Venice
April 1656

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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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198-209

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'Venice: April 1656', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 198-209. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89818 Date accessed: 20 October 2014.


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April 1656

April 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Roma.
Venetian
Archives.
283. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
I recently had audience of the pope. Among other things he asked particulars of the English fleet, betraying his curiosity to know about its equipment, the number of ships, its strength and designs. He said, We are afraid of some sudden stroke upon the island of Elba, at Port 'Ercole or some other part of these coasts. I saw that he was apprehensive about it. He told me that he had sent Don Innocenzio Conti to Civita Vecchia and had issued suitable orders. I have learned from a trustworthy source that Conti has sent the pope an account of the unsatisfactory condition of Civita Vecchia. His Holiness consoles himself by alleging that for lack of depth and cover the port is only capable of taking 5 or 6 vessels of high board, and with the narrow space and a high wind they might get damaged by colliding with each other. The chief danger is for the open coasts because in some places the ships might be beached and so facilitate a landing. They thought of using the galleys to stop this, but it appears that they would be of no use because of their scanty numbers. Personally I do not believe that this question of offering opposition to the English is likely to hold them back (sia per trattenerli), though it is true that a sudden panic fear among the priests may cause a momentary confusion in their resolutions.
Rome, the 1st April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
284. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The King of England has gone from Cologne to Bruges in order to forward his designs. These might change the aspect of affairs and compel Cromwell to defend himself at home. But the combinations are difficult. In the event of some rising the Palatine Prince Rupert offers his services where he may be wanted. Numbers of Dutch ships are getting patents at Dunkirk to scour the Ocean under the Spanish flag. A few Englishmen are taking steps to do the same under the name of their own king, so that there will be no more navigation and commerce at sea but only privateering and plunder.
We hear that the peace in Switzerland is assured. The English minister reached the Protestants and tried to spread more poison, but he came too late to upset the agreement.
Vienna, the 1st April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
285. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The king of England, after numerous conferences with the archduke, the prince of Condé and the count of Fuensaldagna has left Brussels and returned to Cologne. It is not yet known what he has arranged with those ministers. They announce that he may take a certain number of ships to Dunkirk as a reinforcement for the Spaniards and that Prince Rupert will likewise come from Germany with a good number of troops to serve him. But these are uncertain rumours and very difficult to realise in effect owing to the multiplicity of difficulties that greatly distress that king.
Paris, the 4th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
286. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have received the ducal missives of the 4th March, with duplicates of those of the 12th, 15th, 22nd and 29th January, and all instructions shall be punctually obeyed.
I have done my utmost to find out about the new orders to the ambassador of Sweden and find that they merely urge upon him the effectuation of what he has arranged. He has sent an express to his master for this. That settled he will leave at once for home leaving the Secretary Barkman in charge. The secretary of the Dutch ambassador left this city post yesterday for the Hague; it has not yet been possible to find out why. This sudden move excites universal curiosity, and looks as if it was for something very pressing, especially as I have been told that the secretary has orders to use the utmost possible diligence in going and returning. The ambassador Bordeos is to enter London to-day. His coach has gone to Gravesend and some of his household have already arrived here. It will be my task to discover what orders have been given him by the Cardinal for fresh negotiations at this Court.
The peace between the Swiss Cantons is confirmed and the news has filled the people here with delight. But the government does not seem pleased, merely from its desire for the utter destruction and extirpation of the Catholic religion. One even hears that they say it is impossible that this adjustment can be long or durable, and that the differences that must be discussed and decided in the coming diet of Bada cannot fail to start fresh troubles. These ideas are spread by the most pertinacious and obstinate followers of the perverse dogmas professed here, all disagreeing with each other. The ambassador of Sweden, who professes the same faith and should therefore share the intentions and spirit of this government, is not altogether pleased, as is shown by his way of talking on the subject, all from his desire to see heresy rooted everywhere.
