Venice: May 1641

Pages 141-158

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 25, 1640-1642. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1924.

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May 1641

May 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
181. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the Upper Chamber has listened carefully for the space of five weeks to the accusation and defence of the Lieutenant of Ireland, the members of the Lower, fearing that the king's favour and the excuses offered by the accused would help him to escape the punishment of death, and desiring that he should no longer live, have declared him guilty of treason and today are presenting the bill to the Lords for confirmation. Although such a decision is unprecedented, the city here approves and has presented a paper to parliament to stir them up, stating that they will not be able to find the loan of 120,000l. promised unless this minister pays the penalty for his alleged crimes with his life, as the people express a determination not to contribute before they obtain this satisfaction. Other towns have made the same demand, and all together conspire not to pay the subsidies unless they first obtain this head. His Majesty, on the other hand is resolved to run risks rather than give way. The upper Chamber also shows itself much perturbed by this new step taken by the Lower, and lets it be freely understood that it will never grant them the prerogative of judging the peers of the realm, a privilege belonging to the lords alone, as it is clear that if they once granted this advantage to the people, every time parliament met it would be in their power to put to death any of the Lords, always unpopular with the lower orders, whom the people might demand. The king does all in his power to encourage this idea, in order to bring about an open division between the nobility and the people, whereby he hopes he may find the most effective means to re-establish his authority. But amid all this confusion and conflicting passions no one would venture to say whether this subtle design is likely to succeed. Every one fears that if the fire of these differences is not extinguished by the more prudent, it will finally break out in a terrible civil war, the issue of which cannot fail to be extremely ruinous to the royal house, no less than to all those who intervene in it.
Meanwhile His Majesty has secretly sent a sum of money to York to be distributed to the troops quartered there, with the idea of winning their favour and bias them in favour of impressions which time and opportunity may present.
In place of the Earl of Northumberland His Majesty has appointed the Earl of Holland to be the new general of those forces. Although he is a leader of the Puritans and an enemy of the Lieutenant, it is hoped that ambition and the profit of this charge may lead him to revise his opinions. To Portsmouth also, a sea port with a considerable fortress, he has sent Colonel Gorin to inspect the fortifications, and provide the place with everything necessary. It is said that in the event of fresh disturbances breaking out the queen proposes to withdraw there.
The Agent Gerbier has unexpectedly arrived at Court from Brussels this week, the resident with the Cardinal Infant. Although he asserts that he has come on private affairs, they speak differently at the palace, where all assert that he has brought important public business. But the particulars are secret and we must wait for time to disclose it. (fn. 1)
On Monday the young Prince of Orange arrived at Gravesend, and on the following day made his public entry into this city, being met by the royal coaches and the Earl of Lince, Great Chamberlain of the Realm. He went straight to the palace, where the prince and the Duke of York met him on the staircase. Giving him the place of honour they led him to their Majesties' apartments, who received him with great affection. The Dutch Ambassador Arsem spoke in his name, and this formality over he went on to visit the queen mother and then saw the princess his bride. In the midst of these formalities it was noticed that neither the queen nor the princess allowed him to kiss them, a privilege which is usually granted to princes who marry the daughters of this House. This has afforded further occasion for much talk, by no means favourable to the accomplishment of the marriage. The prince is now staying in the house of the Earl of Arundel, richly prepared for him by the king, who defrays him in magnificent style.
Owing to Holy week the rejoicings over the prince's arrival have been postponed until after Easter. Meanwhile all the Court and gentry are preparing gorgeous liveries and rich clothes for the celebrations which will take place. I also have bought new liveries, although of late I have been obliged to incur heavy expenses, and the heavy blows I have suffered in the course of my seven years' pilgrimage make me need rest rather than fresh disturbances.
After many days' delay the Portuguese ambassadors have seen the king a second time, and proposed to him an alliance between the two crowns, to establish some agreement for the benefit of trade. They asked permission to engage officers of this nation for the service of their king, and to facilitate their negotiations they asked for the appointment of commissioners. They also asked that the Catholic king should not be allowed to export food, munitions of war, levies of troops or to purchase ships, which might be used against the crown of Portugal. The king readily agreed about the officers and the appointment of commissioners, though so far these have not held any conference with the ambassadors.
Today I received your Excellencies' letters of the 12th ult. I note the rules you prescribe for dealing with these ambassadors and I shall await precise instructions from Sig. Corraro. Meanwhile I rejoice that I have committed your Serenity to nothing. Last week I sent my respects by the Secretary Agustini, but they have not yet responded. This is probably due to lack of experience rather than to ill will, but I shall not make any further advances before they do their duty, as I am sure they will.
London, the 3rd May, 1641.
