Venice
March 1657

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1931

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20-35

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'Venice: March 1657', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 31: 1657-1659 (1931), pp. 20-35. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89996 Date accessed: 30 August 2014.


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March 1657

March 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
15. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The suspension of the sentence against Sindercomb was merely to allow a further examination to find out who are those who persist in these wicked designs, on the assumption that the terror and certainty of death would touch his conscience and lead to the disclosure of many accomplices. But he remained steadfast and it was not possible to extract any more from him than what he said at the first, i.e. that the number of those who have undertaken to make an attempt on Cromwell is not inconsiderable, and he feels sure they will do better than he, but without specifying anyone. Thus they are exceedingly puzzled and the government has tried every way possible to clear this highly important matter up, fearing much and in constant trepidation; but all their efforts prove fruitless. Seeing that they could get nothing out of the criminal, they decided to carry out the execution which was to take place on the following morning. The intimation of death did not move him, but only the manner of it as he himself admitted. As his arrangement with the keeper of the prison to obtain poison had come to nought he found a way to supply himself with what he had not been able to obtain from others. After the announcement he threw himself on his bed, and those who had constantly watched him since the discovery of his dealings with the keeper, supposed that he wished to rest and left him alone for a brief space. He seized this opportunity to draw in through his nostrils a certain powder which killed him almost immediately. Those on guard entered at the very moment that he expired and at once applied every means for restoring him, but in vain. So they reported the matter to the palace forwarding a paper written and signed by himself stating that the only thing he objected to was the manner of his death and so he had decided to die by his own hand without the assistance of any one else. As the sentence could not be carried out they pronounced another, to drive a great iron stake through the body and bury it at the original place of execution.
As ordained by parliament, this day has been spent in the three kingdoms in returning thanks for the preservation of his Highness from the conspiracy. (fn. 1) The manner in which the people here perform these devotions is first by numerous sermons and then feasting and banquets and to-day the Protector has sumptuously entertained at Whitehall all the parliament in the selfsame hall where the fatal accident of the staircase occurred. Many think that on this occasion his Highness will be presented with the crown, since the question of the succession was brought up again some days ago and they speak as if it was decided. It is also known that Fiscier, who composed the Latin verses in honour of your Excellencies' victory over the Turk, is hard at work on others to be issued when the Protector has been raised to the supreme dignity, and that a quantity of gold and silver medals have been ordered by the government to be distributed on the occasion, so very soon we shall see the result which is eagerly anticipated.
Parliament is devoting its attention to raising money in addition to the amounts already decided, as it is badly needed to carry out all the plans which they have in mind. Accordingly they have decided to impose a tax on all buildings newly erected in London and its suburbs to a distance of ten miles out, from 1620 onwards, the owners being obliged to pay one year's rent for once only. In 36 years they calculate that over 60,000 houses have been erected in and about this city, great and small, and taking an average of 10l. per annum a large sum would be collected adequate for their present needs and to the great penury they are experiencing. But while the advantage is considerable it is not perfectly certain that the people will agree to it, the burden being so heavy, in addition to so many others. They decide on this decree because the erection of new buildings was forbidden under severe penalties and by it they propose to punish those who disobeyed these orders and to restrain others by this example from doing the like, indeed they contemplate issuing even more severe prohibitions in the matter.
London, the 2nd March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 6.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
16. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Cromwell's envoy proceeded some days ago to Cales to meet his wife who was crossing from England to France and coming to join him at Paris. He has been longer away than was expected and his non appearance has given rise to a report that he has gone to London again about his negotiations. We shall soon see whether this is true or false.
