Venice: January 1654

Pages 164-178

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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January 1654

1654. Jan. 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
198. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
The changes I reported, which were largely forseen, may be said to have shifted suddenly and entirely the whole scene of government. Nothing is yet clear save the outstanding ability of the Lord General, which is rendering him by degrees the absolute law-giver of the entire population here. Last Friday, (fn. 2) a number of horse and foot being marshalled and everything arranged beforehand, he was solemnly proclaimed protector of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland. The ceremony was performed as follows : The streets were lined with the troops and the two commissioners of the seals with the Lord Mayor and all the aldermen or sheriffs conducted Gen. Cromwell from Whitehall palace to Westminster Hall, where parliament used to sit, the magistrates wearing their state robes. They and the leaders of the army then seated him on what was once a royal throne. They read out before him the articles of his new power, previously settled by himself, to which he listened bareheaded, signing and swearing to abide by them. Thus by universal consent and in the most solemn and conspicuous manner he found himself created Protector of the whole kingdom. He then covered and the military officers and other functionaries, hat in hand, did him homage, in the obsequious and respectful form observed towards the late kings. He was presented with the seals and the Lord Mayor gave him the state sword. He returned both to their bearers in token of his authority. All the officials then accompanied him back, bareheaded, amid salutes of musketry from the troops, to Whitehall, where he is expected to reside, apart from his wife and where he will exercise sovereign authority. Meanwhile, according to the new powers vested on him, he is charged to protect and defend the Anglican religion. He has power, jointly with his council, to make war or peace ; to confer nobility and dignities ; to levy contributions and taxes, in short to do whatever he thinks best for the common weal. He is bound to maintain 20,000 foot and 10,000 horse in England for the preservation and defence of liberty. It is also expressly stipulated that he shall summon parliament once in every three years, with power to prolong or dissolve it at pleasure, though this article will not be so readily carried into effect.
Such are the principal contents of the Instrument, which practically makes him king, giving him indeed more than sovereign authority, and although England has had Protectors before she never made them so absolute as this. A yearly revenue of 200,000l. was assigned to him at once, it being specified that on these terms he is to hold the Protectorate for life in this form and that the Council, whose members he appoints, is empowered to elect a successor on his death, always to the exclusion of the whole Stuart family. This Council will consist of 21 persons and under his presidency will direct all matters both domestic and foreign.
With no Council of State and everything depending on the will of the new Protector, the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs and some officers of the army without loss of time proceeded to proclaim him, preceded in state by3 heralds in rich tabards, with a cavalry escort and a number of coaches, at the usual thoroughfares, charging all to tender respect and obedience to the actual government. But I noticed that the people seemed rather amazed and dashed than glad, and no shout of public or private satisfaction was heard. Men shrug their shoulders and all admire the address and cleverness by which this man has reached so far as to become the absolute master of the country and to give the law to the people here. These regret the past but cowed by force and spiritless, one may say, they no longer show the courage for determined action and submit tamely to grievances which in the past they would not have tolerated even in imagination, a case of human fallibility, which snatches at the evil in mistake for the good, and spurns the latter for the former. Some have been heard to mutter, We deserve this for our foolish action, putting to death our legitimate king in order to submit to a base born fellow of no standing. This is the opinion of more than one and as it chimes in with the universal feeling it is impossible to say as yet what it may lead to in the course of time, which has brought about these events and is preparing other great changes of which this is the foretaste. It is true that the strength of the army upholds Cromwell in his position, but if this took things ill, or some party were formed in it, that might give a turn to his fortunes and make his fall even more precipitous than his rise has been easy and astonishing. It is easy to see that the army has agreed to accept and support such a step for its own maintenance and to secure the prompt fulfilment of its demands ; but what more may occur here in the course of time may be anticipated but cannot be foretold. We shall wait to hear what the Irish and particularly the Scottish armies have to say, when they are informed, about obeying this new government. It has been received with so little enthusiasm at the outset that one may expect, in its career, to see it either treated with contumely or fall with a great crash.
