Venice
June 1656

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1930

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224-237

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'Venice: June 1656', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 224-237. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89820 Date accessed: 26 October 2014.


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June 1656

June 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
321. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Protector is still preoccupied and all intent on ways to get money, of which he is very short and in great need owing to his heavy expenses. Although he has many ways open he is unwilling to try any from fear of driving the people to revolt. They cry out against the numerous impositions and they want a parliament, declaring that his Highness has no authority to burden them with such insufferable burdens out of all proportion to their strength. To soothe them and induce them to obey and submit blindly to every wish of his Highness they are flattered by promises of easy enterprises, to induce them to contribute as speedily as possible, thinking that blandishments may sweeten the bitterness they feel at the constant charges laid upon them. Yet the Council is greatly agitated every day, having to devote its attention to so many things and keep an eye on every quarter.
To carry out their original designs and succour the few troops left in Jamaica, most of whom perished last winter of sickness which all but exterminated them, they have decided to send 3,000 men thither, selected out of all the regiments with the colours. A strong squadron of ships laden with provisions of every kind is also to go there. They announce that they mean to achieve something effective and display increasing vigour and courage. This is increased by the news brought by a ship from there which recently entered the Thames. It reports the good state of those troops, few though they are, and they promise marvels if they receive succour to enable them to resist the hostile forces. It is stated that considerable forces of fresh troops trained for war are to be sent thither from a neighbouring colony subject to this state. In short if Fortune favours their intentions great things will be accomplished. Time will show.
The Protector and Council have applied every method for keeping the people under control, fearing that the proximity of King Charles and their grievances may stir them to give effect to the unfriendly intentions against the present rule which are rampant in the majority. Thus they have ordered the expulsion from London of all the cavaliers who are most suspect as having borne arms for the king, who are here in considerable numbers, banishing them to their country houses most remote from the metropolis.
A report has circulated among the merchants and run through the city, though the government knows nothing of it, that the fleet has captured Gibraltar; also that Blake, falling in with a Dutch ship laden with plate belonging to the Spaniards, attacked and captured it without the least struggle, seeing the disparity of force. Further information is eagerly awaited; if the news is confirmed it is of no slight consequence.
The despatch to Portugal with the reply to the Protector's minister there is expected at any moment, as the wind is favourable for that quarter. At Court they announce that everything is settled with mutual satisfaction, but this cannot be affirmed because the envoy has not gone and authentic news cannot arrive in any other way. If it is confirmed it disposes of the rumour of an adjustment between Portugal and Spain, indeed the breach will be widened as they will proceed jointly with the English to attack the Catholic.
They say that Portugal will supply cavalry for any enterprise. This is the more likely as only now we hear that before the fleet left these ports and when it moved from one to another they put on board 5 to 6,000 soldiers beyond those first embarked who were not more than were required to work it. According to the idea encouraged they were sent towards Ireland, but now it is said that they were secretly put on board the fleet. This cannot be affirmed as a certainty since no one knows the truth. I am quite sure that it was not done at the first port, where it received all necessary supplies. My informant assures me of this and he saw it sail with his own eyes to the other port appointed as rendezvous, where it might easily have received this considerable reinforcement of numbers without noise or observation. But the report may be circulated with design, to cause greater apprehension to the enemy and raise the hopes of the people and make them tractable.
The report that they proposed to recall the fleet is supposed to have been solely to frighten the States and keep them from making trouble. But if they claim to search all Dutch ships they meet, as they seem inclined to do, the Dutch will certainly resent it, especially as nothing but generalities and excuses have been sent in reply to the remonstrance about the treatment of Reuter. To be prepared for all contingencies the Dutch are fitting out 40 ships of war. It is stated that they are for other parts but intelligent men believe that they will be kept for the said occasion, if need be. At the same time this government announces that it wishes to maintain friendly relations with its neighbours, and I have been told that they are negotiating a maritime treaty with the Dutch. One cannot be sure about this because every one talks as he feels and for reasons already given no one knows anything here until a thing is done. Even when one knows of projects it is only partially and one cannot learn their scope or whither they tend.