Paris, the 6th March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
17. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The entertainment of the members of parliament at Whitehall a week ago is described as the rarest ever seen in England. Besides a most sumptuous banquet they were entertained the whole day with exquisite music while all the guns of the Tower of London were discharged several times as well as 50 pieces placed on purpose before the palace. Nothing was said at the time about the matter I mentioned, as many expected, but on the following Monday it was brought up in parliament in the following way. Sir [Christopher] Pach, who was mayor of London last year, told the Speaker that he had a proposal which concerned the welfare and peace of the nation, and asked leave to introduce it. At this point one of the major generals, who is opposed to the Protector, knowing what Pach intended to propose, rose and protested loudly that it was not reasonable to agree to the reading of anything in that place unless they first knew what it was about. One of his Highness's party retorted that as Pach was a member of credit and repute they could be certain that he would propose nothing that was not for the general good. The question was debated for four whole hours and on being finally put to the vote 150 were in favour and 52 against, so the reading of the proposal was carried. Its chief points are:
That there shall be a king, a house of lords and a lower house.
That the number of lords shall not exceed 70.
That a parliament shall be summoned every three years.
That no one engaged for the late king can be chosen to sit in parliament.
That the members elected by the provinces can only be rejected with the consent of a committee of parliament joined with the Council of State.
That the king shall have power to declare his successor.
That money may not be levied without parliament.
After the reading General Lambert, a bitter enemy of the Protector, (although he has so successfully dissimulated his feeling that his Highness considers him a supporter rather than an opponent) opposed it vigorously, arguing that to set up a king again was entirely contrary to all the oaths and protestations made by every one and to the motives for which they had taken up arms and shed so much blood, and it was not in reason or justice to make any change. This was not the question of the succession. On that he was not disinclined to gratify his Highness and would be content if that very instant parliament should nominate some one to succeed after the Protector's death. Some others also expressed themselves against it, especially a member of Lambert's party named Robinson. Unmindful of the respect due to the Protector he was not content to say that the proposal ought to be rejected but more audaciously suggested that it ought to be torn up and burned by the common hangman, a suggestion that evoked no applause.
In spite of this opposition the matter went forward and it was decided by a majority to receive and approve the proposal, which was read for the second time on Tuesday. At the third it will become law and after that there will be nothing more to say and no one can upset the achievement of what they set out to do.
To render this act more solemn parliament resolved to suspend its sittings for three days, setting apart to-day to be spent in prayer and fasting, hoping to obtain inspiration thereby to do what will turn out for the good of the nation.
Meanwhile the former major generals, who are utterly opposed to this motion, do not remain idle. Every evening they and some of the chief officers of the army meet together to discuss how they may prevent this proposal of Pach from being carried, as they expect it to be. It is therefore probable that they will present a paper in parliament on the subject in the name of the army, which does not seem to welcome the project. To-morrow everything should be settled and there is no longer any doubt but that the Protector will be proclaimed king and finally attain that supreme rank and title to which he has aspired so long although officially he has professed to detest and abhor it.
The supporters of King Charles will be supremely delighted to see him exalted to this position, believing that it will bring about his ruin. It is not easy to see why they think so unless it is because they think the people will not suffer him in such a station and in clamouring against him and those who have exalted him will acclaim their legitimate sovereign if they are to have a king. They cherish the hope that not only the people but the army as well will turn against him with due encouragement from the house of Stuart and will smoothe the way for his Majesty's return to his kingdom.
After this resolution has been passed it will be taken to pieces so that all the points may be minutely examined one by one, to arrange for the inauguration and establishment of the new king, to settle the time for the coronation and all the other matters which require consideration in a question of this consequence. Many believe that they will return to the ancient forms, setting up the royal house with earls, lords etc. as under the past kings. Others think that his Highness will keep the style set up when he assumed the dignity he now holds. Time will show and I will keep on the watch.
Meanwhile I must repeat my request for instructions as to how I must adapt myself to this change. If these are late in arriving I suppose I shall do right in copying the behaviour of the other ministers of crowned heads at this Court. Once this dignity is established the forms of government will take another turn and they will adopt the formalities customary under former kings. Many public functions will take place at which the foreign ministers usually attend. The residents of Portugal, of Brandenburg and of the Elector of Saxony who is expected shortly, will dispute with me the place rightly due to your Serenity. To avoid unpleasant incidents I ask that the Senate shall send me precise instructions how I must comport myself.
