Venice
November 1655

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1930

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131-146

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'Venice: November 1655', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 131-146. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89813 Date accessed: 21 September 2014.


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November 1655

Nov. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Napoli.
Venetian
Archives.
180. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
Some of the English traders here who had absented themselves from the city after the sequestration of their goods, have returned and are watching to see what turn things will take towards a settlement between Cromwell and that government of which one is constantly hearing more.
Naples, the 2nd November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
181. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
When everyone believed that the formidable fleets of England in Europe and America would confound the most essential interests of the monarchy and when, at the same time we heard that Generals Pen and Blach had returned to London with the complete dismantling of their squadrons, now two ships of the fleet of New Spain have entered the port of Cadiz, which sailed eight months ago. They bring 840,000 reals belonging to the king; 230,000 registered for individuals; 500,000 in divers kinds of merchandise, and two millions of silver in contraband in addition, so they say. They left Vera Cruz at the end of July and soon reached Havana, finding General Pen very close. A few days after four vessels also arrived at Havana, which by stress of weather had separated from the company of the galleons of the fleet and had followed their usual course. But General Monte Alegro, being warned that the English were watching those waters, they tacked in the direction of New Spain. Reckoning by the days and the season the experts say that the galleons may be expected any time during the month of December.
Madrid, the 3rd November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
182. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The supporters and partisans of his Highness are trying adroitly to sound the chief commanders in the army about a change in the present government in favour of the Protector. They point out that with the fall of the late king's head there fell the foundation of the laws and civil life of the community. This disorder needs remedying. The best way would be to raise the Protectorate to the dignity of emperor of the three kingdoms. This conspicuous title is not ill adapted to the might and power of this state. The emperor would be elected by the army, in imitation of the ancient Romans, elevated to the throne by the legions and exalted by arms. Cromwell has the courage, character and authority to uphold this high dignity with honour. The forces of England are more respected now than in the past and deserve a more distinguished head. It would bring honour to the army to which would be attributed the elevation and election of this august personage.
These artful insinuations which come from the lips of his Highness's supporters have not generally been well received by the army or by the chief and most influential officers. The first obstacle is that the most influential commanders aspire to occupy his seat themselves after his death and are pleased to see the government established at a height to which they also may aspire some day. Second, that as this is a republic only in name, they fear that the removal of this slight pretence would increase the universal unpopularity and disfavour of the present government. Finally, after condemning monarchical government and utterly destroying it, to set it up again would look like a repudiation of all their past acts and would prove that the sole object of all the persecution of the king was not the public good but private ambition, especially in the Protector, which would become the more manifest from his occupying the position which he had previously attacked and finally destroyed. For this reason I do not think that there will be any considerable change for the moment, but that the government will maintain its present position until a better opportunity occurs.
Meanwhile there is no doubt that the style and manner in which the affairs of state are conducted require reformation and improved organisation for the more speedy execution of their decisions. Thus all the acts of the state are entrusted to a single secretary, who is overwhelmed by the mass of business and the burden of so many different affairs, the perfect digestion of which demands an immense amount of time. For this reason their decisions move slowly involving delays equally injurious to those who transact business and to the service of the state itself.
The Swedish ambassador, who is equally distinguished for his birth, ability and courtesy, has informed me of the victorious progress of his king in Poland. I assured him again of the interest your Excellencies take in his Majesty's successes and again pointed out the opportunity that Fortune offered his Majesty to seize a rich and fertile country by a joint attack with the forces of Muscovy. I showed how easy this would be in the present weakness of Turkey, which had no dykes to withstand the sudden descent of such a flood, or force to arrest its progress. The ambassador commended my remarks and said so great an action would raise his king's glory to the highest pitch. He would not fail to stimulate him to follow the path of victory where Fortune leads him.
London, the 5th November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
183. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
While I cannot yet say what may be expected here in favour of your Serenity, owing to the present enmity with the Spaniards, which is so injurious to my requests, yet I can state that the failure in the Indies makes them wish they had not gone so far in committing themselves and they would be glad to have employed their forces against the Turk where victories would have seemed more successful and the military preparations would have cost less.