May 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
182. Thadio Vico, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
It was reported yesterday that Count Chefniler had returned to Court and given himself up, confessing that he had wounded Colonel Lesle, his companion in the mission of Egra to the Archduke ; but said that he had been provoked. The cause is said to have been his claim, as a Councillor of State, to have full power also over the decisions (sentenze) of the war, and in precedence of Lesle himself. The Colonel maintained the contrary with heat so far as to draw his sword on the other. These two were appointed to bring harmony among the quarrelling leaders of the army. The Count has the advantage of being major domo of the emperor, a knight of the Golden Fleece, besides other more dignified appointments about the emperor. While his Majesty will be sympathetic towards Lesle from a remembrance of the large part he took in the assassination of Volestain, the Colonel is unpopular with everyone for that very reason, and also because he is a foreigner and too boastful about his good fortune.
Vienna, the 4th May, 1641.
May 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
183. Zuanne Zon, Venetian Secretary at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
News of the landing of the young Prince of Orange in England has reached his father, who is much relieved. The sailor who brought the news says he saw 24 Dunkirk ships, which were convoying the 2000 Walloons destined for Spain, as the Dutch Admiral did not have time to get to the port of Dunkirk, to prevent them from sailing.
The Hague, the 6th May, 1641.
May 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
184. Anzolo Correr, and Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Plessi Bensanzon, who has recently arrived at Court, brings word of the capture by the Archbishop of Bordeaux of three or more English ships, which were about to land wheat and other munitions at Rose and Colioure for Roussillon (fn. 2) ; and that la Motta Odancurt was moving on Tarragona with the intention of attacking the enemy in his trenches.
Paris, the 7th May, 1641.
May 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
185. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday the Ambassador Roe travelled to the coast on his way to the Diet of Ratisbon. He will go to Holland first, where he will congratulate the States and the Prince of Orange, on the king's behalf, on the happy arrival of the young prince at this Court. He will also confer with the Princess Palatine, assuring her of His Majesty's constant affection, and to receive more particular instructions from her about the interests of that House. He takes letters of credence for the emperor with the usual formalities. He will ask for the full reinstatement of the Palatine in the electorate and all the states possessed by his father, but if he cannot obtain this, as is expected, he is to abandon the point of the Upper Palatinate and the electoral vote, to be left to some other time, so as to avoid shame and prejudice, and then insist with all his might on the restoration of the Lower at least. Even in this it is feared that he will encounter most serious difficulties, as the Spaniards are in possession of most of that country, and other portions are held by the Duke of Bavaria, the Elector of Mayence, the Archduchess Claudia of Halberstadt, the Duke of Neuburg, and the Jesuits, and it is thought that the emperor will have to work very hard to find a way of satisfying so many princes and oblige them to do their duty.
The Spaniards profess themselves quite favourable to restitution, but nevertheless they demand in exchange a considerable sum of money, expended thereupon, the free passage of Catholic troops through those states, and under the head of security they claim to keep all the fortresses, or at least garrisons in Franchental and Opnein. The ministers here declare that they will agree to the passage, and his Majesty will pledge his word for the maintenance of the agreement, but to the payment of the money and the garrisoning of the fortresses they declare they will never agree, so the hope of the revival of the fortunes of that house after such prolonged trials seems more doubtful than ever.
After much pressure from the young prince of Orange and the Dutch ambassadors their Majesties have at length agreed to the completion of the marriage without further delay. The ceremony will be performed in state on Sunday in the presence of the minister and meanwhile the bridegroom has presented the queen, the princess and the other princes of this House with rich jewels. He is with his bride every day, shows himself with her in the city and with her mother's permission has sealed their affection with a kiss, so that the original doubts about this marriage have died away. At the palace they say openly that he has brought from Holland 1,200,000 ducats in gold bars, and has credits for a like amount, and the whole is to be lent to the king by the Prince of Orange, by virtue of a secret article in the treaty, to be used in the troubles that surround him. Many believe these revelations to be false, in spite of corroborative circumstances. Time will soon show.
On Saturday in last week the Lower Chamber presented to the Upper the bill against the Lieutenant of Ireland, making him guilty of high treason, and consequently deserving of death. No positive reply was given them, but time was taken for deliberation, and the result is to be made known afterwards. The Lords have spent numerous consultations on this important crisis in long discussions and dangerous altercations, so that nothing has been decided as yet, and what will eventually happen still remains uncertain.
Meanwhile the king announces that he wishes to go to York to take command of his army. This is increasing daily, with the trained bands of the North, well disposed to His Majesty, and he seems to have in mind a fresh attempt to bridle the temerity of the Scots as well as the more seditious of the English. This only increases the belief in the loan referred to. But those who take a just measure of the present interests of this state without bias are all agreed that money alone will not suffice to bring back the people here to their original obedience, as with the exception of the Catholics everyone is openly conspiring to uphold the ancient privileges of the kingdom, at no matter what peril, so that the wisest predict most harmful results to the king from such attempts, instead of good.