London, the 9th March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
18. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Four large rich English ships have recently been plundered by the Dutch two coming from Guinea with precious cargoes and a certain amount of gold, a third proceeding to the East Indies, and the fourth on its way here from Barbadoes. The English protest that they have been betrayed by the Dutch, asserting that these ships approach their vessels under the guise of friendship, flying the Dutch flag, and when they see that the stroke cannot fail they suddenly run up the Spanish colours and produce commissions from the Catholic, drawing the English into the toils in this treacherous manner and taking them without a struggle. The Dutch declare that they know nothing about it; that the ships are private and they cannot prevent them serving the king of Spain or whatever other prince they please, their only object being gain; and they go where they are most likely to get it. However this may be such things all serve to excite the fear of a new rupture. Temper on both sides is greatly inflamed. Each of them accuses the other intermittently of plundering goods, to the ruin and extermination of trade. The Zeelanders fly the flag of Dunkirk and joined with those pirates and the Ostenders they plunder all English vessels and carry them off to those ports. Here all Dutch ships carrying Spanish goods are seized in the Thames, so there are good grounds for predicting a rupture at no distant date. Possibly the Dutch will allow themselves to be persuaded by the Spaniards who incite them by taunting them with the shameful terms of the last treaty with England and use all their blandishments to bring about a rupture. In this they are seconded by King Charles to whom the Dutch seem more friendly than towards this state.
In other days the support of the Spaniards was considerable and of value, but now, so far as one can see, when they are so enfeebled, it cannot be of great advantage to those who want it. If the new fleet comes to grief, as one may anticipate seeing the powerful English squadrons stationed at Cadiz and near Corunna to capture or at least to prevent it passing, their support will be rendered even less substantial, and without money it will be impossible for them to maintain the numerous committments they have on their hands, whether military or other.
The plans of the king of Scotland are most seriously deranged by the decision taken at Madrid to invade Portugal in the spring with strong forces. This will serve as a diversion and will make conquest easier for the French and English, especially in Flanders where there are indications that they mean to prosecute the next campaign jointly, the one by land and the other by sea, for it is impossible for the Spaniards to supply adequate forces for all these. Yet if trouble should arise between the English and the Dutch the former will not be able to render such powerful assistance to the Most Christian as they look for, and they would be too weak to aspire to anything of moment even if their plans were not completely nullified. The Dutch ought to see that they cannot derive much advantage from a breach with this state or from a union with the Spaniards, who incite them by promises and flattery for their own benefit, so they would be wiser to avoid any such step.
The English also suffer from no little embarrassment. They have their hands full with the vast designs they have in mind. These would come to nothing if the people should object to pay the great sums demanded of them and should make an attempt to throw off the yoke and escape this burden. It is true that the power wielded by the autocrat who directs everything will prove a serious obstacle to any such resolute action, but their misery might drive them regardless of other considerations.
The French ambassador Bordeos has asked the Protector, in his king's name, for the levy of 5,000 men in accordance with last year's agreement. This will be allowed in Ireland but with some misgivings that when they reach France they will desert and proceed to Bruges to enrol under the banner of King Charles. So the consent is given grudgingly and might easily be refused if the article containing this obligation could be got over.
Nothing has transpired about the negotiations of Sir [William] Locart at the Most Christian Court, his reports being guarded with the usual secrecy. One may conjecture that they deal with united action in the coming campaign. If it comes to a breach between this country and the Dutch they will try to obtain French help against the latter also. That will not be difficult as the old friendly relations between the French and the Dutch are broken. Only recently some warships of Cales captured two of the States, one of Rotterdam, the other of Horne, taking them to that port and imprisoning their crews who were not allowed to write and inform their relations. Besides this the men of Toulon plundered a very rich ship of Zeeland, so that the Zeelanders were constrained to give letters of reprisal to their countrymen against French ships and property in which they had the support and approval of the Province of Holland.
Locart's delay in presenting his credentials as ambassador was due merely to the difficulty of precedence with the Cardinal. Without the title he gave the right hand to his Eminence, but as ambassador he will not because England only recognises Mazarini as the first minister of the king of France and has no respect for his dignity as Cardinal. I hear on good authority that in Richelieu's time the English ambassadors at Paris never met his Eminence, so they have no precedents to facilitate an adjustment.