To stop the corsairs of Dunkirk and Ostend who have done so much harm to this city they have decided to send strong squadrons to blockade those ports. But this is not likely to prove very effective as those vessels are so agile that they get through anywhere and sail in any wind without worrying about the great ships sent to stop them. There is the precedent of the Dutch who formerly blockaded Dunkirk, but it did no good and their efforts brought them no advantage.
The Protector has heard with great delight of the friendly treatment accorded by the Most Christian to the minister sent to reside at that Court. The king of Scotland has gone to Antwerp, being visited there by the Marquis of Caracena, who is there to collect money for his campaign. He is to proceed thence to Brussels to confer with Don John and will then return to his residence at Bruges.
London, the 2nd June, 1650.
[Italian.]
June 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
322. To the Resident at Florence.
You must devote your constant application to be acquainted with the news which reaches your princes about the proceedings of the English fleet.
Ayes, 120. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1. [Italian.]
June 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
323. To the Resident in England.
After three weeks without letters, nos. 14 and 15 have arrived together with the duplicate of no. 13. They have been tampered with because the courier was robbed on the archducal frontier. Regret to hear of his illness. Commend his diligence. Enclosure shows the decision about the ship Concordia. Enclose reply for the Protector; to be presented with an appropriate office.
Ayes, 120. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
June 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
324. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The despatch to England of a gentleman of Cromwell's envoy without the reason being disclosed strengthens the opinion about some agreement for besieging the towns on the Ocean though the reconnaissances and marches towards Avennes and Bucoim indicate other enterprises. Those who hold the latter opinion maintain that the journey of the gentleman to London is only to hasten the large levies they expect from England as the new squadron of ships for these waters is not ready and will not be in a condition to sail at any early date.
Compiègne, the 5th June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
325. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Protector has spent this week in perpetual session with his Council and the Major Generals of the country to decide about the preservation of the state and the establishment of settled and permanent calm. To this end it is said they have decided to call a parliament shortly, which is so greatly desired by the people, as they think it will bring order and rule to many things which they claim to be abuses and irregular. This announcement about summoning parliament is considered a trick designed solely to pacify the people and keep it from the movements it might start with incitement from the king of Scotland, He does not fail to urge this secretly upon those least friendly to the government and consequently more disposed to serve him. He knows that every breach he may make for the destruction of the present rule may not be fired, seeing the force it wields for beating down its enemies, yet it will cause great perturbation and anxiety to his Highness. To this end, like a wise government, they are trying to keep the people quiet by fresh regulations while holding out hopes of satisfying them, though they have no intention of following up their fair words by deeds. They are aware that the summoning of a parliament would produce disorder rather than order owing to the many things it would claim to renew and to alter. Time will show and I will keep on the watch and report.
Although Cromwell is general of the whole army it seems that the soldiers are not entirely satisfied, as they desire one not involved in affairs who can put himself at the head of the army at any emergency and raise its courage and spirit by his presence. The Protector, knowing the advantage of keeping the military content, seems inclined to gratify their wish and says he is thinking of appointing his son-in-law Flitud as general in his stead. But the soldiers do not seem quite satisfied and would rather have General Lambert who is more popular with them. Cromwell wants to give them the former, as with the relationship he knows that the soldiers would be trained and invigorated to continue to render good and loyal service to him. He cannot feel the same confidence that Lambert would instil similar principles, since he is aware that that officer, though outwardly loyal and friendly to him, is at bottom quite the reverse. He dissimulates because he cannot do otherwise, but given a favourable opportunity he would like to try his own chance with Fortune.
The return of the envoy to Portugal is delayed longer than was expected as the weather has been good and the wind favourable to take him back there. The long delay gives rise to the impression that fresh difficulties have arisen over the articles that they wish ratified. It may however be for other impenetrable reasons and so everyone is watching eagerly for his return to see the result of these missions, which the government does not wait to pronounce entirely good and mutually satisfactory.
