Venice: March 1654

Pages 187-197

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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March 1654

March 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
226. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I have already reported that French plans for a campaign in Italy would be materially impeded by a peace between Holland and England, unless there was some security as regards Cromwell's intentions. I also reported the special mission of congratulation and hope for friendly relations with Cromwell's reply, who only signed himself unceremoniously "affectionate friend and servant." Sacrificing formality to political expediency Mazarini is preparing a second mission and means to give M. de Bordeaux credentials as ambassador. That minister wrote that Cromwell had stated that relations with France were impossible so long as she harbours the king of England, as that betrays an ill will which might be expected to vent itself with time and opportunity. The Cardinal protests that the reception of the king was a necessity owing to ties of blood, but as dynasties and governments change by the will of God, he has no intention of resisting the decrees of Providence. Steps are now being taken to induce the king to go to his kinsman the Palatine, in Germany, but tactfully, to avoid offending him while gratifying Cromwell. The Cardinal omits nothing to captivate the Protector and avoid his enmity, to leave himself unhampered for a more vigorous attack on Spain. The Milanese is the true objective.
Encloses letters from England as usual.
Paris, the 3rd March, 1654.
March 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
227. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The peace reported between the republics of England and Holland has absorbed all the interest of this week. The Spaniards claim to have contributed notably to the result as distinguished from the French, who tried to upset it when they could not be included themselves. This new friendship between the greatest powers of the North gives rise to a very marked preoccupation because these two nations, united and armed, hang like a cloud or tempest over the dominions of the Catholic king.
Madrid, the 4th March, 1654.
March 7.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
228. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
Despite the pains and penalties proclaimed against those who conspire against the person and rule of Cromwell, ten persons have recently been arrested simultaneously on a charge of bearing ill will against the present government and his Highness in particular. They are accused of abusing him and drinking to the health of the King and to the downfall and confusion of the Protectorate. (fn. 2) The accused are not of high rank, but they were examined without loss of time. Although their offence is not serious, yet as they are the first offenders against the present government, it is believed that severe punishment will be inflicted on them by way of example for others unless the Protector chooses to show clemency by pardoning the first offences against his own person. At the same time, although the offence is not very momentous, his present position renders him so suspicious that shadows appear substance to him, while the more autocratic he becomes the greater will be the hatred of the people towards him. As the party of the Anabaptists, his bitterest enemies, increases daily and the most efficient organ of the government, the army, is controlled by them good policy would apparently suggest persuasion rather than menace, for it seems by no means impossible that in the course of time they may plot or openly depose him, although he does his utmost to win them. But the flat refusal of these military sectaries, both in Scotland and Ireland to obey his decrees is a source of deep anxiety for he is aware that they are no longer to be cozened by mildness and dissimulation, while the Dutch war if it goes on must always prevent his applying such a remedy as his astute prudence and sagacity recognise as the most fitting. So meanwhile he continues his usual protestations of humility and retirement, vowing that he is only what they choose him to be and that he never will be anything else, tricks of low cunning which possibly aim at even greater elevation although the general augury rather favours a precipitate fall ; but the more that is predicted and desired so much the more vigilance will he show in defending himself against it.
The announcement of peace with Holland does not seem to be confirmed and although the honour of English arms, which means the government, does not seem to be consistent with so much eagerness, self preservation prevails over every other motive. The eyes of the whole country being closed to everything but peace they will not reopen until it is signed. The Dutch apparently share the feeling, but as all the Provinces are not agreed there will always be a doubt until the result is achieved. At this season that must soon appear especially as Sir [Oliver] Fleming came to me this morning and announced the appointment of three ministers of the States, (fn. 3) as reported by an express from Holland, stating that they were to set out on Tuesday in last week. If they make their appearance they will soon settle the business, and if not the deputy of Holland here has full powers to sign and seal. It is reported that the disagreement among the United Provinces over the Prince of Orange threatens civil strife, which the English will seek to foment if the war goes on. Meanwhile, for the sake of impressing the enemy, the fleet is said to have put to sea, and troops have certainly been sent from here to man it, possibly for the sake of taking the initiative and learning the real intentions of the Dutch, whose sincerity is doubted in spite of the appointment of ambassadors and extraordinary missions.
