Venice
October 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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113-123

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'Venice: October 1657', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 31: 1657-1659 (1931), pp. 113-123. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90003 Date accessed: 22 October 2014.


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October 1657

Oct. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
88. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Turenne, after having occupied the places which lead towards the sea as not so far devised any other enterprise, although he lives in some hope of being able to get himself under Mardic as being less difficult to storm than Gravelines or Dunkirk would be. If the English were not so insistent upon their deciding to besiege some maritime town the Court would gladly terminate the campaign, but this decision is of great importance to the Protector, as the capture of the place would be for his benefit by virtue of the alliance, the chief article of which, I find beyond question, is this very one, that he is to have a seaport in Flanders for the service and commodity of his forces and for war. The ministers here realise fully how prejudical it may be for France, in the course of time, to bring the English back across the sea, but they declare that the step was necessary and they were forced to agree to avoid worse, because without this condition Cromwell threatened to come to terms with the Spaniards, who promised to put Calais into his hands.
Metz, the 3rd October, 1657.
[Italian.]
Oct. 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives
89. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Besides the audiences of M. de Bordeos, which I reported a week ago, he has seen the Protector several times this week, couriers from over the water having reached him one after the other. All these conferences have been devoted to making Cromwell see that the season is too far advanced for besieging the coast towns, and it is too hazardous, especially as the Spaniards are forewarned and have been able to render those places very strong. At the first audiences Bordeos spoke to this effect, but not so strongly as in the last ones, possibly after receiving instructions, because Mazarini knows that the present season is not proper for such an attempt. But he made no impression on his Highness, who is as obstinate as he is fierce. The Protector told him that the French are not keeping the agreements recently concluded; he had good reason to complain; they had agreed on some maritime enterprise and he insisted on this being attempted. France must not allow the time to pass which had been arranged, by stopping so long under Monmedi as well as St. Venan, where they would have been kept much longer if the English by their valour had not hastened its surrender. It had been arranged to besiege Dunkirk. He held to his opinion and had in consequence sent fresh troops, materials and all things necessary for the operation. Bordeos went home and straightway sent a gentleman to the Marshal di Turenne in Flanders with despatches for the Court as well, now in Lorraine, representing the whole affair. Meanwhile, General Rinaldi, by Cromwell's order, returned at once to his charge across the water. He left yesterday morning, preceded by the French commissary Talon, who arrived here last week and undertook to return by last Saturday.
To reinforce the English troops in Flanders they embarked some
2,000 to 3,000 troops last Monday and Tuesday, taken from two regiments stationed in this city and its surroundings and from other garrisons. A like number remains to be sent, to form a corps of from 5 to 6,000 combatants. The reinforcement is a strong one, especially as the men are all picked and seasoned veterans, so the government has good reason to look for the best service from their valour; but there is reason to fear that this may be considerably cooled as the men were very unwilling and had to be embarked by force, and for some of the more obstinate it was necessary to use the stick. In view of the unsuitable season and that all were going to the shambles under a place where the cold is intense in winter and where there is no foothold because of the surrounding water, many slipped out of the ranks on the way to embarcation, and took to flight, while others offered money to those who would take their place; and this being permitted by the officers they threw off the burden.
Bombs, gunpowder, and every sort of material required for a siege have been taken out of the Tower of London and sent to Montagu; so no one can fail to see that Cromwell means to persist in his determination which the French will have to support.
Couriers arrive daily from the fleet with news of the operations. Yesterday one came with news that formal siege has been laid to Mardich, the French and English having already drawn their lines of circumvallation by land. From the sea Montagu assists the operation with the guns of the fleet. They expect an easy conquest, with no prolonged resistance, after which they propose to attack Dunkirk. The Spaniards are not weak, having some
18,000 effectives in those parts; and if that force is not sufficient to resist the enemy they will doubtless send to the spot all their garrisons of the province, as they are bound to make every effort to prevent the fall of a place of such importance, especially if it is to remain in the hands of the English, as whispered, and as it is to be feared they will make claim in view of the energy which Cromwell shows to make the conquest. The interests of the Dutch are also concerned as it will not suit them for the English to have positions that side of the water. Once they occupy a coast town they will never be driven out; they will have an open way into France, Flanders, and the territory of the States; they will hold the sea as if it were their home, and no one will be able to pass without rendering the obedience which they may claim. For this reason it is confidently stated that the Dutch promise the Spaniards assistance in troops, food, and munitions of every kind; but in any case they will supply this help with the most cautious secrecy to avoid giving offence here.
