Venice: November 1639

Pages 589-597

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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November 1639

Nov. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
724. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king shows more and more bitterness against the Dutch. The French and Dutch ambassadors try to mollify him, pointing out that what they have done is quite in conformity with an article of the old alliance, which gives the Dutch liberty to pursue their enemies into the mouths of the rivers and to the shores of this kingdom. This does not satisfy the king, who openly professes that this permission was objected to on other occasions as prejudicial to the rights and dignity of the crown. Meanwhile he has countermanded the orders to Pennington, who, instead of coming here, is to stay in the Downs, and if the Admiral Tromp comes back to these ports he is to make him prisoner. But the admiral has gone away, being possibly aware of the design, after having, with some small boats, at night, carried off a Spanish ship from Dover, where it had taken refuge in terror. He is now off Grave, trying to inflict more damage on the Spaniards. Their losses are found to be greater and greater, many other ships in addition having been lost on the coast of France. Ochendo's own galleon, unable to enter the port of Dunkirk which was not deep enough, was abandoned by the commander to the discretion of the enemy, after he had dismantled it. The Catholic minister never ceases his outcry against Pennington, declaring that on the evening before the battle the Dutch Admiral presented him with a very rich diamond, on condition that he did not interfere with his plans.
They have sent a courier hastily to Spain with full particulars, with orders to represent to the king how much has been done here to prevent this unfortunate occurrence, within the terms of the neutrality they profess.
Under the pretext of fresh remonstrances about the damage which the Dunkirkers continue to inflict on fishermen, subjects of this crown, they sent this week to the Cardinal Infant the Lord of Norghet, a person of great distinction. I find that they have given him other more weighty instructions, which are kept secret, and given him a despatch which he is not to open before he reaches that Court. (fn. 1)
News reached his Majesty yesterday of the arrest of the Prince Palatine at Molins. This has caused great perturbation and diminished the hopes of his obtaining the command of Weimar's troops.
When they supposed the fire of civil discord to be completely extinguished in Scotland, fresh and more pernicious disturbances have broken out. The nobility, fomented by the covenanters, have changed their mind and have not allowed the dissolution of parliament. They have unanimously agreed that not only shall it meet every year in future, but it has also been decided, in order to give the common people a greater interest in the revolt, that instead of the bishops a lower chamber shall be introduced, as is the custom in this kingdom, but which has never existed there before. Upon those who adhered to the king's side in the late events, they have laid all the expenses incurred to resist the royal arms, by a heavy tax, and by an even more serious infringement of the sovereignty of the crown, have forbidden Scottish subjects to traffic between that kingdom and this. These measures give rise to very serious anxiety and the suspicion daily increases that they are deliberately fomented by France and the Dutch, equally. At the palace they say freely that in the spring the king will again take up arms against that people ; but the unlucky experiences of last year, the bias of the English towards the Scots, and the great scarcity of money, make it unlikely that this will be realised. To provide against a surprise of Dumbarton castle they have sent many companies of soldiers there, and amid these great difficulties his Majesty has added to the Cabinet Council, who are the ones to prepare the most important deliberations, the Marquis Hamilton, the Viceroy of Ireland and the Earl of Northumberland. In long and frequent consultations with these he discusses the measures to be taken to meet the present serious dangers, and then they devise means to keep within bounds the neighbouring foreign powers in the future.
London, the 4th November, 1639.
Nov. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
725. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters arrived yesterday from the ambassador in England, fifteen days after the event. I gather that they have only served to increase the perplexity here. Joachimi says that he could not see the king earlier because he was away hunting, and when he told him the king said nothing but showed his resentment by his expression. They believe here that the king's hostile views are encouraged by the Spanish ministers and by the Hispanophile English ministers. These persons stir up a monarch inclined by his own instincts to placidity, telling him that so great a king cannot swallow such an affront. They hope here, all the same, that the king's natural kindliness will permit the matter to be put right without too much difficulty. Thus there is a general confidence here that the king's annoyance may easily be changed into moderation and tranquillity provided the Spaniards by their outcry at such an opportunity, do not succeed in eradicating entirely the natural instincts of the king of England, and carry him away along with their own ardour.
They are hastening the departure of the ambassador extraordinary, who is also to introduce negotiations about the trade of the coast towns, which is extending to the sea outside the Downs (per il comercio delle citta marittime che si distendono al mare fuor delle Duna). This trade is giving rise to serious prejudice to these Provinces, and so they wish to seize the opportunity to arrange so that it shall not do any further injury to the vital interests of this republic.
