Venice: March 1648

Pages 45-51

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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March 1648

March 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
96. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 3rd March, 1648.
Enclosure. 97. Advices from London, the 20th February, 1648.
A declaration has been circulated in London, in the king's name, true or false, dated the 28th January, deploring his imprisonment and the oppression of his people, giving the reasons why he could not accept the four articles submitted to him and setting forth the conditions which he proposed, which would bring about peace except for those who have sworn to ruin both him and the kingdom. It seems that the common people of London do not approve of the severity with which his Majesty is treated and many voices are heard with rumours of disturbances. But the two Houses keep, a part of the army in London and the rest quartered near, so that no one can raise his head.
The Scottish parliament is beginning to assemble at Edinburgh, and upon its decisions will depend war or peace between the two kingdoms.
Colonel Hammond has reported that among so many persons deputed by parliament to wait upon his Majesty, he would not venture to answer the fidelity of all, or that some plot was not being devised to carry off the sovereign. The two Houses accordingly resolved that the number of 30 should be reduced to what Gen. Fairfax should approve, both as regards the number and the character of the individuals.
The Vice Admiral is asking for the augmentation of the naval forces. 70,000l. sterling will be devoted to this at the earliest moment.
March 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Munster. Venetian Archives.
98. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at the Congress of Munster, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses letter received from Condulmier.
Munster, the 6th March, 1648.
Enclosure. 99. Domenico Condulmier to the Ambassador Contarini, at Munster.
Reports meeting Prince Maurice and the English Colonel Greve. The Prince represented that the moment is favourable for a levy of English. This will be the second regiment to be levied in England.
Amsterdam, the 4th March, 1648.
March 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
100. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The levy granted in Ireland by M. della Valetta for your Serenity is with Lord Fitzmaurice. The money is paid and everything settled. I have handed the patents for the ships and the men and letters of the nuncio here and mine to the nuncio in Ireland to facilitate concessions that may be asked. I have given others for the person who asked to assist at the embarcation, with all necessary information. God grant it may turn out all right in a country where the name of the service of your Excellencies has not yet penetrated. The bargain for England is also settled but the colonel is labouring to obtain permission and that is the most difficult point.
The advices of London are enclosed.
Paris, the 10th March, 1648.
Enclosure. 101. Advices from London, the 27th February, 1648.
Parliament has published the manifesto to inform the people why it has been necessary for it to secure the king's person and why they are not treating with him any more about the peace. The king is called King of Great Britain, without the title of Majesty, which has hitherto been used. They inveigh against the king's obstinacy in not accepting the proposals so often submitted to him. They demonstrate the fallacy of what has frequently been offered on his behalf. They explain the mistrust they must feel for the royal procedure, as under the pretence of treating he has often tried to massacre parliament and surprise London, making secret protestations that he will not keep what he has been forced to promise, after the pattern of what he had already done with the Scots. They denounce him as a violator of the laws, rights and privileges of the realm and of his own oath. Finally they accuse the late Duke of Buckingham of having hastened the death of the late king by poison, and blame the present king for having opposed the impeachment which parliament had ordered against the duke, and for covering him with his supreme favour from the penalty and the crime alike. (fn. 1)
Parliament has intercepted letters from the queen, in cipher, to her son the Duke of York urging him to leave the country at all hazards. Parliament has interrogated the duke closely about this and he admitted the advice given him by his mother and promised not to leave the country.
The parliament of Scotland has begun to meet at Edinburgh, but in the absence of many they have not yet been able to come to any decision upon important current affairs.
They have easily discovered the author of the paper recently issued on behalf of the king. He is an aged minister of those who support the episcopal party. He has been condemned to death and it is believed that the sentence will be carried out although he is over 80 years of age. (fn. 2)
March 13.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
102. To the Ambassador at Munster.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters which hold out hopes of speedy progress in England with the levy of the second Palatine regiment. Letters of credit for 30,000 ducats di banco have already been sent to him last week, and now results are more certain other letters of credit are being sent for 10,000 and a similar amount will be provided next week.
With regard to the instances of the English gentleman Chilegre, will tell him what is to be done in other letters.
