Venice
February 1655

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1930

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16-24

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'Venice: February 1655', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 16-24. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89804 Date accessed: 17 September 2014.


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February 1655

Feb. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archieves.
21. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Court has been informed that had Blach arrived in the bay of Naples before the French fleet left he would have treated the duke of Guise individually with politeness, but would have attacked and captured all the other vessels commanded by MM. Pol and la Ferriera, because of their piratical acts against the English.
[Paulucci's letter enclosed.]
Paris, the 2nd February, 1655.
[Italian.]
Feb. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
22. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Five English ships on their way from Malaga to London have been taken by French corsairs and brought into Brest. It is understood that public reprisals have been granted between these two countries, which affords the utmost delight to Spain.
Three powerful vessels are under sail for the voyage of Mexico and at the island of San Domingo they will land 200 Spanish infantry for the garrison there.
Madrid, the 5th February, 1655.
[Italian.]
Feb. 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
23. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
I regret that a sudden attack of fever prevented me from obeying the orders to go to Leghorn and speak with General Blach. I am relieved to some extent by Blach's intention to sail, and by the uncertainty of finding him in port. As soon as I am able to move I will go to Leghorn and speak with the English consul Longland.
Florence, the 6th February, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 7.
Senato,
Secret
Dispacci,
Francia.
Archives.
24. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
The Protector getting wind of the intention to prorogue for three months the acts of parliament which were to be presented for his assent, with the inclusion of some aimed directly at his authority, without losing any time forestalled their design to confer with him, and on the day before their term of 5 months expired, went to their hall and assembled the members there. When they were all present the Protector addressed them with great determination in a long and domineering discourse. He charged them with ingratitude because when called together to attend to the good of the people and the just requirements of the country they spent their time upon matters already settled, such as that of the present government, of which he is the chief. He would always be the first to shed the last drop of his blood, as he was pledged to do, with no thought of what was malignantly stated to his prejudice that he wished to be proclaimed king; he who had laboured so hard for the destruction of that title, achieved by the grace of God and the goodness of the people. He protested that his only thought was to govern in the position which God and the merit of his deeds had placed him, to propagate justice, the tranquillity of the state and the welfare of the people. They had, in their sessions, rather disserved than assisted these legitimate and commendable objects. Indeed he knew they aimed at disturbing the present quiet, bring division into the army and introduce disturbance, causing notable prejudice to the public and to himself in particular. Their acts proved this and the postponement and reduction of the pay due to the naval and military forces. He therefore saw that it was his duty to put a stop to such pernicious proceedings. He could not do so better than by rebuking the parliament for its failure to do what it ought and by declaring that now its term had arrived it was dissolved and absolutely forbidden to meet any more. At the same moment he had the mace taken away, dismissed the members and ordered the doors of the hall where they met to be closed the next morning. He spoke throughout with great heat and almost went as far as to threaten those who ventured to oppose and to scatter seeds of disturbance and disunion among the military. The members remained dashed and amazed and no one ventured to contradict him. So with a mien full of wrath and contempt the Protector left his place and went straight to his residence. And so this parliament is ended. (fn. 2)
I will not indulge in superfluous reflections upon the opinions and consequence of this step. I will only say that while it still further confirms the Protector's authority and increases it, the number of his enemies will be increased, because the military who looked to parliament will be still further incensed, and the constituencies will be offended by the treatment of their representatives from the way in which the whole parliament was dealt with. In the course of time such points as these might serve to overthrow suddenly the present order, as it is not believed that it can subsist always upon such violent procedure. But so long as the Protector and the power of the army remain united and the troops are content, he will retain his authority and he will hazard everything before he abandons it. He knows full well that he can only subsist by laying great burdens on the people and consequently incurring their hostility. Some venture to say that the ascendancy and prosperity of this man are a scourge from Heaven. Because of such ideas and, to instill increasing respect in the people quantities of troops, both horse and foot, remain in this city and two companies of cavalry have been brought here.
In consequence of the suspicions about the troops in Scotland
3,000 English soldiers have been landed there from Ireland, men entirely devoted to Cromwell and who will remain there for the present. But they may come eventually to London, where one may say more confidently than ever, the sword will decide the form of government and maintain internal peace, a blessing rather desired than enjoyed at the moment.
