Venice: August 1653

Pages 105-120

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 29, 1653-1654. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1929.

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August 1653

Aug. 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
139. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
The new Representative continues to meet by virtue of its powers. To render its acts more authentic and prevent murmuring among the people, who are attached to the term "parliament," as well as to further Cromwell's ends, whose consent was of course obtained, a decree was issued at its last sitting to the effect that its title is to be "Parliament of the Commonwealth of England," whereby all its measures of domestic or foreign policy become absolute. The acuteness of the General and his Council thus anticipates all future questions of validity and silences every one by the authority of the parliament of England, and while contenting the populace Cromwell thus advances his own service as by such means all subsequent decrees, passed with his previous consent, and to his entire satisfaction, become at once the law of the land, while he is thus relieved of the vast responsibility of directing everything, all matters being ostensibly managed by the parliament, his dependent.
The result of the first session is the confirmation of 30 members to form the Council of State, mostly Colonels and the rest dependents of the army. After this they appointed 12 committees, or what may be called magistracies one for important questions of law, the second for finance and the chief fortressses, the third for Scotland, the fourth for Ireland, the fifth for military affairs and the rest for administration, the increase of trade and the relief and satisfaction of the people. But these measures are not exempt from the difficulties attendant upon all beginnings and on all dynasties, especially when dealt with by such men as compose this new parliament who are destitute of the requisite knowledge of affairs and the experience indispensible for good administration. But the personal interests of the present manager require this, as men of high rank and spirit, who might have been chosen, would possibly have thwarted rather than forwarded his interests, whereas under the shelter of this parliament Cromwell will go on in security to further his private ends, which aim at getting the control of all the business of the state into his own hands.
The negotiations with the Dutch commissioners continue to take precedence of everything else, as the most remarkable and important. But although the commissioners have frequent audience of the Council of State nothing is yet known for certain about the peace. One day hope is high and the next it seems to vanish utterly. The mutual desire for an adjustment is constantly asserted, while at the same time national honour compels one side to make demands and the other to reject them. The result is difficulty and indecision. The English claims are understood to consist chiefly in a written admission that the Dutch began hostilities ; in reparation for all costs and damages incurred ; and a guarantee for the observance of the articles. To-day the Dutch commissioners are to attend the Council of State for a formal reply. It is understood that a consideration for the allies of Holland constitutes a great impediment, the Dutch being bound in honour and by a promise not to desert Denmark, while here they are determined to avenge the hostilities waged by that monarch against the ships of this country. But in the general belief, if fair overtures are made this consideration will not prevent peace. But everything is conducted with so much secrecy and circumspection that the truth of these anticipations must await the test of time.
The English fleet remains off the Dutch coast, asserting its supremacy and endeavouring to cause all possible internal annoyance to the enemy. They are not supposed to have put to sea yet, although advices report that they are energetically reinforcing their fleet with the intention of doing so with great determination. In spite of the active negotiations here experienced men consider that to benefit the treaty and for their own honour they must put to sea and fight another battle. This would no doubt accelerate the peace greatly, though their late reverses make the Dutch act with more caution than the exigencies of the moment require.
The Swedish envoys are pressing warmly for the speedy release of the ships and crews belonging to the subjects of their queen, which were seized, as reported. But they have obtained nothing as yet, as the Admiralty intend to make sure that the Dutch have no interest in the cargoes, consisting as they do of iron, cordage and hemp, all required for ship building. So the captors are suspicious and delay their award. But if it is clearly proved that the ships and their cargoes are Swedish property, they will be released eventually and allowed to continue their voyage.
Anxiety prevails here about the situation at Bordeaux, as they favour the princes and populace more than the royal side. They connived at the sending of ships thither with succour, purchased by the Bordeaux delegates, with the assistance of the Catholic ambassador, but it is now expected that this will arrive too late.
Little more is heard about the peace with Portugal, as it is considered settled if the Portuguese perform their promises. They are believed to have made a payment on account already and are being pressed for the balance, so one may say that the king there has paid for the peace with cash.