The disposition of the people here against the Catholics grows steadily worse. Learning that on Easter day (fn. 3) a number of Catholics had gathered in the houses of the ambassadors of Spain and Portugal, to hear mass as usual, a great crowd assembled and proceeded to the spot, where they heaped insults on the Portuguese, aspersing the honour of their ladies, and attempted to force the doors of the Spanish ambassador and take away his very goods. But the Mayor of London, who has the custody of the city, came up and with much trouble prevented the riot from going further. He is now having the embassy guarded by numerous public guards, a clear sign that foreign ministers are not safe here just now. Although I proceed very cautiously I am subject to the same annoyance, from which I pray God may deliver me.
London, the 10th May, 1641.
186. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Saturday in last week the king sent the Earl of Arundel to this house. He told me that His Majesty hoped that the emperor would soon release his nephew, Prince Rupert, and he would like him to serve under the flag of the most serene republic. He asked me to report this. He said the king himself would like to speak to me about it. Apart from his birth the prince was endowed with admirable prudence and intelligence. His house had many connections in Germany and credit with the Swiss, so that it could render excellent service to your Serenity. I made a general and non committal reply upon your esteem for the House, both for their own sake and their relationship to his Majesty. I promised to report the proposal which I believed would cause gratification, though I wished to say in confidence that the Prince Palatine had not treated me personally as the greatness of your Serenity demanded. I touched lightly on what had happened to me last year when I arrived. The Earl replied that the Palatine protested the utmost respect for your Serenity but asserted that the Electors had never yielded place to the Venetian Ambassadors. I added more on the subject and he said he would speak to His Majesty, with the hope that everything would be adjusted. Accordingly I saw the king yesterday and he spoke to me at length and very strongly about Prince Rupert entering your service and asked me to represent this all to you. He added that from the result of this request he would gauge the constancy of your Serenity's friendship and the sincerity of my pen. With regard to the differences with the Prince Palatine he would do everything that befitted the merit of the prince I represented. I answered with the same cautious courtesy as I showed the Earl saying moreover that if the prince would treat me as France had done I would not fail to render him all the respect due to him. The king assured me that he would not permit me to be treated differently, as he always had your Serenity's honour at heart.
I feel sure, after what the king has said that the Palatine will not fail to visit me, and so this difficulty will be decorously removed.
London, the 10th May, 1641.
May 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
187. Anzolo Correr, and Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassadors in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Ambassador left unexpectedly last week without seeing the king. He told me, Corraro, that he was going to England on urgent private affairs and that he will be back in a month. Nevertheless this has caused a certain amount of umbrage at Court. La Ferte Imbo is to proceed to England in two or three days, having received express orders from the Cardinal.
Paris, the 13th May, 1641.
May 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
188. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The marriage of the princess to the Prince of Orange was celebrated last Sunday, as arranged. To render it irrevocable so far as the tender age of the bride would allow, their Majesties agreed that the Prince should associate with her (sunisca seco). (fn. 4) This was done for two hours only in the presence of their Majesties and all the Court without anything calling for further remark. The Prince again showed his esteem for the bride with rich presents of jewels and the Dutch ambassadors are now pressing for permission to take her to Holland without further delay. But the troubles which keep multiplying in this kingdom retard a final decision and interrupt the rejoicings over this happy event so important for the greatness of the House of Nassau :
The resentment of the Prince Palatine against the Prince of Orange over this marriage in no wise abates, and he does not trouble to hide his feelings. He has not called upon the bridegroom, and although invited he would not assist at the banquet with their Majesties and the wedded pair on the day of the marriage.
Every day of late the debates of the Upper Chamber have fluctuated over the confirmation of the bill against the Lieutenant of Ireland. The king, suspecting that the hatred of many parliamentarians and the fear of displeasing the people would influence them to pass it, went to parliament on Saturday in last week. In an appropriate (accomodato) speech he represented to both Chambers that having carefully listened to the accusation and defence of the prisoner, while he recognised him unworthy to exercise any office whatever in the future, from the unsatisfactory way in which he had discharged his past ones, he could not reconcile it with his conscience to declare him guilty of treason. He protested that nothing whatsoever would induce him to sign the sentence of death. He had no fear of the consequences, which he would find a way of dealing with vigorously. He added that he would not disband the troops in Ireland before the Scots had withdrawn.
Moved by these resolute declarations of the king the members separated in a great state of excitement. Having made known their sentiments to the people here, they met again on Monday in the usual place. A crowd of many thousands of the most substantial of the citizens gathered there and with loud cries demanded speedy justice from parliament and the head of the Lieutenant, calling him traitor and enemy to the public liberty. The members of the Upper House, hearing the disturbance, tried to appease it, promising every satisfaction to the people. But they would not be appeased by mere words, and took up their station there for two whole days, threatening the most violent measures against the state and against His Majesty's own person and all the royal House. After repeated promises that they should have their will, they departed upon the condition that inside this week the Lieutenant shall be condemned to death, otherwise they promise the most violent action. It is thought that the sentence will follow tomorrow in the way that all desire.
