Venice: August 1647

Pages 5-12

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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August 1647

Aug. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
11. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 6th August, 1647.
Enclosure. 12. Advices from London, the 25th July, 1647.
The army remains at its customary posts and the king stays near it, foreign ministers and all his subjects being free to approach and speak to him. The French and Dutch ambassadors have both been to treat with him. The Prince Palatine has been as well and it is the first visit he has paid since he came to England. His Majesty asked to see his children, but parliament would not consent. Accordingly he applied to Gen. Fairfax, who wrote to the Houses that it was only right to console the king by sending him his children, and he would be guarantee that they should return to London without delay whenever they asked it. Upon this the Houses decided that the Earl of Northumberland should take them where their father was. They also resolved that the Palatine Princes Rupert and Maurice and 22 other leading persons who were excluded from the peace and pardon for ever, should now be comprised in them.
The deputies of parliament and the army are holding long and frequent conferences, but no agreement has yet resulted. The army insists upon the punishment of the eleven expelled from the Commons, and multiplies accusations against them, upon which a process is being drawn up.
In Ireland 2,000 parliament troops have entered Dublin and practically surprised the Marquis of Ormond, as although he had made arrangements with them he was on his guard and reserved. He retired to the castle, but being hemmed in there he ultimately came out, and it is not known where he will go, that important place remaining meanwhile in the absolute power of parliament.
Aug. 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
13. Gio. Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
On the 25th ult. the consuls of England and Flanders were summoned to the Arsenal. There the Grand Vizier told them, by order of the Sultan, that since at all times all the marts of his dominions are open to trade with so great a benefit to their countrymen, he felt sure that at a time when he happened to be in great need of assistance, he might count upon their consent to his making use for some weeks of the ships which were at Smyrna, in conformity with what had been said to them upon other occasions. That first of all they should give letters for the consuls there with orders for them to send the ships to do what the Captain Pasha required, promising favours and rewards and employing all sorts of blandishments. The English consul said that he could not give an undertaking that their ships should serve because they were all laden already. Although when they had been promised 2,000 reals for the hire of each ship the captains had shown some disposition to serve, yet they had since been advised differently (it was a good thing that he did not mention me) and according to the latest information received the captains had greatly changed their opinion and it was unlikely that they would obey. The Flemish consul made but slight resistance. The Vizier insisted and said that the ships would receive recognition in proportion to the time that they spent in the service, and accordingly they must send the letters, and he would undertake to see that they were obeyed. Some further discussion ensued, when, in accordance with the habitual violence of the country, the Vizier threatened them with imprisonment and even with death. He declared that if they did not perform this service the king would have him convicted of negligence, and he would have to pay with his head. In the end they consented to send the letters.
As soon as I heard this I felt sure that they would demand the ships here as well, and that is what has happened. Although the captains were unwilling, to such an extent that they had them put in irons, yet orders were immediately issued for the ships to be unladed. Astonishing to relate this was done in two days with the maximum amount of waste and damage to the goods and a liberal use of the stick, all those who were passing in the streets being forciby pressed to do the work. A similar demand has been made of the French ambassador.
The ships left here on the last day of last month. Some of the English merchants still maintain that the ships at Smyrna will not obey. Our vice consul writes to me positively that at the first rumours that they intended to make use of them all the captains declared that they most certainly would not go. All the same the Turks have high and determined methods of enforcing obedience and so I do not believe there will be any resistance. I have secretly approached some of them to get them to protest that such violence will not be endured either by the king or by the parliamentarians, because it strikes a blow at the state by the breach of good faith and at the individual in the losses which they suffer. But I perceive that this is a country where everyone loses heart, and men submit to loss and all sorts of abuses. Yet a rumour is circulating that the Turks, of their own accord, are thinking of sending a chiaus to England and another to Holland to justify the measures they have taken. But this might only serve to stir up resentment in England, Holland and France and rather serve to prevent more ships from coming here. However, the greed of the merchants stands in the way of this.
