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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, 'Preface', in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 25, 1640-1642, (London, 1924) pp. v-xxvii. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

. "Preface", in Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 25, 1640-1642, (London, 1924) v-xxvii. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

. "Preface", Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 25, 1640-1642, (London, 1924). v-xxvii. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,

In this section


This volume is concerned with the years 1640, 1641 and the first two months of 1642, beginning from the decision to summon parliament, and ending on the eve of the queen's departure for Holland. The material is drawn exclusively from the state archives housed in the Frari at Venice. As with the volume immediately preceding the Italian text of a large proportion of the papers may be found at the Public Record Office, either in transcripts or originals. The transcripts include the whole of Giustinian's despatches from England, and of the Esposizioni Principi, as well as the bulk of the extracts included from the Hague despatches. (fn. 1) The originals comprise the register of the Ambassador Correr in France, down to May 1641; that of Alvise Contarini at Rome to June 1641 and that of another Contarini in Spain, to August in the same year. (fn. 2) The material contained in the volume from other sources does not amount to forty pages.

Section I

Domestic troubles and a nerveless foreign policy had reduced English prestige abroad to a very low ebb, but the Dutch victory in the Downs in October 1639 brought in its train a considerable revival of diplomatic activity. The situation in Europe was too delicate to allow the continental powers to leave England altogether out of account. The news that parliament was to meet again forced them to contemplate the possibility of serious developments (Nos. 1, 7). The French realised that by lending ships to Spain England could nullify the advantages they hoped to gain from the Dutch victory and compel them to give up their plans in the Mediterranean (No. 29). The Dutch had sent over a special mission immediately after the event to soothe the king's ruffled susceptibilities and to propose an alliance. After the destruction of their fleet the Spaniards had more need than ever of English assistance for keeping open their communications with Flanders. Although they already had Cardenas to represent their interests at London, and an unofficial but very efficient agent in the duchess of Chevreuse, the Spaniards sent over the Marquis of Velada, as ambassador extraordinary, to be followed soon after by the Marquis Malvezzi, in the same capacity. The chief object of this mission was to obtain ships for the West Indies and for taking men and supplies to Flanders. To facilitate this they were to hold out the inducement of a general alliance, to be cemented by the union of the Infant with the Princess Mary. They came with well lined pockets to smoothe the path of their negotiations (Nos. 12, 13, 24, 48, 64).

Courted thus by both sides Charles hesitated as to where he should bestow his favour. He seemed to have decided against the Dutch, for after keeping them some weeks waiting for an answer to their proposals, he sent them a very roughly worded paper, reviving the old complaint about Tromp's behaviour and further accusing the Hollanders of supplying the rebels in Scotland with food and munitions of war (No. 28). Almost immediately he softened the asperity of this unlooked for attack by intimating to the ambassadors that this was not his final answer, and assuring them of his regard for the States General (No. 30). But he discounted the effect of this by taking the first opportunity of getting rid of Aerssens and his colleagues, who were obliged to return home empty handed. The Dutch naturally felt aggrieved and Heenvliet declared that England's attitude must throw them more completely into the arms of the French (No. 40). The States might have welcomed the mediation Charles offered them with Denmark, but they did not feel that they could trust his impartiality (No. 44). They suspected that some intrigue must be on foot with the Spaniards to the prejudice of the allies, and drew consolation from the reflection that the Scots would keep the English from doing much mischief (No. 13).

On the other side the Spaniards cherished sanguine hopes. Repeated disappointments and long experience had not cured Charles of the passionate desire for an alliance with the Spanish house (No. 6). He had known and liked Velada in Spain and waited eagerly and impatiently for his arrival (Nos. 28, 30). The Spanish star was in the ascendant at Court ; Coke, a friend of the French and Dutch, was removed, and Windebank, a notorious Hispanophile, made secretary in his stead. It was remarked that ministers partial to France and Holland were not employed or summoned to the secret deliberations of the Cabinet (No. 28). From this friendly disposition the Spaniards derived substantial advantages. Large sums of money were constantly passing through England from Spain to Flanders (Nos. 12, 57, 67, 71). On one occasion, at least, an English man of war escorted to Dunkirk a large force of Spanish infantry (No. 64), while a steady stream of Irish recruits was pouring into Flanders (No. 55). In May, 1640, Madrid felt confident that the alliance would be concluded. But the tide was already about to turn. The duchess of Chevreuse had been the prime mover in all these affairs (No. 28). She now learned that her husband was about to come over to fetch her and at once departed precipitately for Flanders. Left to their own devices the ambassadors began to quarrel with each other (No. 75). Moreover in their eager bid for English support they had overreached themselves and offered sums which Charles well knew their government was unable to afford (No. 67). They would not even make an advance which Strafford earnestly desired of them. (fn. 3) Instantly the friendly sentiments underwent a change. The queen began to suspect that they had no real intention of concluding the alliance (No. 64). Windebank, their partisan, complained openly to Giustinian of the insincerity they displayed and said they were only trying to take advantage of the difficulties of his master (No. 79). The king himself expressed his profound disgust and was convinced that their only desire was to encourage him by flimsy promises to involve himself in disputes with his people and in disagreement with foreign powers (No. 89). By September, 1640, the negotiations were considered definitely at an end (No. 111).