Sir [Oliver] Fleming told me at the same time that if peace is made with Holland the government will devise some undertaking worthy of its strength. The private interests of a few merchants in the Levant would not be allowed to prevent an expedition glorious in itself and fraught with benefit to all Christendom. I approved assuring him of the Signory's wishes for the prosperity of England and their interest in the peace with Holland. He rejoined that until that was made nothing else could be thought of. He then asked if I had any further order about the Irish levy, because, in case of need, the Protector had appointed a man of rank and authority to make it. I told him the change of government here had suspended every intention on the part of the Senate, but I would inform him so soon as I had any further instructions. He then took leave.
News from Scotland reports advantages gained by the government forces over the rebels, many of whom were killed and 150 made prisoners. In order to reduce Ireland the Protector has sent one of his sons (fn. 4) thither with a number of officers, to assure the natives in those remote parts of the goodwill of his Highness. He hears with regret, however, that there also the soldiers intend to manage affairs according to the will of their own commanders. The Spanish ambassador went yesterday to inform the Protector of the news from Madrid of the execution of one of the murderers of this republic's minister, some years ago. (fn. 5) This act of justice pleased him greatly and it is expected to strengthen the friendly relations between the two countries, which his Highness will cultivate the more in proportion to the uncertainty of peace with the Dutch.
The agent here of a Venetian merchant named Giovanni Borghetti has been to me to complain of the seizure and maltreatment by an English frigate of a small Venetian ship laded by him at Zante with currants, etc. (fn. 6) After I have made sure that the merchant ship and cargo are Venetian I shall try and obtain justice although it is by no means easy here, especially when it involves a question of reprisal at sea, the injustice of which your Excellency can attest.
London, the 7th March, 1654.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
March 10.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
229. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
To please Cromwell they have intimated to King Charles, that for the resumption of friendly relations with England, so necessary for France and so sedulously thwarted by Spain, his temporary absence from this city is desirable, so as not to prevent the English from returning the embassy and entering upon relations with France which would dissipate all fear of attack, which the Spaniards urge incessantly, and which would so deeply injure this country and correspondingly benefit her enemies. To adapt himself to circumstances will be to his own advantage, by allowing France to profit by Cromwell's friendly disposition, so that if a crisis occurs in England they would be in a better position here to advance his rights. If he must now have patience the Almighty may one day reward him by opening a road for the recovery of his kingdom, which will always be countenanced by France whenever a favourable opportunity presents itself.
The king took these hints rather amiss, but knowing the Cardinals character, who shuts his eyes to everything but interest, he is adapting himself to circumstances and expresses his readiness to meet the wishes of France. To this end the Cardinal has sent back the same gentleman to confirm to Cromwell his friendly disposition and his desire for the removal of distrust and the renewal of confidence.
Encloses letters from England.
Paris, the 10th March, 1654.
March 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
230. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 7)
In spite of the importance of other matters attention here is directed exclusively to the peace with the United Provinces. Hopes of this are increased by the arrival in the Thames of the commissioners who left here some while ago, who are thoroughly acquainted with the business and have now returned with credentials as ambassadors. They are expected in London immediately, arrangements having already been made for receiving them with every possible mark of esteem and cordiality. As the affair has already been thoroughly digested a settlement is considered certain if the Dutch act with the sincerity they profess. The English are beginning to be convinced of this, and there can be no doubt that the most influential Provinces and those concerned in trade will seek the adjustment, although among the Seven there are some which adhere staunchly to the Prince of Orange and openly advocate the continuance of the war. But for this the leading Provinces care little, nor does the government here, because when once peace is established with the principal ones necessity and force will soon reduce the inferior.
Many, however, are still doubtful about a favourable issue and bearing in mind the present state of England, the advance of spring, the naval preparations and past experience, they believe the ratification of peace to be less easy than imagined and suspect the Dutch merely seeking to gain time and cajole the Protector. Here on the other hand they are bent on its attainment in the hope that the government may then easily quell disorder at home and employ its forces for other great undertakings, Whether these are in assertion of claims already advanced or to attack another kingdom of equal strength, it is certain that they must abide the peace with the United Provinces, for unless that be achieved the endurance of the people here will scarcely last much longer.
It is reported that the Dutch ambassadors are accompanied by an envoy from the king of Denmark to superintend the conclusion of the treaty and if necessary look after the interests of that crown, (fn. 8) or reason of the alliance with the United Provinces and also because England has now consented to include Denmark in the peace, in spite of her refusal hitherto on account of the Danish acts of hostility at the beginning of the war.