After the Protector, by uninterrupted successes, had subdued these three kingdoms and reduced the royal forces everywhere, he decided upon this foreign enterprise to justify the heavy taxes, which constitute an almost excessive burden on the people, and to prevent them from thinking that he intended to convert to his own use the huge quantity of gold which is drawn from the substance of the people. He aimed at maintaining the repute of his arms and to afford occupation to his large forces that without such employment might generate some peccant humours at home. After hesitating a long time, according to the unanimous assertions of the government here, whether he should attack the dominions of the Turk or the Indies, the lure of gain, the inducement of the treasure fleets, and the greed of gold, made him decide in favour of the latter enterprise, which has cost immense sums and promises scanty returns.
After urging them to turn their arms against the Turk, pointing out the ease of the enterprise, the richness of the caravans and the fertility of the country, I will try, as a last resort, to obtain a fleet of ships to serve our state and the interests of Christendom under the flag of the most serene republic. Two powerful considerations stand in the way of my efforts. First the war with the Spaniards which is steadily advancing. Second the merchants who constitute the strongest party in this city. These have suffered severely by the rupture with Spain and many failures have resulted. They declare that to give the slightest pretext to the Turks to sequestrate the most valuable property which they have in their hands, would mean the utter ruin of the mart and reduce the numerous merchant families to misery. They make a great outcry and see that their loud complaint reaches the ears of the Protector.
The Spanish ambassador on renewing his instances for a passport, obtained it for himself and his people, but with nothing about his baggage. He remonstrated against this treatment of an ambassador, who is proverbially exempt from penalties. They intimated to him that in retaliation for the seizure of English goods by the Spaniards, it would not be unjust to treat their goods in the same way, without exception. However, soon after he obtained the passport as well as a ship to cross to Flanders, and he is preparing to depart to-morrow. The French ambassador has not failed to profit from the rupture with Spain, in pushing on and ratifying the treaty of peace, and it is believed this was secretly concluded yesterday evening.
Meanwhile hostilities continue between the two nations as the Spaniards have seized some ships which were in the Canaries to lade wine and here they have stayed two small vessels from Ostend which entered the Downs with cargoes, without knowing of the rupture. Meanwhile the fleets are preparing, they are equipping ships for the Indies and accumulating money with the steadfast determination to continue the enterprise and proceed with the hostilities against Spain in every quarter.
London, the 5th November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
184. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I am charged to obtain precise information about the plague which is raging in Flanders and Holland, with no slight mortality. In the dominions of the Catholic king only the city of Antwerp has been affected and it has not extended beyond 40 or 50 houses, with only a few deaths, and now not only the plague itself but the suspicion of it is completely disappearing. Brussels has not been touched except in the houses of the common people in the suburbs, but the disease has not been virulent and the mortality inconsiderable.
In Holland the disease took deeper root, as in the city of Leyden alone over 15,000 persons fell victims to the scourge. In Amsterdam its severity was recently very great and the death rate is still 800 to 900 a week, because they take no precautions and mix with the infected, as they do in Constantinople. They wait for the ordinary remedy, namely the advance of the season, when cold and frost check the progress of the disease. This is all I have been able to find out after a careful enquiry.
London, the 5th November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 5.
Collegio,
Secreta.
Lettere,
Principi.
Venetian.
Archives.
185. Serenis. Princeps Illustris. Senatus. (fn. 1)
Quanto magis amicitiam Vestram aestimamus quam certe permagni semper meritissime fecimus, tanto gratius acceptius Nobis fuit benevola Vestra in nos studia atque amicissimam voluntatem, turn per Laurentium Pauluzzi Vestrum apud Nos Residentem, cum vero plenius atque eminentius per Legatum Vestrum Extraordinarium amplissima ad Nos missa Legatione intelligere. Nempe iis quos proniore affectu amplexamur, deque quibus bene mereri præcipue cupimus jucundum est gratiam debere. Quamque nos agnoscere modo verum et ea qua par est gratitudine quocunque tempore retribuere promptissimi futuri sumus. Quandoquidem vero praedictus Vester Residens expleto publico quod digniter hic gessit munere revertendi facultatem Nos rogaverit, aequum duximus Eum quem fide solertia et prudentia insignem probatumque comperimus, meritis cum laudibus dimittere Vestroque favori recommendare. Caetera ipse coram explicabit fusius atque uberius, quam hae Litterarum angustiae, patienter, cujus insuper fidei commisimus fidem Nostram in Ser. Rempub. animi amorisque constantiam attestari.
