90. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to
Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
I have your lordship's letter of the 25th about the suit in the
Admiralty Court here, but I have been unable to do anything
because of the dissolution of parliament and the political changes
now in progress. The attached sheets show what has happened.
I may add that the good news came last week that the fleet of
colliers from Scotland numbering some 200 ships had evaded the
enemy, helped by a favourable wind, and is safe in harbour,
being convoyed by a squadron of war ships under General Penn.
50 of these ships are at this moment in the Thames, to the comfort
and relief of the Londoners, so the murmurs, which had been
universal are now at an end, the price of fuel having at once
fallen to one half of what was paid during the shortage, and on
the arrival of the rest of the fleet it will become cheaper. This
supply of coal is of such importance here that if the enemy had
captured these colliers it would have caused universal consternation
and there certainly would have been an insurrection in this city.
The war fleet being relieved of this charge will now be in force
and ready to meet the enemy, of whom nothing is known, save
that they are gathering their forces for a fresh engagement.
Here they have the same object in view, and some of the 30
frigates ordered by parliament have been launched, so that they
may join the other men of war and render the fleet as numerous
and powerful as possible. To man them and the rest of the fleet
with experienced seamen they have taken as many men as possible
out of the colliers, a course they will continue with all other ships
that may enter the Thames.
M. de Bordeaux has recently had repeated audiences of the
committee appointed to hear him, for the purpose of overcoming
the difficulties to which the re-establishment of trade between the
two countries is subjected. But the English claims for compensation
for the ships taken in the Mediterranean and the French
ones for the return of the ships taken on their way to Dunkirk are
still being urged. It is believed here that eventually some compromise
may be reached. At the same time although M. de
Bordeaux is always protesting the friendliness of his sovereign, and
is definitely appointed ambassador, so I am told, they do not trust
him here and consider all his doings as mere demonstrations.
Indeed I heard on good authority that the government had some idea
of compelling him to depart. But it has not been done and will
not be easy unless they have stronger proofs or greater suspicions.
At present it is impossible to say what the issue will be.
Nothing has been heard from Holland about the letters written
to the States General and to that Province, except that they have
arrived and the majority disapprove of Holland having written
to the parliament. The next advices from those parts will
perhaps show whether this is true or only clever invention, as is
suspected here, and also whether the change of government may
alter the attitude of the United Provinces, as seems likely.
It seems that at the audience of the Swedish minister he
offered the mediation of his sovereign for peace with the Dutch,
but the Commonwealth merely thanked him, expressing appreciation
of the kindness.
The Swiss minister has presented his credentials, which were
quite satisfactory. He confirmed the wish of his masters for an
adjustment with the Dutch, offering their mediation, and for the
establishment of a good friendship. No further progress appears
to have been made, and attention is now fixed upon what is passing
here and everything else is put aside.
London, the 2nd May, 1653.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
91. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to
Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France.
I have often alluded to the demands of the military. Weary
of the promises and irresolution of parliament they have at last
resolved on its dissolution. Cromwell in particular was offended
at the incident I reported on the 27th ult. and also because his
views in favour of peace with Holland had been rejected by the
majority. He also resented being locked out on one occasion
when he had gone out, remarking at the time that just as the door
had been shut upon him that day, it would be closed against the
whole parliament on some other.
With affairs in this state the House met as usual last Tuesday,
the General being present, perhaps designedly. A demand was
made on behalf of the army for some decision at that sitting
about the oft promised dissolution. The House replied that the
quantity of business and the importance of matters under discussion
made it impossible to take any decision that day. They
postponed the question to the next sitting, which was Wednesday
last, General Cromwell giving the petitioners a verbal promise
to this effect. On that day, the whole parliament being assembled
as usual, the General placed guards in all the passages, great and
small, to prevent both ingress and egress, and when the House
was about to rise, Cromwell entered attended by the chief military
officers. After complaining boldly of the treatment experienced
by himself, he reproached parliament with having turned a deaf
ear to the demands and just representations of its poor subjects
and with neglecting opportunities for the general good, adding
that the moment was now come for some good resolve. Being
called to order by the Speaker, Cromwell at once attacked the
authority of the whole parliament in his person, having the gilt
mace taken away and causing him to be forcibly removed from
the chair. The doors being then opened, the troops entered and
the Speaker was made to depart, passing through a file of 200 men,
without the mace, which always used to go before him as a mark
of authority, and of the session of parliament, whose arms it
bore. He was then conducted to his coach and proceeded to his
house, the whole city perceiving that he had been deprived of the
public badge, which remained in the hands of the troops, and so
the authority of the parliament was entirely dissolved and
What has been most remarked is the slight emotion or rather
the indifference with which this action was viewed by the populace,
who for the most part seem pleased and especially satisfied by a
step which gives hopes of relief and better management in everything.
