Venice: November 1653

Pages 143-151

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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November 1653

Nov. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
173. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
As instructed I forwarded the orders to Paulucci together with a copy of the contract for his guidance for a levy of 1000 men He has this week sent me another offer of Irishmen and as the aspirants are numerous the state will be able to pick and choose.
Encloses Paulucci's letters as usual.
Paris, the 4th November, 1653.
Nov. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia, Venetian Archives.
174. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
By pressing for a reply to my announcement I find that the government requires time as they consider the affair of great importance ; but I also learn that the answer will be quite satisfactory and I should have received it already but for the extraordinary press of business As a fact the Council of State has been exclusively occupied with naval affairs the last few days, which are justly considered paramount. The consultations are attended by General Blach and General Monc who have come to London on purpose to give advice, now that the enemy is at sea, and what is more, off the English coast, in order to intercept a fleet of colliers which is expected from Scotland. Perhaps they mean to blockade this river and prevent the ships now at anchor there from joining the small squadron now at sea. On the other hand I hear on good authority that the English fleet means to go out of the Thames in great force, the ships there having possibly come in for the express purpose of assembling to convoy the colliers and remedy the scarcity of fuel, of which there is much complaint in London, and at the same time to prove that the commonwealth navy is stronger than ever, rendering the enemy more prone to peace and thus benefiting the negotiations here.
The two Dutch commissioners are expected back daily. (fn. 2) From this and because the actual President of the Council at the Hague is a native of Holland, a province that has practically declared for peace, many entertain hopes of a speedy adjustment. I find that a secret envoy has been despatched to Holland with assurances of the best possible disposition here. I also understand that they have descended from their original lofty pretensions. If this is true and the Dutch are as pacifically inclined, a good result may be anticipated. On the other hand if the negotiations do not advance during the presidency of the Hollander, an adjustment, if not hopeless, will certainly be much impeded, each party continuing its hostilities with obstinacy, so as to force the other to terms. While the English know that domestic affairs in the United Provinces fluctuate on this account, the Dutch also know that things are not perfectly quiet in England, where the people clamour daily about taxes and the stoppage of trade, which has caused great hardship among the people here ever since the war began.
To enable the fleet to put to sea in full force a fresh order was issued lately prohibiting all vessels from leaving the Thames. The government thus obtains a supply of sailors, though these complain that their faithful services at the risk of their lives have not been acknowledged by punctual pay as promised. For the redress of this grievance they appeared recently in considerable numbers before the Council of State with complaints, demands and almost protestations, obtaining assurances of redress and satisfaction. To avoid great mischief which might arise from a small cause some money was distributed among them. But the scarcity of funds is such that redoubled efforts have been made to get supplies. Cromwell has held private conferences with the Lord Mayor and aldermen to devise means for getting a subsidy from the city of 400,000l. sterling which the people here will be reluctant to grant, as the universal murmur, only too freely uttered, runs that never was taxation so high as at present, and there is no doubt that only the dread of the military makes the English now submit to burdens, the bare mention of which, in bygone times would have driven them frantic.
The chief of the two Swedish ministers here, having recently received letters from his queen to present to parliament and orders to take leave has lately had audience for this and will depart for Sweden forthwith his colleague remaining in London for the performance of certain promises, the complete fulfilment of which the other has been unable to obtain. It is said by some that the government will seize this opportunity to send the ambassador extraordinary in his company for safety's sake, though this is contradicted by others who add that his departure may be delayed some time for the reasons already reported ; anyhow the question will be decided ere long.
Has received no letters since those of the 25th.
London, the 6th November, 1653.
Postcript :—I have just learned of the arrival of the two commissioners from Holland. This will certainly help the peace negotiations. The idea prevails that it is earnestly desired by both sides. If this feeling is greater than before with each, as appearances indicate, the conclusion may be near at hand, unless impediments arise in the act of negotiating, as easily happens in important transactions.
Nov. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
175. To the Ambassador in France.
We note Pauluzzi's audience of the councillors of parliament and the punctual execution of his commissions and his adroit endeavour to obtain the replies, while for the rest he confined himself to general terms, avoiding any sort of committal. You will instruct him to try and discover what commissions have been given to the person sent to Constantinople, about backing up our interests at the Porte.
