158. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
Although the approach of winter suggests making the most of
the fine weather, the king moves slowly in prosecuting his enterprises
while parliament is obstructed by a mass of obstacles.
Both sides suffer from the counsels of those who profit by the
disorder and are not anxious to do themselves harm by acting
After some unsuccessful attempts (fn. 1) Plymouth ;
which has merely served to lose a better opportunity . (fn. 1)
Report says that the king has left Colonel Grinfil quartered near
that place with 6,000 men and is preparing to march with an army
20,000 strong. It would seem that he proposes to advance
towards Bristol and thence to Oxford, possibly relieving Banbury
on the way, and he may despatch a part of his forces towards
Kent and Essex.
For this reason parliament is hastening the Earl of Manchester
(fn. 2) some few troops that remain with Waller, and throw
themselves in his way. But he does not hit it off with that officer and
does not think himself strong enough to resist such an army. So he
excuses his wilful tardiness on the score of his difficulties. He is not
more than 20 miles from this city, while Waller is in Dorset, a long way
off. Five regiments of the trained bands of London are commanded
to go out, but there is no sign of their obeying as yet. Parliament
would like all these forces to be under the command of General
Essex, but there is so much dissension between him and the other
commanders and between those officers among themselves, that it
will not be done and if it were it would produce the worst results.
The general is at Portsmouth, whither they have sent him 6,000 arms
and no effort is spared to collect troops, but they lose more than they
gain, those who after prolonged hardships in Cornwall were obliged
to receive their lives as a favour from the king, have almost all arrived
in London with an aversion from war.
(fn. 2) some of Wales (fn. 2) to besiege Montgomery
castle, which he lost recently, but Meldron arrived and relieved
the place with some loss to the besiegers.
Newcastle is still besieged, though feebly, most of the Scottish
forces being occupied in attending to trouble at home, the country
being disturbed by powerful parties of malcontents and Irish,
and weakened on that side by the reluctance of the English forces
(fn. 2) come to Ireland (fn. 2) that kingdom who
took up arms again to upset the peace granted by the king,
are now treating with the Catholic party to accept it, perceiving
that circumstances here are not favourable for sending help,
some already prepared having been diverted by more pressing
calls here, and they had no other resource but to release the
prisoners, who undertook to go and assist the Protestant party
in that country.
The king's letter remains unanswered, its only effect (fn. 2)
the articles which have been drawn up such a long time, and they
have been voting on the names of those claimed to be impossible
to pardon. But it only serves to gain time and avoid coming to
the point, as those in authority are afraid that with the increase in
the number of those who desire peace, even their exorbitant proposals
may advance matters so far that there will be no drawing back.
The Prince Palatine has presented to parliament the paper or
manifesto of which I enclose a copy. It only aims at obtaining
permission to live here, as he does not wish, even secretly, to
declare his dependence on his own brothers, the Prince of Orange
and the States. He possessed by assignment of parliament
the benefit of certain copper money, below its proper value,
introduced to a small amount some time ago for the general
convenience. (fn. 3) This being forbidden because (fn. 2) was
augmented by the king (fn. 2) might fail him.
The two Irishmen who escaped from the Tower and were
recaptured, confessed that they had taken refuge for some days
in the house of the French resident, by favour of a woman.
Moved by this parliament sent to have her arrested. But the
resident, assisted and advised by the Portuguese minister, tried
to resist by force. In this he failed as the house was surrounded
by a large force of guards and by the people, and the lady was
carried off, the master of the house being roughly handled. (fn. 4)
The Resident is much incensed and has sent the master of his
house himself to France with an account of the incident. He
himself has decided to leave to-day for the king.
London, the 7th October, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
159. Motives and reasons touching the coming to England
of the Prince Elector Palatine, presented to the two Houses of
Parliament. (fn. 5)
[Italian, from the English ; 4 pages.]
160. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in France,
to the Doge and Senate.
