Venice
March 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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294-302

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'Venice: March 1659', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 31: 1657-1659 (1931), pp. 294-302. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=90020 Date accessed: 19 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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March 1659

March 14.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
270. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Last week, when about to take up my pen, I was attacked by excessive pains which obliged me to take to my bed and prevented me from fulfilling my duty to the Senate which will I hope, condone the omission. Now that I am much better, though not entirely recovered, I resume the accustomed task. Parliament is undoubtedly proceeding with great slowness in its deliberations as in the month and more since it assembled it has spent its time mostly in disputes and discussions, much to the dissatisfaction of the Protector. But he tolerantly allows it to go on as it pleases, putting up with the delay, however noxious and inconvenient to himself, in the hope that in the end everything will result to his advantage and in accordance with his wishes.
Parliament, as reported, passed the vote of recognition, but the act contains a clause that neither it nor any clause that may be inserted therein, even though passed, shall have any force or be obligatory until the whole has been passed, forming a single positive act. Accordingly, they discussed what things ought to constitute this act, and decided that one of them must be the constitution of parliament, that is whether it should consist of two chambers. On the vote being taken, the question was decided in the affirmative and that this point shall form part of the act of recognition of the Protector.
In virtue then of this decision it remained to consider and decide the limits and powers of the Upper Chamber. Various questions on this point were laid before the assembly by some of the members, over which they consumed several days, discussing which of three proposals should be discussed and settled. Those who wish to reform the government according to their own particular inclinations reducing it to a formal republic, raised the question whether the other house voted for, seeing they have decided that parliament, shall consist of two houses is meant to be the house actually sitting. Serjeant-at-law Mainard, who sympathises entirely with the old lords, who ought of right to form the Upper House desiring to see them restored to their place and the new ones nominated by the late Protector removed, asked whether the persons summoned to sit in the other house were effectively and legitimately members of that house. The Speaker, a partisan of the Protector and entirely devoted to his Highness, adopted another question, namely whether parliament, i.e. the House of Commons, ought to treat and negotiate with the persons now sitting in the other house, as with a house of parliament.
They discussed and disputed these three questions for several days, and in the end the two first were rejected and it was carried by 177 for to 113 against that they should discuss the third. Accordingly, they are now disputing over it, and it is believed that the question may be settled to-day. Meanwhile, seeing that everyone of the decisions taken so far harmonises with the intentions and desires of the Court, there is good reason for believing that, taking one thing at a time, everything will in the end turn out in favour of the Protector and exactly as he desires, proceeding in quiet and tranquillity without the slightest disturbance.
In addition to the accounts rendered by the commissioners of the treasury, by those of the army and of the navy also, which have all been referred to a committee set up for the purpose, parliament has desired to be fully informed about the war at present being waged between the kings of Sweden and Denmark. The secretary of state, who is a member of parliament, satisfied this in a long speech in which he gave a clear account of the state of the war and of the affairs of those monarchs in the Baltic sea and the command of the Sound. He told them how both the late and the present Protector had interested themselves in the mediation between the two in their differences. He spoke further of the condition of the fleets and the forces which the States now have at the Sound and of the busy preparations which are being made to send there. He showed them that his Highness and the Council had given the necessary orders to have the naval forces in readiness which they judged to be necessary for the security of this state under existing circumstances with these great movements abroad, with much more to the same effect, which I omit for the sake of brevity, all addressed to win the affection of his hearers and induce them to decide what the Protector desires on this point. After considering the question for some days they decided that a very powerful fleet should be promptly got ready and sent to sea for the security of the government and the preservation of the trade and commerce of this state, with a definite instruction that the execution of this decision should be entrusted to the Protector, except, however, the interest of the army and the power of making peace or war, both points being reserved by parliament for itself to discuss and decide.
Meanwhile, by virtue of the powers given by the Assembly, the Protector is hastening the equipment of the 60 ships, 40 of which are quite ready. It is said that they are to weigh anchor with the first wind and put to sea under the command of General Montagu with the sole object decided so far by parliament and without being committed to anyone soever without fresh resolutions and fresh orders from parliament itself. It is believed, however, that now the gold fleet of Spain is so much delayed in getting home, this English fleet or part of it may go in chase of the Spanish one to try and bring off some coup, the general opinion being that in passing subsequently towards the Sound it will remain there in observation of the proceedings of the Dutch and in proportion as the Dutch commit themselves to Denmark the English will come closer to Sweden and render that monarch vigorous assistance.
