Venice: July 1640

Pages 54-61

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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July 1640

July 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
77. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
Their High Mightinesses have been discussing their differences with Denmark, for which the king of England has offered his interposition. He has displayed a friendly disposition towards this state and some alienation from the Spaniards. He told the ambassador plainly that the king of Denmark did ill to make a close union with the king of Spain.
The Hague, the 9th July, 1640.
July 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
78. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Mr. Boswell, who for long acted as agent in Holland, was unexpectedly sent back there last week, after having spent a year at Court, to resume his charge, chiefly with instructions to put the finishing touches to the arrangement made by M. d' Enflit about the East Indies. The only thing required to settle the matter seems to be the payment by the Dutch of what they owe to the king's subjects as compensation for damages.
There is a good deal of talk about Enflit suggesting some arrangement to settle the old difficulty between his Majesty and the Dutch over the fisheries. The ministers here also state that on the arrival of the Danish ambassador here the present ill feeling between his king and the Provinces will be completely dissipated by his Majesty's interposition, and that with the dissappearance of old quarrels the relations between England and the Dutch will become closer.
The Spanish ambassadors are much perplexed by these reports, so contrary to the principles of recent months, and their hopes of an alliance grow ever less, though it is so much desired in Spain and was the motive for the mission of these two important ministers. They have kept in the background for some time, doing little or no negotiation.
After many discussions they have at length released the third Scottish commissioner, who was imprisoned in the Tower for having signed the letter to the Most Christian. He has left for Scotland and has promised the king to use his influence with energy in the cause of peace, stating that as his Majesty is disposed to observe faithfully the treaty of Berwick he does not despair of overcoming all differences. (fn. 1)
His Majesty has granted a pension of 500l. a year of their money to General Chin, who has served for many years in the Swedish armies, and with his own hand gave him a rich diamond worth 6000 crowns. He also allowed him a ship of the fleet to go to Hamburg to fetch his wife, who lives there. The king proposes to make use of this experienced commander to improve the order and discipline of his troops. In the absence of anyone competent to do this they behave with the utmost licence, with danger of serious scandal.
The Dutch sent four ships of war to escort the fleet they expected from the Indies. The Dunkirkers, getting wind of this, armed twelve vessels, which courageously encountered them, capturing three and driving the fourth to destruction on the sands here. They then took up their position at an island between Scotland and Ireland and began to fortify it, under the pretext that they were expecting the enemy. (fn. 2) His Majesty has been greatly stirred at this news, and he remonstrated strongly to the Spanish ambassadors, charging them to send at once to the commander of the squadron to abandon the position immediately. The Barbary corsairs have also passed through the Channel these last days and fought with some English ships. Although these defended themselves with courage, yet the merchants are much alarmed at this audacity and urge the king to take steps to make navigation and the trade of this mart safer.
London, the 13th July, 1640.
79. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king left the city yesterday for Oatlands, where the queen now is. Before going he sent the Secretary Windebanck to me to apologise for the delay of the Ambassador Fielding in returning to his post. He tried to convey in a roundabout way to me that he needed his services, particularly about parliamentary affairs. He straitly charged me to inform your Excellencies of this and to assure you of his desire to keep up the old correspondence ; that the absence of the minister was in no wise due to lack of respect, but to the special embarrassments of this crown. Windebanck enlarged upon this and told me that although his Majesty had written to your Excellencies to this effect last week, he wished to add these offices to give greater emphasis to his sentiments.
