Venice
February 1659

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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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287-294

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'Venice: February 1659', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 31: 1657-1659 (1931), pp. 287-294. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90019 Date accessed: 23 October 2014.


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February 1659

Feb. 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
263. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The projects of peace and of matrimony with Spain being of the highest importance to the English, we hear they have grown exceedingly jealous and are demanding of France with the utmost insistence the renewal of the alliance, which is usually confirmed each year, the term expiring in the present month, and that in conformity with the obligations of the alliance they shall begin the present campaign with the siege of Nieuport or Ostend, places which were promised them in the preliminaries. What decision will be taken and what reply given here upon this, I am unable to say. But this much is certain, if the war goes on it will be imperative for them to grant some further portion of the conquests in Flanders to the English, and especially towards the sea, because, not content with Dunkirk alone, they wish to profit by circumstances to get possession of the whole of the coast line of Flanders.
The continued disasters to the Swedish arms with the loss of Funen, and the accident of the English fleet destined for the Sound, give the Court serious disquiet, because, without committing themselves deeply, they hoped to hear that the king had got relief by the arrival of that fleet.
Paris, the 4th February, 1659.
[Italian.]
Feb. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Costantinopoli.
Venetian
Archives.
264. To the Secretary Ballarino at Constantinople.
Another important point must be your principal aim, and that is to prevent so far as may be possible the Turks from laying hands for their service upon the ships of other nations which happen to be there or at other marts. You have already advised us that there has been some talk of this and that you have made suitable representations thereupon to the ambassador of England. You will, nevertheless, act according to circumstances, to prevent so great a mischief.
Ayes, 158. Noes, 3. Neutral, 3.
[Italian.]
Feb. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
265. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Yesterday, the 27th January, according to their style here, parliament was opened in conformity with the decision of the Protector and his Privy Council. Nearly all the members took part, although several were missing through indisposition or the distance of the places from which they had to come. His Highness proceeded from Whitehall to Westminster by water, and after hearing a sermon in the church, went up to the parliament house. Entering the house of Lords, he sent for the deputies of the commons to whom he delivered a speech, not long, but sound and effective, with great eloquence and point, explaining to both houses the reasons which had impelled him to call them, and recommending to them above everything the question of money. He asked them to provide enough to satisfy the troops, whose pay is in arrear, and whom he characterised as the best in the world for bravery, religion and patriotism. He went on to ask them to consider the Protestant cause abroad, i.e. the war of Sweden, enlarging upon the power of the house of Austria and in particular of the “emperor of the Romans,” as he called Caesar. He told them that the emperor, encouraged by the pope and other Catholics, has his eye on the Sound, to prevent the Swedes and the allies from taking it and to get possession of it himself. He enlarged also on the necessity of finding supplies to continue the war with the Spaniards and asked them not to forget to consider the great naval armaments being prepared by their neighbours, to wit, the Dutch. He ended by declaring his love for his people, his wish for the peace and quiet of the country and by promising a tranquil and excellent government.
After his Highness had finished speaking Mr. Finnes, one of the commissioners of the great seal, delivered a long harangue, merely repeating what had already been said, only at greater length. After this the Protector returned to the palace accompanied by the barons forming the Upper House, while the Lower met to elect a Speaker. This was soon done, the choice falling on one Sciute, a lawyer, very learned and ready in speech, and possessing all the qualities required for the position; they then adjourned until to-day.
These first meetings are spent solely in preliminaries, and there is nothing worth mentioning; but when they come to business there will be something to think of, and good reason for fearing confusion and tumult, as the assembly is composed of members all differing in their beliefs and religion, and it would not be remarkable if such a heterogeneous mixture had a bitter taste. The outcome will soon appear, and I will keep a close look-out and report duly to the Senate.
Besides the points I mentioned last week there are others which they say are likely to be discussed in parliament which might seriously foment the disorders which are seen to be imminent in this country. Among them is one of a very ticklish character, namely, the claim of the members who sit for England, that those from Scotland and Ireland shall have no vote in parliament. If this should take place it would be extremely prejudicial to the Protector, as all the members chosen in those countries are thoroughly of his party, as creatures of his father, and he can rely on them much more than on those who sit for England. If this powerful support should fail him his hopes of obtaining the satisfaction that he desires would become much fainter.