Meanwhile the Lower Chamber, full of wrath at the last offices of the king, after enlarging at length upon his obstinacy in defending his favourite, unanimously joined in a union, exactly like that of the Covenant in Scotland, at the time of the revolt, with the same measures and devices, under the same specious pretexts of defending the reformed religion and the privileges of the realm, to the total destruction of the Roman Faith. They afterwards sent the bill to the Upper House, which at once accepted it, except the Catholic Lords, who on this account are excluded from parliament. The king is thus deprived of their support and surrounded by the distress of even worse events. They speak here with such licence that one is inclined to fear something of the most monstrous description.
The articles of this union have been printed for the purpose of inviting the people of this and other cities to sign it, as has been done amid acclamations. I enclose a translation for those of your Excellencies who care to read it.
After this parliament, taking the reins entirely into its own hands, passed a new law that the king cannot dissolve or prorogue it in future without the assent of both Chambers, which means they intend to make it permanent and to leave the government of these states to the sole direction of parliament.
The servants of the king and queen have received orders not to leave the Court without express leave from parliament, and against the chief ones they are formulating serious accusations, charging them with having once again advised the king to introduce foreign troops into the kingdom and of having conspired with him so that the troops stationed at York should advance to this city to compel parliament to submit and to abolish the liberty of the country. In short if these licentious decisions continue with the same fury we shall soon see here those sights which are the usual fruits of civil strife.
The misfortunes of the Catholics keep increasing. They have been openly threatened with death by the rabble. Even I am not entirely exempt from these serious dangers. Two days ago several bills were posted at Somerset House, belonging to the queen, inviting the people to proceed again to the embassies of Spain and Portugal, and to that of Venice also, to overthrow entirely what they call their idolatry. The Spanish embassy is strongly guarded. But I do not believe that this will suffice to resist the impetuous violence of the people, and have decided to behave cautiously without showing any fear, although many devoted to the name of your Serenity and friends of this house have urged me to leave London. But I have not thought fit to do so, for the sake of public decorum, and I shall continue to serve my country with zeal even at the risk of life and fortune.
I have received detailed information from the Ambassadors Corraro and Giustinian in France of the manner of dealing with the Portuguese ambassadors ; I will follow the same course, my illness having hindered me from following your original instructions.
London, the 16th May, 1641.
Enclosure. 189. Preamble with the protestation, i.e. union made by the House of Commons on the 13th May 1641, and passed by the Upper House on 14th May. (fn. 5)
[Italian, 4 pages.]
May 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra, Venetian Archives.
190. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In my last letter I reported all the events connected with the disturbance here up to that time. I have now to add that suspecting that the king designed to proceed to the army at York and the queen to the fortress of Portsmouth, parliament sent a deputy to warn them not to leave London, under the pretext that their persons would be safer from the violence of the people under the eye of parliament than elsewhere. To this audacious move which in such troublous times may cover ends with very different consequences the king has returned no reply, but the queen answered with spirit that she was the daughter of a father who had never learned how to fly, and she had no idea of doing any such thing either.
To secure the Tower of London for himself the king wished to reinforce the garrison with 100 soldiers dependent upon him, but the governor flatly refused to have them or to restore to His Majesty the keys of the magazines of munitions, saying that he could not take any step there without the express permission of parliament. This shows that the sovereign has entirely lost the obedience due to him and is exposed to the most grievous perils.
Five servants of the queen of the highest standing and favour, took flight last night, being accused of conspiring with the king against the parliament and trying to induce the English army to support His Majesty's designs. (fn. 6) Among these is the High Steward, who in addition to the crimes alleged against his fellows, is accused of too great an intimacy with the queen, so that even the honour of these unhappy princes is not safe from the slanderous tongues of their subjects.
Parliament has also sent, in an unprecedented manner to the rooms of this favourite of the queen in the palace, without any respect for the place, to seize all the papers, in order to obtain information about his offences, and to give further cause of offence to Her Majesty.
Since the flight of these gentlemen parliament has introduced into the Tower a reinforcement of 400 soldiers, numerous guards have been set at the gates of this city, and the banks of the river are guarded by other strong bodies of troops. Orders have been despatched to the sea ports not to allow any one to pass, and the masters of the posts have been forbidden to supply horses without the licence of parliament. The most secret motives for all this activity have not yet transpired. The greatest excitement reigns everywhere and it is impossible to predict with any certainty how these affairs will end. Amid them all I pray that God may preserve this house, which is threatened.
London, the 17th May, 1641.
[Italian, the part in italics deciphered.]
