Venice: November 1647

Pages 24-30

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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November 1647

Nov. 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
48. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 5th November, 1647.
Enclosure. 49. Advices from London, the 24th October, 1647.
In revising the peace proposals the Houses have not found much to alter. They have confirmed to Gen. Fairfax the control of the land forces, and that of the naval ones to Vice Admiral Rainsborough, though the fleet is limited to a prescribed number. The number of those excluded from the peace and pardon is now reduced to seven, but a pecuniary penalty is imposed on the others. The Presbyterians and Independents are trying to unite, and both abandon the interests of the king, seeking their own advantage exclusively. Thus the Presbyterian government is confirmed for 7 years more, but with some modifications to satisfy the Independents. The Catholics and those whom they call "Libertines" are forbidden any exercise of their religion. To interest the army in the abolition of bishops and in the extermination of the Catholics they have assigned to it the amounts realised by the sale of their effects, to satisfy what is due to the soldiers. Not content with the sum recently paid to him, Fairfax demands the rest. The city of London is trying to find it and so the Lower House has promised the commissioners of parliament with the army that they will levy it themselves and condemn to heavy fines those who refuse to pay.
The Sieur de Grignon, brother of Bellievre, is left in the capacity of ambassador of France, to reside in the kingdom. Not only is Bellievre recalled but the post of Resident, which was held here for many years by M. de Sabran, is also dispensed with.
Nov. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
50. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 12th November, 1647.
Enclosure. 51. Advices from London, the 30th October, 1647.
Parliament has issued a decree forbidding the further use in public services of the book of Common Prayer. They have also decided that in future parliaments shall be triennial, and that the present one shall continue for a year after the king has signed the peace proposals. The revised form of these will soon be ready to present to the king. They are :
(1) Militia to be controlled by parliament for 20 years.
(2) All the honours and ranks conferred by the king shall be null.
(3) Bishops shall be abolished with all their dependencies, and the sale of their goods confirmed.
(4) The king shall revoke all declarations against the parliament.
(5) The public debts shall be paid.
(6) Seven shall be excluded from pardon.
(7) The war with the rebels in Ireland shall be prosecuted under the authority of parliament.
(8) The leading appointments in England and Ireland shall be conferred by parliament.
(9) The Presbyterian government shall be established in the Church until the close of the sitting of the next parliament, and with regard for the weaker consciences, they shall be exempt from the penalties imposed on those who do not approve them, on condition, however, that nothing be preached or written contrary to the confession of the Anglican faith. The Catholics to be excluded from this modification.
The king has asked that his children may be taken to see him every 8 or 10 days, but parliament has not yet replied.
Nov. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
52. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A son of General Preston, who commanded the Catholics in Ireland, has set out for Venice, intending to offer a levy of his countrymen. I have given him letters of introduction. He was captured by the French when proceeding by sea with a regiment to serve Spain. He lost his men and as he would not serve against the Spaniards he was set at liberty on his giving a promise to go and serve Venice. News of London attached.
Paris, the 19th November, 1647.
Enclosure. 53. Advices from London, the 7th November, 1647.
When the peace proposals are considered perfect fresh difficulties are constantly arising and they undo one day what they agreed upon the day before. They talk of sending them to the king announcing that if he agrees they will at once permit the queen and the Prince of Wales to return to the country.
The Scottish chancellor and commissioners have gone to the king at Hampton Court to make various proposals for that country.
Parliament has left it to the Earl of Northumberland, who is governor of the king's children, whether he shall take them sometimes to see his Majesty.
All comedians and other persons of that class have been expelled under severe penalties, being forbidden, as vagabonds, to enter the kingdom.
Parliament has ordained that what is realised from the sale of ecclesiastical goods shall be devoted to paying the troops which are to be kept, and the revenues of prebends and chapters shall be devoted to the ministers and education. The synod has presented the catechism for the approval of the two Houses. The parliament of Scotland has decreed that their army shall not be disbanded until the beginning of March.
A small book has been published on behalf of the English army against the present government. (fn. 1) They took steps to suppress it at once. As it is believed to have been written by a private individual rather than by the wish of the army, many officers have disapproved declaring that they know nothing about it. Yet a new division is forming in the army, because many soldiers who believed that the king was to be restored are now realising that their leaders are only acting for their own interests, and so these men are forming a new party.