Dat. ex Ar. Nostra Westmonasterii 26 Octobris, an. 1655.
Vester bonus amicus [Signed] Oliver P.
Nov. 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Zurigo.
Venetian
Archives.
186. Antonio di Negri, Venetian Resident at Zurich, to the Doge and Senate.
It is not yet known whether the ambassadors of Holland and England have left the neighbourhood of Geneva. They have indeed again declared their dissatisfaction with the disadvantageous adjustment which has been made by the Piedmontese Protestants with the duke of Savoy, pretending that they should have waited for their advice; that the Swiss ambassadors also should have signed the articles of agreement, and that it was not to be heard of that those Protestants should ask pardon of the duke, as that would amount to a confession of guilt. The lords here, however, and the others of the same religion maintain that the agreement is a durable one and they do not see how they can say or do any more.
Zurich, the 6th November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
187. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have reported the sequestration of English goods throughout the dominions of the Catholic king, and the consequent indignation of the government here. The Spaniards make practically no difference between the English and Genoese; both are treated the same and they hope to bring them to terms by such violent procedure, by the withdrawal of the ambassador to Flanders, after a declaration that the English have broken the peace by the attack on the Indies, and by their preparations for a vigorous war. In spite of the unfavourable circumstances I have made an effort to serve the state. I asked audience of his Highness which was given in one of his private chambers. He met me in the middle of the room and accompanied me to the door on leaving. In my office I tried to attract him on the score of religion. He makes a great show of his zeal for this, and even goes every Sunday to preach to the soldiers and exhort them to live after the Divine Law. He does this with fervour, even to tears, which he has ready at a moment's notice, and in this way he stimulates the troops to second his designs. In the second place I used the inducement of glory and general applause, according to the following summary.
My principal commission from Venice was to represent that the republic, after 11 years of obstinate war, was acting as a shield to all Christendom and alone resisting the might of the Turks. The sole aim of these barbarous infidels was to subdue Christendom. They were multiplying their forces to reduce the kingdom of Crete, the bulwark of Italy and the gate through which the insidious Turkish forces may press to subdue the better part of Europe. So far the island fights and resists, but with the total abandonment by the Christian princes, the great power of the Turks the length of the war and the increasing enfeeblement of the strength of the republic, it is much to be feared that that Christian kingdom will go the way of so many others, which groan under the Turkish yoke, and that the power of the Ottoman, already enormous, may be still further increased by this fresh considerable conquest. The steadfast defence offered by the republic all alone against so powerful a monarch, is a light set by God before Christendom to show princes that this is the proper time to free so many thousands of Christians from the yoke, and to redeem the finest provinces of the world from slavery and chains. The zeal of his Highness for the Christian faith, the piety and religion which are the fairest ornaments of his generous soul will kindle the holy fire and sharpen his sword, which cannot be more gloriously employed than in defence of the Gospel. He cannot do better to render his name immortal and crown the last actions of his life with glory than by sending a fleet to join with that of the republic to act as a shield to defend the Christian faith so violently attacked by the Turkish power. A small part of the great naval forces which God has given to England will afford sufficient strength to Christendom to triumph over the Ottoman assault. Such glorious action would show him the sole defender of the Gospel and the champion against the infidel, win him the highest glory and crown his sword with immortal laurels.
He replied that the noble and steadfast resistance of the republic to the common enemy was an immortal action which obliged every Christian prince to share the obligation with your Serenity, who was fighting with so much glory for all. He frequently had sudden pricks and goads of zeal for the service of God, and it could be wished that I had come sooner to this Court, when I should have found the conditions very favourable to my purpose. Nevertheless he would not fail to consult his Council, and was very ready to do anything to serve your Serenity, for whom he has a peculiar esteem. (fn. 2)
Meanwhile I am informed that they are equipping fleets, arming and fitting out ships, raising troops for the Indies and sparing no effort to make the Spaniards repent their hostile acts and the war.
