136. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Ambassador in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
The consequences of the victory gained over Prince Rupert
in the North appear in the surrender of York which took place
last week on the usual honourable military conditions, which the
soldiers disregarded by plundering a part of the baggage. (fn. 1) The
result is of unhappy augury for the king's interests, which suffer
a great disadvantage from such a loss. The Prince has retired to
Lancashire with 7,000 soldiers, all he has been able to get together
of such a large army, leaving the North at the mercy of the enemy.
A part of their forces is besieging Newcastle, which without
hope of relief will afford them a further conquest. The other is
preparing to follow the Prince and prevent him receiving fresh
reinforcements or else to advance on Niuvarch.
The blame for this disastrous event is laid on the impetuosity
of the prince, who did not agree with the opinion of the Marquis
of Newcastle, and chose to fight after having relieved York, when
he might have marched gloriously to assist the king in these parts,
laying waste the associated counties on the way, and leaving to
the enemy the trouble of following and preventing him. The
Marquis was so annoyed with him that he threw aside all interests
and considerations and left the kingdom with 70 leading gentlemen
of his army, and it is reported that he has already landed at
The strength of the armies is at present in the West, where the
king and Prince Maurice are surrounding Essex, who is not
inferior in strength to both their armies, so some new encounter
may take place there. Waller enfeebled and almost annihilated
by desertion and sickness, cannot hasten thither, but they are
energetically pressing men day and night in the city in order to
restore him to a condition to meet all emergencies. The Earl of
Dembi has also come here to reinforce his army. The ease with
which the parliamentary forces melt away is without example,
a small action or a couple of months in the country sufficing to
destroy the most flourishing army (osservandosi senza esempio
la facilita con che si dilegano le forze del parlamento in particolare
servendo un piccolo attione o il soggiorno in campagna di due mesi
per distruggere il piu florido esercito).
The queen, though suffering greatly in body, yet with a spirit
worthy of the great Henry her father, has embarked furtively
upon six frigates of the king at Falmouth, and has crossed to
France escorted by two Dutch war ships. The Admiral Warwick,
hearing of this, sent four ships after her, which fired their guns,
but the swiftness of her craft carried her safely to Brest. She
proposes to go straight to the waters of that province, suspecting
herself that Cardinal Mazarini does not want to see her approach
the Court. The tightness of their finances and their committments
with so many armies leave her Majesty little or no hope of
getting help for her husband, but she persuades herself that she
will be able to do something useful, either by a general request
or through the generosity of the grandees or by the help of
merchants. They are not without apprehension here ; and are
by no means pleased at her having crossed, their only consolation
is that a speedy death may cut the thread of all her intrigues.
Parliament has several times discussed the reply to be given to
the Dutch ambassadors, but has decided nothing so far. Those
who control the government are more averse from peace than ever.
But the leaders in the North, knowing the leanings of the Scots, have
written and sent a commissioner who was with them, to persuade the
Council to consider the matter. Accordingly someone moved to send
proposals to the king, rather to hinder than to forward it, as they will
be unacceptable to his Majesty, and his refusal will be a rebuff to
the proposals of the Dutch ambassadors also and will make them
think that the king's profession about desiring it was feigned to
justify himself and excuse himself with the Scots. The king has
made his intense desire for it only too clear, as without waiting for
the reply to the ambassadors, he has sent a letter by way of General
Essex to parliament, in which he not only recognises parliament
but also nominates the commissioners to send here, offering to change
them if they are not acceptable. This is accompanied by another
letter written by his Majesty's general also to Essex telling him that
parliament will hear his Majesty's views about peace more in detail
from the French Resident Sabran. But that minister is in such bad
odour, that he will do more harm then good to the affair. He knows
this himself and has so far been very cautious about treating, although
he has a great desire to do so ; but, perhaps with the capture of
Gravelines (fn. 2) and the release of the armies there he may be bolder in
making himself heard.
The intention of the leaders to form a republic is shown very clearly
in the new forms of government introduced. In addition to the
Council of the two kingdoms they intend to set up another Council of
War. To this will be committed the criminal jurisdiction for
delinquents of every kind in matters of state, in which they will
contrive to include every misdeed of consequence, and so the kingdom
will be losing the great privilege it enjoys that no person soever shall
be condemned unless he has first been tried and found guilty by twelve
of the same rank free from all suspicion. Besides this matter which
is not yet settled parliament has devoted a great deal of time to the
making of orders calculated to destroy utterly the poor Catholics
of the kingdom, not even leaving the foreigners exempt, but
deciding that all shall leave London. The goods taken from them
are already being exposed for sale as in the case of those who
took the king's side.
