Venice: December 1654

Pages 280-293

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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December 1654

Dec. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
343. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
Parliament continues to discuss the chief articles of the Government and Cromwell's numerous supporters try to uphold his present authority, which cannot be done without affecting that of parliament. So the discussion of these articles proves both arduous and important and the result may be long delayed though strong hopes prevail that the house will give its decision in a few days. As by present arrangements the dissolution is at hand efforts are being made to put it off 5 or 6 months. From this the Protector will always be averse, as he fears that protracted sessions will injure his interests and believes that a speedy dissolution will consolidate his present sway, so in either case this country is on the eve of an important event.
From the enclosed sheet your Excellency will see the opinions of some of the soldiers and that the house contains members who boldly oppose Cromwell's supremacy. Although parliament condemns the tone of the speech and Col. Sapcot, who delivers it, is accused of treason, yet the speech has been published, is widely known and does not fail to make an impression. (fn. 2) So his Highness means to suppress it and find out all the parties concerned in the business. The Colonel himself has so far baffled all search, though several officers, suspected of being his accomplices, have been arrested. It is not expected that they will be severely punished as the experiment would be too hazardous and the chastisement of one or two would only serve to increase the number of the Protector's enemies. As they are military men he holds them in more account and regrets this outbreak the more, being very apprehensive lest the opposition in parliament receive support from many of the soldiery. He is therefore obliged to show great tact in dealing with both parties, but for the maintenance of his present authority he relies chiefly on the short time that remains to the parliament and on the support of the majority of the army.
The person who was sent to the fleet has returned with General Penn, who has come to assure the Protector of his own allegiance and that of the whole navy, as all hands, including the commanders, repented of their insubordination when they received their pay, and again profess the most implicit obedience to his Highness and the Commonwealth. Penn presented the thanks of the fleet to the Protector and parliament for the satisfaction thus given repeating that the squadron was ready to put to sea and to carry out any orders, so Cromwell is relieved from anxiety on this score, though it is still believed that he will prefer to have it at anchor here rather than to send it to a distance.
The last advices from General Blach announce his passage of the Strait and that he is off the coast of Spain. He only adds that he will avail himself of the first fair wind for continuing his voyage in the Mediterranean.
The Viceroy of Norway, a kinsman of the king of Denmark, (fn. 3) arrived here recently. He is supposed to have left his post on bad terms with the king and others and to have come here for a private conference with Cromwell.
Encloses accounts for October.
London, the 1st December, 1654.
Enclosure. 344. Speech delivered in Parliament by Colonel Sapcot on the 30th October in favour of Charles II.
The last speaker has caused a great sensation by proposing to settle these three kingdoms on the present Protector and his adherents, as a reward for his bad services. For his faithful ones the reward seems scanty. Does he really deserve three kingdoms for having disserved everybody, for having violated the laws and privileges of the nation and enacting fresh ones ; for introducing what may be termed the Spanish Inquisition ; for having displaced the Presbyterian clergy and substituted Anabaptists. Is it for the unbearable taxes levied for state purposes not for the nation, but for his own usurpation of the government and to enforce that tyranny which he exercises over us. Is it for having instituted a High Court of Justice in opposition to the laws and to the destruction of the nobility of the land though under the pretence of raising up those who were oppressed and in bondage. If these are deserts requiring three kingdoms, I consent to his having them. But if we feel that we again need a king why should we not at once have our legitimate sovereign and why should he be excluded from his undoubted right. For what object shall we achieve this. Merely, I believe because we choose to perpetuate God's judgment on ourselves and our posterity giving to others what it is not in our power to dispose of and by this act assenting to all the misdeeds, perjury and treason of one man, and thus drawing on ourselves and on the whole nation the just visitations of the Almighty.