I received this week your Serenity's missives of the 3rd February, and the direction about a reply from the Council and the Dutch ambassador. I have never ceased my requests although I have not reported this for several weeks to avoid fatiguing your Excellencies. They keep promising me a speedy despatch here, but with internal affairs as they are at present I cannot imagine when it will happen, and when it does it will be too late. For the same reason they receive no foreign minister in audience and even Portugal, whose interests are so bound up with this state has sighed in vain for one these many weeks. The secretary of state makes himself invisible and roundly refuses to hear anybody.
The Dutch ambassador cannot imagine the reason for his masters' delay. At my instigation he has repeated his representations and he assures me of a favourable reply to meet your Excellencies' wishes and serve all Christendom which is so interested in the cause which is sustained alone by the most serene republic against so powerful an enemy.
London, the 9th March, 1657.
[Italian.
March 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
19. To the Resident in London.
No reply has been received from the government to the request made by the Senate. He is to press for this as delay may be very hurtful in the coming campaign. The Senate learns from Constantinople that the Turks are demanding English ships. He must try and find out if this is true.
Ayes, 105. Noes, 1. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
March 13.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
20. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Colonel Lockhart has returned to the Court and the report that he had gone to London proves false. He has brought with him his wife and the rest of his household and had decided to take up to-morrow the formal charge of ambassador. One of his gentlemen informed me, and after the public function I will do what is requisite, following my instructions of the 10th July.
The alliance is considered arranged and although the ministers do not yet admit it they cannot say it is not so. The Cardinal himself told me that when the nuncio touched on the subject he answered him that France is joining with the heretics because there are no Catholics. If France did not do so, Spain would and in the end this would never prejudice the peace. Thus arguments always adjust themselves to the facts and all measures taken are governed by interests of state.
I hear on good authority that the question of the duration of the alliance delayed the time of Lockhart taking up the ambassador's office, as Cromwell wanted it for longer than France desired. I have not yet succeeded in finding out how this was settled, nor even the particulars of the alliance. It is supposed that France will give money in exchange for ships and soldiers, and that of the conquests made jointly of the Flanders towns on the Ocean some portion may be assigned to England; according to what the Cardinal told me at the time that was the point on which Cromwell insisted strongly as early as last year.
The United Provinces are arming a squadron of 50 large ships for the safety of the sea and of trade, to resist the violence of the English in searching their ships and to restrain the buccaneering of the French corsairs.
Paris, the 13th March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
21. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Although everything seemed ready so that there appeared to be no doubt that the important question recently taken up by parliament would be settled on Saturday last the whole thing still remains open. The only reason one can conjecture for the delay is the impossibility at this Court of concluding any sort of business with despatch, even when they favour it, as their tempers are so changeable and unstable that even those things that seem most certain are subject to delay and to change even after a decision, as there is always some ingenious mind to suggest difficulties and upset the rest, raising obstacles of no great substance but sufficient to postpone a decision which everyone is eagerly awaiting.
Parliament re-assembled on Saturday after its three days' holiday and when they were about to discuss the question of the succession and coronation of the Protector Sir [Richard] Anslo rose and in an eloquent and learned speech argued that the question was of such great consequence that he thought it merited greater consideration, while their action seemed precipitate. In his opinion there were three things they ought to do first. The first is to discuss and consider all the articles separately, before this important and delicate question is digested, spending at least a day over each. Second, that the first article should be examined last, of those which I forwarded to the Senate, in addition to which there is another of great importance which confers on the Protector the right to nominate a general for the army in his place, since as king he can no longer occupy that office, a very essential point as your Serenity may imagine. Third, that their decisions upon the articles shall not bind them in any way before everything has been definitely settled. Parliament agreed to this as quite reasonable and they are already discussing and voting on the points. This is the only thing that has postponed a decision for which every one is waiting, anxious to see what turn affairs will take though one cannot say that their support is in proportion to the desire of the ruler to be raised to this high rank, as appearances indicate and as every one believes.
