Venice
January 1655

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1930

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1-16

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'Venice: January 1655', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 1-16. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89803 Date accessed: 21 August 2014.


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January 1655

1655.
Jan. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
1. To the Resident at Naples. We must again enjoin upon you to devote every effort to find out thoroughly and clearly the proceedings of the naval forces and in particular of Blach's squadron so that you may be able to give us punctual and exact information of everything.
Ayes, 116. Noes, 1. Neutral, 21.
[Italian.]
Jan. 2.
Senato.
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
2. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 1)
At every meeting of parliament the question of the present Francia. government is reviewed, projected and discussed with a view to its firm establishment and to the confirmation of the Protector's rank and authority. In spite of the article in the paper presented by some of the army against interference in religion, in order to remedy the disorder therein to some extent parliament recently decided that the religion generally professed here must be the Protestant, and that without the consent of the Protector and parliament the laws, cannot be altered or others made in the matter of religion. Tender consciences must be respected, but on condition that others are not abused, causing disorder among the people and upsetting the peace at home. But atheism, blasphemy, damnable heresies with the profession of popery and prelacy must be put down by parliament and the Protector, so that they may become increasingly discountenanced and detested.
Having possibly dissatisfied the military over this article about religion they aimed at pleasing them in others, notably in one declaring valid all sales made by order of the late parliament, including lands, rents and inheritances pertaining to the last king, queen and prince, as well as those of archbishoprics, bishoprics, abbeys and other chapters, which shall remain in full force as goods depending absolutely on the dominion of the republic. Also that securities given on the public faith for the satisfaction of public debts and interest shall retain their original force. All articles arranged with the enemies of the state and confirmed by parliament are considered valid and the persons mentioned in them are to enjoy the terms arranged. It is also decided that the present Protector shall ratify by solemn oath the obligation to summon the future parliament, and after his death his successor shall take a like oath to summon parliament and govern well. The form of this oath has been passed though not yet made public. But if seems probable that when parliament is not there all the oaths will be interpreted according to the unrestricted authority of the Protector, by which everything will be directed and decided. The present and past position of affairs show that when circumstances are favourable for an increase of his power, he has forgotten the oaths given not to change the government and has pursued his own ends. His promises have not stopped him from assuming his present authority and it is likely to become even greater in the future.
The news of the landing from the French fleet in the kingdom of Naples (fn. 2) caused no enthusiasm here and the report of its repulse and retreat seems to give more pleasure. In order not to lose a favourable opportunity the commissioners of the Council, by order of the Protector, have gone to the French minister to resume negotiations and to learn the intentions of France, when they seemed entirely broken off and the minister was reported to be going. The English have no doubt that the present state of affairs will give them a notable advantage in negotiation. It is freely said here that France ought now to make haste to come to terms. It seems probable that good relations will not be secured without England gaining some outstanding article, such as the recognition they claim from French ships, something like that from the Dutch and a fuller recognition of the protection and dominion which this nation apparently claims over both seas, to maintain which they keep up such considerable naval forces and intensify their building of ships of war.
With regard to the Protector's representation about the numbers and pay of the troops parliament has decided that for the cavalry and infantry required for the defence and service of the state and for a proper number of ships for the guard of the sea all the money that may be levied from the people in the voidance of parliament may go on being paid for 40 days after parliament has ceased to meet, and from that time any reduction or increase must be with the consent of the Protector and parliament, or in the voidance of the latter, of the Protector and Council. Parliament has also decreed that the 200,000l. sterling yearly for the support of the Protector and his successors and for the administration and requirements of government for the commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, shall be paid regularly by order of the Protector and not raised or reduced without the consent of the Protector and parliament. They add that several of the former royal palaces and dwellings which have not been sold, shall be kept for the use of the present Protector and his successors, for the greater dignity of the republic.
At the news of the arrival of the Genoese ambassador at Dieppe and at his request for protection against ships from Ostend or Dunkirk, a frigate has been sent to escort him; (fn. 3) so we shall hear of his arrival in this city before long.
London, the 2nd January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Roma.
Venetian
Archives.
