Venice: January 1646

Pages 231-240

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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January 1646

1646. Jan. 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
323. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices from England.
Paris, the 2nd January 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 324. Advices from London, the 21st December, 1645.
Talk and hopes of peace gain ground in England, the king being practically compelled to accept it. He has sent a trumpet to London to ask a pass for the Duke of Richmond, the Earl of Southampton and two others, (fn. 1) to make overtures for peace, and the Prince of Wales has added his prayers, at the instance of his father. Parliament replied that the journey would be superfluous. They would send his Majesty a project very soon, and if this was refused, they would seek means calculated to save the kingdom.
The two Princes Palatine are reconciled with the king and have returned to Oxford. There and everywhere else subject to the king, they are preparing a relief for Chester, which is very hard pressed.
Various officers and soldiers were in London who had abandoned the royal side, but parliament, fearing some plot, had them all arrested in one night. To prevent any of them finding an asylum they set guards at the houses of all the foreign ministers. These were removed in the morning when the two Houses sent an apology for the affront.
Some strong places in Lancashire and Skippon in Yorkshire have fallen into the hands of the parliamentarians. Parliament has sent two commissioners to the Scottish army at Newark, to take part in its direction. (fn. 2) They have occupied some forts, but an attempt to capture an island, to enable them to cross the river and complete the investment, was repulsed. In Ireland also the English have won successes, 500 of their enemies being slain on the field and 1,000 captured. (fn. 3)
Jan. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
325. Giovanni Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After incredible difficulties over the levy of English with which your Serenity charged me, I have at last come to terms this morning with Col. Sidney Atkins. He is of an excellent family and served formerly as a volunteer and later with a regiment of that crown, while finally, in the present civil wars he has borne arms on the royal side in his own country. Having received some affront from the Princes Palatine, he left them and proceeded to London, but owing to the Catholic religion, which he professes, he does not find residence there safe. He came on purpose to see me, and in addition to finding his terms considerably more moderate than those of any one else, I saw that there would be greater facilities for carrying it into effect, as he showed me the permit which he holds from parliament to proceed with the levy to the service of your Excellencies so I struck a bargain with him. He would not bind himself to more than 1,200 soldiers besides the officers, but he held out hopes of reaching 1,500 and possibly even 2,000. For the entire levy, its embarcation, the cost of the voyage, food and all other requirements, from London to Candia excepting only the hire of the ships, for which I could not induce him to commit himself, while he wished to deal in the money of his own country, I brought him down to slightly less than 4½l. sterling per head, which allowing for all the exchanges will come to about 24 ducats di banco per man. I consider this very reasonable taking into account the cost of other levies and with what this crown itself furnishes for its own service. It is true that the levy will consist mostly of prisoners of war, but they are experienced troops, skilled in arms, as I have written before.
In accordance with my instructions from your Excellencies to send some one to London for the hire of the ships, the only expense which falls upon your Serenity, and also to assist at the embarcation, I shall send the Secretary Suriano in two or three days, who has worked with untiring energy and devotion at all that his service requires, and is quite ready to show his zeal by undertaking this troublesome task. As I have not had time to get the contract written out, I will send it by the next ordinary and with it that of another engineer and possibly more, together with their terms.
I will supply the secretary with enough money for his journey and living expenses and trust that this will be made good to me in due time in the accounts, and also that arrangements will be made for new letters of credit for this levy, because those which I have will not go very far.
The English General Goring has unexpectedly arrived in France, having abandoned the remainder of his army, which was the strongest that the royalists had left. There are various reports about his coming, that it is for the cure of some infirmity or that he purposes to raise levies, which the queen of England has besought of their Majesties here with tears in her eyes. Others talk about a proposal of marriage between the Prince of Wales and Mademoiselle of Orleans, but under existing circumstances this is so unlikely that it is not worth considering. I send the further advices from those parts on the enclosed sheet.
Paris, the 9th January, 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 326. Advices from London, the 28th December, 1645.