Dec. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
345. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English seizure of the island of Canada in America is a great blow to the Parisians, many of whom had established a large colony there with their own funds. As many as three or even four caravans used to leave France every year to trade divers wares with the savages, to the great profit of this city. The loss is severely felt by more than 200 merchants concerned in the conquest of that island, where they had set up a good market, having imported a quantity of horses and so improved the colony that it yielded them marvellous profits. The English, having settlements in neighbouring islands and being therefore stronger, have decided to expel the French altogether before they take deeper root. The Cardinal cares very little about the loss because it does not directly affect the king, who was content with the acknowledgment of his supremacy and left the direction of everything to the men who originally founded the Company, in the Dutch fashion.
The Cardinal hopes that Cromwell will ultimately be convinced by the arguments of M. de Bordeaux and decide to attack the Spaniards in the Indies and bring their gold fleets to England. He is constantly urging this and offers to help by keeping Spain busy in several quarters, so as to weaken her everywhere.
The king of England having discovered that his mother was inclined to educate the Duke of Gloucester in the Catholic religion, sent the Marquis of Ormonde here to prevent it, representing to her that if the report reaches England or if any schism or change of government should occur the fact would for ever prevent the return of his family to their hereditary dominions. So it is supposed that the project will be dropped and the princes of the House of Stuart, after having been expelled from the kingdoms of this world, will now submit to banishment from the kingdom of Heaven.
Encloses letter from England.
Paris, the 1st December, 1654.
Dec. 6.
Senato, Secreto, Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
346. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 4)
With respect to the constant disputes among the members of parliament about the reform or the consolidation of the present government, there have been reports of late, possibly circulated intentionally, that the Protector intends to dissolve it before its term. This has promptly changed their tone which has been almost unanimously on the side of his Highness. With the help of his supporters, who have brought over some of the opposition they have finally resolved and published the following : that the supreme legislative authority of the republic of England, Scotland and Ireland shall reside in one person and the people assembled in parliament. That every deliberative act of the same shall be presented to the Protector for his assent, failing which after 20 days parliament may proceed with it, but with a special declaration that these acts shall not contravene in any point the foundation and constitution of the present government. This is confirmed in the following form that Oliver Cromwell, Captain General of the forces of England, Scotland and Ireland shall be Protector for life, with the consent of parliament, when sitting, but if not, without, and in this way he shall have the control of the naval and military forces of the republic, for its tranquillity and welfare, that he shall be assisted by a Council by whose advice, and not otherwise he shall dispose and employ the said forces in the intervals of parliament, and that all such forces as shall be in existence at the Protector's death, in the dissolution of parliament, shall be at the disposition of the Council until parliament meets to decide what seems good to it.
Such is the essence of their decision, showing clearly that the Protector's wishes prevail over every other consideration. As he remains in control of the military he is confirmed in his absolute authority, with increased obedience and repute among a great part of the people, with whom he continues to gain ground. Yet another large section hold him in hatred and aversion as a usurper, and although he is most vigilant to maintain his seat his opponents never cease wishing and contriving his fall and even his death. On this account his body guards are most assiduous and watchful and he always carries firearms on him.
His mother has died recently at the age of 83 (fn. 5) ; a woman of ripe wisdom and great prudence. Never a week passed but he went to see her, treating her with filial affection and great respect. It is said on good authority that towards the end of her life she pointed out to her son the danger he ran in having risen so high. She begged him to reflect seriously upon his state, and she died admonishing him that if his intentions were good God would protect him, but otherwise he would be punished and abandoned. Cromwell answered her with tears in his eyes, his strong spirit overcome by his feelings at his mother's last wishes. And so he left her full of sorrow, and that same night she died. The Protector feels the loss keenly and shows it outwardly. All his court and household have put on the deepest mourning and the body was buried in Westminster Abbey among the tombs of the kings and nobles of England, in the greatest state.
News of the progress of the fleet for the Mediterranean is awaited with impatience. This week the troops were reviewed and 2,000 men taken from four regiments, by order of his Highness, to be sent to the fleet, or possibly for other ships which may go to reinforce General Blach. The latter is the more likely as I gather that Blach has received definite orders to fight the French fleet whenever he meets it. Events will show what truth there is in this. I have discovered that the Spanish ambassador has been at work with the Protector for this purpose, with extraordinary application and secrecy. Something of moment has been arranged, which I will try to find out.