I replied that the Senate wished to continue the ancient correspondence with this crown. The Ambassador Fielding would be welcome on his return, and so would any other minister of his Majesty, and I felt sure he would set out for Venice before long. Windebanck replied that his departure would not be long delayed. He then began to speak to me, with a show of confidence of the troubled state of the king's affairs and the fear of worse disturbances in the future. He went on to complain bitterly of the procedure of the Spanish ambassadors. He said they knew the straits of the crown and by their insincerity and trying to take advantage they left no hope of any profit from their transactions. He declared that they would not carry away from his Majesty what they demanded, even though France, which did not like these proceedings, left this Court without a minister at a time when Spain had three. This reserve could only proceed from lack of regard and esteem for his Majesty. He suggested, as from himself, that if your Excellencies' ministers could induce the Most Christian to send an ambassador here, it would gratify his Majesty. I perceived that they are very anxious for a French ambassador here, not only on the score of reputation, but to make the Spaniards jealous, and thereby render them more inclined to satisfy this crown.
I thanked the secretary for his confidences, highly commended the idea of a good understanding with France and of caution with respect to the subtleties and arts of those who wish to see this crown disunited with France for the furthering of their own ambitious designs. The minister agreed.
On Monday also the secretary of the Levant Company came to this house. He gave me the enclosed note of Ven asking me to write to your Excellencies to order the Proveditore of Zante to arrest William Burdet, an Englishman, who troubles the affairs of the Company there, and that he be consigned to an English ship, and brought here, so that he may receive the punishment he deserves for something done at Zante against the interests of his masters.
Feeling sure that your Excellencies would not readily grant this request which might easily prove detrimental to the dignity of the state as well as to the private interests of your subjects, I made a courteous but circumspect reply, that I had no information about the nature of the affair, I would serve his Majesty in every way possible. I know that at Zante and in all your Excellencies' dominions prompt justice was rendered to all his Majesty's subjects, whom your Serenity loved and received as your own and consequently the parties concerned could have recourse to the magistrates at Venice in the assurance of receiving every satisfaction from the justice of the state's representatives.
London, the 13th July, 1640.
Enclosure. 80. Copy of note from the Secretary of State Vane.
My king and master at the instance of his subjects trading in the Levant sea has commanded me to request your intervention to obtain an order from the Prince and Senate of Venice to the magistrate of Zante and Cephalonia to give such assistance as may be necessary for putting on board an English ship and sending to England one William Burdet, who might otherwise continue his injurious proceedings or escape his Majesty's justice. His Majesty feels sure of a favourable response. (fn. 3)
Whitehall, the 24th June, old style, 1640.
[Italian, translated from the French.]
July 20.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
81. To the Ambassador in England.
We have received no letters from you this week. The last were of the 15th ult. We enclose advices for your information. In response to your request we have decided upon the election of a successor, who will start at an early date to relieve you.
Ayes, 114. Noes, 0. Neutral, 3.
July 20.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
82. That a noble be chosen in place of Giovanni Giustinian, ambassador in ordinary to the king of Great Britain, who has asked to be relieved, upon the customary penalties in case of refusal and with the usual instructions.
He shall have 300 gold ducats a month for his expenses, for which he is not called upon to render account.
300 ducats of lire 6 grossi 4 for his horses, trappings and chests, and 1000 gold ducats as a donation, as well as a further 1000 ducats when he has completed two years at the embassy.
40 crowns a month of lire 7 each are assigned to him for all expenses except couriers and the carriage of letters.
To the secretary for his equipment, 100 ducats, and to two couriers, 20 ducats each.
For the salary and table expenses of the chaplain and interpreter, 186 ducats a year and 100 ducats respectively ; also a further 100 ducats of current money each year in addition, in accordance with the decision of this Council of the 18th October, 1623.
Ayes, 114. Noes, 0. Neutral, 3.
July 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
83. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
We hear that instructions have been sent to the Marquis Malvezzi to return, though it is thought that he will not do so very soon. Don Alonso de Cardenas, who was there first as Resident, is to remain as ambassador in ordinary. (fn. 4)
Madrid, the 21st July, 1640.
July 26.
Senato, Terra. Venetian Archives.
84. It being desirable that Vicenzo Contarini, chosen ambassador in ordinary to the king of Great Britain, shall be able to inform himself upon current affairs, be it decided that he may attend this Council, but without being able to vote, as is customary, until the time of his departure for the embassy aforesaid.
