Venice
March 1655

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1930

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24-38

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'Venice: March 1655', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 24-38. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89805 Date accessed: 21 August 2014.


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March 1655

March 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
34. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
The country has taken the dissolution of parliament very ill because of the overweening arrogance of the Protector, his scant respect for their members and his disregard of their rights. Some of them have already conveyed their just grievances to the ears of the Protector, and they represent here that the commons are greatly and legitimately offended. These reports, owing to their consequences, have unquestionably impressed the Protector. To soothe them and to justify himself he has printed a manifesto and published it in the city to circulate through the whole kingdom in which he sets forth the just motives and veritable reasons which induced him to take such a step. In spite of the energy and force of this composition one hears his action increasingly condemned, and it may be truly stated that the animosity against him personally has gained fresh impetus.
Another violent measure taken by him with the advice of his Council is the imposition of an extraordinary tax, of
60,000l. sterling for 6 months. It was discussed in parliament but not passed there. It is for the maintenance of the naval and military forces, to be kept up for internal peace and to increase trade. To make collection easier and less felt both here and elsewhere, the amount to be paid by each town and district has been apportioned and the terms fixed. With this deeply interesting subject added to the other grievances suffered by the people opinion is against the Protector continuing to enjoy his smiling and peaceful fortune. At the height of his desires he has been obliged to impose this burden against his wish in order to keep the military in a good humour. Cloaking his personal interests under those of the public he states in the preamble that this step follows the intention of parliament, which corresponded with the articles already approved for the establishment of the government and he aimed at avoiding what would have been necessary for the satisfaction of the troops in the absence of money, namely giving them free quarters in the country.
His Highness has provided against the discontent caused by such a declaration by bringing 2,000 of the oldest and most trusty infantry and a number of cavalry into this city in addition to the numerous forces already there. He was induced to do this by the unfavourable opinions now abroad. The constant arrests and the thorough enquiry into the recent conspiracy convince his Highness of the necessity of keeping on his guard. As it appeared from the depositions that the 20th February in their style was the day fixed for a great attack on the present order, his Highness gave order that on the two nights preceding mounted guards should patrol the city and by his order take away all the horses they found from the most public places and from where they were known to be kept. Quite 1,500 were taken in this way in different parts of the city, and were released again after the appointed day had passed.
Constant fears of this kind and of incessant plots have led to the destruction of over 20 houses and shops here this week. A fire broke out accidentally (fn. 2) and to prevent a crowd gathering troops hurried to the spot. As the people were not allowed to assemble for the prompt extinction of the fire, it quickly extended and destroyed property of very great value. The Mayor and Aldermen of the city were present all the time assisted by their guards and by a body of troops from fear lest a private fire should readily lead to a public one. These fears were extinguished with the fire, but if they disappear from one cause they may arise in force from another. All that one can do is to write with uncertainty about affairs here.
The military whose pay is overdue for several weeks have presented their demands for satisfaction to the Protector. For his own sake he will not fail them and it is said on good authority that he has decided to pay them out of his own pocket, since he knows full well that so long as the military are not openly divided he will remain the master, respected and obeyed, in spite of all the plots and conspiracies within and without this city.
Some 14 or 16 ships of war are all ready to sail to Guinea, to bear witness to the power of England in those parts also it is said they may be intended to follow General Pen to America and that the Protector will take his measures according to the reports which come from that officer.
No word has come from General Blach except that he has sailed from Leghorn and approached Tunis and Algiers again. Your Excellency will have more precise information from the proper quarter.
Nothing more is heard about the negotiations of the Genoese ambassador indeed the talk is rather of his departure than of a long stay. In reply to what your Excellency says in your letter of the 20th I may say that the government here ask that everything said orally shall be put in writing. I consider also that it is the best way, when dealing with those who understand little of foreign affairs and study them less because those at home occupy all their attention, if everything was not set down in English all the offices performed would be thrown away.
I will act as instructed about making representations in respect of the Turkish Chiaus reported to be here for ships. If the government here was conducted like most others I could do this promptly; but foreign ministers here find themselves condemned to exercise extraordinary patience and have to apply to a single new secretary of state, most difficult of access and with scant knowledge of all foreign affairs, like most of the members of the present government. However I will do my duty.
Encloses accounts for January.