Attention is now directed towards the peace with Holland for which the public become daily more anxious. The Protector himself desires it earnestly and if he is able to obtain it with credit to the British arms, even with moderate advantage, many believe that he will not allow the opportunity to slip. Gen. Monch is off the coast with the fleet, which is constantly reinforced with fresh ships going out to join it. News has come of several prizes being taken on different occasions, Dutchmen laden with wine, fruit, etc. and also some French ships ; advantages which are counterpoised by the loss of a 40 gun frigate whose powder magazine accidentally caught fire and exploded more than 50 of its crew perishing. (fn. 3)
The brother of the Portuguese ambassador, blinded by the enjoyment of liberty or from carelessness, has been recaptured and is now in very close custody, a proof that his escape was not by connivance, as was put about. The trial is postponed for some weeks, and though some imagine that his sentence may be severe and even capital, others fancy that as Cromwell has power now to grant pardons, he may exercise the prerogative in favour of this culprit, for several cogent reasons.
When about to close this letter I received a visit from Sir [Oliver] Fleming, in greater spirits than usual over the change of government and the honour he enjoys through the confidence reposed in him by the Protector. He told me that by order of his Highness and his Council he was to go to all the foreign ministers and inform them of this change. He said it had been made for the sake of conducting all business, both at home and abroad, in a more satisfactory manner and more promptly. If I had any business I should apply to the secretary of his Highness. Henceforward all communications must be addressed to His Highness the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. I thanked him and said the most serene republic would be pleased to hear of these fresh honours. Fleming expressed his goodwill and so we parted. It is supposed that in a few weeks all the foreign ministers will go and pay their respects to the Protector, in which case I shall consider it my duty to follow their example.
London, the 3rd January, 1653 [M.V.].
Postcript :—The Secretary of the late Gen. Cromwell is returning to me to-morrow to discuss the levy and if possible arrange something. I will carefully observe my instructions.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
199. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Captain Rotaus, (fn. 4) commanding the Dutch squadron in the Mediterranean, informs his consul at Leghorn that he is coming to that port with 22 ships, to wit 8 of his own warships, 12 English prizes, a Barbary prize and the San Giovanni, a Dutch merchantman recaptured from the pirates. Eleven of the English ships were laden with salt fish, the other with divers goods from Bristol. All are small, of 12 pieces at most, only one being quite well armed with 22 pieces. In accordance with the orders of their High Mightinesses everything will be sold by auction, goods and ships as well.
Florence, the 3rd January, 1653 [M.V.].
Jan. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
200. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
With the dissolution of the second parliament in England, Cromwell finds himself with increased powers. The French ambassador there writes that now the obstacles hitherto put in the way of a peace with the Dutch by the English parliament are removed the prospects for such a peace will be much improved because of the support they will henceforth receive from Cromwell himself, who is strongly in favour of reuniting two powerful nations of similar creeds. He is led in this direction by the arguments of the preachers and by the sentiments of the populace, which he studies with peculiar attention. This news together with the very frequent reprisals made by English ships upon French vessels keep the Cardinal in a state of alarm and apprehension that the conclusion of the war with Holland will be the beginning of one with France. On this account they are making fresh efforts to accumulate money. It was also proposed, though not decided, at the Council held the day before yesterday, to proceed with the Court to Rouen to visit and furnish the fortresses and ports which are most exposed to landings and attacks from the English.
The letter I wrote, of which Cardinal Mazarini wrote to Fuendalsagna about a conference, is considered an artifice by the Spaniards to thwart the alliance now in negotiation between Spain and England. In a letter written from England to a foreign minister here, which I have seen, it is stated that the original letter of the Cardinal to Fuendalsagna was sent by the latter to the Catholic ambassador in London and communicated by him to Cromwell in confidence, as an exposure of the Cardinal's devices, not to make peace with Spain but to prevent that country from becoming more closely united with England.
Paris, the 6th January, 1654.
201. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Your Excellencies will see from Paulucci's letter that Cromwell has dissolved parliament. I have seen news of a later date from the French minister in London reporting Cromwell's elevation to the dignity of Protector with practically royal power ; they do not intend to have any more parliaments but to form a government resembling that of the States of Holland, reducing the representatives to a few persons, over whom Cromwell will exercise authority, but vastly superior to that of the late Prince of Orange over the United Provinces. M. de Bordeaux calls Cromwell one of the cleverest men of the century ; that he set up two defective parliaments in order to discredit them and exalt himself in their dismissal ; he foretells that peace with Holland and an alliance with England will now prove easier, while he considers a rupture with this country more imminent. But the Cardinal omits neither blandishments nor craft to upset the Spanish alliance and by encouraging the hostile feelings of the English he seeks to protract or break off the negotiations for peace between them and Holland.
[Paulucci's letters enclosed.]
Paris, the 6th January, 1654.
Jan. 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
202. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 5)
The change of government has stopped the mails ; my letters are delayed and your Excellency's have not reached me. The protectorate of Cromwell becomes increasingly authoritative, and his assumption of supreme power makes hourly progress. All edicts and proclamations are issued by his sole order, with the advice of his Council. 14 members of this have already been chosen, all in his intimate confidence and also experienced in affairs. Since his proclamation as protector he has changed his style and manner of living as well as his mode of address and audience. He is about to form a numerous retinue, household, establishment and ministry of every description. This will doubtless increase his popularity and win for him greater respect and obedience. But the Spanish ambassador, without waiting for the completion of these arrangements, has taken the initiative and assured him at once of the congratulations of his sovereign. He went yesterday to perform this ceremony, which attracts attention as being the first. It happened thus. The Protector waited for him in one of the rooms of the former royal palace. He was seated with three councillors on either side of him. When the ambassador entered Cromwell rose and after saluting him, resumed his hat. The ambassador did the same while everyone else remained uncovered and standing. This is different from the custom of the late parliament and follows the usage of the late kings. The ambassador gave him the title of "Highness" and when he took leave he was accompanied by three of the privy councillors in waiting, Cromwell not moving a step to reconduct him. Such will be the forms observed with ambassadors of crowned heads ; residents and other ministers will be admitted without covering, and have audience as in the time of the monarchy. One thing was remarked at this first ceremony of the Protectorate, namely that fear and suspicion are greater than of yore, for everyone who entered was narrowly scanned, and in spite of the public and complimentary character of the audience the ambassador's attendants were not all admitted into the Protector's cabinet. To reach this it was necessary to pass four closed doors. So it is evident that this assumption of sovereign command increases doubt and distrust and renders caution more than ever necessary.
The new Protector has summoned to his service all the household of the late king offering them the old terms. The Lord Mayor, being one of his adherents, has been made a privy councillor. To-day his Highness has issued a proclamation that when parliament meets next September it will be upon condition that all acts, before they pass, must first be submitted to him and his Council. This implies complete dependence on his good pleasure and consent. At the moment he is intent on excluding the Anabaptists. As they are numerous in the army it is expected that they will be broken. He does not trust them because they were favoured by the last two parliaments. For the same reason it is understood that the command of the cavalry will be taken from Maj. Gen. Harrison. He has been summoned to London but has not yet made his appearance, and is even believed to be on his way to Scotland, where henceforth all the malcontents of the kingdom are expected to gather, which is indeed already the case.
In this state of affairs and at the very beginning of his reign the Protector has been attacked from the pulpit by certain preachers, two of whom have recently been arrested for this. (fn. 6) A third maintained publicly that the Protector's rule would not last six months, vowing that all he uttered was by inspiration and was revealed to him from above, like the dissolution of the last two parliaments, which he foretold. (fn. 7) He is considered mad and has therefore been pardoned, but if he persists in his abuse of the present government he and all his imitators may expect severe punishment.
It is reported here that Whitelocke has been killed on the road between Gottenburg and Stockholm by a pistol or arquebus shot, aimed by one of his own attendants. This news is in the mouth of everybody, but as it does not come from any official source I cannot vouch for it, especially as the public prints of this week merely announce his arrival with a numerous suite and that he was met in state.
