Venice: April 1654

Pages 197-206

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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April 1654

April 3.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
237. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
The yet uncertain result of the peace negotiations continues to be the most important topic here, and there is no doubt that the question is on the eve of being settled one way or the other. I have little to report on the subject, save that to-day again the Dutch ambassadors had a long and close conference with the commissioners appointed them by the Protector without being able to reach the expected settlement. On the contrary it is understood that when a paper containing the articles was presented to them, signed by the Protector alone, "Oliver P." they objected, not considering it valid, and insisted on having it signed in a clearer form by the Council of State. I learn on good authority that this so provoked his Highness that he told them, since they contested his title and doubted his authority they had no business to appear here as ambassadors, and if they wished to have the peace ratified they must wait another four months for the meeting of parliament, for which period he would claim 100,000l. sterling a month for the upkeep of the fleet and 300,000l. besides, because they kept him waiting 3 months for the reply of the States instead of bringing it as promised, in a fortnight, so that he had to bear the cost of the fleet in the interval. He added that if they did not intend to admit the validity of the papers signed by him they were at liberty to return home, the English fleet being fit and ready to obtain satisfaction. He gave them six days for a definitive reply.
I have heard this in confidence, and without vouching for it I think it quite likely that the Protector, not finding his earnest desire for peace reciprocated, may have thought fit to change his tone, for his own honour and that of their arms. So the adjustment is hoped for and despaired of at one and the same time. Considering the increasing frequency of casual encounters at sea the departure of the fleet will add to the chances of war. Everyone here is waiting upon the issue of this affair, which keeps all in suspense both in this country and elsewhere. Those who do not believe in peace say that the fleet will not remain inactive and may possibly avenge the injuries suffered in the Mediterranean. But the formation of projects will prove easier than their execution while this war with Holland lasts.
M. de Bordeaux has tried more than once to obtain audience to present his credentials as ambassador. Under the plea of the negotiations with the United Provinces the ceremony has been deferred until next week, a proof that they are not yet convinced of the sincerity of France, and propose to play the same game as is being played on them. The simultaneous appointment of two ministers instead of one does not please them, rather the reverse, while the mutual seizures at sea are more frequent than ever.
News has come from Ireland of the arrival there of the Protector's son Henry, who was greeted with almost royal honours, being met by the military and in the greatest possible state, though the rest of the population eyed him askance. They persist in the determination to make the Catholics leave that country and to that end a number of prisoners taken there have been sent to the Erchade islands, while levies of troops are readily granted there.
The Agent of the Prince of Condé has returned from Flanders. As soon as he arrived he conferred with the Spanish ambassador. It is reported that they have arranged together for a levy of 4,000 Irish to be shipped for Flanders immediately.
Sir [Oliver] Fleming came to me the other day with Colonel Cuch, an Irishman, nephew of the Viceroy there, about a levy, thinking the state wanted a large force. Hearing it was only 1,000 men he said he could not figure in so trifling a matter but promised to send a friend. Two days later a person came in his name to treat. I at once brought out the articles supplied to me. He objected to some of the terms but would accept the contract in the hope of something better. After pressing for 9l. he agreed to take 8l. a man for 1,000 Irish landed in Candia. He asked what amount of cash down would be paid, and when I said the republic would only pay at Candia or Venice, he asked for securities. Being without any powers I could only speak in general terms, promising punctual payment on arrival. He replied that no one would serve on such conditions. The 8l. would leave only a very small balance ; the captains of the transports would make a fuss about taking 6l. for the passage money and provisions, and the rest would go to clothe and muster the men. He said the levies now being made for the Prince of Condé cost 6l. a head, landed in Flanders, half the money being paid here and the balance on arrival, with securities given on both sides. He could not undertake a contract on the terms I was authorised to offer. With these reasonable criticisms he then took leave.
I have done everything with the Protector for the release of the ship Guardian Angel belonging to Sig. Giovanni Borghetti, with its cargo. Owing to the justice of my demand I received speedy notice that the cargo had already been released. The case of the ship is still undecided, as its papers and bills of lading make the Admiralty Court suspect that an Amsterdam merchant may have a share in it ; so I dare not proceed further without orders.