On Wednesday after dinner Sir
[William] Locart, the English ambassador in France, arrived unexpectedly by the posts. He came straight from Metz, where the French Court is now staying. He brings with him no evidence that he is to return quickly as soon as he has conferred with Cromwell, but the reason for his coming cannot be ascertained. By this unexpected visit, which has astonished everyone, and the couriers who pass to and fro daily from France, one may conjecture that the relations between the two powers at present are somewhat troubled. Time will make all clear.
The passage of letters from Flanders is now shut off. It is three weeks since any have appeared, causing universal inconvenience. From what they assure me letters sent by way of the Dutch port of Sluys are faithfully forwarded to their addresses, and as all the other ministers are using that route I am doing the same as the quickest way of getting news through to your Serenity, putting all particulars in cipher.
The state has this week appointed commissioners for the ambassador extraordinary of Portugal. They have begun their meetings and are dealing with the matters he has come here to transact. Portugal wants troops, and assistance; and this will not be refused for their own sakes, but it is necessary that money should come first for collecting the men and in addition they demand conditions here to which the Portuguese cannot readily consent. It is stated that they ask for some port in which the English ships off the Spanish coast may shelter in winter time. The Portuguese will allow them the use of one without difficulty, as they have done hitherto, but it is unlikely that they would willingly leave one in their hands as the English are too dangerous once they set foot anywhere.
The Danish resident here complains greatly that every ship and barque which comes here from his country with goods and provisions of different sorts is stopped in the river here. But he cannot get his complaints carried to the ears of the Protector, being prevented from conferring with the secretary of state under various pretexts. General Flito, who acts for Sweden here, issues patents to English ships, and these, when they see Danish vessels entering the Thames, display their colours, i.e. produce their patents and deliver their blow, to the detriment of the parties concerned and with little honour to the Protector, who permits such proceedings in his own house.
The Catholics of this country are groaning under the last cruel act promulgated against them by parliament. Knowing that the sole object of this was to raise money, some of the leading gentlemen, in the name of all the other Catholics, have recently offered the Protector
50,000l. sterling that the execution of this act may be suspended; but as Cromwell demands 80,000l. the Papists will have to meet together to see if their strength is equal to furnishing so large an amount.
Yesterday evening, by way of France, your Excellencies' despatch of the 1st September reached me with particulars of the last victory won against the Turks. I will inform the Protector and also acquaint him with the iniquity of the English ship which took service with the Ottoman and fought against your Serenity in that affair. I shall prepare the remedy and conform to the public instructions in all things.
London, the 5th October, 1657.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
90. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Only one day after the government received General Montagu's despatch announcing the siege of Mardich, came the news of its capture, without the slightest resistance from its defenders. On Saturday morning a courier came express with letters for his Highness relating that the first attack was directed against a small wooden fort on the sea side. A battery of two guns was set up there, which so harassed the enemy that they were forced to abandon the place and withdraw to the larger fort. The first having yielded to the French and English arms, their muskets were turned against the second, which was Mardich, and they were girding their swords in preparation for an assault. But the Spaniards, in consideration of the inequality of the forces, signed to parley, and this being refused by the besiegers, they were soon after compelled to surrender at discretion. (fn. 1) The English Lieutenant General Morgan, at once took possession of the place in the name of the Protector. The garrison numbered 600, between Spaniards and Italians, including 200 officers. They were carried prisoners by sea to Cales, and this important place is entrusted to a garrison of this nation.
Such are the particulars issued from the palace to satisfy the general curiosity; but those who pretend to know the truth maintain that Mardich has been bought by the Protector for a small sum in sterling. Appearances do indeed indicate that there was some arrangement with the governors, who were two old men, the one Spanish and the other Irish. (fn. 2) For the rest it is hard to believe that so important a post, defended by no insignificant force of troops, which at other times, though much weaker, has offered a long resistance to a greater army, should throw itself into the hands of the enemy the moment they appear, unless there was some previous arrangement.
The Protector is very pleased at this capture, as is easy to understand owing to the very important consequences. The people do not manifest much gladness because they do not love Cromwell, except by force, and every one, even those who have a hand in secret affairs of state, says it is impossible to conceive the motive which has induced the French to allow the English to establish a footing on that side of the water. The English mean to fortify themselves in that post, and they are certain to do it so that it will need something to turn them out, as it concerns them too much to secure their stay.