They are still expecting the ambassadors appointed by Spain and Genoa, but it is supposed they are delayed by the news of the government crisis here. When this is settled according to the Protector's wishes, it is expected that the government will be more firmly established and negotiations will be easier. I may add that before the arrival of the Genoese ambassador here the resident of that republic tried to stipulate the manner of his reception, that it should be the same as observed with other powers or in any case, as with Venice. But I do not think that the government will countenance such ridiculous pretensions, as they know the distinctions between princes, although they do not always respond to complimentary messages as they should. They have only just informed the resident of Tuscany that they will answer the letters of the Grand Duke, received over 7 months ago. I will try to remind them of the letter I presented. I will also keep alert to prevent the Genoese ambassador from prejudicing the rights and honours due to the most serene republic.
London, the 6th December, 1654.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Napoli. Venetian Archives.
347. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
An English ship which arrived in this port with salt fish on the 2nd inst. reports that until within the Strait it sailed in company with forty ships of its nation, including 24 ships of war, the others with merchandise. They were going to the Mediterranean and it reports them to be off Leghorn at this moment. The Spaniards announce that it has come to their assistance to fight the force of Guise, and because of this his Catholic Majesty has issued orders that they shall receive the best of treatment at any of his ports that they enter. Others however contend that their purpose is to settle accounts with the Grand Duke for the injury which they assert the English sustained in the ports of his Highness. It will be necessary to await the issue.
Naples, the 8th December, 1654.
Dec. 12.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
348. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Dutch ships report meeting General Blach in the Strait of Gibraltar with 24 very powerful ships. He was waiting there for Neussesses who was on his way to unite with the Duke of Guise, but on hearing of Blach he turned back at Lisbon. This chance having been lost Blach is expected here soon. His Highness is not without apprehension and has sent 200 more infantry to strengthen the garrison of Leghorn. But the English traders at this mart say that Blach will first put in at Valencia to take on board a number of pieces of artillery to strengthen his force and he may then proceed to Algiers and Tunis to adjust some claims with those barbarians.
Florence, the 12th December, 1654.
Dec. 14.
Senato. Secreta. Dispacci, Francia, Venetian Archives.
349. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 6)
Since the decision of parliament about the form of the present government differences seem largely assuaged and a good understanding now reigns between the Protector and parliament with mutual satisfaction. With the dissolution of the latter coming ever nearer the Protector sees his desires approaching complete realisation as the moment most favourable for the exercise of absolute rule draws nigh. Everything conspires to favour this result and he is well aware that once in the exercise of such authority he is unlikely to suffer from the inconstancy of Fortune, and the force of envy will find it hard to upset him from his imperial and authoritative position.
Before dissolving and to win popularity for every future occasion parliament has made extraordinary efforts to diminish taxation. It has reduced the 120,000l. levied monthly for the Dutch war to 60,000l. and appropriated it all to the satisfaction of the naval and military forces, in conjunction with the ordinary appropriation. But the relief to the people is not considerable and one constantly hears grumbling about their present burdens and about their condition which obliges them to contribute, and even a little seems a great deal by comparison with the trifle which they paid in the days of their kings. Their regret is constantly increasing, but all in vain, as the services call the tune, and they must have patience and look for the continuance of their burdens and possibly for heavier ones for the satisfaction of the naval and military forces.
It is chiefly for this cause that they are enlisting fresh troops to replace those taken from the old regiments and embarked upon the fleet, one squadron for the Mediterranean and another to start soon for some destination to be determined. They have recently embarked a number of troops at Portsmouth with a quantity of firearms and other military equipment. This action led to reports that the fleet was certainly about to sail, no one knew whither, it being stated simultaneously, with intent, that it was going against Spain, against the Dutch partisans of the Prince of Orange, and, according to the majority, against France. With the negotiations of M. de Bordeaux at a stand, the constant reprisals, the secret understanding with Bordeaux and the French Protestants, the sudden departure of the Prince of Condé for Flanders indicate the likelihood of some design, though kept secret, to attack some part of France, not improbably near Bordeaux or La Rochelle, with the intention of landing and occupying some important island, and so interrupt trade. This could be done the more easily because the French fleet is engaged in operations down there, and in any case General Blach, with a strong, well equipped fleet, would not be likely to meet with much resistance in that quarter. We shall soon know something more definite, but the embarcation of 10,000 combatants reported from Portsmouth, which is towards Bordeaux, and a prompt and prolonged audience recently of the French ambassador confirm the general belief that there will be an open rupture with France.
