Venice
July 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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237-246

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'Venice: July 1656', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 237-246. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89821 Date accessed: 18 September 2014.


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July 1656

July 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
338. To the Protector of England.
The republic welcomes with extreme satisfaction any opportunity of giving expression to its great esteem and regard for your Highness. The request contained in your letters for the giving up of the ship which surrendered at discretion in our fight against the Turkish fleet finds us as eager to satisfy you as you seem to be in wishing it. Accordingly with this object alone in view, and overcoming certain serious difficulties which might stand in the way, the Senate is moving with alacrity to give orders for the restitution of the vessel to the merchants in the selfsame condition in which it is at present, in the assurance that this evidence of goodwill and esteem will duly impress you and joined with the promptings of Christian piety will prevent ships of that country from taking service except in the cause of religion which suffers only too severely from the assaults of barbarians, and that you will meet these advances with equal marks of esteem and of the most friendly relations, to render the bonds uniting you to the republic increasingly indissoluble. We wish your Highness all success.
Resolved that the magistracy of the Fleet be directed to deliver to the merchants, its legitimate owners, the ship Gran Prencipe, taken in the fight at the Dardanelles last year, in the exact condition in which it now is.
Ayes, 119. Noes, 2. Neutral, 5.
[Italian.]
July 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
339. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
With the ducal missives of the 3rd June, received last week I received the reply to the Protector about the ship Concord, and the other papers sent to enlighten me on the subject. I will perform my office in accordance expressing the esteem of the Senate for his Highness and all this valorous nation.
The Protector and his Council are unable to come to a definite conclusion after all their secret meetings at the palace. All of them are beginning to grow tired and ill feeling is beginning between them, preventing an agreement, so it is expected that the assembly will dissolve without any decision of moment.
Since the first news from the fleet, which is still kept remarkably quiet, more arrived yesterday evening by a ship that cast anchor in the Thames. It states that the fleet remains idle without doing anything before Cadiz. During a calm some Spanish galleons came out to attack the English, who defended themselves boldly, their guns killing several men on the galleons, which would have been obliged to yield to the overwhelming strength of the English if there had been the slighest wind, allowing them to pursue and board. This news, being of no consequence, was immediately published. But it is believed that the letters contained more important matter, not made public, about the quarrels between the leaders Blake and Montagu. Everyone speaks about it openly, but it is not absolutely certain, as only the Protector knows. There must certainly be something in it or the talk would not be so general. The fact that one who takes part in affairs of state has been heard to speak unfavourably of Blake and make several accusations against him leads one to believe that the reports are not far from the truth, unless it was due to a private grudge and to injure Blake, who is envied by many who would like to see him unhorsed and put down.
Nothing certain is yet known about the affair with Portugal, though the envoy is expected back soon with the completion of the negotiations, as ships have come in which report that an adjustment has been arranged between the king there and this state. As they passed another vessel coming from Lisbon, with an Englishman on board, it is hoped that he is the envoy, and so his arrival is eagerly expected with impatience to know if the reports are true and if the Protector has obtained the satisfaction desired.
Their energy over the enterprise of the Indies shows no relaxation. They are constantly sending thither provisions and reinforcements of men, munitions and ships. A considerable number of Scots under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Bramston has been embarked recently for Jamaica. Before this, while on their way to the sea in a quarrel between two soldiers one slit the other's nose. This incensed their comrades and the numbers increasing, two parties were formed out of which arose a considerable skirmish in which 40 were killed and 80 wounded. The officers interfered to settle the dispute and on the following day the men who were left marched quietly to the port of embarcation.
A fire that broke out accidentally at St. Johnstown in Scotland consumed the greater part of the buildings allowing little time for saving furniture, provisions and other commodities, of which a great quantity was reduced to ashes. A quantity of munitions of war also blew up, to the great detriment of the fortress. The government is disturbed as it considers such accidents of ill augury and because they tend to create disturbances. (fn. 1)
A considerable quantity of gunpowder in barrels was sent to Aberdeen in Scotland in the guise of merchandise and passed the customs as soap. They were subsequently discovered and all arrested when they thought themselves quite safe. When the news reached the state they at once ordered a thorough inquiry, and if they find the perpetrator he will be severely punished and pay the penalty with his life. The powder was undoubtedly sent to Scotland for the service of King Charles, who tries to increase his party everywhere with promises and blandishments of every kind. He has even sent his partisan to this city in disguise to treat separately and to raise money from the merchants, who have always supplied him with some and continue to do so from the love they bear his Majesty, although they profess the contrary to the Protector. If their duplicity should reach his ears they would no doubt be severely punished, as the penalties for such transgressions are serious.
