Venice: August 1654

Pages 243-253

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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August 1654

Aug. 1.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
297. On the 1st August in the Pregadi.
To Moresini, chosen as Proveditore General and Inquisitor of the Islands.
From the attached paper presented in the Collegio by Obson, the English consul, you will observe that he claims that the company of London merchants has had a mpnopoly of the currant trade since the year 1635. The matter is one of importance, and before leaving to take up your charge you will find out the particulars from Obson and you will also make enquiries on your arrival there. The Senate is confident that you will use every diligence in the matter, not ony in making enquiries, but to enable them to come to a sound decision based upon the integrity of our interests, for the consolation of the merchants and the relief of the trade ; and you will make a full report.
Ayes, 117. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
Aug. 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispocci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
298. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Much surprise is felt here that no Spanish force has appeared to oppose the French fleet which will leave Toulon towards the end of the month. It is suspected that Spain relies largely on the English squadron for the Mediterranean, and that under the pretence of reprisals and revenge they will attack the Toulon fleet, composed mainly of privateers (composta per la maggior parte di vascelli di cor so), and thus thwart the projects of this crown in Italy, according to arrangements made in London.
Letters of England enclosed as usual.
Musson, the 4th August, 1654.
Aug. 7.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
299. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
Last Friday being appointed me for audience I was obliged, like all the other foreign ministers, to deliver a copy of the missive to the Secretary of State. This done I went accompanied by Sir [Oliver] Fleming, the 100 halbardiers who form His Highness's body guard lining my passage as I entered, treating me on a par with other foreign ministers, Cromwell, as usual, was in one of the principal rooms of the former royal palace, attended by 40 gentlemen, but at some little distance from him, the Secretary of State alone being close. On my appearance he uncovered and remained so until I began to speak, raising his hat slightly at each obeisance I made when I pronounced the name of my sovereign. I said I was instructed to express the satisfaction of the state at his elevation and at the happy peace with Holland, which gave proof at once of the prowess of British arms and of the ability and prudence that directed them. His Highness was the source of this great power and virtue, from which all Christendom anticipated beneficial resolves. The obstinate war waged with the Turk for the last ten years invited some generous resolve from him, to put a limit to Ottoman aggression. His present elevation was surely due to the will of the Almighty, so that he might be able to assist friendly powers. He could not fail to win this glory since from the abundant naval resources of England he could appoint a squadron to humble the enemies of the faith, raising the esteem of England ever higher. I then presented the public letter saying that it would express more clearly the sentiments of the Senate. I hoped it would induce him to make some generous resolve to help the Signory. I prayed God to grant the Commonwealth the blessing of peace and increasing prosperity and that his undertakings might prove more and more glorious. I also referred to the desire of the Senate to give him satisfaction in the affair of Captain Gallilee and all other matters.
I left a translation into English of my remarks, which Sir [Oliver] Fleming interpreted to his Highness, in whose name he thanked the Signory for the sentiments expressed with the assurance that he would endeavour to give the republic proofs of his esteem, and of his interest in the war, which showed her greatness power and valour. He felt anxious to assist and would try and show this more effectively, while he was desirous of reciprocating the courtesy shown to him. He felt especial satisfaction at the disposition of the Signory towards Captain Gallilee and would reciprocate. Finally he made Fleming repeat his thanks for the letter and charged me to forward a full account of all that had been said to me. Having promised faithfully to perform this act of duty I took leave. (fn. 2)
I have little other news to report. The chief attention of the government is directed to the meeting of parliament. As this is capable of effecting great changes it may be surmised that Cromwell will anticipate them and render his own position more powerful and despotic. After all the returns have been made a scrutiny is to be carried out, to the exclusion probably of any members of whom the Protector disapproves, on the plea, perhaps of their being disaffected persons. In short it is very evident that he means the new parliament to be employed on his own service in preference to any other.
