Venice: November 1640

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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, 'Venice: November 1640', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 25, 1640-1642, (London, 1924) pp. 90-98. British History Online [accessed 28 May 2024].

. "Venice: November 1640", in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 25, 1640-1642, (London, 1924) 90-98. British History Online, accessed May 28, 2024,

. "Venice: November 1640", Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 25, 1640-1642, (London, 1924). 90-98. British History Online. Web. 28 May 2024,

November 1640

Nov. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
126. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king's commissioners have had several conferences with those of Scotland, but no efforts have succeeded in persuading the enemy to accept an honourable composition. They adhere to their original point to continue their sojourn in this kingdom and not to establish any kind of agreement except through the authority of parliament, protesting vociferously that they submit all their interests to the pleasure of that body. This is clearly intended to preserve the goodwill of the parliamentarians and to emphasise the community of interest between their cause and that of the English. The subtlety of their arts therefore causes great apprehension at Court, and the most influential ministers express particular resentment at it. Nevertheless the king, with perfect dissimulation, puts up with the audacity of that people, and being unable to keep his troops in the field any longer, reduced as they are by desertion and other disorders, has sent fresh instructions and powers to the commissioners at Ripon, definitely charging them, now that hope of a complete accommodation has vanished, that they shall at least try to arrange an armistice, to continue until parliament has met. When this was suggested the Scottish deputies seemed to agree readily, but under false pretexts they have hitherto delayed to sign it. To facilitate the matter by every possible means His Majesty is disposed to refer to the decision of parliament all the demands of the rebels, and to permit them to send commissioners to represent their case in parliament. This point involves such grave consequences that it is considered most remarkable and only to be granted in the last necessity. He further offers to supply them with 120,000 ducats a month, until these differences are settled by parliament, for the support of their army, that the counties of Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland shall supply them with abundance of victuals at a limited and reasonable price, to reestablish meanwhile the trade between the two kingdoms and to restore to the Scots concerned all the ships and property taken from them by the fleet these last months.
On the other hand the Scots so far do not seem entirely satisfied with these conditions, advantageous as they are, and persist in demanding a larger sum of money, pointing out that the amount offered is not enough to feed an army of 40,000 men and more. Here they are awaiting with curiosity the report of the result. It is believed that the king, hard pressed in so many directions, will not let the negotiations fall through on this head, it being too important for him to ensure that the enemy, whose forces and spirit are constantly on the increase, shall not attempt to penetrate further into the country, as he undoubtedly could do, with little or no opposition.
His Majesty has informed the queen by a gentleman sent express that if an armistice is arranged here, he will return very soon to be present at the parliament, which is to open on the 13th of the current month. They have already sent to Tibols and other places to prepare quarters for his passage.
Meanwhile this present week has been devoted throughout the kingdom to the election of the deputies to send to parliament. For the most part the choice has fallen upon the same persons who were nominated in the last, who with seditious zeal audaciously proclaimed their deliberate intention to restore to the public liberty of the country its ancient prerogatives. Accordingly there is greater fear than ever that reforms and changes of great moment will ensue in the government of these states in the future, not without a very considerable diminution in His Majesty's authority.
Among the most curious views which are heard from the mouths of the parliamentarians are those against the further toleration of the residence of a minister of the pope with the queen, or the further stay in this realm of the queen mother. She and her councillors are blamed for having secretly given the king advice against the religion and liberty of the realm. Although these ideas are false yet they cause great perplexity to the king and his ministers, as they fear that they may give rise to some indiscreet decision by the parliament.
Through the Secretary of State Wilimbanck His Majesty has renewed his representations to the minister of the Most Christian here, about not waiting any longer to send an ambassador to this Court, intimating that if they persist in showing such scant esteem for His Majesty he will be obliged to recall the Earl of Leicester.
The ambassadors of Denmark left on Monday on their return to their master. They have left a very poor opinion here of their ability and sufficiency in matters of state.
The Dutch Vice Admiral Tromp is scouring this Channel with a squadron of well armed ships, awaiting those from the Spanish coasts, which are understood to have sailed with silver for the requirements of Flanders. This is all the news of the present week, which though painful contains little that is fresh.
London, the 2nd November, 1640.
Nov. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
127. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After many difficulties an armistice has been arranged between the forces of His Majesty and the Scots, upon the conditions reported, but with this difference, that the period of duration is limited to two months, and instead of 20,000l. offered for the maintenance of the enemy's army they have agreed here to give them 25,500l. a month, to be paid by the neighbouring counties, and recovered from the rest of the realm in proportion.
The queen does not express any pleasure at the conclusion of this matter, nor the other ministers at Court either, declaring it full of indignity and likely to lead to fresh inducements to other subjects to rebel without fear, secure from this example, to win instead of merited punishment, rewards and other advantages. But those who are free from prejudice praise the moderation of His Majesty at having adopted this cautious policy which the emergencies of the time have shown to be highly opportune, to escape imminent peril of worse disasters.