The Dunkirkers continue to trouble this mart considerably. Two more large and very rich ships belonging to English merchants, besides the numbers already reported, have been captured recently. One of them was coming from the Indies laden with goods of inestimable value; they took it under the nose of the English opposite the port of Dover. Another large English frigate, mounting 20 guns, meeting with five Dunkirkers was attacked and after resisting for six hours the captain, seeing it was impossible to escape destruction in view of the disparity of force, decided to fire the magazine rather than surrender to the enemy. He blew up at the same time eighty Dunkirkers who had already boarded him. (fn. 2)
London, the 7th July, 1656.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
July 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
340. To the Resident in England.
Acknowledge his letters of the 16th ult. They deserve the utmost attention owing to the great importance of all decisions taken by the Protector. It will be his duty to keep the Senate well informed of everything. As a sign of esteem it has been decided to release the ship Gran Prencipe to the merchants. Enclose the letter sent to the Protector upon this, which he will present with an appropriate office.
Ayes, 128. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
July 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
341. Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English fleet has departed from Cadiz after having remained in the neighbourhood of that port for three months on end without having done anything except to betray its desire and also its powerlessness to occupy that place. They talk of an alliance between France, Portugal and England, Braganza having paid Cromwell, so they say, 500,000 pieces of eight more to avoid having him for an enemy than for anything else. But I cannot vouch for the truth of this.
Six days ago there arrived here the duke of Jorc, second son of the unhappy king of England. He is being received here with great courtesy, the king entertaining him at the Retiro, to receive him publicly afterwards with full ceremonial. He will be visited by all the Court, the Grandees and ministers, but from what I hear he will behave to all with great reserve, as if it were a matter of concern to his Highness to preserve his declining dignity. They say that he comes from Paris, where he found no refuge, the demands of Cromwell having prevailed over the claims of kin.
Madrid, the 12th July, 1656.
[Italian.]
July 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
342. Giuseppe Armeno, Venetian Consul at Leghorn, to the Resident Thadio Vico.
A Dunkirk frigate which cruises about these waters has taken a very rich English ship and carried it into Porto Longone. These same Dunkirkers have captured more than sixty other English ships in a short time in the English Channel.
Leghorn, the 12th July, 1656.
[Italian.]
July 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
343. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After long and secret consultations which took place twice daily at the palace between the Protector and his Council, with no little ruffling of temper owing to sharp words passed between them upon points that they have never been able to agree about, they have just recently concluded the meetings without settling anything of great moment. It has been definitely decided to summon parliament and orders for the election of the persons to take part have already been issued. They are to assemble in this city on the 17th September and take an oath in the church of Westminster on the same day, the session opening on the day after. It will be a general parliament of all three kingdoms, composed of 400 persons. The members are to be elected and chosen by the communities and then approved by his Highness and the Council. It is not yet known how long it will be permitted to meet, but it is unquestionably a limited parliament and not likely to last long.
The chief reasons which have induced them to take this step are stated to be the selection of a successor to his Highness, as in the event of his death they fear that serious disturbances may arise owing to the claims to this conspicuous dignity of many persons who consider themselves worthy. Although it was declared subsequently that the successor to be appointed ought to be nominated by parliament if one was in being at the time of the death of the present Protector, and if not by the Council, yet they are re-opening the question, the issue of which will all redound to the honour and greater glory of his Highness, since the succession to this high dignity will be given to his eldest son, rendering the government of the three kingdoms and all this most powerful nation perpetual in the house of Cromwell, unless new accidents arrest its progress. It is also believed that it will confer on his Highness legislative authority. This has been mooted before, but it was opposed and could not be carried in spite of every effort. If it is managed this time the people in future will have to submit blindly to every decision of his Highness and there will be no need for any more parliaments, as all power of every kind will be vested solely in him. Accordingly it is not unlikely that there will be difficulties this time also and that it will not be so easy to carry a point of this consequence.