The duke of Buckingham, exiled by the long parliament for reasons known to the Senate, after some years of absence, received permission from the late Protector to return to England to make his peace with the government. He arrived about a year ago or a little more and immediately married the only daughter of General Farfax. Being unable to effect his accommodation he was relegated by the government to Windsor castle. After the death of the late Protector his present Highness allowed the duke to five in London at York House, his former dwelling, assigned to him as a prison. Now that parliament has met Buckingham has petitioned for his liberty, which had been granted to him on his pledging his honour to live quietly without uniting with any of the enemies of the Protector or of the state, and having no correspondence with them whether beyond the sea or in the three kingdoms. His father-in-law, Farfax, also pledged his word for this, and gave the Protector a bond to forfeit 20,000l. sterling every time Buckingham should be found to have broken his promise.
The ambassador extraordinary, so long expected from Denmark, has not yet arrived in England. (fn. 1) He remains at Hamburg waiting for an improvement in the weather before coming on here. Meanwhile, another minister of that king is to come to London in the capacity of deputy extraordinary. He is the one now residing in Holland with the States. The Danish resident here says he expects him any day and that his business will be to try as far as possible to prevent them here from assisting Sweden. (fn. 2)
An ambassador is expected from Poland also. He is said to have already arrived at Amsterdam and that he will reach London in a few days, his credentials having already come into the hands of some agent. His business is supposed to be merely to ask for mediation in the differences between the Pole and the Swede, but the merchants contend that he is also, to suggest negotiations for peace between the Catholic crown and this government. This will come out when he arrives. Meanwhile, nothing more is said about this adjustment and there is no sign of its happening unless parliament, in view of the calamities in which the people are involved through this rupture, decided to take pity on them and console them with the peace which they desire and pray for with all their heart.
London, the 14th March, 1659.
[Italian.]
March 21.
Senato,
Secreta
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
271. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
All this week has been spent by parliament in debating the question reported last week. Although it was expected to be finished that same day it still remains unsettled, and one does not know when to expect a decision. They have had many disputes over this important point, the decision of which determines the sum of all the affairs to be conducted by the assembly. Some of them have been so long and tedious that besides sitting all day they were obliged to sit half the night as well. The Court suffers this but deeply regrets to see decisions so long postponed.
Although this question as to whether the persons sitting in the other chamber are to be considered a house of parliament is not yet decided, on Tuesday a previous vote was passed in parliament, which is to be incorporated in this question to the effect that it being already decided that parliament shall consist of two chambers it must be understood that all the old peers of the realm who were loyal to the long parliament and who did not bear arms for the king must not be considered to have lost the privilege of being summoned as members of the other house. Thus, if it is decided that the lower house shall treat with the other, it will rest with the old earls, barons and other lords to decide whether they shall enter parliament or not. But many are of opinion that they will not sit from scruples of honour and precedence, because there is a great difference, for instead of the new coming to join with the old, the old are to be forced to unite with the new, who in extraction, titles and every other requisite are vastly inferior to them.
After deciding upon this addition, to be inserted in the question so long discussed and still undigested, they put the subject on one side and resumed the debate, begun some weeks ago but never ended, about excluding the representatives of Scotland and Ireland from the lower house. To this discussion they devoted Wednesday, yesterday and to-day, without any decision. So they keep wasting time, with what object no one knows, jumping from one question to another to leave everything unsettled, and it is impossible to foresee when they are likely to have done with anything of consequence.
The Speaker, having fallen sick, the assembly has been obliged to choose someone to take his place until he recovers. They have chosen Sir Lislebone Long, a man of great talents and entirely devoted to the Protector's party.
In my last report the order of parliament to bring MajorGeneral Overton to London that the reason for his detention might be examined and that he might be acquitted or punished in accordance with the result. In fulfilment of this order, Overton was to enter London the day before yesterday. The Court sent him an intimation that he must not enter in state, but modestly, without a following or any show. Overton replied that if his friends came to meet him he could not stop them, and he did not know how he should enter. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, many hundreds of persons on horseback left London and a large number of coaches and six to meet him some miles outside London so that his entry was like a triumph as he came wearing a laurel wreath and with a great noise. When the Protector heard of this a few soldiers were immediately sent. These approached the coach where Overton was, dragged him out and by order of his Highness took him prisoner to St. James near Whitehall, without those accompanying him, who were in front, being aware that anything had happened. So when they reached the place where Overton was to alight, they all stood in a row waiting for his coach, and while they were waiting for him to get down, they learned where he had been taken. We shall now see what will be done with him, and they say his transgression of the orders of the Court may cost him dear, as if he had liked he might easily have prevented the reception and made his entry privately, as desired.