The greatest anxiety of the States is lest the event should produce a close union between Spain and England, to the detriment of this country. From the king of England, alone, who has not enough power to spend sufficiently unless parliament meets, they do not fear any molestation which would be more than their forces could deal with, but from both crowns together the greatest perils would result, as they would not be able at the same time to keep up a stout resistance to the forces of Spain on the one side while on the other they had to meet the attacks which the king of England could make.
The Hague, the 5th November, 1639.
Nov. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
726. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
They have held long deliberations over the last despatch from England. However they have not altered the instructions for the ambassador extraordinary, though they are urging his departure. He should start today. The long consultations held in England on the subject cause them anxiety, though they take comfort from the known temper of the king and from the obvious advantage which the trade of the kingdom has gained.
The Hague, the 7th November, 1639.
Nov. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
727. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The news of the arrest of the Prince Palatine was quite true. The secrecy of his journey and the intrigues of the English Resident to establish him in command of the armies of the late Duke of Weimar, which already caused offence, contributed greatly to the king's decision, as soon as he had the news from Buglione, to order his arrest. The idea here and what the ministers publish, that he tried to get this command to open the way for the settlement of his interests with the emperor, may serve to render his release difficult. Some of the most influential already say openly that if he had not cherished designs inimical to the king's service he would not have concealed his operations. If he wanted to fight for the common cause in Germany he knew well that with the King of Great Britain co-operating, His Majesty would have given him the means and considered him always as his ally. Meanwhile they have sent a regiment of horse to bring him to the Bois de Vincennes. To put off the outcry of Leicester the king has informed all the foreign representatives that until he has returned and rested some days at St. Germains he will admit no one to audience.
Nevers, the 9th November, 1639.
Nov. 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
728. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In order to hear from the French the reasons they allege for stopping the Prince Palatine at Molins, and Lord Crever and Sir [Oliver] Flam at Paris the king has sent a courier this week to the Most Christian Court. If, these persons are not allowed to continue their journeys before his return, he propose to send an ambassador extraordinary for the same purposes, with further instructions to make additional efforts to find out what France is doing to encourage and help the rebels in Scotland. The parliament there keeps passing ever more audacious measures, arousing just resentment in the king. The report gains vigour that he means to make a fresh effort with his arms in the spring against that people. The viceroy of Ireland, the minister who at present enjoys most influence with his Majesty, never ceases to incite him to take violent measures, declaring that that kingdom will supply promptly 20,000 men paid, and there are already many officers of that nation who offer their services with devoted loyalty.
We hear that the States have selected Aerssens to come as ambassador extraordinary to evince their respect and show the necessity which obliged them to attack the Spanish fleet in the very ports of this kingdom. He is expected at this Court very shortly. Meanwhile the Catholic resident works hard to keep his Majesty's feelings inflamed, while steadily intimating the readiness of his master to marry his son to the princess here, if nothing occurs to change him. This proposal is the one that attracts the king and queen most, and so the Ambassador Bellievre labours to discredit the assertions, publishing that that prince is married to a daughter of Cæsar, and that he expects to receive the terms arranged by the first couriers.
Don Antonio di Castro got off to Dunkirk this week with ten of the ships which were beached here on the day of the fight, and the majority of the Spanish soldiers who were here on English barques have also proceeded in that direction. Two ships, also from Cadiz, arrived at English ports two days ago with 400 chests of money, destined for Flanders.
The Earl of Arundel pursues his plan of conquests in the island of Madagascar. For this purpose and as a token of friendship the king has given him a well armed ship, and the earl is hastily equipping others, in order to prosecute his difficult undertaking at the earliest moment. The courier with letters from Italy has not arrived this week, and in the absence of material I beg your Excellencies to pardon the poverty of this sheet.
London, the 11th November, 1639.
Nov. 11. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives. 729. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Reports from England announce the indignation of the king at the event in the Downs and his decision to send an ambassador to remonstrate. The States are urging on their own ambassador so that he may arrive first. But the anxieties of the government here are lightened by the king's pre-occupation over the arrest of the Palatine, and they are thinking more about turning their victory to the best account. They believe that the king's own interests will lead him to dissimulate the affront.
The Hague, the 11th November, 1639.
