Venice: March 1653

Pages 31-50

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 29, 1653-1654. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1929.

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March 1653

March 1.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
46. To the Resident at Florence.
To perform a tactful office with Vangalen for the restitution of the English frigate taken at Zante.
Ayes, 104. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
47. To the Ambassador in France.
You will direct Pauluzzi to express to Sir [Oliver] Fleming or some other person the gratification of the republic at the reply of the English parliament to our ducal missives of the 1st June last and our desire for a good understanding between the two republics and the increase of mutual regard. You will direct him to indulge liberally in these general friendly sentiments and always to respond to the courtesy of Fleming.
Ayes, 104. Noes, 0. Neutral, 1.
March 1.
Senato, Mar. Venetian Archives.
48. Agreement made with Captain Christopher Page for the hire of his ship, the Anna Buonaventura, carrying sixty sailors and 28 guns, for war service. Quod approbetur, on the 1st March, in the Pregadi.
Ayes, 152. Noes, 2. Neutral, 5.
March 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
49. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
His Highness resents the behaviour of both commanders and if they do not alter their ways it is certain that he will before long, come to some notable resolution.
With regard to the frigate William Vangalen said that your Serenity ought to thank the Dutch captains who captured it in the port of Zante since it is the selfsame vessel that on a previous occasion, when armed as a privateer, stopped a vessel in the same port which was destined for Venice, and so you were indebted to them for having punished it.
Similarly the English refuse the restitution of the frigate, referring the question to the parliament which, they say, will decide and punish them if they have done wrong. The Grand Duke, disgusted at such behaviour, is taking measures for dismissing both squadrons from the port so that he may not be in constant danger of becoming more and more involved ; especially as, relying upon the long-suffering of his Highness, they daily permit themselves increasing liberties in whatever happens to suit them without the slightest consideration. This very week, in the thick of the negotiations reported, the English sent off a ship and a brigantine under Vangalen's nose, laden with munitions taken from the mart of Leghorn to Porto Ferraio for the benefit of the eight ships of their nation which recently withdrew thither from Porto Longone.
Florence, the 1st March, 1653.
March 2.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
50. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France (fn. 1)
Last Monday four of the persons concerned in the lawsuit at Venice I wrote of came to my house with Sir [Oliver] Fleming. He said the Council of State had written letters in their favour to Venice and he handed me a copy together with a statement of the affair, saying that a favourable reply would give extreme satisfaction here. I promised to report the matter to the Senate and asked him to say that it was the wish of Venice to give every satisfaction to this state. After some compliments he added that in spite of every effort no news had been obtained of your Excellency's property. With regard to the ships at Venice the government wished to cause as little inconvenience to the republic as possible. I told him that compensation ought to be given for the goods. Before he took leave he told me I might make representations to the Council of State, as I intend to do, to get a decision about your Excellency's property, and also to cultivate a good understanding.
They say here that once the fleet is at sea they will fight a great battle, and possibly the necessity for doing this gives rise rise to the statement that it left the river for this sole purpose. The Dutch on their side have promptly appeared in the Downs and show that they also have no other aim than of going into action and perhaps of making a vigorous landing if a favourably opportunity presents itself.
The main body of the English fleet is calculated now at 60 well found ships, if those which left this river have joined the others in the out ports. The Dutch will have done their utmost to prevent this junction, but in any case it will be vastly inferior to the enemy who have quite 100 sail. They pretend here that quality will make up for quantity, and their courage and hope of victory are high, although much anxiety is felt from the knowledge that many of the sailors are disaffected and that amongst the commanders of the ships there are some whose determination to risk their lives and fight for the parliament is dubious. So it may be confidently asserted that whilst hoping for the best the government dreads the result of this naval engagement, which must hasten an adjustment between these two nations and will either consolidate matters here or add to their confusion, the stakes being of much greater importance to England than to Holland. The truth is that an honourable termination of these disputes is much desired here, and the mediation of any disinterested power, the more remote the better, would prove acceptable. From what I hear I fancy that the government thinks that the war with the Turk might induce the most serene republic to act, and possibly the orders sent to Florence about the ships in the Mediterranean tend towards this secondary end.
Courteous and complimentary replies have been made at third hand to the Swiss Protestant Cantons, as no envoy has yet appeared from them to acknowledge the Commonwealth or to establish the friendship to which they are disposed here.
A resident has lately arrived from Sweden and will shortly announce the object of his mission. (fn. 2) It is not yet known whether it relates to a good understanding or to complaints about the seizure of Swedish ships ; but the disputes between the queen and Denmark and the declaration of the latter in favour of the Dutch may possibly induce her to favour the interests of England. They propose to despatch to that country the ambassador already appointed, (fn. 3) but the risk of crossing during the war causes delay.
The subjects of his Catholic Majesty both in Spain and in Flanders keep pressing for a decision about the 200.000l. sterling of plate seized by the parliament's squadron. But in spite of much discussion in the Admiralty Court the affair is still undecided. It is believed that a good part of the money will be confiscated as belonging to the ministers of Amsterdam, but that which belongs to Spanish subjects will be released, although it is expected that for the moment the government will use this money to defray the expenses of the war. The Catholic ambassador presses strenuously for a decision, but with some regard for the wishes of parliament, whose fleet, at his suggestion, aided the capture of Gravelines and Dunkirk. In acknowledgement of this the king has recently made him a present of 15,000 crowns, increasing his annual pension by 3000 crowns, giving him a seat in the Council of State and a promise of the first commandery that falls vacant in the Spanish dominions.