The arrival of the king of Scotland in Flanders is known for certain. It was stated that after staying two days secretly at Brussels and conferring with the Spanish ministers, but not with the archduke, he resumed his journey to Cologne, his usual residence after his dismissal from France. We have since learned, on better authority, that he is still staying at Brussels, incognito, and is treating with a single individual of the Court to arrange for him to live in that country. This will unquestionably happen seeing that he was invited there by the Spaniards. It is believed that Bruges, a few hours from the sea, will be assigned for his residence, and that a suitable assignment will be made for him and his small Court. This will be facilitated by the arrival in Spain of the fleet from the Indies, which is said to be undoubted. Also that he will have authority to grant letters of reprisals, and that the ships which are designed to attack the English will have shelter in ports subject to the Catholic. This authentic news has caused the government great alarm and it is taking all necessary precautions to prevent the troubles which such proximity may occasion. They are afraid that some of the ships at anchor in the ports here may steal away to Flanders and give themselves to the party of King Charles. So they have decided to send out a very strong squadron of ships of war to cruise about this strait and stop such plans while thwarting any attempts of the Dunkirkers and Ostenders who are busily and energetically arming frigates to go and hunt for English vessels.
Many of those who bore arms for his Majesty and still cherish a passionate zeal for his service, despite the ill treatment received from the government for that cause alone, and the excessive severity to which they have been obliged to submit, of imprisonment, of heavy money payments, and the utter destruction of their houses and property, are making ready to cross to Flanders to join their natural prince. But they will not find it so easy, as for a long time no one has been able to leave without a passport from the state, which has to be shown at embarking, and this will never be granted, because it is known with what objects they are leaving this city, which are all concerned in plans to the detriment of his Highness and the present government. Thus even when a passport was granted to a lady of rank (fn. 1) who wished to cross the sea, when she reached Gravesend, where all passports are inspected, she was searched and completely stripped by the officials there to see whether she carried letters or anything else prejudicial to this state, no consideration whatever being paid to the fact of her having an ample passport and the officials being completely oblivious of the respect due to her sex.
In Ireland we hear of some rising against the government plotted by the Spaniards and just now encouraged by King Charles. The people there were working secretly but with great activity to put their plans into execution. Men in disguise travelled through the country to rouse the people and incite them to rebellion. But their plans became known here and the Protector immediately took steps to check it at its birth and not allow matters so prejudicial to his authority and seat to get a start. Instructions have accordingly been issued for the arrest of some of the most mutinous and for a strict and thorough surveillance of everything.
After sailing from port a second time the fleet encountered a sudden tempest before it had gone far, and was again driven back to England. It is now anchored at Torbay waiting for a favourable wind. Montagu, one of the commanders, is more distressed than any one at the ill fortune to which they must submit on the first occasion that he has employment at sea. The government also regrets the delay and the damage done to the ships and the men by this tiresome prolungation of the action.
London, the 7th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
287. To the Resident in England.
Acknowledge his letters of the 17th ult. We hear from France that the Ambassador Bordeos was on the point of setting out for England again, on the 14th ult., and supposed to be taking with him a quantity of money, establishing the alliance with the Protector. Our ambassador in Paris writes that he is informing you. We shall be glad to hear all that you can contrive to find out on the arrival of this minister.
Ayes, 140. Noes, 3. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
April 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Roma.
Venetian
Archives.
288. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
Many believe that they will not allow the galleys to go far away from these coasts, because of their need of defence. Monsignor Rospigliosi assured me that they would be sent to the Levant, but the passage of time and their terror over the appearance of the English fleet may change their resolution. Gabrielli has been sent to Civita Vecchia to attend to measures of defence. The pope had a most prolonged conference with Cardinal Maculano about putting that place in a better posture of defence, and to prevent any attempts of the English at landing. The pope also wanted the cardinal to go there personally; but they delay taking this step as being show rather than substance. This English fleet in truth causes great apprehension from their fear of a sudden stroke, either where the easiness of it invites attack or where neglect opens the way for them.
Rome, the 8th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
289. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The king of England has conferred with the Spanish ministers at Brussels. He wanted to publish an alliance, but they would not go so far, as it would make an accommodation with Cromwell more difficult. So each will act for himself and the Spaniards will give the king support and a pension. He has returned to Cologne, but will soon be back to establish himself in some town of Flanders.
Certain ships, precursors of the Swedish fleet, are cruising about the Baltic with patents from that crown, plundering indiscriminately. Some Dutch ships have fallen into their hands and the States are aggrieved. Either to appease them, because of the armament they are preparing, or to deceive, Cromwell proposes an alliance to them, and because the faction of the House of Orange, united with the Spaniards, offers a vigorous opposition, there is some talk of altering the agreement made to the prejudice of that House in the late peace between England and Holland.
