Venice
May 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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52-61

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'Venice: May 1655', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 52-61. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89807 Date accessed: 27 November 2014.


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May 1655

May 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
68. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Two of the royalist leaders from England have had the good fortune to reach this court by assuming a disguise. (fn. 1) To the chagrin of the Queen Mother they report the cause of her son to be at its lowest ebb. As a consequence they are making haste here to come to terms with Cromwell. Besides the express mentioned by Paulucci his Eminence has sent another to expedite the settlement of the treaty, for which he is impatient, while the Protector delays and protracts with the most tedious inactivity.
A settlement is desired on two grounds, first, to get rid of the dread of naval hostilities from England, so that the attack on Spain, especially in Italy, may be made with more energy; second, the Cardinal imagines that peace between England and France will be the prelude to a rupture between Cromwell and Spain, owing to Pen's attack in the West Indies, which the Ambassador Bordeaux has repeatedly urged, for the opinion here is that an attack in the quarter which supplies Spain with the life blood for her vast monarchy must greatly weaken the power of the Catholic and facilitate the attacks meditated by France.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Paris, the 4th May, 1655.
[Italian.]
May 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
69. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 2)
Nothing considerable has happened since the conspiracy but they are still proceeding with the trial and condemnation of the offenders. The ringleaders, who have more capacity than the rest, defend themselves boldly declaring that they cannot be accused or condemned of high treason for their action taken in defence of their country and its liberty, for which it is the right and duty of every good citizen to exert himself. This line of defence has delayed the commissioners from pronouncing sentence against the leaders, and although many of the followers have already been condemned, round Salisbury, in Yorkshire and in Oxem, yet they have not as yet executed any one. The commissioners have submitted to the Protector for consideration the character of this defence with other weighty considerations, which may possibly induce his Highness to show himself more compassionate than previously in the matter of the death penalty, more especially as he may consider it enough to have so soon calmed the stormy sea, stirred by the late insurrections, with great glory to himself and the consolidation of his authority.
As I reported he has been contemplating something for the direction and requirements of the state, but so far he has not decided on anything, as the present quiet at home gives him good reason to refer the decision to a time of greater need, and attend to more pressing business, namely the more complete consolidation of his position.
Although the election of a new pope (fn. 3) has not touched them here, yet the general report that he is a man of exalted rank who favours the quiet and repose of Christendom seems to have caused the government here some misgiving that peace and unity might ensue through the influence both temporal and spiritual of such a prince. It has come to my knowledge that the Protector has selected an individual (fn. 4) on purpose to go to Rome, to observe secretly and report in detail all that he can discover about the ideas and plans of the present pope, as the government here well knows that the worst mischiefs and disorders are hatched and contrived in that quarter more than anywhere else (che da quella parte piu che d'ogni altra vengono procurati e giurati i torti e mall' hori piu grandi). I consider it my duty to report this though it lacks confirmation.
Meanwhile the Protector intends to keep Blach in the Mediterranean with his fleet, which they keep supplied with reinforcements and all the most necessary provisions. News has come that they have received every mark of honour and respect from the pirates of Algiers and Tunis, and they hope to obtain complete satisfaction of their claims.
At a definite statement from the ordinary ambassador that the Marquis of Leyde, governor of Dunkirk, was ready to cross in his capacity of ambassador extraordinary of his Catholic Majesty, the Protector promptly despatched a war frigate to escort him. (fn. 5) He is expected here any day and the house lately occupied by the Genoese ambassador has been taken for him. It is conjectured that besides complimenting the Protector he may open negotiations of sufficient importance to stop or at least to suspend the designs of this government against his Majesty's dominions, and at the same time to prevent an adjustment with France, which still remains uncertain, so that one cannot form a definite opinion.
Since his unfortunate audience the minister of Poland has made no further progress with his negotiations. Although it is understood that an envoy from Transylvania (fn. 6) has arrived here on purpose to unite with him in pleading the cause of the Poles, it is not believed that this will make any change in their disinclination here to do anything for that monarch, for reasons already given.
