Venice
August 1656

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1930

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247-255

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'Venice: August 1656', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 247-255. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89822 Date accessed: 25 July 2014.


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August 1656

Aug. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
349. To the Resident in England.
Enclose particulars of a notable victory won by the fleet over the Turks in the Dardanelles. As a sign of respect the Senate has decided to inform the Protector of this by a letter, which is enclosed, to be delivered with a complimentary office.
Ayes, 144. Noes, 1. Neutral, 6.
[Italian.]
Aug. 3.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
350. To the Protector of England, Cromwell (fn. 1)
It is due to the well known zeal of your Highness for the good of Christendom and to the friendliness which you feel towards our republic that we should inform you of the notable victory gained by our arms against the Turkish fleet, which was completely shattered. (fn. 2) Our Resident will give you all the particulars of this great affair, which brings into ever greater relief the protection and aid of the Almighty for our cause. From the account itself your Highness will understand perfectly how entirely favourable the moment is for pushing forward with victorious forces and for a union of Christian Princes to beat down the common enemy and to secure Christendom from peril for ever. We feel sure that your magnanimous spirit will always co-operate with the utmost readiness spurred on by the motives of glory and the public weal, and we pray Heaven results may correspond. We wish your Highness a long life and every possible satisfaction.
Ayes, 144. Noes, 1. Neutral, 6.
[Italian.]
Aug. 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
351. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Protector sent orders to General Blake to send off to England under a good escort the six Dutch ships detained by him off Cadiz. Blake did not lose a moment in obeying and with a favouring wind the ships and their convoy arrived recently in the Downs. They have begun to unlade them, conveying the plate and goods to the Tower, where they will be converted to the needs of the state, the payment of the troops etc. Everyone is apprehensive that this incident may cause trouble between England and Holland, but apparently they may reassure themselves that no harm will result since the States are aware that the whole cargo did actually belong to Spaniards and that the plate was intended for Flanders and Brabant which seems beyond doubt, and so they will make no move. It is also known that the ambassador had audience of his Highness this week and spoke of another capture made by the English of four ships of his nation, the restitution of which was ordered, but he said nothing about these six. In the mean time there are some in Holland who murmur and urge the States to revenge. But the latter know they are helpless, their fleet being committed to the Baltic, and it is not in their interest to undertake an open war with England in addition to one with Sweden in which they seem involved through their determination to help Danzig, blockaded and invested by that monarch, as your Excellencies will have heard.
Writs having been issued to all the provinces for the elections for the parliament to meet in September, some have raised objections to execute them on the ground that if those elected are not entirely to the Protector's taste he will have others chosen; and even if he is satisfied and proposals contrary to his wishes are made after they meet, he will dissolve the assembly, as has happened before, and send them all home. So they say they will have nothing to do with this election and will nominate no one. But they will be obliged to give way in the end, for if the example of other provinces does not suffice, force will be applied and the ringleaders punished.
A large ship laden with munitions and provisions of every kind was lately sent to the fleet, but it was attacked by corsairs, subjects of the Catholic, and after a long resistance, was obliged to surrender. Two other smaller ones, also with provisions, were taken by Biscay pirates. When the commander of the English fleet heard of the coming of these supplies, he detached a squadron of five ships to go and meet these three vessels and convoy them safely. They went but arrived too late for they found the ships in the hands of the enemy. They pursued the pirates and after a prolonged action, finding it impossible to recapture the prizes, they succeeded in setting fire to the enemy's vessels, which blew up, as well as their prizes, so they did not long enjoy their initial good fortune. (fn. 3)