3. Geronimo Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador at Rome, to the Doge and Senate.
The coming of the English fleet keeps the whole Court in apprehension with very good reason. Men remark upon the headlong course (il progresso furioso) with which they display their supreme power in these waters. Nothing is known about their intentions, although everyone is on the alert, and there is no basis for discussion. There seems to be a general idea that they mean to steer their course to Barbary. The Neapolitan gentlemen here remark upon the reserved manner of Blach in his dealings, as he neither bade the envoys sent to him by the Viceroy be seated or to cover themselves and when he sent on shore to ascertain whether he would be treated in a manner satisfactory to himself, he did not even acknowledge the courtesy.
Rome, the 2nd January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Firenze. Venetian
Archives.
4. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
The Grand Duke has given me confirmation of the arrival of Firenze. General Blach at Naples with 23 powerful ships of war and four with stores; the Viceroy there welcomed him with joy. His Highness added that he would certainly be coming to Leghorn also; but they could not be sure at present what his intentions might be, beyond his intention to fight all the French ships that he finds and to clear the Mediterranean of pirates in order to render safe the traffic in merchandise between London and Leghorn; but the truth will very soon disclose itself.
Florence, the 2nd January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 5.
Senato.
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Napoli.
Venetian Archives.
5. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
The four English vessels reported (fn. 4) are still in this port held up by the detestable weather which has prevailed for a long time, before proceeding to Baia for overhauling. Those who pretend to have a special knowledge of secret matters are of opinion that in addition to the vinegar and other stores granted by the Viceroy to General Blach, they are waiting for a considerable sum in ready money, by arrangement, they say, between the Spaniards and this Blach, for the maintenance of his squadron in these waters.
Naples, the 5th January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
6. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 5)
The form of government still occupies the constant attention of both parliament and the Protector. The former wishes to deal with it further before dissolving, and the latter wants decisions to raise him higher, so something important may be decided before they separate. It is certain that the Protector, with the support of his partisans recently had it suggested that the convenience and dignity of the nation required that his title should be changed and that of king or emperor assumed in the Protector's person. At the moment when parliament was discussing this article, which his Highness has always coveted, but which involves high and perilous consequences, some opposition members arrived, astonished at their opportune appearance, and by the force of their arguments silenced the Protector's satellites, causing the question to be put on one side. (fn. 6) It may easily cause some upset in the present state of affairs before the dissolution. For although parliament has aimed at satisfying the Protector, those members who look askance at his greatness and the constitution of the present government will be the very ones to get some act passed, before they separate, which will turn all the sweet into bitter for his Highness. Fear of this makes the Protector wish that the days which remain to the present parliament were reduced to hours, in his watchful prevision of what may affect his condition.
Rumours of a new and great conspiracy have reached the Protector's ears. (fn. 7) The essential particulars have not yet transpired, but the alarm is the greater because in the midst of all the obscurity it seems clear that the military and the Anabaptists had the chief share in it. The Protector's suspicions have naturally been much augmented by this, so that he lives, as it were, in fear of his own shadow, exceedingly perturbed and working feverishly to get to the bottom of it. To this end he had his constant rival Major Gen. Harrison, the leader of the Anabaptists watched and brought by force to Whitehall, where he is believed to be under arrest in order to find out something definite about these seditious designs. To check these several companies of troops quartered in the neighbourhood have been hurriedly brought to London and quartered there. It is expected that something more will be done about this affair.
One day recently a group of ships of war, fully equipped sailed from Portsmouth with a fair wind. (fn. 8) It is believed that they intend to cruise off the coast here rather than to depart on distant enterprises, as was announced here. Other fully equipped ships still remain in port. The best informed do not believe that these naval forces will go far away, but that the Protector's secret idea is to give employment to a number of troops who might develop hostility to his party and under the persuasion of some individual might suddenly rise against his authority and disturb the peace. In the general opinion, in spite of the measures of parliament to establish it, his seat will always remain unstable, and consequently the form of government also. Thus while one writes one week with some assurance, by the next a change has occurred and after a short interval there is afresh outburst of noxious humours. To prevent more of this the Protector announced that notwithstanding the Christmas festivities any one might open his shop and work, so that the young apprentices of this city, who might easily form a great multitude on a sudden, might not be turning their minds to the mischief that is feared. But the permission found scant support because practically the whole of the present week has been spent in the celebrations, with very little devotion indeed but entirely in physical recreation.