In order to supply the fleet with every requisite they have been working in the dockyards even on the strictest holidays. To render it strong in fighting men four soldiers have been drafted from every company, thus forming a considerable force, which is to embark forthwith, though at present all the ships are idle. If civil strife increases in the States, as appearances indicate, they can scarcely be sent far afield, as it is under that England is linking herself more and more closely with the leading provinces of Holland and Zeeland, which favour peace and are practically open enemies of the Prince of Orange, and that, if necessary he will assist them against the others, should they persist in favouring that House, whose depression the Protector and his present government will always seek.
The Swedish envoy has presented credentials to the Protector from his new master. (fn. 3) Cromwell received him graciously and expressed the strongest wish to maintain a friendly intercourse and firm peace with that crown. There is a rumour that Whitelocke, who returned lately from that Court may possibly be sent to France about the negotiations now in progress.
I will do my utmost to obey the instructions about levies. The other day I treated with a respectable person who offered to deliver 2 or 3000 Irish at the water's side but would not provide transports. I refused this saying the Signory would only assume the responsibility of paying the sum agreed per head on their being landed at Zante or in Candia. I shall propose the same terms to others and do my utmost to succeed, but the state may accept my assurance that at the moment the numbers of his Scottish and Irish prisoners are not so large as they wish to infer. I will also bear in mind the instructions about chartering ships and report the result promptly.
London, the 7th August, 1654.
Aug. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti. Venetian Archives.
300. To the Ambassador in Spain.
The transactions which are proceeding with the government of England are of an importance which you have fully grapsed. Accordingly you will not relax your close observation so that you may supply us with all particulars.
Ayes, 125. Noes, 1. Neutral, 1.
Aug. 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
301. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The States General have recalled the Ambassadors Beverninghen and Giongstal from London to give an account of the secret treaties they have made with Cromwell without the participation of the confederacy as a whole. The Province of Holland, on the other hand, has sent a contrary order, instructing the ambassadors to remain in London and promising them support against the other Provinces. So these are more exasperated than ever against Holland whom they accuse of endeavouring to dominate over them and to infringe the fundamental laws and institutions of the republic.
Encloses usual letters of England.
La Fere, the 11th August, 1654.
Aug. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
302. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 4)
The list of the members returned to serve in parliament having been laid before the Protector, he gave orders for some of them to be struck off, and this was done, others being appointed in their stead. Their numbers having been thus winnowed and purified it seems that everything is conforming more and more to his Highness's will, so that when the house meets he may feel certain of succeeding in his projects, which clearly tend to grandeur and absolute rule.
For the last few days, for the better attainment of his ends he has been courting the chief personages in the city, who dine with him familiarly, being treated with every mark of esteem and goodwill, undoubtedly for the sake of securing their support. This may contribute not a little to the establishment of his present fortune, whose smiles he knows so well how to turn to account, as the past shows, and further proof of this talent may be expected before long.
The Dutch ambassadors having recently received expresses, went to audience of Cromwell forthwith and have had more than one private conference with him about their despatches, which apparently concern the disputes between the Provinces over the young prince of Orange and his party. Some of the Provinces arraign their ambassadors because in the secret articles of the peace they granted one excluding the Prince of Orange. For the enforcement of this the present government here will always act in concert with the wealthy province of Holland, the most important and strongest of the Union. It is accordingly supposed that, in spite of the peace England may encourage civil strife at the Hague for the destruction, if possible, of the house of Orange, upon which important news is daily expected.
The Mediterranean squadron is now ready for sea and will, it is said, sail one day next week, for certain. According to report it is to clear the sea of pirates and obtain an indemnity from Tunis. Something may also be said to the Grand Duke about what happened in his territory detrimental to the British flag, though if there are any orders for an attack on his dominions they will keep them very secret. It is supposed that the mere act of blockading Leghorn will suffice to obtain reparation, if they wish, but it is possible that nothing will be attempted there and that this squadron is only intended, as they state, to render trade and navigation safe, and thus benefit Christendom. I do my utmost to obtain orders for the commander to favour the interests of the most serene republic, but their procedure here obstructs the despatch of business owing to the extreme difficulty of conferring with the members of the Council of state or with any other public official, everything being conducted clandestinely and with extreme jealousy and reserve.