The Vice-chancellor of Poland has presented to parliament his letter to them from the Queen of Sweden (fn. 2) and is urging the Council of State to despatch his business, but experiences the usual extraordinary delays of this government. He wants to have his negotiations at the Porte backed by the English ambassador, who will certainly be changed at the first opportunity. He has again assured me of his devotion to the most serene republic and his intention to create a diversion for the Turks. He means to leave in 4 or 5 weeks at latest and has already forwarded many of his effects by sea, including a quantity of valuable presents for the Turks. He intends to travel through France to Genoa and then go to receive his orders at Venice, if he receives word of the Signory's intention before leaving London. I encouraged these ideas and he may possibly remain here long enough for a reply to come before he leaves England.
The Deputies of Holland have returned my visit, and expressed the desire of the States to support the interests of the most serene republic, whether a peace is made with England or no.
Acknowledges letters of the 26th ult.
London, the 3rd August, 1653.
Aug. 9.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
140. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 3)
The slow progress of the Dutch negotiations without any indication of the result so universally desired in England, induces a widespread belief not without justification that the commissioners are only trying to gain time for their country to put things straight, enable them to send out a strong fleet and to display, if nesessary, the same determination as England. News from Holland relates that everything is being done there to this end, and in Zeeland in particular, and some other Provinces, great exertions are being made to furnish reinforcements. The English, warned by the proceedings of the commissioners, with good reason keep the main body of their fleet together in its original position, reinforcing it constantly with fresh ships and men, as it is understood that both the soldiers and sailors have been much thinned by disease, so that if the Dutch come out the fleet may be all ready to fight them with every hope of success.
Meanwhile, to bring the negotiations to an end one way or another, and so prevent further delay, a committee has been assigned for the Dutch commissioners, consisting of three of the chief members of the government namely, Gen. Cromwell, Maj. Gen. Harrison and Maj. Gen. Lambert, with whom they are to treat and come to a decision. Although some delay was inevitable the commonwealth is determined to put a limit to the advantages which the enemy derives from procrastination. As these three men are all powerful and known to be extremely anxious for peace, while everything depends upon Cromwell, a favourable result is anticipated soon. It is also reported here that one or two of the Dutch commissioners may leave forthwith to acquaint the States orally with what they have done so far and they may take proposals too secret and important to be committed to paper.
This is common report, but from the extreme secrecy of the negotiations and from the reference to the three named or indeed to Cromwell, serious politicians infer that it is more important than is generally supposed, and that to arrive at an adjustment mutual concessions will be made. The English being compelled to keep their forces employed, will then turn their thoughts to some gigantic undertaking of great advantage to themselves and detrimental to all monarchies, which they will always do their utmost to humble.
It cannot be doubted that if an alliance is made between these two powerful nations the blow will affect prejudicially the monarchies of both Spain and France. Yet more profound statesmen assert that after England has established a firm friendship with all republics England will try to make herself absolute mistress of the West Indies without fear of serious resistance. This idea finds support in hints dropped by some members of the government that within a year the exploits of this commonwealth will make a noise in the world. The belief is not diminished by an examination of the actual state of affairs, as if peace is made with Holland the Dutch may be lured with hopes of help against Spain and commercial advantages, just as Portugal would also favour the idea, while the goodwill of Sweden and Denmark is always obtainable. The union of the Dutch navy with the English, which the United Provinces would readily agree to in exchange for a renunciation of all claims to indemnity, would place the most gigantic undertakings in England's power. Even in the event of peace between Spain and France the English maintain that those two powers could never muster a fleet of 300 men of war, such as England and the States together could put on the sea at any time, all ready for great designs and nothing petty. Moreover, the knowledge that the government favours the faction of the Prince of Condé rather than the Court party in France, increases a belief that on the cessation of war with the Dutch hostilities will certainly be directed either against France or Spain. They readily granted export permits for all that was wanted to help the Bordeaux insurgents, rather to further the secret ends of England than from any regard for the interests of others.
If these projects take shape there is no doubt that the English will seek to foment civil strife in France, while affecting to help Spain, and by similar astute stratagems attempt vast conquests, under the conviction that peace with Holland will induce the people to continue to pay the taxes, in the hope of commercial returns and additional wealth. The amount now levied cannot be considered as anything but trifling, considering that the fleet consists of 140 ships, almost all men of war, while the army numbers 70,000 men, under the command of Gen. Cromwell, the greater part of them quartered in England, and so well paid and disciplined that although London is crowded with troops they never cause the slightest complaint.