Uninterrupted good news is expected of General Blach's squadron, since they heard of his favourable reception everywhere, the recognition from the ships encountered and the release of many English slaves by the pirates of Algiers and Tunis. It is believed here that he will not avoid an encounter with the French fleet and more definite news is awaited with some impatience.
The ambassador extraordinary of Genoa is said to have arrived at Larii and he is momentarily expected to come here incognito to prepare his state entry. (fn. 9) There is some curiosity about it because the extent of his pretensions is known everywhere. I have renewed my offices on the subject and will keep on the alert.
London, the 8th January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze. Venetian Archives.
7. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
General Blach has arrived at Leghorn with twenty ships of war. He has left some others at Naples to lade the provisions supplied to him by the Viceroy there. If he had not sailed round Sardinia on his voyage and gone by Cape Corso, as the French did, on their return to Provence, he must inevitably have fallen in with Guise, and one may well say that fortune has looked after him on this occasion. Blach says however that he proceeded to Naples, not to fight the French fleet, as he has no orders from the Protector Cromwell to do so, but to fight Monsieur Pol, a corsair, who commanded with Guise and was united with his fleet, and who in past years has made so many prizes of rich English ships. He was also to fight the Commander de Neusseses, for whom he waited at the Strait, to thrash him, as he says he has instructions to do, as well as to capture all the ships he finds, in compensation for the immense losses which they have inflicted on the traders of England.
When the English consul Longland went to meet him at the port Blach handed to him two letters, one for the Grand Duke and the other for the governor of the fortress. The latter is merely complimentary, saying that he has come to the port for certain provisions and requesting him to send to the Grand Duke with all speed the paper from the Protector, as was done forthwith by an express. Prince Mathias has assured me that in this letter Cromwell writes that he has sent Blach to clear the Mediterranean of pirates and has provided him with letters to various friendly princes for such things as he may require. He recommends Blach in particular to his Highness, in whom he has confidence above all others. His Highness is therefore relieved of the misgivings which he had previously felt and all apprehension is dissipated. At bottom also he is extremely pleased that although Blach does not yet announce an open rupture against France, but cloaks the inclination that way under the half measure of hostilities against the French corsairs only, his acts nevertheless show completely confidential relations with the Spaniards. There is indeed some report at Court, that the Prince of Monaco is in great alarm lest this fleet should turn in his direction, and that he has accordingly sent to France for the materials required to defend himself, just as the Genoese are afraid for Savona.
Florence, the 9th January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
8. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Naussesses who was to have taken the Ocean fleet into the Mediterranean to aid the unfortunate expedition of the duke of Guise, happened to fall in with an English ship carrying a general cargo. Instead of seizing it as compensation for the numerous French prizes made by England, he let it go, after drinking to the health of the Protector and Admiral Blach, and charging the captain to report that the French fleets have orders, so long as the English choose, to treat them amicably. Yet in consequence of what the ambassador in London reports they have reissued orders for keeping strict watch over the ports of Normandy, against the designs of the English fleet, so as to be able to repel a landing in case of need. Money has also been sent for the purchase of gunpowder and match cord to supply the population, so that they may have the means to defend their country and protect it from insult.
The Dutch also, not knowing the object of the English fleet, to guard against surprise and as a measure of good policy, have decided to arm 40 ships, under pretence of sending them to Portugal as a compensation for their losses in Brazil.
The Ambassador Berverningh has returned to the Hague, but in spite of the support of the Holland faction he has been suspended from his post of Treasurer General by a majority in the Assembly of the States, until he shall justify himself for the secret clause conceded to Cromwell about the exclusion of the House of Orange.
Encloses usual letter of Paulucci.
Paris, the 12th January, 1655.
[Italian.]
Jan. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci.
Napoli.
Venetian
Archives.
9. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
They have begun to careen the four English ships so that when they have been overhauled and when the stores reported have been taken on board, they may be able to proceed to Trapani in Sicily, to which place, it is said, they have orders to go. General Blach is to betake himself thither with the rest of his squadron, so that they may all proceed together, according to the opinion of some, to Barbary to settle about the slaves of his nation while others believe that he will go to the Levant to compete for trade with the Turks.
Naples, the 12th January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 16.
Senato,
Secreta,
Dispacci
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
10. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 10)
The project for declaring the Protector king has been renewed in parliament, but as it always met with opposition, supported Archives strong arguments, the question remains undecided. But it is believed that his Highness is determined and means to secure his intent at the last sitting. If the opposition continues persistent he may even have recourse to force, exercising it to advance his own greatness and his private satisfaction. Before parliament dissolves notice will be taken of the acts presented to the Protector for ratification, as the law requires, and the steps taken on either side and the consequences which ensue will be watched with a curiosity justified by their importance. It is true that from the proposals made in parliament, from the extraordinary number of troops brought into the city and mostly quartered in the neighbourhood of his palace, and from the provision of ten great pieces of ordnance, escorted publicly and placed beside his residence, a general report has circulated that he intended to be crowned king on New Year's day. But facts have not borne out the expectation. The question still rests in his Highness's bosom, and if he is set upon it he will know when to select the most opportune moment.
Some maintain that the Protector is averse from such a step and that the guns were intended for his defence and dignity. But it is much more likely that to avoid giving any strong refuge to the mischief which the Protector undoubtedly knows to be brewing, and which might burst out suddenly and sweep him off his present seat and from the greater to which he certainly aspires, for his own reputation and to meet force by force, he decided to have these guns, which undoubtedly were brought there with some secret mystery, hoping to see his way clear in a few days amid the differences of opinion.
Suspicion about the conspiracy augments rather than diminishes and it is undoubted that some important plot is being devised against him, but it is so secret and extensive that it proves difficult to gather the information about it that is so necessary. Accordingly the Protector dissimulates, while remaining on his guard, but he has doubled his body guard and day and night small bodies of troops are being brought to this city, to watch, to prevent and to hold in and. Such close watchfulness may serve to discover the mischief or at least to drive it into concealment, though it is not expected to vanish as time goes on but rather to grow. Meanwhile the Protector devotes his energies to forbidding any kind of gathering in public, and in keeping the troops friendly and well disposed. To this end they are all well treated and punctually paid, and apart from some great division among them that fall which is constantly predicted and which is desired by the majority will always be unlikely.

The naval forces increase daily by the building of new vessels. The officers and men of the fleet have received the satisfaction they wanted and it is said that the squadron which sailed under the command of Gen. Pen may proceed with all speed to the Strait of Gibraltar to support that of Gen. Blach. In this connection I may say that a confident of mine has received a letter from one of Blach's captains saying that they are expecting the reinforcement of Gen. Pen to strengthen them for a cruise along the Barbary coast, and with the intention of taking all the French, Spanish, Barbary and Turkish craft they can get. So the entire object of this naval effort may be directed to dominating the coasts of Barbary, traversing the sea, securing the mastery of the district, taking territory if possible, and undoubtedly having all trade at their mercy. This is the more likely since after so long an interval and all the reports about attacking Spain or France nothing has yet been done. I may say, indeed that the negotiations of M. de Bordeaux have suddenly been resumed with energy. This week he has had more than one prolonged and most secret conference with the commissioners of the Council. But for any real agreement I believe that France will have to shut her eyes and gulp it down. Here they say plainly that they will force France to make peace with the dagger at her throat. They certainly will not rest satisfied with specious proposals, but will claim something substantial to satisfy the claims of the merchants.
News has come that similar claims have been met by the king of Portugal. The peace between that country and England has been signed by the Protector and Council only this week. The Portuguese ambassador extraordinary signed it at the moment of his departure but it has only been ratified now these claims have been settled. So we may hear this peace announced, though it will not please the Catholic ambassador here.
The Genoese ambassador extraordinary is to make his public entry into the city to-day. The barges and coaches of the Protector will meet and conduct him to the state residence. (fn. 11)
Implores financial assistance, as owes five months' rent, and for supplies for that time.
