Venice: February 1648

Pages 40-45

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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February 1648

Feb. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
81. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 4th February, 1647. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 82. Advices from London, the 23rd January, 1648.
The king is still imprisoned in the Isle of Wight and has made great lament to the governor for breaking his word about the treatment promised. The governor shelters himself behind his orders from London, where the two Houses have ordered the trial of those who are accused of having attempted some move in favour of the royal party. A part of the Scottish commissioners having departed, the two Houses have issued a decree giving to a committee exclusively of English commissioners, the same powers as the two together held and they are preparing a manifesto to justify their treatment of the sovereign. The Scots who have remained in London have presented fresh troublesome demands for the payment of two millions for old standing debts and the full payment of the troops in Ireland. They remonstrate upon what has happened in the Isle of Wight and ask for a declaration whether the kingdom of Scotland is included in the order issued by the two Houses that no one shall address himself to his Majesty in the future. The Houses have not yet replied.
Gen. Fairfax has issued a declaration in the name of the whole army, presented to the Lower House by certain officers, approving of all that has been done with the king and promising their co-operation, so that the orders of parliament may be carried out everywhere with prompt obedience. Fairfax has also issued an order that the supernumerary troops shall be disbanded and the rest quartered in the largest cities and towns.
It is expected that now the Scots are disposed to break their treaties with England, they may be sending deputies to France to treat with the Prince of Wales and fetch him to their country to put him at the head of the royal party.
Feb. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
83. To the Ambassador in France.
The levy offered by Walter Vassoy is at the same time attractive and beset with difficulties. It is not desirable to expose the state to an expense for ships merely for getting a supernumary quantity of troops, with insecurity over the pledges. There is a further difficulty through there being no minister in England for all the cautions. Accordingly he did well to let the matter drop especially as the individual concerned did not wish to carry out the affair in conjunction with the General de la Valette, as the ambassador suggested.
Ayes, 110. Noes, 1. Neutral, 3.
Feb. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
84. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
After the English Resident Digby had presented his very biting paper to the pope and taken leave of him, his Holiness desired him to wait in the hope that his business might be set on a favourable footing, and referred him to a congregation of Cardinals. It appears that all those of the congregation were of opinion that some pecuniary assistance should be given, but as they were about to announce their decision the pope sent Azzolini to explain to them that under present circumstances he cannot take such a step. When the Cardinals remonstrated at being given such a reply before he had heard their views, the pope said that he proposed to give something but that he considered himself affronted by the paper presented by the Resident, and did not wish the decision to be announced before the Resident had left here. Accordingly Digby has left by way of Florence and I believe that he will go to Venice incognito.
Rome, the 8th February, 1647. [M.V.]
Feb. 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
85. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
To the suspicion which is constantly growing that the peace of the Dutch with the Spaniards is likely to give birth subsequently to an alliance is added a presentiment, which has much to bear it out, that an alliance is in negotiation between these same Dutch and the parliament of England. This is the most weighty and jealous business which could possibly fall out for this crown under present circumstances, and this alone ought to give an impulse to the treaty of Munster and lead it to its conclusion. France, however, is looking after her own interests with the English, and by assuring them that she will not interfere in their private troubles she is trying to induce them not to operate against her advantages in Flanders ; and since they hold the Prince of Wales here, as if he were a hostage, it lets the English see that France has a way to strike them to the quick if she wished to injure them.
It is announced here that parliament, in recompense for the ambassador which it has established at the Porte and for the barbarous treatment which was practised at Constantinople against the royal minister, has granted to the Turks and to the Barbary corsairs two ports in the kingdom where they can put in and deal in safety. If this is true French trade will experience a sensible shock, without speaking of the infesting of these seas and the exposure of the shipping.
Encloses the advices of London.
Paris, the 11th February, 1647. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 86. Advices from London, the 30th January, 1648.
Col. Hammond, governor of the Isle of Wight, is taking special care in watching over his Majesty, to guard against surprise or a coup de main, which would deprive him of the great reward which he expects from the two Houses. The Vice Admiral watches the island with 8 ships of war to prevent any access by sea. Gen. Fairfax has sent Sir [Hardress] Waller to London to repeat the most ample assurances that he and the army have as their sole object the establishment of the authority of parliament and to give the lie to those who have tried to sow suspicion.
As Irish affairs require money promptly they have decreed that 50,000l. sterling shall be levied on the goods of the Marquis of Worcester, who joined the Catholic party there some time ago.
They have decreed that the revenue from the customs shall be exclusively devoted to the maintenance of the fleet, there being no other fund for its support. They have also decided to proceed with and finish the trial of those accused of plotting disturbances in the king's favour. Meanwhile they have asked Gen. Fairfax to send some regiments of foot and horse to London to keep the peace.