The fleet remains before Cadiz and it is impossible to find out what it is to do. The reported capture of Gibraltar is not confirmed and the hopes conceived are fading. It is believed that the report originated with some smart fellow, such as abound in this city, to provide a subject for conversation, even though untrue. Others of a different character were circulating last week, viz. that the fleet proceeding to Barbary to water, the Turks refused permission and in seeking to take it by force the English vessels suffered severely, the losses being nearly thirty. There is no foundation for this. The Turks cannot have forces there sufficient to resist and defeat so formidable a fleet. If it were true the fleet would be greatly weakened and reduced in numbers and the Protector would have to send powerful reinforcements to humble the pride of the Ottomans. This would prove of great advantage to your Serenity in the long struggle with so pertinacious an enemy. It is true that the Turks, falling in with two English ships laden with merchandise, attacked and took them without much trouble. This has distressed the merchants here and they cry out against Turkish barbarity.
Recent advices from Jamaica and Barbados confirm what I wrote a week ago, adding that the troops there have found a way of entering the island of Cuba without much difficulty, the places being very accessible and not well provided with men or provisions; but this cannot be undertaken without reinforcements owing to the scanty numbers of those soldiers. To this end they are hastening the equipment of ships and the collection of provisions and men which they propose to send at the earliest possible moment. They in no wise relax their efforts indeed they are intensified continually and they conceive the greatest hopes of achieving something better than last time, promising themselves better fortune.
The Dunkirkers continue to infest the sea inflicting serious injury not only to this city but to individuals who are constantly crossing. They have recently taken a squadron of 20 English vessels laden with goods sent from these shores to Holland and other parts, including two ships of war of 36 guns each. They were convoyed by Dutch ships and it is said that these did not defend them with sufficient energy. (fn. 1) There is a suspicion of collusion and accordingly and consequently a fear of a quarrel between the two nations in view of the incidents that occur daily on either side. But the English must avoid disputes as much as possible and shut their eyes to things which at another time would create excitement, to avoid bringing the Dutch on to their backs who, united with the Spaniards, might cause them serious disquiet. It is certain that the Dutch will not come to an open rupture, but they will prefer to proceed underhand and make war secretly, drawing advantage where they can profit most.
Another squadron of 27 merchantmen sailed from these ports for various destinations. As it had an escort of only a few ships of war they are fearful of some disaster. A great noise of firing having been heard recently they believe that it has been engaged with the Dunkirkers. Accordingly all the ships of war stationed at the mouth of these ports have received orders to sail at once and go to the succour of this squadron. The merchants clamour and grow sad at their serious losses, as since the Spaniards declared war on this state and granted reprisals to their subjects the Dunkirkers have captured 187 vessels, great and small.
After paying his respects to Don John at Brussels, the king of Scotland returned to Antwerp on the 3rd inst. with his brother the duke of Gloucester. He was about to leave there to return to Bruges where he will await from Madrid the approval of the arrangements sketched with the ministers in Flanders. He was received and welcomed by Don John with every sign of courtesy and respect.
London, the 9th June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
326. To the Resident in England.
Acknowledge his despatch of the 19th ult. A great matter is the concession to the English fleet of a port of the Genoese. If the report came from the lips of the resident of Genoa it will be easy to get at the truth of it. We shall also be glad to hear about the orders sent to the fleets and of what may happen afterwards between the commanders.
Ayes, 138. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
June 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
327. To the Ambassador in France.
When the nephew of the Protector Cromwell, whom we understand to have reached St. Denis, arrives at the Court, you will perform the necessary offices, so that the courtesies shown may redound to mutual satisfaction and to the dignity of the republic, if he sustains the character of a gentleman merely; but if he produces the credentials of an ambassador you will behave to him exactly in the way observed with the ambassadors of that crown.
Ayes, 138. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
June 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
328 Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
When the English fleet left Cadiz in order to supply itself in Africa with water, which in Spain could only be bought with blood, they thought that it would not appear again off these coasts. But last week it appeared again at its original station, with the same number of ships, as if it had never gone away. They expect it to attempt something, but now their first fears have vanished they talk of it with less dread. Thus the 200 ships they spoke about have become very considerably less as well as the other particulars about this formidable force. Nevertheless, to prevent their courage from turning to temerity the king has decreed that all the goods which come from the Levant for Cadiz, for Malaga and other places outside the Strait, shall be unladed at Alicante, and sent thence by land to their destinations. This satisfies the merchants who submit to a loss of profit in exchange for security. The new fortifications of Malaga are already completed. These also afford further protection to the people, who flock there in great numbers.