London, the 16th January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 16.
Senato,
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
11. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Blach continues his sojourn in the port of Leghorn, capturing all the French vessels which appear there. He shows no regard whatever to the due considerations of health as they mingle with those who have tainted patents. The day before yesterday under the very fortress he captured a French ship which came from Constantinople with tainted patents. This forced the Magistracy of Health to suspend pratique for the whole squadron while the Grand Duke was annoyed at such behaviour. Nevertheless his Highness has been lavish in feting Blach and in treating him with every show of courtesy and respect.
Florence, the 16th January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 19.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci.
Venetian
Archives.
12. Giovanni Sagredo, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Plans for an attack on the kingdom of Naples. These projects may be thwarted by the ill will of the English, whose fleet under Blach is supposed by the Court to have gone to Naples for the purpose of encountering Guise and destroying that remnant of his squadron which the elements have spared.
Neussesses, to avoid an engagement with the English fleet, has twice taken refuge in the port of Lisbon, under the protection of the king of Portugal. Such is the dread of the English that the letters of marque issued to French merchants against them have been suspended. There is a great outcry both on account of the daily losses which the merchants experience, and also because the government abandons its subjects to the mercy of their enemies, without even permitting them the right of self defence. At a meeting of the merchants they offered to keep 60 good men of war afloat at their own cost to check the piracy of the English, on condition that they should keep all the prizes. The proposal is before the royal Council, which procrastinates and manœuvres to avoid an open rupture, which would embarrass France seriously and be very advantageous to Spain.
Encloses Paulucci's letter.
Paris, the 19th January, 1655.
[Italian.]
Jan. 20.
Senato.
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
13. Giacomo Quirini, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The Ambassador Cardines writes from London that Cromwell's great fleet is all ready to sail. The French Ambassador Bordeaux has been asked to hand over Canada. Upon the evidence of a favourable disposition in the Protector towards this Catholic crown the Spaniards have made arrangements to send thither an ambassador extraordinary, who would be the Marquis de Leide, who is serving at present with the Archduke Leopold.
Madrid, the 20th January, 1655.
[Italian.]
Jan. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
14. To the Ambassador in France.
Letters from Adrianople report the intention of the Grand Turk to send a chiaus to France, England and Holland to obtain ships of war against us. You will make representations to the Dutch ambassador to prevent this and instruct Pauluzzi to do the like in England, especially as we have decided not to delay any longer over the election of an ambassador to England for the better cultivation of our relations with that government and to keep them in a friendly disposition towards the interests of the republic. In our next communication we will tell you on whom the choice has fallen so that you may be able to advise Pauluzzi about it.
That a noble of experience and ability be selected to go as ambassador extraordinary to England.
Ayes, 102. Noes, 4. Neutral, 36.
[Italian.]
Jan. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
15. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Blach is still at Leghorn. As he has given an assurance that only a detachment of six of his ships, which are on the look out for French vessels, was concerned with the goods of Constantinople and that they have not mingled with the others, the Grand Duke has given orders that the Magistracy of Health shall restore pratique to all the rest of his squadron. His Highness is trying to keep Blach friendly and not to offend him, the more so because he seems to be a very touchy and particular old man (un vecchio assai sensitivo et delicato.) His Highness has talked to me about the extreme severity with which he treats the captains of his ships. On his flagship, which is armed with 50 bronze guns, he has more than 400 men. On all the others, which carry a lesser armament, there are about 200 men each. There are three or four others which carry 40 to 50 bronze pieces each. (fn. 12) His Highness said that Blach had offered him half a dozen of these ships if he wished to make use of them.
The Grand Duke is not sure what the general's intentions may be although he explains that he has come to the Mediterranean to clear it of the pirates and facilitate trade, and that he must soon go on the Barbary. His Highness could not ascertain either whether Blach is able to extract money from the Spaniards, as appearances indicate and as rumour asserts. Accordingly there will be the more attention paid to what Cromwell decides to do with his fleet in the Ocean. If he should break with France and make a landing at Calais or some other place near by, where he could support the forces which the Catholic king has in Flanders it would certainly mean a bitter and prolonged war in those parts, with peace for Italy; but if he makes a landing without co-operation with the Spaniards it is not considered that England could inflict any serious blow upon France.