London, the 1st March, 1655.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
35. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The election of a new pope, (fn. 3) not ill disposed towards France, and the peace with the English are two requisites calculated to infuse more energy than ever into the design against Italy. But the latter is not yet concluded and hangs in the balance more than ever. The best informed believe that Cromwell's aim is to keep the negotiations with the French on foot but without coming to an agreement, in order to avoid any preoccupations until he has fully consolidated and confirmed the present government in England, enjoying in the mean time the advantage of the booty which the English fleet, with its overwhelming strength, continues to exact from French shipping.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Paris, the 2nd March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archieves.
36. To the Resident at Naples.
Among the happenings in the kingdom that are worthy of observation is the hiring of English ships. These joined with those that are being equipped there will form a very numerous squadron and consequently it is necessary to keep a sharp look out in order to find out what are their real objects and plans.
Ayes, 110. Noes, 1. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
March 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci.
Francia.
Venetian
Archives
37. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 4)
The government here is tossed between hope of appeasing matters internally and its just cause for greater misgivings. The Protector devotes his energies and vigilance to these, to find out the plots and projects of those who object to his absolute position and the constant rise of his fortunes. Thus during this week many of the leading men of those arrested have been brought and examined before him. But he could get nothing out of them except denials of the charges and warm protestations that they meant to keep their oath to the government. They were taken back under strict guard and no further violent measures are contemplated for the moment. The Protector feels his way cautiously, pondering everything. He has taken it extremely ill that some of his Council, who owed their appointment to his favour, have absented themselves from it since the dissolution of the last parliament, without the cause being known.
With a growing fear of the numbers of the malcontents and to provide before hand against any disorders that might occur, while winning confidence and popularity in the city here, he recently sent for the mayor and leading aldermen. After expressing his desire to uphold peace generally and for every individual and to provide against everything likely to disturb it he wished them to be informed in detail of the conspiracies discovered against the public quiet. He had several depositions read to them and showed them commissions found with some letters signed Charles R., to the end that they might take their share in defending the city and in preventing a new and bloody war at which these plots aimed, and for the preservation of the common peace on which their own depended, and which he would always have at heart. He gave them ample powers to set up a committee or magistracy in the city, for a militia and to raise 3,000 men in one or more regiments solely for the defence and safety of London for the command of whom his Highness would appoint a capable man of fidelity and experience. The city fathers expressed their appreciation of the Protector's intentions, thanked him warmly for the powers given them and promised to do all in their power to carry out his commands for the general good. With this they departed to communicate the matter to the Common Council and to decide by a majority of votes what was best to be done. (fn. 5)
By this act of confidence the Protector probably hopes to promote his own interests and to shift from his shoulders' the burden of maintaining and paying punctually the large body of troops that it is necessary to keep constantly in this city. If the city decides to have a considerable force for the preservation of the peace here, it will be their business to provide the pay, while the commander will always be a creature of the Protector who will thus be able to issue the orders that best suit his purpose and who will thus have at his disposal those whose duty it is to guard the city, and to distribute them in other important parts of the country. The issue is awaited with curiosity, as a thing so obviously to his personal advantage involving such considerable consequences is not altogether well received.
There has been a great deal of suppressed grumbling over the extraordinary tax recently imposed by his Highness, but it has died away owing to the great number of troops now in the city, introduced primarily to suppress any concerted disturbances, and secondarily to compel the people to pay their quotas of this tax, supposing they objected to do so, which is appropriated exclusively to the maintenance of the naval and military forces. So from fear of the consequences the people seem rather disposed than reluctant to pay what is demanded.
In spite of the favourable reports abroad opinion this week is divided between hope and fear about the issue of the negotiations with France. This is largely because of their high claims here in the matter of the Huguenots and for the absolute exclusion of the Stuart family from France. They have noted with suspicion the cordial reception by the king there of the Duke of York, a prince of high spirit who has now had experience in the art of war. We should know very soon whether these prolonged and important negotiations have terminated successfully or been entirely broken off.
Some of the leaders of the opposition in Scotland were treating with General Monch to lay down their arms, but terms could not be arranged and the general writes that negotiations are entirely broken off, and that the rebels are constantly trying to get reinforcements, but with scant success, because he does not lose sight of them and blocks every avenue.