The Viceroy of Naples, owing to his apprehension of the English, has asked for 600 Germans, of those who are being raised for the Milanese, but it has been denied him.
Vienna, the 8th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
290. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The king of England has gone back to Brussels again. He has had more conferences with the archduke and the count of Fuensaldagna without the nature of their negotiations or agreements transpiring. After this he withdrew to Vilvorden, two leagues outside Brussels.
Paris, the 11th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
291. Domenico Zane and Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassadors in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
On the news arriving from several quarters that the English fleet of this year will be more formidable both in numbers and strength than in the past, my lords here, with their usual dilatoriness, have at last decided to take steps for the defence of those places where danger is most feared. They have accordingly decided on a levy of 2,000 horse to prevent any landing of the English on either the Mediterranean or Ocean seaboard which is apprehended.
Madrid, the 12th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
292. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the entry into this city of M. de Bordeos was announced definitely for last Friday, it was postponed until Monday, owing to the very bad weather. On the day following he went to private audience of the Protector, the particulars of which it is impossible to discover owing to the rigorous secrecy observed. I will do what I can, in time it may be easier. Bordeos sent to ask all the foreign ministers at this Court to postpone their visits until he has recovered somewhat from the sufferings of his journey, which though short proved very trying to him owing to the detestable weather. But as he did not notify me I thought it best not to put off my visit. I sent on Wednesday to enquire and he courteously agreed to my visit without showing the slightest wish for delay. He showed me the greatest consideration and respect and even accompanied me down the stairs and almost to the door of the court, which is unusual from ambassadors to residents. I am astonished at this superabundant courtesy and cannot conceive the motive; but having begun he can hardly fail to keep it up. He may be different another time for being French, which is to say unstable, he is subject to changes. When the other residents know it will certainly cause some ill feeling. Apparently Denmark and Brandenburg are offended because he received me while putting off all other ministers. They gave me a hint of it yesterday, by asking whether Bordeos was really in good health saying he had made difficulties about their visit on the plea that it was affected. Realising their intent I made a reply calculated not to injure the ambassador so as not to prejudice myself after such courteous treatment. All our conversation on this visit was purely complimentary and I could learn nothing about his commissions although I tried to get him to give me some particulars.
The secretary of the Dutch ambassador went to the Hague and returned in less than a week. I am told that his despatch was at the instance of the Protector to obtain a number of Dutch ships of war promptly, to employ them in his own service, since it is not easy at present to arm them here with the speed desirable owing to the scarcity of sailors they experience. Also to try and get the States to declare against the Catholic, the more so since it appears that they have already broken the peace with him in many ways. The certainty of these projects is not quite established nor can one learn the reply brought by the secretary; but there is no doubt that the ambassador is to have audience of his Highness and it will be concerned with these affairs.
The wind having become favourable again for the fleet, it left Torbay on Saturday night and as the weather has continued fair it is thought that it may soon be off the coasts of Spain. I try my hardest to discover the instructions, but all in vain, for I can learn nothing for certain, since no one knows anything, except that the orders were sealed as reported. There are numerous opinions but none authentic. Some say it is going to Cadiz; some to Naples. Some say it may go to meet the Portuguese fleet coming from Brazil and take it, if possible, now their hopes of taking the Catholic one have vanished, although the government declares all the news on the subject from those parts to be false. They care nothing here about having the ratification of the peace, and think more of their own interests than of anything else. In any case they have an excuse ready, that the ratification already sent lacked many essential particulars and they are under no obligation to wait for a fresh one and in the mean time lose an opportunity of enriching themselves offered by fortune. But it seems to me that as they have sent the Latin secretary to receive the confirmation from that king it would not be reasonable to use hostility and severity before the reply comes. Time will soon make all clear, but nothing definite can be affirmed yet.
The uneasiness of the government at the presence of the king of Scotland in Flanders becomes daily greater, since it appears he is still at Brussels in seclusion and lets no one see him except a few of his servants. Moreover he continues his negotiations with the Spanish ministers with whom he seems to have made arrangements that are mutually satisfactory. For many good reasons they have not yet announced what these cover. Appearances indicated that they deal with the matters I have reported, and here this is considered beyond question.
London, the 14th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
293. To the Resident in England.
We shall await with interest the result of the audience of the Swedish ambassador, which is likely to be of great importance in the Present fluctuations in all quarters. With regard to the affair of the ship Concordia, we shall very soon take suitable resolutions and we will let you know about them.