London, the 5th August, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
137. To the Secretary in England.
Observe from his last letters of the 22nd ult. that with the
dissemination of the particulars of the late engagement it will be
necessary for the queen to carry into effect her move to France,
and it will also give an impetus to the descent of the Scots, the
negotiations of the Dutch and of the Spaniards as well on the score
of Gravelines. It would seem that the declaration of the Spanish
ambassador in favour of parliament had some influence on the
suggestion for detaching some assistance for that place, but there
will be powerful influences to prevent this in the visit of the
gentleman of the duke of Orleans, in the condition and needs
of the English themselves and in the very near approach of the
fall of that important place.
When the merchant Grumel arrives with the letters of his
Majesty he will receive every possible favour from the state
in the interests of trade and the disposal of the currants of the
Levant islands, which the secretary is to continue to promote,
as he has done so far, greatly to the public satisfaction.
Ayes, 112. Noes, 0. Neutral, 6.
138. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
Since the capture of York the parliamentary forces have made
no great progress in the North. The new Scots have demanded
the surrender of Newcastle, which seems determined to hold out.
Fairfax is besieging Scarboro while the other Scots with Manchester
are holding themselves in readiness to go where they may be
required. General Essex remains idle in the West, and although
he is strong enough to withstand the forces of the king and Prince
Maurice, yet he seems indifferent about moving against them or
trying to obtain any other advantage. The Council of the two
Nations with the victories in the North, considered the moment
favourable and easy to take advantage of the king's weakness as well
as likely to secure the realisation of their pretensions (capace di
avanzar a termine di sicurezza le sue pretensioni). They urged
him in several letters, without result, and decided to find out covertly
what was the real reason. So they sent persons secretly to the army
and received information that the general, disgusted with the slight
account in which he is held and intent on gain and ease, is leaving
the whole management of affairs to some of his chief officers.
Although these are not actually in correspondence with the king, yet
in order not to put a term to their own authority and profit they are
trying to drag things out. Yet having fallen into some disgrace, in
matters touching the general, they would not risk a defeat for fear of
exposing themselves to censure, without support. Although they have
received this definite information the Council has not ventured to make
a formal move ordering Essex to send these officers here, but on other
grounds they asked for some of the less considered among them
which the general refused on the pretext that they are necessary to him.
So the Council is in no slight apprehension of some disorder in that
army, especially as some of those concerned are foreigners, which
means not bound by loyalty to the nation and superior to the English
in intellect (superiori d'ingegno). If the army of Waller, the other
parliamentary general, was in a fit condition they would send it in
that direction ; but the troops from Kent and Essex have returned
to their homes, disgusted with his maladministration of the money
contributed by their counties. Only a small residue remains which
is engaged in fortifying Abingdon near Oxford. He has returned
here and there is no sign of setting him up again. The soldiers
blame him and avoid his command although he has powerful support
in the parliament. In order to provide with certainty against so
great a danger they would like to have the army of the Scots and
Manchester nearer. But news having come that Prince Rupert has
withdrawn to Lancashire, and is strengthening himself with the
troops of the neighbouring counties, they would like first to strike
another blow at him, which they might easily do.
As reprisals for the severity shown by the parliamentarians
against the Irish, many having been drowned and others hanged,
the king has permitted 14 merchants to be treated in the same
fashion, who had infringed his orders and taken the other side. (fn. 3)
This will give occasion for revenge, so it is to be feared that the
war will become more and more cruel as it progresses, with no
room for conditions or quarter. To this end they have set up
the Council of War. As the goods of everyone are a prey to private
passion through the Council of State, so their liberties will be taken
away by that of War, with a general infraction of the laws.
The cordial reception of the queen in France causes no little
jealousy here, as they are afraid she may obtain assistance. To
prevent this coming across they have ordered the prompt provision
of 10 royal ships and 14 merchantmen to guard those seas, even
in the coming winter.
In vain do the Dutch ambassadors urge and work for a reply
to their proposals for peace. New pretexts are raised every day
to discredit their mediation as well as themselves personally.
Parliament has given no consideration to the letters sent by the
king, which I reported. The Dutch ambassadors think it strange
that these should mention the French minister, who is unsuitable
for many reasons, and not themselves. But they ignore this and
place all their reliance on the Scots, who seem more and more
disposed to peace, and have sent back the articles which were altered
here in some points which the English did not approve. Passing
this over in silence they are talking of sending them back to be altered
as they please, and in the mean time they begin to express their
dissatisfaction with the Scots, as if the desire to promote peace was
an act of disloyalty.