By the advice of the Admiralty judges the Protector has decided not to grant letters of reprisals to the merchants to whom his Catholic Majesty is indebted, who have repeatedly asked for them. It is found that by the civil law and the laws of war also these cannot be granted without previous notice to his Majesty to give satisfaction to his creditors; so this will probably be done before anything else. The Catholic minister here is deeply distressed at what he hears of the intentions of the government to attack his master's dominions, although until the negotiations with France are definitely ended or settled it seems probable that they will proceed with some deliberation in the naval plans reported.
I will keep on the alert for any one coming from the Levant for ships, but I fancy he would have scant success. The decision of some English ships to serve in the Turkish fleet in past years was exceedingly reprobated. The minister sent to Constantinople by the late king (fn. 6) has been charged with grave misdemeanour on that account, and when he is removed it is thought that he will not venture to come here for that very reason. I will perform the offices your Excellency directs, but I must repeat that here one sighs and longs for opportunities to discharge one's duties and since the dissolution of parliament difficulties, reserve, jealousy and suspicion have augmented.
London, the 8th March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Napoli.
Venetian
Archives
38. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
The Viceroy has taken a galley to go to Baia to hasten on the repair of the vessels there so that they may be got ready with the greatest possible speed. It seems that these Spanish ministers are beginning to feel doubtful over the proceedings of General Blach, whose plans it is not easy to find out. He does not even communicate them to the captains of the ships under his command, and it is understood that he merely shows them the letters with the seal of the Protector Cromwell, without allowing them to see the contents, and he does not take them into his confidence in any matter except as to the place of rendezvous in case the ships are scattered by a storm at sea. The suspicions of the Spanish ministers are the more aroused at seeing the English merchants here hurriedly closing up their affairs, sending their effects for safety elsewhere, even at a considerable loss.
Naples, the 9th March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 12.
Senato,
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives
39. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
To help your Serenity to decide about intercourse with England I send the following particulars. When King Charles was expelled from Paris, to please Cromwell, he went to live at Cologne. The malcontents in England kept on assuring him of their devotion and their detestation of the military despotism under which they now groan. To encourage these sentiments the king sent several confidential agents to England and Scotland, and as they confirmed the universal detestation of the government and the impatience of the people for their natural sovereign, he decided to leave Cologne in disguise with only four gentlemen and embarked on board a Dutch vessel in Holland. The general belief is that he has shaped his course to some English seaport, whose inhabitants are especially attached to him, while others say he has gone to Scotland, which formerly acknowledged him as its legitimate king.
From the attendants of the king's mother here I gather that the hopes of her son rest not merely on the unpopularity of the present government but on the assistance of the nobility, who are hated and ill treated, as well as on the general resentment in all the counties at the dissolution of parliament and the contempt shown to their members. Cromwell respects nothing but the army, composed of men of the lowest birth, but raised by him to the highest grades so that they may recognise him as the sole author of their fortune and consequently exert themselves more warmly for his support.
The step taken by King Charles is generally considered very bold and hazardous, but his Majesty has more courage to brave danger than patience to suffer wrongs, protracted beyond measure.
Paris, the 12th March, 1055.
[Italian.]
March 13.
Senato,
Secret a.
Dispacci,
Spagna
Venetian
Archives.
40. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
There is no longer room for doubt that the force of General Pen has sailed for the West. The Spaniards are confounded at this beyond expression and recognise that they are unable to prevent the plans of the English. But they say that the commerce of the Indies and the traffic of the Northerners in those parts does not amount to a declaration of war, as past experience has clearly demonstrated. At the same time they are very apprehensive about the imminent peril to the fleet because a ship has arrived with a statement that up to the 2nd of November the silver had not arrived at Panama, so that the galleons would not be able to return to Spain before the month of June. In the mean time the English merchants here are beginning to move cautiously over their remittances and are holding back in their trading at the ports, being only too fearful of what may ensue.
Madrid, the 13th March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 13.
Senato, Secreta.
Dispacci,
Zurigo.
Venetian
Archives.
41. Antonio di Negri, Venetian Resident at Zurich, to the Doge and Senate.
The English minister (fn. 7) continues his stay here, but without any business, so far as I can gather, and only waiting for orders from Cromwell for his return home, or a commission to stop. He remarked to one who afterwards repeated it to me in confidence, that he heard from London that the leading men there would be glad to see an embassy from the most serene republic, since other kings and princes are sending ambassadors with ceremony. He went on to say, apparently on his own account, that your Excellencies might receive great advantages from England under present circumstances, since it is thought that General Blach may easily remain for some time in the Mediterranean to avenge the injuries done to that nation and to release a number of prisoners.