In conformity with ancient use the Protector has this week nominated a third keeper of the seal, so now there are three instead of two. The new one is Baron Vitelok, a man of great credit and esteem, who has held other distinguished appointments for this government.
Although they are hurrying on with the repair of the ships back from the Sound it seems likely that the shortage of money will lead to delay, and this can only be remedied by parliament, supposing that it lasts and moves in harmony with the Protector, but of this one cannot yet form any judgment.
Although this country some time back arranged a peace with the Turks of Barbary, the English are now realising how true it is that it is impossible to place the least reliance on the promises of the infidels. News has recently reached the traders here that the pirates of Algiers have taken some Englishmen off Corsica, who had escaped from the wreck of a small ship in those waters, whom they carried off to Algiers and sold as slaves. The report goes on to say that the Divan of that town has imprisoned the English consul (fn. 1) and that in the port are 36 warships, newly built, which have never sailed out. The merchants are extremely distressed at the news and vow vengeance. If this should take effect it could not fail to render great benefit to the affairs of the most serene republic. It may be that parliament will take some steps in the matter, and though this would be intended more particularly in the interests of the merchants it would not be amiss for the interests of all Christendom. They say here that the Turks pretend that the slaves taken by your Serenity on the English ship Angelo were not really taken but sold to the most serene republic by the captain, and that is why they mean to indemnify themselves by seizing ships and men belonging to this country. The pretext is a very feeble one to cover their desire for a new quarrel with England. God grant that it may have this result which is so desirable for all Christendom.
London, the 7th February, 1659.
[Italian.]
Feb. 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
266. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament met on Thursday in last week, as reported, but nothing of consequence has happened so far. After choosing the Speaker (fn. 2) they ordered a fast day which is observed this day by parliament only, the Upper House also spending it in sermons and prayers to ask the blessing of God on the affairs with which they are to deal. They have devoted their time to preliminaries only, whether all the members are duly elected and in setting up committees for divers affairs of the state. There has been some discussion about permitting the members from Scotland and Ireland to enter and vote, but so far without a decision; but there is no doubt that this will be a very ticklish and difficult question. All those who favour the Court claim that the Scots and Irish ought to sit. As they number 60 in all and are entirely devoted to Cromwell, working harmoniously with the English supporters of the present rule, they hope they will be able to overleap any obstacles placed by their opponents to prevent the measures desired by the Protector. The malcontents, the turbulent and factionary spirits who abound in the assembly will never consent to admit the Scots and Irish to prevent themselves from being outvoted. Moreover, they point out that since 40 members of the whole parliament surfice to form a quorum, capable of any decision, it might well happen that these would snatch some favourable opportunity when they happened to be in a majority to the English, to pass laws which the whole body would not approve, and that the government might achieve its objects in this way. So it will be interesting to see how they settle this question and many others, which in progress of time will be proposed, discussed and decided in this great assembly.
The government is somewhat disquieted about the secret negotiations for peace and a marriage which are whispered to be passing between France and Spain. As they are unable to get to the bottom of these transactions it is observed that their suspicions are constantly increasing; but it is to be feared that this precious fruit, so desirable in the interests of Christendom, is still far from ripe.
From the unsuccessful operation of the Portuguese armies in the past months one might have anticipated some stroke of good fortune for the Spaniards, which, by removing a serious obstacle in the way of peace between the Most Christian and Catholic crowns would bring this boon within reach, but the striking victory recently won by Portugal against the Castilian army commanded by Don Luigi d'Haro, of which your Serenity will have received particulars from Madrid, will postpone this. By letters from Lisbon of the 20th January, brought by an express felucca, the Portuguese ambassador here has received the news of the victory. He states that it amounts to the complete destruction of the Spanish army before Elvas, 4 to 5000 being slain and 3000 taken prisoner, including 200 nobles. (fn. 3) Don Luis fled with the scanty remains of the nobility. They captured all the Spanish baggage of 16 or 20 coaches of the leading gentlemen, a quantity of letters, large sums of money, rich tapestries, plate and jewels and the cabinet of the secretary, with the ciphers and all other secret papers, 1000 measures of wheat and a like quantity of barley which Don Luis intended to throw into Elvas as soon as he had taken it. The government received this good news with the satisfaction due to the close alliance they have with Portugal and their enmity to the Spaniards. The ambassador di Melo celebrated it by a public Te Deum in his own chapel, by bonfires and the consumption of a quantity of wine in his delight at so sweeping a victory. But it has greatly depressed the Dutch who from their enmity to the Portuguese and in their own interests would have liked to see them utterly destroyed and not so triumphant.