In this connection I may add that I have found out about the negotiations of the Spanish ambassador here, namely that his king may supply 3,000l. sterling a month and more to the support of Blach's fleet. I have been told this but have been unable to obtain confirmation. Time will show and I will keep my eyes open.
I find that what I wrote about the claims made for the Genoese ambassador is true. I tried to see Fleming, but without success because the forms of the present government about audiences and the treatment of foreign ministers are different from all the others. Their sole object is prestige and they claim that all princes must seek their friendship, and that they can respond as best suits them. They act thus with Spain, France and other states, so it is unlikely that they will readily send ministers to other princes, though all depends on the Protector's will. Anyhow I will try and perform my office so that the dignity of the most serene republic may be upheld. I must however observe that they listen here to what you say but when they act afterwards it is always their own satisfaction that comes first, not that of others.
Acknowledges receipt of provision for two months.
London, the 14th December, 1654.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Dec. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
350. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch provinces which used to support the Prince of Orange are now moderating their zeal. It is said that a threatening letter of Cromwell has contributed to this change of policy as well as a monition from the province of Holland, so it is hoped that ill feeling will subside and the provinces be united as before.
Besides expelling the French from their best colony the English continue to show their ill will by every now and then seizing ships, and Cromwell places the plunder as a set off against the damage which England received from France during the civil wars. After putting up with everything for the last two years, to flatter Cromwell and avert war, the Cardinal has at last been roused by popular clamour to grant letters of marque against the English flag, though unwillingly, as he knows that this may easily produce a rupture. On the other hand Servien denounced the excessive patience of France as pusillanimity, adding that not to meet aggression by aggression was a sort of maritime servitude, practically rendering homage to England. In this way he brought over the other ministers to his opinion, which they adopted the more readily from the recent intelligence of the seizure by the English fleet of 30 vessels laden with salt, involving French subjects in heavy loss. But in spite of the royal permission French privateers will find it difficult to fit out with their own funds a squadron capable of resisting the English, though love of gain and the strong natural inclination of the French to piracy, may induce them not to neglect so favourable an opportunity for indulging it.
Encloses Paulucci's letter as usual.
Paris, the 15th December, 1654.
Dec. 15.
Senato. Secreta. Dispacci, Napoli. Venetian Archives.
351. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
There being no news of the English ships in the Mediterranean it is supposed that they have proceeded to Africa to take vengeance for the loss of two rich ships of theirs captured by the Barbary corsairs these last months. In spite of their announcements to the contrary it appears that the Spaniards would be glad to have assurance that they mean to be neutral.
Naples, the 15th December, 1654.
Dec. 16.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni, Corti. Venetian Archives.
352. To the Ambassador Sagredo at the Most Christian Court. (fn. 7)
We have Pauluzzi's letters of the 14th ult. with yours. We are quite satisfied with his diligence. As we recognise that we can no longer put off that to which we are already definitely pledged, namely the recognition of England by the despatch of a special minister, we have decided to select one, to show our regard for that government and conciliate their goodwill towards the most serene republic. We will inform you of our choice in our next.
That on the first day this Council meets choice be made of a noble of experience and ability, with the title of ambassador extraordinary to England. He may be taken from any place etiam continuo and may not refuse, under the penalties of those who refuse embassies to crowned heads. He shall set out at the time and with the commissions decided by this Council. He shall have for salary 600 gold ducats a month, 4 months being paid in advance without his rendering account ; 1,500 gold ducats for his equipment. For horses, trappings, trunks, 300 ducats of 6, 4 Venetian lire the ducat ; and 300 to spend in gratuities, rendering account in the usual way. He shall take with him a secretary from the ranks of the ducal chancery and a coadjutor of the same, with 200 ducats for the first and 100 to the second for their equipment, and with salaries of 25 and 15 ducats a month respectively, 4 months being paid in advance. For two couriers who shall accompany him, 30 ducats each, as usual. For an interpreter and a chaplain 10 crowns a month each, as usual, 4 months paid in advance.