The Spaniards did not realise how far the pendulum had swung in the other direction. Towards the end of the preceding May the Dutch envoy Heenvliet had returned from Holland. He brought instructions to thwart the operations of the Spanish ministers, and also to revive the project of a marriage alliance which he had broached a few months before with but scant success. The queen had more ambitious views for her daughter, but the queen mother took up the idea with enthusiasm, indeed she is said to have originated the project (Nos. 75, 138). The king had now come to consider the matter favourably. Having discovered the hollowness of the offers made by the Spaniards he may have hoped that those of the Dutch would prove more substantial. He had reason to fear that an alliance with the former would excite fresh discontent among his people, and he hoped that by forming an alliance with the States General he would put a stop to the supplies which they furnished to the Scots, who might then withdraw their army and leave him free to deal with the parliament at London (No. 144).

The negotiations proceeded with the utmost secrecy, but there were signs to indicate in which direction the wind set. Heenvliet had at once got to work for the settlement of outstanding differences between the two countries and with such success that Boswell was sent to the Hague in July to complete the arrangements (No. 78). The Dutch began to consider favourably the mediation of England in their dispute with Denmark, whose king was blamed by Charles for drawing closer to Spain (No. 77). When a Danish embassy arrived in England later on, with offers of help against the Scots and proposals for a coalition against Sweden and Holland, they were politely bowed out with what amounted to a refusal (No. 123). The marriage alliance had in fact been concluded in principle some weeks before though for the time being it was kept absolutely dark, the Princess Palatine alone being let into the secret (No. 138). (fn. 4) No public announcement was made until the end of the year, and the secret had been so well kept that the news took the world completely by surprise. In Holland an alliance so manifestly destined for the aggrandisement of the House of Orange was received with mixed feelings, but on the whole the Dutch were disposed to welcome a closer union with their great neighbour which promised notable advantages to trade (Nos. 138, 148). In England the rejoicing was general despite the conviction that the king designed the alliance to help him to overcome his domestic enemies.

For the Spaniards it was nothing less than a rout, more especially when it came out that the bride was to be the king's eldest daughter, for whose union with the Infant they were still supposed to be treating. They made frantic efforts to upset the business even at this eleventh hour (No. 156), but seeing that it was all in vain they had no alternative but to take a hurried departure, full of shame and mortification that an embassy begun with so much clat should end in such a complete fiasco (No. 150). The newly assembled parliament rapidly completed their discomfiture and before the year was out Giustinian could write that the Spanish party at Court was completely overthrown (No. 140).

Although their adversaries were thus driven from the field the Dutch did not even yet feel their success to be assured. They suspected that Charles had only consented to the marriage as an expedient for propping up his tottering cause, that he would try to avoid committing himself irrecoverably, and if circumstances changed in his favour he would be likely to seize upon the first pretext for breaking off the match altogether (No. 162). Even after their prince had come over and the marriage had been duly solemnised, the bridegroom was put to bed for a short time with his little bride, aged nine, to render the union indissoluble, so far as the tender years of the parties would permit (No. 188), and all the subsequent quent efforts of the ambassadors were directed to getting the princess over to Holland at the earliest possible moment.

The House of Orange was called upon to pay for this distinguished connection. The princess's dowry was fixed at 40,000 crowns, to which the Prince of Orange was to add another 120,000 crowns, investing the whole amount in England (No. 173). When Prince William came over he was believed at Court to have brought with him 1,200,000 crowns in gold bars, with credits for as much again, to help the king in his troubles (No. 185). No new alliance was formed between the two countries ; the old defensive one was merely confirmed, and that solely by promises exchanged between the king and the ambassadors, without any formalities (No. 203). The Dutch as a nation were not anxious for an alliance with England for the moment, and wished first to see how things would turn out there. The Prince of Orange, on the other hand, was eager to exploit the connection and to make the most of the difficulties in which Charles was involved (Nos. 274, 294). Towards the end of 1641 Heenvliet was in England again, this time to promote a marriage between the Prince of Wales and Orange's eldest daughter (No. 305).