On Saturday an extraordinary courier reached the Ambassador Bordeos from the French Court, and on Monday he had two secret conferences with the Protector. With his interpreter he conferred for several hours with his Highness, who did not have his councillors, secretary or master of the ceremonies, as is usual at an audience. It is therefore impossible to know definitely what they discussed. One may conjecture that it consisted merely of requests for assistance, as reviews of infantry and cavalry are held every day and it is supposed that they intend to send some of them across the water to help the Most Christian. I am also assured that 15 ships have been despatched from this state to blockade the port of Dunkirk, that this happened on Tuesday evening and news arrived yesterday that the place was practically blockaded. It is also said that 15 more ships are practically fully equipped and ready to sail with the first favourable wind to join the others, to tighten the blockade and attempt something there if possible. It is further stated that these last have taken on board some troops of horse, who are to land on the other side for some operation. This much is certain that new soldiers are being collected to fill up the companies from which those to cross the sea have been taken. It seems likely that all these measures are merely to provide a diversion since it is impossible to capture a place of such strength with the ease that they imagine, unless the capture is preceded by others, especially as the Spaniards will not neglect to put it in a state to offer unflinching resistance nor will the Flemings fail to render every possible assistance, seeing that the fortune of war has veered in their favour.
The business of the ambassador of Sweden having been completed, ratified and confirmed he will soon be having audience to take leave, when they say he will receive treatment different from every other minister. It has not been possible yet to discover anything about the subject of his negotiations beyond what I have already reported.
London, the 4th August, 1656.
[Italian.]
Aug. 11.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
352. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I will fulfil your Serenity's commands in the letter which reached me last week with respect to the ship Gran Prencipe. Their fleet still remains divided into squadrons with others to scour the coasts of Spain, without any sort of attack and without attempting those designs of which they talked so resolutely at the outset for injuring the states of the Catholic. Ten ships have recently been equipped in England and lie at anchor waiting orders to put to sea and sail where they are directed. I am told on good authority that they will not be sent to join the fleet, as it is stated that 25 to 30 ships are sufficient for defence and for any enterprises in those parts. Some say they will be sent to Dunkirk to join the 15 already stationed off that port. Others say they will be sent to the Baltic to help Sweden and confront the Dutch, who have 42 ships of war in sight of Danzig to protect that town against the Swedish forces. A few days will show which of these reports is true.
Meanwhile they never cease to circulate rumours, all perfectly baseless, that the fleet has made prizes, burned others and done great things, all inventions to make it seem that it has not been idle and slothful after so long an absence from port, losing time, to lull the people with fair words so that they may be willing to pay their taxes, continue obedient to the present rule, which is more feared than loved, and so add fuel to the fire which at present smoulders under the ashes, in favour of the king of Scotland, to judge by appearances and which wants a favourable opportunity to burst into flame and burn with great fury. It is also stated that the remaining ships in Spanish waters will stay there all the winter, to inflict the utmost possible injury on the Catholic. They manifest a determination here to wage a long and ruthless war; but if it continues as it has gone so far it will not do great injury to the Spaniards but will hurt the English more. Since its outbreak they have lost all these ships to the Dunkirkers, suffered greatly not only in the ships themselves which compose the fleet but in men, who have perished in great numbers from hardship and the change of climate which has not agreed with their constitution and experienced other disasters of no smalt consequence.
The announcement that the fleet will not return even in the depth of winter is based on the idea that they have the ports of Portugal, now the treaty has been made between the two countries, where the fleet may shelter in safety from storms and the cold. But many are of opinion that they will bring it back in small squadrons, without noise, and that they will not keep it out so long with the certitude of gaining no advantage and the danger of a portion suffering disaster and an expense which amounts to a considerable sum in gold.
To show their determination to prosecute the war and that they have no idea of peace they circulate reports of the firm intention to make an attack on the Indies, happen what may, in the hope of enjoying better fortune than in the past and whining victories of consequence; they express the wish to make an attempt on Cartagena. For this a squadron laden with provisions of every kind, on which a considerable force of troops will be embarked, is lying at anchor ready to sail for the Indies at a moment's notice, to carry out the instructions given it, so far as possible. But the long time required for the voyage and the late season and approaching cold, do not leave room for much hope or promise the conquests they desire and which are necessary for the greater glory and reputation of the present government.
A cash remittance has come from France for making up the levies promised by the Protector to the Ambassador Bordeos of some Irish regiments, delayed solely by lack of money. They will issue patents at once and begin to collect the troops; but they will no longer be in time for service in the present campaign.
The Dutch ambassador has not yet terminated his negotiations about naval matters, in spite of his efforts to reach a conclusion. This is due to the tiresome slowness with which all affairs move at this Court, including matters of importance. When he has arranged the treaty they say he will return home, for which he asks permission from the States, being called by his private affairs, which require his personal attention after his long absence.