They have at last decided to buy ten ships of war. They will be for another campaign I fancy, as they cannot be in time to fight the English this year. This government seems to show a deplorable facility in always coming to its decisions out of season.
Madrid, the 10th June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
329. Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Ten ships of the English fleet passed through the Strait and falling in with a, Dutch vessel carrying a rich cargo, they captured it, the device of flying false colours and trying to pass for a Hamburger proving unavailing. Two of these even entered the port of Alicante, but being fired upon by a multitude of guns, they turned their backs. It is not known whither the rest of the fleet has sailed, as only fourteen ships remain stationed off Cadiz. But they keep the place virtually besieged, as no craft can either come out or enter by sea. But as traffic on the land side is free the Spaniards laugh at these braveries, which undoubtedly redound to the hurt of those who indulge in them, since the English lose by not conquering, and they cannot conquer if they do not fight.
Meanwhile there is reported the publication of peace at Lisbon, with the celebrations performed between the English and that nation. The Spaniards do not believe it, or rather they do not wish it to be believed. It is said that Braganza has spent a quantity of money to achieve this end. It would matter little here for the money to pass from the hands of one enemy into those of another, even if both enemies resolved to employ it against them.
Madrid, the 14th June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
330. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Protector keeps up his consultations with his Council and the Major Generals, but the objections to the proposals made delay a decision longer than expected although every one awaits it eagerly and with curiosity for their own sakes. It arises from differences between his Highness and some of his Council in discussing the expedients for raising money, of which the government is in extreme need and does not know which way to turn to get into the exchequer enough to meet immediate demands and supply such heavy outgoings. Four suggestions were put forward for raising an adequate amount. The first was to double all the ordinary taxes. As these bring in 120,000l. a month it would prove very effective, but it was considered impracticable as imposing an insufferable burden on the people which might easily lead to disturbance. The second was to issue privy seals, as was done in the time of the kings, forcing the person addressed to lend a sum of money in proportion to his state. This used to be very profitable as no one refused a little money to his sovereign to enjoy so valued a privilege, especially as it was only a loan, while ambition acted as a spur to contribute. But it is recognised that this does not apply to present conditions, as the people are short of cash and not so given to vainglory seeing the heavy burdens they have to bear besides other miseries which keep them in continual distress. So it was feared this might bring them more disadvantage than profit and it was accordingly rejected. The third was to compel every one to pay a tenth of his income yearly and a fifteenth of his moveables. This also was rejected as too unjust and prejudicial to the state, since it would stir up trouble although it would bring in a great deal if it were practicable. The fourth is to convoke parliament, for as the people want it, they suppose the burdens it imposes will be borne with more patience. Although this is announced as satisfactory and they express a wish for it to meet, this is not expected because they feel sure that it would cause no slight disorder from the numerous alterations it would claim to make. It would merely be called to please the people to draw them more easily into the toils, as once the parliamentarians began to contemplate interfering with things that need regulating, they would be instantly dismissed as on previous occasions.
A vessel sent express arrived in the river yesterday evening with despatches from the fleet, which were immediately taken to his Highness. The contents are not yet known as they will not be opened before to-day. The Protector has gone for this to his country house, (fn. 2) not far from London, with a few of his most intimate councillors. This is to keep the news more secret than if it were read in the presence of the whole Council, especially as the relations between his Highness and some of the members are not quite cordial, and this necessitates more reserve and caution. If the news is good it will be published at once, but if not it will first be edited and issued in a mitigated form.
On Saturday they completed the negotiations with the ambassador of Sweden, and although he asserts the contrary I know on good authority that an alliance has been arranged with that monarch. The elector of Brandenburg is included until the completion of the special negotiations conducted here by his minister for the establishment of a close alliance. Holland remains outside this alliance though it expected to be included. This was done at Sweden's request, from pique, as Holland alone persisted in believing in the defeat of the king of Sweden, the news of which, though coming from several quarters, proves false. I am assured that though the contradiction reached Holland publication was forbidden and those who did not always write against the Swedes were threatened with imprisonment. If this be true the intention is unintelligible. Meanwhile the Dutch have put to sea with a squadron of 22 ships in order to face the Swedes, who claim entire dominion over the Baltic.