These particulars were communicated to me on good authority by a confidential friend, and I think it my duty to report them, even if they lack confirmation.
People here have been in daily expectation of sentence of death being passed on Cromwell's enemy Colonel Lilburne, a seditious individual opposed to the present government and accused of having had an understanding with the late king. But his trial is now postponed until Michaelmas term, his connection and popularity with the army causing the government to delay his condemnation. An immense crowd attended his examination, nor was the presence of the military sufficient to prevent some slight tumult. His sentence is unlikely to be capital, for he did not scruple to declare, with a courage exalted both by warfare and by literature, that his death would find 20,000 avengers, with other expressions which have caused great anxiety to the Council of State.
The news of the approaching surrender of Bordeaux to the King of France arrived by the last Paris mail. Many deny it and it is much regretted here, for had it not been for the Dutch war this commonwealth would have helped the insurgents, as the demands made here by the Bordeaux delegates in concert with M. de la Barrière, Condé's agent, were readily conceded. That agent is more overwhelmed than any one and on the receipt of the news he went straight to the Spanish ambassador. I am told he remonstrated warmly though respectfully with him on having failed to supply the promised succour and security for the ships chartered in aid of that city, and it is supposed that de la Barrière may be greatly involved on this account.
London, the 9th August, 1653.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
141. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 4)
I spoke of the Dutch commissioners trying to gain time to enable their fleet to come out in force and try their fortune in another battle. This has taken place, but the result has not realised their expectation, to their own loss and confusion and with corresponding advantage to this side. Yesterday morning when I went to Fleming for a reply to my demands he told me he had received an express from General Monch, Blach being too disabled by his wounds to write, announcing a signal victory. The English aware of the intention of the Dutch to come out, detached a squadron of ten of their best frigates to keep them in check when they first came out, until the main body of the fleet could form in close order, and this was done. This happened on Thursday the 9th and on the morrow, the enemy being determined to put to sea and encouraged by a junction with 25 Zeeland ships, a battle began on the coast of Holland in the morning and lasted until nearly sunset. (fn. 5) At its close the English had succeeded in entirely routing the enemy and making him retreat with only 60 out of 100 sail and upwards with which they began the action. The main mast of the Generalissimo Tromp's ship, and his flag were struck by a cannon shot, but the precise number of prizes taken has not yet been ascertained, though more than 8 ships are said to have been sunk. The victory was still in progress when the express left, so it was impossible to give exact particulars. Speaking generally the victory may be considered the third and greatest of all, with the loss of but 3 English ships and only a few killed and wounded, while the enemy's losses were considerable. Such is the account given by General Monch in the midst of the confusion. I thanked Fleming for the intelligence and said I would report it to the Senate who would receive it with particular satisfaction.
Common report in London confirms the tidings to the great delight of the government. Immense applause is lavished on Cromwell, to whose prudent management this victory is in great measure attributed. If fully confirmed it will be no less creditable to this side than mortifying to the Dutch. After being recruited by a long spell on shore and having reinforced themselves and got into perfect order, they no doubt looked for success, hoping by a third battle to retrieve what they lost in the two previous ones, and thinking the task would not be difficult because the English fleet had been so long at sea, its crews thinned and its stores exhausted. But Cromwell's provident care has disappointed their expectations, and subjected them to serious loss instead of the comparatively easy success they promised themselves. The next letters from Flanders will bring more certain particulars.
Meanwhile the Dutch commissioners here are stunned by a blow which completely turns the tide of their negotiations and proves to the United Provinces that it is practically hopeless for them to renew the struggle and they must accept an adjustment, possibly on harsh terms, detrimental to their liberty, trade and status. In addition to the English proposals mentioned, I learn that they contemplate here an alliance so close that the English might be considered Dutch and the Dutch English. A Dutchman was to have a seat in the English Council of State and an English representative to sit in the Council at the Hague. Nothing soever was to be done without mutual consent ; no faction was to be favoured or assisted, by which they intended if possible to destroy that of the Prince of Orange, which is still powerful and supported by some of the Provinces. As a guarantee for the observance of the terms English garrisons were to be placed in some of their principal fortresses. On hearing this the commissioners shrugged their shoulders with surprise, and said the points were so important that they could not utter a word without previous consultation with their masters for which two of them were about to depart when news of the battle arrived.