Ayes, 40. Noes, 69. Neutral, 67.
Second vote :—Ayes, 30. Noes, 75. Neutral, 69.
Dec. 19.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
353. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
It is reported that Blach may be at Majorca but this is not confirmed. His Highness is far from pleased at having this commander, who professes himself so deeply injured and affronted, approaching so near to his shores here.
Florence, the 19th December, 1654.
Dec. 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
354. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 8)
As the final session of parliament draws near the form of the present government becomes more firmly established. They have sketched out and settled matters between the Protector and parliament with mutual satisfaction. With regard to the Protector and his authority he has not objected to the following : after the dissolution of the present parliament another is to meet in 1656 and yet another in 1659, and so triennially. The writs must be issued by the Protector at a date determined. If it be necessary to summon parliament before the term, the Protector has power to do so, but must not dissolve it within a month. Before the dissolution of this parliament it is to declare who shall serve in the next. 60 shall form a quorum. The election of Protector shall be made by parliament, when sitting, by the Council, if the Protector dies when it is not. In case of disagreement 12 or 13 votes shall suffice, on condition that the one chosen is worthy, able, faithful, courageous and God fearing, and not under 25 years of age. Papists and those married to Papists are excluded expressly, with all the line of Charles Stuart and all other families who have hereditary claims. The members of the Council are to be nominated by the Protector and approved by the Council. It is not to have more than 21, or less than 11 members. It shall not continue in being more than 40 days after the opening of each parliament without the consent of that body.
Such are the enactments of this parliament for the establishment of the government. One may say with good reason that these measures have been concerted, sustained, and finally carried by the majority of the Protector's partisans, under the threat of an immediate dissolution and because of the force wielded by the Protector, which is the true basis of this government.
I may say here that the chief officers of the army met lately and resolved to present another paper to Cromwell containing 6 or 8 articles. The chief ones are, that neither parliament nor the Protector shall meddle in the matter of religion ; that no change shall be made in the laws prejudicial to the nation's rights ; that no enquiry shall be made about purchases made by virtue of sales ordered by the late parliament ; that tithes be abolished, this being aimed at the Presbyterian, Lutheran and Calvinist ministers. Although their numbers are great, the Anabaptists are more numerous and increasing daily. The majority of the army consists of them, so it is no wonder if their demands are excessive. It seems probable that the disorders originally introduced by the Puritans may one day be exceeded by the Anabaptists, to the yet greater confusion of this nation. Since Henry VIII. broke away from the Church this kingdom has always been in a turmoil over religion and it seems unlikely that they will find peace unless the present disorders in religion are reduced to good order. They would like this, but do not see how. The Protector will answer this paper, but in a form calculated to conciliate rather than to inflame the military against him, for they are his prop and his authority.
I can report nothing certain about the movements of the fleet, upon which there have been so many calculated reports. It has not yet started but all the officers, sailors and soldiers are ready and content. All the activities of the Protector and Council centre about its despatch, which should follow if common report be true. Although M. de Bordeaux has had repeated audiences of the Protector of late, nothing favourable to good relations with France has resulted and an appeal to arms might easily increase the ill will. Some maintain that Bordeaux's proposals on behalf of Cardinal Mazarini are holding back the English and beguiling the Protector and Council and that the departure of Gen. Pen's fleet is delayed solely on this account. The Spaniards, on their side, are working their hardest, as the internal troubles in the Netherlands and the designs of the French in both Flanders and Italy are of too great importance to allow them to be on anything but good terms with the English. So astonishment and amazement increase at the prolonged burden entailed by keeping up this large force and the indecision about its employment. But it is due to the prudence and discernment of the ruler here, who thereby keeps all his neighbours on tenterhooks, while he reduces the cost by the constant reprisals at sea upon all the French craft on which they can lay their hands.