The Turks assigned 2,500 reals to each of the ships for a period of 40 days, with a promise of more if they were required for a longer time. The captains refused this saying that the Venetians would not believe that they had gone by arrangement at the price ; so at least their consul told me, but this may only be a trick and they have asked me to give them some affidavit as to the violence used.
I hear, what is more than likely, that the Turks will not let these ships go until the end of the war. The opinion is very widespread that the ships will be of exceedingly little use because they cannot trust the Christian sailors and gunners, and the Turks have neither who are of the smallest competence. It is also said that owing to the haste with which they have sailed they are exceedingly short of supplies. But they are only valued because of their bulging hulls (seni al bordo) owing to the number of troops that they will carry, indeed many contend that the chief reason for the desire to use them was to transport troops to Candia.
The Vigne di Pera, the 7th August, 1647.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Aug. 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
14. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Ambassador at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Upon the news that the captains at Smyrna had refused to serve the Vizier sent at once for the French ambassador and also for the English and Flemish ministers. The Vizier was very violent and said he was determined to have the ships. I tried to induce the French ambassador to persuade his ships not to go and also to inform the English captains of the ill treatment received by their countrymen here, and the order to have them all put in irons as soon as they were past the Castelli. I spoke very strongly to the ambassador, who seemed impressed and promised to give all the requisite orders. The result will appear in a few days, because yesterday night they all sailed together, with the English and Flemings, accompanied by the capigi of the king, and they will arrive at Smyrna in 5 days at longest. They say that the ships will certainly have gone and taken up a position where they cannot suffer violence ; but I am tortured with anxiety, fearing that they did not depart directly, because the English will make great efforts for their ships to go, because they are afraid for their lives and for their great capital, as are the Flemings also. The Grand Vizier has expressed himself with the utmost vehemence and gone to the greatest lengths in his protestations threatening even their lives. They are truly distressed, but if the mischief was entirely upon them I should say that all was well, although if they had not also indulged in their controversy with the ambassador I should be fearful of him likewise.
The Vigne di Pera, the 10th August, 1647.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Aug. 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
15. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I happened to meet the English Resident Digby the other day and complimented him on the notable improvement in the affairs of his king. News having reached me from Ragusa and other places that the Turk is in treaty for the hire and even the purchase of Flemish and English ships, for the strengthening of their fleet, I thought it necessary to take this opportunity to pass an office with him about the hurt which your Serenity would receive thereby together with all Christendom, reminding him that the fleet of the republic, as an act of pure friendliness, has always allowed the ships of England to pass that were going with goods to Constantinople. But if this business should go too far it would be far too prejudicial to permit it, and I would never believe that they meant to put this force into the hands of the common enemy of all Christendom.
He took my remonstrance in very good part and promised, that as he has close correspondence with the Resident of his crown who lives practically always at Florence, (fn. 1) who has the direction and superintendence of all the ships which go to the Levant, and as the ambassador is now leaving Leghorn for Constantinople (fn. 2) whither he is going with the consent of his Majesty and of parliament, he will write in such a way he is confident that things will work out so that your Serenity's interests will be well served. He further offered to write to England so that if any such negotiation had been opened, it might be stopped, as he has many friends and acquaintances in the Admiralty there. He hopes that if the Turk helps himself by force this year to any of the ships at that mart, the crews will certainly refuse to serve and the Turk will not get much out of that. He is the more confident that the republic will get what it wants because the same Resident who is at Florence and the whole English nation praise the punctuality of the payments made to those ships which have served in the war.
Digby condemns severely the bad behaviour of the nuncio Rinnuccini in Ireland, who has made himself hateful to the whole of the Catholic party. He wished, so Digby asserts, to make a cabal with a part of them so that the whole country should be Catholic, nominating an Irishman as king or the pope as patron of the island, and shutting out the king of England. The people there behave like barbarians, committing the greatest excesses, and when reproved by Rinnuccini, they turned round and abused him violently, and if he had not fled from his house they would have killed him. Digby predicted all this to the pope months ago and offered to sketch out for him the right way to set to work. The pope promised that his proposals should be discussed in the congregation. He appointed the Cardinals, but has never been able to get them together. Now, Digby declares, the pope is beginning to realise that he told him the truth. They must make up their minds to promise liberty of conscience and to advance the faith by degrees. At this very moment they should have a prelate to assist with a dexterous hand at the new parliament in England, but the pope is so slow that he is unable to seize the opportunity.