Acknowledges letters of the 23rd ult.
London, the 2nd March, 1653.
March 4.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
51. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The Duke of Vendome entered the Garonne with his fleet, consisting of only a few ships. While cruising about there he came across seven Spanish ships which were transporting Irish troops as reinforcements for their army in Guienne. Attacking the squadron he captured three ships and pursued the remainder, with some hope of taking them also.
Encloses letters of Paulucci.
Paris, the 4th March, 1653.
March 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
52. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 4)
On Friday last I again had audience of the three councillors appointed me by the Council of State, to whom I presented the memorial about the stolen property. I asked for compensation and also that the English ships serving Venice might remain. Fleming, who happened to be there, said that they would communicate my statement to the Council and let me have an answer on both points. I then took leave, and am waiting for the reply. If things with Holland take a bad turn it will probably be unfavourable about the ships, but good if their success continues.
On Friday the 3rd inst. (fn. 5) the fleet was off the Isle of Wight in sight of the enemy who, with 80 sail sought to keep it engaged, in order that 200 of their merchantmen homeward bound might reach the Dutch ports in safety. This being observed by Blach and two other generals, they decided to advance so as to force an engagement. Equal courage was shown on both sides and although the Dutch had the weather gauge, the English sent out four brave men of war to cannonade them, and by irritating the enemy to render the contest inevitable. The Dutch showed equal intrepidity and the four ships in advance were soon joined by General Blach who came to their rescue with 30 frigates. A very fierce and determined action was thus begun which lasted according to the public prints, from 7 a.m. until nearly 3 in the afternoon. During this time many lives were lost on both sides, and some ships. General Blach himself was wounded in the thigh, but not mortally.
Both fleets then drew off, more to prepare for a fresh struggle than with the idea of desisting. On the following morning, Saturday, the battle began again almost in the same place. But the wind was now in favour of the English, who suffered some loss, but captured the Dutch Vice-Admiral of 50 guns. The firing did not cease until nightfall. Early on Sunday hostilities were resumed with more fury than ever. As the wind continued fair the Dutch seemed inclined to sheer off, so as to convoy their merchantmen with unimpaired force. The English being reinforced by 12 ships out of Dover harbour, redoubled their broadsides, which were courageously returned but the English had the advantage and captured, sank or burned 10 Dutch men of war, taking a considerable number of merchantmen.
The losses so far admitted here are 6 frigates taken or sunk and 8 brave naval commanders killed besides a number of leading officers, soldiers and sailors, the killed on Blach's ship alone exceeding 120. In short it is confirmed that the battle was obstinate, bloody and deadly, though they boast here of having gained considerable advantage. This will be undeniable if their statements are confirmed only in part, though the victory will have been dearly bought. As no letters have arrived so far from any of the commanders concerning this important event, full credit is withheld from news which seems too favourable. Messengers have been despatched in various directions to ascertain the truth. Meanwhile the news is greeted with great delight by the government, although it is not quite agreeable to the governed. In spite of the severe losses a signal victory is announced, so the consequence is that until the arrival of fresh advices the entire statement does not obtain universal credit. However, the event has cheered the government which considers that the last defeat is now retrieved and that matters promise a speedy pacification, for if the Dutch have suffered the loss stated, they will keep at a more respectful distance than before, unless their fleet, which is said to have received a reinforcement from General Vuart, seeks to regain its superiority. In any case they intend here to keep the fleet well together and all ready for anything that may occur in the hope that when thus united it may win even greater advantages, seeing that an English squadron of little more than 30 sail has been able to withstand and defeat a vastly superior force.
The newspapers further state that a part of the English squadron was still chasing the Dutch merchantmen off the coast of France ; so both the booty and the victory may still be increased. But even as things now stand talk of an accommodation is welcomed and it is generally believed here that both parties wish for peace as necessary, though it is not understood that any foreign minister has yet handled the matter, in spite of all that has been said about the proceedings of the French minister. It now seems that he only aimed at re-establishing friendship between England and France, as well as trade, which has been interrupted so long between the two countries. The chief difficulties on these points are apparently overcome already, and things have gone so far that they are on the threshold of a definite treaty, for M. de Bordeaux intimates that he may go over to France and return with fuller powers and with credentials as ambassador. But others are of opinion that once he has left this country he is not likely to return.
The Catholic ambassador has of late had more frequent audience of the Council of State than usual, which makes it likely that he is negotiating something of importance and to the satisfaction of the parliamentarians possibly concerning peace with the Dutch, as the Council has appointed a secret committee for him, with which he confers constantly, though as yet one can only guess at the nature of his business.
The Swedish minister having in the first place presented his credentials, recently made his public entry, receiving every mark of honour and respect, in order to arouse the apprehensions of Denmark and at the same time to propitiate his mistress in favour of the important interests of this Commonwealth.
London, the 8th March, 1653.