Ayes, 137. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
Nov. 13.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
176. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 3)
After their demand for pay the sailors of the fleet insisted on receiving the prize money awarded them by act of parliament, and having largely deserted their ships, now in the Thames, appeared riotously in several parts of London, many being armed with swords and pikes, a few even having firearms. One party of these mutineers encountered by accident near the palace Gen. Cromwell and General Monch, who asked them where they were going and what they wanted. They answered boldly that they asked for justice and right, in so insolent a tone that to intimidate them General Monk drew his sword and belaboured a number of them, wounding a few. This answered, for they withdrew, though only to inform their comrades and join forces, as they did on the morrow. As their numbers were known to be increasing elsewhere and their acts approached open insurrection, the Council of State at once sent a regiment of 1000 foot and some troops of horse against them. To this force they were compelled to submit, some of their ringleaders being taken, and yesterday one of the most violent was executed, charged in addition with having attempted the life of Cromwell with a firearm. Anyhow the culprit has been hanged in public, escorted by a troop of horse, without any disturbance among his messmates, indeed it seems that this public example has brought them back to their duty. (fn. 4)
Before applying these violent remedies to so perilous a disorder, a proclamation was made to the sound of the trumpet, on the Exchange, at the hour when most frequented, stating that the sailors, regardless of their duty and on unreasonable grounds, fomented by enemies of the commonwealth had sought to create a disturbance. To prevent this the mutineers now in the hands of justice would receive exemplary punishment and those who persisted in insurrection would all be put to death. At the same time it was the firm intention of the government to keep its promises, especially about prize money, and to show the utmost compassion to the widows and orphans of sailors who died in the service of the state. Thus by severity and lenience serious mischief has been averted, an issue being effected for peccant humours, although it is believed they have not all evaporated.
Such is the emergency which for the last few days has intensely occupied the whole administration. It still causes preoccupation, as although acts of disobedience may be met by force, the present state of affairs does not allow them to go all lengths against the sailors, on whom the entire fleet may be said to depend. What is worse the sailors have accomplices on the ships among the soldiers, one of whom has also been executed, so the affair is of double significance. The disturbance is exceedingly regrettable because it came at a time when the government wanted to send out a considerable squadron, whose departure has consequently been delayed and at the very moment of the arrival of the Dutch commissioners. So every means has been taken to put things right lest in the approaching negotiations the Dutch raise their claims. Possibly they may now show more inclination for peace here, as although the sailors have been quieted and brought to their duty they cannot be entirely trusted. So past mischief may contribute much to future good by accelerating the adjustment between the two nations.
Since the two commissioners returned all four have had audience of the committee previously appointed for them. But they only repeated how earnestly the United Provinces desired peace, which is fully reciprocated here. I hear in confidence that the Dutch are resigned to what is fair and just so if the English abate somewhat their first high pretensions, as there is some likelihood that they may, an adjustment seems probable. It is not possible as yet to form any definite opinion about the result. At the same time, unless the prolonged stay of the commissioners here is a stratagem, hopes may be entertained of something decisive ere long.
A ship bound from San Sebastian to Dunkirk with 200,000 pieces of eight has been seized by two of the parliament frigates and brought into the mouth of the Thames. (fn. 5) The captain came up to London at once to complain to the Spanish ambassador who demanded audience of the Council of State, for its release, also at the earnest suit of the Prince of Condé's Agent, the money being mostly destined for his Highness, according to report. He obtained this readily and was told that if the specie really proved to be Spanish property both ship and cargo would be released, but meanwhile it all remains in the hands of the rulers here, who will make a careful enquiry into the matter first of all and then decide what best suits their interests under the circumstances, after their fashion here.
The government has at last decided to despatch the Ambassador Whitelocke at once, in consideration of the pledge given to Sweden and to help the negotiations with the Dutch, certain serious obstacles having been overcome. They send him off in great state and with a considerable retinue. He has already taken leave of parliament and the Council of State.
The six months for the Council of State having expired the whole of this week has been spent in nominating the 15 new members who remain in office for a year, 15 members retiring by rotation every six months while the other 15 remain. With changes more frequent than of yore the probability of radical reform increases. The severity of the government causes universal discontent and swells the ranks of the disaffected, though the ministry cares little for this because they have a large armed force at their absolute disposal with which they count upon putting down any disorder that may arise and keeping the people cowed and loyal, and they make no outcry, in spite of their burdens and discontent, for fear of worse. A large force of troops is quartered in and about this city. Being punctually paid they are a model of discipline and obedience.
No letters have arrived this week because of the very high contrary winds these last days.
London, the 13th November, 1653.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Nov. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
177. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The chancellor of Poland is here after a few months' stay in England. He is planning to induce the Turks to attack Poland and is full of crude schemes inspired only by passion.
The English squadron cruising off the Dutch coast was compelled by a storm to return to port for repairs. Dutch merchantmen profit by the opportunity to put to sea, much to the relief of their trade, but as the richly freighted merchantmen have not yet put in an appearance, the merchants are full of apprehension.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Epernay, the 18th November, 1653.