Florence, the 23rd January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives
16. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to Giovanni Sagredo, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 13)
With the near approach of its term parliament is to present to the Protector a summary of the acts passed for the better establishment of the government, and what concerns it most nearly, to wit, the number of troops to be kept for its defence and the quiet of the state and people, as well as the form of oath to be taken by the Protector and Council with regard to the calling of the future parliament. The Protector will have a period of 20 days in which to give his assent, during which parliament will expire. Consequently everything touching the important point of the troops, as well as other things depends solely on his free will, unless, to cajole this parliament he allows some slight extension of the prescribed term. They mean to petition his Highness for this, but have not yet made up their minds. The Protector might easily make some concession to this parliament and take the oath presented to him about calling the next, and then fail to observe the oath after the dissolution, so that the next would not be summoned. Thus in the past after all the oaths not to change the order of things Cromwell did not hesitate to increase his power with the support of the military, which will always be the most stable form of government, and when it suits him he will announce what it is his intention to be.
The Protector and Council have of late been fully occupied in endeavouring to obtain information about the conspiracy. Some 40 persons of varying rank have been arrested on suspicion, some being sent to the Tower and some to other safe places. Examinations take place daily to discover the origin of this trouble, but they find it most difficult to clear it up as they would wish. From the county of Kent, which has always been devoted to the king, six prisoners of consequence have been brought to this city, who were trying to raise the country in conjunction with others here. It is established that some days ago quantities of chests of arms were sold and sent away from this city. It was this chiefly that led to the discovery of the conspiracy because a gunsmith, after selling a quantity, having taken note of the persons, revealed what had happened. (fn. 14) The arrests followed and the guards have been doubled. It has caused the Protector the utmost concern and apprehension. This is his invariable condition, so that the hours usually devoted to repose are troubled and broken by his anxieties. I will relate an incident which occurred recently which must give the Protector something to think about even if it does not increase his fears. One night recently the figure of a tall man appeared to a sentinel. It made as if to advance on him and compelled him to stand at guard while he ordered it more than once to stand. Finding that it took no notice but rather continued to advance, the sentinel fired, but wounded himself instead of the figure, the musket dropped from his hands and he lay half dead. The corps de garde hastened up at the report but found only the sentinel grievously hurt. They tended him and brought him round somewhat, but ultimately, either from fear or some secret cause, he expired. I report this as worthy of consideration.
Nothing certain is heard about the fleet and since the departure of General Pen's fine squadron the talk about its purpose has revealed an extraordinary difference of opinion. They still say it may go to the Barbary coast and draw near to that of General Blach. Others assert it will sail to the Cape of Good Hope and take possession of some important position adapted for the passage of all ships going to or coming from the East Indies. Others that it will go to take some large island in the West Indies, while others again believe that all the efforts will be turned against France. With so much diversity I cannot assert anything, but must wait for time to disclose the truth.
There is no sign of any success for the negotiations of M. de Bordeaux. The English become more and more determined to convince France that she needs a good understanding with England, the more so because as it is constituted at present in its government and might, every prince, both near and far, must seek its friendship and good relations. If internal affairs do not interfere with these extensive ideas the disposition of affairs by land and more particularly by sea, may favour them if not realise their expectations.
The ambassador of Genoa, after his public entry, went on Monday to public audience of the Protector. He was taken in the coaches of his Highness, accompanied by many others, and was received in the great hall of Whitehall palace, where audience is given to all ambassadors. He expressed regard for this republic, referred to the heroic deeds of his Highness and spoke of the intense desire of his masters for good relations and the establishment of trade. The Protector replied briefly and seriously with signs of gratification and friendship. It is understood that the ambassador has asked for commissioners to open his negotiations, which concern trade and possible prejudice for Leghorn.
I await your Excellency's favour about my stay here, and in the hope of release. With the uncertainty ruling here I am reduced to utter extremity. If I am to remain here until the secure establishment of a new government I must die here, for rank humours against a single supreme authority will never be wanting here. I cannot continue to maintain the position with the necessary reputation without support from the state, and all my trust is in your Excellency alone, though I hope the state will not abandon me utterly and will afford me some remuneration for long years of service.