London, the 12th August, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
139. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
Owing to the general disturbance here the French Resident
Sabran is unable without peril to make public demonstrations
of joy at the capture of Gravelines, which is recognised as prejudicial
to this country, so he decided to celebrate it last Monday
by inviting to a banquet at his house all the ministers of the powers
friendly to the Most Christian. Including myself there were
invited the ambassadors of Holland and the residents of Portugal
and Florence. Under the pretext of a visit I saw him before
Monday when I thanked him for the honour but asked him to
excuse me if I declined it for certain respects, as I would celebrate
the victory at home on that day. He pretended not to understand
and seemed to doubt that some partiality to Spain influenced me,
so I had to tell him that although I respected the resident of
Portugal personally, yet as I had never had occasion to meet
him, I must avoid doing so this time. He pressed me again, but
was satisfied with my reserve. The Resident of Florence was
also absent for the same cause, the more so because M. de Sabran
had endeavoured to get them to exchange visits, for which he had
no orders from the Grand Duke.
London, the 12th August, 1644.
140. Giovanni Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in
France, to the Doge and Senate.
The queen of England has got as far as Angers. She despatched
her master of the horse to Court to pay her respects to his Majesty
and to thank him for her kindly welcome. They have assigned for
her entertainment 12,000 crowns a month, so France repays with
an open hand what was advanced by England for the queen
mother. Many English ladies have crossed the sea to escape from
the tempest of misfortune.
Paris, the 16th August, 1644.
141. To the Secretary in London.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters of the 29th ult. The offices
of the Dutch ambassadors for peace occur very opportunely.
You will take steps to find out the real core of the matter by the
usual means. It would appear that the English are abandoning
affairs, even those which concern them intimately, such as the
question of Gravelines, the importance of which they have
already declared to the Spanish ambassador, and that they are
devoting all their energies to securing advantages at home,
with diminution of the power and authority of the king. News
Ayes, 93. Noes, 3. Neutral, II.
142. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
The king's hopes are dogged by more and more disastrous events
and he is threatened with an unhappy issue to this affair unless God
sustains his cause by the arm of his enemies themselves. He is at
Exeter, where his mental distress has affected his body and left him
indisposed for some days though he is now better. He is joined by
the forces of Prince Maurice and Obton, but though these number
15,000 combatants, they are so dispirited that they have not
ventured to oppose General Essex, who has pushed into Cornwall,
cooling the former ardour of the people there for the royal cause
and scattering 3,000 infantry under Grinfil, forcing him to
abandon his guns and take refuge in Pendennis castle. This
general has sent Stapliton here, one of the chief men of his army,
to dissipate the false impressions created against its leaders,
assuring them that all are most eager to bring these troubles
to an end and to prove their fidelity with their lives. To facilitate
this he asks that another army may be sent to keep the royal
forces occupied, and allow him to recapture the rest of the towns
in the West. Parliament received the justification in very good
part and would like to satisfy the general by sending the new
army he asks, but it will be difficult to send it from here, whither
Waller, Dembi and Brun have returned with scanty remains of
their forces, of little value (di poco rilevo).
The blow which most dashes the royal hopes is the rising in
Ireland of three counties against the peace or truce conceded by
his Majesty. These fomented by some malcontent lords and
assisted by the Scottish and English Protestants who were subdued
there, threaten a great deal of trouble and preoccupation for the
Catholics, so that they are not likely to be able to assist the royal
party in England. A few, already levied by the Earl of Antrim,
had proceeded to Scotland, hoping still to find the Marquis of
Ontlet in the field, but finding his forces scattered, they had to
withdraw or fall a prey to the enemy. It is true that when Prince
Rupert heard of it he sent Colonel Gorin with half his army,
numbering 5,000 men to the frontiers of Scotland on the other
side, to help them by a diversion, or if circumstances should prove
favourable, to relieve Newcastle, which is besieged by all the
Scottish forces. But this feeble effort is inopportune for the king
and will effect nothing except waste them while irritating the Scots,
who are otherwise disposed to bridle the far reaching intentions of
the English, shown by the punishment with death of some English
of that party who were prisoners. The articles drawn up by the
English parliament for peace came back from Scotland modified in
that part which limited the royal revenues and the choice of his
familiar servants, because the Scots saw that they will be shut out
from appointments in this kingdom, which will be distributed by
parliament, and from the pensions which they used to enjoy to the
amount of 200,000l. sterling a year. So they wish at least to have
the benefit of appointments to the household, and with many of their
leading men so near the royal person they would be able to uphold the
interests of their country even against the parliament of England.
This moderation does not please the English so they are altering it,
and are waiting for the arrival of extraordinary commissioners from
that kingdom, said to be on the way. It is hoped that they may
try to obtain for the king subsistence with security but not with
authority, while he, through neglect to keep the leaders of his forces
advised of their own interests, is irritating the party which he ought
to be caressing.