To judge from present appearances it is probable that
parliament will be utterly abolished rather than renewed and that
all affairs, both domestic and foreign, will be subject to a council
consisting of a few persons appointed by the military. Four
leading persons have already been nominated for the despatch
of immediate business and to arrange matters for the interests
of the commonwealth and the satisfaction of the people, but all
with the previous consent or approval of General Cromwell, the
principal director of the decisions of all the military, who now
enjoy more influence and authority than ever. Being united and
determined to act unanimously for the quiet of the state and for
the public service, they will easily carry their measures, as there
is no armed force in London, or indeed anywhere in England
capable of opposing them. Meanwhile the largest possible
number of horse and foot is being marched towards this city, to
remain here until the formation of the new government. In short,
as I have often said, the army will always be paramount and will
finally dispose of everything.
It is impossible yet to ascertain the effect of this change, which
may revive much that was antiquated. The abolition of parliament
has necessarily entailed that of the Council of State, though
a proclamation has been issued that all the other courts of
judicature are to continue sitting as usual. The event is too
recent to be sure what steps will be taken in the course of time.
But several have already been announced, notably one of calling
the Speaker and some other leading members of the late parliament
to account for considerable sums of money and many
valuable estates, disposed of it is not known how. It is understood
that search was made last night for some of the most
influential members, and that they could not be found in their
Still more important changes are expected, and I shall keep
on the watch to communicate them to your Excellency. I can
only add that owing to these changes and internal commotions
the recovery of your property seems hopeless.
I enclose accounts of my expenditure for the months of
February, March and April last.
London, the 2nd May, 1653.
92. To the Resident at Zurich.
To watch closely the resolution of the government there to send
a mission to London to offer their interposition for peace between
the English and Dutch, in order to find out what measures they
take, and to report thereon.
Ayes, 128. Noes, 8. Neutral, 10.
|93. To the Resident at Florence.
He is to continue his offices to arrange through the Grand Duke
some agreement between the English and Dutch captains to the
end that they shall not molest the ships which are in the republic's
pay for the service of Candia, or those which come and go at
Venice for the purpose of trade. The matter is of importance
and for this reason the Senate is waiting to hear what has been
treated of and decided.
Ayes, 128. Noes, 8. Neutral, 10.
94. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at
Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
In the matter of keeping the peace between the English and
Dutch in your Serenity's service, the Grand Duke has promised
his good offices, although he does not know what he may promise
himself owing to the rough and intractable character of both
nations and of Longland in particular. His Highness is afraid
that that minister will not pledge himself to anything without
instructions from parliament.
Florence, the 3rd May, 1653.
95. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to
the Doge and Senate.
Colonel Cusache, an Irishman, landed at Ostend a few days ago
with some 1000 soldiers of his countrymen. They came from the
island of Enistoffin which has since been reduced to subjection
by the parliament. (fn. 2) As he was proceeding to Brussels to treat
with the ministers there about entering the service of Spain with
his men, the duke of Lorraine, who calls himself the protector
of Ireland, had him arrested on the charge of having shown
cowardice in the defence of that place and the district, which
had been entrusted to his honour, and further claiming that the
men belonged to him. They are waiting for the judgment of the
Archduke upon this.
Enclose Paulucci's letter as usual.
Fontainebleau, the 6th May, 1653.
96. On the 9th of May in the Pregadi.
Letters patent in favour of the ship Merchant Adventurer, hired
by Horatio Coreggio to lade goods at Cephalonia and Zante and
then proceed to London, to allow it to have free passage and
receive every assistance and favour.
Ayes, 123. Noes, 0. Neutral, 6.
97. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to
Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 3)
Since my last, which may have miscarried as there has been a
general seizure of letters here, Gen. Cromwell and the leaders of
the army have been engaged in forming a government, issuing
peremptory orders, which are universally obeyed and approved.
After the troops were brought up and quartered here, to ascertain
who enters or leaves the city and particularly to prevent any
members of parliament from leaving, detachments were sent to
secure all funds belonging to the Commonwealth wherever they
might be deposited in the city. It is confirmed that two millions
sterling have been seized, which are at Cromwell's disposal.
During the last few days he has also changed the governor of the
Tower, appointed by the late parliament, substituting a creature
of his own, (fn. 4) considering it an act of prudence and policy to secure
that important post which commands the heart of the metropolis.
