Venice: April 1643

Pages 259-267

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 26, 1642-1643. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1925.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.


April 1643

April 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
252. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Lower House has at last finished its discussions with a refusal to grant freedom of intercourse during the armistice. With this decision the commissioners left for Oxford on Monday, the king being advised of their coming through Chiligre. Lord See, refused by his Majesty, has remained behind, and they would not appoint anyone in his place. Some of the lords of royalist leanings have stated in confidence that his Majesty has not taken the best course in refusing to receive this person. They had him included in the commission because he had great credit with the Lower House, which had placed the matter in his hands practically without reserve, while his poverty and venality would render it easy to win him over, whereas he will now be thrown more completely into the arms of the other side.
When the commissioners had reached the Court and the king had heard their proposals he sent a gentleman here with a message, who was followed by Chiligre on behalf of the commissioners, to take back the reply and instructions. The king states that he is resolute in desiring the armistice by sea and by land and freedom of intercourse. He also asks, supposing the armistice is arranged, if the commissioners have authority to treat for peace, and if it is not, whether parliament is willing to treat for peace while the war goes on.
The Lower House which was sitting yesterday evening when the messenger arrived, took the matter in hand at once, and decided again not to alter the conditions sent in the smallest particular ; but that if the armistice is not arranged the commissioners may treat for four days and no more upon the first two articles of the peace, viz. the disbanding of the armies and the restitution of ships and fortresses to the king. They do not give them any authority to conclude without the approval of parliament. These answers and orders have not yet been sent because the Upper House has not discussed them ; so there may be occasion for disputes and alterations. I will keep watch and report in my next.
The queen is still staying at York, where the marquis of Hamilton with other lords for the kingdom of Scotland have gone to pay their respects. She replied more in accordance with the requirements of the situation than of her personal sentiments, since she has conceived the utmost dislike of the marquis after the discovery of his designs which since the very beginning of the disturbances of Scotland have been directed to the betrayal of the king for furthering his own ambitious pretensions in that kingdom.
Nothing is said yet about her Majesty leaving there, and yet every reason calls her to reinforce the king, who, if he does not unite the forces which he has scattered in various counties cannot take the field in sufficient strength to make those resolute and vigorous efforts which are requisite for the perfect restoration of his authority.
Prince Rupert, since his return from the unsuccessful affair at Bristol, advanced with some troops towards Alsberi, intending to push on in this direction, but he has returned without attempting anything.
Parliament has not neglected to turn to advantage the affair of the conspiracy at Bristol, reputed the greatest and richest city of the kingdom after London. It has ordered that all the goods of the conspirators shall be taken and themselves chastised. They are now devoting themselves to discovering their names and say it will be a matter of some importance, especially as it extends to the neutrals as well, as they are trying to make them declare themselves.
In the county of Chester Sir [William] Bruerton has utterly routed the royal army commanded by Sir [Thomas] Aston. (fn. 1) In Cornwall viscount Obton, after his failure at Plymouth, wanted to make an arrangement which would leave him free to come and join the royal army. But the orders sent to Stanford not to grant him any conditions have thwarted this plan, which it will be difficult to carry out by force owing to the hostile feeling against him in the trained bands of the neighbouring counties.
The king has sent two proclamations, but parliament has forbidden the publication or observance of both. The first orders captains of ships and other commanders in the fleet not to exercise their offices without express licence from his Majesty. The second orders those who owe debts to persons who have contributed to parliament, not to pay them until further express order from the king.
London, the 3rd April, 1643.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra, Venetian Archives.
253. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
On Saturday last Chiligre went back to the commissioners at Oxford to report that not the least alteration would be allowed in the articles for the armistice. On the supposition that it would thus fall through he brought permission for the commissioners to treat upon the first two articles of the peace, but without authority to conclude and limited to four days, which terminated yesterday evening. No news has yet come thence except that the king has deputed commissioners, as he will not for his part throw the slightest difficulty in the way of a real peace though without prejudice to his prerogatives.
The queen, who remains at York, is strengthening her party. She has succeeded so well that Sciomle, who commanded the parliamentary cavalry in Fairfax's army, has gone over to her with 400 horse.
The earl of Newport, who escaped arrest with Savil and Gord, by flight, has left the parliamentary party and gone to justify himself to her Majesty. Considering dissimulation advisable in present circumstances, she listened graciously to his excuses, and apparently restored him to favour. But while he was proceeding incognito to Oxford to perform the same office with the king, he was seized by rustics on the way and brought prisoner here.
