Venice: February 1654

Pages 178-187

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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February 1654

Feb. 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
215. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
At the very moment when they were talking about the congress the question of a conference with Fuendalsagna was suggested ; and, to flatter the Dutch among other proposals made to them to prevent them from concluding peace with the English, it was suggested that France should make them arbiters in the peace between the two crowns. Three different proposals each of which nullifies the others, so that none of them may take effect, and put forward more to prevent others making peace than to bring about peace for themselves. The Cardinal is losing himself among these intricacies, which he calls ministerial finesse, though they are probably mere waste of time. They bring no advantage and are ultimately found out by the Spaniards, who are past masters in getting to the bottom of all his intrigues, which are thereupon made public, as happened with all three of the proposals mentioned above, so that all they did was to convince everyone of the Cardinal's bad faith.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Paris, the 3rd February, 1654.
[Italian ; deciphered.]
Feb. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
216. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
This week a solemn interdict has been posted up throughout the city, since the Cardinal Archbishop (and the nuncio did not disagree), claimed that they could not put to death the English man guilty of the assassination of the parliamentary ambassador, because he had been taken away from the church again by a friar, through deceit and fraud. But the reasons of princes, who sacrifice their personal feelings to their own convenience, have had the sentence carried out by the royal power, and the matter is settled. (fn. 1)
Madrid, the 4th February, 1654.
Feb. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
217. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 2)
The Protector Cromwell continues to rule supreme and does his utmost to captivate individuals and win universal popularity. But the attainment of this proves as difficult as even his enemies could desire. Owing to this assumption of the supreme power their numbers are observed to increase and include all the Anabaptists. The sect has certainly increased since his elevation judging by the declaration made by many of them. The object is perhaps to strengthen the party of his opponents, as although they profess to be such they do not dare to come out into the open for fear of the pains and penalties of high treason. These will be inflicted on all who in public or private, directly or indirectly, venture to speak against the present government or conspire against the life and authority of his Highness himself, or favour the royalists and speak well of the late king and his family. Proclamations to this effect have recently been renewed in very stringent terms and no mercy will be shown to those who transgress the orders of the Protector and his Council.
To gain additional favour with the multitude at the beginning of his reign Cromwell has been chiefly responsible for inducing his Council to take up the question of the Catholics here and perhaps render their miserable condition even more deplorable. A decision has been postponed for a while and in the interval the Catholics hope by approaching the Council and the Protector himself to effect a compromise by their representations and by favour. Yet the proclamations and laws of Queen Elizabeth and King James against papists, ecclesiastics and their followers have been reissued in all their severity.
Since the assignment of the 200,000l. yearly on his installation the Protector has further received all the remaining unsold property of the "delinquents" with an express stipulation that on his death it shall pass to his successor. But owing to the difficulty of raising money on such a life interest he will probably have recourse to such other supply as may suit him best, since everything here, both great and small, is absolutely at his disposal, owing to his good fortune and address.
But the business which interests him most at the moment is the anticipated renewal of the war with Holland. By the last letters from the Hague the hopes of an adjustment seem to fade with the arrival of the commissioners there. The messenger sent after them writes that as he noticed very little sign of overtures for peace, but on the contrary great preparations for war, he thought it advisable as a British subject to resign the command of a regiment of infantry in the Dutch service which he had long held. Since this report the peace seems hopeless and the exertions here to fit out an efficient naval force have immediately been redoubled. All the merchantmen fit for service have been taken up and Blach and the other sea generals have received orders to use all possible despatch in officering the fleet and getting it in a state to put to sea. It will certainly exceed that of last year both in strength and numbers, supposing the peace in negotiation, and so anxiously desired, fails to be realised.