Zurich, the 13th March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
42. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France, (fn. 8) To make absolutely certain of quiet at home and to establish his own arbitrary power the more securely, some leading men, who had retired some time since to live in the country and who are suspected of a share in this last conspiracy, have been suddenly arrested by order of the Protector. Chief among them is the eldest son of the Earl of Stanford, (fn. 9) a man of noble birth, considerable following and high spirit, but very apt to stir up disorder and restlessness. To help himself and to dissipate evil humours he recently had Maj. Gen. Harrison and other prisoners of account brought before him and examined about their objects and the charges against them. They all repeated their denials and refused to give a fresh oath or pledge themselves to keep the peace. They were accordingly removed from the prisons here and sent separately under a strong escort of horse to distant places of greater strength. In this manner the Protector considers that he has in a great measure destroyed the seeds of plots and of the dreaded internal disturbances, confirming his own absolute rule. In order to put a stop to any kind of gathering which might favour the designs of malcontents and enemies of the general tranquillity, his Highness has forbidden by proclamation for the next six months any public market for horses, which were the occasion of numerous gatherings in several parts of the kingdom, from fear lest these should serve as a pretext for meetings and plots. By such means Cromwell neglects nothing for putting a stop to evil designs prejudicial in the first instance to his own rule and in the second to the quiet of the community. He has taken his measures in such a way that so far they have been punctually carried out in spite of a general objection, through the favour and fear of the great dominant force which rules over every part of this kingdom and over persons of every condition.
The mayor here communicated to the Common Council the intention of his Highness to set up a magistracy of militia with power to raise 3,000 soldiers for the protection of the city and it was adopted by a majority of votes. A deputation went to inform the Protector of the result. They first thanked his Highness for his care for the general good and security of the individual and assured him that they would proceed in the most expeditious manner to carry his wishes into effect, in which they would be ruled entirely by his Highness's commands, so that this occasion may serve to show him the devotion, loyalty and affection of the whole city of London. The Protector seemed extraordinarily gratified at these remarks, considering it an assurance of the good feeling of the people. He insisted on the uprightness of his intentions which were always directed to secure the good of the community and of each individual. It has been decided to divide the 3,000 men into three regiments, and a colonel has already been appointed for each. These are all creatures of the Protector and the chief one is among the most confidential and accredited members of his Council, (fn. 10) In this way he counts on securing himself absolutely and ensuring his position against the very worst that can happen in this city. I may tell your Excellency that London dissimulates and puts up with these burdens from fear of worse and the misgiving that if they took any rash step they would be the first to suffer and to lose their goods and liberties. This is the most potent consideration which induces them to bear their sufferings and remain obedient, though they certainly will not neglect any favourable opportunity for recovering their former liberty and privileges.
The day before yesterday was Shrove Tuesday according to their reckoning here, on which the young apprentices of London are allowed great liberties. (fn. 11) To prevent any excessive gathering of these and to put a stop to any possible attack by them against houses and people of ill repute, his Highness directed three large companies of horse to march through the city, and bodies of mounted men were kept moving in every part of it, to observe and control and to bring to naught any evil designs.
I can report nothing definite about the adjustment with France. Hope rather seems to have declined these last days. The reply to letters sent express to his Majesty by M. de Bordeaux may possibly make known something definite in this long drawn out affair. I have just heard that in addition to the claims reported the English demand the total abandonment of all Canada. The views of France on the subject are not known though they think here that the approach of the campaigning season may assist their demands considerably towards getting satisfaction. The Catholic minister watches the issue with an anxiety justified by the importance of the affair. He has confirmed the coming of an ambassador extraordinary from his king, people suppose in order to do his utmost for his master's interests, but they think here that his arrival, whenever it comes, will have little effect in diverting General Pen's fleet from the proposed enterprise towards America, for which they have embarked at the island of Barbados over 8,000 men, whom they are now trying to replace from here with liberal promises and offers to those who choose to go.
Two days of this week the Protector has passed at Hampton Court Palace to honour with his presence the wedding of one of his nieces to a leading Scottish colonel. (fn. 12)
I have nothing more to add except to renew my petition for supplies, as I do not know how I can subsist without, more particularly in a country in which creditors employ force to recover their debts, without regard for persons or rank. I hope your next will bring the necessary succour as I am reduced to extremity.