His Majesty left York on Tuesday and is expected in this city tomorrow. Yesterday the queen moved to Tibols to receive him there. It is not yet known what defence he has left for the safety of the frontier or to whom he has left the charge of the campaign.
The first meeting of the parliament will take place on Tuesday, as arranged. The king has intimated that he will not open it with a formal procession or other solemnities, but privately. The wisest do not approve of this decision, for it shows more clearly than ever to his people that he consented to the summons merely from compulsion by the enemy, and not of his own freewill, to please the people. Thus instead of conciliating their goodwill, at which he ought to aim particularly just now, he alienates them over a matter of outward show which is of no real importance, while at the same time he increases the admiration of the steps taken by the rebels, to whose bold resolution they do not tire of publishing aloud their indebtedness for the reestablishment of liberty and religion alike.
The Scots have nominated eight commissioners to lay their demands before parliament, (fn. 1) and many justly suspect that under the pretext of treating with the parliamentarians about the interests of their cause they mean seditiously to sow ideas pernicious to the public quiet.
Many Catholics, alarmed by the reports that circulate openly about most severe laws against those who profess the true Roman religion, are hurriedly selling their goods with the intention of going to live quietly in some other country until the present ill feeling has softened and the troubled state of this kingdom has altered.
There has been a great uproar in the city this week due to the imprudent attempt of the Archbishop of Canterbury to introduce new rites into the Anglican liturgy, namely an order for stone altars to be set up in the churches and other ceremonies abominated by Calvinistic error. These people gathered in great numbers and violently entering the Church of St. Pauls, the cathedral here, broke down the altar, and tore to pieces the books containing the new canons. They then tried to kill the very ministers of the archbishop, who escaped the peril by flight. Although this seditious event caused grave annoyance at the palace, yet they are proceeding with great tact over the punishment of the guilty, in order to avoid giving incitement to more serious risings, to which this libertine people shows itself more and more disposed, and waits for nothing except a suitable opportunity.
The ambassadors extraordinary of the Catholic have sent a courier to Spain asking for permission to return, as the further sojourn of three ministers at a Court which is utterly unable to transact any business soever with foreign powers, is not consonant with the dignity of the crown which they represent, and the ordinary ambassador can at present quite well meet all requirements.
By today's courier I have your Excellencies' letters of the 5th ult.
London, the 9th November, 1640.
Nov. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
128. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The king returned to this city on Wednesday and two days later he allowed the foreign ministers to pay their respects. After performing the offices suitable to the occasion, I presented your Excellencies' letters already sent. I spoke as instructed about the Ambassador Fielding's return and about the concession to Colonel Douglas to remain six months longer in this country. The king heard me very graciously and said that as he had no further occasion for the services of Colonel Douglas, he could return to Venice without further delay. He was a man of excellent character and he cordially recommended him to the Senate. I replied that your Excellencies had taken his absence in admirable part because he had been engaged in His Majesty's service, and you extended this liberality to prove your unalterable disposition to please His Majesty, at all of which the king seemed very gratified.
On Tuesday the 13th inst, the first session of parliament was opened. The king went there privately and at great length endeavoured to impress on the members that he had spontaneously decided to call them in order to dissipate mistrust, show the people his most just intentions and to find out by their advice the true means of rearranging the disordered affairs of the crown. He went on to refer to the pernicious undertaking of the rebel Scots against this kingdom asserting that as at York he had thought fit to refer the entire care of this most important cause to the assembly of peers of the realm, and had settled nothing without their advice and consent, so now he protested that he submitted it entirely to the judgment of parliament, by whose opinions he was determined to abide, in this and in everything else, being ready to leave his royal person in the care of the affection and loyalty of his subjects. He told them they would hear more from the Lord Keeper. That minister subsequently took up the threads of the king's speech. In a long discourse he explained all that had happened with the Scots and repeated elaborately the king's readiness to relieve his people and to preserve their ancient privileges. With this the first session ended which was characterised by the universal acclamations of all those present, in the assurance that in the king's weakness they will be able to direct all the deliberations after their own fashion.
The following days have been spent by the members in the election of the usual ministers and in the verification of their powers individually. Thus the discussion of more important matters is postponed to next week. The idea that changes will be made in the government is more firmly rooted than ever, with fresh severity against the Catholics, and most severe punishment for the leading ministers, who are doing everything in their power to avert ruin, but amid the ferment of the parliamentarians it is not thought likely that they will be able to escape the evils with which they are implacably threatened by the whole community.