They do not appear to aspire to Dunkirk for the moment, perhaps considering its capture impossible with the season advanced and rainy, unfitted for such enterprises. They are content with having the fort, which being at the mouth of the port of Dunkirk is of great advantage as affording shelter for their ships exposed to the seas outside, while the current will allow them to come right up to Dunkirk to bring their guns to bear and enabling them to prevent craft of any kind from going in or out, to bring succour or anything else to the place.
It is supposed that this conquest will terminate the campaign in that quarter, as the weather will call a truce until the spring, unless in the meantime the Almighty promotes an adjustment between the two crowns, which Christendom needs so sorely.
At the beginning of this week all the letters arrived which were missing by three ordinaries by way of Flanders. It is said that a passage for couriers has been opened through Ostend and everyone imagines that there will be no further difficulty or delay, so that many who for two weeks had given up writing owing to the uncertainty are resuming their usual correspondence.
The Ambassador Locart, who arrived unexpectedly last week, stayed a few hours in London after conferring with the Protector before recrossing the sea, after exciting the curiosity of all as to the reason for his coming, which is guarded with their usual secrecy here. It must have been something of the greatest importance as since his departure the Council has met with greater assiduity, devoting to it many hours of the night as well as the day, so that his Highness has not a moment to give audiences to the foreign ministers, who have been waiting several weeks.
They hear that Colonel Giepson, gone as ambassador to the king of Sweden, has arrived safely at Hamburg and is proceeding thence to his destination. Of Medoes, sent as envoy to the king of Denmark, nothing has been heard, to the astonishment of the Court, which is waiting with interest to see what results the offices of these two ministers will have. The Swedish commissioner, Barchman, who left London for home some weeks back, has returned this week. He brings letters for the Protector, but has not yet presented them, access to his Highness being impeded owing to the important affairs which keep him busy at all hours in the Council.
The ambassador extraordinary of Portugal proceeds slowly in the conduct of his affairs. Only once has he met the commissioners appointed for him. For succour in ships and men at the cost of this state he is apparently offering England the town of Goa and other places in the East Indies. But they do not seem inclined here to accept such proposals and in any case they will claim more advantageous terms. The Portuguese will freely offer places so far off to save them from the danger of falling into the hands of the Dutch, who threaten them from every side and have them practically besieged, and also to obviate any sudden revolt of the people there, who are not well satisfied with Portuguese methods of government, so that there is fear of their rising to shake off the yoke and giving themselves to the Dutch, who flatter them with liberal promises. For these reasons the Portuguese would gladly be rid of them, but the English will ask for conveniences nearer home, such as a seaport in Portugal to shelter their ships stationed off the Spanish coasts.
The Portuguese are very anxious that the Dutch shall retire from the shores of Lisbon, where the fleet which sailed from Holland is said to have arrived. It seems that Vice-Admiral Ruiter has orders to join this fleet with some of his ships, after leaving others in the Mediterranean to check the piracies of the Barbary corsairs. The Ambassador Melo asks this state to interpose with the Dutch for this purpose or else to allow his king a good squadron of ships to drive them out by force. He will find them here more ready to listen about mediation than granting ships, as it does not suit England to break with the Dutch. The latter will not hear of an adjustment with the Portuguese unless they hand over Brazil. Their claims are stimulated by their interests and by the offices of Don Stefano di Gamara, Catholic Ambassador to the States, who, it is asserted, has promised them Brazil in the name of his king if they will go to war with Portugal and thereby help the Spaniards, facilitating the enterprises and conquests in that kingdom to which they aspire.
Letters from Malaga bring word that the Dutch General Ruiter has put in there with a great prize taken from the Algiers pirates, consisting of eight good cruising ships, releasing from those barbarians two French vessels which they had taken and 400 Christian slaves, and with 1,600 Turkish prisoners. The news is noteworthy, and God grant it be confirmed for the good of all Christendom.
London, the 12th October, 1657.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Oct. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
91. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Nothing is heard as yet of any resolution of the forces of Turenne and the English in the direction of the sea or of the attack on Mardic, as was expected. Meanwhile, as the season is advanced it is assumed that no other enterprise will be undertaken. Some are inclined to think that in view of the prejudice that would result to France from permitting the English to occupy a maritime town in France, they are designedly putting off the enterprise because they do not really want to carry it into effect.
Metz, the 12th October, 1657.
[Italian.]
Oct. 12.