The queen of England, after enjoying the benefits of the waters
of Borbon has gone on to Nivers to take the milk. The duke of
Longavilla and his wife have gone to attend upon her. The meeting
with the queen regent is constantly being postponed, and so
it will take place after all at Paris, though with the determination
that her stay at the Court shall be brief. Before she arrives a
hint will be given her and they will make preparations for her to
stay in some house of the king in the parts about this city, There
is some talk of Gallion, which is towards Rouen, on the pretext
that news from England can reach there more fresh and with
greater expedition. Her Majesty asks for powers to raise levies
in the kingdom, a point of the very greatest consequence, and
which she has not yet carried. The troubles in England suit the
French admirably for the progress of their arms in Flanders and
thus it does not suit their book to weigh the balance of fortune in
favour of either of the two parties either by declarations or by
assistance. In addition to this the naval forces are in the control
of parliament and they proceed with caution in order not to give
offence to that body from which France might suffer the most
serious prejudice in navigation, in commerce and perchance in
the plans she is meditating for the coming campaign.
One of the Palatine Princes who once spent some months at
the Court here, has returned to it again in order to further the
interests of his House and to remove by his presence the mistrust
aroused by the journey of his brother to London. (fn. 6)
Paris, the 11th October, 1644.
161. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England,
to the Doge and Senate.
Leaving Prince Maurice a short distance from Plymouth the
king is marching with forces reputed to be large, though this is
suppressed by the party here, to moderate alarm. He advances
slowly in order to profit by the dissensions among the parliament
leaders, grown worse though fresh incidents. If these continue
they will help the sword in deciding the dispute here, as negotiation
can no longer do.
In the necessity of preparing an opposition to his Majesty it
was proposed in the Council of the two Nations to set up the
army of Gen. Essex again. It was boldly pointed out that they ought
first to make themselves acquainted with the circumstances of the
late events in Cornwall. This met with general approval and they
appointed commissioners to make an enquiry. At the very outset
they found that when the king wrote to Essex to urge him to come
over, he also sent some articles which were distributed among the
officers of his army to induce them to join the king in expelling the
Scots who were interfering unduly in the affairs of this kingdom.
Essex did not forward copies of these to parliament nor did any
of his officers send information. At this same time his Majesty
released Col. Botlar, a prisoner of war, to come to London and show
to many of the more moderate parliamentarians, as he did secretly,
other articles proposed for the peace, so that on the point where their
own arms were understood to be turned against the party, the king's
clemency might appear in the offer of peace and serve as a check to
despair (accio nel punto che s'intendevano rivoltate le proprie armi
contro il partito apparisse anco la clemenza del Re nell' offerta di
pace, con che frenar si potesse la disperation), and bring about general
content, to the prejudice and ruin of the leading rebels alone, who may
not be pardoned.
Owing to this disclosure suspicion is cast upon Essex and all the
leaders in his army as well as on many members of parliament.
But they have made no public demonstration so far except to send
Col. Botlar to the Tower, (fn. 7) proceeding with caution and reserve in a
matter of so much consequence which concerns so large a number of
influential persons. The general has several times announced that
he was coming here, but he has taken up his abode at Portsmouth,
a strong place, with many of his followers. One of his captains is
at Plymouth, where parliament, to show confidence, has announced
him as governor. (fn. 8) They have also decided to send money and arms
to the general ; but on the other hand they are discussing the appointment
of deputies to assist him, without whose consent he may not
do anything. This clearly shows their mistrust, which must be
their normal state of mind when they consider their situation. But
foresight never disturbs the spirit of this nation although they are
more sensible of present discomfort than any other.
In addition to so many difficulties and shortcomings they are
scarce able to provide for the pressing calls of the moment, much less
for other serious matters which are not yet clearly known to the
commissioners. The earl of Manchester, on whom all their hopes
now depend, although ordered long since by parliament to unite with
Waller, has not passed Reading and keeps inventing pretexts for
evading an encounter which he cannot endure. Similarly the 5
regiments of trained bands who were ordered out, still linger on here
on false pretences. Thus Waller with 4,000 men is near Salsberi,
more advanced than any, and is obliged to avoid engagements, the
losses suffered by every party that he sends out serving as a warning.