A week ago to-day in the evening, after fasting and prayers at Whitehall for inspiration on the question of setting up a royal house again Lambert and a hundred officers of the army went to interview the Protector and represent to him that the intention of parliament to change the present government was contrary to all the oaths and protestations taken and imposed on the people; that feeling in the army was utterly opposed to it, and consequently in the name of the army they prayed his Highness to dissolve parliament as the only means for preventing this, and cut the ground from under them before they go further. Cromwell heard Lambert most attentively and told him in reply that there were too many of them for discussing one subject only. This style deserved to be called a threat rather than a friendly conference. He had nothing to tell them except that parliament had been summoned to consider and secure the good of the nation. If they thought it advisable to set up a king again and offer him the crown he would accept it even if the whole army opposed and resisted it. With these words Cromwell practically confessed his ambition and ardent desire for the title of king though when he has got it he will find his present authority greatly diminished for no king of England has ever had so much as he has exercised as Protector. This resolute reply was very different from what Lambert expected, as he thought that by going to the Protector with a good following he would take him by surprise and frighten him into granting what they wanted. As it was he was obliged to humble himself and so departed with all the officers, lamenting his inability to create obstacles strong enough to prevent a decision so discordant to his fears. It is noteworthy that when the question was brought forward in parliament he went out immediately and would take no part, declaring that since it could not be helped he would at least absent himself and not approve by his presence.
So far parliament has decided two of the points. First that the king shall have power to nominate his successor in his lifetime; second that a house of Lords be set up. These must not indeed be considered as definitive since, as intimated above, nothing is settled until after the final decision upon the whole. In any case, as these were passed with great ease the rest will go through with equal facility and that will smooth the way for the discussion of the last, which is the most essential, since everything else depends upon it.
Persistent reports that the king of Denmark is preparing a considerable force of troops, and is said to be enlisting some in the provinces of Holland have caused this government some apprehension that he has designs against the states of the king of Sweden, which he has threatened for a long time, presumably at the instigation of the Dutch who, although they cannot be called open enemies of the Swede, are not accounted to be his friends, as under various pretexts they have always avoided ratifying the treaty recently made at Elbing, possibly hoping to get better terms in the course of time to have this done. This apprehension has sufficed to induce this government to send an express to Denmark, for which they have selected Medoes who returned a while ago from Portugal. He will start next week unless some obstacle prevents it. He will take instructions to ask the Dane not to intervene for Poland, protesting that in such case England will be obliged to take the side of Sweden more vigorously defending her everywhere and against everybody without any reserve. The reply will be eagerly awaited. It is impossible to foretell whether it will agree with their wishes here since Denmark's actions do not indicate an altogether friendly disposition towards Sweden.
Recent letters from General Blake report that owing to storms at sea the fleet has been obliged to separate and scatter, the ships and the crews as well having suffered severely, but that with improvement in the weather they had been able to resume their stations after making good all the injury suffered. They are waiting there for the Spanish galleons expected with the plate from the West Indies. They have no news of these and are in the dark as to whether they have sailed and are on their way to Spain.
They have begun the levy for France, enlisting men of every sort, although the permission does not extend so far, specifying Irish only; but there is not such a rush to enrol under the banner of the Most Christian as the officers in charge anticipated, so it may take a long time to fill up the ranks.
They will soon begin to beat the drum for Sweden also, to complete the troops promised to that monarch, who will go under General Flitud to join with the Swedes against the Poles. They will not find this easy either because no one wishes to tear himself away from his home and abandon his family to go to such remote parts, the more so because the reports of soldiers returned from that employment discourage even those who were inclined to go, as they say that they were not only badly treated but were not even paid or fed, so that the majority of them perished of hunger and of unbearable misery.
London, the 16th March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
22. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The day before yesterday a gentleman of the king of England arrived, (fn. 2) but he has not as yet appeared at the Court and it is not known what he brings.
