundel and others, valued at 12,000 crowns in all. Sir John Pennington was ordered to convey him to Dieppe. Salvetti, the 16th Sept. Brit. Mus. Add MSS. 27962H. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, page 463.
  • 6. Lord Fielding was married to Barbara, daughter of Sir John Lambe on the 12/22 August. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, page 452.
  • 7. According to Aitzema, Saken van Staeten Oorlogh, Vol. ii. page 610, the action began on the night of the 18th Sept., but Sir John Manwood, writing from Dover Castle that same day says it began 'this morning between 1 and 2 o'clock ... in sight, not half seas over between Dover and the high white cliffs opposite.' Cal, S. P. Dom. 1639 page 491.
  • 8. The Royal Exchange, capt. William Brown, with seven other vessels, sailed from Coruna on Wednesday the 7th Sept. n.s. with Oquendo's fleet and reached Plymouth on the 12th. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, page 476.
  • 9. Salvetti writing on the same date says that 15 small Spanish ships got through the Dutch fleet on Friday the 23rd and that the Dutch ambassador attributed this to Pennington's assistance. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962H. The specific charge made is stated in a letter from Northumberland to Pennington of the 16th Sept. o.s., which gives the number of ships escaped as fourteen, Cal. S. P. Dom. 1639, page 504.