May 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
191. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The disturbances continue at this Court with increasing peril to the royal house and to all the Catholics. I propose to report these important events day by day. The upper Chamber, impelled by the implacable hatred against the Lieutenant of Ireland, and unwilling to resist the people, passed the bill with the capital sentence against him on Friday in last week, as well as the bill for the perpetual continuance of parliament. That same day the parliamentarians were warned by a person not yet divulged, that their Majesties had concluded a treaty with France to introduce ten regiments of that nation into that country, to join the troops quartered at York and those in Ireland, to bring back his subjects to their obedience by these forces. For the security of the French troops their Majesties had bound themselves to consign the fortress of Portsmouth to the Most Christian, which by its situation and by art is of great consequence, and finally, the troops were at Dieppe all ready to cross and carry out these designs, and boats at Calais to bring them, supplied with abundant provision of biscuits and with all other military apparatus. Upon the news of these odious transactions, which are esteemed false by the most prudent, parliament sent four members to Portsmouth, without delay, to secure the place, and to make the most careful enquiry by examining the governor and others, to learn the real truth of this business. Meanwhile the news had spread among the people and increased the excitement to such an extent that on Saturday morning they girded their arms and prepared to march to the palace to secure the royal persons. These on hearing the news and full of terror, made up their minds to leave this city without more ado. When they were all ready for the flight and about to start, the French minister, who had been advised, and other confidential persons, hastened to the Court and after much persuasion induced their Majesties to abandon their precipitate determination. At the same time they assured the leaders of the people that the king was ready to give every satisfaction to his subjects, and that the rumours referred to were entirely false. In this way the tumult was appeased and more serious disorder was diverted for the moment.
After all this the king went to parliament accompanied by 2000 of the burgesses. They presented to him the sentence of death against the Lieutenant, the bill for the continuation of parliament and the one for disbanding the troops in Ireland, petitioning him to make them law by signing these most hurtful decisions. His Majesty having heard the request took until Monday for his answer. III pleased with this delay the parliamentarians separated with the determination to force him to do their will in all. They issued letters to the country with orders everywhere to send troops here with all speed in order to join with those of London and then undertake any kind of audacious enterprise against the royal persons and against all the Catholics as well.
His Majesty being made aware of these designs passed the night in great anguish, the city being full of confusion and entirely under arms. The queen mother, to secure herself against violence asked for a guard from parliament. The Capuchins withdrew from their usual dwelling place and the Catholics looked after their safety as best they could.
On the following day His Majesty after reviewing the danger which could not be greater or more evident, decided to agree to all the demands of parliament. To do this with less dishonour he adopted the expedient of delegating his authority to the Earls of Arundel and Lince and to the Privy Seal, to perform all the acts required for the satisfaction of the people. The commissioners then ratified the bills and sent hastily that night ninety couriers to divers parts of the realm forbidding the country people summoned to approach this city.
The king, unwilling to leave any means untried for saving the Lieutenant's life, on Tuesday wrote with his own hand a friendly and humble letter to parliament asking them as a favour to commute the penalty of death to one of perpetual exile, or at least to postpone the execution for a year. To increase the value of the letter he sent it by the prince, who added the strongest representations. But the Lower Chamber dismissed the prince with scant civility, and refused to read the letter or the cover, in spite of His Majesty's request. Accordingly, with added shame, the sentence was carried out on Wednesday in Tower Yard in the presence of 200,000 persons, amid universal rejoicing. And so this minister lost his life, whose admirable qualities certainly deserved a better age and a happier fate. The king, thus deprived of authority with the hatred of the people, which is even stronger against the queen, who has been the subject of disgraceful pasquinades, suffers the tortures of the deepest affliction. The wisest freely predict that this monarchy will soon be turned into a completely democratic government, and very solid foundations for this have been laid by making parliament perpetual.
The four members sent to Portsmouth returned to this city yesterday. They made the garrison swear obedience and loyalty to parliament, and directed new fortifications to be erected at the entrance of the harbour, so that they feel satisfied that this place will remain devoted to parliament, and no other safe retreat remains for His Majesty.
They are making a rigorous enquiry to discover the truth about the negotiations with France. They have examined the queen's Court ; they have seized and opened the letters to and from France, Flanders and everywhere else. The seaports are closed, and on the pretence that the landlady of the house where the secretary of France lodges, is a Catholic, they have even visited the apartments of that minister, who remonstrated stongly at this liberty. Parliament apologised declaring that they had not given the order.
With all their efforts they have not found anything to prove their suspicions, and those who are not blinded by passion agree unanimously that these reports were nothing but a malignant invention intended to render the name of these princes utterly odious to the people and thus facilitate the success of those ambitious designs at which the rebels aspire, and the Puritans in particular, whose sole profession is to sweep away every kind of superior power, together with the control of the monarchy.
The king selected Lord Clavel for governor of the important county of York and gave him patents for the office, but parliament will not even let the king enjoy the use of appointments, which is his sole prerogative, and has conferred the governorship on the Earl of Essex, the author of seditious designs and a leader of the Puritans. (fn. 7)
They propose to intimate to the queen mother that she must leave this kingdom within eight days. She is accused of having instilled evil counsels into her daughter and of having protected many priests, Jesuits in particular.
In the country the peasants attack the houses of Catholics, and even in this city they are not safe from serious injury, so that there is no security either for the foreigner or for the Catholic. I sigh devoutly for the time when I can leave the perils of this kingdom, where my long stay has been so painful. To-day again they say that letters will be detained by parliament. To secure the passage of these and those of last week, which are attached, and to avoid the danger of their being carried to parliament, as happened to those before them which I recovered with great trouble, I am sending a gentleman of mine to Antwerp with the packet.