London, the 15th March, 1655.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
43. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Although Paulucci says nothing of the king of England, he certainly embarked in Holland, and as the queen, his mother, has received no news of his landing, she is very anxious and fears that some accident may have befallen him on the way. His Majesty intended to cross to Hull, where, from its vicinity to Scotland, he would have been able to ascertain what reliance could be placed on the prospects held out to him from that country.
Paulucci's letter enclosed.
Paris, the 16th March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 16.
Senato,
Dispacci,
Napoli.
Venetian
Archives.
44. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
News has come from Milan that the governor there has sent troops towards the state of Modena, whose arming is strongly resented by the ministers here. They seem to suspect some union of that prince with France, England, Germany and Parma to the detriment of the House of Austria. Don Carlo della Gatta, General Maitre du Champ, has promised the Viceroy to have 8,000 combatants ready for every eventuality. Meanwhile a report is current that General Blach, on his voyage towards Barbary, having desired to enter a port of Sicily for refreshments, has been denied the entry, with his consorts.
Naples, the 16th March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 20.
Senato.
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian.
Archives.
45. To the Resident at Naples.
The reserve of General Blach in not allowing any one to penetrate his plans calls for so much the greater observation. You will therefore keep on the alert and also ascertain the sentiments of the ministers there about his operations, advising us punctually of everything.
Ayes, 104. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
March 20.
Senato.
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian.
Archives.
46. To the Ambassador in France.
In Pauluzzi's letter we note the appeal with respect to the ship Anna Bonarentura. This vessel was paid off some weeks ago and a portion of the money due has been paid, and the payments will continue.
Ayes, 104. Noes. 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
March 20.
Senato.
Secreta.
Dispacci.
Spagna.
Venetian.
Archives.
47. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Before the sailing of the English fleet to the island of Barbados Cromwell wrote a letter to his Catholic Majesty which he had presented by Colonel Balt. In this he states that divers English merchants were pressing him for satisfaction for money due to them in Spain and he, as Protector of the Realms, desired the adjustment of these heavy accounts. It seems that a certain Ricaut in London asked for letters of marque against the Spaniards for this purpose and the Ambassador Cardenas reports that with great difficulty he prevented their being granted.
After discussing the matter for several days in the Council of State they decided to send remittances for 100,000 reals to the ambassador for the purpose of mitigating these claims and to avoid any mischief that might ensue to the galleons of the fleet. In the mean time a ship of advice has been despatched from Cadiz with orders to throw themselves at all hazards into the port of San Domingo or into some part of the island of Hispaniola.
Madrid, the 20th March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 22. Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
48. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 13)
Mindful of your Excellency's commands I took a favourable opportunity to ask Sir [Oliver] Fleming if there was any truth in the report that some one was coming here from Constantinople for ships. I said it was not credited and the republic hoped that even if they received no help in their fight in defence of all Christendom nothing would be done by England to their prejudice, especially as the Senate had decided to send a fully qualified minister here to establish mutual relations of cordiality. Fleming replied that they had always admired the fight made by the republic but were rather astonished at her slowness in coming to a decision, which militated against her interests. The Senate knew the disadvantages of delay and they could not understand the reason for it here. I broke in at once to say that the republic showed its friendly disposition by appointing an ambassador extraordinary, but the constitution required a certain number of votes, and the lack of only one delayed a decision, though the intention of the Senate remained constant. Fleming replied, No more of that, and said that his remarks were merely in the way of confidential conversation. If any one came here from the Turks he knew the reply he would get. He could not deny that some one was expected who was sent to complain of English ships serving the republic against the Turks, but he assured me that in this as in everything else the republic would find the Protector her sincere friend. I replied that the doge was sure of this and the zeal of good Christians was called upon to aid the republic. In parting from me Fleming remarked that the time to act here would be when they were definitely asked to do so.
I have since learned from the Resident of Parma, (fn. 14) formerly in Paris and now urgently summoned home, that Fleming spoke to him to the same effect, adding that he could not make out what the republic was about because since I first led them to expect an ambassador there had been time for one to have come and gone again, and the delay could only injure her interests. This goes to indicate their real sentiments and intentions here and so that you may tell me what to do. I continue to maintain that the Signory is most anxious for friendly correspondence.