To such a pitch had the claims of the rulers here already soared, and preposterous as they are, they will be much encouraged by this last victory. It should encourage hope of peace, necessity compelling the enemy to accept terms which would certainly have been rejected previously, unless the point of honour renders them obstinate and by continuing the war they may hope to wear out their ill fortune and profit in the settlement. But the longer this is delayed the more they are likely to suffer as the English will seek to improve their advantage by waylaying the annual Indian fleet, as well as upwards of 100 outwardbound merchantmen, which are now waiting for an opportunity and convoy. So it is thought that after this last defeat the Dutch will resign themselves to peace, which the government here declare they will facilitate with generosity, though they observe that the United Provinces deserve punishment and correction for neglecting the friendship of this country, of yore the architect of their fortunes and aggrandisement, though it is necessary to maintain and protect them for the honour of all aristocratic governments.
Such is the account of the battle circulating here and these are the statements of the members of the government, which I consider it my duty to report.
London, the 17th August, 1653.
142. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to the same.
The population here has received the news of the late victories with indifference and with no desire for more. The Londoners think they have gained little by the present form of government. A large part of the people is now obliged to live on the profits they obtained of yore from the nobility and gentry, as luxuries are at present practically abolished, wealth having fallen into the hands of people unused to possess it and who are more inclined to hoard than to spend, so that the tradesmen here and all over England sigh for the old state of affairs. But no one dares to speak as the military keep everything quiet, the peace of London is provided for by the soldiers who patrol in every direction, their numbers enabling them to seize any disaffected persons, who express hostility to the actual rulers by word or deed. So the people are coerced and compelled, with scarce the liberty to complain, to pay the ordinary and extraordinary assessments. Although these are trifling, yet as they were never exacted in the olden time, they are the more felt by reason of their novelty and continuance. Moreover the suburbs of London are now subjected to a burden unknown under the kings, every shopkeeper there being now bound to lodge one or two soldiers, according to his means and trade. Thus the people are deceived in their anticipations of relief and perfect liberty, and are at last aware that the change has merely added to their grievances. So it may be positively asserted that the masses are discontented and anxious for the return of the king ; but they dare not make any demonstration for fear of that force which may be said to increase with success. Should peace be made with Holland this government will receive an accession of strength, to the added glory of Gen. Cromwell and to the unspeakable regret of the nation now subject to him.
I learn through a confidential channel that in consequence of the late reverses of the Dutch and their negotiations for an adjustment, the king of Denmark has written a private letter to Sir [Oliver] Fleming, expressing peculiar regard for the present government and his desire to prove it. This action is supposed to be due not merely to the naval reverses of the States but because the king perceives the Provinces to be divided among themselves, and he is afraid of finding himself in an awkward plight in the event of peace. So he is trying covertly to ascertain their intentions here. But they have graven on their hearts the wrong done to their ships, which will not easily be forgotten, and in any case Denmark will have to pay a considerable indemnity, after the fashion of Portugal who for harbouring Prince Rupert is now required to find an amount far exceeding two millions of gold.
Since the return of the Mediterranean squadron, owing to the report of Captain Badily and the other commander, (fn. 6) it seems that the government has serious thoughts in that quarter. It is much irritated against the Grand Duke, to whose orders it attributes the English reverses there. So far as I can discover they intend to resent this conduct by secret and definite instructions to such men of war as may be sent out there, other orders being given to the merchantmen bound for Leghorn with cargoes. I will keep on the watch about this.
The confirmation of the surrender of Bordeaux (fn. 7) has been received here with regret, as the English always favoured the defence of that city. Close observation shows that the ill will towards France increases ; the negotiations of M. de Bordeaux having so far availed nothing towards the establishment of a good mutual understanding, and he has not settled anything about the indemnity demanded of the French crown.
Sig. Paganuzzi has arrived here with some ships from Malamocco, with troops, notably Sclavonians, enlisted by him at Venice, for the purpose of serving with them, but I cannot discover whether it is by sea or land, or even where ; but it is a fact that he is in London. (fn. 8)
Sends accounts for July.