Nov. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
730. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Palatine arrived at the Bois de Vincennes the evening of the day before yesterday and was put in the highest apartment of the tower where Prince Casimir is, under strict guard, no one being allowed to visit him and he not permitted to leave the room. He seems little disturbed by the incident and passes his time very cheerfully, playing and diverting himself as best he may. He says the object of his journey was to pay his respects to the king and Cardinal and to communicate some important business. He had no other design. He hopes the king will grant him the interview at St. Germains that he would not permit at Lyons. His proceedings give credit to his good intentions, but do not dissipate the impression of the ministers here that he meant to advance his own interests in the army of the late Duke of Weimar. So soon as the king reaches St. Germains they will hold a general council, in which they will discuss these interests in particular, as so far no one will express his own sentiments with any freedom. The great confidence between the king of Great Britain and the Queen Mother and the malicious advantage that the Duke of la Valette takes of this opportunity, render the risings in Normandy much more redoubtable.
Moreta, the 14th November, 1639.
Nov. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
731. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Lord Treasurer of Scotland has informed the king by repeated despatches that fresh seeds of dissatisfaction have been sowed among the confederates, with indications of open divisions, and so he is working hard to profit by these circumstances to induce the parliamentarians to gratify his Majesty by the dissolution he ordered, postponing the conference until next March. He says he does not despair of his efforts bearing fruit and of inducing them to appoint deputies to develop the means for a useful composition, which will re-establish civil repose in both kingdoms, such as all desire who wish well for the king's service. At the same time his Majesty seems determined not to grant the Scots what they claim, and one of the bishops banished by the Assembly having recently died, he announced his successor without delay. (fn. 2) When this is known in Scotland it is feared that it will make fresh trouble there and destroy the efforts of the Treasurer.
Aided by influential representations the Vice Admiral Pennington has at last got them to change their minds and allow him to justify his conduct in the most difficult circumstances of the fight between the Dutch and Spanish fleets. He has sent the king a clear account of the matter, which has completely removed from his mind the odious suspicion that the Vice Admiral had an understanding with the Dutch. As they have a strong party in this country the hopes of the Spaniards to interrupt the old standing correspondence between this monarchy and those provinces by their remonstrances seem to dwindle away. By a special decree his Majesty has conceded as a gift to the Catholic king all the guns and other apparatus of the ships lost off these shores, and even waives his Admiralty rights, which are considerable. This courtesy has not entirely satisfied the Catholic minister here, and he urges more vigorous measures for the services of his master. But that is far removed from the intent of the ministers here, whose sole pre-occupation is to preserve the advantages of peace for this nation whatever the price may be.
A Spanish galleon entered the port of Plymouth two days ago. On the day of the fight it separated from the others, but owing to contrary winds it could not proceed on its voyage to Spain. For the same reason another, manned by 500 men has anchored at the isle of the Weit. It now lies under the fort there, surrounded by 28 Dutch ships, and there are grave misgivings that they may throw away all reserve and attempt to seize it there. We are anxiously waiting to hear what happens.
No decision has yet been heard about the arrest of the Palatine, as the courier sent to France has not yet returned. At the palace they have spent these days in continual dancing and other recreations, which occupy the attention of this idle Court more than anything else.
London, the 18th November, 1639.
Nov. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
732. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The aspect of affairs on the side of England is rather troubled than menacing. The States here take consolation from observing that the disturbances of Scotland are not entirely assuaged or quieted. The arrest of the Palatine, which the king has felt very bitterly, does not altogether displease them here, as every incident that adds to the troubles of the king of England favours them here, because the more involved he becomes in disturbances the more are they relieved from cause for anxiety. Joachimi writes that the Spanish ministers are trying to induce the king to pronounce that his coast has been affronted, but he will not be led so far. Arsem, the ambassador to England, is detained by contrary winds. Speculation is rife about the nature of his reception.
The Hague, the 18th November, 1639.
Nov. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
733. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The king and Count Duke are much perturbed by the news of the practical destruction of Oquendo's fleet by the Dutch. The ministers blame the King of England, saying that his friendship does not help them at all, as they consider that he ought to safeguard and escort them. They at once held counsel how to make good the loss. To reassure the king they told him there was an English entrepreneur (partitante) here, who offered to get them forty English ships. (fn. 3) Even if he did this, the lack or rather absence of sailors, munitions and troops would involve delay and difficulty, so there seems no prospect of a powerful fleet for next year.
Madrid, the 19th November, 1639.
Nov. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
734. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The deputies of Scotland, all extreme Puritans, (fn. 4) appeared in Court on Monday. We gather that their instructions are solely to adhere pertinaciously to the measures taken by their parliament to the prejudice of the king's sovereignty. His Majesty would not grant them the audience they asked, but ordered them to leave this city within six hours. They obeyed promptly and so the negotiations for a composition are completely broken off, and those to regain by the sword the hereditary control of that kingdom proceed.