London, the 24th May, 1641.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 31.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci. Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
192. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The commissioners appointed by parliament are pursuing their enquiry upon the attempt to introduce French forces into this kingdom. Although sensible people consider these suspicions unfounded, yet they have received the fullest authority for the enquiry and to make sure of every person without exception, which means their Majesties themselves, if they appear guilty.
All letters have been stayed and opened this week again, those of the queen especially. Full of just resentment at this she has expressed her sentiments to me confidentially. But they have shown my letters the respect which their character demands. It is said that from these despatches they have discovered some light on the conspiracy against the liberty of the country. But these reports do not find general credit, as it is thought that they are spread in order to stir up the people still further against the late government and to keep them fast in the present licence.
One of the queen's servants who took to flight, as I reported, was stopped by the people at the coast and two days ago was brought back a prisoner to this city. (fn. 8) He underwent a lengthy examination yesterday but we have not yet learned precisely what his depositions were, and there is no one who would venture to predict the end of these efforts. Everyone fears that they are the fruit of secret intentions to lead these princes to the last calamity.
Parliament has recently voted two subsidies, on condition that they are controlled by its commissioners, and employed solely for the pay of the armies, which they want to disband as soon as possible. They are actively negotiating with the Scottish commissioners to terminate, if possible, all their differences and to conclude a close alliance, between the two crowns. The commissioners are apparently perfectly favourable to an adjustment and equally ready to withdraw their forces, but many feel very doubtful if they will fulfil their promises. Time will show how far they are sincere.
In the middle of next July the session of the Scottish parliament will reopen, and His Majesty openly declares that he will go there, possibly in order to set in motion some other design by his presence and to improve his authority. But all do not approve of the idea, so there may be some alteration.
It has been established by decree that the fleet, of which the kings have always disposed at their pleasure, shall remain in future under the direction of parliament, the admiral and captains of ships having instructions to obey its orders and no others. The king, who no longer has the heart to resist any demand, signed this without a word, though it strikes at the centre of the prerogative and deprives him of the hope of restoring his fallen fortunes under less painful circumstances.
The ministers who in the past have enjoyed the greater part of the government and the most conspicuous offices, have resigned them and retired to the quiet of the country, endeavouring in this way to escape envy and the ruinous dangers which surround them. On the other hand the king, with the approval of parliament, has appointed many of the Puritan persuasion, who have made themselves prominent by their zeal for the preservation of the people's liberties and privileges. He has done this for the purpose of rendering them less averse to support his interests. The important office of Treasurer has not yet been filled, and is in the charge of a commission of five persons. The Earl of Leicester, returned from the embassy in France, has been promoted to the Viceroyalty of Ireland, in place of the executed one, and nothing is heard as yet of the appointment of any one else to that embassy. Every appearance of Fielding's return to his charge at Venice has vanished entirely, and he persists in his application for a position at Court.
Commissioners have been sent to Ireland with money to disband the troops. In order that this may be done without disturbance parliament has granted permission to the colonels to take six regiments to the service of the Spaniards and one to that of France.
A numerous concourse of people went to parliament on Monday and audaciously demanded that the order of bishops should be removed from the Church here, but as the views of the members are not agreed this most important question is left undecided. To prevent more serious disturbances a proclamation has been issued forbidding any one to approach the Houses of Parliament upon pain of death.
Meanwhile the preaching ministers have published a new symbol of the faith, with many alterations from the old one. This has been welcomed with great acclaim and goes to show that the ecclesiastical as well as the political government of this monarchy is likely to undergo considerable changes in the present crisis.
The persecution of the Catholics is pursued with great zeal. On Sunday the house of the Portuguese ambassadors was surrounded by the forces of justice and eighty persons were arrested, and in some houses of leading gentlemen they have taken some priests, who are threatened with the legal penalty, without mercy, which means death.
All the efforts of the Prince of Orange and the Dutch ambassadors to induce their Majesties to permit the princess bride to go with them to Holland have proved in vain and so they return to their country. Yesterday the ambassadors took leave of their Majesties, and they are to start on Monday. They take to Holland a definite promise that when the princess has completed twelve years she shall be taken to Rotterdam at the cost of this crown, with the pomp due to her birth. They have obtained nothing about the alliance except the prolongation for three more years of the old defensive one, without any alteration.
The queen mother being advised of the intentions of parliament, has decided to go and announces that she will set out at the end of a fortnight. She has not yet decided on the direction. She inclines to sojourn in Holland or in the city of Liege for some time.
One hears of no further progress in the business of the Portuguese ambassadors, and it is not thought that they will arrange more here than liberty of trade, which is greatly desired by the people here, in the Indies in particular, where they hope for considerable profits.
London, the 31st May, 1641.
[Italian, the part in italics deciphered.]
193. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
By a person in her intimate confidence the queen sent me yesterday evening a letter directed to Mr. Montagu, who for some days has been at the French Court, desiring me earnestly to send it thither by a special gentleman, the faithful delivery thereof being of great importance to her. The subject matter was of great importance to their Majesties and in the present uproar she did not wish to confide it to any one but me, as the minister of a prince so well disposed both to this crown and to that of France. She charged me to use the utmost secrecy, adding that the letter and superscription were both in her own hand. In the interests of the state I considered it best to serve these afflicted princes and promised to obey, assuring her of my absolute silence, and without delay I cautiously sent the letter to the Ambassador Giustinian.
London, the 31st May, 1641.
[Italian, deciphered.]
May 31.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
194. The Secretary of England came into the Collegio and spoke substantially as follows :
I must apologise for having delayed so long in coming to present my king's letters. The reason is my late indisposition. Now I am recovered I have come and hope to be excused and expecting further favours from the graciousness of your Serenity also for the English merchants trading to Zante and Cephalonia, so that they may be relieved of the vexations and difficulties which they are accustomed to encounter. His Majesty recommends the same in these letters, and in the person of Obson in particular, that he may be favoured and protected by the justice of your Serenity. He then presented the king's letter with a paper of the merchant Obson.
After the letters were read the doge said that the affair would be taken in hand, and after the necessary information had been taken they would come to an appropriate decision, always with the object of giving his Majesty every possible satisfaction. With this the Secretary made his bow and went out. (fn. 9)
Filza. 195. Carolus Dei gratia etc. Domino Francisco Erizzo Venetiarum Duci etc. Non potuimus nostram ad vestrum Serenitatem intercessionem denegare nostris subditis mercatoribus (qui socii vestram commercio frequentant Zanti insulam) querentibus quasdam controversias ortas de computationibus inter nostrum subditum Joh. Hobsonum, Venetiis morantem, atque Demetrium et Angelum Benezellios Athenienses, propter consortium quadraginta mille thalerorum ad mercaturam inter vestras Venetias et Moream exercendam adhibendorum. Quibus differentiis quorundam mercatorum (de more) Venetorum arbitrio commissis, arbitri non solum integram illam nummorum summum periisse verum etiam Hobsonum Benezellis ulterius adhuc triginta mille thalerorum debitorem judicarunt. Cum autem arbitrium istud nec solidis documentis, neque testium fide innitatur, quod Benezelli minime protulerunt computorum codices, tesseras onerarias, schedas institorias, aliaque mercatoribus usitata scripta : quibus inspectis rei veritatem facile elucere nostrumque subditum non modo ab illo debito absolvi sed et eidem Benzellos obaeratos invenire potuisse nobis persuadeatur. Nos pro ea quam in solita V. Sertis. Inclitaeque Reipublicae justitia et in nos benevolentia habemus, fiducia amice rogamus, ut causae istius judicatis recensio et recognitio aequa et requisita codicum scripturamque Benezelliorum inspectio, atque cum libris et documentis Venetiis adhuc extantibus, Randolli Sinesi (qui dum vixit cum Benezellis pro consortibus Anglis negotiator solus egit) collatio fieri jubeatur ; ut interea iniquum istud adjudicatum aut irritum declaretur aut saltern suspendatur. Tandemque ut Hobsonus et omnia nostrorum subditorum in ejus potestate existentia, et a Benezellis injuste sequestrata bona sub vestra serventur et maneat tutela et protectione (cum ille ex Anglis solus Venetiis super sit, hi vero precipuam in Vestra Zanti Insula exerceant mercaturam) adeoque nihil in eorum quorum quidem ista in causa nihil interest, vergat detrimentum. Istud Vestrae aequitatis et justitiae argumentum nobis gratissimum, Nos vobis semper gratificandi cupidos magis magisque devinciet. V. Ser. diutissime valere Inclytamque Republicam usque florere ex animo voventes. Dat. ex nostro palatio Westmonasteriensi Calendis Aprilis Anno Christi MDCXLI regnique nostri XVII.
V. Ser. bonus cognatus et amicus
Carolus R.
Ser. Principi Dom. Francisco Erizzo Venetiarum Duci etc.
196. Memorial of John Hobson, English merchant, to the Resident of the King of Great Britain with the Republic of Venice.