All the ports have been closed by order for 15 days to prevent any vessel going out before the sailing of the fleet which goes soon to blockade the port of Dunkirk. Although the government announces that it is for this purpose others hold that it may be for a joint attack on Dunkirk with the French, to which they are said to incline. Meanwhile 1,000 Scots have crossed to serve the Most Christian and they hope soon to have 2,000 Irish to send thither.
The Dunkirkers have captured two more very rich ships of this mart. The merchants clamour and their cry has reached the Protector; but he does not seem inclined to afford them much help as the loss is personal and does not touch interests of state. He seems the more reluctant because when he formerly asked money of the city, it was refused. This makes it the more likely that the fleet has gone to sea to operate jointly with the French rather than to stop the piracies of the Dunkirkers. We shall soon know for certain.
The king of Scotland is now at Bruges, waiting to hear from Spain in reply to his proposals and endeavouring to cause this state as much uneasiness and apprehension as possible by his proximity.
London, the 16th June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
331. Giuseppe Armano, Venetian Consul at Leghorn, to Thadio Vico, the Resident at Florence.
Report of the English fleet obtained from the ship Annibale of England which arrived in this port with a cargo of cloth and lead.
12 days ago they were spoken outside the Strait by an English frigate of the ten stationed off Cadiz, Blach being in Portugal with the rest of the fleet, where he has made an offensive and defensive alliance with that king against the Spaniards. Blach was about to send his heavy ships back to England, as being useless at this stage, and was going to use frigates only.
Leghorn, the 17th June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 19.
Senato,
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
332. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The United Provinces are not on particularly good terms with Protector Cromwell because he insists that their ships shall submit to be searched when they are met at sea by those of England. The States refuse to concede this and ask that commissioners may be appointed on both sides who may reciprocally visit the ships before they leave port. It is not known whether Cromwell will agree to this.
Scioni, the 19th June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
333. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Letters of Cromwell have been intercepted in which he strongly urges the king of Sweden to conclude peace with Poland, pointing out the advantages which might accrue to him elsewhere from his forces and the opportunity of humbling the Papacy, as he calls it.
Vienna, the 20th June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
334. Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Up to the present the sole subject of conversation with all has been the English feet. Tnis has divided into three squadrons, one of which is stationed near the Strait, the second remains in sight of Cadiz, but without doing it any harm, while the curious speculate as to where the third may be. Some believe it at Lisbon, where a peace is reported between Portugal and England, although there have never been any hostilities between the two countries. Others say that this third squadron has gone to Africa to renew its supplies of water and other necessaries required by the whole fleet. However some Dutch ships piled up with rich cargoes for Cadiz will not pass through the Strait and are unloading at Cartagena.
Madrid, the 21st June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
335. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Protector and Council have found it impossible to carry out the projects for raising money which I reported a week ago unless they wish to drive the people to extremity. Considering the need for money, which is of the utmost urgency for satisfying the troops, whose pay is in arrear, and who begin to complain, for if they joined the malcontents it might kindle a fire impossible to extinguish, his Highness has decided to renew the imposition of 60,000l. sterling a month upon all England, to be paid for 6 months as it was previously. The order has since been made public; but it is quite likely that it will not render the service expected or as much as in past years, as the people are tired of these heavy payments, which crush them without the smallest profit, and they declare that they will not pay a farthing beyond the ordinary taxes. But they will have to yield to force what they will not concede freely, as power rests in the hands of the ruler and will do so if he is not short of money.
The differences between the Protector and his Council originated solely from the fixed determination of his Highness to try the third of the plans for raising money, viz. to take a tenth of income and a 15th of moveables. The more the Council resisted the stronger was the Protector's determination. Finally he yielded to the prudent representations, which were all directed for his good, and the plan was rejected as too unjust and likely to stir up trouble, which they wish to avoid as much as possible.