The besieged at Newcastle do more hurt to the Scots by sorties
than they receive. The besiegers are few in number and suffer
from the unfavourable season in that place and through calls from
their own country, which has blazed out worse than ever. There
is an additional menace in the truce for three months granted
by the Protestant party in Ireland in the hope of help from
England. If this does not arrive, and the distractions here render
it likely, they will have to accept the peace already arranged by
his Majesty in that kingdom.
Parliament has intercepted a letter from the queen of England
to her husband, encouraging him to persist as help from France
will not be lacking ; the duke of Epernon and other noblemen
having offered to bring over 12,000 volunteers at their own expense.
She holds out hope that the Court will not oppose this, with the
precedent of the marquis of Hamilton, who assisted Sweden
against the emperor, without committing England. They
discussed this letter in secret, to avoid causing alarm, and have sent
a Scottish gentleman to France to insinuate himself among his countrymen
of the guard there and report what is being done. If such
succour should come there would be danger of the king's own party
deserting him, as the English cannot stand foreigners and the French
in particular. This person will forestall by covert announcement
or by telling the Cardinal himself, if he can secure an introduction,
the report of the Resident Sabran about the arrest of the lady at his
house, as all the couriers and letters of last week have been stopped at
Dover by virtue of a general closing of the ports, to prevent the escape
of any accomplices in the conspiracy reported.
London, the 14th October, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
162. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
The king's advance towards Oxford or these parts is still delayed
and with much speculation there is no certain knowledge of the
cause. As there is no impediment whatever there would seem
to be some mystery. Some partisans of his Majesty flatter
themselves that he has secret intelligence with General Essex at Portsmouth,
or at least he hopes that the general, knowing the suspicions
about his loyalty here, in spite of efforts to smooth matters, may be
won over, and therefore he wishes to be ready to hasten personally
and with his forces wherever circumstances may call him. Others
think he is waiting for the landing of Irish at Bristol to join him,
now that the rebels there are in control and dependent on his royal
will, as this side has been compelled by necessity to abandon that
country. There are also some who fear that his Majesty is deceived
by the advice of those who wish to protract these dissensions and is
losing this favourable opportunity.
Meanwhile this much is certain that the provisions made by
parliament are progressing. They have adopted every means
for raising money, even to melting down some plate of the crown
that was in the Tower and burning some ornaments of the royal
chapel, to obtain the gold, although under the pretext of abolishing
such a superstitious ceremony. Waller reinforced by 2,000
horse of the general, is at Salsberi with 6,000 combatants (fn. 2)
is waiting at Reading (fn. 2) from this city, in which they
are collecting new forces. Every head of a family is commanded
either to go himself or to maintain a man at his own cost. They
are also pressing men in all the streets, so that when their forces
are united they will exceed 20,000 combatants. It is true that
the quarrels which continue among the leaders either about
religion or their pretensions, do not promise great undertakings
or even considerable resistance should the king decide to advance.
He is called upon to do so, to assist at his parliament, which should
have met this month at Oxford, but which he has prorogued to a
near date. He has summoned those at Westminster as well and
has created five deserving lords to increase their numbers. (fn. 9)
There have been no military events of great importance
recently, but the king is having success everywhere. Parliament
has given up the siege of Banbury, to make use of a part of the
troops. The royal forces, which are powerful in Lincoln, have
captured Croland Abbey, which opens a way into the associated
counties. The important place of Newcastle is practically safe
owing to the unfavourable season and to the small numbers of
the besieging force.
Parliament has completed the proposals for peace which they
intend to send to Manchester to be passed on to the king. They
in no wise increase the hope of any good and have no relation to the
favourable position in which his Majesty finds himself. Their sole
object is to deceive the people and to obliterate the opinion, which has
become universal, that parliament abhors any treaty. To this
end even the most strongly opposed have assisted in it, feeling
confident, from its outrageousness, that the king will not listen to it.