Rome, the 10th August, 1647.
Aug. 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
16. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 13th August, 1647.
Enclosure. 17. Advices from London, the 1st August, 1647.
The army is getting further away from London and is now marching towards Bedford, and has arranged to go on to York. They are said to be going to the north to stop the Scottish army from entering the kingdom, in case the parliament of London should wish them to advance. The king goes with them and it is said that in York he will establish his abode and the parliament. But this is not certain and it is also doubtful whether his Majesty has made an agreement with the army or if Gen. Fairfax is holding the balance to do the best for himself with both parties. Fairfax has asked parliament for absolute powers over the garrisons of the kingdom and has obtained them, but he now demands the same in the ports of England, Wales and Ireland. The Houses are in a dilemma what to decide, and in order to cast odium upon the Independents the Presbyterians openly announce that he is aiming at absolute power for his party and himself. He has further demanded the expulsion of some of the Council of London and the restoration of those who were there before, who also belong to the Independent faction ; also that all prisoners detained for the present war be released, and especially Lilborn, who is one of the leaders of that party. It is difficult to see how these disorderly affairs will end.
The king did not keep his children more than two or three days and sent them back to London. The Upper House would like them to go again to enjoy the country, but the Lower will not agree.
Parliament has ordered the eleven accused by the army to leave the country for six months, and has directed that passports be sent to them. They are trying to defend themselves against the charges made against them by apologies which they have published.
Aug. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
18. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I enclose the usual sheet from London. This shows how the passions of the populace have the ascendancy in that country. The advices came by the ordinary, but later news has reached the Court. This is that the Speakers, i.e. the Presidents of the two Houses, have fled from London, one to his country house the other to the king. That the Presbyterians have come back to parliament, and in particular the eleven who were expelled. That the army is marching on London with the king and is not more than 22 miles away, and he has made an agreement with it. That the city of London is arming and appointed the Duke of York general, and when he refused they gave the command to General Massey.
Paris, the 20th August, 1647.
Enclosure. 19. Advices from London, the 8th August, 1647.
Since the expulsion of the eleven demanded by the army, parliament consists mostly of the Independent faction and so shares the opinions of the army. They have accordingly issued a decree that the militia of London shall be restored to the control of those who directed it before, who are Independents. The Presbyterians, seeing their party downtrodden, have incited the apprentices of London to present a petition to the Council of the city asking them to provide against approaching disorders and the violation of the privileges of the realm, and that for this purpose the city shall unite in a league so that the king may return to it upon the terms which he himself proposed on the 12th May. When General Fairfax heard of this he wrote to parliament to prevent such a pernicious design, offering all his forces. Parliament at once denounced as traitors any one who should mention this petition, but the apprentices, incited by the Presbyterians, again proceeded to parliament, to the number of 10,000, with the two sheriffs of London, and presenting the same petition they obtained not only the withdrawal of the decree declaring them rebels, but the confirmation of their request about the militia of London. The decision was taken to them by one of the ushers of parliament, but as they would not receive it from him, the Speaker himself had to take it, and at the same time it was published by the press. The apprentices seeing the Speaker there asked him if he was a good servant of the king, and when he replied, Yes, they told him to shout God save the King. Being intimidated he did this in a very low voice, whereupon they made him raise it so that everyone there should hear. After this the Houses wished to rise, but the people threatening to set fire to them they were compelled to resolve that the king might come to London whenever he pleased. (fn. 3) It is not known if the army will permit this journey, his Majesty being the sport of Fortune, now raised up by Fairfax, who previously defeated him and now by the Presbyterians, who were his capital enemies. On receiving the news of these incidents the army directed its march on London, taking the king with it. But their object is not known and so all is in confusion and upside down, while the militia of London have taken up their arms.