London, the 12th November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
188. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
A person who has a hand in state affairs and is the Protector's ear, told me that if I had arrived here six months before their forces were engaged in the Indies the fleets might have been sent to the Levant, and have captured the island of Cyprus with a powerful landing force. Although I told him that it was a great misfortune for Christendom that forces which might have served God's cause so powerfully, should be diverted elsewhere, I cannot help pointing out to the Senate that though at first sight it might seem desirable that this should have happened, yet I doubt that the remedy might have proved worse than the disease, since this nation is much more powerful at sea than the Turk, and it would have been equally dangerous to have it as a neighbour. It is impossible for one who has not seen a fleet of their ships to understand how overwhelming they are, capable of bearing down all opposition and so strong that nothing can resist them. They have recently invented a colossal kind of ship, carrying as many as 120 bronze guns, which may, without exaggeration be called floating fortresses. They put on board 700 to 800 men in each and any one of them would meet the attack of 100 light galleys.
The Spanish ambassador has gone, but before leaving he tried covertly to be detained and artfully tried every device to induce the English to propose some middle way of adjustment. He caused the merchants interested in the sequestrated property to unite in presenting a petition to the Protector and point out the consequences that the rupture with Spain would bring to the trade and business of England. In another way I also represent the injury that the continuance of the rupture and the progress of hostilities will bring, but to no purpose. The Protector said in his Council that the sequestration was too great an insult, and although the attack on the Indies had not proved a success they must not lose heart on that account, as even Caesar was not always victorious. A second attempt would have better fortune than the first. In consequence of this the taxes and impositions will be increased to the sum of 60,000l. sterling a month above the ordinary and they will leave no means untried to avenge the insult and to prosecute the war with determination and vigour to the limit of their powerful existing forces.
Those who have an intimate acquaintance with affairs here think that the war with the Spaniards will bring great harm to England, and particularly to the present government. This is because their affairs at home are not yet firmly established and there is no slight risk in undertaking foreign and distant enterprises. To show that their domestic affairs are still insecure it is enough to point out that they have been obliged to drive away from this city, by a most severe decree and on peril of their lives, all those who in the past bore arms for the king. Secondly they proceed with such reserve, caution and suspicion, that all meetings are forbidden, even the gatherings of a few persons for amusement. They have absolutely forbidden plays, suspecting that these gatherings of the people might occasion some disadvantage to the present state of affairs.
But the most dangerous question for the future is that the people here will suffer from diminishing gains and fresh losses. The losses consist in the augmentation of the taxes and the diminution in the interruption of trade and the cessation of business with the Spanish dominions, which have simultaneously enriched the customs and proved a gold mine to trade. Further, as more than 3,000 English merchantmen plough the waves, the Spaniards and the pirates of Dunkirk and Ostend will find a most easy prey while all the craft which capture English ships will have a refuge in the ports of Flanders. Many of the Dutch will adopt the Catholic's flag and allured by gain will go freebooting under the name of Flemings, while not a few French corsairs will not disdain to masquerade as Spaniards for private gain; and so this war will result in no little injury and prejudice.
Bordeos the French ambassador has sent his secretary to France for the ratification of the peace with this country, (fn. 3) which was settled at the same time that the rupture with Spain seemed likely. The English declare that they will not only observe the peace with the French religiously, but in case of need they will join with them in attacking the sea towns of Flanders, and particularly Dunkirk.
I forgot to report that during my stay in France I found the Cavalier Amalteo, a subject of your Serenity and native of Pordenone, passionately devoted to your service. He is a man of wit and ability and has progressed so far as to become the king's master in the Italian tongue. He glories in his advancement because it renders him more capable of serving his natural sovereign.
London, the 12th November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
189. To the Ambassador in England.
We are completely satisfied with your reception and first audience. You will express our appreciation to the Protector. With respect to his suggestion of more perfectly confidential relations with the state we have to say that we recognise this to be highly desirable for our interests particularly in the situation in which we now find ourselves, with a long and cruel war. So you will let no occasion slip where you have a chance of confirming and establishing this idea in his mind. This could not be realised better than by the special mission of an ambassador and by the despatch of a well armed ship for the coming campaign. You will not lose sight of these two objects. You can also suggest that it is not less profitable to attend to the Levant than to the Indies. There is the further inducement of glory for the Protector and the whole nation in so generous an enterprise which will bring universal approval, as in the case of the famous action of General Blach last year at Tunis, in support of so just a cause against the most cruel enemy of Christendom.