The minister of Poland has arrived in London; he does not bear the character of ambassador, as stated, but only of envoy. He is now preparing his equipage and other necessaries for his first audience, though he will have to wait, like so many other foreign ministers here, who want to see the Protector, as they are admitting no one to the palace and are not doing business with anyone until the questions under discussion in parliament are settled, over which the Court is much disturbed and not a little saddened.
Those on board the ship which brought this envoy from Holland to England report that after the post left, letters reached Holland from the Sound with news that the king of Sweden had taken Copenhagen by storm. This is found to be entirely false as the Swedish ministers here, by a ship which arrived here from the Baltic the day before yesterday, have received letters from their master of the 25th February, new style, relating that in the assault on that city the Swedes were repulsed with the loss of some 500 men slain and 600 wounded, besides losing many brave and valued officers. Yet in spite of this blow that monarch is ready to attack the city again and he hopes for success in view of the consternation that reigns within and the great scarcity of food, so they are impatiently waiting for news of it. The government regrets the result of this affair extremely, which is said to be much more considerable than the Swedes announce, and meanwhile the ministers here are pressing so that the squadron may be speedily despatched in aid of that monarch; but for the present nothing has been decided beyond what I intimated a week ago.
London, the 21st March, 1659.
[Italian.]
March 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
272. To the Resident in England.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters. Note the activity of the government in building ships. It will be interesting and important to know in good time towards what parts the fleet is to sail. With regard to his request to be relieved on the completion of three years' residence, the Senate has decided to choose his successor, so that he may be able to return home.
That a secretary of the Senate be chosen by the Collegio as Resident in England. That he have a grant of 430 ducats for his equipment. That he receive 680 crowns and four months' salary in advance and 40 crowns for extraordinary expenses, except for couriers and the carriage of letters, for which he need not render account. That 186 and 100 ducats respectively be allowed in his accounts for the table expenses and salary of his chaplain and interpreter.
Ayes, 144. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
March 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
273. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Parliament still persists in its deliberations without making the slightest progress, to the unspeakable annoyance not only of the Court but of all those who have business at the palace, because no progress can be made and nothing done until they have settled the question now on the carpet, which has been so long discussed but still remains undigested. As reported, parliament was obliged to appoint a substitute for the Speaker, who had fallen sick, and on Monday this substitute took to his bed, being overtaken by a disease so rapid that on Wednesday morning he expired, to the great sorrow of the Protector, who valued him highly both for his rare qualities and for the deep affection he had for his Highness and all the government. In the absence of a Speaker parliament could not meet, and they broke off on Monday and Tuesday. Resuming on Wednesday, they immediately chose another substitute for the Speaker, their choice being Sir Thomas Bampfield, a man of wit and learning, exactly fitted for the post to which he has been temporarily appointed with the unanimous consent of all the members.
In the meetings on these two days nothing whatever has been decided, as they did not open their mouths on the important affair of the upper house, and although they discussed the question of the Scottish and Irish members nothing was settled about this either. Indeed, in order to waste even more time they decided to divide the question and consider first whether the Scots should sit, and when that is settled, to consider the Irish. This is the way time is wasted and on this account it is generally believed that seeing parliament so deliberate over the decisions which he wants, the Protector unwillingly suffers it all until the expiry of the period fixed by the Instrument of Government, during which he has no authority to dissolve parliament without the consent of the members, and as this period will be up before many days they say that his Highness will dissolve the assembly and send them all home, issuing subsequently a manifesto giving the reasons which obliged him to act and accusing the members of thinking more of their factions than of the settlement of what is appropriate and necessary in the interests of the state. Such a dissolution is indeed not at all unlikely for various reasons, and if it comes about the general opinion is that after publishing his reasons as above, his Highness will convoke the upper chamber alone and get that to enact and mature everything that he wishes. Time will soon show, for these are only guesses though based on good grounds in view of what one sees happening every day. I will keep my eyes open and duly report to the Senate.
The day before yesterday Major-General Overton, who came to London and was sent to prison by the Protector, was summoned before parliament. After deliberating upon the reasons for which he was confined in the island of Jersey, they acquitted him and set him at liberty, and this was followed by an order of the assembly that there should be an act in favour of all those who are detained in any of the islands belonging to this republic.