He also sent for the Lord Mayor to tender obedience to the army
on behalf of the Common Council and to deliver the sword which
always accompanies him as the symbol of his office. The Mayor
and the Sheriffs obeyed immediately and presented the insignia,
which Cromwell received and then handed back to the Mayor,
saying they were delivered to him by authority and on behalf of
the whole army, to whose orders he was henceforth to tender
obedience and loyalty. The Mayor promised and then departed,
so he continues in the exercise of his office.
As a further demonstration of the supremacy of the army and
to exercise sovereign authority Cromwell lately issued an order,
as always in conjunction with the full council of officers, remitting
the death sentence on ten men, intending that in the future only
murderers shall suffer capital punishment.
The late Speaker is closely watched, and if the present council
really intends to make the members of the late parliament render
account for considerable sums it is probable that they will begin
with him, as it is notorious that he has enriched himself enormously
through the perquisites of his post and by ceaselessly furthering
his own interests.
As an expression of his sentiments and those of the whole army
and to prove how much they differ from the majority in the late
parliament, which decided on the war with Holland from caprice
rather than necessity, it is understood that on the very evening
after the expulsion of the House Cromwell in the name of all the
officers sent an express to the States informing them of what he
had done and assuring them that he personally and the whole
army were more anxious than ever to stay the bloodshed and stop
hostilities, and suggesting peace and friendship. I have not been
able to verify this, but the next advices from Holland will show.
At any rate it is announced here, for the sake of popularity, that
the whole army is bent on peace with its neighbours and anxious
for more friends than could be obtained by the late disjointed
government. Others think this a blind and that war is needed
for Cromwell's maintenance especially after his treatment of a
parliament which proved itself more than a match for the whole
power of the late king, who perished in the struggle with it. But
the dissolution is viewed with admiration rather than surprise
and gives general satisfaction. The popular voice and the press
show how much the nation disapproved the administration of the
parliament, which is principally reproached with having constantly
promised law reform but never having done anything, and with
having broken faith with those who advanced considerable loans
during the civil wars ; while instead of seeking to relieve the people,
as they promised, they always deceived and taxed them more and
more and finally they saddled the country with a troublesome and
expensive war with Holland.
In reply to advices and instructions sent by the council of
officers the generals and captains of the fleet have notified their
adhesion and their intention to do their utmost for the defence of
the state against its enemies afloat and any others who may
present themselves, a reply confirming an understanding between
the two services which it is generally believed in London, existed
before the blow was struck and is supposed to have been effected
by the prudence and sagacity of General Cromwell and the leaders
of the army.
Reports state that General Penn has come into the Downs with
50 men of war, awaiting the arrival of the rest, to decide upon
some expedition. (fn. 5) This may imply a fresh engagement though
the important changes here may render the commanders much
more cautious about committing themselves and slower to risk
Hopes are entertained that in the course of next week some
announcement will be made of the way in which the government
is to be conducted. The General and the leaders of the army
consult daily about the formation of a Council of State and an
excutive, such as may meet with general approbation and secure
the despatch of business with more method than hitherto. It is
expected that a committee will be formed of 21 of the ablest and
best inclined to the commonwealth, well affected to the General
and interested in keeping him and the whole army well satisfied.
The people here are impatient for the announcement of this
nomination, which is expected to include some of the most
efficient members of the late parliament, and it cannot be long
delayed because it is needed. Meanwhile all the actions of the
parliament men are watched as it is suspected that they will
brood over their position and disgraceful fall, in fine they are
suspected of plotting. But without strength or popularity they
have no foundation for any great enterprise and a combined rising
would be quelled by the army instantly.
It is understood that in the midst of this grave crisis a special
envoy arrived from Holland with a reply from the States to the
letter sent by parliament, expressing its inclination towards a
mutual agreement. (fn. 6)
While this proves the good intention of the enemy they cannot
take advantage of it here so speedily as they wish because the
original letter was written in the name of parliament to which
the reply is addressed, and as that body has ceased to exist the
envoy will probably decline to present the letter. His decision
is awaited with curiosity.
Such is the course of events here, and it is impossible as yet to
give any decided opinion about the outcome ; but if things go on
as they are without calling a new parliament the army will
control everything, as the government depends on it entirely.
London, the 9th May, 1753.
98. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at
Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
A great fire in the magazine at Leghorn has delayed the despatch
of the Grand Duke's orders to the governor about the keeping of
the peace between the English and Dutch in your Serenity's
service. I have urged this as well as the inclusion of the merchant
ships in the agreement. Two days ago they sent me the enclosed
copy. Merchant ships are not mentioned because the Bali
thought it would be better to proceed gradually with men of such
harsh and suspicious disposition. These last months, in spite of
all that the Grand Duke could do they roundly refused to give his
Highness their word not to attack only two vessels of their nation
which he wished to despatch to the Levant under their own flags.