Meanwhile the English fleet continues to prepare for sea. To secure reinforcements very few ships are allowed to leave the Thames, while the press gangs have recently seized 200 sailors, a clear proof that in the midst of negotiations for peace hostile preparations increase rather than diminish. There are rumours that the main body is bound to the Strait of Gibraltar to attack any fleet it might fall in with on the way to face the enemy's forces. If recent reports about some French ships destined to join the Dutch are verified the whole fleet will probably go out to give battle, or at least a squadron strong enough to engage any fleet that it might meet.
No news of importance has been received lately from Scotland or Ireland but the uncertainty of affairs there gives great cause for anxiety, insubordination being more rife than ever, the malcontents increasing in number daily and indulging in open insurrection.
The persons arrested on a charge of disaffection to the government and for abuse of the Protector have been sent to the Tower, which they will not leave very easily, as possibly his Highness will limit their punishment to imprisonment.
A gentleman appeared lately from Flanders, sent express by the Archduke to congratulate Cromwell on his appointment to the Protectorate. (fn. 9) He was received with the strongest marks of honour and satisfaction. The Catholic ambassador also is expecting letters of a similar tenor by the next Spanish mail, for presentation from the king himself.
The agent of the Prince of Condé left here lately for Flanders on business of his master, but announced his intention to return soon. I have just heard that the late envoy of Cardinal Mazarini is again here. (fn. 10) It is supposed that, in conjunction with M. de Bordeaux, he is to make some arrangement for the cessation of reprisals, establishing a friendly intercourse and beginning a system of reciprocity of a kindlier nature than has prevailed hitherto.
London, the 15th March, 1654.
March 17.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
231. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Archduke and Fuensaldagna have been to pay a visit to the Prince of Condé assuring him of the king of Spain's regard for his interests. Condé declared that so long as France remained under the yoke of an Italian the realms of Spain will not contain a more faithful Spaniard than himself. An envoy of his had returned from London on the preceding day, and he told the archduke that the Protector promised assistance and secret support, without display.
Encloses letters from England.
Paris, the 17th March 1654.
March 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
232. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 11)
To impress the people and to show the earnest desire for peace the Dutch ambassadors were received here last Friday (fn. 12) in the greatest possible state. Cromwell sent his own coach and 8 footmen to meet them and many other grandees did the same, so they came with a string of nearly 100 coaches to the dwelling prepared for them, where they were sumptuously defrayed with every mark of honour for 4 days. They then moved to a private house which they have hired for their residence. On Monday last they had audience simply to present their credentials and two days later they held a conference for the despatch of business. It has not yet been possible to learn anything definite although it is generally said they have come over with the ratification. Almost everyone speaks as if the matter were beyond all doubt, yet some say that in the absence of the fourth commissioner for the important province of Zeeland, the other three cannot sign the peace alone. (fn. 13) So this creates some doubts. Yet he is said to be on the way, which if true will stay all progress until his arrival.
The most infallible indication of peace, according to public opinion, are first the earnest desire of the Protector and his Council ; second, the recent advances of France, which are attributed to her having failed to induce the United Provinces to continue the war ; for at the very moment of the arrival of the Dutch ambassadors M. de Baz also reappeared with the title of commissioner, (fn. 14) while, so far as I can understand, M. de Bordeaux is appointed ambassador and plenipotentiary to arrange disputes between the two nations.
It really looks as if the attention of the government was directed exclusively to the great questions of peace with Holland and an adjustment with France since, as things now stand, all commerce is at an end, while the continuance of reprisals on both sides only prolongs the misunderstanding. MM. de Bordeaux and de Baz have full powers to negotiate whatever they consider best fitted for the security of trade. That of France suffers more than the English from the continuation of hostilities, and although here they do not put much faith in these demonstrations of goodwill they will dissemble and continue to treat until the peace with the Dutch is made and will then decide as may best suit their own interests. I become more and more convinced of their evil designs against the peace of France, if peace is made with Holland and the French ministers do not succeed in arranging something definite (alcuna cosa di reale). The event may possibly confirm my surmise.