Definite particulars should soon arrive here about the proceedings nd intentions of the Mediterranean squadron off Leghorn. With regard to that of General Pen I find that it is destined for the West Indies to capture some island or important passage. The arrangement has been made thanks to the information of a Dominican friar who has been in those parts and knows them well, who has had many secret conferences with the Protector on the subject. (fn. 3) The English are attracted to that quarter by more than one reason. The chief is that of interest, presupposing the enterprise to be easy and the prize great and rich. Another is that the Spaniards have always forbidden free trading in those parts, and although it is free and constant for the English in all Spain yet the Protector considers that a state which does not admit freedom of trade or of conscience, as is the case in the West Indies, must be considered hostile. I may add that Gen. Pen is to take 8,000 men on board his fleet at Barbados, who are more accustomed to the climate and so better fitted for the enterprise than men from this extremely cold and phlegmatic clime. This plan seems the definite one.
With the return of an express sent to his king by M. de Bordeaux the adjustment between France and England seems in good train and current report says they are entirely favourable to his Most Christian Majesty. So possibly the expeditions of Blach and Pen, the tone assumed by Bordeaux and the fear of his recall, coupled with his assurances that his sovereign's promises will be punctually performed may have tempered the stiffness of the present negotiations. To meet artifice by artifice it may be that the Protector has recalled the English minister resident in France. He arrived here last Sunday and he may easily and promptly go back again. (fn. 4)
Notwithstanding the squadrons which have sailed a good number of ships remain here ready for service, and particularly to secure the trade and the affairs of this country with the recently discovered conspiracy and the general state of affairs. (fn. 5)
London, the 7th February, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
25. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
I am still suffering from fever but am greatly relieved by the reflection that even if I had gone to Leghorn on Sunday I should not have found General Blach. Having learned that some French corsairs had captured two ships of his nation, without losing a moment of time he sent five of his frigates in search towards the West and set sail himself with the rest of the fleet in an eastern direction. It is reported that he is going to Barbary, but the truth is that the principal English traders themselves do not know for certain what his destination may be, as Blach is a deep sombre man of few words (uomo cupo, melancolico di poco parole). Owing to his advanced age (fn. 6) he never shows himself even on his own ship except when the sun shines, and although invited, he would never go ashore on a single occasion to see the place and gratify his countrymen.
Florence, the 13th February, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 14.
Venetian
Transcript.
Public
Record
Office.
26. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 7)
Since the dissolution of parliament little of importance has happened. The Protector has attended the Council daily, to which he has appointed 20 of his chief supporters, the ablest members of the present government. On the other hand the opposition members of the late parliament have been venting their spleen by posting abusive placards all over London, accusing Cromwell of having despotically dissolved several parliaments and of subsequently violating the rights and charters of the nation. For this reason the people are invited to take up arms to recover their liberties. These incendiary prints were suppressed immediately, but the Protector is intent on discovering their authors, as they show that his enemies are bent on doing him all the harm they can. As parliament had announced its intention to publish a manifesto with particulars of all the acts passed by it and those in contemplation for the relief of the people, the reduction of taxes and of the army, the Protector is determined to prevent the appearance of this paper, by precaution, by threats and by force, as it could not fail to render him and his government even more generally unpopular.
For this reason the government shows increasing vigilance both here and in the country, and consequently every plot devised against Cromwell's ascendancy miscarries. Arrests for the conspiracy continue, and it seems it would have been cruel and bloody. A detailed account of it is now being prepared for publication to show the public that the extreme vigilance of his Highness can always circumvent the most secret projects of his enemies.
The squadron of General Pen is supposed to be near the West Indies, where everyone expects it to strike a heavy blow. As the wind has been fair it is probably now beyond Barbados. But no news has come from Pen and the longer his letters are delayed the greater will be the impatience to learn the result of this expedition. I hear on good authority that the capture by the Spaniards of some English ships beyond the line had a great deal to do with this attack, as the Spanish government refused compensation on the ground that beyond the line trade and jurisdiction alike are the exclusive prerogatives of his Catholic Majesty. The English dispute this by trading in those latitudes by main force and without any sort of scruple.
The adjustment with France is still on the carpet, and the Protector seems the more in favour of it, as a bad understanding with one crown induces friendliness with the other, though the English claim that Spain, France and all the other powers must court their friendship. A treaty with France would certainly give the Protector prestige and considerable advantage, but before closing it seems that he insists on the repayment to English merchants of the sum which they once advanced to the French ambassador at Constantinople, as decided by referees, of whom the late Bailo Contarini was one. (fn. 8) A special envoy from the new king of Sweden, who left Stockholm some weeks ago, is expected here daily, with the ratification of the peace. But however many ministers may be sent here from various Courts, the Protector shows little intention of returning the compliment, and in spite of all he has said about his intentions he will delay as long as he can on several accounts, chiefly prestige, as the longer he waits the more conspicuous will be the power and dignity of his government, so he thinks.
London, the 14th February, 1654. [M.V.]
Postcript: I have just heard that the Protector has sent for a number of the leading London merchants about some important affair of state in which the Genoese ambassador is deeply concerned, (fn. 9) I shall try to learn further particulars.