A third great fire has occurred in this city, hardly less than the other two, destroying over 20 houses, great and small, and some lives being lost. (fn. 7) Such fearful disasters are ascribed here to the judgment of Heaven on the ungodly and the enemies of the Protector do not hesitate to make use of them by saying that these things happen by his will as he wants to keep London in affliction so that he may the better subdue it to his will. Others again assert that these calamities are the work of the extremists of the royal party who want to see everything upset and destroyed. But any one who speaks his opinion freely is arrested and punished, so the majority conceal their ill will, and only the minority disclose it and put it in action to the prejudice of the repose and authority of his Highness.
At his last gasp for lack of supplies, with his debts constantly increasing. Obliged to appeal with shame to one and another for the means of subsistence.
London, the 7th May, 1655.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
May 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
70. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 8)
The only news this week is a severe proclamation (fn. 9) that all the laws and ordinances against the Roman Catholics shall be put in execution, with special instructions to the pursuivants to perform their duties punctually, more especially in giving to all professing Catholics over 20 an oath abjuring the supreme authority of the pope over the Catholic Church in general, denying transubstantiation, any kind of Purgatory and every honour done to the host, crucifix and other images; to express the belief that salvation cannot come from good works or doctrines, and to make the abjuration without any mental reservation. This oath will be given to all suspected of a leaning to the Catholic faith, and proceedings will be taken against those who refuse it, and against their goods, in conformity with the acts of the late parliament. All administrators, mayors, judges and other officials are charged to assist in this work for the good and security of the people and to put down the audacity of the Papists who venture, despite the severe laws, to proselytise for the Roman Church and its superstitious and idolatrous practices. By this proclamation the Protector and government aim at putting a stop to the progress of the Catholic faith in this country, which is now considerable, to reduce the native Catholics to ever greater straits and to deprive them of the scanty property left to them for their support merely. It is not improbable that the universal acclamations at the election of the new pope may have aroused some apprehension here because of the talk about his designs for the good of Christendom and for the exaltation of the Catholic faith, whereby even worse confusion might result here, though it may be stated that it is extreme in spite of this precaution.
This week a list has reached the Protector of all the persons arrested in various parts of the country and suspected of complicity in the late risings. They number 150 in all. Many will remain in prison a long while, others may be released promptly. The Protector hesitates about inflicting the death penalty. The arguments of those clever enough to defend themselves will have assisted all the rest. The boldest and most intelligent maintain that so long as the government was conducted under republican forms under the control of parliament, no one thought of a change likely to upset it. But when changes were made contrary to faith and the promises given, they had to consider their duty to parliament and to the laws made by parliament, namely that whoever ventured to suggest a single ruler without the consent of parliament should be considered guilty of high treason. Finding matters reduced to this pass in contempt of the old laws and the new ones, those who stood for the defence of liberty and the observation of the laws could not be considered guilty of treason for so doing. If any one deserved punishment for violating the laws, just and impartial judges would know where the fault lay and who ought to be punished first. The force of these arguments, which his Highness recognises, have led to a mitigation of the punishments. The judges report everything to the Protector, who seems rather mollified than incensed over this affair which he suppressed with so much good fortune, a fact which makes him respected as her favourite and consequently revered and obeyed.
An adjustment with France was announced this week, but this does not appear on examination to be perfectly clear, though it will either be arranged or utterly upset. The long delay excites astonishment and most people imagine that if the English cannot obtain from the French all the satisfaction they claim, even if some agreement is reached about freedom and security for trade, something might easily occur to upset everything, on a sudden. The event will show.
It is reported that General Pen's fleet is a short distance from Barbados. All the ships are in good condition and they are busy seizing all the French and Dutch ships they meet and destroying all other foreigners. They justify this by an announcement of their government issued some time ago forbidding any foreigners to trade at that island. It seems that there has been a considerable outcry at Amsterdam over this, in view of the peace with England, so we shall see what results. It is also reported that the Spanish galleons with plate have so far escaped an encounter with that fleet, and are so far on their way that the English cannot now harm them. If this proves true it will not please them here.