The resident of Denmark here, having learned that in the speech made to parliament by the secretary of state concerning the war between the two northern kings, he enlarged much more in favour of Sweden than of his own master, in order to facilitate succour for the former has thought fit to have some sheets printed containing a succinct account of the true causes of the rupture between his king and the Swede, inserting some article from a former treaty between Denmark and England. He had a copy presented to each of the members, so that they might be well informed of all that is passing and dissuaded from helping Sweden.
A few days later a small pamphlet has come out in reply to these sheets, and though it professes to be by a true Englishman, without giving the name, it is known to come from the Swedish ministers. (fn. 3) Whereas the resident refers in his sheet to a question raised in parliament as to why England should not assist Sweden, in the same way as the Dutch are helping Denmark, he answers that this is not the true question but rather why should not England intervene to balance the affairs of the separated Protestants and place them in a position of security, safe from the danger from the common enemy. Those who are willing to consider the true interests of England will find that this is the real question seeing that it is evident that the Protestants are trying to destroy one another without considering that they are doing exactly what their common enemy desires; wherefore Denmark, Holland and Brandenburg have made an alliance against Sweden, three against one, to destroy it utterly, being also united with Austria, the general enemy, and aiding the Poles and the Muscovites to insult and attack it. The Dutch and Danes have declared themselves enemies of the Swede, drawing the Muscovites and Brandenburg to their side, which was immediately joined by the emperor, bringing fire and fuel so that Sweden might be destroyed at his pleasure. It is evident that the emperor designs to ruin Brandenburg himself, having made him generalissimo on the supposition that even if he prevails against Sweden he will weaken himself so much that he will be obliged to throw himself upon the mercy of the Austrians; and if he does not prevail his country will become the seat of the war, and so his ruin is inevitable. This much is certain, that the enemies of the Protestant cause make use of him to destroy its chief friend in Germany, i.e. Sweden, and arrange to get the three principal Protestants in Germany to devour the fourth. For these and other similar considerations he asks what England ought to do in such case, because if Sweden is ruined and Austria gets her way it is certain that England will not escape trouble. If Sweden perishes England has no other friend in whom she can confide, and the interests of Sweden and England being identical, the sole aim of both being the security and prosperity of the Protestant cause, it is right and proper that the true friend of that cause should be supported against the false one, since the ruin of the former would inevitably involve that of this government as well, as if Austria prevails against the Protestant body England has no one to assist her, since it is quite impossible to trust Denmark and Holland. Thus, on the score of religion and of defending the Protestant cause, they endeavour to obtain assistance and succour from this quarter.
General Montagu has recently left London and proceeded to the Downs, where he has shifted to the Nesbi, the flagship of his squadron, which consists of 40 most powerful vessels. They are only waiting for a favourable wind to put to sea. Their destination is as yet unknown, but it is generally believed that it is going to the Sound. Appearances point that way, especially as since the repulse at Copenhagen, which was serious though minimised here, that monarch appears to be greatly weakened and in need of strong reinforcements to resist the powerful force which is said to stand ready in Holland to send to the Dane. Sir [George] Aschiu will go with his squadron with all the English sailors already engaged by Sweden, who set out for those parts some months ago but had to return here owing to the bad weather. This is an additional reason for believing the squadron is going to the Sound; a few days will disclose the truth.
London, the 28th March, 1659.
[Italian.]
March 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
274. Alvise Molin, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
It is reported from the Hague that forty English ships are at sea sailing towards the Sound. But this is unlikely and it does not agree with the letters from England. No letters have arrived from England this week which makes one believe that there is some disorder in the government there. The Dutch will be sending a fleet to Denmark so soon as the ice permits. But they are sending three deputies to Denmark to try to make some arrangement between the two crowns, as if they can find a way to secure the subsistence of Denmark, free the passage of the Sound and avoid a rupture with the English, they would consider it their best course.
Vienna, the 29th March, 1659.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Count Rantzau. He had reached Hamburg in December. Mercurius Politicus, Dec. 9–16.
2 Henry Wishelme Rosenwing. But he did not come until much later in the year, his credentials being dated 28 May. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1659–60, page 2.
3 In the Mercurius Politicus, Oct. 21–8, there is a note to this effect. That the reader may not be ignorant of the state of the quarrel and that he may know what the Swedes do say for themselves, there is now published a book entituled, “A True Relation of the Reasons which necessitated His Majesty of Sweden to continue the War against Denmark.”


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