Although the government professes still to favour the calling of a new parliament, those who are well informed about English affairs are sure it is only a device to please the people and keep them quiet. Even if they intended to do as they say, it would be in a manner never practised before and it would depend entirely on the Protector's will. He could be quite easy in his mind as the parliament would be composed entirely of his creatures and nothing would happen without his knowledge or which could injure his all powerful authority. They say that each of the major generals now in London, for the conferences which they continue every day and a good part of the night, is to choose two persons from his district, of whom the Protector will select one, and parliament will be formed in this way, so there is no doubt but that the Protector will nominate those most attached to his party in whom he has perfect confidence. This form of choosing parliament, which takes away all the rights which the people have in such case, might lead to some disturbance, as the people would on no account suffer a wrong so palpable and startling.
The despatches from the fleet have been opened and guarded with such secrecy that it has not been possible to find out a word of what they contain. One may conclude that news so long concealed is not very good. Every one speaks according to his personal bias, but there is nothing whatever to go upon.
The commissioners of this state hold frequent meetings in the house of the Dutch ambassador about the naval treaty now in negotiation between England and Holland. The sole question to be considered is a declaration as to what vessels the English claim to search and what they will allow to go free, all in order to prevent future disputes. Considerable uneasiness is occasioned here not only by the Dutch despatching a powerful fleet to the Baltic but by the energy with which they go on building ships of war. When the Protector asked the Dutch ambassador for what purpose the States were arming so powerfully he was answered that when their High Mightinesses asked his Highness why he equipped the fleet now at sea he said it was not their business to inquire into his plans. This shut Cromwell's mouth and he did not resume the subject. All the same, he complains of it bitterly and has sent an express to Holland to get a declaration from the States whether they mean to be with him or with Spain. They are now assembled to decide on their answer and give it to the envoy. He asks that it shall be categorical and also claims that this state shall keep an English agent in the Dutch Council.
As the English ships taken by the Dunkirk and Ostend corsairs were escorted by a Dutch squadron the States consider it strange that their ships, acting merely as convoy, were not respected, as they suffered the same fate. Accordingly they have sent an express to the Court at Brussels to make complaint. It is not yet known what excuses are offered; they will consist of generalities of no value. Some English ships cruising about for these pirates recently fell in with four of them, including the Admiral and Vice Admiral of Dunkirk, carrying 27 and 22 guns respectively. Attacked by the English they fought valiantly for 9 hours until they finally yielded to superior force. The ships were sunk, 43 men killed, 150 taken and several wounded. (fn. 3) This is a serious blow to the Dunkirkers; but they will soon recover and put to sea again to dispute every stroke with the English. After all they only lose ships and guns, while the English are constantly losing goods and inestimable wealth.
London, the 23rd June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
336. Thadio Vico, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
In the course of a conversation with the Cardinal (fn. 4) his Eminence said that he did not believe that the rule of Cromwell was a matter of human knowledge but all enchantment, which God alone could dissipate and destroy. This is bound to happen in the end more especially if he cherishes such devilish frenzies as the idea of ruining the Catholic religion.
Florence, the 24th June, 1656.
[Italian.]
June 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
337. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The discussions at the palace between his Highness, the Council and the Major Generals continue without intermission. They proceed with such circumspection that it is impossible to find out anything; but their chief preoccupation is to find money that being most pressing and necessary under present circumstances. They do not know what to do as any plan they put into execution would undoubtedly irritate the malcontents and excite disturbances among the people. Although the government could easily put these down by main force such things would be extremely distasteful to his Highness and would disturb the quiet which is so desirable for him. He has little enjoyment seeing the constant agitation in which he finds himself, having to concentrate his attention on so many things which are required to keep in check a populace so humoursome and so prone to fish in troubled waters as this. Besides the suggestions reported others were put forward but after consideration they were judged to be too prejudicial and likely to do more harm than good. So these were rejected and they are now considering others which will always prove difficult to carry out, since whatever they may be they will cause grumbling and an outcry as when it comes to paying everyone objects and does his best to avoid the obligation. So it only remains to see what time will bring forth in an affair of such moment.
