Venice: March 1649

Pages 88-93

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 1649

March 1.
Bibl. S. Marco. Cl. VII. Cod. 1923.
240. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador at the Congress of Munster, from Domenico Condulmier, his Secretary at the Hague.
These last days the Queen of Bohemia has caused a petition to the presented to the States General, in which she appeals to this state, out of charity, to give her a yearly assignment to enable her to live, since with the death of her brother, the king of England, her hopes have vanished of receiving any assistance from that kingdom. It is thought that the States will not give her a yearly assignment, but assistance of some kind, as they have frequently done, as the deepest deepest sympathy and compassion are felt for her.
The Hague, the 1st March, 1649.
March 2.
Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia. Venetian Archives.
241. Leo Nomisco of Zante and the farmers of the new and newest custom on currants for the year 1642 represent the loss they suffered through the English parliament prohibiting the importation of the fruit, on account of which the islanders threw a good part of their crops into the sea ; and they ask for relief. They represent that the Senate, by a decision of the 19th September, in response to a petition of the islanders, reduced the new custom from 10 to 8 ducats, the effect whereof was that very soon afterwards the English took up the trade again.
It appears to be uncertain whether the loss suffered was occasioned entirely by the English decree, and information is required.
Dated at the office, the 2nd March, 1649.
Antonio Moro, Savii.
Niccolo Capello,
Geronimo Zustignan,
March 5.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Munster. Venetian Archives.
242. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador to the Congress of Munster, to the Doge and Senate.
The States General have tendered their condolences to the new king of England, but not their compliments as yet, as the question is undecided. The king has informed the ministers at the Hague of his father's death and his own accession, but no one has been to pay his respects except the Portuguese ambassador (fn. 1) who announced that he acted as a private individual while waiting for orders from his prince. As a number of printed papers have appeared in the Netherlands, some in favour of the king and others siding with the new government, all have been forbidden without distinction, because the people began to take sides for one or the other of the parties and with such fervour that in many places they came to blows.
Munster, the 5th March, 1649.
March 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Munster. Venetian Archives.
243. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador to the Congress of Munster, to the Doge and Senate.
Scotland has nominated the Prince of Wales as its legitimate king, and they want him to proceed to Scotland. But as they impose upon him some conditions about the ratifying of the Covenant, which was the one made in the past and agreed with the parliament of England, it does not appear that he has yet decided to stir, to put himself into the hands of that people, lest they sell him, as they infamously sold his late father.
Munster, the 12th March, 1649.
March 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
244. Niccolo Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
They continue from this quarter to supply hints to the archduke in Flanders to induce him to persuade the Spanish ministers to make use, with moderation, of the opportunity which the troubles of France offer. Their idea here is that the Spaniards should rest content with an honourable peace, while offering and supplying assistance to the king. They think that after what has happened in England it is not desirable in the common interests to stir up subjects so much against their natural lords.
Vienna, the 13th March, 1649.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Munster. Venetian Archives.
245. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador to the Congress of Munster, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses a summary of the report made in Holland by the Ambassador Pau on his return from England. Has cut it down to a few lines so that this interesting matter may be more acceptable to their Excellencies.
Munster, the 19th March, 1649.
Enclosure. 246. Summary of a relation made by the Ambassador Pau in the States General, on the 11th March, 1649.
In general the reception and treatment were very honourable, being lodged and defrayed by order of the Parliament until the first audience, as is the custom in Holland also. At the audience he and Joachimi, the ordinary ambassador, were made to sit on seats covered with cloth of silver.
When in the Upper House on the mention of the king's name, the ambassadors raised their hats, all the lords there did the same ; but in the Lower House no one, though when the ambassadors mentioned the States General they took off their hats.
They had encountered some difficulty over Farfax, who was surrounded in his chamber by a great number of officers of the army, and when the ambassadors intimated that they wished to speak with him alone, he withdrew with them into another room, into which General Cromuel entered soon afterwards with a number of officers, without asking permission or performing any act of civility.
These two, Farfax and Cromuel, did not venture to open the letters of credence except in the presence of a number of officers of the army, and neither of them goes out without a guard of at least 300 horse.
The Ambassador Pau praises Farfax for his great civility ; Cromuel for his ability and eloquence.
When he arrived in London the king's death was already fixed for Tuesday the 9th February, leaving him only the choice of the hour of his death, from 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.
After the sentence the king had received no one except his two children, the Duke of Gloucester, aged 9, and the Princess Elizabeth, aged 13, who by their distress had so affected the king's feelings that he lost control of his legs, and this was so persistent that after he had given them his blessing he was compelled to take to his bed in order to recover his strength. After these the Prince Palatine wished to visit him, but the Bishop of London made his excuses on account of the distress he was in from the sight of his children.
