Venice: December 1645

Pages 225-230

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 27, 1643-1647. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1926.

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December 1645

Dec. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
308. Giovanni Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
With the powers given me by your Serenity about arranging for the levies I have signed an agreement, which is enclosed for a regiment of 2,000 men with Colonel de Mesnil.
With regard to the English levy my hopes become every day more feeble. That of Plater, reported a week ago as on the point of conclusion, has almost completely disappeared because it lacks the main foundation of everything, namely security for the money paid out, of which a large amount is required. However, I am waiting for various replies from London, which will enable me to judge on better grounds.
Advices enclosed.
Paris, the 5th December, 1645.
Enclosure. 309. Advices from London, the 23rd November, 1645.
The news of Fairfax's retirement from Chester is confirmed, rain and floods having made his camp uncomfortable and the advanced season making quarters advisable. There is a fresh report that the king has gone from Newark to Oxford with 300 horse, to avoid being shut in this winter as the parliamentarians have taken some forts in the neighbourhood and circulate the report that the Scots are advancing to establish a formal siege, although there is not much appearance of it. The royalists have suffered further blows in various counties. Digby's losses of men are confirmed, and it is added that Sir Breteton has defeated 1,700 horse and 400 foot of the king's side somewhere else.
While the weather imposes a sort of truce the two Houses are sketching a project for peace, more for appearance it is believed, than for effect and even if it comes to light it can only be a monstrous birth, made up of passions and interests.
After much discussion they have granted the pass to the two Palatines with permission to embark at Bristol or Dover, or any other port, on taking a definite promise not to attempt anything contrary to the service or advantage of parliament.
Dec. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
310. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
It has been stated to-day as an absolute certainty that they have demanded of the English ambassador one of the English ships, which is ready to sail with all its cargo, for Leghorn, to send it first, at the earliest opportunity that occurs, to Canea and afterwards to Barbary, as they did last year with the other. The ambassador is greatly upset ; I do not know if he will rise superior to the difficulty.
The Vigne of Pera, the 6th December, 1645.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Dec. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
311. That the Catholic Ambassador be summoned to the Collegio and that what follows be read to him :
We have also to inform you, as a token of our perfect good will that to give you pleasure the Senate has decided upon the release of Leonard Harris, the Englishman who was banned, the difficulties which stood in the way having been put aside in order to give you this satisfaction.
Leonard Harris, captain of the English ship Parangon was banned by sentence of the tribunal of the Five Savii, in the year 1635, for having carried steel (azali) to Constantinople, with the additional penalty of having his head cut off and separated from the body between the two colums.
That Leonard Harris be released from his condemnation on the 6th November, 1635, by the Five Savii alla Mercanzia, for having taken steel to Constantinople, when he was sentenced to lose his life, to a fine of 600 lire with remission also of a debt of 3,000 ducats assigned to the Academy de' Nobili, in gratification of the Spanish ambassador, who has asked it as a favour of his Serenity, in the manner read, and that the name of Harris be struck out of every file or book, where it is entered, and that it be published.
Ayes, 120. Noes, 3. Neutral, 4. It requires 4-5ths.
1645, on the 8th December in the Collegio :
Ayes, 17. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1. It requires 4-5ths.
Zon, Secretary.
Dec. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
312. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices from England.
Paris, the 12th December, 1645.
Enclosure. 313. Advices from London, the 30th November, 1645.
The Princes Palatine have refused the pass from Parliament, because it excepted some of their followers who intended to leave the kingdom with them, and imposed on others the duty, before going, of asking for absolution and pardon for having borne arms against parliament. They have gone to the king at Oxford. With his suspicions cleared away by this action the king will value them more, now it is clear that they had no intelligence with parliament as pretended. Yet some believe that they went with the intention of introducing some accord between the king and parliament, and to persuade his Majesty, in his difficulties, to accept the terms prescribed by the two Chambers.
Goring has struck a blow at Fairfax's quarters, and it is calculated he has lost about 1,000 men. There is no news of Digby and it is uncertain whether he has got to Scotland with the remainder of his troops or if he is still in the island where he took refuge.
The English commissioners have returned from Scotland and report the parliament there as constant to maintain the union. They have acceeded to the withdrawal of the Scottish garrisons by the 1st March next, and that they will advance with their army, which is in a most flourishing state, especially the cavalry, to the siege of Newark when parliament in London has remitted the 30,000 Jacobus promised.
In Ireland the Catholics have gained some advantage, but the peace with the Protestants seems to be vanishing away, and these will not allow them either the free exercise of their religion or possession of the goods of the Church.
Dec. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
314. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
They have sent to Barbary for the ships expressly, with money and vestments, the English ambassador having succeeded in getting his ship off, by means of offices and gifts. They expect to obtain a hundred sailing ships from thence. I am much afraid that they will make use of English ships, as besides the one they wanted for Barbary, which would have left a fortnight ago but for the scirocco, two other very large ones have arrived ; I believe that another is at Smyrna and they may be expecting some more from Leghorn. I have given a hint to the English ambassador who replied that he must not hamper his trade, but he hoped he would always be able to get them off. He then went on to say, as if by way of complaint, that attention is being drawn publicly to those which are in the service of your Serenity. This would make the Turks want their ships even if they had not thought of it before. The first Vizier had spoken to him about it and remonstrated. If some action of importance should take place he was bound to get into serious trouble. This fear torments him continually and renders him unpleasant (fastidioso) towards this house.
The Vigne of Pera, the 17th December, 1645.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Dec. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