[Italian.]
Feb. 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
27. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Mercoeur has arrived in Provence with orders to fit out the fleet with all speed, de Neussesses having at length reached Toulon with G warships, which escaped Blach, though he took a fire ship, separated from the main body by a storm. The English fleet also took two merchantmen, but if the negotiations of M. de Bordeaux succeed, as the Cardinal hopes, the French cabinet will turn its thoughts to Italy more seriously than ever. Guise is to command the fleet again, probably to make a fresh attempt on Naples. The Cardinal is anxious to retrieve the check and will try another throw unless the English thwart these projects.
Encloses letter from England. (fn. 10)
Paris, the 16th February, 1655.
[Italian.]
Feb. 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Napoli.
Venetian
Archives.
28. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
The English consul and merchants maintain that the ships of General Blach's force had already left Leghorn for Barbary, in accordance with the custom of that nation even in the time of the late kings, to make a settlement of their interests with the corsairs of Tunis, because the lateness of the season prevented them proceeding to Algiers also with the same object, but being driven back by contrary winds they have returned to the port of Leghorn. Speculative persons reflect that it is not unlikely that the English may have some intrigues with the Turks, prejudicial to Christendom, in respect of the great trade which they have in divers parts of the Turkish states. Their presence in such strength in the Mediterranean, at such a heavy outlay for the necessary maintenance of the fleet makes every one extremely anxious about their proceedings, especially as the campaign has gone so far, and it is reported that another fleet, greater than this, is about to come to unite with Blach, who according to some, has a good understanding with the Spaniards for an undertaking of some kind.
Naples, the 16th February, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
29. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 11)
As the Protector dissolved parliament a few days before its appointed term from intense anxiety to get the management of everything into his own hands, his enemies add this to their numerous charges against him and so try to render him yet more odious to the people, who have at all times shown great reverence for parliament, which they now see ignominiously turned out without any regard for popular sympathy, their rights and liberties being sacrificed to the will of a single individual.
The Protector with his usual acuteness has ascertained this to be the state of public opinion and considering that at the present moment it should be counteracted by address rather than by violence, he circulates statements that he is bent solely on tranquillity and national prosperity which he will increase notably by consolidating the government and increasing freedom of trade for the English all over the world. But these fair promises make little impression, for since the civil wars began the burdens of the nation have constantly increased. So it is probable that the people will always be inclined to seize any opportunity for setting up the old dynasty again, which they anxiously desire, though fate or rather their own mismanagement causes all the conspiracies against the Protector to be detected and come to naught.
From the depositions of the prisoners it seems that this last conspiracy was to have been more bloody than the others, as they aimed at kindling a general civil war. Hope of reward and threats of punishment, though torture is forbidden by the law, have elicited that a great quantity of arms has been forwarded to several parts of the country, some of which were discovered in private houses with commissions signed by the king, clearly proving that he keeps up relations here and the organisation of his part. This secretly gains followers the more arbitrary the government here becomes, and the general opinion is that it cannot long enjoy quiet and the Signory must not expect anything from it unless it quickly decides to send an embassy, and the longer this is delayed the greater will be the difficulties caused by the changes here.
After the dissolution the Protector wanted to reinforce and change the garrisons of some of the chief fortresses and seaports and did so in some places but not in others for at Hull it is stated that the troops declared themselves sufficient for its defence and refused to obey orders, and under the conditions Cromwell thought it impolitic to insist.
Report favours a good understanding with France, confirmed by the steady negotiations of M. de Bordeaux with the commissioners. As a further proof it is stated he has undertaken the payment of 600,000 francs in 25 or 30 days in discharge of the debt due to the English merchants for the ransom of the French ambassador at Constantinople, in accordance with the award made by the foreign ministers. (fn. 12)
No news has come from Gen. Pen, who is certainly bound for South America with the intention, they say, of seizing San Domingo and possibly of attacking any squadrons he may meet. In consequence of this expedition several merchants, creditors of the Spanish crown, have been urging the Protector to grant them letters of marque against all shipping under that flag. He has so far declined, possibly from a wish to maintain peace on this side, though hostilities are proceeding on the other side.
Gen. Blach is said to have left Leghorn after receiving every possible satisfaction from the Grand Duke. He is now supposed to be on his way back to Tunis or Algiers.