They are constantly sending fresh supplies and troops to Scotland. Already 20 regiments both horse and foot may be reckoned upon to offer vigorous opposition to the forces of the insurgents. These inflict great hardships on the country, burning and plundering in all directions. To prevent the spread of the disorder as far as possible, the Protector and his Council have issued a special order forbidding any to assist or have a secret understanding with these rebels upon pain of high treason. The rebels on their side threaten those who oppose them to the prejudice of the king in that country, with fire and sword. The bold and determined attitude shown there gives them increasing cause for anxiety and application here. With this trouble at home and the war with Holland abroad, which deeply affects the people here and their comforts, it is generally believed that before long there must be further incidents and changes. One hears nothing in this place but predictions to this effect and hopes that they may be realised now that they see that the constitution of the government and the management of everything else are quite different from what was promised and expected from the steps taken.
The brother of the Portuguese ambassador was recently removed from the Tower to the prison for criminals with the expectation of being brought to trial immediately. But to give him time he has now been taken back to the Tower and the proceedings are deferred until next assizes. (fn. 3) Although this subjects him to very great hardship and inconvenience it may prove extremely useful by mitigating the general indignation of which he is the object because of the incident reported.
After all the other foreign ministers had offered their congratulations to the Protector, he has now received them from the Genoese minister, who has been here some time. (fn. 4) There was some difficulty about receiving him because his father was an Englishman and so he was himself considered one. But with the change of government there has been a change of principles and so he obtained his intent. I have nothing more to add except a request for money. The new year, the exorbitant rate of exchange and the increased price of everything since the hopes of peace with Holland declined, render this more necessary than ever.
London, the 8th February, 1653 [M.V.].
Postscript : The secret negotiations of this government coupled with the Protector's earnest desire for peace have led to the arrival here last evening of Van Beverin, the chief and ablest of the Dutch commissioners. This will put the public in good humour by reviving the hopes of peace, which must undoubtedly follow if the Dutch really wish it.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
218. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Province of Holland has given its assent to the peace with England, but Friesland still opposes it, but hopes are entertained of compelling them to agree also. At the same time all necessary arrangements are being made for the equipment of the fleet, to enable it to cope with that of England, which is powerful and numerous and ready to put to sea.
Encloses the letter of England.
Paris, the 10th February, 1654.
Feb. 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
219. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
Here they are in perpetual movement, keeping a most vigilant watch upon the proceedings of Cromwell. The government here blow up the flames of war and would like to see the continuation of the situation there so that they might see that the sparks should be carried into France either to rekindle the rebels against the crown or to burn up those who stand in the way of the realisation of their ambition.
Madrid, the 11th February, 1654.
Feb. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
220. To the Ambassador at the Most Christian Court.
With regard to the Irish levy you will tell Pauluzzi that if he can arrange it at 8l. a head on the terms forwarded, we give him power to arrange a levy of a thousand men, on condition that they shall be at the place d'armes in Candia by June next. Pauluzzi must take a note of the numbers embarked on each ship.
Ayes, 107. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
Feb. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
221. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 5)
The arrival of the Dutch commissioner who represents the Province of Holland, (fn. 6) although at first a cause of rejoicing to both Protector and people has since caused disappointment, as until he is joined by his colleagues he can do nothing about the treaty of peace. It seems he represents the United Provinces as inclined to a suspension of hostilities until next May, rather than to any immediate and permanent adjustment, which could not be effected without a general meeting of the States, to be held during the interval. Cromwell, who is more anxious for a speedy settlement than anyone, resents the delay and could not refrain from saying that the Dutch make a bad return to the friendly and advantageous offers of England by displaying such tardiness and irresolution in a matter which ought to take precedence of everything. Thus instead of putting the finishing touches to the peace it now seems that the return of this commissioner is only a device to gain time, and create a false impression about the real intentions of the States, though not of the important province of Holland which has always leaned to peace and a good understanding with England, as the return of their commissioner shows. A few days will suffice to show the matter in a clearer light. In the mean time the proceedings of the Dutch warrant a suspicion that the friendly feelings they announce are unreal. So without abating their naval preparations here they will wait a few days longer in the hope of a definite decision one way or the other. If war proves inevitable the English will then, by means of their own resources and through alliances with foreign powers, which may be had for the asking, do everything possible to make the Dutch regret the loss of this opportunity.