They say the rest of the fleet will be divided into two large squadrons one to guard the coast continually against all eventualities, the other being destined for the West Indies. But to judge by appearances this seems to be a feint and probably both squadrons will be employed against France, as they are said to have shipped some cavalry. It is also reported that the French Huguenots have asked help of England, and I have been told in confidence that they recently made a direct application to Cromwell himself. The result of the siege of Arras will probably disclose their intentions here, however tardily the government may conduct its most important affairs.
By the news from Scotland Gen. Monch has gained a battle (fn. 5) against the insurgents commanded by Gen. Middleton who are said to be broken and dispersed with loss in killed and prisoners ; but as he is said to have retreated subsequently to Stirling, and also asks for reinforcements, since the victory, its authenticity is doubted and the statement attributed to a desire to encourage the troops to march in that direction, as the sterility of the country, the mountain warfare and constant defeats make that service unpopular. But if the insurgents do not receive help from abroad, they will certainly be reduced to obedience. At the same time the departure of the King of England from Paris and of the Queen of Sweden from Stockholm, create a suspicion of some mutual understanding, for which however they seem to care very little here though it is an engrossing topic of conversation.
80,000l. have reached the Thames on board a Dutch ship, forming a large part of the Danish indemnity guaranteed by the United Provinces, and obtained by them chiefly with a view to consolidating the peace with this country.
London, the 15th August, 1654.
Aug. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
303. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In conformity with instructions received through the Ambassador Sagredo I have been trying to find if any sea captain is willing to enter the service of the republic. In spite of the report current here that the payment made does not correspond with what is promised, I have succeeded in treating with Captains Thomas Transfild and William Reider, who have both been in your Serenity's service, and by express order of the late parliament, under a denunciation for rebellion because of the requirements of the Dutch war (e per espresso ordine del gia parlamento sotto le comminationi di ribellione per il bisogno della guerra con l'Ollanda). Although the fleet here is still at strength, rather than enter the service of their own government, these captains have offered to return at once to serve the most serene republic, in spite of their protesting that they have lost a considerable sum in your Serenity's service, out of zeal for the faith and for the honour of assisting Venice, always provided that they obtain permission here and that their terms are conceded. These are that these captains with their ship the Northumberland of London, 400 tuns burthen, of 34 guns, with 60 mariners, including the captain, will serve 12 months certain and 6 months' grace, for 2400 ducats each per month. Transfeld formerly received 2900 when he served before, though he had a few more men. They also ask for four months' pay in advance to begin from the day they leave here and to end when the ship has prattick at Venice. After the four months their agent at Venice is to receive half of the pay monthly. The state is to furnish all munitions of war on the security of a merchant in London, guarantees being given on both sides. Some four or six other vessels of the same description are willing to serve on these terms. They agree to the ships being inspected before they start. They tell me in all sincerity how greatly your Serenity will profit by having strong English ships of this character, because a single one can engage a whole enemy squadron as facts have shown. The service which English ships can render is not to be compared with that of the Dutch, who build their ships more for trade than for war. Owing to the quality of their timbers cannon balls rend their sides, which is not the case with the English, as the late war showed.
I told them nothing except to assure them that they would receive every satisfaction and that I would inform your Serenity about it, as I do by way of Flanders, as being the quickest. I may add that they told me, supposing a levy of Irish is arranged, these ships will be ready to transport them, but that your Serenity must supply the necessary food.
London, the 16th August, 1654.