Both Longland and Vangalen urged in justification of their
attitude that admitting they were both stationed in the Mediterranean
in order that each might upset the trade of his rival, it
would be acting too manifestly against the service and wishes of
their superiors if they admitted that merchants, who are always
exceedingly acute, should be allowed to make use of the flag and
name of a foreign prince for the purpose of keeping their trade
Florence, the 10th May, 1653.
99. Orders sent by the Bali to the Governor of Leghorn on
the 8th of May, 1653, by command of the Grand Duke.
To perform offices in favour of keeping the peace between the
English and Dutch ships in the service of Venice.
100. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at
Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
The courier of Flanders who has reached the English
merchants at Leghorn brings word that parliament considers
itself ill pleased with the Grand Duke over the battle which took
place in sight of the port, and with the commanders Apilton and
Bobler ; with his Highness because he hunted them out of the
port and made them lose their ships ; with Apilton because he
came out of the harbour too quickly, and with Bobler because he
ran away. I have also heard that orders have reached one of the
principal merchants here to get their goods away from the place
and to arrange, if they can, to store them at Porto Ferraio and at
Longone, or else to try and have them transported to Genoa, for
greater security upon the galleys of those princes. There can be
no doubt but that these last will encourage the idea, granting
privileges to the merchandise as well as facilities for its transport,
for the purpose of injuring the port of Leghorn, an object which
that republic keeps steadily in view.
Florence, the 10th May, 1653.
101. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France,
to the Doge and Senate.
The English mail has not appeared this week, parliament
having stopped intercourse to conceal dissensions in the government.
But in spite of the strict prohibition some ships have
crossed to Calais and report that Cromwell had insisted on a
change of government and the dissolution of parliament, and
meeting with resistance he had marched troops to the neighbourhood
of London, to secure obedience by violence. Meanwhile
some of the greatest zealots are trying to restore the original
harmony in the government. The next letters will enable one
to verify this report, which excites the dormant hopes of the
king, who having no means to reinstate himself by force, places all
his hopes in dissension, which, coupled with the burdens imposed
on the people because of the war, may make them wish for the
monarchy again, through disgust with the present government.
Fontainebleau, the 13th May, 1653.
102. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to
the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Cardenas in England has again received
leave to return home. Various names are mentioned for the
post ; among them Count Maserati is announced as being under
consideration, following the precedent of the Abbot Soaglia and
the Marquis Malvezzi.
Madrid, the 14th May, 1653.
103. To the Resident at Florence.
We feel confident that an arrangement will be reached between
the English and Dutch for the safety of the ships hired by the
republic for Candia. When this has been concluded you will
devote your prudent efforts to secure the inclusion of trading
ships in the agreement which go and come at this city. You will
express to the Grand Duke the republic's appreciation of his
efforts in the matter.
Ayes, 138. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
|104. To the Ambassador in France. (fn. 7)
Pauluzzi will thank the government for the orders which
Fleming assures him will be given to the minister destined for
the Porte, to prevent the Turks being allowed the use of English
ships against the republic, which is championing the cause of all
It is too late in the season for the levy of Irish offered in the
name of the Viceroy for the present campaign, but Pauluzzi
should obtain particulars of the numbers and quality of the
troops as well as of the terms of the levy.
Ayes, 112. Noes, 2. Neutral, 4.
The Savii del consiglio e di terraferma proposed the above.
The Savii agl'ordini wished the following added :
You will tell Pauluzzi to observe to the members appointed to
hear him that the republic professes the most friendly feelings
towards that great parliament and is ready to show the same by
its acts. Thus as soon as we are assured by the reply to the
present, of the intention of parliament, so frequently asserted by
Fleming and others of the government to respond to our action,
the Senate will select an ambassador to proceed to London without
105. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England,
to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 8)
The recent efforts to form an executive have not failed to meet
with obstacles and differences of opinion in the council of officers,
both with regard to the number and quality of the members.
It is also understood that some who were nominated for the
presidency civilly declined the honour under some pretext. So
it was only yesterday, through a diffuse printed proclamation
signed by Cromwell alone as Captain General of all the Forces of
England, that the formation of a new council of state was
announced, the numbers not specified, but consisting, according
to report of only ten persons, not all soldiers, but all creatures of
Cromwell. This council will have the management of all state
affairs. Its duration is not specified in the proclamation, but its
sittings are only announced to last six months, in which time the
counties will be required to elect the members of the new parliament.