By using force with some and mildness with others the Protector seems to have stopped a serious internal upheaval. Every day his absolute sway becomes more and more established, everything is done according to his good pleasure and he has found ready money to pay the troops. It seems that some officers of the army, suspected of intelligence with other conspirators, have been arrested by order of his Highness. He is now intent on committing the others to protect his own personal interests by an oath of fealty to the present government. In England and Scotland they still continue to arrest those who are merely suspected of disaffection. Thus by dint of keeping the people in fear of armed force, by holding the disaffected in his power and ensuring that the remaining great ones of the kingdom are subdued and apprehensive the Protector is setting his feet firmly on the foundation of an absolute rule. Although they say here that it will not be permanent, he cares little for that, since he intends to enjoy the present as much as he can without troubling about his posterity, who have no aptitude and less inclination for great affairs and are content with the rank and honour they enjoy under the powerful and dominating shadow of their father.
They are very busy here over the completion of a number of frigates for war, ordered some time since. It is reckoned that 30 entirely new ones, fully equipped, will be ready for sea in a few days. To make up their crews some sailors are taken from every merchantman that arrives. One of the most powerful galleons ever built here will soon be issuing from the stocks, with the name of Great Oliver, carrying 115 guns and undoutedly larger than the Sovereign built for the late king. (fn. 15) A speedy adjustment or a sudden rupture with France will decide their being larger or smaller (il pronto aggiustamento o pronta, rottura con la Francia dovera suggerirle e piu grandi e piu picciole) and it is chiefly for this reason that they want to know the issue soon. For some days past the recent hopefulness has given way to an almost desperate situation and there has been great activity in all naval affairs, especially since the departure of the two fleets.
I do not hear of the Genoese ambassador making much progress. His chief business is merely to get commercial advantages for the port of Genoa and a good understanding with this country. He does not get all the satisfaction claimed before his arrival. Probably all who are hoping to get something out of England just now will have the same experience, as although England is now strong enough to do a great deal for others, all her measures are aimed at gaining advantage and reputation for herself.
Begs again for supplies, which are now over three months in arrear.
London, the 22nd March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
49. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Since his embarcation in Holland no news has arrived here of the landing of the king of England, so his mother is in a state of great anxiety and impatience.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Paris, the 23rd March, 1655.
[Italian.]
March 28. Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
50. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 16)
This letter will differ little from the preceding ones. Upon receiving a report that King Charles had left Cologne with the intention of throwing himself into one of the principal ports and fortresses, the Protector immediately took steps to prevent it, with his usual vigilance, giving orders for increased activity everywhere. In this city similarly they have intensified their watchfulness, as shown by the doubling of the guards and the numerous arrests and examinations of malcontents. One night recently the Protector suddenly had all the horses seized that were found in different places and taken to others. Those which belonged to their lawful owners, above suspicion, and those hired, were released the next morning, but a good
number remained in the hands of the military, and upon these they immediately mounted foot soldiers, who will serve as dragoons. This uncertain news has undoubtedly led to these measures and precautions, and the Protector has also issued orders that no one shall leave or enter the country without a most careful perquisition.
Following upon this report, which is now considered unsubstantial, definite and authentic news has come of considerable insurrections in some of the provinces, and notably about Salisbury, where the people have gone to great lengths in their violence and rebellion. It is the custom for the judges to make a tour of England from this city to decide civil and criminal causes. The populace have laid hands on them, dealing roughly with them and demanding boldly by what authority they are acting. When they produced their patents, these were rejected with scorn, and the people boldly stated that they wished to be governed by a king, their lawful master and not by a tyrant and usurper. At the same time they laid hands on the horses of the judges and of many others who had come to that city for their suits. (fn. 17)
Such news has caused great alarm to the Protector and to all the present government. To put a stop to this mischief which might lead easily to more tragic events if unchecked, calculated to upset completely the general quiet, a considerable force of horse was despatched at once, with some infantry, to meet force by force and reduce the people to obedience. But it is feared that this may be difficult and prove more bloody than was expected, as we hear that the number of insurgents increases daily, encouraged by the general approval and by the imitation of other places in the neighbourhood. They might easily join forces and with the conflagration spreading a civil war might break out unless the Protector succeeds in promptly nipping this mischief in the bud. So further news is awaited at any moment, and meanwhile all external interests are put aside since internal ones demand more than all their attention, and in the general opinion may demand more.