The Scottish commissioners have not yet appeared ; it is believed that they are waiting a few days in order to see how parliament gets on and to take action accordingly. Meanwhile they asked for safe conducts under the great seal of England, which were promptly supplied and sent to York yesterday by special courier, so that Conway, the general of the cavalry, may pass them on to the Scottish leaders, who are quartered with the army about Newcastle.
A gentleman of Madame de Savoy has arrived at this Court. He brought letters to the king and queen with compliments on the birth of the new prince, and it does not appear that his offices extend to anything further.
London, the 16th November, 1640.
Nov. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
129. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The parliamentary session is proceeding actively. The king went there again, in accordance with custom, to receive the submission of the Speaker, a minister chosen by the Lower House to transmit to the king and the Upper House their petitions and decrees. The king took this opportunity to offer his excuses in a matter which had excited some ill feeling among the lords, because, contrary to the agreement of Ripon, he had called the Scot's rebels, in his speech at the opening of parliament. He also repeated his readiness to give the people the utmost satisfaction, adding that he would do nothing in future without the sole approval of parliament. He was so effusive in these assurances, showing so much submission that came ill from the mouth of a great prince, as to leave many with the impression that his remarks were suggested by the consternation of one terrified by apprehension of personal danger, rather than calculated prudence for the purpose of redeeming the love of his subjects (e multiplico in questi propositi con concetti di tanta summissione che come mal accommodati nella bocca d' un gran Principe hanno lasciato dubbio in molti, se gli fossero suggerited alla consternatione piu tosto del cuore intimorito nell' apprehensione di proprii pericoli che da affettata prudenza ad oggetto di ricomprare l' affetto de sudditi).
However that may be these suave methods have by no means diverted the members from their original designs to strike at his authority and ministers, and to deprive the Catholics of the connivance which he has compassionately extended to them hitherto. Thus in the subsequent meetings some of the members either more zealous or possibly more seditious, lest the king's dulcet voice might have won over the hearts of the majority, endeavoured, in long speeches, to persuade that while in past parliaments moderation had proved most effective, in the present crisis it would be most harmful. They could not cut at the root of the disorders except by extreme severity. When His Majesty heard of this, to forestall their decisions and to show himself equally estranged from the Catholic faith, he issued a public decree, in conformity with ancient laws, though never observed, that the Catholics must leave this city and not approach within ten miles, and has since informed both Houses of parliament of this step by the Lord Keeper. (fn. 2)
The first positive act of the parliament has been the sudden arrest of the Lieutenant of Ireland, a leading minister and the most favoured by His Majesty, who without reserve always showed a great partiality towards the interests of the Spaniards. His crimes have not yet been definitely announced. It is rumoured in general that it is for treason and lese majesté, charges which are applied by the passion of the parliamentarians from his having attempted to introduce foreign troops into this country to aid the king, who are forbidden to enter by ancient constitutions of the crown.
They are formulating a vigorous process against the two secretaries of state. They are accused of having carried out His Majesty's commands in matters which, by decree of parliament, it was not lawful for him to command or for them to obey.
Cottington who was charged with the custody of the Tower, has been removed from his post by parliament, and the troops dismissed which were in garrison there, and all the guns dismounted.
Many other ministers are threatened and men are fearfully anticipating the news of other changes of moment soon. The parliamentarians let it be freely understood that they will not allow the parliament to be dissolved any more but only prorogued, so that it shall meet every year. If this happens no further authority will remain to the king than to be the minister and executor of the will of his people, incapable of himself of entering into negotiations with foreign princes or of any other movement, however just or beneficial.
At the palace they feel a just resentment at these highly pernicious efforts and ideas, embracing these far reaching proposals, but the king, destitute of power and of credit, with his subjects all conspiring for the same objects, must bow to necessity and wait until time affords him the means to restore his falling fortunes.
Nothing has yet been done about the differences with the Scots, and they are awaiting the delegates. Meanwhile the Scots are diligently perfecting the fortifications begun at Newcastle, and it is said that these are now in a condition to resist any army however powerful. Accordingly if the rebels are not disposed to retire to their own country by means of negotiation, it will not be easy for the English forces to turn them out.
The Dunkirkers have suddenly sailed out with several shallops admirably armed. They fell in with some Dutch ships returning from the Indies, and after a valiant fight three laden with sugar remained in their hands, the others escaped to the ports here and found safety.
The Turkish Chiaus saw His Majesty on Sunday. He was fetched to the Palace in the Chamberlain's coach and received by the king in the Great Hall, where audience is given to the ambassadors of kings, but always seated and without uncovering.
London, the 23rd November, 1640.
Nov. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
130. Thadio Vico, Venetian Resident in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Prince Rupert obtains more liberty every day, to go in and out of the city and for hunting in the country and other diversions. They say that the emperor will grant him free apartments in Ratisbon.
Vienna, the 24th November, 1640.