The king in a letter sent to London has complained bitterly of the refusal of a pass to his envoys for peace and condemns the action of the other side as directly contrary to their declarations hitherto. Parliament sent a gentleman to the Princes Palatine, who returned aggrieved. (fn. 4) They are restored to the king's favour and their former positions. All those left on his Majesty's side desire peace at any price, because at Oxford distress and discord reign everywhere. The king had collected 2,000 men from various garrisons to send to the relief of Chester, but the parliamentarians having broken the bridges, they had to retire to Oxford. Men are leaving the king daily. Some join the other side, others cross to France or to Holland. It is believed that the Prince of Wales, who is in the West, being unable to join his father, thinks of escaping in a ship which he keeps ready.
The Scots have rather drawn off from Newark, but with money parliament hopes to get them to act as it wishes and is sending to that army on purpose special messengers. Parliament has prorogued until the 15th of March the date for those who seek a reconciliation with it. The two Houses sent a member to the French Resident Sabran to enquire if he had a hand in the passing of letters between the king and queen. He replied that he was only obliged to give an account of his actions to the king of France, and if parliament supposed that he had had a hand in anything to its prejudice or contrary to the neutrality he was instructed to observe, it should complain to his king, to whom he will render account as in duty bound.
Jan. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
327. Giovanni Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Condulmier writes to me from Holland that he has had an interview with Braset and found that he had no information yet as to what is to be done with the ships ordered in Holland. The Secretary of State and Liona have vied with each other in explaining to me that Brasset is not yet informed of the intentions of the government in order that the matter may be done in secret. He has been taken by surprise, but he will now have full information, because of the ships ordered in Holland, six are destined for the republic, which will unite with four others which are arming actively in Britanny, in order to save expense. The money moreover has been remitted to Holland. The rest of the ships ordered are to serve for the king of England, but the armament will be made under the name of Monsieur, in order to avoid infringing the neutrality which they claim to observe between the two parties. The queen here implores levies and money for her husband. As regards the first it is thought that they will permit her to take some corps of troops as covertly as possible and for the rest they are looking for a pretext, either that the clergy shall furnish a sum of money under the cloak of religion, or that the queen may raise cash from some fund as if on her own private account. But it is too late to think of the interests of the king of England as the enclosed sheet will show.
Paris, the 16th January, 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 328. Advices from London, the 4th January, 1646.
Parliament had drafted a sharp reply to the king's letter, but the Scottish commissioners wished it modified, though in appearance only, as in substance they agreed to exclude the proposals the king wished to make and refer to what they will send him very soon. This will contain the usual four points : that religion shall be reformed and changed ; that the control of money and the armies shall rest with the two parliaments, that Ireland and the Catholic religion there shall be destroyed and that the most loyal servants of the king shall be excluded from the peace and pardon. Necessity will drive the king to make some compact because his affairs are at the last gasp. Hereford, which bravely withstood siege by the Scottish army last summer, has now been surprised in a moment by the parliamentarians. Part of the garrison started for the relief of Chester, and failed, leaving the place exposed to 900 men, whose leader, for 6,000 Jacobus, conducted the enterprise. A few dressed as rustics occupied one gate cut the guard to pieces and let the others in. They found a quantity of arms and several rich men who had taken refuge there and have been made prisoner. (fn. 5) The loss is great for the king's side, because the place kept the surrounding country in awe, and now it will bend to the yoke of the more powerful. Newark is also blockaded, although the nature of the country does not allow the Scots to get very near. Chester is also in extremity, the ice having permitted the enemy to approach the walls at another place. In Ireland the Catholics besieging Sligo, through the carelessness of the sentries and the absence of the commander, not without suspicion of conspiracy with the enemy, have been surprised and defeated with serious loss. (fn. 6)
Jan. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
329. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I attach the agreement for the levy of English, with the terms. These are on the same lines as the others, with some small differences of no great consequence, which I had to concede to satisfy the genius of the nation, which is very cautious and suspicious in negotiation. For the rest the interests of your Excellencies are sufficiently safeguarded. 566 lire which must be paid at once are on account of 2 crowns per head. I have arranged with the Colonel not to give them except on embarcation and for effectives only.