Ayes, 115. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
March 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
103. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
With the articles of Captain Carlo d'Augubbio I sent to the Savio alla Scrittura another proposal for 1,000 Irish infantry offered to me by the son of General Preston, accompanied by a letter from the Ambassador Nani in France, directed to your Serenity. He was expecting an answer this week as he does not wish to appear at Venice unless he sees some indication that his offer is likely to be accepted. He has begged me to write pressing for some indication of your wishes, as if you are not inclined to accept his services he is recalled to his native country for immediate employment. He assures me that if his regiment is accepted he will give them the word in Ireland in eleven days to have it assembled, through the influence of his father. Besides the testimony which the Ambassador Nani gives of his worth, a Franciscan friar has been here with a letter for him. He asked me if I knew that this person was in Rome, as he knew he meant to treat for entering the service of your Serenity. The friar assured me that he was greatly esteemed in France and the ministers there had done everything to keep him, as they consider him another Marshal Gassion for courage. But he had engaged himself to serve the king of Spain and was taken prisoner while he was taking the troops to San Sebastiano, and he would not sully his honour. I told this gentleman that the affairs of your Serenity do not permit matters to be decided so speedily, that my letters had scarcely reached Venice, but I promised to send a reminder his week, so that the answer may let me know what to do.
Rome, the 14th March, 1648.
March 17,
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
104. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 17th March, 1648.
Enclosure. 105. Advices from London, the 5th March, 1648.
All attention is at present fixed on Scotland to see what parliament will decide about the king. We hear that the deputies of the two Houses have arrived there from London, but as all the Scots have not yet appeared, the session will not be opened or any important business begun. Meanwhile, instead of 200 inhabitants of the Isle of Wight, for the guard of the king, they have set 200 of the most trustworthy soldiers, selected by Gen. Fairfax and approved by the Houses. They have increased Col. Hammond's salary as a reward for his loyalty to parliament and to encourage him to continue.
At Chester they have frequently embarked a reinforcement of cavalry for Ireland, but the wind has always driven it back. Gen. Fairfax has now countermanded the order and is fetching the men back to reunite with the army. In Ireland both parties are in the field. The Catholics are the stronger, both generals having joined forces. The parliamentary commander writes to London imploring assistance. Circumstances do not permit them to send considerable help, but an edict has been issued, imposing taxes, by which they are trying to get together a sum of 20,000l. for requirements there. (fn. 3)
March 20.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
106. To the Ambassador at Munster.
Enclose copy of agreement made with Sir — Chiligre for a levy. This is for the ambassador's illumination to enable him to deal with the person and to see what results may be anticipated from his services.
Ayes, 99. Noes, 1. Neutral, 0.
107. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
The first result of the approach of Your Excellencies' fleet to the Castelli has been the stopping of all sailing. There are eight ships in all, very powerful ones, and two others are said to have arrived. The Captain Pasha sent for the dragomans of the ambassadors of France and England and of the Dutch resident and demanded ten ships of each nation, using threats, protests and invective. He told them that the Sultan was aware that they were all rushing to give help to his enemies, but as only ships were mentioned it was merely a pretext to justify the violent detention of those here. I at once made strong representations to the English ambassador, who displayed the greatest spirit. He went to the Grand Vizier and to the Captain Pasha with all his nation and made a great commotion. He demanded the observation of the capitulations, on which the ink is not yet dry, and protested that he would set fire to the ships. I have done my best to inflame him, so that as a final resolution he has caused all the ships to move away from the quays during the night and take up a position in the middle of the channel, all their guns drawn in, the ports closed and a white flag at half mast. He himself in the largest of the ships advanced towards the royal kiosk on the shore, all ready to demand justice of the Grand Turk, lighting fires on the tops of all the masts and in other places, in accordance with the custom of the country. This truly great and spirited action was witnessed by a great concourse of the populace along the shore. I am told that he has prepared an arz to present to the Grand Turk the moment he is asked the reason for all these demonstrations, in which he sets forth all that has taken place, the promises received, the money expended, the goods which have disappeared and other particulars. The Vizier has betrayed much perturbation at this resolute action and seems afraid of what he may be intending to do, a clear sign that this violence does not originate with the King. He has sent a chiaus Pasha, his brother, several times to the ambassador's ship to suggest proposals for appeasing him. The ambassador replies that he will not treat with the Vizier any more and he wants to speak with the king to find out whether with the 300,000 reals which have been consumed since he has been here, he has bought the servitude of his nation. Such is the present state of the matter, the issue of which is uncertain.