I have your Serenity's missives of the 11th January which reached me yesterday via France. With regard to peace between this country and Spain I have to report that we hear nothing; the rumours on the subject have no solid foundation, as they come from interested parties who desire nothing so much as a reconciliation.
There is nothing further either about reinforcing the squadron in the Mediterranean. Perhaps both these questions will come under the consideration of parliament and a decision be taken. I will keep a close watch and inform your Excellencies of what happens. Meanwhile, it is probable that parliament would like peace with the Spaniards for the relief and advantage of the people. They loudly criticise the rupture, seeing that it interrupts that trade and they can get no profits; since hostilities began it is reckoned that some 200 merchantmen, great and small, belonging to this mart, have been taken by Spanish corsairs, and from this cause many families are reduced to extreme want, without the English having any advantage except the conquest of Dunkirk which acts as no small burden on them.
London, the 14th February, 1659.
[Italian.]
Feb. 21.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
267. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After observing the day of humiliation, as reported, (fn. 4) parliament put aside all other proposals, even the one touching the Scottish and Irish members, and tackled a much more difficult and ticklish matter. On Saturday a bill was drawn up and read entitled: An Act of recognition of the right and title of his Highness to be Protector and supreme magistrate of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, of the dependent dominions and territories. Some members opposed this, and the whole of the present week has been spent in disputes and discussions over this question which is not yet settled, and it is very doubtful whether such a controversy may not lead to some mischief of considerable consequence.
The members hold different views and form parties. The Protector's friends claim that the bill ought to be passed at once without the slightest difficulty, for which they produce their arguments. Many contend that this is not the time to discuss such a question and that they should put it off to a better opportunity and deal with other matters. Others, who wish to alter the rule, clamour and make a fuss, declaring that they have come to parliament to establish another form of government and not to confirm the existing one. And so they pass the time, everyone speaking as he is moved and in accordance with the liberty of the place, where any member may say what he will without being called to account by anyone, in accordance with the ancient privileges of this assembly. Thus some have been heard to speak with very scant respect of the Protector, in a very audacious and biting manner.
The government grieves to see the time wasted over such disputes instead of the settlement of other important questions, as it would wish, but it can only attend patiently and wait for the decision of the question now under discussion which is disturbing the minds of all and affords no basis for any sound deduction. To judge by appearances there is much cause to fear disturbance, and the Protector will not know what to do, whether to dissolve the assembly or not, to avoid irritating the people. If he can be sure of having the army on his side he will overleap any obstacle, but of this he cannot be certain. The colonels and higher officers will undoubtedly be for him, as they owe their advancement and enrichment to him, and they are always being caressed and flattered; but they do not know what to expect of the lower officers and privates, as their arrears of pay make them express opinions which do not indicate entire affection or a good disposition.
The point in question is certainly of supreme consequence, the more so since it is known that a petition is being prepared to present to parliament, offered in the name of the city of London, supported by many of the counties and signed by several thousands of persons, which asks that the army may be taken out of the hands of the Protector; that his Council shall be chosen by parliament; that he shall not have a veto on the work of parliament, with many other things, all derogatory to the authority of the present rule, all going to show the increasing danger of a breach and trouble. Those who recall the time of the past parliament which brought about the ruin of the late King Charles declare that it began with precisely the same principles as the present one, and from this they deduce the most dismal consequences. I will keep my eyes open, to report what happens, to your Excellencies.
The treasurers and commissioners of the land forces and those of the Admiralty and the fleets have received orders from parliament directing them on Monday next to make a report to the assembly on the state of the exchequer; on the establishment of the army of the three nations; on the present cost of the fleets and what is still owing to them. This is not of good augury, because they claim to have a detailed account rendered of everything.