Meantime the Catholics of Ireland profit by the dissensions of the other side, a large part of the parliamentary garrison of Dublin, which went out to subdue them, having been cut in pieces by General Preston.
Aug. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Roma. Venetian Archives.
20. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Digby, the Resident of England, at my request wrote to the gentleman at Florence, who manages the interests of that nation and of trade. He has been to tell me the answer he received on the subject of the English ships which might enter the service of the Turks, bringing me the very letter. The gentleman writes that as regards the future he has issued such orders that the ships certainly will not serve the infidels, as he is the owner of four or five which sail in those seas and has an interest and share in all the others ; and as for the merchandise, he will find some way of getting it passed under the names of others. With regard to the present he cannot promise anything, seeing that of thirty ships, part English and part Flemish, which are at the ports of Aleppo, Smyrna and Constantinople, not one has reached Leghorn, and he fears some mischief and violence. In any case he is certain that the English crews will not serve the Turk or fight for him, but will rather deliver themselves alive into the hands of Christians. It is quite likely that they take food, munitions and troops to Canea, merely as a matter of transport. With regard to the Flemings and Dutch, that is the business of others, but the gentleman promises for his part to do everything possible to avoid causing prejudice to your Serenity. Digby told me that his letter reached Leghorn in time, before the new ambassador left for Constantinople. He is a man of character, who is on good terms with his countrymen, and being informed of the reasons and advantages, Digby feels sure that he will do better than the other who is now at the Porte, who has quarrelled with the English themselves and is detested by them. His letters on this subject will reach the king and parliament as well and will serve to prevent any engagement to serve in the coming year on the part of the ships of his country, even if the question has been broached. I thanked Digby very heartily.
Rome, the 24th August, 1647.
Aug. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
21. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 27th August, 1647.
Enclosure. 22. Advices from London, the 19th August, 1647.
After the riot of the London apprentices reported, the Speakers of the two Houses, to escape further violence, to which they felt themselves exposed, decided to leave, one going to Fairfax's army, (fn. 4) the other to his country house, protesting that they did so because they did not wish to be forced to do wrong by the fury of the mob. Meanwhile the army advanced to the city and occupied Gravesend, cutting off its supplies of food, causing general confusion and alarm. Fairfax, rejoicing in the opportunity, quickly sent 1,500 men to the Borough, over the bridge, and although a defence was prepared, the soldiers threw down their arms, or fled and left the troops in possession. The city itself, seized with panic, lowered the sail of Fortune, with which it has dominated the whole island for several years, and by the consent of the crowd, surrendered at discretion to Fairfax. The terms are that he shall keep the command and control of the militia of London. That the Tower shall be handed over to him and he shall be Constable. That the 11 expelled by parliament, three sheriffs and six apprentices, leaders of the late riot, shall be delivered prisoners to him. That the army receive one pay as a pure gift. They also talk of paying a large sum of gold to buy off a sack.
The terms being arranged, Fairfax entered the city on the 16th with 2,000 foot and 1,000 horse, bringing with him those members of parliament whom the late riots had compelled to leave. Disposing the troops about Westminster he entered parliament itself where the two Speakers thanked him with profuse compliments for the quiet and repose which he restored to the city and the kingdom. On the following day he made the army pass through the city as in triumph, and there were counted 9,000 foot and 7,000 horse, very fine troops, and so well disciplined that without injury to any one it resembled a gorgeous spectacle in the midst of absolute peace. The troops are ordered towards Kent to reduce to obedience the places about London. To-day they have taken possession of the Tower and of all the forts and lines about the city, placing garrisons at their pleasure. He will ask leave to go and find his Majesty, who is at Stok, not many miles from London. What will happen to the king is not yet altogether clear, but if he restores him to his crown and throne there will be no glory sufficient for his name.


  • 1. Presumably he means the consul Santhill.
  • 2. Bendish.
  • 3. On the 26th July, O.S.
  • 4. Both Manchester and Lenthall seem to have gone to the army, when they signed the manifesto of the 4th August, O.S. Rushworth : Hist. Colls., Vol. IV, pt. ii., page 754.