Trusts the state will release him from his post.
London, the 3rd April, 1654.
Postcript : I have just heard that the insurgents in Scotland have gained a great victory over the government forces, which suffered considerable loss. (fn. 2) Particulars are expected at any moment. Meanwhile as the Protector has ordained the observance of to-morrow as a day of solemn fast and humiliation, the inference is that this proclamation extraordinary proceeds from some reverse, which may be the one in question.
April 7.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
238. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The French have done their utmost to prevent Holland from making peace with England without including France, pointing out the advantage of this course and how it would bind England. But the Dutch consider this proposal a sham for the purpose of upsetting the negotiations. So they replied that they could not agree to this union of interests, but that once their treaty was established with England they would try and induce Cromwell and his Council to make peace with France also. To this Scianut is instructed to reply that as the Dutch will not link their interests with France the king does not propose to avail himself of their mediation, as this crown is too powerful to need it and an adjustment is as much in the interest of England as of France.
Encloses letters of England.
Paris, the 7th April, 1654.
April 10.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
239. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 3)
The reception of M. de Bordeaux as ambassador was delayed until last Tuesday, when it took place with every mark of honour and esteem. He went five miles down the river and was joined there by the Master of the Ceremonies and 4 members of the Council of State, who accompanied him to London. Landing at the Tower he mounted the Protector's coach and followed by 60 others was taken to the dwelling prepared for him where he was defrayed for 3 days. (fn. 4) Yesterday he had audience in the great Hall at Whitehall, where the late kings received the ambassadors of crowned heads only. The style observed was in every respect royal, as with the Dutch ambassadors. M. de Bordeaux did not then present his credentials, so he is supposed to have done so before. I am told the address was "A mon tres cher cousin Oliver Cromwel, Protecteur de Engleterre, Escosse et Irland" though I cannot vouch for it. It is curious as being the first of the sort and from its lofty origin.
This action of France at a moment when English affairs are still unsettled both at home and abroad is explained in various ways. Some think it a feint, others self interest. The majority attribute it to the wish to put an end to the maritime reprisals so that France may not have two powerful enemies to cope with at the same time, and wishing to attack Spain vigorously she is anxious if possible to be on good terms with England. It may also be due to a wish to flatter the government here and thus obtain advantage over the open enemies of the French crown. But it is thought that a perfect understanding will prove very difficult owing to the high claims of the English for an indemnity for the immense losses sustained by them of late years from the French privateers. In any case it will be difficult for England, constituted as its present government is, to maintain a good understanding with France although the actual state of affairs and the advantages anticipated from the reestablishment of commercial relations and the stopping of seizure at sea may induce both sides to dissemble. Meanwhile the appointment of M. de Bordeaux as ambassador has much gratified the government and although they may think that French sympathy is with the Dutch rather then the English, the step cannot fail to add to their reputation, especially at the present stage of the negotiations with the United Provinces, to promote or break them off, without difficulty.
With respect to the difficulties raised by the Dutch ambassadors about the Protector's signature I hear indirectly that he is willing that any agreement shall be signed first by the States, then by his own Privy Council and finally by himself, an expedient admirably calculated to gain time and facilitate the preparations of the two fleets, if that is the object. But as 80 English men of war are on the point of putting to sea the result of these negotiations cannot be long delayed.
Letters from Sweden give but a poor account of Whitelocke's mission. He found the queen incensed at the treatment her ships had received from England and at the scant attention paid to the demands of her envoys for the release of many Swedish merchantmen and cargoes. I have heard from a good source that when the ambassador suggested an alliance she enquired of him by whose authority Gen. Cromwell had been made Protector of the three kingdoms, if it was by that of the estates it was legitimate, otherwise she could not lend herself to important negotiations with him, since it was neither fitting nor just that the force of arms should prejudice the prerogatives and privileges of the Estates, and so with good reason and to avoid giving a bad example to her own army she could not but disapprove of what had been done to the detriment of the rights of the entire nation. On hearing these sentiments, so contrary to any satisfactory arrangement, Whitelocke is said to have prepared to leave, a proof that the Dutch will not experience the mischief proposed for them through an alliance with that crown which thus seems inclined to await the issue of the peace with Holland.