This crafty device has been adopted to delude the country
with the hope of enjoying its electoral privileges. Murmurs have
already been heard that without such election the government
would be neither authentic nor legitimate, but entirely dependent
on the army. So this report is disseminated, although it convinces
no one, to mask the intention to vest all power in the sword.
Many think that the absolute direction of everything will always
depend on the General and the assembling of the new parliament
will be delayed to the utmost, lest it interfere with his present
authority. Even now he is rendered very anxious by perceiving
that the leaders of the army are not agreed, especially about
religion and that the good understanding necessary between them
does not exist. In course of time, if not at once this circumstance
may cause mischief, unless remedied by Cromwell's skill. He
indeed gains in popularity daily, his person and his rule increasing
in favour simultaneously. By his order and that of the council
of officers all the Spanish plate, already seized but not yet condemned,
has recently been landed and taken to the Tower. The
Spanish ambassador has made a mild complaint to Cromwell,
expressing a wish to set forth his sentiments on this and some
other subjects to the government in person. He was told that
as soon as things were settled he would receive an intimation, and
the removal of the plate did not imply a decision but was merely
for safety, as caution was required in the present state of affairs.
One of the keys securing the plate would be handed to him to
ease his mind. Accordingly the ambassador received the key and
was obliged to acquiesce in the arrangement. He is expected to
be the first to appear before the new council, which they pretend
here has been reformed, not altered.
The news of the junction of General Monk's squadron with that
of General Pen has given extreme satisfaction here, as it proves
the good understanding between the commanders. (fn. 9) The united
fleet is generally supposed to exceed 100 sail, a good proportion
being men of war and the rest merchantmen, all well found, in
good repair and ready to go into action. Since the muster in
the Downs we hear to-day that the fleet has divided into two
large squadrons, one steering south and the other north, with the
intention of giving battle to the enemy, who is also in force at sea
and with his fleet divided into several squadrons. So a naval
action is expected at any moment. While the English fleet was
in the Downs it received fresh reinforcements of soldiers, who were
raised practically by force the last few days, and shipped almost
The envoy from Holland, considering the importance of the
business and influenced by prudential and confidential motives,
has presented the letter from the States to Cromwell and the
Council. It was opened and read with much satisfaction as it
reciprocates the good intentions on this side in favour of an
amicable adjustment. The envoy confirmed orally the pacific
disposition of his masters. From what I gather, if these feelings
prevail the Dutch would like ambassadors or delegates to be
appointed by both sides to negotiate and discuss the peace in
some neutral city to be named. They thus intimate that in spite
of the proffered mediation of Sweden and the Swiss Protestants
one side and possibly the other would prefer to act for itself.
The progress of these mutual good intentions will be watched with
interest, though even supposing them sincere it is not clear that
they can be easily or promptly realised.
I had a visit lately from the Swiss agent who told me that he
had come here post with letters from his masters to the Commonwealth
about the proposed mediation and expressing a wish for a
speedy reply. But owing to the present crisis he anticipates
having to remain longer than he desires and with scant hope of
doing any good. He said, however, that in spite of the changes
he had been promised a reply at once, when the new council was
formed, and he must needs wait as was the case with many other
envoys besides himself. I thanked him and replied to his
compliments. I have since returned his visit.
Four delegates from the four orders of the city of Bordeaux are
expected here daily on a solemn mission. Under the pretence of
trade it is said they will aim at establishing a good friendship and
correspondence between that city and this commonwealth, being
chiefly anxious to get help against the royal forces which now
threaten that province. (fn. 10) The embassy will certainly have a
friendly reception though it is considered unlikely that they will
get any help because of the state of affairs here and with the
presence of M. de Bordeaux here, if anything is done for the
insurgents it will be under cover of the wine trade, so necessary to
The Agent of the Count of Dognon left London lately in
consequence of an adjustment made by his master with the Court
and the envoy from the Prince of Condé who went to Brussels is
Encloses account of expenses for April.
London, the 17th May, 1653.
|106. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at
Florence, to the Doge and Senate,
They are busy at Leghorn getting ready an assemblage of
merchantmen for Amsterdam, to start in the coming week. It
is believed that all the Dutch ships of war will go. This would
please the Grand Duke greatly since, in effect, they keep the port
besieged, as they always have vessels cruising about to search and
visit any craft that want to enter, showing scant respect and
Florence, the 17th May, 1653.
|107. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at
Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Since I wrote the preceding the Grand Duke has sent to tell
me that the English minister Langland excused himself from
doing anything about the proposed arrangement with the Dutch
on the ground that he had no authority. His Highness expressed
his regret that he had not been able to treat with some one who
was manageable, less haughty and more constant in keeping his
Florence, the 17th May, 1653.
108. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to
Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 11)
Affairs here continue as reported. Cromwell labours incessantly
to consolidate his authority. To this end it is supposed
he has recalled from Ireland the Viceroy Fleetwood, his son-in-law,
as well as Coke, the Solicitor General (Luogotenenle Civile), his
especial confident who contributed greatly to the late king's
death. (fn. 12) With the support and advice of these two he will try
to make everything even more subservient to him. Meantime
he circulates daily reports that it is the intention of himself and
the council to summon what may be called a conditional parliament,
as it will not be confirmed unless the members returned by
the electors happen to be the persons approved by himself, who
will unquestionably prove more to the taste of those now in
command than to that of their constituents. Under this mask
a government is being formed of a despotic rather than a popular
character, the meeting of parliament being considered remote
rather than near at hand. Although in the general belief one
must be convened ere long, to secure internal quiet, yet England,
Scotland and Ireland in particular are so satisfied with the
dissolution of the old one, the people being disgusted with the
dilatory and violent proceedings of the late government and hoping
for better things from the new one, that this step may not be
taken so soon, while there is no doubt that Cromwell will employ
the interval to augment the supreme power he exercises over the
domestic and foreign policy of all England. Others consider the
late dissolution too violent and audacious, as it involves constant
and extreme vigilance for the attainment of a successful result.
So opinion is divided though the majority favour the present
military supremacy which practically directs the government.
Ostensibly and for the sake of popularity they are trying to ease
the country of the burden of this Dutch war, though with honour
to England and with additional concessions from the enemy.
To this end efforts have been made to strengthen the fleet, so that,
to the satisfaction of Cromwell and the council it now numbers
120 sail. These will receive a reinforcement of 30 more now in
the Thames, ready to join. They feel sure that if the fleet
succeeds in inflicting a great defeat on the enemy the Dutch may
be more inclined to peace and be practically compelled to accept
it on any terms and it will deter them from espousing the cause
of the King of England. On the other hand, in the event of
defeat, they will show themselves equally inclined towards the
The body of the fleet which parted company in the Downs,
has reunited, when they heard that the enemy was to leave
Holland in full force, to give battle and convoy a fleet of their
merchantmen. The English sailed for Holland meaning to engage,
but missed the enemy by a few hours. The voyage was not
fruitless, as at the mouth of the Texel they fell in with a number
of fishing boats just putting to sea for the usual fishery. After
taking the crews prisoners and seizing all their tackle the fleet
returned here in quest of the enemy, who also number 140 sail.
If they meet a great naval action is inevitable, and they are very
impatient here to know what has happened. The English rely
greatly on superiority of numbers, but much more on the quality
of their ships. Taking this with the resolution of the commanders
and their delight at the dismissal of the late parliament which
gives them hope of more efficient aid, the belief here in a signal
victory almost amounts to certainty. With this expectation
neither side shows any special desire for peace, though a letter
addressed to the States has been handed to their envoy, who has
gone back to Holland.
It is understood that Captain Badily has come into the Atlantic
from the Mediterranean with the squadron he commanded off
Leghorn. In a gallant action in the Strait he captured several
French and Dutch merchantmen, giving safe convoy to others of
his own nation, bound hither with full cargoes. Agreeable
intelligence showing clearly that with the forces here and the
victories which they anticipate in these parts the English will
easily arrange all other matters and then show themselves in
great strength in the Mediterranean. This seems to be their
intention, but as yet it is only surmise.
Four delegates recently arrived here from Bordeaux, one each
from the nobles and parliament and two representing the people.
Their credentials were addressed to the parliament, so they are
somewhat embarrassed by the change of government. But it is
believed they will not hesitate to open negotiations. It is said
that under the mask of trade or of the purchase of ships to act
against the Duke of Vendome's fleet, they will aim at something
more secret and important. They had scarcely landed ere they
went to confer with the Agent of the Prince of Conde, M. de la
Barriere, who returned the other day from Flanders, and they are
expected to present themselves soon before the new Council of
State of which Cromwell is chief. Their negotiations will be
watched with a curiosity equal to their importance.
The new Council meets daily and has more domestic than foreign
business to transact, for all the diplomatic agents here are very
reserved in dealing with it possibly under the impression that it lacks
authority for disposing of important affairs, being liable to change
and modification and not offering the appearance of a well regulated
and stable government.
There has been some commotion in the Admiralty Court about
the Spanish plate and other goods of Spanish and Flemish
merchants seized. The judges decided that the owners of the
silver and goods must prove separately the portion belonging to
each. After some had complied readily the Spanish ambassador
interfered, considering that a discussion of the claims would be
injurious to the interests of his king, and he therefore attached
the whole of the property, by attorney, under the pretence that
it left his king's dominions without payment of the proper duties.