For the rest the Protector continues to make a display of humility and piety. As he is known to be altogether in favour of peace his popularity increases, though he is more despotic than ever. The forms he adopts resemble more and more those of the late kings. He signs every proclamation in the royal fashion. Men do not hesitate to say that he will eventually be acclaimed as king and when parliament meets in September next, as arranged when the change took place, he may, if he pleases, assume the crown and sceptre ; though many think that to avoid additional odium he may dispense with the name of royalty and content himself with the power, though as a matter of fact many of his projects are deferred until peace is settled with the United Provinces, which cannot now be long delayed.
A draft of 15 men from each company was made lately to obtain a considerable reinforcement either for the fleet or for Scotland. It is more probable they are destined for the latter than for the former since the last advices report the arrival there of Col. Hamilton, who some while ago escaped from the Tower, with a numerous body of men. As he has many adherents in the country and is a very experienced officer he will add to the confusion there, which is serious and calls for the most stringent remedies.
I have the instructions about the levy, but these have been so long delayed that the person who came to me thought the project abandoned and is now raising men for the Spanish service in Flanders. I will try to arrange with another, but I feel sure whoever undertakes the affair in earnest will expect some ready money or at least security in London, and I can give neither. In the contract I sent it is understood that the donative will be paid down. At any rate I will follow my instructions, and if I can find anyone who will do the work at 8l. a man I will do as I am instructed. But I must add that as the troops will have to be shipped in Ireland it would be to the interest of the state to have some one on the spot to inspect them, and I do not know what to do without references as in matters of this sort deeds are more in request than words. But I will do my best and hope to send more next week.
Asks for his expenses for February by the first ordinary and that the charges incurred by him for dispatches sent to Venice by way of Flanders in September may be included in his accounts.
London, the 22nd March, 1654.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
233. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England to the same.
Asks for support in obtaining release from his post. After serving the Ambassadors Correr and Moresini successively, for 8 years, was hoping to be relieved when the order came to proceed to England. Went at once to London with two attendants and experienced the aversion shown by parliament, which he reported. Left Paris with what he stood up in and the little he then had is now reduced to nothing. Has been obliged to incur very heavy expenses owing to the war and the constant disturbances, to make an appearance as a minister, otherwise he would not have been received, and in forming a household, as all the others do, even the ministers of inferior powers, with a special care to avoid incidents and injury, to which Catholics are exposed. Has borne it all out of his own purse, even in keeping a priest in disguise to celebrate mass in a small room of the house, secretly. Has never included these expenses in his accounts. When this arrives will have completed two years in this troubled service with the government all uncertain, without having received any relief from the state. Puts himself in the hands of the state but begs that he may be allowed to return home. Asks that the state will grant him this one favour, which is not denied even to serious delinquents after a long exile. Asks also for his salary while in England.
London, the 22nd March, 1654.
March 30.
Cinque Savii alla Mercanzia. Venetian Ardhives
234. John Obson, in his petition of the 24th September, which has only just reached us, states that he was chosen as consul for England on the 4th Nov., 1646, by the Trinity House. He could not then obtain recognition because he had to go to Zante about currants. When he came back he found that others had entered this office, selected by the Residents, but as all of them have given it up, owing to various circumstances, and all impediments are now removed, he asks for authority to exercise the office. We have to report that it is customary for the English to have consuls here, but in the present well known disturbed state of England it rests with your Serenity to decide what steps it is expedient to take.
Dated, on the 30th March, 1654.
Zuan Battista Sanudo Savii.
Francesco Zustinian
Girolamo Priuli
March 31.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
235. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 15)
In proportion to the anxiety felt by the majority here for peace with Holland is the vexation at its delay which makes some doubtful and others sanguine that they may hear of its conclusion any day. Although the ambassadors have held many long private conferences about it and they know the Protector's sincerity, it seems, on examination, that the proposals require revision. So the season advances and time is gained. The ambassadors' credentials are signed by the Provinces separately and not by the States General, and as ratification will have to be confirmed in Holland, there is some doubt lest the peace be repudiated. It is suspected, moreover, that party strife may induce some of the Provinces to withold their consent from the pacification, which affects a variety of important interests, and may affect things everywhere, not only in these parts but all over Europe. Under these circumstances they rejoice here in the favourable disposition of France for an understanding, although her ministers seem to be marking time and waiting to see what happens about this adjustment. M. de Bordeaux has the rank of ambassador, but so far he has only presented his credentials. They watch for what he will do as the result of fresh instructions as ambassador and their professed friendliness, which is suspected of being assumed for this new form of war.