The defeat of the government forces in Scotland has been confirmed. The loss of life was considerable and the insurgents made a number of prisoners. The event has not failed to encourage the opposition who are already strong. This imposes greater vigilance on the government because these internal troubles may go on increasing and become more and more serious, coupled with what is happening abroad.
According to report the peace with Holland is now only delayed by the clause concerning Denmark. The English merchants claim heavy damages for the seizure of their ships by order of that king, whereas the indemnity proposed by the Dutch is so trifling that it is not accepted. So the ministers here have been obliged to write to the States for positive orders to enable them to effect a favourable termination of the whole business which still demands some little patience.
The English continue to entertain angry feelings towards the Grand Duke of Tuscany for what took place at Leghorn. If peace is made they may possibly send a squadron there to avenge their loss ; while even in the event of a continuation of hostilities it is expected that they will not forget the Mediterranean, as they did last year.
I have paid my respects to the Dutch ambassadors on behalf of the Signory, all the foreign ministers having done so. The compliment gratified them and they assured me that their masters desired peace with England to enable them to espouse the common cause of Christendom, which is that of the most serene republic against the infidel.
I also exchanged compliments with M. de Bordeaux, who acquainted all the foreign ministers with his appointment as ambassador from France. He also announced the day of his public entry into London, so I neglect no opportunity of doing my duty as a servant of the State.
London, the 10th April, 1654.
April 11.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti. Venetian Archives.
240. To the Ambassador in France.
He is to write and praise Pauluzzi for the reply he gave to Fleming about the Protector's good intentions to help the common cause. The Senate is also pleased at the cautious reply he gave about the Irish levy.
Hobson, an English merchant who has resided here for a long time past, has presented letters of credence from Cromuel this present week, which appoint him consul of the nation. This will serve Pauluzzi for illumination and enable him, when an opportunity occurs, to testify to the cordial welcome extended to him by the state.
Ayes, 109. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
April 14.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
241. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Reinforcements have been sent to the fortresses nearest to the sea, owing to the suspicion about the English fleet, which has sailed from its ports at a strength of 130 vessels of high board. Notwithstanding the good intentions of Cromwell it keeps them apprehensive and suspicious until their real intentions are definitely disclosed and until it is seen whither precisely they are going. A report is circulating that on the conclusion of the peace with the Dutch, which is still in the balance, it is to be sent against Denmark. If this does not prove true the fleet will keep the French in a constant state of suspense and apprehension.
Encloses usual letters from England.
Paris, the 14th April, 1654.
April 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
242. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 5)
All difficulties having been overcome and all disputes settled the Dutch ambassadors and English commissioners at length signed the articles of peace and an express is to leave for the Hague forthwith, so that the treaty may be sent back countersigned and ratified by the States. The ambassadors pledge themselves to have it returned within a fortnight at latest, when it will be signed by the Protector, who has decided to be the last to put his hand to it, possibly in order to make the Dutch better pleased with the treaty by this act of courtesy, or else for the sake of playing a sure game and making himself master of the document when legalized.