London, the 17th August, 1653.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
143. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The commissioners are still conferring with the Dutch ambassador about an alliance. So far as can be gathered the Cardinal has only entered upon these negotiations in order to arouse the alarm of the English and to prevent them from intervening in favour of Bordeaux, so as not to force the Cardinal to draw even closer to the Dutch ; and also in order to raise the hopes of the Dutch, so that they may not be in a hurry to come to terms with England, which would always be injurious to France. The reports of a new battle in which the Dutch were worsted with considerable loss oblige his Eminence to gain time before putting the final touches to the agreement.
In the province of Guienne there is a certain number of Irishmen who formed the garrison of Bourgh when it was in the hands of the Spaniards. These men are suggested for the enterprise in Italy, and they have sent Lord Pat, an Englishman, (fn. 9) to persuade them to go there.
[Paulucci's letters enclosed.]
Paris, the 19th August, 1653.
Aug. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
144. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The shameful decision of 4000 Irish who all passed over in a single day to the side of the French has been a fatal thing. It is utterly unprecedented that half an army, with flags flying, drums beating and in full array should abandon one service to enter that of the enemy, without cause or reason, as these troops have always been well nourished. These perfidious troops, to render this felony of theirs the more notorious, had planned to enter Barcelona and at the same moment to get the person of Don John of Austria into their hands and then deliver the fortress over to the French ; but this stroke did not succeed owing to the rascals being in too much of a hurry.
It is believed that this intrigue has been conducted by some superior hand and perhaps by that of the king of England himself, as some sort of response for his pleasing residence in France, since Grances, the chief and colonel had gone away just as d'Ubrin did some months ago, who went to Paris.
Madrid, the 20th August, 1653.
Aug. 23.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
145. To the Ambassador in France.
Acknowledge receipt of Pauluzzi's letters of the 26th ult. He is to avoid all conversation on such subjects as the journey of the Vice Chancellor of Poland to the Porte, and must say that he has no instructions in the matter. Approval of what he said to Fleming about the alleged partiality of the republic to the Dutch. He must cultivate the best possible relations with the government, throwing discredit upon foolish reports. The good intentions of General Cromwell towards the republic are warmly appreciated by the state and Pauluzzi must not neglect to convey the knowledge of this to him as well as of the high regard that is felt and the esteem for his rare character and qualities.
Ayes, 144. Noes, 2. Neutral, 2.
Aug. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
146. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 10)
Subsequent advices from Holland and Flanders throw a very different light on the sea fight reported in my last, denying to the English the advantage they indicated. The letters of General Monch written in the heat of action, gave great hopes of victory without taking casualties into account. The English succeeded in meeting the weight of the enemy and compelling the main body of 60 sail to retreat in disorder in a shower of cannon shot. The remainder, numbering 120, were dispersed but were not in the power of Monch, as he imagined, for as they retreated they effected a junction between the Texel and Zeeland fleets, showing that their real object was to unite their forces and renew the fight. It is said to have been waged very obstinately on both sides. The Zeeland ships, which were almost all men of war, and a good part of them built on a new model, perfectly found and with very heavy guns, did considerable damage to the English, who paid dear for the advantage they claimed, as they are now said to have lost ten of their ships and a like number of their chief captains, besides 1500 seamen and 500 wounded. Here on the contrary it is asserted that the English made more than 1000 prisoners and sunk 30 ships, which implies that the loss of the enemy in killed and wounded must also have exceeded theirs. But as no certain information has yet been received of a single Dutch ship taken, the report cannot be credited. At the same time it is confirmed that if the Zeeland ships had not joined General Tromp his whole fleet would have been most awkwardly not to say desperately situated. In short the battle was remarkably and mutually destructive, especially to the English. After keeping the sea for nearly two months on end, blockading the Dutch ports the whole time, they have had the honour to withstand the shock of their opponents who had the advantage of the same period for preparation and refitting. They were thus able to go out and unite their two fleets compelling the English to withdraw, as they are understood to have done. They are now in the principal ports here, landing their wounded, who are numerous, and repairing with all speed the extraordinary damage which their ships have received from the Dutch cannon. They have only left a squadron of 16 sail off the coast of Holland, to make prizes.