By order of his masters the chief of the two ambassadors of the Province of Holland left here, recently had audience of the Protector to take leave, leaving the other one alone. (fn. 9) He is always drawing closer the understanding between this country and his province, indeed there is a report that he is asking the Protector for a force of English for its defence. Undoubtedly England will always do her utmost to diminish the strength and spoil the trade of the Dutch to the advantage of her own.
An ambassador from Genoa is expected here, and arriving he will certainly be received and entertained in a manner different from that of other princes. I gathered from Fleming that the claims of that republic will meet with every satisfaction. He said that when he mentioned the subject to a member of the Council, because of what I had said to him, he was told that the Council would not trouble about the matter as this government paid no attention to forms and ceremonies, and so they would try to satisfy him without further thought, but that an ambassador from the most serene republic would always be received with the forms observed towards those of other kings. I made a suitable reply to this and caused this to come to the hands of the Secretary of State so that the Protector and Council might consider the matter. In my next I will inform your Excellency of its tenor.
London, the 22nd December, 1654.
355. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Some alarm is felt at the advance of the English fleet in the Mediterranean, from the belief that if it falls in with the French squadron, it will give battle, because it is commanded by MM. Pol and La Ferrière, noted privateers, against whom the English have vowed vengeance for acts of piracy. In addition to this an attack on the French fleet would accord with the arrangements and understanding between Spain and England.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Paris, the 22nd December, 1654.
Dec. 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
356. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
At the beginning of the week nine ships of the fleet arrived at Leghorn and went on to Provence ; so did the duke of Guise with the rest of the fleet, all so dismantled, ridiculed and humiliated as to be all but incredible (tutti male trattati, scherniti et mortificati quanto si puo credere).
General Blach is still expected. The Grand Duke is apprehensive but takes consolation from the troubles of Cromwell at home. I recently made enquiries as to whether the English at Leghorn had been trying to send away the great capital which they have in the place, as they probably would do if they knew that Blach contemplated hostilities. I discovered that the English still have property to the value of a million and a half stored in the warehouses and that during the last months they have rather increased than diminished the quantity. Accordingly his Highness is uncertain about what may happen.
Florence, the 26th December, 1654.
Dec. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
357. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 10)
The following is the tenor of my note to the Secretary of State. I understood that efforts were being made that the reception of the ambassador expected from Genoa should be on a par with that of the ambassador of Venice. I had not said more about these pretensions because of my respect for the Protector and Council, and because it was well-known what was due to the ministers of the most serene republic, and I felt sure that nothing would be allowed to prejudice its ancient privileges. It was my duty to make this representation because of the Senate's decision to nominate an ambassador here with the certainty of a response from this side. I am sure my office will be imparted to the Protector and Council and it may serve to make them more careful of the forms observed with the Genoese ambassador when he comes. But all depends on their own will, since in a new government all the forms are new, the old ones being utterly abolished and detested and they think only of increasing their strength and with it their prestige. As regards the appointment of ministers to other princes, to make a response, so far they show little inclination that way. Some members of the government maintain that it cannot be done at present for sufficient reasons of state, and they should wait for a more opportune moment. They believe that the more promptly ministers appear here from foreign princes and the longer they delay their response, the more evident will be the greatness and prestige of England in the sight of the world.
Parliament continues to discuss the foundations of the present government, and is ever more favourable to the desires and orders of the Protector. At its dissolution he will have control of all the affairs of the kingdom, both foreign and domestic. This is made subject to the consent of the Council, but that is nominated by him and there is no doubt that everything will go as he desires. The members also must be approved by parliament. This is now under consideration as well as the election and exclusion of those who are to take part in the next parliament and the form of oath to be submitted to the members before it meets. This week the articles of government have been ratified with the addition that the Protector shall not have the power to pardon in cases of rebellion or treason, but it shall be submitted to parliament. The Protector made a mild remonstrance about the reduction of the extraordinary taxes from 120,000l. to 60,000l. a month, pointing out that England is obliged at present to maintain a large body of troops for internal peace and considerable naval forces for the command of the sea, safety and increase of trade and this cannot be done without adequate taxes. So he was obliged to draw the attention of parliament to what the welfare of the state required. He added that as he was responsible for the troops, if he had not the means to satisfy them, necessity, which knows no law, would compel him to give them leave to help themselves. This could not happen without detriment to the country and would cause him deep regret. But parliament stood by its decision although the coast will remain clear for the Protector after this decision for such extraordinary provisions of money as may be necessary for the punctual payment of the troops, which constitute his support, his strong arm and the shield of his power.
