Venice: October 1647

Pages 17-24

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 28, 1647-1652. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1927.

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October 1647

Oct. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
33. Giovanni Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 1st October, 1647.
Enclosure. 34. Advices from London, the 19th September, 1647.
The army has presented a demand to parliament for the demolition of the fortifications of London, on the pretext that it is a burden on the people to support so large a garrison. The Lower House agreed at once although Fairfax's object is known to be the weakening of the city and to pave the way for disarming the citizens with less disturbance, and to make it easy for him to enter the city and occupy it whenever he wishes.
Parliament has sent the peace proposals to the king again, by the same commissioners as before, with orders to wait six days for an answer, after which they are to return to London to report. The king received them at Hampton Court and promised to give a reply directly. The proposals are the same that were presented at Newcastle and Homby and which his Majesty has always rejected with great determination, and no different result is expected now.
The eleven members accused by the army have been called upon to defend themselves. Three came and were arrested, and it is thought that the others will not venture. The governorship of the Isle of Wight, held by the Earl of Pembroke, has been granted to others, and he with six others of the Upper House is accused of crimes against the state. He is one of the commissioners sent with the proposals to the king and he asks to be relieved so that he may come and clear himself. Accusations multiply daily because the various factions, differing alike in religio and interest, try to ruin each other in this way.
The Scots are sending deputies to London to complain of infractions of the covenant and demand reparation, and that the friendship between the two countries may be preserved intact.
Oct. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
35. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I enclose a despatch from Spain and the sheet from London. To the latter I must add that according to letters from Ireland the defeat of the Catholics announced by the parliamentarians is not true. Only five companies of horse were beaten. For the rest General Preston has taken Trim which he was besieging, and is now marching on Dublin.
Paris, the 8th October, 1647.
Enclosure. 36. Advices from London, the 26th September, 1647.
The king replied to the peace proposals precisely as was expected, that as they were the same as he had rejected before he could not accept them consistently with his honour and conscience, which were equally affected. He then suggested that the proposals made by himself a few weeks ago to the commissioners are more capable of adjustment, and an agreement might be reached upon these with little trouble. The Houses should meet upon them and devise some other expedient.
They are pursuing the enquiry as to those who stirred up the riots in London and all those convicted or suspected of having had a hand in them are excluded from parliament, which means purging it of Presbyterians, and leaving the Independents as the predominant party.
They have begun to demolish the outer fortifications of London, according to the decree of the Houses passed at the request of the army.
The Council of London has met several times to find means to furnish 50,000l. sterling to the army, as required, and have separated without effecting anything, indeed they have represented to parliament and to Gen. Fairfax why it is impossible to find the amount now. The Houses have repeated the demand, all the same, so that the money is to be found during the present month. The army of Scotland is not on the frontier as reported, but in quarters in the heart of the country.
Oct. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti. Venetian Archives.
37. To the Ambassador in France.
To make representations against the use of French ships against the republic and try to prevent such a thing occurring again, as the English and Flemings will think much less about the impropriety of serving against the republic if they see an example of it in France. The ambassador will also make suitable representations to the English ambassador, pointing out to him the condition of Candia and the very grave consequences involved in such action.
Ayes, 71. Noes, 1. Neutral, 3.
Oct. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
38. To the Bailo at Constantinople.
To make representations to the French ambassador against the use of French ships by the Turks, and to do the same with the English ambassador who is about to arrive endeavouring to make him steadfast in the determination to render vain the violence and the intrigues which they employ at the Porte to obtain the use of the ships of that nation. In the treatment of this ambassador he is to follow the example of France.
The Senate cannot do other than disapprove of the participation of the dragoman Grillo in the affairs of England ; the ambassador should use argument and insinuation to induce him, by mild measures, to give up these practices.
Ayes, 76. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
Oct. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
39. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Gassion was buried the day before yesterday in the Huguenot cemetery at Charenton. His death leaves the Huguenots without a leader. It has been discovered that the States of Holland and the Parliament of London were carrying on a secret confidential correspondence with him, and without revealing this to the government he was listening to and savouring the proposals to render himself a great chief of his religion.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 15th October, 1647.
Enclosure. 40. Advices from London, the 3rd October, 1647.
The king's reply to the proposals is interpreted by parliament as a covert refusal and they do not accept his suggestion to treat upon the proposals made by the army. Accordingly the Houses are considering other expedients to further peace. It is proposed to enact in parliament as fundamental laws the chief points upon which they think of establishing the treaty, ordaining among the first that all the militia of England and Ireland for 20 years shall be under the absolute control of parliament, after which his Majesty may not dispose of it without the consent of parliament.