After this prosperous ending to so arduous and important a negotiation his Highness left for Hampton Court with some of his councillors, but only stayed there two days, as a relaxation from the anxieties of affairs and possibly for the purpose of taking possession of the place. At the time of the confiscation of the royal property it was reserved, perhaps as a relic of departed greatness, to serve for the abode of the present ruler. (fn. 6) His influence is likely to increase with the announcement of the peace, an event now considered so certain as to be already a source of great satisfaction to the entire population and especially to the merchants. Though it is very generally believed that the taxes will not be reduced on this account, as they may think fit to keep the fleet at full strength for certain other expeditions, now talked of, though on such slight grounds that one must hesitate to credit them and first await the perfect reconciliation of the two nations. It is not altogether impossible that as a sequel to these events abroad those at home may keep the government fully occupied, and the Protector in particular, for his numerous opponents in the army now assert more frequently than ever that they fought for liberty and freedom, and so far from wishing to make a new king, sought to destroy every vestige of monarchy. So Cromwell's popularity is not universal and if he assumes higher rank these opinions will gain ground. Meanwhile he displays the greatest humility, employing universal flattery for the attainment of that pitch of sovereignty which he has evidently proposed to himself, all his measures being taken with extreme cunning and address.
Since the late defeat in Scotland, as the insurgents there are understood to be more united than ever, well supplied with arms and in force, the government has marched some cavalry in that direction and is busy with other reinforcements for quelling the disturbance.
The Protector's son Henry has returned from Ireland. According to his own account he left that kingdom in a state of quiet and obedience. But the penal laws against the Catholics continue to be enforced. All who are discovered suffer imprisonment and every emblem or attribute of their religion is committed to destruction and the flames.
Since the appointment of M. de Bordeaux as ambassador commissioners have been appointed to discuss with him the adjustment with France. But it will be a marvel if this apparent good disposition produces any favourable result. Yet the Catholic ambassador is greatly alarmed and has had repeated audiences of the Protector to prevent these negotiations from injuring the interests of his king.
Cromwell seems rather disinclined to call the new parliament and the belief is that if the meeting takes place as provided it will be for the purpose of his being invested by them with the sovereign authority of these realms. This is what he covertly aims at, as shown definitely by some of his overt actions.
Sig. Giovanni Moresini has recently arrived here after a tour through Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Holland, having also made some stay in Flanders. After some stay here he proposes to continue his travels to enlarge his knowledge of foreign countries and observe various forms of government, thereby qualifying himself to serve the state better.
London, the 18th April, 1654.
April 18. Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives. 243. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Owing to the affair of the Dutch ship White Elephant, which carried off the entire rich cargo of an English vessel after engaging it and forcing it to surrender in the very port of Leghorn, in which divers soldiers of the garrison were slain, who hastened to the rescue of the victim, (fn. 7) the Grand Duke has ordered the arrest of Vanderstraten, the Dutch consul, as being interested in this same ship. He has caused him to be confined in the citadel, to satisfy in some measure the English, who make a tremendous outcry, going so far as to complain that this in not the first time that his Highness has suffered the vessels of their nation to be ill used under the eyes and in range of the guns of his fortress.
Florence, the 18th April, 1654.
April 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
244. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Although the reception of M. de Bordeaux in England and Cromwell's assurances entirely dissipate the apprehensions of France, yet the appearance of the English fleet on the coast of Lower Normandy has raised the whole of that province in arms. The governors of fortresses have hastened to their posts ; some cavalry have marched thither and all other measures have been taken to guarantee the country against attack, in case Cromwell's promises do not correspond with the facts.
Letters of England enclosed.
Paris, the 21st April, 1654.
April 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
245. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 8)
I have little to report this week save the universal anxiety for the return of the express sent to the Hague with the treaty. Although hopes are entertained of its arrival within the promised fortnight, yet as the matter requires a meeting of the States General, or at least of the majority of them, it will probably take longer. So the Protector's policy and the destination of the fleet still remain a mystery to be unravelled on the proclamation of the peace. Until that time the French ministers also seem to defer their negotiations, though these will always encounter great obstacles because of the exorbitant claims of the English and their distrust of France. This is increased by observing that since his appointment as ambassador M. de Bordeaux has not made any important change in his establishment but continues to reside in the house he occupied when envoy. As the change is only in name and his negotiations seem unreal the Protector keeps giving audiences extraordinary to the Spanish ambassador and favouring the Agent of the Prince of Condé, affording him every facility for levies in Ireland, a good part of which have already landed in Flanders. Should the negotiations of the French ministers not meet with success Cromwell might possibly make use of the Prince's party to intervene in France though the negotiations and proposals which proceed with great secrecy may make things take a different course and even change the aspect of affairs and do away with ill will. There is no doubt that once the Dutch peace is assured there will be a change in the present order of affairs and more light about the intentions of the government with regard to the fleet. This consists of 80 ships all ready for sea. Although one hears that it may pass the Strait of Gibraltar the report itself may thwart this design. Time will show.