The Spanish ambassador extraordinary (fn. 10) has arrived at Dover and is expected here. Everything is ready for his reception and I expect to go and pay him my respects like the other foreign ministers.
Again appeals for assistance in his difficulties.
London, the 15th May, 1655.
[Italian.]
May 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
71. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Marquis of Leidem, Count Tot and the Marquis of S. Steffano all left Brussels on the same day to embark at Dunkirk for London. The first named is ambassador from the archduke not only for affairs of Flanders, but to avert any evil designs Cromwell may entertain against the Indies and to watch and check the movements of Admiral Pen's fleet. Count Tot is charged to compliment the government in the name of the queen of Sweden. The Marquis of S. Steffano has been sent by the Prince of Condé to represent to Cromwell how favourable the present moment would be for him to invade France, now that hostilities with Spain compel her to leave several of her ports at the mercy of England.
The simultaneous departure of these three induces a belief that they have the same object in view and that they will all work against France. Meanwhile Bordeaux continues to treat in London, but without concluding anything, Cromwell's aim being to gain time and to fan the flame between France and Spain, because it makes both of them fear and court him. Condé's envoy is also charged to explain to Cromwell the plans of the Cardinal, his undertakings in Flanders, in Catalonia and in Italy, and to hint that the French armies, which are constantly being augmented, ought to render England suspicious, both from ancient rivalry and from the close connection with the late king's heirs, and her consequent dislike of the present government. Here they parry these thrusts by inviting Cromwell to seize the favourable opportunity for conquering the best part of the Indies, promising him cordial support.
Encloses letter of England.
S. Lonar, the 18th May, 1655.
[Italian.]
May 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
72. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A great barque has anchored at Cadiz which was going to the Mediterranean with despatches of the Protector Cromwell, to be delivered to General Blach. The master had orders to throw the letters into the sea if he should fall in with French ships.
Various items of news and this present mission provide very clear indications for remarking that while the Levant Company in London is taking steps to send an ambassador to Constantinople they are aiming at planting a warehouse or mart on the coast of Barbary in order to unlade there all the merchandise which they are accustomed to bring from Syria and Cairo to lade them subsequently upon other squadrons of English ships, and in this way to halve that long and tiresome voyage.
Madrid, the 22nd May, 1655.
[Italian.]
May 23.
Senato,
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
73. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 11) The assumption by the Protector of the royal title is desired by the people here in great measure and by the leading ministers, though unpopular with a large section of the army. It certainly befits the supreme authority which he exercises increasingly in every department. Circumstances favour such a step as although his Highness seems rather reluctant than ambitious to take it, his confidants and especially those who understand and direct the affairs of the state tell him plainly that as England has always been ruled by a monarch and all its fundamental laws are instituted in consideration of that, the affairs of the realm cannot proceed with the necessary smoothness in the absence of a king, and the laws lack the force imparted to them by the royal assent. If these were sufficient upon occasion to restrain the far reaching designs and violent measures of a king, they could not do so with a Protector, not having been made with him in view. So to avoid greater disorder in the management of the kingdom and to enable the laws to have their proper force Cromwell is invited and almost pressed to take the royal title, and with this idea they are adroitly arranging the other important charges of the kingdom, subordinated to the royal authority.
I cannot presume to say what the Protector's decision will be but this much is certain that the majority would like to see this done for the sake of making a definite settlement and so rescuing all public and private interests from further confusion. But the opinion of the army will really decide this question and the Protector will probably conform to it. Even if the title is altered there will be little change in the government, because the authority of the Protector will not be greater but rather less and bound by the law which at present does not bind him. This consideration may possibly nullify the inducements and before deciding Cromwell's crafty spirit will carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the step and will certainly decide for what secures his own position. Amid these rumours every one is waiting to see what will happen. Meanwhile the Protector has remitted the death penalty to several persons condemned for the late risings, and although it is announced here that some poor unfortunates have suffered death, this is believed to be untrue and only a politic device to damp the bold spirits of those who might incline to stir up more internal trouble. For this same reason some of the less important prisoners may ultimately pay for their rebellion by the loss of their lives.