On 14 Sept. 1625 a deed of partnership was made between Ridolfo Symes of Venice, for himself and John Eglesfelt, Samuel Vassal, John Osbon and other merchants of London, of the one part, and Dimetri and Angelo Benicello of Athens of the other. The parties were to put down 20,000 reals on each side, and the agreement was for five years, in the course of which Benizello was to trade that capital in the Morea and other places and was placed by Symes and Co. in the hands of Benizello and entrusted to him to trade. He began to send goods to Symes at Venice, who sold them and an equivalent in goods was sent to Benizello, as appears by Symes' accounts. This business lasted barely two years, for Benizello got all the capital into his own hands, except some currants which remained with Symes, and no longer sent goods to Venice, as he diverted the trade to other marts, to suit himself, under his own name, which he was forbidden to do, according to the orders given him by Symes. Finally he gave up consigning anything to Symes and Co. and it was not possible even to see an account, though Symes sent him several letters to Zante. Owing to the distance and with the death of Symes in a time of plague, there were such long delays that it was never possible to see an account of the management of this business. At length John Obson, one of the interested parties, who had 2000 reals in the Company, arrived at Venice. As he could not obtain an account from Benizello by friendly means, he was after a long patience of three years, forced to have recourse to justice and obtain an ad dandum computum from the office of the Forestier and had Benizello imprisoned. Under this compulsion Benizello gave a pledge to render this account and got out of prison. He afterwards presented a faked account to the office of the Forestier, in which, to the amazement of all, he caused the entire capital of 40,000 reals to disappear, and made himself out creditor of the Company for 56,000 ducats and more. A paper in contradiction of this was started, and at length, to avoid legal expenses, a compromise was agreed upon, which through the influence and skill of Benizello, resulted in accordance with his plans, since on a point of fact, about a difference of 10,000 reals consigned by Symes and denied by him in bad faith, for lack of a receipt the arbiters have refused to admit that Obson made a legal proof and would not even permit that Benizello should swear on his soul that he had not had it ; rejecting also another proof offered by Obson against a faked book of accounts written by Benizello in Greek, although it was kept by Sig. Gio. Maria Marchetti in Italian. By these means he obtained a sentence from the Arbiter against the Company for about 30,000 ducats. Although Benizello's books show credits of 50,000 ducats to collect of debtors made by himself from which he ought to be paid, yet he leaves these on one side and proceeds against the Company and against the goods and person of me, John Obson, causing my ruin by the sequestration of all my effects, and the destruction not only of my business but of my credit as a merchant, with the sole object of possessing himself of a large sum of money, obtaining recently 2285 ducats 21 grossi di banco from the hands of Signori Saminati and Guasconi so that he may sail away to his native Athens without rendering any further account of his operations, as he will soon be compelled to do by means of fresh information.
I therefore beg you to represent this unhappy affair to the doge so that the whole matter may be delegated to the Collegio of 20 Savii of the body of the Senate or to some other magistracy, as his Serenity may see fit, so that justice may be done.
I also ask that the disputes pending between this Benizello and divers merchants of London, Leghorn and Genoa may be delegated with this affair, as the effects of those states have been sequestrated by Benizello.


  • 1. He arrived in London on Saturday the 27th April. Montereul, on 3rd May. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts. On the 10th May o.s. he was granted the office of Master of the Ceremonies when it fell vacant, as it did on the 12th July following, by the death of Sir John Finet. Dic. Nat. Biog.
  • 2. The names of three ships so taken are given in a memorandum at the end of Vol. III, S.P. France. They are Fleur d'Or, Capt. Hemon Grove ; L'Endevert or Diligence, Capt. Thomas Scot ; le Jean Barberic, Capt. Jean Barzler. Although condemned by the French Admiralty Court on 3 November, 1641, as lawful prizes, they were released by Richelieu on the 15th January, 1642.
  • 3. On April 25th old style. By the Gregorian calendar, Easter fell on the 31st March in this year. But the riot took place on the following Thursday, Nalson : Hist. Collections, Vol. II. page 187. The Spanish embassy was in Bishopsgate.
  • 4. This is explained by a passage in Montereul's despatch of the same date. "M. le Prince Guillaume fut une demi heure couché avec Madame sa femme ; il se tint tout le temps tete nue et les rideaux du lit furent toujours ouverts. Il alla passer la reste de la nuit dans la chambre du Roy de la Grande Bretagne qui le caresse extremement." P.R.O. Paris Transcripts. The prince had not quite completed his 15th year and his bride was 8½ years old.
  • 5. Printed in Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. ii, page 132 ; Rushworth : Historical Collections, Vol. IV, page 241.
  • 6. The earl of Carnarvon, Henry Percy, Henry Jermyn, Sir John Suckling and William Davenant, the poet. They fled on the night of the 5-15 May. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1640-1, pages 571, 574. Montereul's despatch of the 16th. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts. Writs were issued on the 6-16 for stopping the ports and the arrest of the commoners together with Capt. Billingsley. Hist. MSS. Comm., 5th Report, page 413.
  • 7. Thomas Lord Savile was made lord lieutenant of Yorkshire by the king, but replaced by Essex at the instance of parliament.
  • 8. William Davenant.
  • 9. With reference to this office Talbot wrote on the 7th June, "I pressed the Prince this week to an answer to His Majesty's letter written in Mr. Hobson's behalf and I find him altogether unwilling to give any satisfaction ... The truth is they are generally possessed with an ill opinion of the man, and the Senate was once disposed to have gratified His Majesty in his particular, but the Avogador Contarini stood up and made an invective of an hour long against Hobson and so swayed all the Senate." S. P. Venice.