If the expedition to the Indies should be discountenanced and you are asked to say a word about peace and an adjustment with Spain, you will know the right moment to act and how, with the present most serious disturbances, there is no room for us to enter upon greater undertakings. If the subject is raised again you will excuse yourself from giving any formal reply and if you are approached by the Protector or any other person in his name, you will ask for time in order to report to us and learn our intentions. We are confident of receiving useful service from your ability and that you will observe and watch closely the proceedings and plans in those parts as well as in reporting the news to us with punctuality.
You will observe and report carefully upon the relations between Sweden and the Protector, as we are assured on good authority that confidential relations are being strengthened between them.
You are aware of the importance of re-establishing the currant trade at Zante and of preventing its continuation with the Morea. You will know how to bring this about by means of offices and dealings with the ministers and with individual merchants, and in order that you may be able to push on the negotiations and agreements with good hope of success we will send you all possible information and instructions.
That the Five Savii alla Mercanzia be instructed to gather into one all the papers in their magistracy concerning the matter of restoring the currant trade in the island of Zante for the purpose of stopping the consul in the Morea, (fn. 4) as well as those which touch the person of the former consul Ider, to be subsequently laid before our Collegio with the prudent opinion attached to prepare the way for the re-establishment of the consulate of the nation in that island.
Ayes, 162. Noes, 3. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Nov. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
190. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The proclamation in Spanish for the general sequestration of English property has reached my hands, and this is the summary:
Although his Catholic Majesty treated the English with excessive courtesy, admitting their fleets to his ports, giving them entertainment and permitting them to supply themselves with necessaries, yet by invading the island of San Domingo and others adjacent they have broken the peace and justified a declaration of war; accordingly his Majesty desires reprisals to be made upon the property of every English subject and upon all the ships in his ports, with guns and tackle, which are to be sequestrated even if they are in the name of some other person, Spanish or foreign. An exact schedule is to be made of everything to be submitted to his Majesty's ministers in Madrid.
On this side they have also issued a manifesto of more than 10 printed sheets, of which this is the essence. (fn. 5)
The Spaniards still cherishing the ill will towards England which they showed in 1588 when they designed to subdue it to their ambition, are seeking first to seize their goods and, where possible, to subject their persons also to the tyranny of the Inquisition. They have been attacked in the Indies, a wide country, for conquest, over which the Spaniards have no title but by arms and usurpation. The English, having divers colonies and plantations in America, both in the islands and on the mainland, have the same rights as the Spaniards, that it to say by conquest, but have been constantly attacked and harassed by the Spaniards, who have taken their ships, enslaved their people and tried to destroy their colonies. Perpetual war may be said to have existed between the Spaniards and English in the Indies, and the present was only a more energetic continuation, rather than a fresh breach of the peace. The English have never been able to obtain satisfaction for the murder of their minister (fn. 6) at Madrid. The people are urged to take up the offensive and defensive with equal courage.
To the manifesto are added the effective provisions and the busy armament of over 100 ships, 40 for the Indies, 40 to cruise off the coast of Spain and 40 more to convoy and secure the trading ships. They declare that their arguments will be enforced with more vigour by the mouths of their cannon.
Although, as reported, they gave the Ambassador Cardenas a passport in form for his journey to Flanders, yet when he arrived at Dover he found some military officers who told him they had orders to open all his baggage, and to see that what he took was all his own. The ambassador waxed wroth, said he had been deceived, they had no right to give him a passport and then treat him so scurvily, dishonouring his office and the word of the prince. But his remonstrances did not prevent them from acting and the ambassador had to remain several hours in the open while the search was made, as everything had to yield to the force of arms.
London, the 19th November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
191. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
As reported the Ambassador Bordeos sent his secretary for the ratification of the treaty after the outbreak of war with the Spaniards, upon which he had never been able to get a decision before, with all his efforts. The return of this extraordinary has been delayed some days longer than was expected. They say that the Most Christian, who is in the field,has referred the examination of the articles to his Council. This causes the English some apprehension, now they are at open war with Spain, that the French may draw back and raise difficulties about the ratification.
