Venice: December 1647

Pages 30-35

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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December 1647

Dec. 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
58. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The unhappy condition of England offers little hope of levies, there being no one who commands and so there is no security for any certain result. Preston's son will bring the news of Ireland. The affairs of the Catholics are very depressed there also. I understand that a levy might easily be made there, but Ireland lacks ships and these would have to be sent from France at great cost and the risk of attack from the parliament fleet, which infests that section and captures all the craft coming and going without discrimination, so that no succour shall pass to that kingdom, an obstacle which this year has even upset the levies of this crown.
Encloses the advices of London.
Paris, the 3rd December, 1647.
Enclosure. 59. Advice from London, the 21st November, 1647.
The king is still at Hampton Court, but more restricted, some of his servants being dismissed and foot and horse guards being set. There has been some talk in the two Houses about deposing him, excluding him and his succession from the throne and sending him prisoner to a distant castle. They must ask the consent of the army to this, where many are inclined to do even worse, but it is believed that the generality incline to favour the king, and it might lead to a fresh outbreak. Lieut. Gen. Cromwell, whose advice and co-operation have hitherto directed the action of Fairfax, is believed to favour the king, prudently realising that neither he nor Fairfax himself could subsist for long against the secret detestation of parliament. It is also opportune for his Majesty that the deputies of Scotland have presented letters on behalf of their country, in which they ask for information of the king's condition. If, as is believed, he is still in the power of the army, that should be subject to parliament, and consequently parliament should remember the protests it has often made that it will uphold the king in his royal rights and prerogatives. They further ask that the peace proposals shall be sent to the king directly, and that a conference be arranged at Hampton Court, at which his Majesty shall be present, and that he be at liberty to remain there or come to London, with permission to all to see and speak with him.
In revising the peace proposals the Lower House has added that his Majesty shall give his assent to all the bills which the two Houses present to him from time to time, for the benefit of the country.
Dec. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
60. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
I hear of fresh efforts of the Turks to arm. The day before yesterday they summoned the ambassadors of France and England and the Resident of Holland, to whom, in the king's name, the Grand Vizier addressed a demand for ships for the coming year. I have not yet learned for certain what was arranged with England and Holland, but I fancy the English have proposed the despatch of a chiaus to whom they would consign letters to this effect. I have a suspicion which is not yet assuaged, that the English have already promised, and in order that they may not be exhibited as the only ones they have had this demand made of all. I do not think that the Turks are so simple as to expect much from these demands, but it may be that they aim at making your Excellencies anxious.
The Vigne of Pera, the 7th December, 1647.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Dec. 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
61. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The advices from London are attached with the new changes that are taking place. By his second flight the king exposes himself to be put up for sale a third time.
Paris, the 10th December, 1647.
Enclosure. 62. Advices from London, the 28th November, 1647.
The king, having heard the rumours about making him a prisoner or even, as some have averred, taking his life, decided to fly from Hampton Court. Retiring to his apartment after dinner and shutting the door, on the pretence that he did not wish to eat in the evening, or to give audience to anyone, he went into the garden and thence escaped in great haste, with only two companions. The guards were deceived and did not find out until several hours later. Then the captain, thinking that his Majesty was remarkably retiring that day, decided to open the doors. Four letters were found on the table. One directed to the king by a secret person, with information about the plot against his liberty and his life. The others in the king's own hand, one directed to the captain of the guards there, one to Montagu, one of the parliament commissioners, the third in the form of a declaration to parliament and the army. The two first refer to this, which states that liberty being the most precious possession of man, servitude is correspondingly intolerable to princes. He had been a captive and had received warning that worse was intended. His overtures for peace had been frequently rejected. He had ultimately decided to give way to his feelings (di dar luogo alla passione) and to withdraw himself for some time from the eyes of his friends and enemies alike. When he was in a place of safety he would give proof of his good intentions to the general tranquillity. (fn. 1)
When his Majesty's departure was discovered they sent out in several directions, but did not find him. It has since become known that he has taken refuge in the Isle of Wight, where the governor has received him. He is an Independent, but of those who are in favour of the king, with liberty of conscience, and not of the extreme party, which keeps growing, who want a general equality. He sent at once to inform parliament and was directed to guard the king safely and not allow any who have borne arms against the parliament to approach or to speak with him. The king himself has written to the Houses from the island, no longer offering proposals of peace but only asking to be allowed to go to London to discuss the best means of establishing it. This incident has caused the Houses and the army much anxiety, and they have not yet answered the king or taken any definite resolution.