France had stood resolutely aside from all this courting of England. She had given Charles cause for acute irritation by the detention of the Palatine, and demanded conditions for his release to which the English king absolutely refused to listen. The first fears of hostile developments in England were dispelled by the Ambassador Bellievre, who was sent for and reported that France had nothing to fear from England for that year (No. 27). At the same time it was considered desirable, to avoid possible complications, to set the prince at liberty, after a short interval. As Charles would not hear of anything but an unconditional release, the matter was arranged with the prince alone, independently of England (No. 41). Meanwhile Bellievre did not return and France was represented in England by a mere secretary of legation at a time when Spain had three ambassadors there.

The withdrawal of Bellievre gave offence in England as indicating lack of respect. As the months passed without any successor being appointed, the English Court grew restive and Leicester in Paris tried to excite French apprehensions over the Spanish negotiations in London (No. 70). This proving ineffective the Venetian ambassador was asked to make representations on the subject (Nos. 79, 95). When approached on the matter Richelieu expressed his contempt for the policy pursued by the king of England, which had reduced his country to a nullity. It would be all the same, he said, if the king of Spain sent ten instead of three ambassadors, nothing would come of it (No. 110). Later on he explained more fully to Correr what he had in his mind. France had tried every way to form an alliance with the king of Great Britain, but all to no purpose. England only wanted an ambassador sent to make the Spaniards uneasy and get better terms for themselves. The Puritans disliked the French less than the Spaniards. So long as the negotiations with the Spanish ambassadors went on, they would keep up their agitation, in the fear that something would be arranged with the Spaniards to their prejudice. This agitation would in itself prevent the king from taking any steps with the Spaniards detrimental to the common cause (No. 113).

After the Spaniards had been driven from the field France almost immediately nominated an ambassador for England (No. 151), though La Fert did not reach London until more than four months later. His arrival had been eagerly anticipated by the queen and the king as well, in the hope that his presence might act as some restraint upon parliament (No. 220). But the new ambassador conducted himself with prudence and soon charmed away the suspicions with which the popular leaders had at first regarded him. He announced that he would have a special regard for the queen's interests, but for the rest he avoided interfering in domestic politics (No. 223). As time went on the hopes of the king and queen were turned into resentment. They considered that La Fert was far too intimate with the parliamentary leaders, suspected that France was secretly encouraging the malcontents for her own ends and curtly refused the mediation which the ambassador offered between them and their subjects (Nos. 305, 323, 327, 331).

From time to time both the French and the Dutch urged upon Charles the need for united action in favour of the Palatine, without eliciting any definite response. In March 1641 the young prince himself, appeared unexpectedly upon the scene. Charles had always been uncomfortably aware of his sister's popularity in the country, and he had more reason than ever to dread its effects at a time of such crisis. The presence of her son at such a moment was particularly objectionable and the king had actually written to stop the prince. Charles could not altogether conceal his vexation but he dissembled his feelings and gave his nephew an affectionate welcome (No. 170). To please him the king at once decided to send Sir Thomas Roe to represent the Palatine's interests at the diet of Ratisbon. The Palatine had come primarily to solicit the interest of parliament in his cause. He did indeed obtain declarations in his favour which had a high sound, but which actually meant very little ; for the popular party in England was not at all inclined to take up any fresh burdens or to lose the advantage of trade with the Spanish dominions, while they by no means desired to augment the flowing tide of French prosperity (No. 271).

From Roe's mission the Palatine did not look for any useful result, and Arundel, who had been on a similar errand himself, disapproved (No. 179). Roe personally was sanguine and though ill at the time he was ready to start in a few weeks. On his way out, at the Hague, he refused a gold chain which they offered to him, asking that it might be reserved for his return, when he hoped he would have done something to deserve it (No. 204). The course of his negotiations with interesting lights on his personality may be traced in Vico's despatches. He found it hopeless to bear up against the procrastination and obstruction of the imperialists, while the position of affairs at home tied his hands. It led, among other things to a demand that he should produce a ratification of his powers from the parliaments of England and Scotland (No. 306). He paid a tribute to the emperor's goodwill, but believed him to be prevented from acting upon it by Bavaria and others. At the same time he observed that Ferdinand had gained more for his house at Ratisbon than any of his predecessors since Charles V. (280).

The only substantial result of Roe's mission was the release of Prince Rupert, who had been a prisoner for three years. Even before this had taken place Charles made haste to press the Venetian republic to take the young prince into its service (No. 186), an offer which the Senate dexterously evaded (No. 201).

As a response to Roe's mission the emperor had sent the Freiherr von Lisola to England, who professed to have special facilities for settling the question of the Palatinate (No. 268). For the most part this minister kept to himself as much as his predecessor Radolti had done, (fn. 5) and seems to have done nothing beyond proffering the usual empty assurances (No. 327). When Roe became restive at the lack of progress in his negotiations, the Austrians contemplated sending an ambassador extraordinary to London with more assurances, but were dissuaded by the Spaniards, who wanted to keep the affair in the hands of their own minister (No. 336).