I have been told in confidence that the high demands originally made here were reduced. Cromwell was so anxious for peace that he even waived the first claims about the sovereignty of the seas, contenting himself with the observance of what has been customary hitherto and conceding free fishing. There were three other points touching Denmark, France and the Prince of Orange. It seemed that the Dutch had arranged these matters also. They wanted to include Denmark in the treaty against whom the English were incensed because of the seizure and loss inflicted by that king. The United Provinces did not seem disposed to insist about France, since the English had many separate transactions with that country. As regards the Prince of Orange, of whom England will always be jealous because of his connection with the Stuarts, it was understood that the United Provinces agreed to exact an oath from all persons in their army and navy never to contravene the articles of the peace between Holland and England. So with favourable tendencies on both sides and special clauses hopes have been entertained hitherto of a result, which at present seems dubious.
Meanwhile the Protector neglects nothing that may contribute to the maintenance and increase of his authority. To this end and also to exclude all his enemies from office under government, especially Catholics, all candidates are at once referred by him for examination by his chaplain, before whom they first of all take the oath of Protestantism, and they are received or rejected according to their manner of professing it.
The envoy sent by Cardinal Mazarini to congratulate Cromwell has taken his departure after having had three audiences. At one of these, in reply to some specious proposal I understand that the Protector replied that while France was volunteering great offers here and professing an inclination towards a good understanding with England, he was aware of what she was doing in Holland and of the proposals made with a view to fostering the Dutch war, and consequently it was impossible for him to credit the fine language with which the Cardinal favoured him. Since this envoy left I have been told that some of the leading members of the Council of State respectfully observed to the Protector that as he merely came on behalf of Cardinal Mazarini, the servant of the king and an ecclesiastic with whom England had nothing in common, his admission was not quite decorous for the Commonwealth. He ought rather to have presented himself in the name of his king and not of Mazarini, to whose caution they attributed this half measure. They added that the mission of the envoy and the prolonged stay here of M. de Bordeaux obviously had other objects in view than those envoys alleged. So this circumstance may be said to have increased the distrust of France and will cause his Highness to be more reserved for the future in receiving anyone who happens to come. It is evident that in the present instance his recent elevation induced him to act without any consideration beyond the momentary enjoyment of the honours and homage always attendant on success.
The envoy of the Swiss Protestant Cantons has left for Holland after complimenting the Protector and holding several conferences with him. He told me he should remain some while and then return home with the replies obtained from this government.
London, the 14th February, 1654 [M.V.].
Feb. 17.
Senato, Secreta. Diapacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
222. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The gentleman sent by Mazarini to Cromwell has returned and says he was well received. He brings a complimentary reply to the Cardinal's letter. His Eminence has remarked that England will not injure France as the Spaniards say and work for, and that as Zeeland and Holland have agreed to the peace and are using their influence to force the other Provinces to follow suit, Cromwell's policy will reduce itself to fanning the war between the two crowns, so that in the mean while he may consolidate his new rule, giving the Spaniards some small help covertly, since England considers the successes of France dangerous because of her close relationship with the family of the decapitated king James (sic).
Encloses letters of England.
Paris, the 17th February, 1654.