The Secretary Suriano set out for those parts yesterday with appropriate orders both for finding the ships and for embarking the men. I have had 6,000l. remitted to London, for which I am making a remittance to Venice of 30,000 ducats di banco. That is approximately what the amount comes to, which will be arranged afterwards with the Lumaga according to the rate of exchange between London and Paris. I have had very great difficulty about getting the money supplied, because with the poverty of money and merchants on the mart of London, the usual circulation is lacking (manca del solito giro.) I have accordingly instructed the secretary if he has a chance of making direct arrangements over there on better terms, not to let slip the opportunity, and in such case I beg your Excellencies to cause the letters to be accepted and paid in the usual way.
To the individual who offered men and ships I have communicated the reply supplied by your Serenity. He has repeated his offer on the terms enclosed. As some of these seemed to me too hard or not well expressed, I have got him to moderate and explain them in the marginal notes attached. The individual, who has hitherto desired to keep secret, has supplied me with his name in confidence, requesting that if the affair comes to nothing, it may be forgotten and buried. He is the General Waller who commanded in chief an army for the parliament at the beginning of the present wars. He is a man accustomed to responsibility and famous and the only reason he was dismissed from his charge was a law, aimed at the Earl of Essex, that members of parliament might not retain such appointments. Various other proposals have been made to me, and two other regiments could be arranged for if your Excellencies should consider it to be to your advantage.
Paris, the 16th January, 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 330. Agreement between Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, and Colonel Sidney Atkins.
The Colonel undertakes to levy a regiment of 1,200 experienced English soldiers for Venice and have them ready to embark in two months from the signing of this agreement. It shall consist of 8 companies of 150 or 160 including officers. The Colonel shall receive 150 ducats a month ; a captain 60, a lieutenant 32, an ensign 24, two sergeants 15 each, 4 corporals 8 each, a secretary 10 and each man 30 lire. In the field they shall receive, a captain 100 ducats, a lieutenant 50, an ensign 30, a sergeant 15, a corporal 10, a secretary 15 and the soldiers the same as other troops. Pay shall begin from the day they land at Candia, which is their place d'armes. They shall then receive a whole month's pay. The republic will supply arms and deduct a lire a month from the pay for them from each soldier. When the war is over the republic may dispose of the regiment as it pleases, and in such case it shall be bound to maintain the Colonel's company for 5 years and two others for 3 years. During the war companies exceeding 30 men shall not be reformed. Those with less may be absorbed and their officers paid off. When paid off all the troops shall receive a month's pay as a gift. The Colonel shall obtain any leave that may be necessary for taking the men from England. He shall receive 5,686l. sterling for all costs to the place d'armes except the hire of ships, which the republic will pay, to wit 566l. on signing the agreement and the remainder at embarcation. The republic will provide and pay for the ships to take them from London to Candia. If the ships are not ready within the two months, the Colonel shall consign the troops to the republic's commissioner in London, who shall maintain them until the ships are ready. The Colonel shall find sureties. He shall have the benefit of any soldiers who die by the way. A commissioner shall be sent to London for this levy. If the levy is raised to 2,000 the same terms shall be extended.
Dated at Paris, the 10th January 1645. [M.V.]
(Signed) G. Battista Nani, Ambassador.
Sidney Atkins.
331. Proposal of William Waller to serve in Candia.
Explanation. Reply.
If the republic wishes to reduce the fleet to 18 ships, he is content. He is still desirous to serve with a fleet of 25 ships and 4,000 men on land, as he wishes to make a powerful diversion possibly at several points. Serving without a fleet the land forces will clearly waste, and cannot be supplied and recruited by ships of the fleet, while the rest remain in service.