Meanwhile the Dutch, having free passage, will convoy their merchantmen, and fears are entertained that they may capture such as quit this river. As a precaution and to strengthen the fleet with fresh ships and hands all ships have been forbidden, under the severest penalties, to leave the Thames without a government permit. They have already heard here with regret that of 6 English ships which parted company from stress of weather when homeward bound from the East Indies, three worth over 300,000l. sterling were encountered by the Dutch cruisers and only one of them was fortunate enough to escape. (fn. 11) She put into a British port a day or two ago. This news has redoubled the energy of the government to strengthen the fleet, with the intention, it is believed, of again sending it to the Dutch coast to repair all loss by capturing such merchantmen as may enter or leave their harbours, and chiefly with a view to intercept the great fleet which the Dutch expect from the Indies, richly laden. But this, being warned, is understood to have put into some Danish ports, where it will wait for more favourable circumstances, and convoy from the main body of the war fleet.
1500 men have been drafted from the regiments quartered here and here-abouts, and will be embarked forthwith on board the fleet, the ranks of the old companies being speedily filled up by fresh levies, made lately in great numbers and consisting of the best men procurable, and all of them English.
To meet the demands of the generals of the fleet and as a token of the nation's esteem for the captains who distinguished themselves in the recent fights and to encourage all others, parliament has this week ordered a number of gold chains with medals to be made to be sent speedily to the commanders, to be distributed among the most deserving, as a conspicuous mark of the generosity and munificence of this parliament. (fn. 12)
Owing to this last sea fight the talk of peace seems silenced. Two days before the news of it reached London two of the Dutch commissioners left for the Hague to report the definite intentions of this government. (fn. 13) On their return it is hoped that pacific arrangements may be facilitated, unless the battle has changed that disposition in Holland which still increases here, where the general opinion is that this action will prove very helpful, especially as I have just learned that the English are giving up their demand for cautionary towns and for indemnities, seeking rather their mutual defence and preservation, harmoniously, the object being to draw the Dutch into an offensive and defensive alliance. They are not expected to succeed in this, unless the continuation of this odious and mutually destructive war compels its adoption.
Every possible satisfaction has been given to the Swedish minister about the release of the crews and ships of his queen, the government here doing its utmost to preserve the friendship of her Majesty, whose commercial interests also suggest a good understanding with England.
The Vice-chancellor of Poland has again had private audience of Gen. Cromwell, and a public one of four members deputed by the Council of State, when he was promised speedy despatch and letters to the English ambassador at the Porte, out of deference to Sweden and arrangements made by the queen there with him, though the desire to remove the minister there may involve delay, which is habitual with this government. But I think this may be to some extent overcome by the exertions of the Vicechancellor, who proposes to start in a few days, before which he hopes to receive some hint from the state for the regulation of his journey.
I have received your Excellency's letters of the 16th inst., with instructions that I am to continue my service.
I have seen Sir [Oliver] Fleming and told him what had been decided about the Irish levies. He said the answer was unsatisfactory to himself and the government, which had given a preference to the republic over any other power that wished to employ the Irish. In reply to my explanations he promised to communicate them to Gen. Cromwell, who had asked for them repeatedly, since it was necessary to come to some decision.
London, the 24th August, 1653.
147. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
General Preston, an English subject of distinction and experience, who bore arms for the king until hope was lost, when he had to surrender two towns, (fn. 14) agreed with parliament that he should be allowed to raise a levy of 6000 Irishmen. He has now made me the enclosed offer. He has an honourable employment in France but offers the levy together with his son, or without. I received the paper without comment.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Paris, the 26th August, 1653.
148. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch ambassador has announced to the king and Cardinal the victory gained over the English fleet. He represents that Admiral Tromp having effected a junction with the squadron of Vice Admiral Vittens, they made a combined attack with 90 men of war on the English, who had 100 sail, ranged in a crescent and awaiting them. The engagement was obstinate and bloody, the slaughter and loss being mutual. 40 ships were sunk in all, but the Dutch broke the English line and passed through it more than once (havessero ad ogni modo gl'Olandesi rotta Vordinanza degli Inglesi e passativi piu d'una volta a traverso). Over 20,000 cannon shot were exchanged, so that the killed and wounded were very numerous. On the third attack the English were compelled to abandon the Texel and make for their own ports to repair their losses and obtain reinforcements of men and ships, so their retreat decides the victory in favour of the Dutch. The prizes made by either side are said to be trifling as almost all the missing ships were burned or sunk. But the Dutch have suffered a great and important loss, namely their Admiral Tromp, who with exemplary courage put himself in the thickest of the fight, and being hit by a musket ball, expired, saying he had done his part as a man of honour and besought the survivors to imitate his glorious end and die for their country. He was the greatest seaman and the best soldier of this age. A public funeral is being prepared for him at the Hague on a scale proportioned to his deserts and his fame, over which death has no power.