The peace with Holland is doubtful as ever. This very day while some told me that difficulties had arisen others declared that it was all settled and the treaty in the Protector's hands, but in general terms devised for the freedom of trade, without entering into particulars. If this is true it will soon transpire ; but some imagine that in proportion to anxiety shown by the Protector for this result, the eagerness of the Dutch will diminish, because of the changes in the government and others which they may consider imminent. At any rate two of the Dutch commissioners are to leave for Holland either to-day or to-morrow, to report the state of the negotiations to their Masters, to assure them that, since the dissolution Cromwell's authority may be considered established, or for some more recondite purpose. They go on a ship of their country which has been sent for the purpose, so all doubt on the subject must soon be set at rest.
A person of rank and a member of the government came lately to tell me that the wife and children of one Thomas Hendra, who has been in prison at Venice a long time, appealed to the Council of State inducing them to make an application for his release. I promised to forward the statement assuring him of the impartial justice of the republic and the desire to give every possible satisfaction to England. This seemed to satisfy him.
London, the 11th January, 1653 [M.V.].
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Enclosure. 203. Petition of Martha Hendra to the Council of State that they will be pleased to secure the release of her husband, Thomas Hendra, who is imprisoned at Venice against all law and justice.
204. In 1650 Don John of Austria, then Viceroy of Sicily, commissioned Col. Plaiter, an English gentleman, to arm two ships of war under his Highness' flag against the enemies of the king of Spain at sea, viz. : French, Portuguese, Moors, Turks and Jews, taking their prizes into Messina and Palermo for adjudication. Two frigates, the Spurrier and Huntsman were armed with this commission, commanded respectively by Captains Thomas Hendra and Downing. Some leagues off Zante they fell in with a patache and tartana, both French, which they captured and took into Messina, where they were condemned as lawful prizes and sold, Don John receiving his share and the surplus being delivered to Col. Plaiter for his expenses in fitting out the frigates, whose captains merely received their ordinary pay. The facts show that the act proceeded from Don John. Subsequently Capt. Hendra with his ship, the Spurrier left this service and resigned his commission, returning to England, where he took service under other owners changing the name of the ship to William chartering it to several merchants for the Mediterranean. He went to lade currants at Zante where his ship was taken by the Dutch in the roadstead of Zante, contrary to the promise given by the Dutch consul to the Venetian General, who desired Capt. Hendra to go to Venice to obtain redress. On arriving there he instituted a suit for the recovery of his ship and property, but owing to an unjust claim based on the commission from Don John, he was cast into prison and is detained in great misery and affliction, to his utter ruin, without being allowed to prove his British nationality, when he has not transgressed the laws of Venice or done anything beyond the aforesaid statement.
Jan. 11.
Public Record Office. Gifts & Deposits 197.
205. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to the same. (fn. 8)
Last evening the secretary of the late Gen. Cromwell came back with another leading man and told me the proposals about a levy were approved and all now depended on the earnest money for the contractor, as his costs amounted to a considerable sum, and he had come to me to learn how much would be paid down. I said I could only write to Venice, but if the terms were not advantageous, as the Senate had been led to expect, it would be useless to treat and they would go elsewhere. This was a glorious opportunity for using their influence in favour of Venice. I did what I could to stimulate him, so that he might report what I said to the Protector. I told him that though the other English contractors had reduced their demands from 11l. to 10l. a head landed in Candia, I had received orders to decline the offer. The secretary replied that with the outlay for equipment, the cost of the passage and provisions and the length of the voyage each man ought to be worth 10l. though the person with him would supply them for 9l. 10s. ultimately reduced to 9l. I said I could only undertake to forward his proposals, but took the liberty to remark that if the Lord Protector of his power and piety, should do something to help the republic either with troops or transports, I thought the affair might be arranged. He answered that he was only authorised to assure me of His Highness's great good will which might possibly be shown in this matter. I promised to report this, and I do not despair of reducing the price eventually to 8l. sterling per man landed in Candia.
London, the 11th January, 1653 [M.V.].
Jan. 13.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
206. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Two gentlemen have been despatched this week on secret missions, one to England and the other to Sweden. The former (fn. 9) takes a letter and presents to Cromwell with a view to appease and soothe him, at the same time thwarting the negotiations of the Spaniards and the Prince of Condé to the prejudice of France.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Paris, the 13th January, 1654.