Nov. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
131. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Seven delegates of Scotland arrived in this city on Saturday. They were met by the principal lords and acclaimed by the universal shouts of this libertine populace, which by such a conspicuous demonstration of delight has confirmed its approval of the invasion of the kingdom by their armies, as the best way of obtaining all that they have hitherto aspired to in vain. They are waiting for the last commissioner, who fell sick on the road. (fn. 3) On his arrival they will take up the negotiations for an agreement. It is the common opinion that these will proceed slowly, the English conspiring tacitly at the sojourn of a hostile force in their country until the fabric of their far reaching designs has reached perfection, all alike opposed to the true worship of God and to the rights of the royal sovereignty.
By order of parliament a universal fast was celebrated on Tuesday in this city and throughout the realm, and public prayers to implore the divine assistance in the present grave state of affairs. On that day the ministers of the churches delivered from their pulpits seditious sermons stirring up the people to put down the Catholic religion entirely and to use this favourable opportunity to restore to England her lost liberty. Exalting to the skies the generosity of the Scots they positively assured the people that these were angels sent by God to deliver the kingdom from idolatry and tyranny. These ideas, so full of impiety, found a ready hearing and the adherence of those present, with serious injury to His Majesty, owing to the consequences, and increasing the ever growing danger of the Catholics. On Sunday when many of these were hearing mass in the queen's chapel, a great number of Puritans assembled and when they came out of the church, attacked them furiously with stones and weapons, so that with the crowd and resentment growing on both sides, there was danger of a serious scandal, had not the magistrate who is charged with the peace of the city hurried to the spot, and quelled the tumult, with no little trouble.
Parliament has held several discussions this week, for the most part wasted in long disputes without settling anything of moment. They have only agreed in pushing on the trial of the imprisoned Lieutenant of Ireland. They are most diligent in bringing every evil upon this leading minister, and implacably disposed to use his great wealth and that of others whom they intend to punish, as a fund to meet the entire payment of the debts contracted by the king in these last events and by this means to avoid placing fresh burdens upon England.
Parliament informed the king by six members of the arrest of the Lieutenant. His Majesty suppressing with the dissimulation necessary in these times, his very natural feeling of bitterness, replied that as he had referred all the interests of the monarchy to the decision of parliament, he was resolved not to protect anyone, feeling sure that the parliamentarians would proceed with sincerity and would not allow innocence to perish.
They have sent to Ireland for the arrest of two leading ministers from whose evidence parliament feels certain to obtain certain proofs of the Lieutenant's guilt. They are showing great activity in the matter of the two secretaries of state, and although the king has intimated that all they did was by virtue of his orders, the parliamentarians have not so far consented to admit this reasonable excuse. Nevertheless it is believed that the second secretary, who belongs to the Puritan party and is new to the office, will not suffer, whereas total ruin is predicted for Windebank, who is the first and has always openly taken the party of the Spaniards.
The Upper Chamber has entrusted to 25 parliamentarians the duty of making a careful enquiry to discover the name of those councillors who persuaded His Majesty to break the treaty of peace arranged with the Scots last year. It is proposed to punish them severely as disturbers of the public quiet. This is clearly a pretext to remove from the Court the ministers most in favour and by this means to deprive His Majesty of advice and of all support.
For the maintenance of the English troops in quarters in the county of York and to meet the payment of the hostile army, the Lower Chamber has voted that a sum of 100,000l. shall be levied promptly from all the counties, in due proportion, but on the express condition that it shall be controlled by commissioners of the parliament, and not by the king's treasurers, an innovation aimed at what is most essential in the royal authority.
The Dutch ambassador has seized the present opportunity to urge the most important ministers, in the name of his masters, to take steps to give vigorous assistance to the Palatine, after they have settled their domestic affairs. If this is done he promises that the States will cooperate promptly to secure advantage for that House by every possible means. Nothing has yet been said in parliament about this important particular, and although considerations of religion, of policy, of blood and of honour conspire together for this cause, yet interest, which is against becoming involved in further troubles, and avarice, the only pole star which rules in this country at the present time, make it unlikely that anything will be done in the matter, although it would be most beneficial, and equally glorious for this crown.
London, the 30th November, 1640.


  • 1. The earls of Dunfermline and Loudoun, Sir William Douglas sheriff of Teviotdale, Sir Patrick Hepburn laird of Wauchton, Alexander Henderson. —Smith and Alexander Johnstone. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1640-1, page 111.
  • 2. Proclamation of the 11-21 November withdrawing all licences granted to Popish recusants allowing them to come to London. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1640-1, page 255.
  • 3. Loudoun is fashed with a defluxion, he will stay till Monday [9/19 November] and come on as health serves. "Baillie : Letter and Journals, Edinburgh, 1775, vol. 1 page 215.