406. Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador in Spain,
to the Doge and Senate.
The envoy from the English parliament, who left Port St.
Mary's a fortnight ago, is travelling towards the Court by easy
stages, on account of a recent indisposition. By the king's order
he is accompanied by a cavalry escort which he himself demanded,
as he believes himself in danger from the royalists. All the way he
is lodged at the expense of the crown, with much display and courtesy,
a proof that his coming has an important and amicable aim, as
was always supposed and as I reported.
The ambassadors of the king have laboured in vain to prevent his
reception. Besides the political considerations advanced by them to
support this, they have strong personal objections to the envoy himself,
and exhibit a book written by him against the royal prerogative, in
which he demonstrates that kingly government is contrary to the law
of nations and generally proves violent and tyrannical. (fn. 1) He
illustrates his argument by examples from the Spanish monarchy
and especially from the causes of the Neapolitan insurrection. But
positive advantages, or the hope of what may come, prevent any
attention being paid either to the book or to the ambassadors who
Madrid, the 4th June, 1650.
407. Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador in Spain,
to the Doge and Senate.
The envoy of the English parliament reached the Court on Whit
Sunday, an omen portending that he would speedily repent of his
coming. On the next holy day at noon, when he was in his house
with four companions, six Englishmen entered it, armed with pistols
and daggers, and murdered him without mercy, as well as a Genoese
who was once a Franciscan friar of the reformed order and turned
Calvinist, and was now acting as interpreter. (fn. 2) He is generally
supposed to have instigated this correspondence with the Spanish
crown, taking part as mediator.
The king and Don Luis deplore this catastrophe as impugning
the public faith, disconcerting such arrangements as may have been
in train, and endangering Cardenas, the ambassador in England.
To avoid possible demonstrations against them Lord Cottington and
Sir Edward Hyde are endeavouring to exculpate themselves from all
complicity. They declare that the deed proceeded from the individual
impulse of the doers, five of whom are in custody, who, they vow,
had never entered the English embassy, and were in Madrid by
chance, for the purpose of claiming some bounty due for five years'
service in the army of Catalonia, while the sixth accomplice, who
is actually the house steward of the ambassadors, has not yet received
I do not know how the government will receive these excuses,
although the belief in their innocence is practically universal, from
a conviction that if the deed had been premeditated better provision
would have been made for the safety of the delinquents, who lost
themselves, though they had abundant opportunities for escaping.
Moreover, everyone is of opinion that the two ambassadors have not
the money for such exploits, which are usually very expensive, nor
would they have ventured, by so perilous a feat, to risk the bread which
is supplied to them by the king of Spain. The prisoners and time
will disclose the truth.
Meanwhile cabinet councils are held frequently and I believe that
a courier is being despatched to London to-day, as the safety of
Cardenas is highly important, and they are also extremely anxious
that this accident may not interrupt the negotiations already begun.
I have learned, indeed, on very good authority that the Baron de
Batteville was to have been succoured at Bordeaux by the ships and
troops of the parliament.
Although it is of the slightest consequence, I will relate what
happened to me in this affair. The six Englishmen, after perpetrating
these acts of homicide, not knowing where to flee, ran with their
naked and bloody weapons for shelter at this house, under the wings
of the lion of St. Mark, which is over my door, and the steward of
the ambassadors, (fn. 3) whom I had known previously, sent word that he
wished to speak to me. He was introduced, although I chanced to
be at dinner. After offering him a chair I asked his errand which
he refused to tell, as there happened to be some guests with me, so
I took him into another room, when he narrated his adventure and
asked for my protection. I replied that I had never harboured malefactors,
a fact on which I pride myself, and I was determined to
persevere in the course I had set myself. If they liked to remain
as the servants and dependants of the English ambassadors, I could
not expel them, but they must know that I felt it my duty to send one
of my gentlemen at once to Don Luis d'Aros, to tell him what had
happened. The five who did not belong to the embassy, said that
as they were Catholics they would be safe in church, and at once
proceeded to that of a neighbouring hospital, from whence they were
removed half an hour afterwards by the police. As these have not
sought any explanation, either by interrogatories or by torture they
fancy that they have all the culprits in their hands, and know nothing
whatever of the sixth, who, being a Calvinist, refused to quit my
house, nor could I persuade him to do so. Accordingly I decided
to send word to the ambassadors that I could not keep him any longer,
either on my own account or in the interest of the youth himself, who
would infallibly be demanded. They must devise means for saving
him, the only offer I could make was to let him out by the back door
from my garden, which opens on a different quarter from that of the
front entrance. In reply they asked me simply to allow him to
remain until nightfall, as his abode was unknown in Madrid,
when they would send for him. I consented to this thinking it
safe to grant this act of courtesy. Thus I had the good fortune to
receive simultaneously the thanks of the king for declining to receive
the murderers of the republican envoy, and those of the royalist ambassadors
for saving their steward. Thus ended my share of the business.