The accord with France was about to be signed when on a closer examination of the articles in the presence of M. de Bordeaux by the commissioners of the Council, an unexpected difference about some of them upset the business and left the affair undetermined. On the following day the ambassador asked for audience of the Protector in order to break off everything and take leave. The Dutch ambassador is said to have prevented a rupture and to have contrived that instead of the proposed audience, which the Protector granted, the ambassador should again meet the commissioners; but the treaty still remains undetermined. This is considered an expedient due to the adroitness of the Protector, to give him a few days to get some light upon the proposals of the Catholic ambassador extraordinary. It is firmly believed that his mission, which is announced as merely complimentary, may cover some important negotiations here. In this way the two crowns play against each other more and more and the Protector aims at culling notable advantages from his negotiations with each of them.
This same ambassador, the Marquis of Leyde, made his public entry here last Saturday in the coaches of his Highness, followed by 60 others. He appeared with a noble following of gentlemen and numerous footmen dressed in a rich livery, as well as many others of his Highness, who all followed him bare-headed to the state residence, (fn. 12) where, according to custom, he was defrayed for three days. He had his first audience of the Protector yesterday, which was merely complimentary. I will pay my respects to him in imitation of the other foreign ministers.
We hear that a frigate has been sent back express to General Blach with orders to remain off the coast of Barbary and continue to insist boldly upon the pirates of Algiers and Tunis releasing the English slaves and granting the other demands. It is to be hoped that the English will not succeed in this because of the advantage to Christendom if Blach were obliged to punish their temerity.
Encloses accounts for April and begs for consideration, as supplies for six months are now due to him. To avoid disaster he has been obliged to pledge himself beyond his resources.
London, the 23rd May, 1655.
[Italian.]
May 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
74. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
When the king of England returned to Cologne after learning the utter overthrow of the scanty bands of his followers, he left in Holland the little duke of Gloucester, his brother, in the house of the Princess of Orange, his sister, so that he might be educated by her in a manner befitting his birth. The Dutch, who are extremely averse from giving the slightest cause for umbrage to Cromwell, which might be calculated to disturb the excellent relations they desire to maintain with him, when they heard of this took prompt steps to convey to the princess that in the terms of peace with England they had undertaken not to afford any protection or asylum to the House of Stuart, and they did not wish to infringe the treaty in any particular, because they did not wish to give rise to any bitter feeling in England calculated to disturb the general peace and quiet. Being thus admonished of the implacable determination of the States General, the princess sent Gloucester away, and he has already proceeded to Cologne to join the king, his brother.
The decision of the States to assemble a fleet of ships to be sent to the Mediterranean, has no other object, so far as can be gathered at present, than to protect the trade of their nation, and not to leave it utterly defenceless in face of the overwhelming strength of the English fleet.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
San Lis, the 25th May, 1655.
[Italian.]
May 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Napoli.
Venetian
Archives.
75. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
General Blach's success against Barbary is confirmed. It will prove of the greatest advantage to your Serenity since the Ottoman fleet will not be able to receive any reinforcements from that quarter during the present year. It is stated that he will remain about in those waters of Barbary in concert with the Spaniards until it is seen what is to be done with the force which the French are getting ready in Provence, although the ministers here express the hope that disturbances may arise in France which will prevent the fleet from sailing.
Naples, the 25th May, 1655.
[Italian.]
May 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
76. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 13)
Following the example of other foreign ministers I paid my respects to the Catholic ambassador extraordinary. He responded in the most friendly manner, adding that his master and his ministers desired nothing so much as peace so that they might be able to assist the republic in its long war against the Turks.
I thanked him, and when I left he showed me the greatest consideration.