Ayes, 147. Noes, 1. Neutral, 3.
July 27.
Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia. Risposte, Venetian Archives.
85. We recommend that the petition of Goddard Saul, English merchant, to be allowed to export 60 casks of oil from Crete, be granted, in spite of the injury done thereby to the duties, in view of the good harvest and because he will export a quantity of muscats. The duty may be adjusted and the petitioner should be required to give pledges to return the empty casks.
Dated at the office, the 27th July, 1640.
Geronimo Morosini Savii.
Giovanni Battista Foscarini
Francesco Corner.
July 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
86. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
This week the king has come more than once from Oatlands to this city to take part in long consultations with the ministers which have all turned upon the ways of providing a certain amount of money to meet the present expenses, which have reduced the treasures of the crown to the last extreme. After many conferences they decided to avail themselves of the third part of the silver at present in the mint, brought there by individuals to be coined into money, granting them in compensation 8 per cent, per annum, with a promise on the customs as security for the capital and the king's word to pay it off within six months, which is not believed.
This new plan, which does not receive general approval is deeply resented by the interested parties, who have represented in writing the very serious prejudice which will result to the mart here, pointing out specially that on the arrival of the news in Spain the further despatch of silver will be suspended, and this kingdom will lose those advantages which have brought so much wealth in the past, not less to the state than to the individual. But the necessity under which his Majesty's affairs labour has not left any room for the consideration of such matters, although it is with regret, and the decree has been issued. As it strikes a severe blow at the Genoese merchants of Madrid, proprietors of this silver, it has also aroused the serious apprehensions of the Spanish ambassadors, who fear that if they continue to send specie from that Court for the requirements of Flanders, the king, when still harder pressed, may decide to seize it, as Queen Elizabeth did before. Accordingly they have sent a courier in haste to their master with special news of this event. If it compels the Spaniards to abstain from sending the money here, it will prove very hurtful to the interests of that crown.
Besides this measure they have decided to coin 500,000 of their pounds with three parts of copper and only one of silver, to be of the same value as those which are all silver. They are now devoting their ingenuity to find a way to put this in practice. Every one recognises the harmful consequences and those who are most skilled believe that it will involve insuperable difficulties, for as the people here are not accustomed to use such base money it will be difficult to oblige them to take it. The merchants of the India and Levant Companies oppose the decision strongly, more than others interested in trade, and are making vigorous efforts to have it rescinded.
In Scotland the rebels are still besieging Edinburgh Castle. They completed and fired a mine, but without any result, indeed with some hurt to the attackers, who had little experience of the use of such devices in that rocky situation. They have now sent a certain force of troops to the castle of Nizdil to compel the Earl there to abandon the royal side and join the Covenanters. At the news of this orders have been sent to the Earl of Crevelandt to collect with all speed 3000 infantry of the trained bands in the county of Westmorland and hasten to succour the Earl, though they do not know if he will be able to hold out until help arrives.
To Ireland also they have sent Colonel Brus and other officers with orders to hasten the embarcation of the 10,000 infantry which that kingdom promised to supply so long ago. The Lieutenant, who has recovered his health, announces that he also is going there very soon with a sum of money to facilitate the moving of those troops. When these are joined with those which are at Berwick and Carlisle they propose to institute a vigorous offensive against the enemy by land and by sea. To this end they celebrated on Friday by royal decree in this city and throughout the realm, a strict fast, with public prayers imploring the Divine aid in this important emergency.
Reports are reviving of the king's going to fight in Scotland, and all the councillors are ordered to present themselves at Hampton Court on Sunday next, where His Majesty will be, to settle the final resolutions. These may be changed in conformity with the events, as frequently happens at this Court, which changes more readily than any other, so that one can never be sure about any decision.
The courier sent by the Catholic ambassadors to Madrid, as I reported, has returned to them, and they at once saw the Lieutenant of Ireland, who is one of those deputed for their negotiations and the most partial, but so far the exact tenor of his message has not transpired. All the same it is firmly believed that these ministers will return to Spain without settling anything. They are trying their hardest to make it believed that the revolts in Catolonia are of no moment and easily to be adjusted.