General Blach reports from the Strait of Gibraltar the good treatment received from the dominions and ministers of his Catholic Majesty, as well as the courtesies shown by the pirates of Algiers. He says all the ships they met saluted the English flag. He confirms meeting with some French craft, which he seized, and is determined to advance further and further into the Mediterranean. Yet the privateers of St. Malo and Brest have recently captured two English ships on their way from the Canaries to this city, laden with wine and fruit. So the mutual reprisals go on and one may say that there is nothing wanting for war with France but the declaration. It is stated that General Pen's squadron will certainly sail one day next week, but the positive judgments about its destination are fallacious.
News has come from Scotland of an encounter between the government forces and the insurgents in which the latter lost several killed and over 200 prisoners. This has encouraged the commanders and the men. A frigate sent on purpose has reached them with 30,000l. sterling for their pay.
Encloses accounts for the month of November.
London, the 27th December, 1654.
Dec. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
358. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English continue their attacks on the French flag. News has come lately of their seizure of some ships laded with salt fish. If these acts of aggression continue the Cardinal's cherished designs on Italy will be thwarted.
Fieschi, the Genoese ambassador extraordinary to Cromwell, has passed through Paris and held some conference with Brienne, reported to be a suggestion for reconciliation with the Protector through his mediation.
Paulucci reports his remonstrance against this minister's reception. He should have waited to see what the other ministers thought about it. A word to Fleming, with whom he is intimate, would not have been so bad, but a written paper to show to the Protector and his Council is an indelible act and before committing it he should have asked the opinion of your Serenity, more especially as he believes his protest will be disregarded.
[Paulucci's letter enclosed.]
Paris, the 29th December, 1654.
Dec. 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Napoli. Venetian Archives.
359. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
The Viceroy remarked to me in conversation that his role was merely to show a friendly feeling and to guard against dangers. He added that these last had been stirred somewhat by the unexpected appearance yesterday of 28 English ships of war, which were at that moment in the port, because they took them to be French. But, said he, this is a squadron with which I am on good terms. I learn from letters from Cromwell and from the ambassador of his Catholic Majesty in London that it has come on purpose to seek out the French and fight them. He spoke highly of the quality of the ships and of the men who command them including their commander, General Blach. He expressed the certainty that when they have received some reinforcement they will go away.
Naples, the 29th December, 1654.


  • 1. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 8th December.
  • 2. The speech was bogus and the pamphlet containing it produced in parliament by Col. Robert Shapcote himself on 7th Nov. Journals of the House of Commons, vol. vii., p. 383.
  • 3. Hannibal Sehested, who had been made stadhouder in Norway in 1642. Gjerset : History of the Norwegian People, Vol. ii., p. 209. He had been in England since August, at least, when he had a pass to Bath. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1654, p. 440.
  • 4. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 15th December.
  • 5. Elizabeth Cromwell died on the 16/26 November. According to Thurloe she was 94 but she seems to have been in her 90th year. Gardiner : Commonwealth and Protectorate, Vol. iii., p. 207.
  • 6. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 22nd December.
  • 7. The Italian text in Barozzi and Berchet : Relazioni Inghilterra, p. 367.
  • 8. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 29th December.
  • 9. Beverning had permission to return on 27 Nov., took leave on 5 Dec. and was back at the Hague on the 15th. Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Oorlogh iii., p. 1097. Bordeaux to Brienne, 7 Dec. P.R.O. Paris Transcripts. Nieuport remained.
  • 10. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 12th January.