The Protector is constantly considering how necessary a monarch is to England and the difficulty without one of making the laws function and of issuing civil and criminal acts as required. In consequence the pressure upon him to declare himself king becomes stronger. But instead of grasping at this he seems to have little ambition for it realising that in this way the majority of the people desire to limit his autocratic power, which at present certainly excels that of the kings. So to all appearance he intends to remain Protector and thereby show that he is more concerned to please himself than the people. Before everything else he studies to preserve the regard of the chief and most capable members of his Council. To this end he has handed over to one of the principal Colonels of the army, named Finch, his own privy seals, under which all commisions are despatched; and he has made Maj.-Gen. Lambert superintendent and governor of Portsmouth, Yarmouth, Hull, Bristol and Dover, which are the 5 chief ports of England. In this way the Protector gains increased support for his autocratic rule, knowing full well that upon his own will and contentment in the army will depend his remaining in power and the assumption of the title of king or emperor of the Ocean and Mediterranean. Although this is a subject of common talk nothing has yet been decided by the cool intellect of his Highness.
The Catholic ambassador has had a second audience though the subject of it has not yet transpired. From what I gather he got scant satisfaction in reply to his proposals, indeed I have been told in confidence that the Protector rejected them entirely. He told the ambassador that the demands of this state for the continuance of good relations with his Catholic Majesty included three essential points. First, liberty of conscience for English subjects in his dominions, without being subject to the Inquisition; second, permission for Englishmen to trade freely in his Majesty's dominions, and third, satisfaction for debts long owed by his Majesty to private Englishmen. Faced by these articles the ambassador could not say much, only pointing out their importance and expressing the inclination of his king for a good understanding and friendship with his Highness, and so took leave promising to inform his king of everything and to return and tell the Protector his Majesty's views thereon. It is believed here that the claims against Spain have been raised because of the good fortune of the galleons from the Indies, which are said to have arrived safely in Spain without meeting the English fleet, and that after this hostile acts against the king's dominions in that quarter may be intensified. They are in constant expectation here of news of some operation by General Pen's fleet.
It seems that after the Catholic ambassador's second audience the articles of the treaty with France have been discussed in earnest. The commissioners and the ambassador have met repeatedly of late and yesterday, in particular, they sat for more than four hours on end. This has led to a report that everything has been arranged, but this is not confirmed and so it looks as if this prolonged and important business was on the edge of settlement one way or the other.
It is reported here, and a confidant of mine confirms it, that General Blach has fought an engagement with some pirate ships of Tunis or Algiers which were sailing towards the Levant by order of the Grand Turk. The English fleet had the advantage capturing nine ships. Blach took this action because the promises of satisfaction were not fulfilled. The news pleases the government and the merchants of the mart here particularly and further particulars are expected. They now say here that this affair may help the most serene republic, and I pray God it may be so.
With the small amount supplied by your Excellency, the promise of more and the amount lawfully due to me before I leave this Court I contrive to subsist as best I may. By promises to the one who for a long time has supplied me with food I contrive to keep off my creditors and avoid disgrace. I trust that the assistance kindly promised by your Excellency will not fail me.
Acknowledges letters of the 22nd inst.
London, the 30th May, 1655.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Probably Wilmot and Armourer. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, pages 174, 193.
2 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 11th May.
3 Fabio Chigi, elected on 7 April, and took the name of Alexander VII.
4 Probably Dr. Thomas Bayly. See page 84 below.
5 The Bristol, sent on 25 April o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, page 469. He was lodged at the house of Sir Abraham Williams in Palace Yard. Id., p. 151.
6 Constantine Schaum. He had audience on the 4th May. Thurloe: State Papers iii., p. 422.
7 On Saturday 21 April o.s. in Barnsby Street, Southwark. Perfect Proceedings of State Affairs, 19–26 April.
8 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 18th May.
9 Proclamation of 24 April o.s. for executing the laws against priests and Jesuits and for the speedy conviction of Popish recusants. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, pages 139–40.
10 Guillaume Bette, marquis of Lede. The Bristol was ordered to Dunkirk to fetch him, on 25 April o.s. and was back in the Downs on 1 May o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, pages 469, 471.
11 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 23rd May.
12 The house of Sir Abraham Williams in Palace Yard.
13 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 1st June.


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