Early in 1641 Portugal threw off the Spanish connection and the new king at once began to look about him for recognition and assistance. Among other missions he sent two ambassadors to England, who arrived in March. On their way to London they were stayed at Salisbury until it was decided whether they should be recognised or no (No. 172). After considerable discussion and in spite of the opposition of Cardenas it was decided to receive them on the same footing as the ambassadors of crowned heads, in consideration of the rights of the House of Braganza and because the new king had been called to the throne amid the universal acclamations of the people (No. 173). Accordingly the ambassadors were received in full state although the king's interest in them rapidly cooled (No. 179). They came to offer an alliance, to ask for levies and to request that facilities for levies and munitions of war should be denied to the Spaniards. The negotiations they conducted turned chiefly on matters of trade, and although they were not disposed to allow the English to trade freely in the Indies, which was what the merchants most desired, a treaty, purely commercial in character, was eventually arranged and signed (Nos. 203, 207, 340).

Section II

During the winter 1639/40 Charles was busy preparing to renew the war with the Scots. It was Wentworth chiefly who urged him on this course, promising to raise 300,000l. from the people, even without parliament (No. 38). Other ministers were more cautious and importuned the king to put an end to civil discords at any cost, as if this state of affairs went on it must eventually prove disastrous to the crown. Nevertheless the king persisted, incited by the queen, who wished him to reduce the Scots to complete subjection. She held out hopes of large contributions from the Catholics and even from the pope, which the papal minister Rossetti had encouraged her to expect (No. 75). The chief difficulty the king encountered was the provision of an efficient and trustworthy army. The musters were all called out for inspection, care being taken to have as few Puritans as possible because the king did not trust them (No. 46). Wentworth was to bring a large force from Ireland, and from these troops the king expected the best service and prompt obedience. To prevent possible complications orders were issued that the Scots in that island should be instantly and completely disarmed (No. 6). Tempting inducements were held out to attract experienced officers from the Netherlands, and the king made an offer to the States General to give them 200 men in exchange for 80 veterans, one from each company, who were to receive commissions as officers, though drawn from the ranks (No. 55). He engaged General King, a veteran of the German wars, to improve the discipline of his army (No. 78). It was this officer who had instructions to raise two regiments of Danish cavalry with all speed (fn. 6) (No. 89).

No satisfactory results emerged from all this effort. The troops collected proved unruly and disaffected, a curse to the districts in which they happened to be quartered, so much so that even the loyal county of York was moved to protest and to threaten to join the rebels themselves if the disorder was not suppressed (No. 95). The Scots fully appreciated the situation and thought so lightly of their enemy that they sent the bulk of their forces home until such time as they should be required (No. 75). In London five regiments mutinied which were destined to serve in the fleet, then in the Thames. It became necessary to disband them and to give up the intended naval operations against Scotland. When the king proceeded to join his army at York he found his troops scanty in numbers and without the semblance of discipline, while the county on whose loyalty he most depended demanded in menacing fashion to be relieved of the burdens placed upon it (No. 107).

Meanwhile the Scots had invaded England. A party of 300 horse preceded the main body into Northumberland where they circulated a manifesto, justifying their action and calling upon the English to join them in a cause which involved the religion and liberty of both countries (No. 105). This advanced body was promptly followed by the main Scottish army, marching in two divisions. The invaders were received in friendly fashion by the country people, the gentry as well as the lower classes (No. 108), and in London the news aroused enthusiasm, especially among the Puritans (No. 107). It was useless to threaten severe penalties against those who spoke well of the rebels ; no severity could keep popular feeling within bounds (No. 105). Between a disciplined force under experienced commanders and the miscellaneous troops collected in the king's name and honeycombed with discontent and disaffection the issue was never in doubt. Once again Charles was faced with the necessity of bowing to the terms extorted by his revolted subjects. The attempt to raise money by force after the dissolution of the short parliament had proved a complete fiasco and had been hurriedly abandoned in favour of milder measures (No. 71) which did not prove any more effective. The king's confidential ministers strove hard to prevent the calling of another parliament (No. 112), but the Scots insisted that they would not subscribe any kind of agreement unless it were ratified by parliament (No. 126). Faced by this emergency Charles was quite prepared to appeal to force. He had placed Cottington in command of the Tower with orders to raise platforms of earthworks there and to take steps to command the city with its guns (No. 107). The king also provided that the fortress should be garrisoned and supplied with munitions, and he may have contemplated taking refuge there as a last resort (No. 109). The fall of Edinburgh castle soon after must have warned him of the danger of such a course. It was better on the whole to face the situation and come to terms. The queen and ministers about her disapproved of the armistice with the Scots, considering that its terms were undignified and an encouragement to rebellion (No. 127). They had not shown such a bold front when the lords petitioned for a parliament, sending in haste for the king to return to London without delay to divert the mischief with which they were threatened if parliament were not summoned immediately (No. 109).