Everyone asks his neighbour for news of the fleet for which there is the greatest desire after remaining in the dark so long. That which reached the Court is kept secret and no one can find out. This long and tiresome silence causes much discussion inspired by personal bias, but there is nothing to go upon. Many confirm the differences between the two commanders Blach and Montagu, and as this is a matter of the greatest moment everyone would like to know the truth. Others say that finding it impossible to do anything, as they found every place determined to resist and well equipped to do so, the fleet has orders to return; but this cannot be asserted, only time can make all clear. Many other things are said, but as they have no foundation in fact I need not report them.
The reply from Portugal being so long delayed another express has been sent thither with the duplicate of what was taken by the envoy of the Protector's minister, who, it is feared may have perished in a storm at sea. Besides the duplicate the envoy takes instructions for pressing on the conclusion of the negotiations. It remains to see which way things will turn; no one can venture to foretell.
Troops are being collected secretly in this city to be placed on the squadron of warships they propose to send to sea shortly, it is stated to blockade the port of Dunkirk to relieve this nation of the damage done by those pirates. I have confirmation that they propose a joint operation with the French against Dunkirk. This would be a very troublesome enterprise and not so easy of success as they would like it believed, for the town is in a good state of defence, and other operations would have to be performed before they could think of Dunkirk, viz. either Gravelines or the fort of Mardyk, both well supplied and fortified and with vigorous forces enabling them to defy the assault of any enemy.
The way in which they raise these levies deserves remark. It is done without noise or the knowledge of anyone. They do not beat up troops to see who wish to enrol, as is usual, but have persons who go about investigating where they may find men capable of bearing arms. They give these a shilling as a sort of gage, with orders to set out whither they are directed at a moment's notice. Thus without observation and in extreme secrecy they collect troops to be embarked when the ships are ready and sent on the enterprises which they have in mind.
An order of his Highness has been published this week directing all who cross the sea into this country, whether foreigners or English, under most severe penalties to notify themselves within 24 hours after landing to officials appointed for the purpose stating whence they come, where they are lodging, in London or elsewhere, what business they have, in short what has brought them here. This activity is merely to discover whether there is any intelligence with King Charles, whose proximity causes great apprehension.
In Cornwall, a part of this country towards Spain, 30 Dunkirk warships put in an appearance. They burned 5 small English vessels in the port, captured 5 or 6 large barques and a large frigate of war mounting 30 guns. Meeting with no great resistance they landed 4 or 5,000 men and fortified themselves in the house of a gentleman named Godolfin, going about to rob and spoil all the houses and all the country. (fn. 5) It is said that after plundering they will sail away as there are no fortified places to besiege and they only want to plunder. The news has caused great annoyance here and orders were immediately issued for troops to march in that direction to quell the tumults and prevent the Dunkirkers from further progress. Soldiers have been taken from each company of the guards and in this way they have speedily formed a corps capable of confronting the enemy. The governor of the district, who was here with the Major Generals, immediately took post for those parts to put things straight, if he arrives before the Dunkirkers have left. The succour will certainly be late and useless as they have a long march of 200 miles which will take over two weeks, so that the Dunkirkers will find it perfectly easy to carry off all they want without the smallest obstacle.
London, the 30th June, 1656.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 The fact seems to be as follows: 12 ships were taken on 30 April o.s. and 10 more on 1 May o.s. They were colliers which had taken coal to Amsterdam from Newcastle and were returning escorted by a Dutch warship. Public Intelligencer, May 26–June 2; June 2–9. Thurloe: State Papers, Vol. v., pages 57–9. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655–6, page 553.
2 Hampton Court.
3 The raiders were those who had taken the colliers. Being caught by Whitehorne's squadron, they scattered. Three out of four got away. The admiral, the Maria of Ostend, Capt. Erasmus Bruer, was engaged by the Advice and Great President, and later by the Drake. He surrendered to the Advice and soon after sank. This took place on Tuesday 3–13 June. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655–6, pages 355–7. Public Intelligencer, June 2–9.
4 Presumably Giovanni Carlo de' Medici, the Grand Duke's brother.
5 William Godolphin, head of the family, lived at Godolphin in Breage, about half way between Helston and St. Erth. Lysons: Magna Britannia, Vol. iii., pages 40–1. There seems to be no other record of this raid. Cornwall was in the jurisdiction of Maj.-Gen. Desborough.


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