315. Giovanni Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Various replies and proposals have reached me from London, and I have also opened negotiations with an individual of that country here. The demands are high, but provided he finds adequate security, I hope by bargaining, to be able to reduce them. Everything has to be done by letter, which demands more time, and my regret is that I am unable to serve your Excellencies so well as I could desire.
Encloses advices from London.
Paris, the 19th December, 1645.
Enclosure. 316. Advices from London, the 7th December, 1645.
The king is still at Oxford and there is a persistent report that he may come unexpectedly to parliament in London, and since he can do no more by force of arms, take a final bold step and throw himself on the mercy of his enemies, accepting their terms and testing whether his subjects have any feelings of loyalty and respect left for him. Others believe, on better grounds, that some secret negotiation is on foot, and that before taking such a bold step the king wishes to signalise it by some bargain which the Houses may have wished to impose on him.
Amid these ambiguities there is clear evidence that his Majesty can do no more to recover himself. Many abandon his side daily either joining the other one or preserving neutrality. Those who remain steadfast have begged him in a long address to tell them his final intentions, so that after having joined their fortunes with his, they may not be exposed but may have some means of providing for themselves. The king told them with spirit that he would rather die sword in hand than let slip the hereditary rights of his crown.
Although the winter puts a stop to warlike operations events keep occurring in the provinces which serve to increase further the forces and courage of parliament. Although Fairfax raised the siege of Chester, he has contrived so to blockade it by the distribution of his quarters, that it is reduced to extremity. The inhabitants and garrison contemplate surrender, but the Irish there, believing no one on their side, are delaying this. Some strong places in Lancashire are also parleying for surrender.
There is a rumour that the Scottish army under General Lesley is advancing to besiege Newark, where dissension is very rife, as in the other places held by the royalists. News has come that Digby after his defeat is in the Isle of Man, and does not know how to get away. Meanwhile, in Scotland some Colonel of the king's side has collected a few soldiers and joined Montrose, (fn. 1) to strengthen his Majesty's party in that country.
Dec. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
317. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
By the English ships that arrived recently I discover that not only have cloth and merchandise of gold been sent from Venice by Jews and by Englishmen by way of Leghorn, but very considerable sums as well for the houses of the merchants of the nation here under the name of Englishmen and of Jews as well. I have caused something to be said on the subject but they deny it absolutely. Their sole object is to defraud the cottimo which is absolutely stripped bare in the absence of ships and of the caravans from that side.
The Vigne di Pera, the 20th December, 1645.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Dec. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
318. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Before leaving here the Resident of England has been to see me. I thanked him suitably and officially for his offers. He repeated these again. He told me that he was waiting eagerly to be honoured with this commission. He brought with him on his visit here a French priest of the Company of the Crucciata of the Duke of Nevers.
Rome, the 23rd December, 1645.
Dec. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
319. Giovanni Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The parliamentarians in London are apprehensive that this crown may fit out ships in Holland for the support of the king. It is quite true that for some time past they have been preparing a fleet for his Majesty, and there would be nothing remarkable in their giving him a hand here, to act jointly with the Prince of Orange. France on her side is similarly afraid of the English meddling in the affairs of Flanders, and that they will not permit Dunkirk to slip from the grasp of the Spaniards. Amid these mutual jealousies it may well happen that each of the parties will hold his hand and refrain from action. The events of those parts, which become more and more deplorable for the king, are enclosed, as well as a packet from Spain.
Advices enclosed.
Paris, the 26th December, 1645.
Enclosure. 320. Advices from London, the 14th December, 1645.
Parliament, in emulation of the supreme royal authority has created various dukes, marquises and earls, among those who have rendered them important services attaining by this act the supreme grade of absolute and independent authority. It is true that to cover such an innovation, the peace proposals decided upon by both Houses jointly ask his Majesty to confirm these advancements. The Chancellor of Scotland has left London with this project to take to the king, and it is believed that the king will be obliged in the end to accept any terms offered to him, not only by necessity but by the prayers of his own side.
An ambassador from Muscovy is in London, come to renew the ancient alliance between these two states which has long been established for navigation and trade. (fn. 2)
Induced by the payment of the money promised by the two Houses, the Scottish army is besieging Newark, overcoming all the difficulties of the season. General Lesley commands the army and professes that he will soon take the place by force. Some English troops have also come from the other side to keep the town closely invested. The Scots want to move with vigour and by assault, to be rid of it, but the English would prefer to go to work more deliberately and reduce it by hunger, rather than take risks.
Dec. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
321. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
With reference to the lack of sincerity on the part of our merchants, I have found that not only did they receive goods from Venice by the English ships which came here but that they also laded goods on those which have left for Leghorn. I have taxed them with this but they denied it.
The Vigne di Pera, the 28th December, 1645.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Dec. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
322. To the Ambassador in France.
We hear how little is to be expected from England, the negotiations with Colonel Plater being practically broken off altogether. If these difficulties continue there will be no longer room for hoping for anything from that country and it will be best to supply our requirements in some manner from France, obtaining the same numbers.
Ayes, 124. Noes, 0. Neutral, 4.


  • 1. Perhaps James Gordon, viscount Aboyne is meant, who joined him in October.
  • 2. Gherazim Dokhturov. He reached London on the 27th Nov., O.S., to inform the king of the death of the Czar Michael and the accession of his son Alexius. Bain : The First Romanovs, page 98. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VIII., page 207.