But I know that the Cardinal has always attached great importance to this adjustment and has neglected no effort or device to secure it, and unless he wishes to take advantage of the circumstances, he will be glad to put the finishing touches. I am told that one of the secret articles is that France cannot make peace with Spain without the consent and participation of England. This is a detail of great consequence for which I cannot vouch absolutely, because the secret articles were stipulated under four eyes; but I have it on very good authority and I do not think it impossible or out of character.
They maintain the most confidential relations with the Swedish ambassador. His victories against a Christian kingdom are regarded as a mutual conquest and glory. As I have intimated they would like to push the Protestant faith to the utmost of their power. They hope that when the Pole is reduced the Swede will carry his attacks and victories into the heart of Catholic Germany. For this they claim the protection of all those of the reformed faith, they cherish relations with the Huguenots of France and with the Swiss also and they are secretly waiting to see what may come of the recent disputes between the Cantons on the score of religion.
The report of the efforts of the pope in favour of peace between the crowns has sensibly affected the ears of this government, which knows that its existence depends in great measure on war between the Catholic princes, and they are apprehensive about every step to negotiation, every meeting to discuss and every opening to treat.

While busy over foreign affairs they do not lose sight of the correction of internal humours recalcitrant to the present government. The nobility is so burdened with taxes that they pay three fourths of their goods for the requirements of the state. In this way they reduce the strength of those whose nobility might inspire them with bold designs which might shake off the present yoke. A later decree about the goods of those who formerly fought for the king, lays on them a most serious burden, namely the obligation to support the entire armed forces and to pay for the maintenance of over 50,000 men, divided among various districts, fortresses and garrisons. This is explained on the plea that the royal party, by its suspicious proceedings, forces the government to keep armed and it is reasonable to make them pay for the maintenance of those forces which are kept on foot because of them. By this imposition they intend to destroy and utterly uproot that party, reducing it to a state of impotence and poverty more calculated to arouse compassion than fear.
London, the 19th November, 1655.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
192. To the Ambassador extraordinary in England.
Approval of his operations and of his reserved reply to the foreign ministers. Satisfaction at the way in which he is protecting the religion with the assurance that he will avoid any occasion of giving offence to the Protector or the government.
Ayes, 120. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Nov. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
193. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
At my audience the Cardinal told me that the peace with England was ratified. He said that the Spaniards had attempted everything possible to get Cromwell to break with France, but their efforts had not proved successful because Cromwell considered it more to his advantage to make war on Spain than on France. Up to the present his Majesty has not promised anything beyond peace but it is most likely that this winter Cromwell will desire to have an understanding with France about the enterprise which he is to take up in the province of Flanders, He hinted to me that if this should happen they would do to the Spaniards what the Spaniards had wanted to do to France. I told his Eminence that I hoped that the introduction of peace would make it unnecessary for his Majesty to commit himself and tighten his relations with England. He replied that if the Spaniards will not have peace France will do what best suits her interests.
Compiègne, the 22nd November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
194. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
One of the best maxims of this government is to keep their secrets so closely that no effort can discover the true substance of their deliberations. The second is to maintain secret spies everywhere, to be informed of what is happening in the world. Certainly no government on earth discloses its own acts less and knows those of others more precisely than that of England. They meet in a room approached through others, without number, and countless doors are shut. That which favours their intent best is that very few persons, at most sixteen, meet to digest the gravest affairs and come to the most serious decisions. To keep them the more secret they pass through the head of a single secretary, who superintends political affairs and criminal as well, in matters of state, and all the examinations pass through his pen. The disclosure of their deliberations was one of the chief defects of the late parliament, as what the members did not divulge the secretaries published. So they devised this method of everything passing through the hands of one only, which is tiresome owing to the prolixity of business and the slowness of execution, as I have intimated before.