Major-General Robert Everton, formerly governor of Hull, who was exiled by the late Protector, is at present a prisoner in the island of Jersey. Now at the request of his relations parliament has sent a ship on purpose to fetch him away, with orders to the governor and his keeper there to bring him at once to London, together with the reasons for his imprisonment and detention. (fn. 5)
These very important affairs leave no room for any others, and consequently none of the foreign ministers can do anything except watch to see what time will bring and then conduct the business they have from their masters in accordance therewith. For this cause any chance of an audience of the Protector to fulfil my instructions is closed to me, but when an opportunity occurs I will not fail to do my duty.
London, the 21st February, 1659.
[Italian.]
Feb. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
268. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The dispute on the question reported being continued in parliament, they at length came to the vote, when the Protector's party prevailed, the act of recognition being carried by 25 or 30 votes, to the extreme satisfaction of the Court, despite all the difficulties and obstacles which were thrown in the way by opponents to prevent a favourable issue. Parliament is now toiling over the consideration of certain clauses which it proposes to add to this act, to restrain the powers of the supreme magistrate and the better to secure the rights and privileges of parliament and the people. What these may be has not yet been made public. It is whispered that they will declare that the present Protector shall not have power to nominate his successor, and that he shall be deprived of the post of generalissimo and of the supreme control of the army. Both are points of the greatest consequence which excite universal attention, and it cannot be long before the result appears. But as the Protector succeeded in securing his point about recognition, which was surrounded by so many difficulties, said to be invincible, he may be equally successful with these others, and in such case there is no doubt that he will be able to get whatever he wishes and receive every possible satisfaction.
Some of the members having been found to be delinquents, i.e. of having borne arms against parliament in the late wars, they have been expelled from the assembly and declared incapable of sitting in this or in any other parliament that may be summoned in the future. It is probable that others accused of certain vices and crimes may also be expelled, so in this way they set about purging parliament of evil humours and of those who are illaffected to the present government, issuing writs meanwhile for fresh elections and obtaining the choice of persons who are not suspected and in whom they can feel more confidence.
The arsenals are very busy here in building new ships of war, and the government announces that it has ready 60 very powerful ones fully provided for all emergencies. In what direction they are to sail cannot be known for certain, but appearances indicate that they will go to the Sound to join the Swedish fleet and with this powerful reinforcement provide a counterpoise to the very numerous squadron which we hear the Dutch will soon be sending to assist the king of Denmark. It is known that to have this ready quickly they are toiling incessantly at Amsterdam and the other arsenals of Holland, not even ceasing at night or on Sundays. When this fleet will be leaving port for that destination has not yet been made public, but its start cannot be long delayed as they are hastening the provision of the crews. Owing to the shortage of sailors they are taking by force a large number of the men who arrive on the merchant ships and from those about to sail for different parts of the world, and this has delayed the departure of a large number of ships to the loss of individuals and much to their disgust.
There was some outstanding difference between the English and Dutch India companies, but now this has all been settled. The Dutch promise to recompense the other for all the prizes they have taken in the Indies, without raising any difficulties and with the utmost promptitude. Those who are acquainted with the claims made on either side declare that the Dutch have paid more than the property taken, to buy peace and have free navigation. So far, in spite of the adjustment, we have not heard of any restitution, and if this is delayed fresh feeling may be aroused with further quarrels, leading to more mischief.
London, the 28th February, 1659.
[Italian.]
Feb. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
269. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After nine years away from my country, with my uncle Girolamo, resident at Zurich, in France with the Ambassador Sagredo and then in England with him, and since then as resident here, I have been bearing a burden beyond my means. I have also suffered the loss through the spoiling of my house last year, a part of which the state made good. The expenses are excessive, the occasions frequent, and my poor house can no longer support them. I therefore beseech the Senate to relieve me of this excessive burden by appointing a successor, enabling me to serve elsewhere.
London, the 28th February, 1659.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 In a letter to Thurloe of 16 Dec. the consul, Robert Browne, refers to his confinement. The change in this attitude of the Algerians is attributed to the affair of the Angel. Thurloe: State Papers, Vol. vii, page 566.
2 Chaloner Chute. Burton: Diary, Vol. iii, page 4.
3 On 4–14 January. Thurloe: State Papers, Vol. vii, page 590.
4 On 4–14 February. Burton: Diary, Vol. iii, page 66.
5 The Guinea, Capt. Jeffery Pearce was sent to Jersey to fetch Col. Overton on Feb. 15–25. He reached Portsmouth on March 3–13. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1658–9, pp. 529, 544.