Cromwell becomes more despotic every day and to solidify his position lacks nothing but peace, which is the sole object of his incessant application. Meanwhile, to add lustre to his authority he is about to take possession of the former royal palace, which he has had done up for his own convenience, many necessary works, now completed, being carried out there. So he will henceforth exercise regal sway under the royal roof, leaving out the royal title until he takes a fancy to it. Meanwhile his monarchical habits will increase, and living in royal palaces he will assume regal manners towards the foreign ministers. Most of the Londoners observe this fashion with great astonishment, but they dare not murmur and submit to a system of taxation the more grievous as it becomes permanent and was previously unknown. At the same time if peace is made with Holland the people will be less impatient of their burden ; though if that fails great disorder is expected here.
The news of the great naval preparations of the enemy and that the main body of their fleet will soon put to sea has stimulated the government here to render their own as strong as possible. One of the admirals has been sent down recently to enforce the orders for despatch and to seize all the ships in the river fit for service. The last draft of soldiers from each company is destined for embarcation and more seamen will be procured. Every nerve is being strained to equip over 100 sail, as the United Provinces are understood to have more. So one may say that in the act of concluding peace these two nations are on the eve, if necessary, of renewing the war with more vigour than ever, though these preparations may only be intended to gain advantage in the negotiations. Yet if the fleets put to sea an engagement might utterly annihilate all hopes of this peace, which must be considered more and more doubtful if it is not made soon.
Meanwhile as hostilities continue and the English persevere in their system of capturing whatever they meet, the seizure is announced to-day of a number of ships, Dutch, French and Hamburgers. On the other hand some Dutch and French war ships have taken 8 colliers bound from Scotland, and many others were dispersed. More serious is the loss of two ships laden with military stores on the way to Scotland, where the arrival of Colonel Middleton with a quantity of arms and ammunition places the government in a more awkward predicament than ever.
The envoy sent by the Archduke to congratulate the Protector had his audience of leave to-day and will depart for Flanders to-morrow or next day.
The Tuscan Resident, has also received a letter from the Grand Duke congratulating his Highness on his accession. (fn. 16) Thus Cromwell establishes himself more and more in supreme command, his exalted position being acknowledged by both letters and special envoys from crowned heads.
I am trying to comply with my instructions about the levy and to-morrow interview two persons dependent on the government about it. If I can make a safe and speedy arrangement I will do so.
Encloses account for February.
London, the 31st March, 1654.
236. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Encloses the letters of Signor Pauluzzi, which contain particulars about the levy, on which he can only refer to the sentiments of the Senate. With regard to Pauluzzi's supplies, he has not forgotten to send him help each month. The other matters are for the state to consider.
Paris, the 31st March, 1654.


  • 1. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 17th March.
  • 2. Eleven persons were arrested and committed to the Tower on the 17-21 February. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1653—4, p. 407. They included the informer, Robert Coates who was released almost immediately. Ibid., p. 418.
  • 3. Beverning was joined by his colleagues on the 10th March.
  • 4. Henry Cromwell, who started on Saturday, 28 Feb. Bordeaux to Brienne, 2 March. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts.
  • 5. William Spark, one of Ascham's murderers, in 1650.
  • 6. The Guardian Angel. Paulucci wrote his remonstrance on the following day. Thurloe : State Papers II., p. 147.
  • 7. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 24th March.
  • 8. Henry Wilhemsen Rosenvinge, a former resident in England. He had been appointed in February, but did not come until April. Thurloe : State Papers II., 140, 214.
  • 9. Don Francesco Romero. Salvetti reports his arrival on the 13th March. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 O.
  • 10. Barriere seems to have left early in December. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1653-4, p. 446. Baas was back in England on the 10th March, n.s.
  • 11. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 31st March.
  • 12. The entry of the Ambassadors was on Friday 3-13 March. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1654, p. 3.
  • 13. No one could be induced to undertake this mission. It was declined by Herr Veth. Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Oorlogh III., p. 915.
  • 14. Paul baron de Baas arrived on the 10th March, n.s.
  • 15. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 7th April.
  • 16. Salvetti, writing on the 17th April, reports that he had at last been able to present this complimentary letter on the preceding day. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27962 O.