Feb. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
223. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 7)
The most remarkable event I have to record is the first state visit paid by Cromwell since his elevation in which he displayed all the signs of supreme authority which have been foreshadowed by the whole course of his proceedings. Having been invited a long while ago by the Lord Mayor, on behalf of the city, to accept a token of its devotion and fidelity, he appointed yesterday, the first day of Lent, as suiting him. (fn. 8) He left his residence in a costly coach accompanied by Gen. Lambert of the army and Admiral Monk of the navy. The march was proceeded and closed by a great number of gentlemen and his privy councillors in a long string of coaches and six, which drove thus through the faubourg to the city gates, whither the heralds, in rich attire had gone before to announce his approach by sound of trumpet, the citizens responding and the Lord Mayor coming forth on horseback with 20 aldermen in their state gowns, with gold chains and jewels. The mayor dismounted and approached the Protector's coach taking the sword of state and handed it to him making a brief speech of submission and respect. His Highness handed back the sword and leaving his coach mounted one of three superb led horses. The Lord Mayor was also mounted, riding before him with the sword in his hand and bare headed, as a public mark of deference. But although the entire population of London came forth to view the pageant, not the faintest sound of applause was heard, nor were any blessings invoked on the head of his Highness, very different from what happened when the kings similarly appeared in public. With this state Cromwell betook himself to a sumptuous banquet, being saluted by all the Tower guns in the middle of it. At its conclusion he received a present, some say of 20,000l. sterling while others report it as a service of gilt plate. At 7 in the evening he returned to his dwelling in the same pomp, with the addition of 300 lighted torches and all the outward signs of respect and honour, but with very scanty marks of goodwill from the people in general, who, on the contrary, greeted him with a rancour which increases daily because he has arrogated to himself despotic authority and the actual sovereignty of these realms under the mask of humility and the public service. He lacks nothing of royalty but the name, as his power is certainly greater than that of the late kings. Obedience and submission were never so manifest in the English as at present, the fear of coercion under which they labour increasing with the remembrance of the tragical events of the civil wars. Their spirits are so crushed that although they consider themselves oppressed, dissatisfied and deluded, they dare not rebel and only murmur under their breath, though all live in hope of the fulfilment one day of the prophecies foretelling a change of rule ere long.
This may be corroborated by certain events savouring of prodigy. Just before the late king's death the tide in the Thames protracted its ebb and flow for two hours longer than usual and this has been observed again. Also a part of St. Paul's famous cathedral here has fallen, (fn. 9) killing several persons, and finally, with all respect for the truth, many credible witnesses declare that they have seen the ghost of the beheaded King Charles in the former royal palace, who afterwards vanished. Whether this is true or not the conviction certainly gains ground that it is impossible for this kingdom to remain long quiet without the sceptre of its legitimate king. It may be averred that the majority of the people sigh for him, though threats and fears induce silence and resignation and prevent them from speaking out freely or complaining of the present yoke.
As the civic ceremony occupied everybody during the last few days, scant attention has been paid to the important affair of the peace. Although the deputy of the Province of Holland is still here alone, yet as his colleagues do not make their appearance the hopes of a good result dwindle and the belief gains ground that the Dutch only want to gain time in order to make themselves stronger for the fight, as they are doing here. Yet if they really desire a truce or suspension of hostilities, the Protector will always be disposed to grant it, convinced as he is that the continuation of the war, even if successful must prove extremely detrimental to himself and the whole country.
The Scottish insurgents are understood to increase in numbers daily. Many of the inhabitants refuse to acknowledge the Protector and the last letters from Ireland similarly state that the people there, and especially the troops who are mostly Anabaptists, openly refuse their allegiance. Most unpalatable news for the government which is consequently more anxious than ever for an adjustment with the United Provinces, to enable them to deal with insubordination with the requisite vigour.
Acknowledges letters of the 7th inst. Encloses accounts for January.
London, the 21st February, 1653 [M.V.].
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Feb. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
224. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 10)
Last week before leaving the city banquet the Protector knighted the Lord Mayor, (fn. 11) giving him the sword he was wearing. On his way home his Highness not only missed the popular applause which he expected but received proof of a very different sentiment. A large stone was suddenly flung at him from a window, though fortunately it fell a short distance from his coach without hurting anyone. Efforts were made instantly to discover the author of this daring act, but owing to the confusion caused by the crowd and the darkness of the night it was impossible to find out any particulars. Yet the incident serves to give Cromwell an idea of the spirit of the malcontents and to induce him to be more cautious for the future in placing himself at the mercy of the populace, which, if intimidated into submission certainly bears him no love. If peace is not arranged his unpopularity will undoubtedly increase. So every effort is being made to compass the adjustment, though it is suspected that the Dutch may not be in earnest. To cajole the populace reports are circulated that a settlement has already been ratified but the best informed deny the fact.