Collegio,
Secreta.
Lettere,
Principi.
Venetian
Archives.
92. Serenissimi Dux atque Senatus.
Cum ad reprimendos Piratas tutandamque rem navalem negotiatoresque nostros consultissimum nobis visum sit, instructam classem in Mediterranei maris oras mittere eique illm. virum nobisque summa fide ac prudentia spectatum captaneum Stoakes praeficere, hac de re certiorem faciendam vestram Cels. atque Rempub. seren. pro eo qui Anglorum genti in ditione vestra assiduus cum Venetis propter negotia usus et amicitia est, censuimus haud dubitantes, si classis ilia aut ejus ex numero navis forte aliqua in quaelibit ditionis vestrae loca vel vi tempestatis delata fuerit vel ad naves reficiendas aut ad commentum, et si qua alia ejus generis classi opus sunt supplenda atque justo pretio comparanda ultro appulerit, quin Ser. Celsitudo vestra atque Senatus per omnes Ditionis Venetae Portus tuto ac libere sive appellendi sive sublatis anchoris abeundi, sive ad tempus alicubi haerendi facultatem benigne concessurus sit, et quibus potest rebus adjuturus. Interea Cels. vestrae ac Reipub. Seren. domi bellique fausta omnia atque prospera exoptamus.
Dat. e Palatio nostro Westmonasterii 2o Octobris An. 1657.
Vester bonus amicus.
[Signed] Oliver P.
[Countersigned] Jo. Thurloe.
Oct. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
93. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
An extraordinary accident which occurred last night forces me to crave the indulgence of your Excellencies for the absence of news though nothing of importance has occurred. Three hours after midnight a lower window of this house was forced by thieves, who broke an iron bar, though it was very strong. More than a dozen mounted the stairs, carrying firearms, daggers and lights. Without difficulty they opened the rooms with tools designed for the purpose. I was the first to be surrounded by the assassins, and because of some resistance and shouts for help I was thrown down and beaten so that I can hardly raise my arm, and have to use another's hand to write these lines. Besides no inconsiderable amount of money, they carried off various pieces of plate, chapel ornaments, clothes, linen, many other things of the best quality that I possessed and even my hat. Fortunately the cipher is safe, being kept with the cash and other important papers in a secret place, which was the first to be opened. They would have taken the rest but for the fear of being heard and discovered, which made them clear out with the utmost speed. They bound everyone they found in the rooms, holding a dagger at their throats to prevent them from opening their mouths. I also was bound, with three pistols and a dagger held at my chest, instantly expecting death, and I escaped by a miracle. Several persons arrived later to the rescue, but the deed was done and there was no help for it. It is a lamentable misfortune, especially in befalling one whose estate has suffered so much. The loss exceeds 200l. sterling between me and some religious in the house, who also lost many sacred things. It is the last blow to my afflicted family. All the foreign ministers at this Court have at one time or another suffered such accidents. I also, 15 months ago, had my coach stolen, which cost me 20l. sterling to replace, and now I suffer a greater loss. I lay my misfortune before the Senate in the hope of enjoying the munificence of the state, and throw myself on the public charity, imploring assistance to enable me to continue my service.
London, the 19th October, 1657.
[Italian.]
Oct. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
94. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English insisted so strongly on the siege of some maritime town in France that in spite of the delays introduced here at this advanced season, with the design of bringing their plans to naught, they found themselves constrained to agree to the attack on Mardic. After two days of open trenches the place surrendered vilely at discretion, 6 to 700 soldiers coming out as prisoners. Colonel Locart crossed over secretly to London to assure the Protector about the undertaking, for he complained exceedingly about the French and about the promises made to him. Returning to this country he is staying at Mardic to fortify the position better and to garrison it with a sufficient number of English troops. We already hear that it has been handed over by the French to the English, with some disturbance among the people, who hate the nation, which is their ancient enemy, and chiefly among the Catholics, who fear that religion will suffer some grave prejudice, and reports are circulating that even now the English have used violence with certain convents and have profaned some churches with their preachings.
Metz, the 19th October, 1657.
[Italian.]
Oct. 20.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni
. Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
95. To the Resident in England.
Acknowledge his letters of the 21st ult. Commend his operations. He is to keep his attention above everything upon what the Protector may decide to do upon the repeated instances of the Levant Company about the ship captured by the Tripoli corsairs, and if the six warships are going to be sent as an escort for the merchantmen, and to avenge the injury done by reprisals, all with the object of seizing upon any opportunity that may present itself for advancing the service of the state.