If the republic finds difficulty in the time, it can be arranged by her ambassador at Paris. The fleet and men shall be employed for a year, and if the republic does not want them longer it shall inform the General. Three months' notice shall be given. He cannot offer any further. If it is accepted he wants the following :
If the republic finds any difficulty about the commission of General, it can instruct the ambassador, with whom arrangements can be made. A commission as general of his fleet and forces and all other English and Scots in the republic's service, by land or sea.
Not as cautionary towns but merely as a place of repair, and where he may take prizes. A place of repair, to retire to and for safety, such as Cephalonia, Cursola, Liesina.
This is only to make a diversion for the advantage of the republic. He agrees to the booty then taken being valued and the amount deducted from their pay, or else to take no pay for that time. The four months to be the first after his arrival. Four months in each year to make war, when his booty shall be his absolute property.
These two articles may be adjusted at Paris. He shall be paid like any other Ultramontane General. Four months' pay in advance.
The object is not pecuniary but founded on piety and honour. His offer is a guarantee that he means to live and die with Venice in this cause. Three months' pay on discharge, to pay passage home.
If the republic agrees to the addition of 2,000 men, the ships must be increased at the rate of 250 soldiers to each, besides 90 sailors. Half of his salary as a pension for life. He will always be at their disposition.
This is the extent of his demands. He thinks the only question left unsettled, the cavalry levy, is because he was not understood. He would like, in lieu of the cavalry to bring 6,000 men instead of 4,000.
He represents that his pay has been 10l. a day as General. The republic will be equally well served by land and sea by a double command. He expects 7l. a head for transporting the soldiers, and 600l. sterling for the hire of the ships, which shall be of 400 tons and carry 32 guns each. He desires the same terms as have been conceded to the Dutch. He makes a point of arming his forces in England, and wishes to have a consideration for that, to be arranged between him and the ambassador. A prompt reply is necessary so that the necessary provisions for the voyage may be made before the heat becomes too great.
Jan. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
332. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
For the ships which are to serve for the transport from England to Candia of the troops agreed upon, I have written to the Secretary Suriano the instructions sent me by your Serenity on the 23rd ult. advising him as far as possible to avoid making any promise but to confine himself to arrange for the transport only, because they will not hesitate upon the spot to have them seized, according as exigencies may demand. I have had another offer from London of about 1,000 soldiers which can be had quickly all ready for embarkation. I have written to Suriano to hear what they have to say and to treat, and if he can get them on the same terms as the others, to accept, because Atkins may possibly have some difficulty in exceeding the promised number of 1,200 and as the commissions of your Excellencies extend to 2,000 I considered that it would be more to your interest to have 200 too many than 800 too few.
Paris, the 23rd January, 1645. [M.V.]
333. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The queen of England has at last obtained leave to enlist 3,000 infantry in Britanny and 1,000 men in addition for whom mounts will be found in her own country. At the last Council they decided further to give her 200,000 crowns to enable her to carry this into effect, in spite of the fact that the king's exchequer is extremely exhausted. She has had several conferences with Emerii to get this decision carried promptly into effect and obtain the cash. She will return to her quarters in Paris, to spend the winter there. The state of affairs of the king, her husband, is in the enclosed sheet.
They are sending from here a certain Monsieur Mulin as Resident in Ireland, to obtain levies and fresh recruits for the regiments which were drawn from there during last year. He will also stretch out a hand in the most friendly way to the remnants of the Catholics who are left in that country.
Paris, the 23rd January, 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 334. Advices from London, the 12th January, 1646.
Failing in his attempt to get a pass for his peace envoys, the king has again sent a trumpet asking that he may himself come to parliament, accompanied by 300 persons, and there propose and arrange peace. The Houses met about this and a refusal is expected, because the royal presence might give rise to dissensions between the Houses themselves, some not being absolutely opposed to the king, and others anxious for peace.
The man who surprised Hereford has been made governor, (fn. 7) and another important place in the North has surrendered to parliament, leaving them in absolute control of all the country beyond Trent, where his Majesty has not a single town. The castle of Skippon has surrendered after some days resistance and Chester cannot hold out for long, Fairfax's men having occupied an important fort which shuts it in on the other side. They have sent 15,000 Jacobus to the Scottish army besieging Newark, but owing to the season they cannot invest the place more closely There are reports that Montrose has somewhat re-established himself, but this does not seem enough to relieve the king.