In this crisis they wish the fleets were not so far away, particularly that of General Pen. According to report he has reached Todos los Santos, though by another account his ships have suffered severely in a storm and a good number of them have been compelled to return to Barbados. So further particulars are awaited with interest.
It is said that the Protector has sent to recall General Blach. It is supposed that his Highness's confidence in that officer may have prompted this step, from foreseeing that if troubles increase in this country he may need the naval forces and the land as well. It will always be a great piece of good fortune for the Protector when he can rely on loyal and devoted service from both, but it is not yet clear what one may really believe.
This city is proceeding with the recruiting of the men for its guard. The mayor and leading men recently went to inform the Protector of their choice of officers, whom his Highness accepted. They are pursuing this matter with energy, as the situation indeed requires. Meanwhile quiet reigns here. Intrigue is rife but hidden: but force and fear of the military make them keep quiet and onlookers rather than talkers and grumblers, and undoubtedly there is more plotting than definite action. It is quite likely that the obedience of this city will do much towards the support and success of other great undertakings.
Little or nothing is said just now about the adjustment with France; but I must represent that with these disturbances everyone wishes his commitments to be as small as possible and accordingly I find my creditors more pressing for the money due to them for my subsistence, now running for four months. I beg for assistance to avoid the violence to which I may be exposed or from the necessity of dismissing my household.
Encloses accounts for February.
London, the 28th March, 1655.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
51. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Nothing certain is yet known about the king of England. Letters from Flanders say he has gone over to Scotland, and is in hiding among his faithful adherents. Reports from Holland state that on hearing that the English coast was guarded by Cromwell's cruisers, for the purpose of seizing him, he again took shelter in Holland and is now sick at Utrecht. Paulucci's letter which does not agree with earlier ones, shows the effect of the news in England. At the same time as the king has neither arms nor money his hopes rest on a general insurrection capable of overwhelming the army, without which it would be impossible for his Majesty to seize a chain of fortresses, unless he sows dissension in the army and by gaining some leader contrives to weaken the enemy at his strongest point.
A ship has arrived from America with news that after shipping reinforcements at Barbados, the English fleet was going to attack St. Kitts, a French island, whose governor the Marquis de Poensi, (fn. 18) promises to make good defence. But the strength and numerical superiority of the English make the loss of the island certain.
[Paulucci's letter enclosed.]
Paris, the 30th March, 1655.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 2nd March.
2 On Monday, 22 February N.S. It began in Fleet Street next the Red Lion Inn and burned near 20 houses from Horn Tavern, near Fetter Lane. Salvetti on 26 Feb. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 O f. 389. Whitelocke: Memorials, page 618. Several Proceedings of State Affairs, 13 Feb.
3 Innocent X died on 5 January. His successor, Alexander VII (Fabio Chigi), a personal enemy of Mazarin, was not chosen until 7th April. Ranke: History of the Popes (Bohn), Vol. ii., pages 329, 331.
4 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 9th March.
5 Cromwell sent for the Lord Mayor and Council on 13/23 February. The commission for the militia was issued on February 15/25. Skippon was to have the chief command. Cat. S.P. Dom. 1655, page 43. Whitelocke: Memorials, page 618.
6 Sir Thomas Bendish. His recall was decided but had not taken effect,
7 John Pell.
8 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 16th March.
9 Thomas baron Grey of Groby, eldest son of Henry Grey, earl of Stamford.
10 Maj. Gen. Philip Skippon.
11 March 15 N.S. was a Monday. It appears from his despatch of the 30th April below that Easter in England was celebrated on 15/25 April this year and so Shrove Tuesday would be on 9 March N.S
12 Col. William Lockhart married Robina daughter of John Sewster of Wistow at St. Martin's in the Fields on 22 February O.S. Her mother was Cromwell's sister Anna. Carlyle: Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, i., p. 236; v., p. 81.
13 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 23rd March.
14 Leonardo Villere, according to Salvetti ho was a Greek. Brit. Mus, Add, MSS, 27962 O f. 383.
15 The ship was named the Naseby; built by Pett at Woolwich, gross tonnage 1638, guns 80. Oppenheim: Administration of the Royal Navy, pages 336–7. The Sovereign of the Seas, built in 1637, gross tonnage 1522, guns 100. Id., page 255.
16 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 30th March.
17 On the 12/22 March.
18 Pierre Giraud, Seigneur de Poincy.