This course surprised both the bystanders and the parties. The
latter in their rage have vowed to prove that the greater part of
these goods belong to the Dutch. And so private disagreements
turn to the advantage of this government whose interests will
benefit not a little by these proceedings.
I must mention that a person came lately from the Admiralty
expressing impatience for a decision about the affair of the
English merchants, communicated by the Council of State to the
Senate. He told me that in spite of the change here it was
expected that the Senate would pay attention to the reasonable
demands of the Commonwealth in a matter of great importance,
and consequently they looked for a favourable decision. I assured
the messenger of the desire entertained at Venice to give every
possible satisfaction to this government. Any delay was due
merely to the suit of the Dutch parties concerned who wished to
be heard first. In this way I contrived to satisfy him and Sir
Oliver Fleming too, but I am certain.that the question will be
brought forward again.
Acknowledges letters of the 16th inst., and thanks for the
order given to merchants for the payment of 1000 livres Tournois
to meet the expenses of the months of April and May.
London, the 23rd May, 1653.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
109. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France,
to the Doge and Senate.
In consequence of suggestions made by the Tuscan Resident
Sarotti about preventing Dutch and English ships from attacking
one another when in the service of your Serenity, I have suggested
to the Dutch ambassador the propriety of a decree from the
States forbidding their subjects to molest ships employed by your
Serenity, even when they are the property of an enemy. I told
him that every Christian power should favour the defence made
single handed by the republic against the enemy of Christendom.
That English ships receiving your Serenity's pay have every right
to be considered Venetian. I said that a similar suit would be
preferred in England.
The ambassador replied that that was the point and they
would have to await the decision of England, as without it the
assent of the States, if not reciprocated, would injure them too
much. I assured him that consent might reasonably be anticipated,
and I supposed that the States would anticipate rather
than await the decision of England, since this was a cause in
which Christian powers ought to vie with each other. He said
he only drew attention to the obstacles in order to remove them.
But he saw another difficulty, namely that of ascertaining whether
the ships were really in the service of the republic, lest the English
should use them for their own ends. I said the agreement would
be mutual. No subterfuge need be feared. Ships in the republic's
service might easily be recognised without the risk of fraud. He
promised to communicate all this to the States, remarldng that the
determined resistance offered by the republic deserved peculiar
assistance, though circumstances were against it.
By order of your Serenity I have desired Paulucci to obtain a
similar decree. It is true that the government there has been
changed, but this has not caused any alteration or tumult, everything
proceeding with the utmost tranquillity, as if so radical
a change were usual and natural. Cromwell maintains his credit
with the people by displaying piety and devotion, visiting the
churches with a big bible under his arm (portando seco alle chiese
un gran breviario), and declaring publicly that the Almighty, who
has hitherto specially favoured all nis undertakings, giving him
victory in battle and bringing the three kindoms to subjection,
inspired him to effect this change, owing to the misconduct of
those who had held power so far.
I have hinted to Paulucci to make use of Cromwell's piety,
whether true or false, and turn it to account, for though not a
Catholic, he is a Christian and consequently hostile to the Turk.
Paris, the 27th May, 1653
110. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France,
to the Doge and Senate.
The governor of Havre de Grace has sent here to know what he
is to do about the demands made by the commanders of an
English squadron for admission into French ports, on the same
footing as the Dutch have it. No answer has been sent to him
because to deny to England what is granted to Holland would be
offensive, while it is dangerous to grant the privilege for fear of
some surpiise because of the distrust between the two nations.
The Duke of Gloucester, a, boy of twelve, has arrived here and
been most tenderly greeted by the Queen, his mother, who left
him in England a mere baby. He has been kept prisoner all the
time by the parliament.
Encloses Paulucci's letter as usual.
Paris, the 27th May, 1653.
111. Giacomo Quntmi, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to
the Doge and Senate.
Paules has gone back to England with new decrees from the
king to cause the release of the goods pertaining to the traders
of this crown.
Madrid, the 28th May, 1653.