Encloses account of expenses for December last.
London, the 24th January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Jan. 26.
Senato,
Dispacci,
Napoli.
Venetian
Archives.
17. Andrea Rosso, Venetian Resident at Naples, to the Doge and Senate.
While the four English ships are still here taking in their stores, it is heard, with no slight resentment, that their General Blach, with his squadron in the waters of Leghorn is making prizes of all the craft that he comes across, not only French ones but those of the Spaniards as well.
Naples, the 26th January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]
Jan. 30.
Secreta'
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
18. To the Resident at Florence.
you will endeavour to have a conference with General Blach. After complimenting him on his safe arrival in those waters you will go on to say that with his perfect knowledge of the public regard for him personally and the esteem and reverence which the Senate entertains for that warlike and most powerful nation, in testimony whereof they have decided to send a special embassy to that Court, you did not wish to miss rendering him this testimony by word of mouth and to confirm the desire, which you know we cherish, that he may win the greatest glory and success. You will tell him that you cannot say enough in appreciation of his generous intention to keep the seas clear of pirates for the purpose of facilitating and making secure, at the same time, all trade and commerce. If in the course of the conversation you should find out that his plans turn in the direction of an expedition to Barbary, you will make a point of trying to encourage this design, although with the utmost circumspection and caution.
As from his offer of a certain number of his ships to the Grand Duke we conclude that he is superabundantly provided, we desire you to suggest adroitly, as if it came from yourself, that to permit
two or three of these to go and enter the service of the republic in the fleet would not only lay us under a great obligation but would be an action that would win universal applause, since those valorous arms could not be better employed than against the infidel for the defence and support of a prince who for so many centuries has enjoyed the most friendly relations with the crown of England. We need not add any more as we are sure that you will grasp the intention of the Senate. You will report all that happens with your usual punctuality.
Ayes, 101. Noes, 0. Neutral, 0.
[Italian.]
Jan. 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze
Venetian
Archives.
19. Giovanni Ambrosio Sarotti, Venetian Resident at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
General Blach has left Leghorn with all his squadron (fn. 15) after Firenzo. having released two ships that he had detained, one of Messina the other of Marseilles with wine and provisions for the benefit of the place, and after having consented, in return for a present of 10,000 pieces of gold made to him by the merchants interested in a ship come from Constantinople, that all the merchandise in it should be unloaded at the Lazaretto and remain there in deposit until the Protector Cromwell should decide whether it was to be given back. When he left it was rumoured that he intended to take a turn to Provence and then proceed to Tunis to demand satisfaction for injuries from those barbarians and possibly to enter upon a treaty of peace with them as well. But driven back by contrary winds he returned yesterday to the port with all his fleet. His Highness is not too well pleased in secret and for several reasons he would have wished him further off, in spite of the acts of confidence and friendship that were exchanged between them. In talking over what has happened the Grand Duke complained to me that the Genoese are spreading a report that this Blach had made demands of him in the name of Cromwell and that he has come to terms with the general. The Grand Duke assured me that nothing had passed except an exchange of courtesies with offers on Blach's side and presents and refreshments from his Highness.
Florence, the 30th January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian]
Jan. 31.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
20. Lorenzo Paulucci, Venetian Secretary in England, to GIOVANNI SAGREDO, the Ambassador in France. (fn. 16)
with the winding up of the present parliament and the necessity Presenting to the Protector their final deliberations for the establishment of the government they have had serious debates as to whether, before the presentation, the Protector should not Come to them and state his views. But for various reasons and chiefly from a consideration of the Protector's wishes and dignity they decided not to insist on his appearing and to proceed to wind up their business. In a few hours this will be presented for the assent of his Highness, which is required within 20 days, after which all that is not legitimated by his authority will be null, and to become law they will have to wait for the convocation of a new parliament, which will probably be as remote as the dissolution of their one is imminent, because having once experienced the delights of power, the Protector will not willingly subject himself again to the wishes of a number of ill affected and ill intentioned men such as he increasingly fears he will find in a new parliament.