Section III

With the progress of civil strife in England the character of the Venetian despatches from London undergoes a marked change. In normal times they have been chiefly occupied with foreign policy and affairs, with domestic events taking quite a subordinate place. But now foreign affairs disappear almost entirely while the formidable events at home overwhelm all outside matters. The Senate felt keenly interested in the struggle that was going on and encouraged their ambassador to send them the fullest reports. Accordingly the despatches are not only devoted almost exclusively to English domestic affairs, but they are longer and more detailed, affording a lively picture of those stirring times, recorded week by week. Unfortunately the Ambassador Giustinian felt no sympathy for the people and had no interest in their aspirations. For him the parliamentary leaders were merely ambitious upstarts, intent only on their personal aggrandisement and careless if this involved the ruin of their country. He took no pains, like other ministers, to make their acquaintance and ascertain their point of view. Consequently, on that side his record is seriously defective. Until the ascendancy of the Commons had become unmistakeable he leaves them in the background and when he mentions parliament he is usually referring more particularly, if not exclusively, to the House of Lords. Of the sentiments prevalent at Court he probably supplies an accurate presentation, and he seems to have enjoyed the confidence of the queen, who wanted to act as godmother to his new born son (No. 271), and who, on more than one occasion, got him to forward important letters for her to France (Nos. 193, 203). But this also had its dangers and his reports of events in Ireland are sometimes grotesquely astray from the facts, though it is possibly unfair to trace his mistakes to the queen's inspiration.

The elections in the autumn of 1641 resulted in the return of much the same persons as had been chosen in the spring, to the cry of liberty and the restoration of the ancient prerogatives of the people. The papal nuncio and the queen mother enjoyed an uncomfortable notoriety in the public mind because of the suspicion that they had given evil advice to the king (No. 126). The Catholics also had reason to fear popular resentment. They had for some time past been enjoying an unaccustomed relief from the operation of the penal laws and they could boast of an influence and consideration hardly known since the death of Queen Mary. They owed this change in their fortunes to the king, but their sensibility of this benefit marked them out as supporters of the prerogative. They had been the only section of the community to speak against the Scots, (fn. 7) and it was felt that the triumph of the Scots must inevitably involve their ruin (No. 112). Many of them, to avoid the impending catastrophe, hurriedly began to sell their goods, intending to go abroad until the storm should have blown over. One of those who went into voluntary exile on this account was the Countess of Arundel (No. 271), a lady not easily daunted. Subsequent events in parliament and country showed that these fears were only too well justified, while the king, in whose cause they suffered, was quite prepared to sacrifice them at any time, if he might thereby gain a little popularity (Nos. 71, 129, 346). In a suggestive passage Giustinian hints that if at any time the Catholics instead of looking to the king should come to look to parliament for protection, it was an open question whether they would not become of the same mind with the rest of the country and join with them in the effort to limit the royal authority (No. 263).

Parliament opened in the highest spirits and the confidence that they would have matters all their own way because of the king's weakness (No. 128). Charles gave colour to this idea at the outset by a somewhat grovelling apology for an error in his opening speech in which he referred to the Scots as rebels, thereby conveying the impression of one in consternation at the apprehension of personal danger, rather than of a calculated prudence designed to regain the love of the people (No. 129). From the first the leaders let it be freely understood that they would not again allow parliament to be dissolved, but only prorogued, so that it should meet every year. When informed by a deputation of the arrest of Strafford the king suppressed his natural feelings and meekly told the members that as he had referred all the interests of the monarchy to parliament, he was resolved not to protect any one, as he felt sure that parliament would proceed sincerely and not allow the innocent to perish (No. 131). The natural consequence of so much pliability was that the king got no credit for his concessions, which were attributed to necessity rather than to sincere inclination (No. 137). Charles carried his complaisance so far that in informing parliament of the marriage arranged with the House of Orange he consulted them on the terms of the proposed treaty with the Dutch, while asking them to take the necessary measures for carrying out what had been agreed. It was considered unprecedented that he should consult parliament upon a question of foreign policy (No. 164). At the same time he must have been taken aback when the Lords, in reply, asked him to delay the conclusion of the match until they had fully examined the proposals and given their report (No. 165). Yet the king was content to allow parliament to take active steps for the recovery of moneys claimed by English merchants from Csy, late French ambassador at the Porte, though this interference caused considerable annoyance at Paris (No. 174).