Ayes, 163. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
April 15.
Senato,
Secreto.
Dispacci,
Roma.
Venetian
Archives.
294. Girolamo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The pope remarked to me, This news of the English fleet harasses us greatly and keeps us constantly on tenterhooks. God Almighty will defend us and will provide for everything. I am afraid that the pope will delay the despatch of the galleys (fn. 2) until he sees where the English fleet will strike its blow.
Rome, the 15th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
295. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
In the conference at Brussels the proposals brought forward by the king of England were mostly impossible of performance, as he wanted armies, weapons, treasure, which cannot be supplied by Spain, not even for their own requirements. For the rest they talked of co-operation and acting in concert, upon which they have sent to Spain for a decision and consent. The king has gone to Cologne and will wait till he gets the reply.
Vienna, the 15th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
296. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The ducal missives for the Protector having reached me I will not fail to ask audience of his Highness to present them, but hitherto the absence of the secretary of state from the city has prevented this. By permission of the Protector he has gone to some property of his to attend to his private affairs. I hear that he may be back soon as the permission was only for 12 days and most of these have gone. Immediately he arrives I will hasten to follow instructions. I will also take every opportunity of speaking of the powerful preparations of the Turk for the coming campaign. I did so recently with Sir Oliver Fleming, who professes peculiar devotion for your Serenity and a lively desire to see you relieved of the anxieties which have distressed you for so many years. I told him of these preparations to break down the bulwark of Christendom and pointed out what glory and praise would redound to one powerful at sea if he should direct his forces against this barbarous power and the uprooting of their dominions. Fleming replied that it would be desirable for the fleet of this republic to go against the infidel, especially at Tunis and Algiers, as was done in the past to stop these preparations on which they base their greatest hopes. He added it was not unlikely that the most serene republic would receive some benefit from the fleet. He assured me that whenever he heard the matter discussed he would do his best to arouse those who have power and who have the ear of his Highness to do something to the advantage of your Serenity and of all Christendom as well as of the doer, if God favoured them with success in the capture not only of towns and fortresses but of inestimable wealth as well. I thanked him, assured him of the regard of the Senate and encouraged him to persevere with his good offices. But they will do no good as these forces are too deeply pledged in their own particular interests, and their feelings are too inflamed to think of other enterprises.
I also made use of an opportunity when the Swedish envoy came to visit me yesterday, telling him of the extraordinary efforts made by the Ottoman against tottering Christendom, to refresh his memory upon the promise he gave to Cav. Sagredo to speak to his master on the subject. I laid stress on the matter to influence his offices with the king and attract him by the glory of such an enterprise. The envoy assured me that he would represent the matter to his master and do his utmost to induce the king to take so meritorious a step. He told me that this would be greatly facilitated if his Majesty should succeed in getting complete possession of Poland, which would be the most direct way of attacking the Turk and would offer more certain conquests, that being the weakest and least guarded of all his dominions.
London, the 21st April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
297. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
News comes from several quarters that the Swedes have been completely defeated by the Poles, the king being slain, with many other circumstances. This is needed and required for the upholding of the Catholic faith, so menaced from so many quarters and in danger of extinction unless the Almighty intervenes. Such news is unpleasant hearing from the similarity of interest and religion between this power and Sweden and they declare that it is false and baseless. The Swedes say the same although they admit that many who came over to their side have again betaken themselves to that of King Casimir, their natural prince. As they assert that a battle cannot be long delayed all men are eager to know on which side victory will declare itself, and if this news will be confirmed. The letters which arrived to-day from Vienna say nothing about it, and much is based on this, as it was expected they might bring confirmation. Partisans rejoice, but those who understand the consequences were the event otherwise than the report, are saddened.
A confidential correspondence is noticed between Cardinal Mazarini and the Protector here, their letters being very friendly and obliging. It is said that Cromwell has already received the third from his Eminence, and he does not neglect to respond to keep up the friendship.
I am assured that Bordeos has brought a considerable sum of money to be employed in assembling 6,000 infantry whom France wishes to levy in Ireland. But he will not get permission if a report that has reached here proves true. It is that Mazarini wished to contract with 7,000 Irish who were already fighting for the Most Christian, to remain in that service for two years; but he met with difficulty and opposition as they enlisted upon a specific declaration that they should serve until such time as King Charles might have need of them. Now they hear of his stay at Brussels and the arrangements made with the Spaniards, though these are still kept secret, they will not be disloyal to their prince. Thus they imagine here that if more Irish proceed to France, once there they may proceed to serve the king of Scotland and provide an additional incitement for plots against this government. But it is not afraid, as it holds all the power in its own hands and it has also thwarted the mines which were preparing in Ireland against the present rule.