Aug. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
304. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Provinces of Friesland, Groningen and Overyssel have elected the Prince of Orange for their Captain General. Efforts to obtain a similar declaration from Guelderland, Zeeland and Utrecht meet with difficulties not easy to overcome. Holland has presented a long paper to the States General giving the reasons why they arranged some secret articles with Cromwell. As they pay incomparably greater contributions than the other Provinces and the burden of the war rested mainly on their shoulders, they claim that the other Provinces should bow to them, and that it is due to their good offices that Cromwell withdrew his claim to a free passage up to Antwerp for English merchantmen, which would have done great harm to the United Provinces.
La Fere, the 18th August, 1654.
305. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
I have reported the efforts of the Cardinal to establish confidence with Cromwell and to remove the difficulties about sending an ambassador here. Paulucci now writes to me that Whitelocke is mentioned for the post of ambassador here. I therefore beg for instructions to guide my intercourse with him, especially as it is reported that he will be here very soon.
Encloses letters from England.
La Fere, the 18th August, 1654.
Aug. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti. Venetian Archives.
306. To the Ambassador in France.
Pauluzzi has applied to be relieved. His request is reasonable, but under present circumstances it is impossible to grant it. You will assure him of the perfect satisfaction of the Senate with his services. As he received no gratuity when he left for England to act as secretary, which title he supports still in the change after the completion of his service with the Ambassador Moresini, and also in recognition of his services, that 400 ducats of good value be granted him as a gratuity for one turn only.
That 400 ducats be handed by the curator of the deposit of money to the depository in the Mint, to be handed to the Camerlengo di Comun, to be paid by him to the agents of Lorenzo Pauluzzi.
Ayes, 118. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
On the paragraph concerning the 400 ducats :
Ayes, 135. Noes, 27. Neutral, 17.
Second vote :
Ayes, 127. Noes, 33. Neutral, 19. Pending.
Aug. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
307. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 6)
After the presentation of the ducal missive and my representations on behalf of the State, Cromwell and his councillors discussed the matter and expressed themselves sympathetically, though with comments on the reserve of the Signory in making their demands. Knowing that it would be passed on to the Protector I have since told the Secretary of State of the Senate's sentiments about the marks of esteem and confidence in contemplation, which would be more promptly realised according to the chances of reciprocity. I fancy this was the real object of a recent visit from Sir [Oliver] Fleming. He began in the usual way about the advantages that Venice would receive so soon as good relations were established, though it was undeniable that the republic had been more intimate with the dainty, disorderly and effeminate Court of England than with the national forces of the country, which had never been so strong, either by land or sea as at present. The Signory had neglected its own interests here. In spite of this the Protector and government were very anxious to do their utmost to help her, but she must take the initiative. A favourable opening now presented itself, as a squadron was going to the Mediterranean to obtain indemnity from the pirates under Turkish protection. The commander is to take a high tone and employ force if his demands are refused. He hoped that when I reported this at Venice I should receive instructions to make suitable proposals. Although I was not a formally accredited minister, they would receive them from me as if from a minister of high rank. The Levant Company, he told me, formed to greatest obstacle, as it always opposes any measures hostile to the Turks, on account of its important trade in their dominions, but he thought that the interests of a few individuals would give way to those of the community and to the freedom of that trade itself, and that England could not be better disposed towards helping the republic, and I might see the Secretary of State or even have audience of the Protector himself, if I wanted confirmation.
In reply I repeated what I had said before that they might rest assured of the Signory's desire for a mutual good understanding, which would be further confirmed by the certainty of reciprocity. The Senate realised the great power of England and the vigour, prudence and ability of her ruler, from whom they expected some assistance. Even a small detachment from their immense army and navy would be a great help. It would be easy and at the same time vastly appreciated.