In the case of Strafford Charles was not prepared to surrender so easily. That minister was considered lost from the first (No. 156). But though parliament meant to have his life the king was prepared to run the greatest risks to save him (No. 164). Giustinian asserts that Charles created several peers in order to provide Strafford with friendly votes in the Lords (No. 168) ; and if this is not correct, the king may easily have contemplated such a step. The queen was at hand ready to urge him on to the most desperate courses (No. 150). When the earl was summoned to make his defence, the king went in person to the place of trial and had a long secret conversation with the prisoner before the proceedings began, subsequently showing him every sign of honour (No. 168). These demonstrations only served to inflame the popular resentment and helped prepare the way for the final tragedy. After the attainder had passed the king made a final appeal to parliament for mercy. To increase the effect he sent it to the Houses by the Prince of Wales, who added his own representations. But the Commons treated the prince with scant civility and refused to read either the letter or its cover (No. 191).

Immediately after this resounding event the ministers who had had most to do with public affairs resigned their offices and retired to the country, hoping thus to avoid the perils that menaced them. At the same time parliament obtained consent from the disheartened king to a decree which gave them complete control of the navy, the admiral and captains receiving instructions to obey their orders and no others (No. 192). This was followed within a few weeks by a demand that all the captains chosen by his Majesty should be removed (No. 218).

In the midst of this triumphal progress parliament was stirred by the disclosure of the army plot. Giustinian was at first inclined to treat this as a pure invention of the malcontents, designed to further their sinister ends, though he remarks significantly that the disclosures 'certainly have not gone beyond their intentions here' (No. 207). While the trial of Strafford was still in progress the king had secretly sent money to be distributed among the troops at York, with the idea of winning their favour for some enterprise which time and opportunity might present (No. 181). Before these disclosures the queen had been even more unpopular than the king and assailed by the vilest calumny (No. 191). As she was credited with being the prime mover in the plot the feeling against her was much embittered. Her alarm and distress knew no bounds and she feared that parliament might take proceedings against her (No. 207), especially as they were believed to be searching for precedents for dealing with queens in like cases (No. 210). The arrival of La Fert at this time relieved her fears for the moment, but immediately after she made up her mind to escape to Holland, under the pretext of taking the waters at Spa. She felt that her own liberty as well as that of her husband were in danger (No. 218). Her mind was quite made up and her baggage all ready to cross the water. The persuasions of the French ambassador, backed by the Venetian failed to move her (No. 228). At this point parliament determined to intervene. They knew that the queen intended to take a quantity of jewels with her, and they could hardly be in doubt about the purposes for which these would be employed. They appealed first of all to the king, and as his representations failed to produce the necessary effect, they resolved upon sterner measures. Announcing their intention to sift the army plot to the bottom, they took steps to prevent the crown jewels being taken out of the country. They directed the receivers of the queen's revenues to produce their accounts and threatened even more vigorous measures. In this way and by the renewed persuasions of the king and La Fert the queen was at length induced to reconsider her intent. She sent word to parliament that she gave up the idea out of her wish to please the people (No. 234).

Although parliament succeeded in stopping the queen it was not equally fortunate with the king. In London Charles felt himself powerless to stem the tide running against him and he was likely to seize on the first opportunity to escape. Soon after the execution of Strafford he had announced his intention of going to Scotland in July to open parliament there (No. 192). Nothing more was heard until July came and then after a brief revival the project seemed to be dropped, although all the preparations had been made, as the Scots did not appear to desire the king's presence (No. 234). Early in August, however, a definite invitation arrived from Scotland, and that settled the question (No. 237), although the wisest councillors did not approve of the idea and predicted irretrievable ruin to the royal house if it should be acted upon (No. 216). Parliament was in great alarm and made the most strenuous efforts to prevent the journey as no one entertained a doubt about the king's intention being to throw off the shackles with which they had bound him (No. 254). The moment was one of the most critical which the parliamentary leaders had yet faced, but as the Scots favoured the project, they were powerless to resist. Fortified by an assurance from the Scots that they would restore his ancient authority, Charles set out for Edinburgh in high spirits. He took with him the Palatine and some Scottish lords, but would not allow any of the English nobility to accompany him, a circumstance that added enormously to the suspicion and ill feeeling (No. 244). All the king's hopes of changing his fortunes were centered on this journey (No. 228). At first he sent back most optimistic reports to the queen, who was greatly encouraged, and persuaded herself that the news would have a beneficial effect in England (No. 250). But later reports did not bear out these early anticipations, and the queen's dream of using the Scots to subdue England gradually faded away (No. 271). The disclosure of the plot against Hamilton and Argyle blew all such visions to the winds. Instead of the Scots helping against England the suspicion grew that the two parliaments were working in collusion and that the Scots were setting a guard on the king to prevent his leaving the country too suddenly (Nos. 279, 284).