His Highness not having experienced all the harm that threatened him at the opening of this body, has handled it all along with tact and dissimulation rather than by violent measures. By this prudent course he has contrived to get his present authority legitimated by a parliament and given power like a king to deal with all the affairs of this kingdom. In putting aside the ambition for a higher title he showed great finesse and prudence, fore-seeing serious consequences and greater opposition, and being forewarned by the interested affection of his partisans. He knows well enough that after the dissolution of this parliament he will lack nothing of royal authority and whatever else may be required for the realisation of his fixed and secret intentions.
They do not relax their energy in investigating the conspiracy. Some of those examined have been released and others confined on suspicion. Letters have been sent to General Monk, commander in chief in Scotland, to ascertain whether there has been any intercourse with this city by some of his officers. With such orders and by diligent application General Monch has succeeded in discovering that Maj.-Gen. Overton, forgetting the duties of his position, has shown disaffection, and has been trying to induce other soldiers to follow him. He has been suddenly arrested with other officers, put on board a frigate sent for the purpose and brought to London, (fn. 17) where he has been put in the Tower to undergo examination with other accused persons. It is not unlikely that they will make an example of some of them, especially in such an all important matter, intended to confound the present government and upset the apparent quiet at home.
A report is current that owing to the prolonged negotiations and the extravagant demands made here the French minister has unfurled his colours and begun to speak plainly. I hear on good authority that he insists on a definite decision according to the nature of which he will either stay or go. It may be that this way of talking will help the treaty more than a long interval of time if the Protector and government do not prefer an open rupture, as appearances and their conduct at sea indicate. For this reason chiefly, although it is announced that General Pen's squadron has left the kingdom, he is not supposed to be far off but in some place where he can easily return to any position that the Protector may direct.
General Blach's letters show that he is off Leghorn and report the demonstrations of regard and friendship received from the Grand Duke's dominions. Since this news they have been busy here in supplying him with the provisions he requires and for the support of his fleet. A report is current here that some glorious and Christian enterprise in contemplated, but it may be that such rumours cover other aims and designs.
Acknowledges letters enclosing others from the Signory acknowledging his services and recouping him for the cost of the letters sent through Flanders.
London, the 31st January, 1654. [M.V.]
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 12th January.
2 Guise's descent upon Castellamare in November 1654.
3 The Advice was sent to Dieppe, but he had already left. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1654, page 589.
4 The Madlen galley, the Pearl, the Foresight, and the Hope flyboat, Weale's Journal. Brit, Mus, Sloane MSS., 1431.
5 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 19th January.
6 Apparently this happened on 23 December o.s. when Augustine Garland's motion was withdrawn without a division. Gardiner: Commonwealth and Protectorate III, p. 225.
7 Wildman's plot in which Overton had a prominent part. Gardiner: Commonwealth and Protectorate III, pages 226–8.
8 Rear Admiral Dakins sailed from Portsmouth with 15 ships on 20 December o.s. and Perm followed with the rest of the fleet on 25 December o.s. Granville Penn: Memorials of Sir William Penn II, page 56.
9 Fiesco reached Rye on the 3rd and arrived in London on the 8th. Atti della Sociela Ligure di Storia Patria, Vol. XVI, page 203.
10 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 26th January.
11 The house of Sir Abraham Williams, in Palace Yard. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, page 2.
12 Blake flew his flag in the George, 60 guns, 350 men. He had five other ships with 50 or more guns. Corbett: England in the Mediterranean, Vol. 1, page 283.
13 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 2nd February.
14 Presumably John Skinner, gunsmith of Tower Hill, whose examination is recorded. Another gunsmith, Thomas Skinner, was also examined. Thurloe: State Papers III, page 65.
15 Blake sailed from Leghorn on Monday 12/15 January, but owing to bad weather he returned on 18/28 and did not get away again until Jan.30/Feb.9. Weale's Journal. Brit. Mus. Sloane MSS. 1431.
16 Forwarded with Sagredo's despatch of the 9th February.
17 He was brought in the Basing. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, page 420.


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