Dec. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
63. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 17th December, 1647.
Enclosure. 64. Advices from London, the 5th December, 1647.
The inhabitants of the Isle of Wight have given his Majesty the warmest welcome and by a voluntary tax have tried to collect money for his maintenance. Parliament has requested the governor to arrest Messrs. Barcle and Ashburnham, who accompanied the king on his flight, but the governor replied that as they had trusted themselves to his honour and he had promised them safety, he could not break faith.
Gen. Fairfax has written to the Houses that the whole army is quiet and obedient. At a review held by him lately only two regiments separated from the others to support the new opinion of equality. He asks them however to find a means of satisfying them for the arrears of their pay. The Houses answered with fair words. The king hopes that Fairfax will ultimately take the royal side, though there is no sign of it yet. The deputies of Scotland have remonstrated at the lack of care of the royal person and ask that his Majesty may be permitted to go to London to discuss peace in person. Parliament has rejected this and has offered to send again to propose the peace terms to the king. Many differences are arising between the two countries, and accordingly a committee has been appointed in London to treat with the Scottish delegates and try to adjust them.
Dec. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
65. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
In respect of the demand made on the foreign ministers for ships, the Turks have realised that this would certainly be a motive for preventing any more ships from coming inside ; accordingly they have decided to withdraw the demand. So the Grand Vizier sent for the dragomans of all of them and said that he had pointed out to the Sultan that there was not enough time for getting these provided, so his Majesty had issued other orders and he would no longer require the ships in question. All seem determined to prevent ships from coming, but I believe that some of the English ones, and especially those which brought the new ambassador, which have been stopping up to the present at Smyrna, cannot do less than come with his wife and the great quantity of goods, which are, at the moment, the sole prop of the credit of the whole nation. But there will only be two or three at most, from what they say, and it does not seem likely that the Turks would resort to violence for these.
The old ambassador of England arrived at Smyrna and was immediately put on board a ship, (fn. 2) in which he now abides, waiting, I believe, for his wife.
To-day three English ships have arrived unexpectedly ; it is said they are those of the ambassador.
The Vigne di Pera, the 19th December, 1647.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Dec. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
66. To the Ambassador in France.
Enclose copy of agreement for a levy of English concluded with Colonel Chiligrens. It will serve for his enlightenment and that, in due time, he may despatch some one to that place to assist at the embarcation.
Ayes, 120. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
Dec. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
67. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 24th December, 1647.
Enclosure. 68. Advices from London, the 12th December, 1647.
The Scottish commissioners have repeated their request that the king may be permitted to go to London to treat of peace personally. The Lords have proposed to the Commons that they shall agree but after his Majesty has consented to certain articles considered fundamental. After much opposition the Commons have agreed and have arranged four articles as follows :
(1) His Majesty shall pass an act to leave the control of the militia to parliament.
(2) He shall revoke the edicts, declarations and other acts made against it.
(3) All the appointments and dignities created after the great seal was taken from London to Oxford shall have no seat in the Upper House.
(4) The two Houses may convoke parliament whenever they consider it advisable.
If the king will grant these preliminaries he will have permission to come to London to treat about the rest.
In the army everything seems quiet. Gen. Fairfax has written to parliament that they refer to what parliament considers best with respect to his Majesty's person. Fairfax has moved troops towards the Isle of Wight to be prepared for emergencies there. A report got about in London that some regiments were to return to the city. Upon this the mayor and sheriffs have represented to the Lower House the difficulties which might arise from this. The Commons wrote to Fairfax who replied that he had stopped it, but as the move was due to lack of pay it was necessary to provide the money, so the magistrates of London are attending to this.
Dec. 31.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
69. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 31st December, 1647.
Enclosure. 70. Advices from London, the 19th December, 1647.
Guards have been set all round the Isle of Wight to prevent his Majesty from leaving or suspect persons from approaching him. Yet many of his servants and domestics have gone to wait on him and he is amusing himself with hunting. The peace articles have not yet been sent to him, as in London everything moves slowly and in disorder. The army keeps quiet and Gen. Fairfax constantly assures parliament of its obedience. But he is always repeating his demands for money. In London they have executed some officers and soldiers of those who were the most forward in sowing trouble.
Lord Inchequin has gained a fresh advantage over the Catholics in Ireland, having defeated a part of their troops and occupied various places. Parliament has ordered public thanksgivings in London for this success, granted 1,000l. sterling to the nobleman and urged him to go on. They have also assigned 10,000l. sterling for the payment of the troops in Ireland.


  • 1. Printed in full in Rushworth : Hist. Colls. Vol. IV, pt. ii., pages 871-2.
  • 2. The Margaret. Levant Co. Letter Book, 27 March, 1648. S.P. For. Archives, Vol. 112.