The readiest and most expeditious way of getting money in an amount proportionate to the need will also be a question for the attention of parliament. This is considered the most powerful motive which influenced their decision, for the people desires one with all its heart and by gratifying them in this respect they conceive hopes of getting considerable sums of gold as the people will agree without difficulty to the payments that are demanded and the Protector will use his arts of flattery and blandishment on the members to induce them to impose taxes and pave the way for the collection of a great quantity of money in abundance sufficient to meet the requirements of all the calls that are made on them.
Reports about the fleet have been heard this week but how true cannot be known since no news has come since what I wrote in my last. They state that the fleet has divided into four squadrons and one of these is anchored opposite one of the four principal ports of the Catholic to prevent any ship coming out or entering. They also mean to make the Spaniards suffer every possible act of hostility and do them all the hurt they can. But it is not easy for the English to trouble them as they would like since they meet with a vigorous resistance everywhere which renders the attainment of their designs difficult; it also makes them lie slothful and inactive for a long while off the coasts of Spain, to their own discomfort, from the wastage and lack of things necessary for their subsistence, not without some injury as well, for when they come before a port they are always saluted with artillery, and although it is not announced, this does them some injury both to the men and the ships.
It is said that the government intends to allow the fleet to plough the waves until the meeting of parliament, in order that they may have a motive for forcing the people to pay taxes, and that parliament may have the more reason for consenting thereto. After this they say that the fleet will be ordered to return, it being impossible to attempt anything useful which will bring lustre and glory to their arms because of the strong defence offered by the Spaniards.
With great ability and amid universal applause the Latin secretary, who was sent to Portugal, has completed his negotiations to the entire satisfaction of the government and with considerable advantage to the country. He has not yet returned but full information has come in his letters and in a way that leaves no room for doubt. His delay in returning to England is due to some accident which happened to him at the very moment when he was about to start from Lisbon, obliging him to postpone his journey for a brief space. While he was proceeding to his residence in his own coach two men on horseback appeared and fired two pistol shots, one of which struck him in the right hand, wounding him severely. This barbarous act is believed to be in revenge for the judgment carried out in this city against the brother of the Portuguese ambassador, but the malefactors did not succeed in taking his life as they intended. (fn. 3) The monarch there was greatly incensed at the incident and ordered every effort to be made to find the delinquents evincing great anxiety that so detestable a crime should not go unpunished, against the minister of a great potentate, offering no mean reward for those who should denounce the culprits. The government heard the news with the concern due to such an incident and to the affection professed for the minister, though hopes are held out that the envoy will soon have recovered his health and be fit to come and report his business orally; the formal announcement of the conclusion of this will be deferred until his arrival.
Two important reasons have induced Portugal to make an adjustment with England on terms not entirely favourable to its own interests, from what one hears, and consequently entirely satisfactory to this state. The first that when at the outset that king seemed reluctant and made difficulties about consenting to the requests of the English, under various flimsy pretexts, and these were passed on here; instead of abating the original demands, England displayed the greatest determination and not only was the envoy instructed to go on pressing his original demands, but his Highness sent for the Portuguese resident here when he dealt with him very sharply and told him he would have to leave this Court if his master would not agree to what was asked, as they appeared to care little whether they broke with that king as well and boasted that the power of England was equal to dealing with no matter what weight of arms and with any power soever. Taken aback at a reception so different from his expectations the resident begged his Highness to allow him to stay on in London and promised to send an express to his master and try to induce him to satisfy this government in every way. The Protector made no reply and took no further steps in the matter, but by allowing the resident to write he gained his purpose by a display of anger and by feigning not to care for what would probably not have pleased him had it happened.
The second reason was that delay in arranging a definitive and satisfactory peace might expose them to considerable inconvenience and loss, as they were expecting two rich fleets from Bresil and Goa. Knowing the fondness of the English for sugar it was feared they might want to see how much the fleets carried, and instead of its coming for their own use it might be carried away to a country which consumes an incredible quantity. This might easily have happened seeing the discrepancy between the forces and the overwhelming strength of the English fleet; so that is why they desired an adjustment and the completion of all the negotiations.
This week also news has come that the Dunkirkers have taken three or four small vessels which were bringing goods to this mart. Accordingly the merchants continue their outcry and reclamations in view of the losses to which they are exposed without any fault of their own.
