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SIXTEENTH AND SEVENTEENTH CENTURY NEWSLETTERS

Part 1: Newsletters, c1564-1667, and related papers, c1607-1794,
from the Public Record Office

This collection brings together a strong body of manuscript newsletters from the State Papers Foreign and Chancery collections at the PRO, providing a synthesis of foreign news and intelligence on events in Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries with:

  • A rich array of newsletters for the 1620s and 1630s.
  • Reports from a wide network of European contacts.
  • High level correspondence between Louis XIII and Charles I.

There are reports from Paris, Venice, Madrid, Brussels, The Hague, and Zurich, including the newsletters of Viscount Scudamore (Charles I’s ambassador in Paris, 1635-1639). Scudamore was an avid collector of newsletters in the 1620s and 1630s and the papers that survive are a valuable source of information about the political and social issues being discussed in England and Europe at the time. 

Some of the best professional newsletter writers of the day reported back to Scudamore including John Pory, John Flower and Edmund Rossingham. Much of their correspondence appears in this collection.  Other prominent diplomatic and political personnel from all over Europe feature in the letters including Viscount Basil Fielding (English ambassador extraordinary to the Princes and States of North Italy, 1634-9), Oliver Fleming in Zurich, Sir Arthur Hopton in Madrid, Sir Balthazar Gerbier in Brussels and John Averie in Hamburg.

Many of the Scudamore letters originate from Paris or Versailles, but the series also includes reports from agents at Marseilles, Bordeaux and Lille, as well as items regarding the Palatinate.  Letters forwarded by Viscount Scudamore were sent back to England for the attention of the two Secretaries of State, Sir John Coke (1563-1644) and Sir Francis Windebank (1582-1646). Scudamore received assistance in this task from agents and translators such as Henry de Vic and the French Huguenot Réné Augier. The collection includes daily or weekly instructions sent out to Scudamore by the Secretaries of State.  

The documents discuss a variety of political and diplomatic issues including:

  • the Resolution of the Sorbonne on the marriage of Princes of the Blood.
  • Cardinal Richelieu’s gift of a ship to the English.
  • the Treaty made with Duke Bernard of Saxe Weimar at St Germain.
  • French abuses against British shipping.  
  • interference with British trade in Canada.
  • the role of the French ambassadors in London.
  • the manoeuvrings of Charles’s wife, Henrietta Maria.
  • the restoration of Lorraine and the Palatinate.
  • the French attack on the Pearl off the coast of North Africa.
  • the Earl of Leicester’s mission as Ambassador extraordinary to Paris and his negotiations for a French treaty.
  • quarrels between Leicester and Scudamore.
  • the Hamburg peace conference.

These papers provide good detail on diplomatic negotiations throughout Europe, especially relations with France, Spain, the Dutch, and the Habsburgs, the
Thirty Years War, court intrigues, and details of significant meetings, conversations and treaties.  Other subjects covered include patronage, conduct, court gossip, entertainment, deportment and social behaviour.

The newsletters are an excellent resource for historians wishing to study the nature of political and news reporting in the seventeenth century. Much of the information was highly sensitive in nature and offers up revealing insights into secret negotiations, political and social intrigues, individual career ambitions, and court factions.



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