A declaration has been sent to France to apologise for the
affront done to the Resident Sabran by the arrest of the lady,
I reported, pretending that she removed from her own house while
the resident had gone to it, with the reservation of some rooms.
The resident has gone to attend the king at Oxford where a fire
has destroyed a number of houses, but it was accidental. (fn. 10)
London, the 21st October, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
163. Gerolamo Agostini, Venetian Secretary in England, to
the Doge and Senate.
The king leaves the general curiosity unsatisfied and does not
disclose what his designs are. Having experienced the advantage
of defeating armies without a battle, he continues the practice.
Having reached Salsberi he is trying to entangle Waller and by
preventing the junction of the parliamentary forces to waste them
away separately. Waller in retiring (fn. 2) but succours from
Essex (fn. 2) Manchester. But the first, who has no more
than 4,000 men and lying under suspicion because of late events,
considers himself safer at Portsmouth, under the favour of that
trained garrison, rather than weak in the field, or joined with other
commanders more numerous than himself and especially with the
presence of the commissioners appointed to advise him. The other,
although strengthened by regiments of this city, is not capable of
resisting the powerful army of the king, and obeys tardily and
reluctantly commands which lose force in the scarcity of money,
which is their concomitant.
The soldiers are pressing for their pay and arrears (fn. 2)
Thus some captains and Sergeant Major Brun have appeared here
from Abinton, protesting that if money is not sent there promptly,
something very serious will assuredly happen at that post, so
near Oxford. To fend off this danger parliament in its helplessness
has been obliged to promise them at a time when they are working
hard to get troops out. But they have decided to collect promptly
(fn. 2) all those with an income of more than 700l. It will
be impossible to carry this out promptly or without violence, such as
is always used in similar collections ; and this, in the end will
cause some general commotion. The king also experiences no little
scarcity, but being served by the nobility he keeps his party together
by honours and expectations, whereas the common people here are
moved only by immediate advantage (sostiene il proprio partito con
gl' honori e con le speranze dove questa plebe e mossa dal solo
The Scots, perceiving that religion serves parliament here as an
empty pretext, since only the Roman Catholic faith is detested and
they allow as many sects to flourish as the caprice of the people may
desire, are trying to introduce some order, perceiving that this
kingdom is rushing to destruction, since the end of civil strife will
be the beginning of religious disputes. They have therefore proposed
to introduce Presbyterianism as in Scotland. But as this is directly
contrary to the Independents, who now form the largest body, it is
resisted, the more so because the hope of continuing to enjoy such
liberty is an argument in favour of the retention of this disordered
The forces left by the king near Plymouth have captured Saltas,
which may facilitate the capture of the town. They put to the
sword the garrison of 500 men, causing an outcry here. This
cloud coming from the West, which threatens this city soon, is
now attracting all their attention, and the more distant affairs of
Ireland are abandoned. The Scots are left to look after their own
kingdom, which still remains disturbed. In the North, which is
deprived of assistance, each party is too weak to do more than
keep the places it holds.
They are elaborating the peace proposals to send to the king,
so that they may be submitted to the final judgment of parliament.
It is proposed to send them to the army next week. This
occasion reminded the predominant parliamentarians that it is not
in the king's interest, which coincides with what is right, though
forgotten by all (Avvedutesi in tale occasione i Parlamentarii
predominanti non esser l'interesse del Re che camina con la
ragione da tutti obliato) ; they have proposed to fill up the vacant
places in the Lower House and strengthen their party ; but they have
not yet been able to carry this.
The negotiations of the Dutch ambassadors are confined to
regulating trade, in which they meet with no little difficulty.
They demand the alteration of a captious (fn. 2) given them for
trade (fn. 2) of the king reserved (fn. 2) But on this side
they are not acting with sincerity, as they want to have fresh opportunities
for plunder, from the advantage of which they hope to meet
their present needs, and this consideration prevails over every other.
London, the 28th October, 1644.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]