To discover the affairs of others they do not employ ambassadors, but use spies, as less conspicuous, making use of men of spirit but without rank and unlikely to be noticed. They recently sent some one to Rome to find out and report what is being devised there, because of the protection and supervision which they claim over all affairs touching the reformed faith, on which account it is exceedingly important for them to be fully acquainted with the affairs of Rome, the seat of the Catholic faith and head of the Church which is naturally opposed to all the other infected and false dogmas. It is even more remarkable that they have sent for this function a Catholic priest. (fn. 7) Professing or feigning the true faith he will not attract any attention at Rome, and will have a free field to act, to learn and report what takes place day by day. Thus by their money and bribes they have found a way to use the forces of Rome and draw profit from their enemies, as they call the priests in London, who are otherwise proscribed, persecuted and martyred. But the present government considers what serves it and uses what serves for its advantage without distinction or any consideration. In France, Spain, Germany and at Venice they also have insignificant persons who from time to time send important advices, and being less under observation, penetrate everywhere.
The Swedish ambassador here is still conferring with the government. They show him the most complete confidence, and it is hoped, by this union, to make Catholicism tremble one day. If the Catholic princes knew what was in contemplation they would give up fighting and undoing each, other and would think of themselves and their own faith. He has obtained a levy of 20,000 Scots and remittances have reached him from Hamburg to enable him to carry it into effect. The English have two objects in this concession, first, to help the enterprise of the king of Sweden against the Catholic kingdom with this powerful reinforcement; second, to drain Scotland of men, as they did in Ireland last year, since those two kingdoms suffer subjection to the present goverment by force. They are averse from the present rule and are passionately attached to the king, and being unable to fight for him, they offer their vows and prayers to heaven.
London, the 26th November, 1655.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives
195. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Thirty merchantment which left this port for the Canaries and lade wine for this city, being warned by a felucca sent on purpose of the seizure of English ships and goods in Spain, returned empty and unladed here. This city, which is one of the most mercantile in the world, feels the loss from the interruption of trade with the Spanish dominions and would like to see negotiations started; but of this there is no sign. The Spaniards claim that the English began hostilities and broke the peace out of mere greed for the property of others. Their sequestration was the consequence of this attack and the natural reply to the action of their fleets. They therefore claim that the first overtures to treat must come from the English, as the aggressors, and they imagine that the demand for satisfaction over the sequestration will lead to negotiations for an accommodation, with mutual satisfaction. But the government here does not see things in this light. Their overwhelming force at sea, the great fleets which predominate everywhere without question tend to render their demands haughty and constant. They claim that the Spaniards must not only ask, but in a manner sue for peace. They think that the diversion of the French together with the harassing from the English in the Indies and on the coasts of Spain will force them to talk in a different way from that adopted hitherto.
The secretary of the Ambassador Bordeos has returned from France, and so secretly that it was only known this morning, five days after his arrival. They say that the treaty is not entirely ratified but that France asks for alterations and modifications in more than one article. I shall learn more in time and report what happens in this affair.
It appears that the Spaniards, by connivance, have allowed some English vessels to sail with their entire cargo from their ports, and particularly from Malaga. Meanwhile the latest news from the Indies reports that the English fleet stationed there had chased the Spanish in vain, for a long time. That succeeded in entering Cadiz taking a richer cargo than had ever been brought before. Here they find it more difficult than ever to interrupt that passage or to attack and capture that fleet at sea. Yet the effort will not be dashed on that account. It is expected that if that fleet has succeeded twice in escaping those lying in wait for it, owing to the inconstancy of the winds and waves, these will at some time finally favour the English. If once they succeed in blockading or boarding it, that will make up for all the rest and the booty from a single success would pay for all wasted expenditure in the past and the money which has so far been thrown away.
London, the 26th November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
196. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
When my successor arrived at the French embassy and I was hoping to return home after a turn of over three years, I was ordered to England on this extraordinary embassy. I obeyed with resignation and came here with the utmost promptitude, willingly undertaking the journey, the discomfort and the expense with the sole idea of serving the state, without regard for my damaged health or the dilapidated fortunes of my house. I have discharged my duties punctually with the Protector, sounding his inclinations and the constituents of his power. I regret that all hope has so easily vanished away, not only from Cromwell's fixed determination to establish his power thoroughly and make himself stronger and more feared but from the outbreak of war with Spain, and for many other reasons and pretexts both of the government and private individuals, as I have reported. Nothing now remains for me to do. A longer stay would be useless for your Excellencies, at a great cost, and it will also ruin my health, which is deranged by this damp and most extraordinary climate, which affects me at every moment. The expenses necessary for staying at a Court of the first rank in competition with so many ambassadors, with the excessive price of everything, are out of all proportion to my feeble means, already weakened by the long and costly embassy in France. I therefore earnestly beseech your Excellencies to permit me to return, and by this act of compassion, which is consonant with your interest, to reward my long service and hearken to the cry of a house which has exceeded its powers in its effort to obey, and which implores this relief in order to recover.