On the completion of the arrangements at Brussels, which were conducted by Spanish ministers alone as the archduke refused to meddle with them, King Charles immediately sent an express to his brother, the duke of York at Paris, and it is expected that he also will proceed to Flanders especially as France has to dismiss him in accordance with the terms of the treaty and to correspond with the order given by the Protector to the minister of the Prince of Condé, to leave England. This he is about to do, having provided himself with horses and other things to join his master. But some think that Mazarini will not let York go, for as he commands the 7,000 Irish, he may imagine that the duke's departure may draw them all after him, especially as they profess a fervid devotion for that prince.
I am assured that orders have been sent to the fleet that if it cannot achieve its intent against the Spanish fleet, either because it has reached Spain, or for other reasons, it must try and take the Portuguese one, if possible, as they prefer to enrich themselves with such booty rather than venture upon more difficult enterprises, less likely to succeed. But it is against reason to suppose that they would venture on so rash a step before the reply comes about the ratification of the peace, though interests of state give no place to reason and they care for nothing but their own advantage and the benefits they can derive therefrom.
This morning a rumour was circulating in the palace that the English fleet had captured the Spanish. But it is unlikely as it is not long enough since its departure, only a fortnight ago, for it to have met with the Spanish galleons and for the news to have reached here. The rumour was certainly spread designedly to tickle the people, merely because the government does not want these reports, and having announced that the news published on the subject is false and baseless it wants to make believed what it wishes to have believed.
The Protector had arranged with one Alcoch for the death of the king of Scotland. This man promised his Highness to seek out his Majesty and take his life by means he had contrived. In reward he was to be paid 2,000l. sterling down with an assignment of 500l. a year for life for himself and his descendants. But God does not permit such crimes to remain secret. The plot was discovered by partisans of King Charles and when Alcoch learned that knowledge of his barbarous impiety had reached the king he cut his throat in desperation, just recently, proving that his intention was the king's death and total extermination. (fn. 3)
London, the 21st April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
298. To the Resident in England.
We hear from France of the departure of Bordeos taking the completed agreements with the Protector and with remittances for 200,000 crowns. Although we feel sure that he will arrive long before these presents, we do not wish to let the news pass in silence because of all that it portends.
Ayes, 136. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
April 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
299. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England to the Doge and Senate.
Being overtaken by a fever on Monday night and still suffering I have not yet been able to carry out my instructions in presenting the ducal missives to the Protector, although the secretary of state is back in this city. I will ask for audience so soon as I am in a condition to perform this duty and I hope it will be granted without delay. The same reason compels me to implore indulgence for my neglect this week, as my indisposition has prevented me from getting news. I must state however that a trustworthy individual who has just visited me, told me that the fleet has orders to proceed to Cadiz, now there is no longer any hope of success against the galleons of Spain, and attack that place, burning and destroying all the ships found in that port. When it reaches those coasts they are to put ashore some persons who have promised to lead them by certain hills to less difficult places, which promise a more certain conquest. But no news of the fleet has arrived here and it is awaited with the most lively expectation. They hope it will be favourable, because of this design, but that will not prove so simple as they think or so easily accomplished.
London, the 28th April, 1656.
[Italian.]
April 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
300. To the Resident in England.
We shall be glad to hear in good time of the negotiations of the Swedish ambassador and of the reasons which have moved my lords of Holland to proceed to the Hague with so much alacrity. You will be able to gather the rest of the interesting material on the arrival of Bordeos in England.
Ayes, 122. Noes, 2. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Possibly Margaret, wife of Sir Richard Lee, granted a pass to Holland on 6 March o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655–6, page 579.
2 The papal galleys to act against the Turks.
3 On Saturday 1–11 March Sir Thomas Alcock, who had formerly been in the Dutch service, was found stabbed in a chamber, with the door locked on the inside. Mercurius Politicus, Feb. 28–March 6. Nieuport, reporting the incident says the reason is not known. Thurloe: State Papers, Vol. iv., page 587.


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