The Viceroy of Ireland, whom the king trusts more than any one else, studies to advance his own fortune amid these troubles and increase his personal authority. Thus he urges his Majesty constantly to take spirited measures, and tells him that the Irish will help his just cause with 20,000 foot. He further holds out hopes that he will induce the clergy there also to supply prompt and vigorous succour. Those of England, through the Archbishop of Canterbury, have offered to maintain 10,000 men. All the bishops of this kingdom, in their own interests, are intent on urging that for the decision of these troublesome differences his Majesty must again appeal to the arbitrament of arms, since they are well aware that if their hierarchy is shut out of Scotland it will soon be cast down in England also, involving the loss of the authority and very rich possessions which they at present enjoy.
They have debated at length in the Council how to raise enough money to set on foot adequately the measures they propose to take. They decided at last to levy rigorously the old tax called "ship money." If this proves successful the exchequer will profit to the extent of 200,000l. a year, but as the people openly resisted payment in the past, it is feared that very perilous difficulties may be encountered in carrying it into effect.
M. di Norghet writes from Brussels that the Cardinal Infant and all the ministers welcomed him with every token of honour and friendliness. His Highness had sent a courier to Spain urging the Catholic to send an ambassador extraordinary to this Court, with definite instructions to settle the differences about the Palatine house and not only re-establish perfect correspondence between that crown and this, but some useful arrangement to counterpoise the preponderance of the Dutch in these seas. However the Ambassador Aerssens has arrived from Holland and makes his public entry into this city to-day. Everyone agrees that his prudent offices will mollify the king, who is susceptible to every impression, and consequently destroy the machinations whereby the Spaniards with such elaborate industry endeavour to hurt that state.
They have directed the Earl of Leicester in France to justify cautiously the Palatine's move and to try and obtain his speedy release. The original idea of sending another ambassador to that Court for this matter has died out, as now they do not show so much apprehension at the imprisonment of that prince as every one felt at the first news. This confirms that the ministers here care little or nothing about those affairs which are not absolutely inseparable from the most vital interests of the crown.
London, the 25th November, 1639.
Nov. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Francia. Venetian Archives.
735. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
They have had a long consultation about the Palatine, but nothing has been decided, as they want first to hear the views of the king of Great Britain and the tenor of the offices of his ministers. The Secretary Savigni having visited the prince and extended his accommodation has given rise to the belief that they think of releasing him if the King of Great Britain will pay the expenses of the late Duke of Weimar's army, as already they show some leaning to his having the command.
Prince Maurice, third brother of the Palatine, who was here in college, has gone to serve as a volunteer in the army of Baner, stimulated by the news of his successes. (fn. 5)
Paris, the 25th November, 1639.
Nov. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
736. Gieronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The ships which went ashore in the recent action have been refitted by the king of England and sent to Dunkirk, whither also the crews scattered about that kingdom were being sent back. The States thought that the king would keep the ships, which were only slightly damaged. They have instructed Harsem to remonstrate and to meet complaint by complaint. Joachimi writes that the king has intimated that he will not listen to a word about the fleet, but the States do not despair of their ambassador adjusting matters.
The Hague, the 28th November, 1639.
Nov. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
737. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador has been to the king this week to remonstrate strongly about the arrest of the Palatine and to press for his release. His Majesty replied that the manner in which the Prince passed through France and his designs in Germany had necessitated the action, which grieved them because of their esteem for the King of Great Britain and their affection for the Palatine : and they would try to find the easiest and readiest method for the common satisfaction. Such is the present state of the affair.
Paris, the 29th November, 1639.


  • 1. Edward Norgate, blue mantle pursuivant and clerk of the signet. His business was to present a justification of the king's action with respect to Oquendo's fleet. See his memorandum of 8/18 November. S.P. Foreign Flanders. Windebank to Gerbier, the 18th Oct. o.s, Cal. S.P. Dom, 1639-40, pages 43,44.
  • 2. James Wedderburn, bishop of Dunblane, died about this time. Laud to Roe, the 12th November. S.P. Germany, States. As there is no official record the appointment of a successor does not seem to have been persisted in.
  • 3. In a despatch of the 15th Dec. Bellievre writes that an Englishman named Reid has recently arrived from Spain with orders to hire fourteen English ships of 500 tons and over, to go to the West Indies. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
  • 4. The earls of Dunfermline and Loudoun were the leaders.
  • 5. On this same day Northumberland directed Pennington to provide the Expedition or some other ship to convey the prince from Dieppe to Holland. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1639-40, pages 98, 99.