The earl of Northampton was besieging Lizfil, previously taken by lord Bruch, as reported, but hearing that Sir [John] Gils was moving from the neighbouring county of Stafford with a powerful parliamentary army, to drive him away, he courageously decided to go and meet him, considering it more profitable to defeat that force than to take the place. This would have succeeded had not the earl himself been slain at the first shock, while one of his sons was wounded. In spite of this the fight lasted several hours, quite 500 being slain on both sides, and the royalists remained masters of the field in spite of the loss of their commander. (fn. 2) Prince Maurice immediately sent them reinforcements from Oxford.
In Lincolnshire the royal forces are having continual success, capturing places which, if unimportant, serve to enhance the credit of the party.
Sir [William] Waller, who raised the siege of Plymouth with the trained bands of the counties near Cornwall, continuing his operations, has taken Malmesbury, a place important itself and because of its neighbourhood to Oxford, only 20 miles away. Pretending to move for the recovery of Sisister, he went to Gloucester, where he encountered the Welsh army of lord Herbert. A battle ensued, disastrous to the king, 600 being slain and as many taken. (fn. 3)
The governor of the Island of Giarnese, (fn. 4) in whom parliament placed great confidence, has declared for the king. He thought that the town would support him and bring with them the rest of the inhabitants of the island ; but not finding them so friendly as he expected, he had to threaten them with the guns of the castle. But they still objected and sent the news to parliament. Considering the matter of importance because of the fear of help from France, which is within easy reach, and which they dread more every day because of the progress of the negotiations for a universal peace, parliament has sent ships for the defence of the island and to bombard the castle in case of need. They have pronounced the most severe sentence against the governor, whose goods have been sequestrated as he held rich possessions in this kingdom.
They have passed a resolution in the two Houses of parliament to confiscate all the goods of those who are known to support the royalist party in any way. It is believed, however, that they will not find it so easy to profit from this as they think.
The Scottish commissioners at Oxford are about to return home in a dissatisfied frame of mind, as the king would not on any account permit them to go to London. They say here that Lesle has orders to collect troops to enter England, but those who best know the state of that kingdom consider this report due to passion rather than to truth. Meanwhile it is certain that the marquis of Hamilton and the other lords staying too long with the queen, have received an intimation to return, and it is thought that they will do so promptly.
Although the term allowed to the Capuchin fathers to stay here had not expired, the Lower House, without the knowledge of the Upper, sent three of its members with a good number of troops to their dwelling place yesterday evening. After breaking in the doors they smashed the altars, broke and defiled the images and burned the ornaments and all the books, carrying off the religious as prisoners to the house of one of the sheriffs, to await an opportunity for sending them to France. (fn. 5) After this execution the Commons informed the Upper House of the reasons for their action. Being founded upon illegitimate violence it cannot be approved except in virtue of such violence. The French agent requests the release of the fathers and that they may be lodged at his house, for such time as may enable him to inform the Most Christian of the incident and receive his commands. He has not received any reply as yet, though he presses for one energetically. A favourable one might be expected if the Upper House possessed as much authority as good will.
London, the 10th April, 1643.
April 11.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
254. To the Secretary in England.
It is desirable and necessary that currants should arrive in that kingdom from our islands openly, without the prejudice of having to unlade them furtively, with opposition. Our case should be supported with the arguments which have been advanced on several occasions, the object being to get opponents out of the way and to establish this business on its original footing, which was so advantageous to both states and to their subjects. The change for Ider in the Morea will be helpful to this affair, to prevent the competition of the fruit of that country, which is so different and of inferior quality. You will keep on the alert and endeavour to discover whether there is any change in the orders given to the one who replaces Ider, informing him of the difference in the currants and of the advantage in taking the ordinary ones.
Ayes, 123. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
April 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
255. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The four days' negotiations of the commissioners at Oxford having expired without result, Chiligre arrived here last Saturday for a further extension and also for power to conclude an armistice with freedom of intercourse as desired by the king. He was sent back at once with directions to the commissioners not to alter the conditions prescribed for the armistice, and allowing an extension of eight days, but they are to return here at once when these have expired. On Chiligre's arrival with this reply the king sent a messenger reproving parliament for its captiousness, by which it is deceiving the people in this matter of the peace. To prove his own sincerity and his desire for this boon he offers the armistice even without freedom of intercourse, but on condition that they define the limits of the armies until certain terms prescribed by him. The Lower House had a long sitting upon this business, in which the members showed themselves more averse than ever from a true accord. They are also suspicious of the king's intentions in defining limits, believing that he aims at uniting his arms without risk with the army of the queen and Newcastle, which they call Papistical. Accordingly they have decided not to make the smallest alteration in their decisions about the armistice, but to show, at least in appearance, that this is not to prejudice the peace, they have added another six days for treating, so that even without the armistice the benefit of the prescribed twenty days may be enjoyed. But very little is expected from this negotiation, both because of the lack of sincerity on this side, and because the commissioners have no latitude or power to conclude, and this is unlikely to be given them, as little confidence is felt in them since the exclusion of Lord Se, who had the secret.