Nov. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
178. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 6)
Your Excellency's letters of the 1st and 8th inst. reached me at the same time, the stormy weather having stopped all communication with France for some days. I note the orders about the levy and to refuse the proposal of Captain Jessupp. I will see Sir[Oliver] Fleming and inform you of the result. I may remark that the government desires nothing better than to thin the population of Scotland and Ireland, and above all to rid itself of the Irish Catholics, many of whom have received recruiting permits. If the demand for passage money is fair I think there would be no lack of men or transports, as I know many who are anxious to make contracts. But it will be difficult to get anyone here to undertake the affair without a little money, as Fleming told me at his original offer. I will try and see what can be done and have already made an application. I expect to see Fleming about this and to receive the reply for which I have been waiting so long. With this government importunity is of little use, its decisions are always tardy and regulated entirely by their own interest. The English look at things in their own way not that of others, even when their own interest requires another system, and if they make peace with Holland they will expect to be courted by nearly all the powers of Europe.
The Dutch negotiations seem to be progressing favourably. If they continue so the chief difficulties may be first smoothed by the exchange of letters, if they do not find it too difficult to avoid the harshness and obstacles inseparable from so momentous a business which are foreseen here as exceptionally hard to surmount. It is known that the commissioners have returned with sufficient powers for a settlement and the determination to be guided by what is just and proper. As people are impressed with this belief England will get the blame if the treaty does not take effect. Possibly to encourage this belief the commissioners make known their powers and the goodwill of their masters. But the negotiations are conducted with extraordinary secrecy, and since the mutiny of the sailors the tendency to peace is clearly much stronger.
By the last advices from Holland the arrival in the Texel is confirmed of 250 merchantmen, including the East India ships, which stayed a long time in Danish ports to escape the English fleet. They all got in safe under convoy of General de Vuart. (fn. 7) much to the comfort of the United Provinces, which are now somewhat relieved from the great inconvenience of the present war. The Indiamen are understood to be worth more than 8 millions of gold, this fleet being richer in diamonds, other jewels and especially ambergris than any other that has reached Holland for many a year. This was known here and the government intended to send out a considerable fleet to give it battle, but was prevented by the mutiny of the sailors.
It is conjectured that the ambassador to Sweden will be charged to go on later to the Muscovite, to try and effect a reconciliation with that sovereign, who showed ill will to the English merchants trading in his dominions when he heard of the death of King Charles, and expelled the chief of them ; but his secret object was to curry favour with the Dutch. The ambassador has set out with a retinue of 80 persons in gallant trim, as they mean him to make a sumptuous appearance.
Nothing has been done yet about the money taken on the Flemish ship. The Spanish ambassador has received the same answer as when the plate was taken previously. It is thought the decision will be long delayed. With regard to these prizes I may cite the case of some wool taken long ago and finally released by order of the Admiralty Court on proof of its being the property of the king of Spain. When the goods were about to leave this country a London merchant named Ricaut attached it boldly declaring that the king of Spain owed him a sum exceeding its value. Thus to the surprise of everybody one sees goods judged by a court of law to be the property of a crowned head seized by a private individual. Although the action seems rash, Ricaut is under no apprehension, having taken advice, and because his claims are legitimate. If he gets his way this will probably serve as a precedent for other creditors of Spain or any other power. So the affair excites attention from its character and unless the government decides to take it up again as an important matter of state, as the ambassador contends, civil or common law may decide in favour of the merchant. (fn. 8) The state of things here is such that practically every private person claims a potential voice and liberty to act as he pleases, however unbecoming or unreasonable it may be.
Encloses accounts for October.
London, the 20th November, 1653.
Nov. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
179. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
News has come from Holland of the safe arrival of the India fleet numbering 420 sail, richly freighted, to the great relief of the Dutch merchants, who were in fear and trembling because the English had their eye on it. Muskets and pikes have also been sent from the Hague to arm the Highlanders in Scotland, to aid their insurrection against the parliament.
Encloses letters from England.
Epernay, the 25th November, 1653.
Nov. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
180. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch are filling these coasts with alarm. In the Strait of Gibraltar they have captured twenty English ships which were proceeding to the Levant laden with divers kinds of goods. They have also taken two vessels of Algiers, while three others ran themselves aground on the shores of Barbary.
Madrid, the 26th November, 1653.
Nov. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
181. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 9)
Receiving no reply from the Council of State I sent the enclosed letter to one of the members who received me in audience, who replied promising that the matter would be settled satisfactorily in a few days.