Feb. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Munster. Venetian Archives.
87. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at the Congress of Munster, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses letters forwarded by his secretary Condulmier about a levy.
Munster, the 14th February, 1648.
Enclosure. 88. Prince Maurice to (?) Condulmier.
Acknowledges receipt of his letter, from which he gathers that little is to be expected from the journey of Signor Grotius to England, since it is reported that parliament will not consent to the levies because of the Levant trade. On the contrary his brother, the Elector Palatine has written frequently that parliament is quite disposed to consent, as shown by enclosed extract from a letter of General Fairfax to the Prince Palatine. Asks that the money may be ready for the levy and promises there shall be no failure on his side.
The Hague, the 4th February, 1648.
[Italian, from the French ; copy.]
89. General Fairfax to the Prince Elector.
I shall be pleased to assist Colonel Amond in the levy of his regiment whenever he applies to me. I am at present consulting with the parliament about disbanding a part of the forces under my command. This is nearly over and I pray you to avail yourself of my services.
Windsor, the 31st December, 1647, old style.
[Italian ; copy.]
90. The Same to the Same.
So soon as the money is ready for the payment of the army the troops over and above those who remain in garrison will be paid off, so that there will be no lack of men for his Highness Prince Philip.
Dated the 14th January, 1648.
[Italian ; copy.]
Feb. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
91. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 18th February, 1647. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 92. Advices from London, the 6th February, 1648.
The Houses have discussed transferring his Majesty to the isle of Scilly, a rocky shoal at the extremity of England, with no habitation but an ancient castle, where a few guards would suffice to prevent the king's escape or other attempts, but they have not yet made up their minds. At Carisbrooke a captain beat the drum and clamoured for his Majesty's release, in the hope of rousing the inhabitants, but no one moved and the captain was arrested and quartered as a traitor. (fn. 1) The Vice Admiral has landed in the Island and conferred with Col. Hamond the governor. He would not see the king, who is shut up as usual and no one speaks to him.
The Scottish deputies have left London to report upon current affairs to their own parliament. The two Houses are also sending deputies to inform it of the need for securing the royal person and to seek some way of keeping the two countries together. (fn. 2) Above all they are collecting money to satisfy the claims of the Scots, whom they are very hopeful of placating in this way.
The commander of Ireland is asking for help, especially in food and is collecting his forces to follow up his initial advantage against the Catholics. (fn. 3)
Feb. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
93. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Lorraine has offered his troops to the queen of England to put the royal party on its feet again, provided she obtains some advantage for him here. Some months ago there was a scheme among the Catholics of Ireland to offer him that kingdom to induce him to go and drive out the forces of the London parliament. He is now treating with the Electors of Saxony and Brandenburg to join their league.
I enclose the usual sheet from London.
Paris the 25th February, 1647. [M.V.]
Enclosure. 94. Advices from London, the 13th February, 1648.
Parliament has appointed 30 persons to wait on the king, but no others may see or speak with him, and these are changed every three months, on the choice of Gen. Fairfax. They are beginning to draw up a process against his Majesty in order to decide about his person and the crown. They accuse him of violating the privileges of the kingdom, of causing the war, and are producing old and almost forgotten charges, that his Majesty hastened the death of his father by poison, or that Buckingham attempted it with his consent.
Parliament has replied to the two questions of the Scottish commissioners. To the first whether Scotland is included in the order that no one may address the king, they say no, but if the commissioners wish to confer with his Majesty they must ask the consent of the two Houses, which amounts to denying them access. To the second, whether his Majesty is rendered incapable with respect to affairs and the government of Scotland, they said that the parliament of Scotland must decide this point, but that in England no one has yet ventured to put such a delicate question on the carpet.
Fairfax has entered London with some regiments and keeps guard at the gates to prevent any movement in favour of the king. Two ships, English and Dutch, have fought at sea about the lowering of the flag. The latter contended that if the other had belonged to the king there would be no question, but being of the parliament this new republic must give way to the older one of the States. After a mutual cannonade with equal injury on both sides they separated. (fn. 4)
Feb. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Constantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
95. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The English are steadily losing credit so that if your Excellencies will arrange for the payment at Venice of the letters of exchange di fuor di banco, I believe it will be an excellent way for providing money here at a favourable rate.
The Vigne di Pera, the 27th February, 1647. [M.V.]


  • 1. On the 29 Dec., 1647, O.S., led by Capt. Burley. Whitlocke : Memorials, Lond. 1682, page 287. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1648-9, pages 13-4.
  • 2. The commissioners left London at the end of January and reached Edinburgh on the 8th February. Rushworth : Hist. Colls., Pt. IV., Vol ii., pages 980, 998.
  • 3. Apparently refers to Inchquin's letter from Cork, read in parliament on the 26th January. Id. page 973.
  • 4. As reported in parliament on the 8th Feb. "some of the Dutch ships have lately offered some affronts to ours in the Downs, and refused to bow their top sails until forced to it, saying that Holland, etc., were the elder states." Rushworth : Hist. Colls., Pt. IV, Vol. ii., page 989.