Vienna, the 17th March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
23. To the Resident in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters and of the one from the secretary of state about Thomas Galileo. He is to assure his Highness of the anxiety of the republic to do everything possible for the release of Galileo, and inform him that it is necessary for an agent to apply at Venice for the money due to his father, and to produce the papers.
Ayes, 136. Noes, 4. Neutral, 6.
[Italian.]
March 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
24. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Colonel Lockhart made his solemn entry as ambassador last Wednesday, having gone out to St. Denis to be received and accompanied to the Court. I sent my coach with some gentlemen. Holland and Savoy did the same, but owing to the question of precedence between them both parties arrived fully armed. This might have led to serious disturbance, but Holland, being inferior in force and even more so in the quality of his men, who were better fitted to trade than to fight, showed his superior prudence by avoiding a conflict. Savoy had 100 horse besides a great number of lackeys on foot, with swords and pistols in their hands, all wearing a certain paper in their hats, and all brave fellows taken from the houses of Longueville, Mercoeur, Nemours and the count of Soissons, who are blood relations of Savoy. At the outset all this turn out greatly alarmed the English ambassador but in the end it all redounded to his honour and glory, as it made his company more noble and imposing. He was conducted to his quarters by the Marshal d'Estampes and two days later he was fetched by the royal coaches and attended to the Louvre by the count of Lillebonne, of the house of Guise, brother of the prince of Arcurt, with all the ceremonies used with the nuncio himself. Thus they treated Cromwell's ambassador as a prince's although a little while ago they refused to do the same for the minister of our republic, which in addition to its ancient titles and prerogatives deserves much for its struggle against the common enemy, though possibly that is the sole cause of the difficulty and delay.
Paris, the 20th March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
25. Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
It is extraordinary how slowly they proceed here in fitting out the ships against the English and to escort the vessels from New Spain, when one considers how pressing is the need, because the English, strengthened with a corresponding number of ships are stationed at their usual post in the Bay of Cadiz waiting for this same fleet, in the hope of making a second capture. No news of that fleet has arrived here, so it is considered certain that it has not left the Indies. There is nothing to show that they know about the permanence of the English in these waters and of their consequent danger.
Madrid, the 21st March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
26. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament continues the discussion of the proposed changes government with intermittent energy and makes great progress, so everyone hopes to see the conclusion very soon, especially as they have decided to deal with no other business at present, putting aside the conduct of so many other affairs of no slight consequence, until this has been settled, which is the most remarkable and holds the attention of the world. The articles pass without the least difficulty or hindrance showing the goodwill of the assembly to the question and there is no reason to expect that it will be settled differently from what the ruler desires. All the cabals and inventions of those of the opposite party who seek to thwart it make not the slightest impression, although they have tried every way to attain their end and they wax wroth at seeing it is all in vain.
Medoes, who is selected to go Denmark, has not yet started but is all ready to sail and will do so as soon as the wind, at present contrary, becomes favourable. His instructions are as reported and in addition he is to perform some office with the States on his way through, to try to get to the bottom of their intentions and endeavour to mollify somewhat the bitter feeling that seems to abound there, since they are well aware that a rupture with the States would not suit present circumstances and that it is not desirable to infringe the peace which exists with them, involving further burdens which might become insufferable and reduce them to a condition from which it might be difficult to recover and regain strength for their tasks. The decision to perform these offices was prompted by the apprehension caused by the great squadron of ships which the Provinces are equipping. It is stated that they are building 50 in their arsenals, all armed and fully equipped for war. The sole motive for this arming is resentment at the high handedness of this nation, which claims to search Dutch vessels and to put a stop to the plundering of French corsairs, who rob all the ships they meet belonging to the United Provinces.
Two leading Scottish noblemen, imprisoned as royalists, having escaped, all houses are being searched to discover their hiding place and orders have been issued to all the ports not to allow any one to leave unless he gives his name and unless his identity is well known. They are making great efforts from the fear that these men may join King Charles in Flanders to plot against the present government. On this account all persons of authority, suspected of being factionary and popular, who were staying in their country houses, have been summoned to London, to stay there so long as the ruler pleases, in order to forestall those disorders which might arise through the machinations of malcontents whose sole object is to stir up trouble as the best means of kindling the fire which they desire. The ruler does everything possible to avoid this as he knows what mischief would result if the fire once got hold of such dry material.