Paris, the 26th August, 1653.
Aug. 30.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
149. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 15)
My last contained the true account of the late sea fight, which the government here represents otherwise, to convince the people here that a great victory has been won. To the same end the preachers have been ordered to observe this day week as one of solemn thanksgiving and a holy day throughout London. A number of prisoners, the date of whose capture I do not know, have been paraded through the city before the people, who are taught to believe that they are some taken in the late action. Thus partly by artifice and partly by truth efforts are made to induce a belief in what is not real, for the encouragement of the masses and to help the commonwealth, causing less regret for the continuation of the war, and making the nation contribute to it more readily than they might if circumstances were quite different and reported as such. Although time betrays the truth and the boasted advantages fade away, the government is accustomed to benefit by first impressions, and so the people are more tolerant of the diminution of victory than they might be of the immediate announcement of loss and disaster. The death of General Tromp seems to be considered a great gain here and a notable loss to the enemy, his long naval experience rendering him an able councillor to the States and equally effective in action on every occasion.
After the battle the Dutch sent out some of their merchantmen, and 16 of the least valuable were captured by the English cruisers, which remained on the coast solely for the purpose of making prizes, and have been sent into English ports. More men of war have been commissioned to join these cruisers, so that they may extend their operations. They are to remain on their present station at least until the main body of the fleet has been refitted and provisioned, when it will join this squadron and renew hostilities. But as the Dutch are now strong and their fleets united, it is probable that before putting to sea the English will strengthen themselves to the utmost, and to this end their efforts are incessantly directed.
Meanwhile people are impatient to learn the opinions of the United Provinces upon the report brought by the two commissioners, whose speedy return is doubted. It is suspected indeed that their two colleagues, who remained behind, will be recalled. On the other hand some aver that these or others in their stead will come back with the title of ambassadors. As it is the fashion in this city to announce as a fact what they earnestly desire, it may be inferred that the government is pacifically inclined, though the claims of England to treat the United Provinces as an inferior and to receive great concessions may possibly lead to the continuation of the war, for the speedy ending of which it would be necessary for both sides to yield much.
A new court of justice has been erected with power to punish all persons accused of disaffection and malignity towards the government. (fn. 16) The establishment of this High Court of Justice, which similarly judged the late king, has been induced by the discovery in London of many malcontents. As a measure of precaution a colonel of the army and three other private individuals have been sent recently to the Tower, (fn. 17) a proof that this body politic is troubled with peccant humours, which will prove a source of anxiety to the present government and give employment especially to the lofty genius of Gen. Cromwell. He is already somewhat suspicious of the proceedings of the present parliament, and during the last few days it has been said that he may carry out some modification or change in the members, even before the appointed term expires, as it makes no progress with its business, though the closest watch is kept upon its acts.
By order of the Council of State the trial of Colonel Lilburne has been resumed and the sentence is expected daily of the judges nominated in the case. His arguments and subtle wit draw immense crowds and plentiful sympathy. His chief defence rests on the dissolution of the late parliament, for he contends that as he was condemned by that body his release is the necessary consequence of its dissolution for injustice, irregularity and maladministration. If on the other hand that parliament was lawful and its administration upright, punishment ought first of all to be inflicted on Cromwell as the principal author of its unjust dissolution ; close reasoning whereby the prisoner aims at his chief enemy. Cromwell's power together with the proofs of the turbulent and seditious character of Lilburne might lead to a capital sentence did not the actual state of affairs require caution, as such a spark might kindle a great conflagration. So it is probable he will undergo severe imprisonment, instead of the death penalty.