The king of Scotland is still at Bruges awaiting from Spain the approval of his negotiations. He hopes before long to receive not only this, but a suitable provision for his maintenance, seeing that he had word from Madrid that they were negotiating to provide Flanders with half a million, of which he will have his share.
London, the 14th July, 1656.
[Italian.]
July 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
344. To the Resident in England.
Commendation of what he has done. He should devote the same careful attention to pick up all that occurs that is worthy of consideration both as regards the direction of internal affairs and for the correspondences and transactions with foreign princes, far and near, for the purpose of keeping the Senate supplied with a constant stream of all those affairs and this will serve to throw into greater relief his good service.
Ayes, 114. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
July 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
345. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
At last, after ceaseless importunity, I have been admitted to audience of his Highness, which has been delayed solely for the reasons given. I went yesterday after dinner, accompanied by Sir [Oliver] Fleming, and was treated exactly like the residents of crowned heads. After passing through several rooms I found the Protector awaiting me, with the Treasurer of England and the secretary of state. After the usual civilities I spoke to the following effect: the most serene republic desired to express its peculiar regard for his Highness and to draw closer the bonds of a perfect correspondence and friendship with this most powerful state, and would seize every opportunity to show this. That was why I am ordered to stay here as resident, as shown by the credentials, which I then presented. After this compliment, which the Master of the Ceremonies interpreted, I presented the reply to his Highness's letter to the Senate in favour of the heirs of the captain of the ship Concord, at the same time expressing the desire of the Senate to do everything possible to gratify his Highness upon every occasion. The Protector expressed the highest esteem for the republic and his regard for me personally whom he would always be glad to receive as the representative of so august a republic, as he was most eager to show his cordial feelings for the Senate. He also expressed his thanks for what your Excellencies have done to settle the affair of the ship Concord promising to send a suitable reply after he had read the ducal letter.
All this week has been devoted to issuing writs for the parliament to be held next September. Everyone is now saying that this time the Protector will be made king. But it will all come to nothing because even if the parliamentarians were disposed that way his Highness would never agree, since he knows full well that the only reason for raising him to that dignity would be to take the army out of his hands. As he exists by that he will never let it out of his hands and will rest content with the title he now holds avoiding the greater which would really mean a diminution rather than an augmentation of the dominating authority he now possesses.
They also talk about parliament taking up (progettare) peace with the Spaniards, and it is believed that an adjustment may easily be effected. I will keep on the watch and report all that is done when parliament meets.
The Protector himself has stated that the fleet has fought with the Spaniards; as he did not say who gained the victory authentic news is eagerly awaited. The reports of differences between Blake and Montagu were not untrue, and this was the chief reason for dividing the fleet into squadrons. They will be very weak and unable to offer much resistance if tried.
Other letters from Lisbon bring confirmation of the peace between England and Portugal, and hold out hopes of the speedy return of the envoy, who is recovering his health. They further state that the envoy has sent a gentleman to the fleet to inform them of the accommodation, so that if they meet with the Portuguese fleet or other vessels of that nation they may let them pass freely, and to prevent them acting on the original orders received a long while ago.
After much discussion the Dutch have finally decided to remain neutral as between Spain and this government. Nevertheless they will not fail to wage a covert war on the English, as under the name of Dunkirkers they scour the sea and prey upon the ships of this state that they meet, without the smallest compunction.
London, the 21st July, 1656.
[Italian.]
July 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
346. To the Resident in England.
Acknowledge his letters of the 30th ult. He will keep his attention fixed on the fresh gathering of troops, which is proceeding with great secrecy, and duly advise the Senate of all.
Ayes, 93. Noes, 3. Neutral, 3.
[Italian.]
July 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
347. Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English fleet, after having vanished out of sight of Cadiz for the space of fifteen days, has appeared again at its original station and there remains motionless, without attempting anything. The ship Sanson, which left Malamocco some months ago with a heavy cargo for Cadiz, was immediately stopped by the English when approaching that port; but our merchants write to me from that place that they hope to recover it by proving to the English commanders that the goods on board belong to the subjects of the republic.
Madrid, the 26th July, 1656.
[Italian.]