The escape of the king from the clutches of parliament had caused them the liveliest anxiety, which was far from allayed by a letter from Lord Holland, commanding the forces at York, advising that the Scots had greatly increased their forces under the pretence of honouring the king and expressing misgivings about the intentions of General Leslie and casting doubts upon the devotion of the people in the North to the parliament's cause. News of the king's reception at Edinburgh only added to their fears. The leading nobles on the parliament side held prolonged conferences together at the house of Northumberland, where they were believed to be discussing the best means of resisting any attempt which the king might make on his return. The most prominent figures among the parliamentarians were sent into the country to circulate among the people ideas favourable to parliament and to spread mistrust of the king and the Scots (Nos. 248, 255). The course of events and particularly the evacuation of England by the Scottish army soon allayed their fears and restored their confidence (No. 254). By the 20th September it was considered safe to adjourn parliament, a decision to which the spread of the plague in London contributed not a little (No. 260).

Although the king's journey to Scotland did not realise his own sanguine expectations or the fears of the parliamentarians, it contributed to the decline of their prestige which becomes noticeable about this time. Other causes were also at work to the same end. The new taxation which parliament had been obliged to impose proved difficult to collect and, what was worse, it did not nearly realise the amount expected (No. 250). The people were fatigued by repeated demands for new and extraordinary taxes and they began to complain that parliament had only brought expense and discomfort (No. 255). Dissatisfaction was spread by the statements of members returned to their homes who did not consider that they had been allowed their fair share in the proceedings (No. 263). In London the citizens suffered from the abuse by members of their privilege of exemption from arrest, so that it was not possible to recover debts from them and a petition was presented for the remedying of this evil (No. 291). The London tradesmen in particular were seriously out of pocket through the absence of the Court and the consequent diminution of their trade (No. 305). Indications of dissatisfaction began to appear openly. Squibs against parliament were posted up not only in London but in the provinces as well, and from the latter petitions began to come in against the proposed exclusion of the bishops from parliament (No. 279). The king's party was plucking up courage to declare itself. Shortly before Charles started for Scotland many of the leading gentry had crossed the sea, on the pretext of accompanying the queen mother to Holland, but really from fear that fresh disturbances might break out in the king's absence (No. 237). Now, on Sunday the 3rd November, it was remarked that an unusual number of the gentry flocked to Oatlands to pay their respects to the queen (No. 276).

When Charles returned to London he came determined to make the most of this change of feeling and he laid himself out more particularly to conciliate the good will of the Londoners. He seemed to have achieved so much success in this that he was encouraged to act with an independence he had not ventured to show since the parliament first assembled, and at Court men began to talk freely about removing several of the leading ministers and officials who had taken a prominent part against the king (No. 305). The Commons, no longer feeling sure of the support of the Scots or of the city, reluctantly submitted to the king's removal of the guard they had engaged for their protection (No. 301). According to Giustinian the Grand Remonstrance was taken up at this time on purpose to kindle the waning resentment against the king and to revive the old enthusiasm for the parliament (No. 296), a statement not easy to reconcile with established facts and dates in connection with that measure. But the reaction came from the king's own act. Charles threw away his advantage by his violent procedure against the five members. Giustinian indicates that this step was inspired by the news of an intention to impeach the queen (No. 323). Parliament utterly repudiated the idea. They sent two members to the queen to ask who gave her the information that they contemplated accusing her of conspiring against the state, so that the informant might be punished for inventing a statement so false and remote from the intention of parliament (No. 331).

For a short while the king acted with vigour and determination. Not meeting with the success he hoped for he seems to have lost heart and one evening he fled precipitately to Hampton Court taking with him the queen, the royal children and the Palatine and accompanied by a few of the more faithful among the nobility. They arrived so unexpectedly that the king, queen and children were all obliged to sleep in the same bed (No. 327). From Hampton Court the king proceeded almost immediately to Windsor, for greater security. His expectation of rallying a party about him was grievously disappointed. He had with him only some 200 persons, including a few military officers, and of any disposition in Wales, Yorkshire or elsewhere to rise in his favour, there was not a trace (No. 331). The members of his party in parliament were reduced to silence and impotence (No. 327). The letter Charles sent to parliament, full of friendliness and goodwill only betrayed his weakness and the fears that compassed him about (No. 331).