Jan. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
207. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 10)
Your Excellency's letters of the 23rd ult. and 3rd inst. only reached me on Saturday in last week. I shall try and deliver the ducal missive to the Protector himself, feeling sure that it will be well received. I hope to report the result next week.
The attention of the Protector and his Council has of late been taken up with the conclusion of peace with Holland. Reports have been most contradictory, but the truth is, after all other matters had been arranged, the question of the salute, which they expected to settle easily, has upset everything. Although the negotiations have been conducted with extra secrecy, they have not been quite hidden from me. I have learned that this trifle consisted in the Protector's claim that the Dutch should strike to the English colours as in the time of Queen Elizabeth. The United Provinces admit the theory but interpret it in their own fashion, and say that although the obligation was tacitly conceded, it was not practised, and they now insist on following this precedent, whereas the English consider that the theory should be followed by punctual practice. The rupture is generally believed to proceed from this single difference, though so far as repute and the sovereignty of the seas is concerned it does indeed matter enormously. Possibly the Dutch commissioners, acting on instructions, have availed themselves of this hitch to dissolve the negotiations entirely and so take an opportunity to depart. They intended to do so last Monday, but being sent for by the Council of State they went at 8 in the morning and continued in negotiation until 5 in the afternoon, though in vain. They went away more determined than ever to depart and left the next day with a passport signed by the Protector alone.
Before leaving they came to see me, with assurances of goodwill. They said if peace was not made between the United Provinces and England it would be a misfortune for the most serene republic and all Christendom. The States had the best intentions, but national honour must always be the first consideration, thus confirming the above. I returned their compliments and went later to wish them a good passage, saying I hoped their arrival at the Hague might benefit negotiations which had been so ably begun and prosecuted. With this reliance they have been allowed to go, with some idea that after they have reported the intentions here peace may yet be made and that they or others will return to put the finishing touches. God grant this, but their departure causes a general gloom and many prognosticate a continuation of the war rather than any cessation of hostilities. Many attribute this to the obstinancy of the Dutch, to the intrigues of the French ambassador at the Hague, to the alliance with Denmark, to the increase of their naval forces and to the changes of government here, which are not considered final, the United Provinces thinking that the Protector's promises may possibly be disclaimed by his successor, a doubt which is supposed to encourage them to the continuation of the war.
There is also the malformation of the body politic. Dependent solely on Cromwell it has become more detested than ever to the people and to all the members of the last two parliaments, who reproach themselves for having allowed him to reach such a pitch of power and military despotism. If the war with Holland continues he will find it difficult to maintain his position, as popular discontent increases with the lack of trade and the continuance of taxation. These and other causes may possibly suddenly give birth to a faction capable of grappling with that supreme authority which he has contrived to win with so much dexterity and cunning. He is not free from anxiety even now, seeing that the oath of allegiance, required of the whole army, has been refused by some of the chief officers, though he is trying to gain them by art and flattery.
The malcontents are mustering strongly in Scotland, being joined by many from this country. Through their foreign connections it is understood that they have received considerable supplies of arms. It is possible that events there, important on many accounts, may effect great changes in all state affairs here, and to prevent it military stores and provisions are being sent thither.
Gen. Monch is still at sea with 40 ships, and General Blach has been ordered to fit out another squadron and sail with it as soon as possible.
Since the audience of the Spanish ambassador the Portuguese also has been to compliment the Protector. M. de Bordeaux was on the point of following their example, but put off the ceremony on hearing that he would have to remain uncovered in the presence, in order to arrange it decorously for the French crown, though he only has credentials as an envoy. For the same reason the Dutch commissioners refrained from paying him their respects on leaving. One of them went alone privately for a certain purpose. From the style adopted in this and from other circumstances the assumption by Cromwell of the state and prerogatives of royalty becomes daily more manifest.
Encloses accounts for December.
London, the 18th January, 1653 [M.V.].