Fleming did not enter into any particulars but from what he said I gathered that the Protector had spoken strongly in favour of helping the republic. He said I must not omit to report the conversation, and if anything reached me in the mean time I should communicate it as they would always be glad to give me audience. I promised to do so and asked him to induce the Protector to help so just a cause. He replied that he had always done so and would continue, but the republic must not throw away its opportunities. I satisfied him by my reply and he took leave. I have not seen him since though it is reported here that some ships full of Irish may be destined for the service of the state, indeed the government is extremely anxious to rid itself of a number of Irish and other suspicious characters, and to clear that country of all the Catholics. But even if this is not confirmed a levy of Irish will be granted whenever desired, and if the Signory likes to pay half the sum for raising the men in advance, and the balance when they land, some ships might be conceded for their passage, or at least procured on moderate terms. Many persons of rank have offered me their services and possibly one might be found to deliver 2 or 3000 in Candia for something less than 8l. a head, or at Zante at an even lower rate. I might get them at the coast for less than 4l. If I hear anything positive I will report it at once.
The Protector is still busy in sifting the parliament, rejecting such members as he suspects, either because they showed a disinclination to the Commonwealth during the civil war, or else declaring them under age, as 21 years and 200l. a year were announced beforehand as the minimum of age and fortune required for any member of the house. Thus does his Highness anticipate and remedy every political inconvenience, though some of the leaders are already discussing the first measures to be proposed by them for the welfare of the state. So the nearer the meeting of parliament becomes the greater is the curosity felt about its measures.
Although the negotiations with France do not slaken they have as yet produced no result. For this reason and equally from the wish to learn the fate of Arras, the departure of the fleet on some very important mission, which is supposed to be settled although not divulged, is still delayed. Meanwhile the reprisals on the French flag continue, and they will not cease until the establishment of a good friendship with that crown, which is generally doubted here. These naval preparations and the number of soldiers and sailors embarked clearly indicate a landing somewhere, though it is not easy to credit the report current here that the descent will be made in the Indies. At any rate, after such an age of uncertainty a few hours will throw light on the question. During the interval the English by negotiating with the French increase the jealousy of the Spaniards obtaining advantages from both crowns, and they will finally decide according to their own interests.
Cromwell proposes to send a minister to Sweden to cultivate a good understanding with that crown. This mission will probably be effected as suddenly and quietly as the one to the Swiss Protestant Cantons, to whom a person in the confidence of the Protector was despatched some time ago and ordered to remain with them. (fn. 7) I have, at least, been told so, but in spite of all my diligence it is incredibly difficult to discover the secrets of this government, which at present depends solely on the authority of his Highness and three or four members of the Council of State, his confidants, and very able men.
Does not dare on account of the reasons given, to be troublesome about his requirements, but on that very account begs that he may be relieved of his charge.
London, the 22nd August, 1654.
Aug. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
308. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
One Christopher d'Ubrin an Irishman (fn. 8) has arrived at Court, who served as Camp master in the armies of Spain. He showed me a letter from the Ambassador Querini by which it seems he offered at Madrid to supply the state with a levy of 4000 Irish. He says he has come here to go on at once to England, if his proposals are accepted, or else to get an answer which will leave him free to offer his services elsewhere.
Letters from England enclosed.
La Fere, the 25th August, 1654.
Aug. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
309. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 9)
The parliamentary returns for Scotland and Ireland, which elect 30 members each, have been announced this week. The majority are soldiers, thus strengthening the party of the army, which will finally become the fount of all deliberations and laws and will support the person of the Protector. It becomes ever more manifest that when parliament meets he will immediately be proclaimed hereditary sovereign of these realms. Everything tends in that direction. He and his Council continue their scrutiny of the new members, so as to secure an overwhelming majority. But in spite of the death penalty inflicted on some for the late conspiracy to terrorise the disaffected a citizen of London has recently been imprisoned for using threats against Cromwell's life, vowing that he would finally achieve his death. He has been sent to the Tower and will stand his trial at the next Michaelmas assizes.