July 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
348. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Further confirmation arrived last week of the adjustment between this country and Portugal, to the complete satisfaction and definite advantage of England. It was brought by a gentleman sent express by the English minister at Lisbon. He also confirms the affair with the envoy, who has almost completely recovered. The king there was exceedingly upset at the incident and sent ten physicians and as many of the most skilful surgeons at his Court to assist the cure. By the treaty Portugal is to pay a considerable sum of money and a beginning is made already as the gentleman has brought 50,000l. with him, paid by the king in virtue of an article in the treaty. It comes very opportunely to help them meet the countless calls. The publication of the accommodation is postponed until the return of the envoy. Meanwhile all rejoice at a success so fortunate and advantageous to the country. The merchants are more pleased than any others and they would like to see an adjustment with the Catholic as well, because the mart suffers severely through the interruption of trade and the losses they sustain daily through the depredations of the Dunkirkers who are constantly capturing some vessel or barque with its cargo. The approach of the Brasil fleet which was reported to be a few days out from Lisbon, and is supposed to have arrived by now, did much to hasten the treaty with England and induced them to agree to the English demands and pay down their money very liberally.
With the fleet so far away they cannot get news of it so speedily as they would like or detailed enough to satisfy the eager curiosity of the people, so they must wait to see whether time will realise their hopes and imaginings. General Blake, whose squadron remains before Cadiz has stopped and searched some Dutch ships, and among their copious cargoes he found a great quantity of plate belonging to Spaniards, to the value of 400,000l. Blake at once sent a caique to his Highness with the news asking what course he must pursue in an affair of such consequence, since the Dutch captains assert that the money belongs to merchants of their own country and to Flemings. The Protector has directed his general to detain the ships until further order, as he wants to see what the States will say and what excuses they will advance in their justification. But it is known beyond a doubt that the plate belonged to Spaniards and was intended for the requirements of Flanders. It is expected that this government will convert it to its own use and make it serve for the present most urgent needs. This new act of search may produce evil results and stir the Dutch, in spite of their declaration of neutrality, to some decision not entirely agreeable to either state. The negotiations on naval matters, which the ambassador here is conducting, are not yet terminated and consequently it is impossible to know what are the demands put forward by either side.
The unfortunate issue of the siege of Valenciennes (fn. 4) has changed the aspect of affairs and serves as a check on the designs of the French to operate jointly with the Protector against Flanders and Dunkirk in particular. Yet they still proclaim their willingness here to attempt some diversion in favour of the French. This week they held a general muster of all the troops and I am told that a portion of the best trained and most seasoned was selected to be embarked next week and sent to the blockade of Dunkirk. But things cannot happen as they imagine because Dunkirk can never fall before other places are taken, and the French are not at present in a condition to make so hazardous a venture and the English cannot achieve the task alone. Moreover it is unlikely that the Protector will weaken the troops which maintain his rule and send a part of them to Flanders where, without much difficulty, they might be bought by king Charles, for the attempt would certainly be made.
The king of Scotland never ceases trying to stir up trouble in this city through his partisans and he endeavours to induce the people here to revolt by his flatteries and blandishments. He has sent persons in disguise who live in London secretly and endeavour with great care and circumspection to win men over in favour of their natural prince, making promises freely and pointing out how favourable is the opportunity for shaking off the yoke and delivering themselves from the present domination. They are taking soundings to find out whether, supposing his Majesty appeared here with an adequate fleet, the people would receive and defend him and help him to capture the Tower, after which the rest would fall into his hands. It is unlikely that these extraordinary plans will have the issue that his Majesty's followers desire, especially as the merchants, who have always contributed ready money for the king, do not now seem quite so ready to go on, saying in excuse that they are exhausted by the exorbitant taxes and by the depredations of the pirates at sea which completely disorganise their trade and stop all their gains.
London, the 28th July, 1656.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]

Footnotes

1 It took place on the night of Thursday, 5–15 June. Firth: Scotland and the Protectorate, page 330. Thurloe: State Papers, Vol. v., page 97.
2 The Greyhound, Capt. John Wager. The fight took place on Tuesday, 10–20 June off the Farne Islands. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655–6, pages 378, 562, 564. The Greyhound was a small frigate of 126 tons, 12 guns, built in 1636. Oppenheim: Administration of the Royal Navy, page 255.
3 Meadowe was attacked on May 1–11, the same day that the articles were signed. Thurloe: State Papers, Vol. v., page 55.
4 The Spaniards under Don John of Austria and Condé defeated the French, esieging Valenciennes, on 16th July N.S.


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