Nov. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
54. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 26th November, 1647.
Enclosure. 55. Advices from London, the 12th November, 1647.
The new faction in the army which has caused some regiments to separate from the others, bears the title of the Levellers (Ugualità) and demands that the state shall be formed without king, princes or nobles, but all equal, as men were after the Creation. The excitement over a small book published last week has not died down. It bears the title "The Case of the Army" and since it tends to encourage disorder, they are making careful enquiry for the author. The chief officers of the whole army have met about this at the quarters of Gen. Fairfax. They have discussed certain reforms, and how to find money, reducing the pay of officers not on active service, cutting down quarters, dismissing many who only enlisted after the army passed through London, and seeking securities for the pay which is due to them.
The Lower House has agreed once more upon the peace proposals. It has conferred with the Upper and they have both decided to select deputies to examine them again.
Nov. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
56. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The drama of the old English ambassador which seemed like an imaginary tale has now become an historical tragedy through the most detestable excesses that rebellion has ever devised. On the 23rd inst. a chiaus and a capigi went to his house followed by others, who made themselves conspicuous. On the pretext of wishing to draw up a certain cozetto for the English consul of the Morea, who a few days previously had been maltreated by the merchants on the pretence of some crime, because he had taken the side of the old ambassador, they detained him in conversation awhile, when, bringing on the stage the other Turks in the guise of witnesses, they seized him by the throat and dragging him out of his own apartment they brought him down the stairs with insults and blows, without giving him time to see his wife or children, while his dress was scarcely decent and no one was able to follow him. As a greater insult they made him pass before the house of the new ambassador, where many merchants were gathered. They hastened to the door and greeted him with grimaces and made him a salute which was more insulting than respectful. This was more than he could endure and with determination and resentment at the plight he was in, he rebuked them as being rebels, in the face of fresh insults from the Turks, who were carrying him off. Not content with this the merchants heaped insulting epithets upon him from the windows. Finally they put him on board a caichio which followed a devious course from place to place so that there might be neither time nor means to bring him succour. From what has come to light since, at midnight they set sail from a place called San Stefano, not far from the Seven Towers. It is still uncertain how and where the poor gentleman has been taken.
The French ambassador sent to consult me about what steps should be taken. I advised that an application should be made immediately to the Grand Vizier. But France hesitated thinking that the new ambassador must be at the bottom of this wicked deed, backed by the merchants, with the help of bribery, and that they might by similar means have him refused an audience. The only thing that occurred to him was to draw up an arz to the Grand Vizier demanding the return of the ambassador to his house. He sent this by his dragoman, who was received with menaces. The arz was read and the dragoman dismissed, a capigi being sent directly afterwards. The ambassador's wife was given two days to leave. Although she was pregnant, with two babes still at the breast, she was deprived of all her servants, including the wet nurse and obliged to embark in a saettia destitute of nearly everything. She is a sister of the earl of Rutland (fn. 2) and accustomed to every luxury, for in England it is customary to show the most punctilious respect to women (oltre ogni costume che in Inghilterra e esatissima di rispetto verso le donne) the ambassador has always shown her more than ordinary honour and afforded her every sort of gratification. She chose to embark at night, refusing the coaches which the new ambassador had provided for her and would on no account receive any of his people. She went on foot although the way was a very long one. The French ambassador and I sent her our respects. She asked me for a loan of 2,000 reals and the same amount from France, to be repaid in England by her brother, the earl of Rutland. With much difficulty I got together 1,000 reals and the French ambassador sent her 500. She expressed the utmost gratitude but said she was sufficiently provided and refused to take anything. The gentleman who made the request for her said that she had reflected that as the earl is with her mother, who is one of the chief supporters of the parliament, now she understood that the king was in power and many of the parliamentarians in hiding she would not run the risk of making an uncertain appointment. It was the action of a great lady. On the other hand I have been told that some English merchants, for among so many bad ones it is no very extraordinary thing if some should be good, had supplied her secretly.