The earl of Holland, who at first associated with the most ardent of the rebels and who now supports the royal house at all risks, has brought forward a proposal in the Upper House to send and pay their respects to the queen, and offer her passports to come to Oxford, if she will consent to do so with the Court only, without troops, arms or money. Such a courtesy might easily be conceded by the lords, but the matter must be discussed by the Commons, and there is little prospect of their consenting.
Two days ago Prince Rupert left his quarters at Oxford with 6000 horse ; there is no certain news of his plans. Most people think that he is going to meet the queen, but having nothing to go upon I would not venture to assert as much, especially as more and more reports are spread here about the Scots arming, so that on good military principles they must not weaken that frontier. It is true that Colonel Gorin with the queen's own troops has gained a considerable victory over some forces of Fairfax, who were guarding an important post under a nephew of his. Besides 200 prisoners presented to her Majesty they admit here that the slain numbered little less than a thousand. (fn. 6)
Meanwhile parliament is indulging in the utmost severity against Sciomle, who with 400 horse recently went over to the queen. He is deprived of his membership and accused of treason, involving the most extreme sentences.
The Council of the city of London has held close and lengthy consultations this week. These have ended with the drawing up of a paper to present to parliament, which has not been done yet. It laments that nothing is being done, and that they are allowing themselves to be led aside by peace negotiations. While the city for its part promises the fulfilment of the offers made to parliament, they protest that if some peace is made or the war is not prosecuted with vigour to secure a happy issue, it will itself take control of the machine, or if it can do nothing else, will devote itself to its own defence. They are now trying to back this protest with numerous signatures to give it more authority, but the incitements of the Lower House are very well known, to reduce still further the authority of the Upper House, which at present does nothing but oppose and delay decisions.
The report of this step by the city has suggested issuing orders to the captains to fill up their companies and go and join the general, who has instructions to take the field at the earliest possible moment and go straight to Oxford. But all these orders are no more than an excuse for demands for money, and as this cannot be supplied very promptly, it is clear that nothing will be done or it will be done tardily.
The king has sent merchants to Dunkirk with notes for the purchase of 20 large frigates (fregatoni) to be employed in preying upon the parliament's shipping. They are all ready and are only waiting for the permission of Melo, which they expect to get without difficulty. Considerable disorders are foreseen as the result of this step, because the Dunkirkers themselves, under the king's name, will not hesitate to attack the English flag, which has hitherto been respected and esteemed in these waters.
Since the destruction of the queen's chapel with considerable damage to the pictures and other things and scorn of the arms of France, which were burned with the ornaments, the Capuchin fathers have remained in confinement in the house of the sheriff of the city, nor have the efforts of the French agent or the friendly disposition of the Upper House been able to effect anything in their favour. They are waiting for an opportunity to send them to France, but before then the courier will return who was sent to the Most Christian.
London, the 17th April, 1643.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
April 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
256. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Since the last message to the commissioners to adhere to the original instructions about the armistice, but to continue negotiations up to the end of the appointed 20 days, a gentleman has arrived from them with letters stating that the king is inclined to yield and agree to terms which might be arranged. Yet last Saturday, almost at the same time, a message arrived from his Majesty in which he demands the handing over of the ships, fortresses and magazines to persons designated by himself offering, if they are guilty of any crimes, to submit to the laws of England. The messenger was promptly sent back with an absolute refusal to grant such a point, as they intend that persons placed in authority shall be approved by parliament. When this reply reached Oxford the king sent again asking for twenty days more for negotiation. Not only did they refuse this but directed the commissioners to return at once on the expiry of the original 20 days to give an account of their negotiations. That will be to-day. The messenger was arrested for having had a book printed which was sent by his Majesty, reputed seditious by parliament.
Notwithstanding all this a third messenger arrived to-day. The commissioners knew of this beforehand but profess themselves ignorant of the proposals he brings. These consist of three points. First, the king requires the ships, fortresses and magazines to be handed over. Second, the admission to parliament of those who have been deprived for following his party. Third, that the parliament shall come out 20 miles from London so that he may assist at it in safety. No reply has yet been given, but it has been suggested in parliament that in the present time of open war and when the armies are beginning to move, it will be necessary to stop the coming of so many messengers, whose only object is to note what they are doing here and to contrive intelligence in the city. They believe that the king, more averse from peace than themselves, is only trying to gain time and the means to strengthen himself, as he only has his own army with him and that somewhat diminished. Accordingly without waiting for the end of the negotiations or even the report of the commissioners, they have sent 40,000l. sterling to Essex and again charged him to march with all speed against Oxford, in order to besiege the king there before he becomes stronger and unapproachable by the arrival of other armies. I have just heard that the earl moved in that direction yesterday with all his army, but have not had time to confirm this.