Ayes, 80. Noes, 7. Neutral, 6.
[Italian.]
Oct. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
96. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
Pennaranda is asking for help in Flanders. He is urging that the king shall declare himself and enter openly with all the imperial forces in favour of Spain, since it is well known how momentous these blows in Flanders are. They have replied to him that he himself must realise the embarrassments in which the king of Hungary finds himself, with the army committed in Poland, with misgivings about the Swedes and suspicions of the Turks, but above all the pending election, which is contested chiefly because of the declaration made by this house in favour of Spain, and which would collapse entirely if they went any further.
Prague, the 24th October, 1657.
[Italian.]
Oct. 26. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.97. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Owing to the unhappy event of last week I have been confined to my bed, not having recovered from the rough handling, and this has prevented me from going out to get news, though it is very scarce. Being very anxious to keep Mardich, the Protector is having it strengthened so that it may never slip from his hands. Accordingly, he has recently engaged and sent a German General, a skilful engineer, (fn. 3) well versed in fortification, to superintend the works which they propose to erect there. He went accompanied by a large number of builders, carpenters, and other workmen, who were followed by ships laden with timber and other material. Where the English army is quartered, between Mardich and Borborgo there is nothing but flat country, without a house or tree to shelter the troops in the present cold weather, which is more severe there than in England, and as it will not do to let the men perish of hunger and cold, ships have been laden with clothes, shoes, meat, beer and coal, which are ready to sail for Flanders to supply the army with these necessaries, which are so essential, especially to the English, who are delicate and accustomed to live well in their own country, and if they are not well treated when they go abroad, they easily fail and perish in a few days.
The English and French moved together upon Gravelines, possibly expecting to meet with a short resistance there and take it as easily as Mardich. But the Spaniards, observing their approach, encouraged their advance until they were well forward, when they opened certain sluices, which in a moment flooded the country round Gravelines, so that the French and English had to retreat and return to their quarters, while many were drowned who were not quick enough in escaping before the water overtook them.
The works which the English intend to raise at Mardich cause great misgivings to the Dutch, which are augmented by the reports received at the Hague of what the English intend to do in the present winter or coming spring. So they are watching very closely all the proceedings of the Protector, for it would be seriously to their prejudice if the English should establish themselves permanently in Flanders. The Dutch ambassador, who has been here so long, having asked leave to return home, has received permission to do so, but only for a few months, to attend to his private affairs and with the obligation to return to England as ambassador in ordinary. This has depressed him as much as the leave has cheered him, so he has written again to the Hague explaining why he asked to be relieved, and trying to get rid of the burden altogether.
Various foreign ministers who desired audience of the Protector, have recently obtained it. The resident of Florence was the first, after waiting several months. He had the usual reception of such ministers. The gentleman of the Palatine also had one and seems to have got fair words from Cromwell and promises, so he will not be staying long here. The elector formerly enjoyed a pension from England, which was afterwards taken away by a parliament. He now asks for it to be restored, and Cromwell has promised this when parliament meets again, which will be in January, apologising for not being able to act alone in such a matter, seeing that the pension was suppressed by parliament. I also should have had audience but for the accident that has overtaken me. I am expecting one for which I have asked, as the moment seems favourable as well as for making the requests suggested by the secretary of state for ships, etc. But his Highness may easily postpone the interview because of the indisposition from which the secretary is at present suffering.
In pursuance with the instructions of your Serenity of the 12th September, which reach me this week, I will make every effort to find persons willing to serve the most serene republic, reporting my operations to the Senate.
London, the 26th October, 1657.
Italian.]

Footnotes

1 The trenches were opened on the 1st October and the place surrendered on the 2nd, N.S. Mercurius Politicus, Sept. 24–Oct. 1.
2 The Spanish governor was Don Juan de la Torre.
3 This appears to refer to Lt. Col. Haynes, as on this same date Salvetti reports his leaving Scotland for Flanders with the largest guns of this country. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962,P.f. 260. The Mercurius Politicus (Oct. 1–8) states that “Mr. Hones, engineer general with the largest mortar pieces in Scotland, went aboard the Norwich frigate… to assist… in service in Flanders.” The most important officer sent over was Lieut. Col. Francis White, who was proposed in the Council on 9 October o.s. and at the same time orders were given for 20,000 deal boards and other material to be sent there. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1657–8, pp. 122–3.