Madrid, the 8th June, 1650.
408. Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador in Spain,
to the Doge and Senate.
Whether the sanctuary of the Church is to be admitted in favour
of the English prisoners, according to the general opinion of the
jurists, or not, it would seem that owing to the popularity of their
crime with the whole Court, the anger of the government has subsided,
though it was at first extremely irritated, for the reasons given. The
ambassadors of King Charles are not only acquitted of all participation,
but are even allowed to defend the culprits. To this end they
have had several audiences of Don Luis, who is said to have remarked
that for himself personally, he feels most envious of such faithful subjects,
(che in quanto a lui tiene grandissima invidia a sudditi tanto
fedeli), but that the affair must proceed through the ordinary courts
of justice. The best informed, however, are of opinion that severity
or the reverse will depend on the replies from London, to which two
couriers have already been despatched since the accident.
Madrid, the 15th June, 1650.
409. Pietro Basadonna, Venetian Ambassador in Spain,
to the Doge and Senate.
The cause of the English prisoners remains as before, as it is not
yet decided whether sanctuary will be allowed in their favour. This
delay comes from the judges not knowing whether the affair is to be
dealt with on ordinary lines, that is, independently of politics. But
the king has now declared by a special decree that he does not wish
any political consideration to interfere with the law, so we shall
soon have the decision. In the common opinion the culprits will
be restored to the church, as their case does not come under the six
exceptions which papal bulls debar from benefit of clergy.
Common opinion is increasingly in favour of an acquittal, the
whole Court speaking in terms of the deepest horror of the murdered
envoy. Tainted as he was in a thousand other ways, the following
circumstance has brought him into extreme odium. A medal was
found stitched in his doublet, the obverse of which bears the device
of a crown pierced through with a dagger, and the reverse the words
"Duodecim obstricti Newarch Anno MDCXLVI," proving that
he was one of the chief conspirators against the life of the King. (fn. 4)
His secretary, (fn. 5) who had the good fortune to be out of the house
when the deed was done, after remaining in concealment for some days,
has at last come to light, and by the king's order he is residing in the
house of an alcalde, with a guard. The government has delivered
to him all the papers belonging to his principal which came into their
hands. When they asked him if he intended to continue the negotiations
which led to the mission, he said he was not authorised to do
so and could not meddle with them without orders from parliament.
He has written to them at the request of the ministers here, and from
the pains taken by the latter to keep the negotiations on foot they are
evidently very loth that these should evaporate.
Madrid, the 20th June, 1650.
410. Michiel Morosini, Venetian Ambassador in France,
to the Doge and Senate.
The King of England is preparing at Breda for his voyage to
Scotland. He is resolved to venture his person and to trust that
very nation which betrayed his father, knowing that in his unhappy
position any effort is praiseworthy.
Compiegne, the 21st June, 1650.
411. To the Resident at Naples.
The Proveditore of Zante advises us that in the middle of May
two well armed English ships appeared in those waters and began
to attack the shipping. The Senate is sure that this was without
the knowledge of the Cav. Major and the ministers as it is very
hurtful to the republic and to Christendom. The Senate wishes
him, in a suitably moderate manner, to point out the consequences,
in the name of the state, to Don Beltrame, so that he may make
representation to Don Giovanni which will serve for the issue of
suitable orders which will be adequate to prevent further mischief.
Ayes, 134. Noes, 1. Neutral, 5.