The day before yesterday an express arrived from the States which gave rise to a report that the peace was ratified. But from what I gather the commissioner here is merely empowered by four of the Provinces to announce their ratification of the articles proposed by England and to negotiate accordingly. To this end he betook himself forthwith to audience of the Protector. It is observed that the consent of three of the Provinces is still to be obtained and is necessary for completion. The letters represent that this will readily be granted. In that case the peace will be made. But the behaviour of the Dutch and the present state of domestic affairs here makes many doubtful about what others assert with so much confidence. Time will soon show how much sincerity lies in these friendly professions. The naval preparations make it look unlikely and attract more attention than the enemy's professions of good will. No steps are neglected to make themselves strong at sea, especially in men to serve in the fleet.
Two delegates made their appearance here lately from Ameland, a small island in the Dutch dominions, with letters for the Protector expressing a wish for neutrality and a good understanding with England, so that the few vessels of those islanders may not be subject to reprisals, but allowed free passage, safe traffic and the right to fish, which were conceded to them during the late war with Spain. His Highness received the delegates graciously, assuring them of his friendly disposition, but promising nothing, as he wishes to make everything depend on peace with the whole body of the States.
Some ships of the fleet have lately brought several prizes into the Thames, including five Frenchmen, laded with wine, corn, etc. The antipathy to France is shown by the seizure of everything under her flag, a practice which must soon induce that crown to take measures which your Excellency will know more of than I can.
For the more efficient suppression of disturbance in Scotland fresh troops are to be sent against the insurgents there, who become more and more daring and openly proclaim the king. The preachers from their pulpits also fan the flame to their utmost, despite the threats of the government. Quite recently here in London two leading preachers (fn. 12) were arrested and sent prisoners to Windsor castle for expressing themselves in favour of the royal cause and speaking to the disparagement of the present government.
In Ireland also the confusion caused by the change of government is increasing. The proclamations of the Protector meet with contempt and insult everywhere, except in Dublin, the residence of his son in law Flitud, the commander in chief. So even if the foreign war ceases there will be no lack of trouble and anxiety from civil strife, which gains strength and deeper root daily from the increasing numbers of the malcontents.
I have your Excellency's letters of the 12th inst. with remittances for the 1,000 livres Tournois. I will closely follow your instructions about keeping my attention riveted on passing events, postponing the execution of all commissions until further orders and paying such compliments as are necessary, in imitation of the other foreign ministers, as I have done up to the present.
London, the last day of February, 1653 [M.V.].
Feb. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Zurigo. Venetian Archives.
225. Antonio Di Negri, Venetian Resident with the Swiss, to the Doge and Senate.
The letters of the minister of this government from England bring word that some Provinces have already ratified the peace and there is good reason to hope that the others will do the same ; so he has already taken leave in a blaze of honour and with the gratitude of both parties for his scrupulous and successful efforts in this exceedingly important affair.
Zurich, the 28th February, 1654.


  • 1. William Spark was the only one of Ascham's murderers who suffered.
  • 2. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 17th February.
  • 3. He was removed from the Tower to Newgate on 17th Jan. o.s. and back to the Tower, for his health, on 23rd Jan. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1653-4, p. 449.
  • 4. He was Francesco Bernardi, son of Filippo. He had audience on 16-26 January. Atti de la Societa Ligure di Storia Patria XVI., p. 139. His credentials had been read in parliament on 16 Sept., 1651. Ibid., p. 72.
  • 5. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 24th February.
  • 6. Beverning, who returned on the 4th February.
  • 7. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 3rd March.
  • 8. It was on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18th, n.s.
  • 9. On 27 January, old style. Whitelock : Memorials, p. 564. A portion of the great South gate.
  • 10. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 10th March.
  • 11. Sir Thomas Viner.
  • 12. Christopher Feake and John Simpson, arrested on 28 Jan., old style. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1653-4, p. 371.