Reports about the main body of the fleet vary as usual though its large complement of troops convinces everybody that it cannot remain long idle at so great a cost. The expedition is supposed to be awaiting the result of the siege of Arras. They expect momentarily to hear of something decisive and that will probably be the signal for carrying out their concerted plans, believed to consist of a sudden invasion of France. But possibly nothing will be done before parliament has declared the Protector King or Emperor.
The Mediterranean squadron is all ready and has received repeated orders to sail. The report of its being bound for Tunis is confirmed. If they do not receive satisfaction it may possibly approach Constantinople, with advantage to the Signory. I am doing all I can to encourage the idea. It is also stated that with this opportunity they propose to send a new minister to the Porte.
The negotiations of M. de Bordeaux for an adjustment with France continue vigorous as ever but the fair hopes of one day invariably vanish on the morrow, so no opinion can be formed until their close. This does not yet seem near at hand and it is rendered yet more difficult and contradictory by the reprisals made at sea on all French vessels. This very day news has come of the capture of a rich French ship, homeward bound from Guinea. (fn. 10)
The disputes among the United Provinces keep their attention here and are fomented to the detriment of the House of Orange. They therefore court the Dutch ambassadors and the Province of Holland as much as they can, and one of the three squadrons of the fleet will always be ready to give assistance if needed, remaining at the disposal of his Highness for the purpose.
Since the death of his brother the Portuguese ambassador has been residing incognito 20 miles from London. The Protector lately appointed a frigate to take him home, but it seems he is detained by his creditors who insist on receiving 10,000l. sterling or security to that amount before they will allow him to quit the country. Meanwhile he must await instructions from Portugal. (fn. 11)
The English merchants are clamouring for payment of the debts due to them from Spain and the government demands acknowledgment of its services in the recovery of Dunkirk. For the discussion of these matters and any others requiring negotiation it is said that the king of Spain has appointed an ambassador extraordinary to the Protector, either the governor of Dunkirk or Count Pigoranda ; but no word has come yet of the departure of either.
Since the last engagement in Scotland, which proves not to have been so successful for Gen. Monch as first stated, we learn that the Highlanders, after a meeting held by order of Gen. Middleton, came suddenly into the Lowlands, burning several places and spreading terror over a great part of the country, so the government forces were compelled to march against them, to prevent their advance.
As already reported the general belief in the meeting of parliament for the express purpose of proclaiming the Protector king or emperor of these realms increases hourly. Possibly with a view to accustom the population of London to some such solemnity troops of little boys have been made to parade the city daily, in gay attire, on horseback. The chief performer wears a crown in the midst of his comrades, who follow him as their chief or sovereign. This pageant is supposed to indicate the approaching grandeur of his Highness, whose further elevation cannot be long delayed. I have nothing more to add about the hire of ships or levies, as I have already done my part in the matter.
Encloses accounts for July.
London, the 29th August, 1654.


  • 1. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 11th.
  • 2. The Italian text to this point is printed by Barozzi and Berchet: Relazioni, Inghilterra, pp. 359-62.
  • 3. Israel Lagerfeldt. Charles X of Sweden had succeeded on the abdication of his cousin Queen Christina, on 16 June.
  • 4. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 18th.
  • 5. At Dalnaspidal, won by Colonel Morgan on the 19-29 July.
  • 6. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 25th.
  • 7. John Pell. On 23 March the Council resolved that his salary should be paid to his wife during his absence. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1654, p. 50.
  • 8. Probably Christopher O'Brien, fourth and youngest son of Dermot O'Brien, lord Inchiquin. Lodge : Peerage of Ireland, Vol. ii., p. 47.
  • 9. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 8th September.
  • 10. Brought into the Downs on 7 August o.s., by the Great President, with a cargo of hides, beeswax and ivory. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1654, pp. 539.
  • 11. He intended to start on the 14th and had sailed in the Kent by 21 August o.s. He seems to have been staying at Gravesend. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1654, pp. 297, 545.