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 20.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
208. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Ondedei (fn. 11) came to see me to-day. After preferring a request he told me that Cromwell had abandoned some of the most extravagant claims with Holland. The most difficult point was a clause excluding the House of Orange from any authority over the Dutch forces, by reason of their connection with the King of England. The anti Orange faction agreed to this, but its partisans resist it. But if this proves the sole obstacle to what the Dutch so earnestly desire, those who have hitherto most warmly supported the infant prince will be the first to desert him, and so the peace is considered certain. Ondedei added that notwithstanding the evil offices of the Spaniards it was hoped that Cromwell, being anxious to consolidate his sway by thoroughly establishing quiet at home, would not openly wage war abroad by attacking France, though he might certainly be expected to help Spain indirectly with ships and money too, if necessary, and so make war covertly on this crown. Such anticipations should prove an additional inducement for peace between France and Spain, unless the latter relies too much on English help. Should there be any hope of an adjustment I feel certain that the Cardinal will arrange it by a personal interview instead of submitting it to the delays of a Congress.
Paris, the 20th January, 1654.
209. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
There was some intention of proceeding to Normandy to inspect the fortresses most exposed to England, but the plan has fallen through because after the ballet the first journey will be to Rheims for the coronation ceremony and then to the Flanders frontier.
Encloses the usual letters of Paulucci.
Paris, the 20th January, 1654.
Jan. 21.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
210. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
They are drawing closer to England in every possible way. The affair of the brother of the Portuguese ambassador contributes a great deal thereto, as they assert that such an affront will embitter the good relations subsisting between the two countries.
Madrid, the 21st January, 1654.
Jan. 24.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
211. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 12)
The Protector's vexation at the departure of the Dutch commissioners is in proportion with his desire for peace with Holland. The fact proves their leanings to peace here are not reciprocated and that the United Provinces only wanted to gain time and find out the secret wishes of England. But their departure and the failure of the negotiations was so much regretted that I understood it induced his Highness to send a confidential agent after them with a letter and fresh overtures, so that the business might be resumed before they got farther. But they were already beyond reach of the messenger, and as he has not returned it is believed that he must have followed them to Holland. Although the naval preparations here are carried on briskly everyone is impressed with a conviction that the continuance of the war must prove a very serious undertaking and an exorbitant burden, thus inducing a passionate desire for peace especially in the Protector. He is more convinced than any one that this fierce foreign war coupled with domestic disturbance and discontent must necessarily impede the confirmation of his rule, exciting the peccant humours of this state and encouraging the spleen of his subjects, who murmur at their condition, resenting the deceit put upon them, and now consider themselves outrageously duped and misgoverned. Things certainly cannot go on long as they are. Secret complaints are incessant and some licentious prints express deep detestation of the ruler. The present form of government is attributed entirely to Cromwell's cunning. If unpopular at the outset he may expect to become increasingly so, judging by what is already said of him. Possibly when he fancies himself most firmly seated, the wheel may revolve. Meanwhile he is trying to nail his colours to the mast, encouraging some and obliging others, extending hopes of relief and justice to all. But past experience renders the multitude slow to believe him, former governments having given the people more satisfaction in word than in deed, a policy observed in their foreign relations also. As cunning and violence are now the usual weapons a brief duration is predicted for the present rule. Although maintained by the military it is not approved by a majority of the army, and is the more liable to dissolution in consequence. The best informed consider that the continuation of the Dutch war will be the rock on which will founder a government dependent on Cromwell's will alone.
It is true that some leading officers refused to take the oath of allegiance. Some of them said openly that after ten oaths had been imposed for the requisite administration and never observed, it was useless to swear any more and they would not do so. The most obstreperous are the Anabaptists, on whom the Protector looks askance accordingly, but he dissembles since that is the line best suited to the affairs of the commonwealth and his own as well.
Scotland is also a source of anxiety. The royalists and rebel Highlanders increase in numbers. Forays and contributions are more frequent than ever. So after a review of the troops in garrison here 1,500 of them were selected to go to those parts.
With this attention to military matters those of the navy are not neglected. General Blach and three other naval commanders have been appointed for the superintending in chief of the ships which are to join the fleet, It is said that they intend this to consist of over 100 effective craft. Three sea generals are now in London to forward the necessary arrangements. Four completed frigates carrying from 30 to 40 heavy guns have been launched ; so unless, after the arrival at the Hague of the commissioners, some decision be taken favourable to peace, of which hopes are still held out to the people here, the war will undoubtedly be continued with greater energy and fierceness than ever.