The same courier brought letters of credence for the Resident Cardinas, appointing him ambassador in ordinary to this crown, and he has now withdrawn, to prepare himself for his new appearance.
In order to reduce expenditure as much as possible they have cut down the original assignment to the queen mother by one half. With great perturbation of spirit Her Majesty has had to dismiss a good number of her household, and to arrange to live a more frugal life.
The queen was delivered of a prince on Friday. (fn. 5) All the ministers and those of Spain in particular lighted bonfires at this happy event, and I also did not fail in my duty, and further performed the proper offices with the king, which were received most graciously.
The day after to-morrow I shall go to Oatlands, where the queen is, to do what friendship requires and express the solicitude with which your Excellencies regard the happy events of this House.
They send word from Plymouth that the Dutch Vice Admiral fell in with twelve ships of Dunkirk. There was a prolonged fight. It is not yet known who had the advantage.
London, the 27th July, 1640.
July 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Haya. Venetian Archives.
87. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at the Hague, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dunkirkers will abandon the island of Estland before the Vice Admiral puts to sea, from fear of being forced to give it up. It is thought that the king of England, thus made aware of the opportunities of that position thinks of taking possession and fortifying it.
The English Resident has returned here after a long absence, which he took on the pretext of private affairs. He had audience of the States three days ago, but only dealt with generalities. He is waiting for the appointment of commissioners. If these Provinces chose to make advances in the direction of an understanding the conclusion of the treaty between the king and the Spaniards might be postponed. But here, since the destruction of the Spanish fleet, there is no sign of any inclination among the generality for more confidential relations with England, since apprehension of resentment on the part of his Majesty has more influence with the people here than the persuasions of his ministers.
The Hague, the 28th July, 1640.
July 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
88. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After having treated with the king and ministers more than once, the Palatine is about to return to Paris. He asked to be restored to his former liberty, but this is expected to be difficult, as the King of Great Britain does not incline to take any step in his favour, though asked from here to unite with France to contribute some assignments which may make him a power in Germany. He excuses himself on the ground of domestic affairs and says frankly that he is not able To this the ministers here respond that if he is in no condition to help his own nephew, still less will he be capable of making war on France, so he must not take it ill if in the future they attach little importance to his threats. Thus in spite of the continued negotiations of the two Spaniards it is seen that they do not mind France being without an ambassador at that Court.
Amiens, the 29th July, 1640.


  • 1. Loudoun was released on the 5th July. He saw the king the same day and left for Scotland on the evening of Sunday, the 8th. Salvetti on 6th July. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS., 27962H., Montereul on 12th July. P.R.O. Paris Trans.
  • 2. According to Montereul, writing on the 19th, this was Yla (i.e. Islay). P.R.O. Paris Trans. Salvetti, on the 13th, calls this place fortified "un' isola verso la parte del Nort di Scozia.' Brit. Mus. Add MSS., 27862H. Northumberland, in a letter to Leicester of the 6th July, o.s., says that the landing of the Spaniards in Orkney is not confirmed. Hist. MSS. Comm. Third Report, page 82.
  • 3. Burdet had been appointed acting consul at Zante by the authority of Fielding, but the Levant Company, while allowing him some privileges placed him definitely under the authority of Symons. See the preceding vol. of this Calendar, page 415 note. His removal seems to have been due to the action of the company as on 24th July they sent an order to Edward Johnson, captain of the Leoncorno, to keep Burdet in safe custody and deliver him in London. S. P. Foreign. Archives, vol. III.
  • 4. His letters of credency to act in this capacity are dated the 25th June. S. P. Spain.
  • 5. Prince Henry, afterwards duke of Gloucester, Salvetti, writing on the 20th says he was born on Wednesday, i.e. the 18th. Brit. Mus. Add MSS., 27962H.