Owing to the abuse of the liberty allowed to the prisoners in the Tower of London in walking about it and in the visits they receive, the governor has issued strict orders that for the future visits shall be limited to half an hour; that not more than ten persons shall be admitted to the Tower at one time; that the departure of one shall allow the admittance of another, but the number of visitors inside must never exceed ten; that admission shall only be from two hours after sunrise until sunset; that when the sun sets no prisoner may be out of his cell either to walk about the Tower or to converse with his friends. There are many other regulations and the keepers of the gates and those in charge of that virgin fortress are charged to have them punctually observed under most severe penalties.
There is no word of the fleet; but recent news comes from Jamaica by ships which have just arrived from those parts. They report everything in excellent train, and at the very moment when they were spreading their sails for home, considerable reinforcements were casting anchor there, amid the wild rejoicings of the people there who with this powerful assistance are contemplating the prosecution of their old plans, with tho intention of pushing their conquests in that island and establishing new colonies for the honour and advantage of this republic which hopes to raise its position in the world by dint of conquests.
London, tho 23rd March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives
27. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The English envoy has not been able to have audience of the emperor, but he treats with the ministers. He does not credit the conspiracy which it is announced that Cromwell has discovered, affirming that it is false and an invention of the Protector in order to stir up the people against the Spaniards and to tighten still more the bonds which bind parliament to him. For the rest he represents that his king has great intelligences and hopes if he should have the means of drawing them into the light. He says that he has 5,000 men ready and 3,000 gentlemen, and they will not abandon his person. Inside England he has intelligences, dispositions and supporters. Money alone is lacking. The Spaniards have assigned to him 25,000 crowns per month, but the provision only comes scantily. He asks for like assistance promising great advantages for the Catholic religion if they succeed in restoring King Charles to his kingdom. This gentleman has visited some of the Electors, the Catholic Princes on the Rhine and all of them showed him sympathy and kindness, but not one made him any precise offer. At the last diet at Ratisbon they held out hopes to him of some of those monthly payments which they call “Roman” to the amount of some 100,000 florins. He is now pressing for this, at least; although they are, for the most part, matters of exaction, difficult and slow and almost utterly impossible.
Vienna, the 24th March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 27.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives,
28. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I have paid my respects to the house of Cromwell's ambassador, when we exchanged compliments. Afterwards he spoke of the parliament of England. He said they wanted his master to take the title of king, but he seemed reluctant to do this since he wields more authority in his present position than he would as king, because he would be obliged to concede and renew many privileges and jurisdictions to parliament such as were granted by Henry VIII. I tried to find out whether an alliance has actually been concluded, as is generally believed, but he only said that M. de Bordeos had established the peace some months ago with some reciprocal conditions between the parties, and that he did not know of any other negotiations.
Paris, the 27th March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
29. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The great question still remains undecided though the discussion upon it does not falter and there is reason to expect the conclusion next week. Every day, morning and afternoon, is spent in the discussion. The points now being dealt with are the most important and need most consideration; that is why a conclusion is so long delayed, and all await it eagerly. In addition to the articles already passed parliament has, at its last meetings, voted two of great consequence. The first is that when there is no parliament the troops shall be in the king's hands, and when it is assembled the troops shall remain subject to that body and the king jointly. This is exceedingly important and makes it easy for Cromwell to realise his ambitions. The second is the appropriation of 1,300,000l. a year for the maintenance of the navy and land forces and of the king's household, the ordinary taxes being levied, notably that of 60,000l. a month, which has been imposed on the people for some years. These sums together with numerous others collected from the royal revenues and from the sequestrated goods of the Catholics will suffice to meet all the requirements aforesaid, as well as for the maintenance of ambassadors and other ministers at foreign Courts for the sake of friendly relations.