March 8.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
53. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
With both commanders showing themselves obstinate the Grand Duke was very strongly inclined to favour the Dutch. He had an offer made to Vangalen to make the English depart or that he would make them hand over another ship at the earliest moment in exchange for the one in question. But the commander replied that he must know the precise day. At the same time he had recourse to threats and protested to Montemagni that if the Grand Duke did not cause his frigate to be returned to him he would fight the English right inside the very harbour. In this connection he soon afterwards told a French vessel and the galleys of Genoa that they should not enter the harbour on that account.
In the face of such extravagant and audacious declarations his Highness has held frequent and lengthy consultations in which they have decided to write to the Hague about the sinister proceedings of their responsible commander and to direct the governor of Leghorn to put under arrest the Dutch consul and some other captains and individuals of that nation. This has been done and the governor is further instructed to keep on the alert, not only to use force, if requisite, with the guns of the fortress, but to erect a fort for the repression of such temerity.
In the mean time six powerful English ships have arrived at Porto Ferraio and have joined with the other five ships of war in that port. With this squadron they propose to come out to within sight of Leghorn to disengage the other seven which remain blockaded by the Dutch. At the moment the English will be much stronger than their rivals, who with a number of their ships scattered in different places are left with only thirteen. Accordingly some momentous event is hourly expected. It has been the question of most importance which has engaged the attention of the Court here during the whole of the present week.
Florence, the 8th March, 1653.
March 8.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
54. To the Resident at Florence.
Owing to the determination of the English and Dutch commanders not to make any concession for the composition of their differences, and to the characteristic harshness shown in the reply of General Vangalen, he is not to insist any more on the subject of the frigate, but to let the matter drop altogether.
Ayes, 121. Noes, 0. Neutral, 9.
55. To the ambassador in France.
With regard to visiting the Majesty of England we leave it to your prudence to decide for or against, when a good opportunity occurs, as we do not believe that an office of courtesy and civility can do any harm to the interests of the state.
Ayes, 121. Noes, 0. Neutral, 9.
March 11.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
56. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Last week off Portland a fierce engagement took place between the English and Dutch fleets. The victory is as doubtful as the loss of men and ships on both sides is certain. The Dutch claim that as the English were the first to retreat they remained masters of the field and consequently the victors. The English on their side boast of having gained the advantage because they have taken a greater number of ships. The truth is that the loss and damage were nearly equal. They fought with equal courage and equal slaughter during three consecutive days ; 45 ships were sunk ; the Dutch could not carry more than two of their prizes to Holland, the English taking but three or four into port.
Tromp set sail from Narsan with 76 men of war in order to convoy 300 Dutch merchantmen across from France to Holland. As, for the avoidance of rocks and quicksands, their course lay off Portland, he sent his vanguard of six sail to reconnoitre the English fleet, which was there, numbering 70 large vessels, shaping its course towards the Dutch merchantmen, in the hope of making a rich booty from ships which, though numerous, were loaded and unable to offer any serious resistance. Tromp anticipated this, and having the weather guage, made the merchantmen set all sail while he dropped astern of them, compelling Blach to attack the men of war instead of the merchantmen. A most spirited action then began. The Dutch ship Austria of 70 guns, defended itself with such obstinacy against six English vessels, that its crew of 200 soldiers and sailors were all killed with the exception of twelve, most of whom were wounded, after which the English took her. (fn. 6) The Dutch also captured a ship from the enemy. Night put an end to the battle, which was renewed on the morrow, the 28th February, and lasted until the evening of the 2nd of March. The Dutch reckon their own loss at 18 sail and that of the English at 27, almost all sunk by cannon shot. On the morning of the 3rd March Tromp, who was off Calais, again put to sea and offered battle to Blach, who was nearly opposite the port of Single ; but as he did not accept, Tromp went on the track of the merchant squadron, which has already reached Holland with the loss of only five sail. Both hostile fleets are so damaged that for the present they can only think of repairs.
I obtained this account from a letter written by the Fiscal of the Dutch fleet which I saw in the hands of the Dutch ambassador. The Fiscal is an official charged to observe those who display courage or cowardice in battle, so that they may be rewarded or punished. So at the beginning of a sea fight the Fiscal goes on board a galliot, at a suitable distance and observes the manœuvres of each ship. He thus ascertains whether the captains do their duty and subsequently makes a report to the States, who take action accordingly. The ambassador told me that this custom acts as a great incentive to the brave and a strong check upon cowardice.
The Duke of Gloucester, brother (sic) of the late king of England, has landed at Dunkirk. He is exiled by the parliament there on pain of death if he ventures to return. They paid him 12,000l. down in a lump sum for once only, as a contribution to his support. He contemplates withdrawing to Holland to live with the young Princess of Orange, his sister.
Encloses Paulucci's letters.
Paris, the 11th March, 1653.
March 15.
Senato, Secreta, Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
57. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 7)
The stoppage of the French mail at Dover last week is supposed to have been by government order, lest the report of a signal victory should be contradicted by contrary statements likely to irritate the people and to upset state affairs. Owing to this the letters from France were not delivered until this week. According to these the number of men of war captured from the Dutch falls far short of what was published. The chief prizes are a few merchantmen taken into Dover laden with fruit and wine. At the same time the hostile fleet has been severely battered, a great number of men having been killed and some men of war were sunk and taken.