112. Lorenzo Pahltjcci, Venetian Secretary in England, to
Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 13)
I have little to report, as quiet reigns and General Cromwell
and the Council are more concerned about establishing good order
than over hurried changes. Seeing that his designs require time
and space he has quite recently married one of his sons to the
daughter of a colonel, of scanty fortune but great influence among
all the military. (fn. 14) For the rest the general is moving at present
with careful circumspection. Although he does not show it outwardly,
he is really pleased to find himself practically the arbiter
of the affairs of this country, receiving constant encouragement
to support the burden of the fallen parliament, by uninterrupted
acclamations and by hearing his name blessed in letters from the
most remote parts of the kingdom, as the deliverer from the
oppression of the late parliament, which was tyrannising over the
poor people by a permanent rule. Thus that body has gone unregretted
and it would seem as if the affairs of the country require
that talk of the summoning of a new one should rather lie dormant
than come up. Meanwhile they propose to flatter the people by
measures for their relief. To this end they have already begun
the reform of the laws, beginning with one that is most desired,
namely, to provide (?) in some sense, a safe conduct for the old and
new debtors in this state (che e quella di levarsi in certo modo
salvo condotto alii vecchi e nuovi debitori in questo stato) and to
introduce better order into the state's affairs, changing the judges
of the Admiralty and reforming the administrators of the public
The new Council of State, set up as reported, meets every day.
No one has appeared before it so far except the Portuguese
ambassador, with his usual display, after he had had several
private conferences with General Cromwell. At the moment of
the dissolution of parliament this minister was about to put the
finishing touches to his negotiations for a definite correspondence
with this country. This is necessary to Portugal owing to the
threats of Spain, and it probably acted as a stimulus to make
him come forward to treat and if necessary to revise and alter the
terms. The Catholic ambassador was similarly ready, on behalf
of his king, to ratify the alliance with the republic of England for
four years. The English tried to take advantage of this by asking
permission for their ships to trade freely in the Schelde, with the
object of diverting the great trade of Amsterdam and bringing it
all to this city. They believe that the Spaniards will not be
altogether averse from conceding this, as a underhand means of
enfeebling the strength and wealth of the United Provinces.
Owing to the recent changes these negotiations are at a stand
still, but when the Catholic ambassador comes forward again to
transact business they may easily be renewed and pushed on with
increased vigour. Yet the friendly feeling between Spain and
England is constantly receiving shocks because the English
fleet lays hands on all the ships it can, on the way to or from
Spain, laden with goods for Flanders, although they belong to
the free cities, because of the doubt that the Dutch may be
trading in security under cover of his Catholic Majesty's subjects.
For the same reason they have recently seized two rich ships
which had gone from Dunkirk to Cadiz and were returning to
Flanders with cargoes. They will be inspected but are unlikely to
be released soon. The parties concerned remonstrate at such
procedure, but here they turn a deaf ear, considering their own
interests solely and making the most of their opportunities and
present circumstances which practically compel the Spaniards
to dissimulate and hold their peace instead of remonstrating and
insisting on a hearing.
The news that the fleet has been sailing for some days with a
wind favourable for encountering the enemy arouses expectation
and some anxiety about the event. If the two fleets meet there
will be a great battle, on which the English are determined.
Relying on their strength they leave undefended a considerable
number of merchantmen, whom they invite to follow them boldly.
So the expectation of an action and the hope of victory have
brought all the peace movements to a standstill. The general
conviction deepens that everything depends on a victory, which
may lead, if they wish, to a prompt and advantageous peace,
honourable to their arms. It is desired here, but they believe
that the United Provinces also long for it, and it is known that
they are divided among themselves both on this question and
about the party of the Prince of Orange.
Accordingly they are waiting here for what the fleet will do.
With the addition of the ships come from the Mediterranean and
30 others which are now completing in the river here, it will be
greatly strengthened. It is said that the supreme command may
again be entrusted to General Blach, who has quite recovered
from his recent wounds. Thus their naval strength will be
remarkable and it is openly asserted here that in a few days the
English fleet will be more powerful in the number of ships and
their efficiency than any other which England has had in the past.
The deputies of Bordeaux have not yet appeared before the
Council of State, but it is well known that they have had several
secret conferences with General Cromwell. I am unable as yet
to find out what is the actual object of their negotiations, but it is
stated that fresh instructions from the French Court have reached
M. de Bordeaux to act as if they might receive what they want
and to make it his sole object to thwart any transaction that they
may set on foot.
The affairs of Scotland and Ireland do not call for extraordinary
attention, as it is seen that the authority of the state is upheld
there with the requisite energy, and every encounter seems to
end rather to the confusion of the insurgents than in their favour.
The supplies of money sent to both kingdoms and the satisfaction
caused by the news about the parliament have inspirited the
officers and men there, and so the course of events favours the
designs of the one who now directs and has command.
I have your Excellency's letters of the 23rd inst. with instructions
about the ships of the two nations in Venetian service.
I will apply to the General for a positive order, and as he seems
favourably disposed towards the cause of the most serene
republic, I hope he will consent.
Acknowledges receipt from the merchants of the 1000 livres
Tournois for the expenses of the last two months.
London, the 30th May, 1653.