In contrast with this, on the scaffold the king showed a remarkable constancy. His beard was long and grey, his hair white and he was greatly aged. The two executioners were masked and wore false beard and wigs. Upon the scaffold, which was newly draped, were iron chains and ropes, to allow force to be used with the king, if he did not submit of his own accord to the axe. There was no disturbance in London on the day of the execution ; all the shops were open in the usual way.
The king's two children were visited by him and his colleague three leagues from London in the house of Madame de Nortomberland, where no sign of mourning was to be seen except in the clothes of the children themselves.
After the king was beheaded the ambassadors of France and Spain said that they had spoken in his favour. When France in particular wished to insist and talked of going away, they told him that they were quite ready to give him these two children to take with him.
The answer given to the Dutch ambassadors, though accompanied with every civility, as well as to the Scottish commissioners, was substantially that neither the one nor the others nor any foreigner soever understood the affairs of England better than the English themselves.
They contemplated sending ambassadors to all the princes of Europe, to notify what they had done and to justify their proceedings, with a declaration that it would be indifferent to them whether these were admitted or no, feeling perfectly confident that they could defend themselves effectively.
They wanted to make presents to the ambassadors in the usual way, but they had tactfully contrived to refuse them.
The military force consists of 30 to 40,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry all veteran troops and well equipped.
In Scotland things are not so clear and well defined as the new king publishes ; in certain books of prayers the Almighty is asked to deliver the king from the evil councillors who surround him.
In Ireland there are three parties the king's, the parliament's and the Catholics, so that should unity and peace ensue in England the English will easily find the means to get their way in the other two kingdoms.
March 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
247. Michiel Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 20th March, 1649.
Enclosure. 248. Advices from London, the 16th March, 1649.
Since the report of the king's death news has come that the States of Holland have recognised the Prince of Wales as king of England, expelling the agent of parliament and recalling their ambassador from London. The Scots have also declared for the king, but on condition that he embraces the covenant and what is right. Ireland has done the same, so that the royal party is very strong and it is thought that the prince's army will be in a position to avenge the death of his father. The Catholics in Ireland have attacked Dublin which is expected to have surrendered by now because of its weakness.
March 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
249. Giovanni Soranzo, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
At a hint from me the English ambassador sent here to ask for passports for his ships, which have been here over two months and for which he has now obtained leave that they may go to Leghorn. He pressed me again on the question of permitting ships to enter. I assured him of my goodwill although orders to the contrary were very precise, and just now it was more necessary than ever not to add to the strength of the Turks. I told him moreover of the ship Fenice taking money to Tunis. The dragoman protested that he had heard nothing about it.
The facility with which the English have received this despatch is very suspicious as indicating an excellent understanding ; but there is no remedy. Letters of the 3rd inst. report that at Smyrna there are 12 English ships, 6 Flemish and one French. Six more are expected. Such an assembling of ships is very dangerous and possibly it has been done by the English with intention.
The Vigne di Pera, the 22nd March, 1649.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
March 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Munster. Venetian Archives.
250. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador to the Congress of Munster, to the Doge and Senate.
The king of England has been for the first time of visit the Princess Palatine, his aunt. Every day numbers of English gentlemen flock to his presence (concorrono ogni giorno quantita di signori Inglesi presso di lui). In this connection I may say that I hear that the nuncio Rinuccini is on the point of leaving Ireland, as his party in that island is in process of breaking up.
Munster, the 26th March, 1649.
March 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
251. Michiel Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses advices of London.
Paris, the 30th March, 1649.
Enclosure. 252. Advices from London, of the 25th March, 1649.
The Commons are unrelenting towards the memory of the late king. Thus they have recently ordered all his jewels and valuables to be sold, to use the money for the fleet. Further, everything pertaining to the revenues of the royal house, i.e. of the queen and prince and generally all that was of the royal domain, is to be annexed to the republic. The sale of the property of religious and bishops is to be continued. All contracts and public instruments in the future are to be made by order and in the name of the new republic. Those who speak in favour of the dead king are to be punished. This happened to one who said they must pray God for Charles Stuart, their legitimate king, who was forthwith sent for trial.
Po, the Dutch ambassador, sent to try and stop the proceedings against the king has returned with the answer that it is all over, that everything had been and would be done in accordance with the fundamental laws of the state, of which none could have a better knowledge than parliament which firmly desired a good understanding with the Dutch.
On the 19th ult. the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Holland and Lord Capel were beheaded in the square of Westminster palace by sentence of the High Court of Justice.


  • 1. Don Francesco de Sousa Coutinho.