The English fleet is in the same predicament, having lost four or five frigates, their killed and wounded amounting to at least 1,500, who have been put ashore at the principal ports. (fn. 8) Parliament has issued orders for their care and sustenance on the spot, so as to make as little display of loss as possible in London lest it scare the few seamen who might otherwise be inclined to join the fleet. Hands are so much needed that last week 1,500 men were pressed on the Thames, with the intention of sending them on board at once.
Since the battle a part of the fleet has been refitting in the Isle of Wight, and part in the handiest ports of England. They intend to unite again and put to sea in force. The Dutch will do the like on the coast of France. According to the newspapers they have received a considerable reinforcement. They are intent on a new engagement, in order to weaken this fleet still more and so secure for the future that supremacy at sea which they now enjoy in great measure, after they have convoyed the greater part of their merchantmen safely into port. But it is not expected that the English fleet will show itself until it can do so in force. To this end constant orders are issued to hasten the construction of the new frigates, and to fit out all the men of war now in harbour throughout England.
In order to fill up the veteran companies from which drafts have been made for the fleet, the drum is now being beaten through London for such recruits as care to enrol themselves under the command of General Cromwell ; but in spite of every effort the volunteers for these new levies present themselves in scanty numbers.
In anticipation of fresh demands from the military and to keep them quiet, an act has been drawn up for the dissolution of the present parliament and the convocation of a new one, from which all are excluded who showed hostility to the Commonwealth during the late war. Such persons are pronounced ineligible for seven years unless by some important service to the state they prove themselves deserving and perfectly faithful to the present government. The same act has been proposed again and again, but everything is done to delay its being passed.
News has come this week of the seizure by parliament ships of a Hamburg vessel named the Stella, sometime in the service of the most serene republic and now on a voyage from Cadiz to Flanders with a cargo of valuable merchandise and a very large sum of money ; so it is hoped that the Amsterdam merchants are deeply concerned in the venture. It is said that the Stella showed fight, but although she is a Hamburger and her freight Spanish, she will be detained, for such legal proofs as will be demanded, as is customary, of the parties concerned by the government here, whose decisions in such cases are tardy and uncertain.
I understand that the merchants interested in a ship that was captured by a Dutchman while at Zante for lading currants have presented a memorial on the subject to the Council of State, asking for its intercession with the most serene republic. The were promised every assistance, and with this and the action already taken on their behalf by the Proveditore General I understand that they have already expressed their gratitude to the state. I have no exact particulars and shall await instructions. I have those of your Excellency of the 28th ult. and the 5th inst. about the demands made by Captain Jonas Poole with reference to the English ships in Venetian ports.
Encloses account for February. Is already in debt and asks for supplies.
London, the 15th March, 1653.
March. 15.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
58. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
The Grand Duke sent resolute orders to the commander of the fortress at Leghorn to restrain Vangalen by the guns of the fortress and to retain the Dutch consul and his other compatriots securely under arrest. This action combined with a storm at sea has wrought a change in the Dutch general who has expressed himself as anxious to place himself entirely in the hands of his Highness. This has completely changed the aspect of affairs, and with the English obstinately determined not to give up the frigate in any way soever, an intimation was conveyed to them that they must leave the port within a limited number of days. With the benefit of this interval they were able to get completely ready not only the eleven ships of war which they had at Porto Ferraio, but the seven in the harbour of Leghorn. The day before yesterday the eleven appeared in sight of the port together with a fireship, to set free the seven. These lost no time in casting loose from their moorings in the hope that they might be able to get out unhurt under favour of the night and determined to fight should it be necessary. But yesterday morning at about the 13th hour the Dutch fleet, reinforced to the number of 16 ships of war and seven merchantmen set themselves in motion directing their course towards the east as if they intended to go against the English who had come from Porto Ferraio, who were tacking some 3 miles away from the port. The 7 English ships, being now clear of the harbour and free from every impediment, spread their sails and stood out in the wake of the Dutch. The latter, when they were slightly more than a mile away, tacked about for the most part and sailed in the direction of the English who had come out of the harbour, and when they perceived that they were at the proper distance they were the first to fire their guns and to commence the action. This lasted until after dinner yesterday, but seriously to the disadvantage of the English, so far as one can gather. After the action had lasted no more than half an hour they captured the first ship that came out of harbour, called the Buonaventura, which caught fire in an instant and was completely blown to pieces, a terrible spectacle. It is supposed that a broadside of the Dutch must have struck her in the powder magazine. Another English ship the Samson was also burned and so far as one can judge it seems that other English ships have surrendered. Accordingly it is considered that apart from some miracle the Dutch will have gained a very great victory.
The battle began between the lighthouse and Corsica, but about two miles nearer the lighthouse. In the course of it the opposing squadrons kept drawing nearer and nearer so that when the courier left they were in sight of the port. Further news is momentarily expected of what followed after and perhaps it will arrive in time to send with these presents.
Florence, the 15th March, 1652 (sic).
59. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
A courier has just arrived from Leghorn with the conclusion of the battle, in which the English lost six of the seven ships which left the harbour. Two were burned, the first by its magazine catching fire which caused it to blow up with all its crew, only four men being saved. After a horrible smoke it sank without leaving a trace behind. The second was run aboard by a Dutch fire ship and burned down to the water line. In the end the magazine caught fire and it sank after the crew had previously thrown themselves into the sea. Three others surrendered and are in the port in the hands of the Dutch. The flagship, which was run aboard by two enemy ships, defended itself valiantly for five hours on end, but it surrendered in the end and running aground it sank. Commander Apilton was taken prisoner, being wounded and burned in the face. The ship Concordia alone escaped with the eleven vessels of the squadron of Porto Ferraio. After witnessing the unhappy losses described, due to the ships having advanced too quickly without giving them time to come to their rescue, they cooled off in the fight and directed their course towards Corsica. Eight Dutch ships followed them, but were unable to come up with them and it is understood that they are returning.
The chief damage done to the Dutch was suffered by their flagship, which was injured by the English fireship, and by the ship Madonna della Vigna which was on the point of foundering and is still in danger. General Vangalen has lost a leg. The dead on both sides amount to over 150, but the number of wounded is very large and they keep arriving at Leghorn.
Florence, the 15th March, 1652 (sic).
March 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
60. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
In the Assemply of the Dutch States they resolved that immediately the fleet arrived the Vice-Admiral (fn. 9) should be sent with a squadron picked from the main body, to blockade the Thames once more. The question of an alliance with the king of England was also discussed in the same Assembly. But apparently the Dutch are not disposed to take any interest in this subject, although the Resident of that monarch at the Hague (fn. 10) tries all his arts to bring about such a union.
Encloses usual letter from England.
Fontainebleau, the 18th March, 1653.
March 22.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
61. To the Ambassador in France.
You will inform Paulucci of the public satisfaction with his operations and the assurance that he will not lose sight of the question of the English ships serving in our fleet. We rejoice greatly to learn of the favourable disposition there which permits us to hope that they will not be taken away.
Ayes, 135. Noes, 3. Neutral, 5.
March 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
62. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 11)
Since the last sea fight, of which my account is mainly confirmed, nothing more has happened. Both fleets are busy repairing their severe losses, though the advantage is with the English rather than the Dutch, and in providing for the wounded, very numerous on both sides. Persons have been appointed here expressly for their relief, to collect a voluntary subscription from the wealthier inhabitants of London, applying even to the foreign ministers and taking note of all who give and all who refuse so charitable a call, which is of such vast concern to the state.
While the English fleet is refitting it is reported that the Dutch have effected their repairs and received reinforcements and are again at sea determined on a fresh battle to recover themselves and maintain their naval supremacy. This will serve as an additional stimulus to the parliamentarians to send their fleet out. To render it as strong as possible they mean to reinforce it with 40 more ships now in the Thames and nearly ready for sea ; so that when this junction is effected the main body will number 100 sail. This is considered sufficient both to thwart any attempt on the part of the enemy and to give battle again if necessary. Thus the measures taken tend towards a fresh engagement, if necessary, though they seem to think here that this last battle has retrieved their former defeat and that their arms are completely rehabilitated. These considerations have led the Presbyterians, who are of the same creed as the Dutch, to propose in parliament that the Commonwealth shall show its piety and generosity by proposing peace to Holland on the same terms as were observed before the war, since it was a war between fellow Christians and the English won the last battle. But the proposal did not meet with the approval anticipated and was allowed to drop after a slight discussion. It will not be resumed until a more favourable opportunity, the present one not being considered such by the majority in parliament. The recent death at the Hague of Pauw, (fn. 12) the last ambassador from the States to England, who was particularly in favour of an adjustment, is exceedingly regretted here as the esteem and influence he enjoyed might have contributed enormously to such a result.
The belief that the frequent audiences of the Spanish ambassador related to some project for peace with Holland diminishes instead of increasing. It appears that he aims at establishing the same friendship between the Commonwealth and Spain as existed between the late king and his Catholic Majesty. But this will prove difficult unless they offer reciprocal advantages, self interest being always the object of this government.
The French minister makes small progress in establishing good relations with France, for while he insists on the surrender of the ships taken on the way to Dunkirk, parliament pertinaciously claims the restoration of those previously plundered by France. Although the matter was to have been settled by a special treaty, yet as these knotty points are urged at the very beginning, it becomes subject to impediments and indecision. These are increased by an incident which happened recently in sight of Dover, when a French ship from Calais captured a vessel with a valuable cargo belonging for the most part to English merchants who, to avoid the Dutch cruisers, had caused their goods to be sent overland from Italy to Dunkirk, and shipped there for this city ; and when they fancied themselves safest they incurred this mishap, which throws some doubt upon the reality of France's professed wish for friendship with this country.
Much apprehension is felt here about Denmark, whose king is understood to have fitted out 30 fine men of war, without its being known whether he means to employ them as a reinforcement for the Dutch or merely on his own service ; but it is suspected that they are to wage war on this state. This seems the more likely because the parliament's minister at Copenhagen has been dismissed, and is already at Hamburg, whither he was escorted by guards to prevent his being insulted by the people, as was threatened. If the aspect of affairs changes and the horizon there clears he may possibly return, but appearances and the fact of his having been threatened make this unlikely.
As a counterpoise to Denmark arrangements are being made for the departure of the ambassador appointed to Sweden, so that a good understanding with that crown may atone for the rupture with its neighbours.