London, the 26th November, 1655.
[Italian.]
Nov. 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
197. To the Ambassador extraordinary in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters of the 8th ult. Approval of his office with the Swedish ambassador and his efforts to induce them to break with the Turks, alluring them by pointing out the ease of the enterprise the wealth of the caravans and the fertility of the country. He must try to get from the Protector at least a squadron of ships for the coming campaign. To overcome the opposition of the merchants who form the strongest party of that city he should adduce the consideration that General Blach was not so squeamish when he burned their ships in Porto Farino last year, while the consideration of their trade with the Spaniards did not hinder their government from taking up and putting into action the enterprise of the Indies. In this way the Senate feels sure that he will be able to forward the public interests.
Enclose sheet of advices.
Ayes, 157. Noes, 1. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
Nov. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
198. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
After my conversation with the Cardinal about the adjustment between France and England I have tried to gather from a friend of mine who frequently takes part in the most secret affairs, whether the accommodation with England is simply peace. He assured me that so far it is nothing but peace. It is quite true that on both sides there is a consciousness of a like disposition and corresponding interests to forward the alliance. Accordingly when the replies come to what the nuncio and I have sent to Spain I will make every effort together with the nuncio so that France may be deprived of the means of committing herself more completely to a union with England. I will represent to the Cardinal and to the ministers the most serious injury that would result at once from an alliance both to the peace and to Christendom, and to France herself soon afterwards, for once Cromwell has set his foot firmly in Flanders and after he has subjugated that province, he will wish to extend his conquests in this kingdom also. The House of Austria, the Spaniards and Germany will be threatened with utter ruin by internal and domestic affairs as well as by external ones since everyone is agreed that the king of Sweden will in the end attack the states of his Catholic Majesty as there is little for him to gain in Poland, and that Cromwell, by a mutual understanding will invade the Indies and the provinces of the Low Countries which pertain to the Catholic king. These most important considerations should prove effective to persuade the two crowns to a perfect agreement for otherwise, if the vast designs of Sweden and England are not checked at the outset they will bring terrible suffering upon all Christendom and perhaps utter ruin.
The Dutch, although of the same religion as England, are not pleased to contemplate war between that country and Spain. They are afraid that with this opportunity England will approach too close to the United Provinces. The Dutch ambassador indeed spoke to me about it very earnestly urging me to prepare the way and bring about peace between the crowns, as he foresees and dreads the expedition into Flanders that England will make if the first attempts are not stoutly resisted. As there is a rumour that Spain, not being strong enough to defeat the English fleet, has made proposals to Holland to work together in concert against England in the present war, I touched on the question with the ambassador, but he would not say anything definite on the subject and avoided talking about it although I provoked him to do so more than once, so I fancy that there may be some overtures for a treaty.
Compiègne, the 29th November, 1655.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Printed by Barozzi e Berchet: Relazioni. Inghilterra, page 362.
2 The body of the despatch to this point printed by Barozzi e Berchet: Relazioni. Inghilterra, pages 373–5.
3 M. de la Bastide, who reached Paris en 8 Nov., o.s. Public Intelligencer, 5–12 Nov., 1655.
4 Richard Middleton, chosen in July, 1651. Levant Co. Court Book, f. 127. S.P. For. Archives, Vol. 151.
5 Issued on 26 October o.s. as “A Declaration of his Highness by advice of his Council setting forth on behalf of this Commonwealth, the justice of their their cause against Spain.” Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, page 400. The text in Thurloe: State Papers, iv., page 117.
6 Anthony Ascham, murdered at Madrid in June, 1650.
7 Dr. Thomas Bayley, a reputed Jesuit. See page 84 above.