Meanwhile in order to proceed with regularity and provide sufficient resistance against the agitations that such a move may produce, in foreign and other assistance, the two Houses of parliament have directed the commissioners for the safety of the realm to obtain definite information of the state and vigour of the forces, both naval and military, which are in being, so that they may be strengthened where necessary and supplied with what they lack, so far as possible.
To this end, in addition to the assignments already made from the city and which they are obtaining from the country as well, they are busily engaged in bringing into the public exchequer the revenues of confiscated goods, taken from all those who have shown any favour to the royalist cause. To make these known they have already begun to apply the oath of association in the country, considering those who refuse to take it as royalists.
Sir [William] Waller, after defeating the Welsh under lord Herbert, wanted to follow up his victory, but Herbert withstood him in an advantageous position and repulsed him with such loss that he had to desist. So he writes to parliament that he will wait for General Essex and join him.
Prince Rupert, who left Oxford with 6000 horse, advanced into Warwickshire, where he took, sacked and burned Brinton. It was expected that he would advance to support the junction of the queen's army with the king's, but the suspicion that Essex would move obliged him to return to his quarters, so as not to leave his Majesty destitute of the most vigorous part of his forces.
Meanwhile the armies of the North have fought valiantly, as Fairfax, the parliamentary general, who escaped with a few, writes that he has been completely defeated. He lays the blame on Otton, governor of Uls, who would not send him reinforcements. They are considering here how to set him up again. They have already directed Cranuil, who is in Cambridge to join him with 4000 foot and 800 horse, but the succour will be tardy and feeble, as the queen and Newcastle constantly grow stronger, and are masters of that district without opposition.
An individual has arrived from Scotland, sent by the government there with all speed to their commissioners with the king, with letters complaining that his Majesty has broken the faith of his passport in not allowing them to come here to treat with the parliament. If he insists on this prohibition, they are to be back in Edinburgh by the end of the present month. The messenger has stated orally that his country has collected its own money and very soon they will have a powerful army ready with the inclination to employ it on behalf of this parliament. But sensible men see that the forces of the queen and Newcastle, which are at present unopposed, will afford them material for reflection, since they can offer effective resistance.
The marquis of Hamilton and the other lords who went to pay their respects to the queen, have returned as instructed ; but their long intercourse has occasioned some suspicion, as the marquis, in particular, does not now seem so ardent for his original principles.
While the Capuchins were still in confinement letters from the Most Christian reached the earl of Holland, of which I enclose a copy. The agent is instructed not to make the slightest representation but only to present the letter and receive the reply.
London, the 24th April, 1643.
Enclosure. 257. Letter from the Most Christian king to the earl of Holland.
Extreme surprise at the violence shown to the house and chapel of the Capuchins in London, as they were sent to serve the queen, his sister, in consequence of a solemn treaty. Will see what reparation is given him before deciding what he will do. Understands the earl did what was possible in pointing out the consequences of such action.
[Italian, from the French.]
April 30.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
258. To the Secretary in England.
Our Captain of the Galeasses is accustomed to reconnoitre the ships which he meets. He found two ships, one under Cerigo and the other under Modon, both suspicious places for pirates. These vessels showed a reluctance to give the customary signs of friendship, in spite of the Captain firing without shot. So he had to use ball, when the ships lowered their mainsails and showed themselves to be English. After this they were shown every courtesy, and the inconvenience of failing to recognise our galleys was pointed out to them, in the interests of the security of navigation. This information is sent because the English may make a mischievous report, and to enable you to make reply, showing the propriety of recognising our ships, especially by the English, as the republic had a special arrangement with the late King James for the recognition of his ships by our naval commanders, since without this their good work, which is universally recognised, would be rendered useless. By the same agreement British subjects trading in these waters are enjoined to keep in close touch with our commanders. We shall await the report and send you further particulars of the names of the ships and their owners, when we have received them.
Acknowledge the receipt of his letters and enclose sheet of advices.
Ayes, 104. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.


  • 1. At Middlowich on Monday the 13—23 March. Ormerod : History of the County Palatine of Chester, Vol. III, pages 178—180.
  • 2. Action at Hopton Heath on the 29th March.
  • 3. At Highnam on the 3rd April.
  • 4. Sir Peter Osborne.
  • 5. On the 29th March, O.S., the Committee appointed to remove the Capuchins was instructed "to take care to seize and secure the persons of these and to deface the altars and the other superscription and pictures and matters in their chapel and to lock up the chapel door." Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. III, page 24. The Committee consisted of Sir John Clotworthy, Sir John Corbett, Messrs. Marten, Bond and Gurdon. Ibid. page 8.
  • 6. It was Sir Thomas Fairfax himself who was defeated, at Seacroft Moor on the 29th March, O.S.