They have decided to send the late King's third son, the Duke of Gloucester, out of the country, to prevent any possible inconvenience that his presence here might cause the Commonwealth. It is understood that they have already landed him in Flanders with only 1,000l. provision and permission to go where he pleases. (fn. 13)
I have your Excellency's letters of the 7th with particulars about the English ship at Zante, and shall use them to make much of the favour shown by the most serene republic to the English nation.
Acknowledges receipt of 1,000 livres Tournois for his expenses for February and March.
London, the 22nd March, 1653.
March 22.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
63. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
I enclose a printed account of the late battle. Being unable to catch up with the nine English ships which took to flight and tacked towards Corsica, General Vangalen returned in triumph to Leghorn. He immediately caused letters to be written by his fellow countrymen to all parts that by the signal victory they have won the States General of the United Provinces have made themselves masters in the Mediterranean, and consequently they control the trade, with security of traffic for all ships of other nations which have ever been molested by their squadrons up to the present.
The general himself is at present in great peril of his life owing to complications which have arisen from the excessive pain by the loss of his leg, although the Grand Duke has sent the most precious medicaments to his relief. Of the prisoners whom he took he has retained only the commanders of the captured ships, and has set free all the English sailors, to the number of some 200. These are at present wandering about Leghorn, refusing to enrol themselves any more under the unfortunate flag of England. But for this the parliament's minister Longland would have sent them to Malamocco as a reinforcement for the English ships which are getting ready there. From what I learn it is intended, after they leave the port, that they shall proceed to the Gulf to contrive to get some men from the dominions of your Serenity before going on to the Levant, and to that end, I am informed, they have already sent some capable individuals to conduct the negotiations, with money.
The English general with the nine ships has been sighted in the neighbourhood of Elba. From this it may be argued that he contemplates proceeding towards Naples and Messina to pick up two ships of his nation from those ports and then pass on to the waters of Zante to wait for the ships already mentioned which are getting ready in the port of Malamocco, to form another powerful squadron of 18 to 20 ships.
Florence, the 22nd March, 1653.
Enclosure. 64. True Relation of the Battle which took place at a distance of two miles from the lighthouse of Leghorn between the fleet of the Republic of England and that of the States General of the United Provinces of the Low Countries, extracted from letters from Leghorn by well informed persons.
At the break of day on the 14th of this month of March, nine ships of war including a fireship were in sight of the port of Leghorn, 3 or 4 miles out, having been brought from Elba by Richard Badiley, admiral in the Mediterranean of the republic of England. They were tacking, it is supposed for lack of wind, when at 13 o'clock, the Dutch ships under John Vangalen commanding for the States in the Mediterranean, consisting of 16 armed for war and 4 merchantmen, started from the port of Leghorn in the direction of these English, with every indication that they meant to join battle with them. When the former had gone out and were about 2 miles to sea the other six English ships of war, which had been taking refuge within the Molo for several months, and which had made themselves ready these last days, impatient to go to the succour of those coming from Elba and to catch the enemy between two fires, got in motion bravely with shouts of joy, to go in pursuit. But when they were about a mile and a half from the Molo, the greater and stronger part of the Dutch ships turned about to meet them. The encounter took place exactly between the lighthouse and La Gorgona, and when they arrived within range the guns began to play the first to fire being the Dutch ship Concordia, commanded by the Vice-Admiral Granvillano. Great was the thunder of the guns, and the English, though inferior in numbers, showed themselves so smart that for a little while it seemed doubtful on which side the victory would lie, when, on a sudden, with a fearful explosion, one of their most powerful ships named the Buonaventura, blew up, fire having accidentally reached the powder magazine, and human beings mingled with the smoke and flames were tossed into the air and cast into the sea. The concussion was so great, all the guns having caught at the same time, that there was not a house in Leghorn that did not shake.
It may be imagined that this accident made a considerable impression on the English, though they continued to fight with great courage. Soon after their flagship, commanded by the Vice-Admiral Henry Appleton, was caught between the Dutch ships Sun and Julius Cœsar, who proceeded boldly to lay themselves aboard it, and at the same time the ship Samson was attacked by a Dutch fireship and became a prey to the flames, so that things began to go very badly for the English. Admiral Badiley was to leeward with his eight ships, either because he was unable to draw near or because he did not think fit to expose his squadron to manifest destruction, seeing that of the English ships which had left Leghorn two were burned and one was hard beset, made no attempt to advance and engage in the thick of the fight, but only made three or four tacks keeping to windward of the Dutch, bearing more particularly against those who had Appleton's flagship in their clutches, with a great discharge of ordnance. At the same time he sent the fireship against the Dutch flagship, and would have succeeded in setting it on fire if the Admiral Vangalen had not managed to change his tack in time, and if his gunners who sank the fireship with their shots, had aimed less accurately. The English who came out from the Molo receiving too little support from their comrades from Elba found their state going from bad to worse. Two more of their ships were quickly carried and a third lost its mainmast so that of the entire squadron only the S. Maria escaped, having succeeded in slipping through and joining Admiral Badiley ; but it is the smallest of all.