A few days ago in the Council of State they proposed to bring a general action against all the members of the late parliament, with a view to make them render account of considerable sums of money and much valuable national property. But, as usual with important measures the proposal encountered many difficulties and it has been considered more expedient to give up this idea and to demand instead for the urgent needs of the state pecuniary succour in proportion to the means of the individual and to the wealth obtained during their long sway and free disposal of all the affairs of England. Repayment is promised after a certain period, and I understand that under this specious pretext they have already begun with the late Speaker, ordering him to help the state with 50,000l. sterling. Some other members are also being called upon for considerable sums, and if they demur the newly instituted High Court of Justice will be charged to exact them. So to avoid rigour and additional loss it is supposed that the wealthy will consent to pay. By this means the government expects to be speedily supplied with 500,000l. sterling.
The royalists in Scotland are gaining strength daily and as circumstances do not allow of sending the reinforcements required from here, they have decided to encourage the generals there with promises of great assistance, recommending to their zeal the adoption of measures best calculated to check the enemy until these are realised.
By the deportation of a number of prisoners and malcontents, granted to the service of foreign powers, Ireland has been considerably relieved of the disaffected. To render it even more quiet and obedient levies will be readily conceded to friendly states, especially if recruited among the Catholics, of whom they wish to rid the island entirely.
The Swedish minister complains loudly that the promises and fair words lavished upon him about the speedy release of his ships, are not borne out by deeds, the ships being unduly detained to the great detriment of their cargoes. He is the more irritated because during the last few days he has been prevented from making any representation to the Council of State. All this proves that the English mean to subject those ships to a very close examination before releasing them, because of the interest which they suspect the Dutch to have in them. This government invariably acts thus without heeding complaints, according to what is best for its own service without caring to acknowledge any other way than their own, even though propriety and justice demand a different course.
The Swiss envoy is still here, not having yet obtained a formal reply from the government to the proposals and letters he presented, without which he has positive orders not to leave.
With regard to the case of the English merchants which they want referred to the Admiralty Court here, I am aware that the Council of State has ordered another very strong letter to be drawn up for transmission to the Signory. It will be delivered to me for this purpose with a strong remonstrance, which I shall answer to the best of my ability.
London, the 30th August, 1653.
Aug. 30.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
150. Geronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
According to the news from Holland the States there are in great apprehension not only because of their losses to the English but from their fear of disturbances and risings, which are disclosing themselves in many places.
Vienna, the 30th August, 1653.


  • 1. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 12th August.
  • 2. The presentation of his letter is recorded in the Journals as having been on the 12-22 August. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. vii., p. 299.
  • 3. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 12th August.
  • 4. This and the following letter forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 19th August.
  • 5. Paulucci has confused the dates and apparently the styles. The battle began on Friday, 29th July, old style. The 9th Aug., n.s. was a Saturday.
  • 6. Capt. Henry Appleton, who had been released on parole and came to England overland.
  • 7. Bordeaux capitulated on the 30th July, and the royal forces entered the town on the 3rd August. Julian : Hist, de Bordeaux, page 496.
  • 8. A petition from Daniel Paganuzzi is mentioned in the Council of State's proceedings for the 18-28 August. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1653-4, page 93.
  • 9. Perhaps Col. Fitzpatrick is meant. See Thurloe : State Papers, Vol. I., page 332.
  • 10. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 26th.
  • 11. Apparently referring to the loss of four ships in the Persian Gulf of which news was received on the 8-18 August. The East India Merchant arrived safely on the 30th July, o.s., and the Love came in later on the 31st August, o.s. Foster : English Factories in India, 1651-4, page 196.
  • 12. The gold chains were voted on the 8-18 August. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. vii., p. 296.
  • 13. Nieuport and Jongstall left London on the 14th August. Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. iii., page 856.
  • 14. Waterford which surrendered in August, 1650, and Galway which capitulated in April, 1652. Preston is said to have escaped to the continent before the latter surrender. Dunlop : Ireland under the Commonwealth, Vol. i., pp. 95, 163.
  • 15. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 2nd September.
  • 16. A resolution was passed in parliament on the 10-20 August for the establishment of a High Court of Justice for the trial of offenders against the Commonwealth (Journals of the House of Commons, Vol vii., page 297) but the matter was held in abeyance.
  • 17. Col. Robert Phillips, Nicholas Douthwaite and George Thomson were committed to the Tower on 13-23 August for treason against the State. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1653-4, p. 87.