These agitations as well as the delay of the commissioners
retard the reply to the Dutch ambassadors, for which they recently
asked in writing. Meanwhile by virtue of the queen's efforts at
the French Court letters of credence for parliament and instructions
have reached the French resident here to make vigorous
representations on behalf of peace, and also upon the ill treatment
of French ships and the Catholics. Accordingly he has asked
for audience of the two Houses ; but although they have discussed
this twice they have not yet granted it. I have chanced to see
the letters received by this minister in the present week from the
Secretary of State and find from the ciphered portion that France
is exceedingly concerned to support a moderate monarchy in this
kingdom as against a republic, which, as the letters expressly state,
would be more formidable, especially for its naval strength, to which
the French seem disposed to apply themselves since their new
acquisitions in Flanders (massime per le forze di mare a quali
mostrano pensiero Francesi di applicarsi dopo novi acquisiti in
London, the 19th August, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
143. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
Plunging into Cornwall in contempt of the king's forces, in the
expectation of being supported by another army, as requested by
Stapliton, Essex has been surrounded, so that with the unfriendly
attitude of the country people he has to get his supplies by sea.
Parliament is accordingly in very great apprehension of losing
those forces, since it cannot succour them promptly except with
2,000 infantry, the remains of Waller's army. So they have
had recourse to prayer, ordaining a general fast, which was
observed last Tuesday. To this they attribute the turn of
success which has begun, though it is rather due to the elimination
of the armies of the royalists, who have allowed themselves to be driven
from one quarter. If Essex escapes from his Majesty's hands
again this time, this prince must succumb to his bad fortune, to
infidelity and to his own reprehensible mildness. Almost despairing
of obtaining his intent by force he has abased himself to write to
Essex with his own hand, signing himself his good friend. He
urges him to join the royal army, promising him many favours,
accompanied by other letters confirming this signed by Prince
Maurice, his own general and most of the officers of his army.
Without answering Essex sent the whole to parliament, as evidence
of his fidelity, and they have thanked him and urged him to continue
as before. So the king has gained nothing by these public requests
and has only disclosed his own fears and weakness.
The Prince Palatine has taken leave of the Prince of Orange, the
States and the foreign ministers at the Hague, and has obtained
a warship to come here, under the pretext that with peace in negotiation
he wants to be at hand to obtain some assistance for the Palatinate.
But he is coming in response to a secret vote of the leaders here and
with the consent of the whole parliament. They are preparing
the royal palace for him and have turned out all who had taken refuge
there, even with permission. The king is very jealous about it and
there is much speculation, though it would be presumptuous to form
an opinion about their intentions. But appearances and the
sympathies of this prince, who has sworn the covenant against
his uncle, chiming in with certain motives imparted to me in the utmost
confidence by one who is acquainted with the secret moves, make one
suspect that with the Scots' insistence and firm determination to keep
the shadow of monarchy, the English contemplate setting up this
prince in a position of dependency rather than of command, unless
the king makes up his mind to come and put himself in their hands
without conditions. It is believed that they intend to give his Majesty
a short period to decide, and if he objects, they will declare him
incapable of rule, and his offspring suspect owing to the unchastity
with which they charge the queen, feeling sure that the people will
consent easily, since the blood royal is not shut out. They have
sent for the prince beforehand so that by humbleness and courtesy
he may make himself popular and may learn to live in the dependence
they desire. If this is the idea, as appearances indicate, the issue
is subject to various contingencies, especially as the interests of almost
all the princes of Europe are concerned about the Palatinate, which,
in the progress of time, would be supported by the great strength of
these kingdoms. Because this is so important I will keep a close
watch on the proceedings of the prince, who is expected at any moment,
and of the parliament, as well as those of the foreign ministers.
Amid these fresh incidents the peace negotiations languish more
than ever. Although one of the Scottish commissioners has arrived
they do not contemplate giving any reply to the Dutch ambassadors,
indeed relations between the two states are becoming embittered.
After waiting a long time in the belief that their ships unlawfully
seized would be released, the ambassadors were informed by the
commissioners deputed that one ship had already been condemned as
lawful booty, while the others were under consideration. Learning
that on hearing of the decision of the Council of France to seize
all goods of the English, all their ships had been promptly released,
the ambassadors urged the States to take some similar step. This
has been done in a modified form, all the English ships in Holland
having been searched, and all the money found on board seized,
by virtue of an ancient law of the Provinces. This has caused no
little commotion among the English merchants, and if more moderation
is not shown here, they will make all nations their enemies, and those
Provinces in particular.
Parliament has at last decided to give audience to the Resident
of France ; but in the same manner as the Most Christian receives
the English minister, namely on foot and uncovered, being met
at the door by the Master of the Ceremonies only, claiming that
the king is virtually in parliament. When he is not speaking
they allow him to sit in a seat without arms and uncovered.
They have not yet sent this message to the Resident but he has
heard about it and is very perplexed, repenting that he asked
for audience, as he perceives from this curt behaviour how little
they desire peace here, which he was unwilling to believe.
London, the 26th August, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]