The fortifications of London are being rapidly demolished and the guns are being taken to the Tower under the custody of Gen. Fairfax. He also on behalf of the army has sent remonstrances to the city of London because they delay the payment of the 50,000l. required and protests that he will not leave the neighbourhood if the troops do not get this sum. He further asks that those who oppose this just satisfaction shall be condemned to pay first and more than the others. Thus pressed the city has asked security from the Lower House for the repayment of this 50,000l. with powers to compel objectors to pay, and this has been granted.
After long disputes they have again resolved in the Commons that the acts passed in the absence of the Speaker are null.
Lesle, general of the Scots, has advanced with his army to the frontier and has informed parliament in London that he has selected these quarters without any intention except to refresh his troops.
Oct. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
41. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
It is expected that Digby, Resident of the queen of England, will very soon be leaving this Court in great dudgeon because they have adopted the policy of supporting the Irish Catholics so that they shall depend immediately upon the pope and not upon the king. They have been persuaded to adopt this course by the nuncio Mons. Rinnuccini as well as by a Franciscan friar of that nation, although matters are not going prosperously in those parts.
Rome, the 19th October, 1647.
Oct. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
42. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The Turks have dismissed all the Christian ships which they had taken into their service. They have treated them in a very high handed manner among other things, taking away all the money which they had given them, and further making them pay many hundreds more. According to the latest news fifteen of them have returned to Smyrna. According to what the English merchants here say they are waiting for instructions from the new ambassador. Of the leave taking of their minister, which is curious though difficult to express, it behoves me to say something, though I know not whether to call it history or fable.
The Vigne di Pera, the 19th October, 1647.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
43. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
In the matter of the new English ambassador, the first one has always acted in concert with the French ambassador, who has thought fit to support him. This old ambassador asserts that the new one from the parliament will have no proper authority. He for his part has letters of his king, brought by one Colonel Joe, who is now in his house, approving of his treatment of the merchants and confirming him in his post. These letters are impugned by the merchants who declare them false. Various other contradictory assertions have been passed about. Now that the new ambassador has come there is no real minister, so that I do not think it is altogether impossible to equivocate in disapproving utterly of this embassy on the strength of the account given by the old ambassador ; so I have followed the example of the French ambassador, while being careful at the same time not to rub the new one up the wrong way, and wait on events.
The new ambassador arrived here on the 26th ult. by land, with a very distinguished company, although he left his wife and children at Smyrna, and neither the French ambassador nor I took any official notice. On the day following the old ambassador sent to us both to say that the new one certainly had no commissions from his Majesty, and he would lay his own head that he would make the man admit as much himself, and if any of the foreign ministers recognised him he would protest. The deputy appointed by the merchants sent me his dragoman on behalf of the new ambassador to say that the latter desired to have the most cordial relations with me, for which he had instructions from his Majesty. After consulting with the French ambassador I sent this dragoman back to thank the deputy for forwarding my letters and said that when I was informed in the usual way of the arrival of a minister of Great Britain here I should need no stimulating to pay my respects. I have since learned that the ambassador snubbed the deputy severely because he had not advised me of his coming. I was prepared for this because the deputy has never been recognised by us ambassadors as a legitimate minister.
On the 3rd inst. the new ambassador went to audience with all the magnificence which is usually displayed on such occasions. The Grand Vizier asked why the old ambassador had not come with him. The new one replied that the old, who was a rebel against his king, would not have commissions with him. The Vizier asked if he had letters of credence. He said he had, but that he did not bring them because they would have been refused. The Vizier told him to send for them. The ambassador agreeing, a chiaus was at once sent for the old ambassador, who excused himself on the pretext that he had taken medicine, but he promised to come the next day. The Vizier declared they must wait for him so that they might appear before the king together, according to custom. It is said that the new comer displayed great impatience and spoke in very determined fashion. He declared that he would depart and take away all the merchants ; before that happened he required that those here in the country should have that to which they are entitled ; he complained that under his very eyes a Jew of the Grand Vizier himself had the audacity to throw down the doors of the houses of his merchants and carry away the cloth of gold and other things. He declared that he would not allow ships to come in here any more, and they would see if the old ambassador had so much power. The English have said a great deal of this sort of thing and they state that the Grand Vizier had been got at in favour of the old ambassador by the dragoman Grillo, to whose presence there they objected.