The parliamentary leaders, on their side, acted with vigour and decision to consolidate their position and maintain their advantage. London was put in a thorough state of defence and letters sent to the neighbouring counties asking for troops. The governors of coastal fortresses were forbidden to obey orders from the king which were not countersigned by parliament (No. 327). Special precautions were taken for securing the important magazine at Hull. Command of the sea was not forgotten and it was decided to arm a fleet of 62 ships, to be divided into three squadrons. The first and largest was to sail against the Barbary pirates and protect navigation in the Mediterranean ; the second was to prevent foreign interference in Ireland and the third and smallest to guard the Channel and defend England against attack (No. 338). Shipowners fell in readily with the plan and pay was assigned to them out of the customs revenue, which had formerly been devoted to the requirements of the royal household (No. 340). After a short struggle parliament further obtained from the king the right to appoint lords lieutenant, military commanders and governors of fortresses, which they promptly exercised by filling all these posts with Puritans, excluding royalists and even Anglicans (No. 346). While displaying this energy over the fleet they also issued orders throughout the land for the enrolment of all men capable of bearing arms, and for the provision of arms and munitions (No. 343).

The Commons had now definitely taken the lead and they contemplated a union of the two Houses in one body, an idea which found support from several of the leading nobles (No. 346). The House of Lords was completely overawed. They had been induced to support the demand for the control of appointments against the sentiment of the majority, some members of the minority informing them that if they resisted they would be denounced to the people as enemies of the state (No. 338). It was intimated to the king himself that if he refused to grant what parliament demanded they would act without him (No. 340). Charles was in no mood to resist and yielded sooner or later all that was asked. Being requested by parliament to justify his accusation against the five members or to abandon it, he beat a complete retreat offering a general pardon as a token of his goodwill. While this added greatly to the popularity of the accused, it acted as a damper upon the king's supporters, as it showed his facility in embarking on a course of action and his lack of firmness in sustaining it. Those who had committed themselves to the king's side realised the danger in which they stood of being miserably abandoned to the tender mercies of their opponents, with no answering compensation. Some, who up to that moment had stoutly defended the king's interests, retired in disgust to their country houses, while others prepared to cross the sea. It seemed as if parliament had reduced the king to an absolute dependence on its will. When the queen revived her idea of crossing to Holland, they raised no objection, as they had previously, because in her absence they thought it would not be difficult for them to direct the king's will with absolute freedom (No. 343). But while they were congratulating themselves on having got Charles completely under control some intercepted letters of Lord Digby showed them that the king was not so submissive to his fate as outward appearances indicated (No. 346).

Section IV

A brief summary must suffice for other matters of interest contained in the volume. Prominent among these is the revolt of the Levant Company against the exploitation of the currant trade by the Venetian republic. Counting upon the Englishman's known devotion to the fruit the Senate had added duty to duty until the demands of the state exceeded the prime cost of the fruit. Having a sufficient stock of currants in hand the Company petitioned parliament to stop importation for a while. They considered that the most likely means for getting the duties reduced. The Senate was seriously alarmed, as the English were practically the only buyers of the crop, and the duties brought in a considerable revenue. It is characteristic of Giustinian's misreading of the political situation that, to prevent this misfortune, he addressed himself almost exclusively to the king and to members of the House of Lords (Nos. 211, 212, 217, 224, 228, 275, 278, 292, 295).

Attention may be drawn in addition to the reported occupation of an island (Islay or one of the Orkneys) by the Dunkirkers, to be used as a naval base against the Dutch (Nos. 78, 87) ; the accusation against Cottington of procuring the rejection of an offer of Flanders to the crown (No. 220) ; a fear that the pope might send troops to help the rebels in Ireland (No. 284) ; a proposal of the merchants to fit out a buccaneering expedition against the Spanish Indies (No. 325) ; the despatch of grain from England to relieve a shortage in Holland (No. 57) ; a comment on English respect for the laws (No. 309) ; the publication of a new symbol of the faith, unspecified (No. 192) ; the appearance of female preachers of a new faith (No. 234) ; and the presence at Belluno of an English gentleman to buy pictures (Nos. 2, 3, 5, 11).

In conclusion I would make my customary acknowledgment to the officials at the Frari for their kind assistance and invariable courtesy.

Allen B. Hinds.
London, July, 1924.


  • 1. Venetian transcripts vols. 22, 23, 24 ; 166, and 202.
  • 2. Venetian MSS. vols. 52 ; 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, and 96.
  • 3. Gardiner : Hist, of Eng. vol. ix. page 175.
  • 4. According to Girolamo Giustinian the princess was annoyed because she had no hand in the affair. Giovanni Giustinian, on the other hand states that she conducted the negotiations with Heenvliet, no other minister having any share in the matter (No. 141) ; but his namesake at the Hague was likely to be the better informed on the subject.
  • 5. See the previous volume of this Calendar, page xii.
  • 6. See Gardiner : Hist. of Eng. vol. ix. pages 175, 176.
  • 7. See the preceding Vol. of this Calendar, page 536.