I am anxious to know what will happen after such an excess of rancour, going so far as to separate husband and wife and not allowing her a single servant. I have made efforts on behalf of the ambassador, but without avail ; the die was cast. They assert that at Smyrna he will be immediately put on board a ship selected for the purpose by his persecutors, sent to England and delivered into the clutches of parliament, a circumstance which shows that this new ambassador will have no dependence on the king. His salvation would be in the confirmation of the king's good fortune, but it is much to be feared that if the fanatics here were sure of that they would put him to death on the voyage. It has been stated that a capigi of the Grand Vizier has gone with him, who is to accompany him as far as England, and hand him over, and this might prove his best safeguard. I have found out that the ambassador in his extremity applied to Safer Pasha, who has always protected him, but the Pasha was very ill at the time and could not help. The merchants, who are conscious of a universal sensation and abhorrence, say that they offered him 60,000 reals to pay his debts on an understanding that he should go, but he always said that he could not accept this bargain, and as in the mean time he had sent his nephew to England they did not want to have one enemy there and another here. This shows that their perfidious hearts cannot understand that it was impossible for the ambassador to desert his post here for money. They say, however, that they have spent 80,000 reals to drive him away, and they excuse their outrage and the manner of it by citing the example of Marsceville, (fn. 3) but that happened without so much violence nor was it the work of rebels. Nevertheless both are fatal in their consequences, and henceforth there will be no limit to the iniquities that the Turks will commit.
The ambassador has left behind enormous debts, and almost all of it owed to our merchants, to a total that falls little short of 40,000 reals. Allured by the prospect of gain they not only gave him the money and goods which they had, but also what they obtained on credit from the Jews, who supplied them at extravagant rates, while the ambassador being hard pressed to defend himself against attack, signed anything. Loss of capital and of the expected gains is almost certain. I have advised them to appeal to the Grand Vizier, saying that in accordance with the precedent of Count Cesy the new ambassador ought to be made responsible for the debts. But the English merchants declare that they will pay 100,000 reals to the Turks rather than discharge the whole or any part of these debts. Thus the first impertinence they uttered when the ambassador was taken away was that the Venetians might now go a hunting for their payment. I should be sorry to suggest an even greater excess, to wit, that they may have promised the Turks to prevent your Excellencies from having any more of their ships. I do not know if they would have the power to go so far, but the crime they have committed is so great that it seems to me the Turks would never have consented to it for money alone.
I have reported my relations with the new ambassador. The French gentleman who came from the ambassadress learned that the old one had an opportunity of learning many particulars written by the newcomer, and among other things he had asserted that I had sent to offer my excuses for not going to pay my respects to him because it was impossible seeing I was a prisoner, so that on every count I find that he is a false minister.
The Vigne di Pera, the 28th, November, 1647.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Nov. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
57. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The English Resident Digby has had an extraordinary and special audience at which he handed to his Holiness a very biting paper upon his negotiations at this Court and the lack of good faith shown to him by arranging for Mons. Rinnuccini to occupy the kingdom of Ireland and to despoil the king and queen of England of that country. He has circulated various copies of this paper and the writing is very elegant and curious. He asked permission to return to the queen, as they have not cared to pay any attention to his negotiations or to his demands. The pope defended himself telling him that he has to render account of his actions and of the money he spends, and there was not one Cardinal who advised him to contribute to his Majesty. The pope urged Digby not to leave before seeing him. The Resident told Panzirolo roundly that they are doing nothing. If they were helping the republic and were supplying it with millions, his Holiness might have a defence to him, but he knew that they were contributing very little, and that it will be advisable either to lose or to make a shameful treaty which will be very injurious to Christendom. Panzirolo replied that the pope is most anxious to help the queen, but he has been called upon to do a great deal. He sees there is no other course but to trust to himself and to his money, because if he should be attacked France says she has the war and can do nothing, Spain has the will but is exhausted, the Venetians can do nothing by themselves as they have such a great war. He promised that they would see in another congregation what might be done, but Digby expects little from this and means to leave.
Rome, the 30th November, 1647.


  • 1. "The Case of the Army Truly Stated," inspired by Lilburne, completed on the 9th October and presented to Fairfax on the 18th.
  • 2. Sackville Crow married Mary daughter of Sir George Manners of Haddon, and her brother succeeded his cousin as fourth earl of Rutland in 1641. Her mother, referred to below, was Grace, lady Manners, daughter of Sir Henry Pierpoint.
  • 3. Henry de Gournay, Seigneur de Marcheville, French ambassador at Constantinople, 1628-34.