Seeing that all was lost Admiral Badiley began to draw off, steering in the direction of Corsica to make his escape, leaving the flagship of Appleton beset by the two Dutchmen. It offered a valiant resistance, although at the same time others fired into it, and the English Vice-Admiral offered so stubborn a defence that the Dutch were not able to make him surrender before 19 o'clock, when the Vice-Admiral Granvillano joined in against him, to whom alone he consented to strike. The Vice-Admiral was thus taken prisoner, without the lightest wound but his face so burned that he looked a fright, according to the report of an eyewitness. His ship had more than half of its crew of 150 killed and all the rest were wounded. The two vessels which came on board it also suffered very greatly and they and the Vice-Admiral's ship are in danger of sinking. For this cause the Dutch merchants here have sent some tartane with furious haste to unload them.
Much curiosity is felt as to why Admiral Badiley, who had the wind, did not give more energetic support to Appleton's squadron ; but possibly he thought it wiser not to run the risk and to save his nine ships, with which he was obliged to take his departure, after having seen two of the most powerful ships of the Vice-Admiral's squadron go up in flames at the beginning of the fight. We also hear it said that the English left the Molo too quickly in the wake of the Dutch, and they should have waited until the Dutch were nearer the other English squadron, who might then have attacked them from the rear if they had turned against those from the Molo. But Appleton had not patience to do this, burning as he was to engage the enemy at the earliest possible moment. Admiral Vangalen at the first discharges was wounded in the leg below the knee ; undismayed he at once had it sawn off and courageously insisted on following the enemy with only eight ships, the best and strongest, having left the rest behind. Although it is reported that he turned back, it was not observed from this place and the Dutch residents here deny it. The fleet of the States suffered no loss except in killed and wounded, only the ship named Madonna delle Vigne being found in a sinking condition was steered towards the shore and run aground near Marzocco. If a south wind does not occur in the mean time they think it may be saved. The Dutch therefore have three English ships in their hands, and two were burned, all belonging to those which were at the Molo here ; a fireship of Admiral Badiley's squadron was also sunk. The number of the slain cannot be ascertained precisely but it is estimated to exceed 400.
Florence, at the press of His Highness, 1653, by licence.
[Italian ; printed pamphlet, 3 pages.]
March 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
65. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
A confident of the king of England has asked the Nuncio Bagni why I have not yet been to see him. The nuncio, who is a friend of mine, asked what answer he should give to this. I replied that owing to the distractions of the civil war here I had not even seen the duke of Orleans. The king of England would have no reason to complain even if your Serenity recognised the parliament, seeing that all the chief powers of Europe had already done so, including France herself. I ask that instructions may be sent me if I am to pass some complimentary office with the king of England. The new government in England seems to be solidly established, yet sudden accidents are apt to happen.
Fontainebleau, the 25th March, 1653.
March 26.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Spagna. Venetian Archives.
66. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
A colonel sent here by General Cromwell brings the confirmation of the ratification of peace between England and Braganza, by the terms of which permission to levy troops and to hire ships in every part of England is granted to Spaniards and Portuguese alike in just parity.
Madrid, the 26th March, 1653.
March 29.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
67. To the Resident at Florence.
Acknowledge receipt of his letters of the 26th with his report on the English and Dutch commanders and about the great number of Longland's sailors who have been set at liberty by General Vangalen, who are at present without employment and averse from taking any on ships of their own nation. The Senate considers that it will greatly serve the interests of the state if the Resident, through his correspondents at Leghorn, brings it to the knowledge of these sailors that if they proceed to Venice they will find employment ready for them which will be both satisfactory to them and advantageous.
Ayes, 125. Noes, 2. Neutral, 7.
68. To the Ambassador in France.
Commendation of his office with the Dutch ambassador about the capture of the ship William at Zante. The names of the captors are Daniel Varvenor and Jan Vorst. To ask him for precise orders for the prevention of similar acts in the future.
To inform Pauluzzi of the receipt of the parliament's letter about the dispute over the casks of caviare. He will assure Fleming that the republic will give the most friendly consideration to the affair.
Regret at the slaughter in the late battle owing to the desire of the republic that with the return of peace it may be easier to provide the ships that it requires.
As regards the question of interposition, if in his conversations with the Dutch ambassador at the Court an occasion arises for him to let drop a hint, he is at liberty to say that the republic would contribute its most sincere and energetic efforts to bring about an adjustment, but it must come as if from himself and without committing the state. The Senate feels sure that he will be guided with the requisite skill and that he will not give the impression that he is acting under instructions but moved by his private zeal for the common benefit. He will instruct Pauluzzi to proceed in the same cautious manner if it should happen that anything is said to him on the subject.
Ayes, 125. Noes, 2. Neutral, 9.
March 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
69. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 14)
Persons lately returned from the fleet represent it as being in great need of supplies and repairs because the Dutch shot was of such a nature as to damage the hulls almost irreparably, slaughtering the crews, shivering the sails, bringing down the masts and burning the rigging at the same time. So the English fleet will not be refitted so soon as was expected. The reinforcement which they intended to send out of this river is hindered by a lack of hands, the loss of life in the last action rendering the service unpopular. As sailors cannot be procured by fair means the government presses them with great harshness.