There is no fresh news except that the negotiations of the Dutch commissioners have advanced little beyond mutual assurances of the best possible disposition. As the affair proceeds it encounters serious obstacles on which it may easily suffer shipwreck. It is reported that since the mission of M. Scianou to the Hague the tone of the commissioners has changed, and indeed little progress has been made since the first fair demonstrations. It was said the other day that the negotiations had been broken off, so the chances seem rather in favour of a continuation of the war.
With things in this state, to help their own side, lest the Dutch should become too puffed up by the safe arrival of their merchant fleet, their unimpeded traffic and practical mastery of the sea, it was determined to send out General Monch with 60 of the best men-of-war, to try and intercept a wine fleet which the enemy was expecting. Some money was distributed among the sailors and soldiers, by way of encouragement, and he embarked immediately. But it is now reported from Holland that the wine fleet when at the mouth of the Texel with its convoy encountered a furious storm in which 16 of the newly built men-of-war were disabled and some others totally lost, in addition to which the sea destroyed a dike, damaging the country greatly, many lives being lost. (fn. 10) Hopes are entertained that these catastrophes may help the commonwealth. The English indeed represent the mischief as greater, but it will be prudent to await the next advices from the United Provinces.
The systematic seizure by the parliament cruisers of whatever they encounter gives rise to increasing complaints from all quarters. The injury done to French trade is very great indeed, for besides former prizes they have now taken two other French ships, one with a valuable cargo of linen. Although it showed a pass from the late parliament, this was ignored. Thus the animosity between the two countries increases daily. To bear this out we hear of the seizure by French ships in the Mediterranean of a large English merchantman bound to London with currants.
The government seems determined to renew its severity against the Catholics and bring them to the verge of ruin. They are now required to redeem their estates, and if they are unable or unwilling to do so, two thirds of their property now in the hands of the commonwealth will be sold without reserve as a fund for the support of the present war.
The ambassador extraordinary for Sweden departed as mentioned but returned to London two days later to see his first born son, his wife having been delivered almost immediately after he started. He is now on the road again, comforted by this event and also by the increase of his monthly allowance to 50l. a day, besides a present of 6,000l. sterling for his outfit.
The Swedish Resident has also left England, leaving a commissioner of his queen here to attend to affairs. The Swiss Agent, who was to have left has received fresh instructions and remains in hope of effecting something with this commonwealth in the matter of mutual intercourse.
Acknowledges letters of the 22nd inst.
London, the 28th November, 1653.
Enclosure. 182. Letter of Paulucci to a Member of the Council of State.
Has waited two months for an answer to the expressions of friendship made to the Council by order of his Prince. Asks when he may expect it or if the Council considers it necessary to wait longer before responding to the friendly advances of Venice.
Signed, Lauren. Paulus, Secretary of Venice.
London, the 25th November, 1653.
[French ; copy.]
Nov. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
183. To the Ambassador in France.
The demands of the captains who offer levies, reported by Pauluzzi, are so excessive that they are impracticable. Pauluzzi must inform them that no discussion of such terms is possible.
Ayes, 140. Noes, 1. Neutral, 7.
Nov. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenzc. Venetian Archives.
184. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
There is an increasing scarcity of ships at Leghorn. Besides the war between the English and the Dutch there are the depredations of corsairs. News has come recently that the Chevalier Polo has captured some English ships bound for London from Zante and Cephalonia with oil and currants, and two Flemish ones with grain for Florence.
Mr. Charles Longland, minister of the English parliament at Leghorn, has orders to send an express expedition to Tripoli in Barbary and to despatch goods there for ransoming all the English who are slaves in the place, because the parliamentary fleet is very short of sailors. From this shortage and the efforts to remedy it one may gather how difficult it will be for that nation to have ships in the Mediterranean just now.
Florence, the 29th November, 1653.


  • 1. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 28th.
  • 2. Nieuport and Jongstall reached London on the 6th. Salvetti on the 7th. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962. O.
  • 3. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 25th.
  • 4. The rioting took place on the 5th and 6th November, and the sailor was executed on the 10th, all new style. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1653-4, page 219. Whitelock : Memorials (ed. 1682), pp. 548-9.
  • 5. The St. Anna brought into Plymouth by Capt. Richard Kingman. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1653-4, pp. 236, 243, 515.
  • 6. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 2nd December.
  • 7. The convoy was brought in by de With, It may thereupon be assumed that he is the Vuart mentioned at p. 35 above as reinforcing Tromp after the battle of Portland.
  • 8. The wool was released by order of the Council of State on the 3-13 December. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1653-4, page 282.
  • 9. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 9th December.
  • 10. A great storm which lasted from Friday the 7th November to Monday the 10th, new style. Thurloe : State Papers, Vol. i., page 571.