I have found out that the Genoese ambassador had instructions to propose the establishment here of a bank or fund, the property of the state for which they required a high rate of interest and security from the London merchants as well. The project was advocated as likely to increase trade and promote friendly intercourse between the two states. Commissioners were appointed to discuss it with the ambassador and several merchants engaged in the Genoa trade were asked to give their opinion. But they did not approve and declined to give their security, so the ambassador dropped the matter. The proposal shows how the Genoese try to employ their capital to the greatest advantage and injure the trade of other countries. Since their quarrel with Spain they are more than ever anxious to stand well with England. But the London merchants trading to Italy do not seem at all inclined to give up a sound business established at Leghorn or elsewhere on the chance of uncertain profits in other places. With the failure of his grand proposal the ambassador is expected to be leaving immediately.
Two leading English merchants, (fn. 13) owners of the ship Anne Bonaventura which has long been in the service of the Signory, came to me lately. They said that before appealing to the Protector they wished to present their claim to the republic for a considerable sum due for the hire of the ship, and also for permission for it to go to Zante to lade currants, already purchased, otherwise they would surfer a heavy loss. I promised to forward this as the English nowadays insist on all their rights and if necessary enforce them. I assured them of the excellent disposition of the republic to the English nation which needed no stimulus to oblige them, upon which they departed.
London, the 22nd February, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
30. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The hint given by Paulucci about the progress of the peace with England is published here with great satisfaction. It is said that fogging the compensation of which he speaks the whole Stuart family is to be expelled, and that when French and English ships meet the weaker is to salute the stronger, which is to the advantage of England. If the treaty is effected, and they say here it is on the eve of ratification, it would be very important for the designs of the Cardinal, who relieved of fear from England and lightened of a burden which distracts his attention, will not fail to redouble his attacks on the Spaniards.
Encloses letter of England as usual.
Paris, the 23rd February, 1655.
[Italian.]
Feb. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Napoli.
Venetian
Archives.
31. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
A rumour is circulating that the Spaniards have arranged a monthly agreement with General Blach for a squadron of the English ships. Some say it is for a certain enterprise, others that it is to oppose the schemes of the French against this kingdom, of whose plans for an invasion the Viceroy has information.
Naples, the 23rd February, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Feb. 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
32. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
As soon as the great fleet of General Pen had sailed the Ambassador Cardines immediately sent a speedy frigate to San Sebastian with despatches directed to the king. In these he announces that the intentions of the Protector Cromwell are to send it to the West Indies as may readily be inferred from the provisions and abundant stores. I am forwarding a copy of this despatch, as Don Luis showed me the original.
This news has caused grave anxiety to the government as with the fleet steering towards the West, even if it does not attack the dominions of the Catholic, it will in any case embarass navigation for them there since at the present time it is certainly impossible for them to secure and defend it. Moreover it might so happen that this force would fall in with the galleons of the fleet. This reflection has a stunning effect upon everyone, for this fleet is the sheet anchor of the monarchy upon which it keeps up its credit and its facilities for raising money. But even if all this should prove to be nothing the Spaniards are losing hope of causing war to break out between England and France, which has been the sole object of all their past and present negotiations. By this time the Marquis of Leide should be in London, his mission being purely complimentary. They will seize the opportunity to obtain a levy of Irish.
Madrid, the 27th February, 1655.
[Italian.]
Feb. 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
33. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
We do not hear that General Blach has left these waters yet, all his announcements being full of cunning.
Florence, the 27th February, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 9th February.
2 On 22 January o.s.
3 Thomas Gage. Thurloe prints his observations on the West Indies, presented to Cromwell. State Papers, iii., pages 59–61. Whitelocke says the expedition was sent by Gage's advice. Memorials, page 621.
4 Augier's nephew and secretary M. Petit. Bordeaux to Brienne on 4 Feb. and Petit's own letter of 22 Feb. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts. There is a warrant to pay him up to 19 Jan. o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, page 601.
5 The last portion of this despatch has suffered much from damp.
6 Blake was born in August, 1598.
7 This letter is not with the Ambassador Sagredo's despatch, No. 315 of the 16th February, as stated. The text is taken from Mr. Rawdon Brown's transcripts, probably copied from the letter book.
8 The money was advanced to pay the debts of Philippe de Harlay, comte de Cesy. See note at page 242 of the preceding Vol. of this Calendar. Alvise Contarini was Bailo at Constantinople from 1636 to 1640.
9 According to Salvetti the London merchants were sent for by the Council and asked if they wished to trade at Genoa and if so, upon what terms. In compliance they drew up a list of their demands in 13 Articles. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 O f. 380.
10 The enclosure is wanting.
11 The original despatch is in a very bad condition, and the text has been revised with the help of Mr. Rawdon Brown's transcript which seems to have been taken from a better manuscript, possibly the Secretary's letter book.
12 i.e. Cesy's debts. See note at page 20 above.
13 The ship was hired for war in March, 1653. Her chief owner was Alderman Samuel Mice Levant Co. Court Book. S.P. For Archives, Vol. 151, f. 266.