On the day following all this the old ambassador sent to tell me all about it and to appeal to me whether any one could be called an ambassador who had no letters or instructions. I expressed my regret at the trouble he was in. He told me that he would not go to audience of the Vizier the day before because he would have nothing to do with the other. On that day he went to the Vizier and when shown the letters brought by the other he declared them to be false. The new ambassador was then sent for, but he refused to go. After two or three days it was agreed that the new should go to the old accompanied by two chiassi as witnesses of the presentation. The old sent to tell me that he feared he should lose in the end, because the merchants, to carry their point, had promised 30,000 reals to the king and 60,000 to the ministers ; that in two hours' time the new one was to go with the chiassi and he would be obliged if I would cause some of my people to be present to be witnesses of all that takes place. I decided to consult the French ambassador and afterwards I sent to the English ambassador to ask him to excuse me, as the affair might injure me without helping him. He seemed satisfied and thanked me, apologising for having troubled me in the matter. But he is a gentleman of a very difficult temper, like all his countrymen (il genio pero di questo signore e assai difficile come e quello di tutta la sua natione) and since then he has not sent me a word about many other incidents.
The visit was received by him with the utmost reserve. He asked many questions about the time and place when and where his Majesty had given the new minister his instructions. It seems that the new one did not answer with perfect frankness, and one of those who stood at his side remarked that he was not there to be cross questioned ; in brief the affair went off almost too coldly. The Turks have made the most of their opportunity. The new comer is now trying to be received with the usual forms and to have the old one sent away. He even made overtures to the old one offering him 30,000 reals to pay his debts. On the 13th he sent a letter to the French ambassador complaining that he had not received due recognition and declaring that while he was here he would not permit any one, whoever he might be, to do anything prejudicial to the king, his master, but he offered the ambassador his friendship and service. The French ambassador said that he would reply in writing, and he consulted me as to what he should say. We decided to make it as ambiguous as possible.
By negotiation and, according to what everyone says, by an outlay of 30,000 reals and a promise to cause his ships to come inside, the new ambassador succeeded in getting another audience of the Grand Vizier on the 10th inst., when he received the vestments together with eight of his companions. Yesterday he kissed the king's hand, not in the Divan but at a lodge on the sea shore. He also received 18 vestments and seems to have established himself strongly unless the predictions which the old ambassador keeps making for him chance to be realised. He also is spending great sums in presents and that is why they have not chosen to send him away as yet. The merchants conceal, by an absolute denial, that they have given money, but I have evidence that is quite conclusive, to such an extent that a canon will be established for putting up the embassy for sale by auction.
The Vigne di Pera, the 19th October, 1647.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Oct. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
44. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 22nd October, 1647.
Enclosure. 45. Advices from London, the 10th October, 1647.
The king's prospects are more agitated and uncertain than ever and it is impossible to predict what the end will be. Parliament has decided to maintain 18,000 foot and 8,000 horse for the security of the realm. But this depends upon Gen. Fairfax who, now the fortifications of London are demolished, is laying the foundations of three forts in different places which will be three citadels to bridle the city and all the people. The army persists in demanding the money reported and threatens, if it is not promptly supplied, to come and levy it itself. Because of this parliament is on the point of deciding to give them 30,000l. and a month's pay.
Parliament has decided to select some of the proposals rejected by the king and present them to him again, because if these are agreed upon it will not be very hard to satisfy both sides about the rest. These are that the militia shall remain to parliament for 20 years, and at the end of that time it shall not be restored to the king without an act of parliament. That the great seal, titles and appointments shall be at its disposal. That the goods of bishops shall be sold. That all declarations against parliament shall be revoked. That he may raise money to pay and satisfy the public debts.
By order of parliament the mayor and aldermen of London have been taken to the Tower, accused of treason for the late riot, (fn. 1) and it is rumoured that parliament does not intend to have others chosen in their place, as if the city had lost its privileges by that disturbance.
News comes from Scotland that parliament there has decided to disband the army and to raise money in the kingdom to pay promptly what is due to the officers and men.
Oct. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
46. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 29th October, 1647.
Enclosure. 47. Advices from London, the 17th October, 1647.
In place of the imprisoned mayor and sheriffs they have had others chosen, not feeling able to go so far as to deprive the city of its privileges. The mayor, however, has published a manifesto to clear himself and prove his innocence. Many in the city seeing what has happened to their leaders, fear they may suffer the same fate. Some have gone, others are ready to go and all the citizens seemed in disorder. Accordingly parliament considered it advisable to publish an edict announcing the termination of the enquiry and accusations about the riot, except those who have been or are members of parliament.
The Houses seeing the repugnance of the king to accept the peace proposals have decided that they shall be established as fundamental laws which cannot be changed, and that the king must accept or reject them once for all, without discussion.
His Majesty is still at Hampton Court with few attendants and less money. In case he will not accept the laws they talk of disposing of his person and some say they will put him in a tower, nor does the army seem to object. 30,000l. have been sent to the army, but they demand the rest and that a committee shall be sent to them to make the account of how much is due to them, which amounts to many millions.
In Scotland also Gen. Lesle does not seem disposed to disband his troops unless they are paid, and several colonels are taking up their quarters in all the counties. The Houses have decided that for this winter they will keep up the fleet to guard the coasts of the kingdom. The French ambassador Bellievre is going and leaves his brother to reside in London. (fn. 2)


  • 1. Sir John Gayer, the Lord Mayor and 5 Aldermen sent to the Tower on the 26 Sept., O.S., for raising forces in the city against the army. Commons Journals, Vol. V, p. 315.
  • 2. Pierre de Bellievre, Sieur de Grignon was left in charge.