In addition to the measures taken on the flight of the two Scots the greatest diligence is shown to preserve order in the provinces. To prevent the cavaliers taking advantage of any trouble many have been put in prison and all their horses are taken away. Even those who are not considered suspect are treated in the same way, and though they escape prison they lose their horses, which they find very vexatious. Troops are being sent daily to the seaports most exposed to a sudden landing of King Charles to render them capable of offering a vigorous resistance to any attempt made by the other side.
Reports from Flanders represent the king as well provided with troops and with forces strong enough for an attempt. Here they declare this is all false and that there is nothing to fear, but at the same time they do not relax their extreme vigilance, strengthening the weakest parts to check any attempt that might be made at this propitious moment of a change in government. Without a port King Charles can never hope for any success for his cause, and it will always be impossible for him to get one unless he succeeds in corrupting one of the governors. If he could manage to do this he might confidently hope to achieve more even with a small force. The history of England affords more than one instance of this. Thus Richard III, with the title of Protector, had the ambition to become king and murdered in the Tower here his brother and two nephews, and subsequently, at his own instigation, was acclaimed as king by the people, being instituted by parliament in precisely the same form as is being used at present to elevate Cromwell. But he did not enjoy his fortune for long. The earl of Richmond had been exiled by decree of parliament and took refuge in Normandy. Landing in England with very weak forces he received such a following and support from the English that he engaged and defeated Richard, who lost his life, and taking possession of the kingdom, was crowned as Henry VII amid universal applause and the rejoicings of the people at being delivered from the tyranny of his predecessor.
They think of reinforcing the Tower of London with some additional companies beyond those now on guard there. As this reinforcement is drawn from the regiments dispersed about this neighbourhood for safety and the defence of the state, they are enlisting fresh soldiers to take their place and they are also beating up for more as they wish to increase the forces by 10,000 and more in the coming summer.
The gentleman destined for Denmark is still waiting for a favourable wind. He bears the title of envoy and will have a suite of 12 persons. He undoubtedly has instructions to perform some office in Holland, but whether going or returning remains concealed; time will show.
It is whispered that another gentleman will be sent to the Grand Duke of Muscovy (fn. 3) on a similar mission as that to Denmark as with the close union of this nation with Sweden, they wish to leave nothing undone to free that monarch from all obstacles in the way of his enterprises and conquests against the Poles, as they aspire to nothing less than the extirpation of Catholicism and the propagation of heresy.
Your Excellencies will have heard from the proper quarter that Colonel Locart has at length assumed the title of ambassador. They felt somewhat affronted here at the news of his being received at his entry by the Marshal d'Estampes, but this is mitigated by the decision at Paris to have him introduced for his first audience by the Count of Lilebonne, a compromise devised to meet and satisfy the pretensions of England to have a prince, for though Lillebonne is not one he has a brother who is.
They talk of a defensive and offensive alliance concluded between France and England for three years, but the truth of this cannot be learned here nor any particulars with certainty and definite information must come from the place where the project originated. If true it would create a fresh obstacle in the way of peace between the crowns, which all good men long to see and which is so necessary in these troubled times.
London, the 30th March, 1657.
[Italian.]
March 31.
Senato,
Seceta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
30. To the Resident in England.
Commendation of his report about the Protector's coronation. He is to follow the example of the other foreign ministers. Instructions as to his relations with the residents of Portugal, Brandenburg and Saxony; he is not likely to meet them at public functions. He is to watch and send full particulars of the mission of Locart to France.
Ayes, 141. Noes, 1. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 See Cal. S.P. Dom., 1656–7, pp. 258, 263. It is not clear whether this is distinct from the celebration fixed for the 13th Feb. o.s., or if that was for London only.
2 The Mercurius Politicus of March 19–26 records under date 23 March n. s. the intention of Charles to send the earl of Ormonde to the emperor. The gentleman may have gone to prepare the way for him.
3 It was decided on 5–15 March to advise the Protector to send an envoy to the Grand Duke, and a week later Richard Bradshaw the resident at Hamburg was named for the task. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1656–7, pp. 304, 310