The Danish agent, (fn. 9) who was at first expected with the Dutch ambassadors, has now arrived, but keeps incognito and is supposed to be waiting for the treaty to come back from the Hague, and with the clause about Denmark settled he may then be confirmed and acknowledged as the minister of his king.
Two envoys have arrived here with a letter of congratulation for the Protector from the Prince of Oldenburg, and expressing his wish for friendship and a good understanding with England. (fn. 10) His Highness received them most graciously, and they have since visited all the foreign ministers, including myself, when we exchanged compliments.
After the Tuscan Resident had given notice of the receipt of a congratulatory letter for the Protector from the Grand Duke, he was suddenly summoned to audience. His missive, directed "Serenissimo Dom. Dom. Oliverio Cromvelo, Protectori Angliæ, Scotiæ et Hiberniæ" was so much to Cromwell's taste that the Resident obtained a more gracious reply than he expected considering the reports about resentment meditated against the Grand Duke.
By command of the Protector the Law Term which by custom begins at this season, has been postponed. Most of the people here object to this because some cannot prosecute their suits or others get them settled in this term, as they expected and so it is probable that the Protector means to alter and reform the civil law. Yet in spite of the complaints made by the people against the existing civil code the measure will not obtain for him the popularity he seeks, as the apparent love borne him is merely the effect of fear and coercion.
The firmer the reliance on peace with Holland becomes the more determined is the government to put down the insurrection in Scotland with a strong hand. It is of a very serious character as many malcontents have left this city to give their aid. A report is now circulating that General Monk will take the command there.
Encloses accounts for March.
London, the 27th April, 1654.
April 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
246. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The sight of the English fleet, numbering 120 sail, furnished with 12,000 soldiers, with petards and other instruments of war, sailing along the coasts of this kingdom arouses no little apprehension, delays the preparations being made for Italy and makes them turn a deaf ear to the demands of Savoy. Until they see to what use it is proposed to put this overwhelming force, they will move very deliberately about the reinforcements for Italy. This much is certain that some regiments destined for Italy have been countermanded to Calais and other places nearest the sea. If after the announcement of the peace with Holland it does not appear in what enterpries the naval forces of Cromwell are to be employed, they will remain on the watch here, and it will suffice to upset the enterprises of Italy and to delay the sending of succour in that direction.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Paris, the 28th April, 1654.


  • 1. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 14th April.
  • 2. This possibly refers to a victory of the earl of Glencairne reported by one Colonel Ogleby from Holland in which 5 to 600 English were killed. Firth : Scotland and the Protectorate, pp. 53-4.
  • 3. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 21st April.
  • 4. Tuesday was the 7th April N.S. Bordeaux was entertained at the house of Sir Abraham Williams in Palace Yard. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1654, pp. 40, 456.
  • 5. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 21st April.
  • 6. The sale of Hampton Court was stayed by a resolution of the 15th April, but on the 23rd August following, the April vote was rescinded and the palace was to be sold ; but on 20th September it was definitely offered to Cromwell. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. vii., pp. 278, 307, 321.
  • 7. The affair is described in Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, iii. p. 929. It happened on the 10th April. The White Elephant, Capt. Cat ; the English ship is named St. Joris.
  • 8. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 28th April.
  • 9. Henry Wilhemsen Rosenvinge. He was at Gravesend on the 16th April N.S. Thurloe : State Papers ii., p. 214.
  • 10. Frederick Matthew Wolzagen of Missingdorff and the Chevalier Christopher Gryphrander. Their letters of credence dated 17th April N.S. Thurloe : State Papers ii., p. 220.