The special envoy sent by Cardinal Mazarini to compliment the Protector on his accession (fn. 13) had audience yesterday. He was treated with every mark of courtesy and esteem, but his mission is said to be one of mere civility and congratulation on the new rank of his Highness. M. de Bordeaux after some hesitation also made up his mind to pay his compliments, but without assuming any diplomatic character as the minister of France.
Owing to these ceremonies I have been unable to do anything about presenting the ducal missive. I have notified its contents, which were fully appreciated. I am now waiting for a summons, but one must have patience, as even in matters which touch their own interests the English just now disregard civility and the forms of courtesy, considering them of no account. When they begin to get accustomed to the routine of government and begin to attend to these civilities, it only serves to render their inexperience more glaring.
News from Sweden proves that the reported death of the ambassador extraordinary was a false rumour, circulated by the enemies of the present government, as we now hear that he had reached Gothenburg, where he seems to have been complimented in the name of the Queen. Their hopes here keep rising that he may succeed in forming a good understanding with that crown, to the detriment of that existing with the Dutch, who are negotiating there.
Reports gain ground of a landing from the English squadron in Lower Brittany, where some acts of violence and plunder were committed. Your Excellency can verify this better than myself, but at any rate events of this nature taken with the mutual reprisals at sea, exasperate the two nations against each other to the utmost, although for good reasons they both dissemble.
London, the 24th January, 1653 [M.V.].
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 27.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
212. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Talking of the peace with Spain Cardinal Mazarini said that the pope's exhortations were needed at Madrid because a hope prevails there that in the event of peace between the English and Dutch Cromwell may be induced to attack this country ; but, he added, possibly the Almighty may frustrate such projects.
Paris, the 27th January, 1654.
213. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Spaniards have lately subsidised the Prince of Condé, who is increasing his army for the next campaign. 1,500 Irish have recently reached him and the shipment of as many more is reported, so that he expects to have 10,000 combatants to start with. His agents in England are urging Cromwell not to leave him without assistance, and it is thought that covertly he may receive both men and money, since it is to the Protector's interest never to leave France unemployed and without disturbance, to prevent her from listening to the suit of the unlucky king of England. He at least does not regret the dissolution of the second parliament, as he considers that the most mischievous form of government for himself is the republican, and he hopes that the people will one day have their eyes opened by the despotic forms of the actual rulers, grow weary of protectors and long once more for their legitimate king.
Twenty richly laden Dutchmen bound on various voyages have perished at the mouth of the Texel in a violent storm, with heavy loss to the mart and private merchants. News has come of the death of the Spanish ambassador Le Brune, a man of great experience who had much influence in Holland. (fn. 14) It seems that a secret association is being formed there in favour of the Prince of Orange, which the government does not like. At all events they do not neglect the fleet. It is hoped that this, numbering 90 sail, may prove a match for the enemy. Hitherto the English ships have owed their advantage to superior tonnage, which allowed them to carry heavy brass guns of such range that they hit the Dutch ships at a distance unattainable by their iron cannon. The United Provinces have now fitted out 30 ships each armed with 80 brass guns, in the hope of thus remedying their disadvantage.
Encloses letters of England as usual.
Paris, the 27th January, 1654.
Jan. 31.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
214. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 15)
Since the change of government nothing pleases them better than to receive letters addressed to "His Highness, the Protector." So I contrived to present the ducal missive to Cromwell in person. The day before yesterday was appointed for the audience when I went to the palace, where I was met and introduced by Sir [Oliver] Fleming. The Protector had 20 attendants in the room, where he was standing with eight of his councillors and confidants on each side of him. When I entered he uncovered and remained so until I began to speak. He did the same each time I bowed on mentioning the Signory. I told him I had come to express the regard of the Signory and their extreme satisfaction at the news of his accession to the Protectorate. They wished him all prosperity and looked for reciprocity, especially in the matter of the war with the Turks. To show their desire to give him satisfaction the Senate had complied with the request of the late Council of State in favour of some English merchants. I then handed him the letter.