From news received here although the Dutch were worsted by the loss of warships and merchantmen, they claim the victory, General Tromp having himself reported to this effect and being presented with a valuable service of plate, which had been made expressly for the last ambassadors sent from here to the Hague, who were not allowed to accept the gift on account of an act newly passed whereby all English envoys were forbidden to accept presents from foreign powers, the object being to exempt the government from returning such compliments. It is supposed that the States have given this reward to draw the attention of the government here and to make known everywhere that they had the better and not the worst of the last battle, because although no longer masters of the sea, they have mauled the English fleet and compelled it to withdraw. In proof of this they continue to show themselves in force and boldly off this coast, which will compel the government here again to send out the largest possible number of their ships, from necessity and for reputation, as well as to make prizes, rather than to give battle ; for this last vaunted victory has made them desire peace still more. Even in parliament means are being devised for bringing it about with all possible credit. The question is being resumed though previously discarded, and at the last sittings some members suggested a mission extraordinary to Holland, excusing it on the score of piety and national generosity. Others suggested that letters should be sent express to ascertain the disposition of the Dutch. Others again urge the prosecution of the war with the greatest energy. One thing is certain, the government is considering what will be best for the profit and honour of the State. In view of the burden of the war and what still remains to be borne the majority of the ministry incline more and more to peace. It is not yet known whether the enemy, who is very well informed and diligent in his preparations, shares this inclination. But nothing has yet been settled in parliament as the conviction that any step taken in the matter will be a sign of weakness, makes the question a difficult one, and any decision is delayed as in the case of the dissolution of the present parliament and the convocation of a new one.
The declaration of the king of Denmark, with manifest injury to England, also gives cause for great anxiety, as that they are afraid that the union of the considerable forces of that monarch with those of the enemy, may result in increasing prejudice and loss to them heré.
The Catholic ambassador is busy with his negotiations, which really are for a renewal of the alliance with this state, and even to strengthen it in some points essential in the present state of affairs. But however much they wish this here, to hurt the Dutch, the best informed consider it in the interest of Spain to abstain from such a declaration and by keeping on good terms with both parties, put herself into a position to obtain victory elsewhere with more ease.
M. de Bordeaux has at last got his reply about the ships seized and the re-establishment of trade. The first is still undecided, but the commercial relations between the two countries are resumed for three months. If the disputes about reprisals are not settled in that time, matters will revert to their previous state. By this device they hope here to prevent delay and settle something in earnest, as they are apprehensive of some covert designs on the part of this minister, who has sent the news to France and is waiting for instructions.
Since his first audience the Swedish Resident has been pressing for the restitution of sundry ships with their cargoes, belonging to subjects of that crown, which have been taken by parliamentary cruisers. By this means he is trying to facilitate a good understanding between the two countries and at the same time to prevent any decision prejudicial to them here. They hold out hopes of release, but in these matters promise and performance rarely correspond, detention is prolonged to the limit, the division of the spoil being the chief consideration.
The commanders in Scotland and Ireland keep demanding reinforcements of troops and supplies of money to repress the daring of the rebels, who are gaining ground because of the continuation of the war with Holland, being aided by the Dutch themselves as well as by a crowd of other malcontents. But although efforts are made to remedy these important disorders the burden of the naval war renders every other difficult to be borne, however light it may be.
London, the 29th March, 1653.
March 29.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Firenze. Venetian Archives.
70. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Exhausted by the pain from the loss of his leg the Dutch General Vangalen has also, in the end, lost his life. (fn. 15) His death is regretted beyond the ordinary by those who were acquainted with his character and by his fellow-countrymen in particular. They assert that when his leg was actually being cut off after he had been struck by the cannon ball, he told the surgeon to make haste so that he might lose no time in following after the nine fugitive English ships, and declared that for another such victory he would be content to lose his other leg as well.
The commander of the English fireship which was sunk in the battle, was landed at the islands of Eres but the nine fugitive ships were supposed to have gone to the Levant. He has arrived at Leghorn and declares that they are pursuing their voyage towards London. If so the Dutch will be now left alone to scour the Mediterranean and the five English ships ready equipped at Malamocco to go and reinforce the squadron which has gone will now be able to enter the service of your Serenity freely at once.
The English sailors who were taken prisoner and set free by Vangalen are now passing through this city in troops on their way to go and obtain fresh employment on the five ships of their nation previously mentioned.
Florence, the 29th March, 1653.


  • 1. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 11th.
  • 2. Benjamin Bonnell. His letters of credence were read in parliament on the 22nd February o.s. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. vii., page 261.
  • 3. Philip Sidney, Viscount Lisle, selected on 30th Dec., 1652. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1652-3, page 63.
  • 4. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 18th.
  • 5. The action off Portland was begun on Friday, Feb. 18/28, March 3rd n.s, was a Monday.
  • 6. The Ostrich or Struisvogel an East Indiaman of 1,200 tons. Gardiner and Atkinson : First Dutch War, Vol. iii., page 81.
  • 7. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 25th.
  • 8. The only loss admitted was that of the Samson, sunk. The losses of the enemy were estimated at 19 ships and about 60 captured, mostly merchantmen. Atkinson : First Dutch War, Vol. iv., pages 102, 168, 171.
  • 9. Johan Evertsen.
  • 10. William Macdowell. Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. iii., page 786.
  • 11. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 1st April.
  • 12. Adrian Pauw died on Friday, 21st February n.s. Aitzema : Saken van Staet en Oorlogh, Vol. iii., page 786.
  • 13. He sailed from Cowes on the 12-22 February. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1652-3, page 162.
  • 14. Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch on the 8th April.
  • 15. He died 23rd March.