The Vigne di Pera, the 20th March, 1648.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
March 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
108. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The Irish are asking for money for this new campaign, but the pope excuses himself on the ground that the whole of the 50,000 crowns which he recently gave them, has not yet arrived in the island. Only 25,000 have been received, the remainder being stopped by the French. When this has arrived and he sees the results which it produces he will try and give them some more. But the Irish mock at such trifling sums and his Holiness seems to believe that they may be of great consequence for the main business of the war.
Rome, the 21st March, 1648.
March 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
109. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Some deputies from the Catholics in Ireland have come to Paris to confer with the queen of England about their interests. The nuncio and clergy have sent another person to oppose them, fearing that they may revive the peace with the Protestants which was concluded last year and not carried out, and that the Marquis of Ormond who handed over the capital to parliament may be again recognised by the queen as leader of the Protestants, who consider the royal cause lost.
The Prince of Wales is planning a journey to Holland and thence to Denmark to recommend himself to his brother in law and uncle and obtain assistance. He hopes to have a party of Irish and Scots, but they are waiting for what will be decided by the parliament at Edinburgh, because if he puts himself in their hands he is afraid he may be sold as his father was.
News from London is in the enclosed sheet.
Paris, the 24th March, 1648.
Enclosure. 110. Advices from London, the 12th March, 1648.
Parliament has been opened at Edinburgh and the Marquis of Argyle, in a long speech, exhorted them to unity and peace with that of England. To this end they have asked for prayers and solemn fasts. The English commissioners have presented memorials and papers upon what has happened, and as regards the Scottish claims they offer a sum of money down and 8 per cent. interest on the rest until full payment is made, in order to hold the Scots a while longer by the chain of gold. Many believe that they will succeed by such powerful means in inducing the parliament to do what they wish.
They are busy in London with the production of a new statement to prove to the Scots that England has kept the covenant and that she has no other intention than to establish Presbyterian government, although with some modifications for those who do not share that belief.
The king cannot endure those appointed to serve him and would like to have the domestics he had before, at least for his chamber. The Houses have issued an order forbidding any one to make levies without licence from the committee set up upon the militia.
March 26.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
111. To the Ambassador at Munster.
With respect to the levy of the Palatine and its completion in the shortest possible time we refer it to you to make the arrangements and to decide upon all the points that remain unsettled, the resolution of all the difficulties that may arise and the despatch to England of an individual to assist at the embarcation, whom you consider by his intelligence, loyalty and devotion to our Serenity, likely to render fruitful service in an affair of so much moment. We give power to assign to the person you select for this task a monthly salary of an amount that you consider suitable, in the assurance that in all that you do you will try to keep the expenses as low as possible.
Ayes, 101. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
March 31.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
112. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 31st March, 1648.
Enclosure. 113. Advices from London, the 19th March, 1648.
The commissioners of the English parliament have so far met with an unfriendly reception at Edinburgh, as the Scots have refused to assign them quarters. They have at last induced the Scottish parliament to nominate deputies to treat with the English, hear their offers and confer about their differences. Meanwhile the ministers and preachers call from their pulpits for unity and peace, the carrying out of the covenant and of the treaties between the two countries, being as a class most hostile to the royal party and name.
His Majesty being no longer able to make himself heard by the voice or the pen, others are stepping in and manifestoes are issued daily, but one sees no great effect and they are discredited and stifled as soon as born. They have talked of bringing his Majesty nearer London to confer with him through deputies, but this is a report circulated among the common people, possibly in order to delude the Scots while their parliament is sitting, so it does not meet with much credit.
The two Houses have permitted the king's children, who are in London, to go to Hampton Court to amuse themselves for some weeks in the present season. For the rest they propose to hold elections to fill up many vacant seats, which have become empty these last months by death or expulsion.


  • 1. The declaration passed on the 11/21 February.
  • 2. Judge Jenkins, attainted on the 17th February, O.S. He was 66.
  • 3. Apparently Col. Jones is the commander referred to, whose letters were read in parliament on the 1st and 5th Feb., O.S. 20,000l. a month was voted for Ireland on the 1/11 Feb. Rushworth ; Hist. Colls., Pt. IV, Vol. ii., pages 983, 988.