Jan. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
335. Giovanni Ambrogio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
An English ship which has arrived from Constantinople in 28 days reports the energy of the Grank Turk in equipping the fleet. He wanted to send a chiaus and a spai to Barbary on this very ship to hasten the sailing of the corsairs, but through the efforts of the English ambassador and presents the captain escaped this service.
Pisa, the 27th January, 1646.
Jan. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian. Archives.
336. Gerolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
They are expecting a corps of Irish, the raising of which was arranged some months ago and the money paid down to a trustworthy person. It is not known whether it will arrive in time.
Madrid, the 30th January, 1645.
Jan. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
337. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
They are startled here at the news that a certain number of troops have crossed from England to Dunkirk. Parliament excuses this by saying that they are levies of prisoners, who are freely granted to everybody ; but here they make it serve as a pretext for balancing this by the consent granted to the queen for other levies. All the same they are not without suspicion that now the English have no longer anything to fear from the royal party, they will want to meddle in the affairs of Flanders, and not allow Dunkirk to fall. We see the preparation in that kingdom of a powerful naval force, and although the object may be to shut out the king on every side and to attack Ireland, yet it would always be easy to give it another direction.
Encloses the London news.
Paris, the 30th January, 1645. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 338. Advices from London, the 18th January, 1646.
The king impatient at the delay of parliament in answering his request for a pass for himself, has repeated the demand by letter. Blaming the Houses for the continuation of this cruel war he goes on to explain that he desires a safe conduct from the two English Houses, from the Scottish deputies and from the generals to proceed to parliament at London or Westminster, accompanied by 300 of his servants and officers, to consult and decide upon peace proposals, for the space of forty days, to withdraw afterwards to one of his places which he may select. Besides generalities about facilitating the common tranquillity he offers that the direction of the armies shall be referred to a stated number of persons from both sides, chosen by himself, who shall have absolute power over them, and when the number is fixed the Houses shall choose one half and he the other. (fn. 8)
The English deaf to all proposals of peace, and the more averse, the more liberal these are, have returned an absolute refusal, but it has not yet been sent as it is submitted to the Scottish deputies, who dislike too exalted and proud a manner and would like milder measures of peace. Meanwhile parliament, fearing lest the king should venture to London without a pass, either disguised or openly, confiding in some remnants of his own party, has doubled the guards, inside and outside the city, with great vigilance. But he remains at Oxford, in increasing straits, and in the shortage of money the troops are disbanding. Parliament meanwhile is growing greater and amassing troops to try and squeeze him as soon as possible and reduce him to extremity in that narrow compass.
2,000 infantry have been sent to Newark to join the Scottish army and press that place harder, but the Scots have not allowed the commissioners from London to hold a review of their troops. There is a report that the Prince of Wales has driven off a part of Fairfax's men and introduced relief into Chester. If this is true that important place will be rescued for the moment from its desperate plight.


  • 1. John Ashburnham and Geoffrey Palmer ; on the 5-15 December.
  • 2. Twelve commissioners were appointed. Their instructions are dated 16-26 Dec. Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VIII., page 43.
  • 3. Probably the defeat at Sligo on the 7-17 October.
  • 4. Edmund Pickering, on the 22nd November, O.S. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IV., page 352. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1645-7, pages 225, 259.
  • 5. Taken by Col. John Birch on the 18-28 December. See Journals of the House of Lords, Vol. VIII., pages 59, 60. 6,000l. was charged upon the excise on 22 Dec., 1645, to be disposed of as the Committee of both kingdoms saw fit. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. IV., page 381.
  • 6. On the 17-27 October.
  • 7. Col. John Birch, on the 22 Dec., O.S. Cal. S.P. Dom, 1645-7, page 273.
  • 8. The king's offer of the 26th Dec., O.S. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1645-7, pages 277-279.