His Highness listened attentively without interrupting. After Fleming had translated it all into English he said he was charged by His Highness to answer it. He expressed entire satisfaction with the letter. His Highness thanked the Signory on behalf of the government and would welcome an opportunity to reciprocate, as he knew how ancient were the ties of friendship between England and Venice. He had long considered the most serene republic the strong bulwark against the most potent enemy of the Christian faith. The state might rely upon his doing all that he possibly could in her defence, when she stood a solitary champion against the Turks and their impious projects. If he had the power he would exert himself in so just a cause. He charged me to represent his sentiments (questi suoi reali sentimenti). I bowed and promised to do so, after which I took leave. Sir [Oliver] Fleming accompanied me to my coach, the form observed here with all the foreign ministers. (fn. 16)
I have been particular in mentioning the details of this ceremony to show the forms observed under the new rule, as well as the tone of sovereign and supreme command assumed by the Protector. He may be said to assume additional state and majesty daily, and lacks nothing of royalty but the name, which he is generally expected to assume when he wants to.
Since this new accession of dignity Cromwell has looked utterly careworn (colmo di gravi pensieri), showing that he is not exempt from the anxieties generally attendant on government and great prosperity as his anxieties and worries increase with every day. If the peace with the United Provinces is not ratified, and I understand that the commissioners have his signature to its chief articles, his difficulties will be greatly increased and they will sap the foundations of his present grandeur.
A favourable reply from Holland is expected hourly, so the public do not despair of peace, though the eagerness shown by the English may lead the Dutch to hang back the more and induce them to make high demands and ask for great changes. But if they reject the advantageous terms now proposed to them nothing will be left undone here to make them regret it. They are fitting out a considerable fleet for this purpose, and place great reliance on the disposition of Sweden and of Spain as well.
The insurgents in Scotland with help both from at home and abroad, are more powerful than ever. A large portion of the troops selected to proceed thither rebel against going, so mildness and force are being used to enforce their obedience. Several colonels and other officers persist in refusing to serve since the change of government. Some have even thrown up their commissions rather than acknowledge the step taken. Others, accused of insubordination and suspected of untrustworthiness, have been arrested and put in the Tower.
The captain of the ship Wheel of Fortune is still in London, his ship and entire cargo having been released. When I saw him he expressed his desire to serve the state still. He expected soon to be back in his native Hamburg, when his ship and possibly others there would be at the disposal of the most serene republic. I encouraged these sentiments.
London, the 31st January, 1653 [M.V.].
Postcript : Letters have just arrived from Holland and Flanders giving fair hopes of peace and announcing the discovery of a great plot laid by the French for seizing a number of fortresses in Artois. The Spanish ambassador went at once to a special audience of the Lord Protector.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 13th January.
  • 2. The 16-26 December.
  • 3. The Sussex of 46 guns, built in 1652, which blew up at Portsmouth on the 9th Dec., O.S. Oppenheim : Administration of the Royal Navy, p. 333. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1653-4, p. 319.
  • 4. Adriaen Roothaas.
  • 5. This and the following letter enclosed in Sagredo's despatch of the 19th January.
  • 6. Christopher Feake and Vavasour Powell, summoned before the Council on the 21-31 Dec. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1653-4, p. 308. They were afterwards released.
  • 7. John Simpson.
  • 8. The original letter is not in the file, and the text is from Pauluzzi's letter book, preserved at the Public Record Office.
  • 9. Baas.
  • 10. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 27th January.
  • 11. The Abbé Zongo Ondedei, Mazarini's Secretary.
  • 12. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 3rd February.
  • 13. The Baron de Baas.
  • 14. He died on the 2nd January. Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Oorlogh III., p. 1125.
  • 15. Forwarded with Soranzo's despatch of the 10th February.
  • 16. The Italian text to this point is printed by Berchet : Cromwell e la Republica di Venezia, pp. 50-2 ; and by Barozzi e Berchet : Relazioni, Inghilterra, pp. 357-9.