The ambassador of Sweden took his final leave of the Protector these last days. He was received by the Protector in the great hall of Whitehall, entertained to a sumptuous banquet at the royal palace of Hampton Court, being treated with the utmost respect. He presented to his Highness the secretary of embassy Barchman, who is to remain as commissioner for the crown of Sweden, who also was received in the most friendly manner. As a further mark of esteem his Highness dubbed the ambassador knight gave him a rich sword and ordered chains of gold and other material to be made for his Excellency and some of his suite. The treaties arranged between that crown and England are kept as secret as everything else at this Court. It is impossible for any one to find out about them. From appearances one would conclude that they have arranged a very close alliance, and being united in religion and interest they wish to stand together on all occasions and only do that which will please the other. With the utmost pains I have succeeded in learning on good authority that the alliance is of the greatest consequence; each is obliged to take the other's part and not desert the other whatever befalls; and the Protector is soon to send an ambassador to the Swede to tighten the bonds of friendship. I have heard further particulars from one in a position to know, but I cannot vouch for their accuracy. I merely report them as a matter of duty. It is that the Protector contemplates sending from here to the Princes of Italy Sir [Oliver] Fleming, with the title of gentleman envoy, with instructions to settle finally with the most serene republic. If they decide on this step Fleming will certainly be the one sent as no one has more experience of that province. But nothing definite can be stated as even if the decision were taken it would be liable to alteration like all the decisions of this government. I will keep on the watch and report all that I learn.
London, the 11th August, 1656.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 12.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
353. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The ratification of the treaty with the king of England has arrived in Flanders from Spain; but as the opportune provisions, more particularly of money, have not come by the same, they are void through lack of material, and they do not follow up the advantage which the victory of Valenciennes offered.
Vienna, the 12th August, 1656.
[Italian.]
Aug. 18.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
354. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
With the time for parliament drawing near the Court is just now in a constant stir, toiling and arranging all the things which pertain to and which it considers necessary for that body. Some provinces have already nominated their deputies to take part. Although they seem well affected to the present government and unlikely to cherish intentions prejudicial to the state that might disturb the quiet enjoyed by its ruler, yet they are asked to give an assurance that they will undertake nothing to the hurt of the present state of affairs. They even want security from old members that they will do nothing against the new; that they will not attempt to pervert them by argument or other means, and will not urge them to revolt by passing on to them the things which are talked about and which are devoid of any foundation. Some express willingness to guarantee their goodwill, but it may easily happen that they do not keep their word. Others behave more openly and refuse to cloak their designs by dissimulation. They object and declare that they will not fetter their own judgment to the detriment of the right and authority which they have when assembled in a body. They announce that they will make such proposals as they consider best adapted for the general quiet and best calculated for the good of the people, who live in such straits and find themselves borne down by the heavy burdens placed on their shoulders.
Some libels have appeared this week posted up in the most prominent places of this city. It will be impossible to discover the authors owing to the secrecy with which affairs of this kind are conducted, requiring, as they do, great caution and the utmost circumspection. In these they suggest to the people those who would be suitable for parliament, giving their names. All of them are bitter enemies of the present government. They also suggest the way in which they shall conduct themselves and what proposals should be brought forward when the assembly meets. They are earnestly asked not to hold back from what zeal inspires them to do for the public good, with the sole desire to establish universal agreement and a perpetual peace.
All these things tend to disturb and agitate the mind of Cromwell, and everything goes to indicate that at the opening of parliament we shall hear of disturbances which will cause considerable embarrassment and trouble. But any monster that the parliamentarians wish to bring to the light will be choked at birth by him who holds all authority and power in his hands, and this can be achieved with no great difficulty by dissolving the assembly and sending them all home.
The Court is also toiling over the decision to push the affair of the Indies with greater energy and resources, instead of slackening. A committee or magistracy has been set up for this of those who know most of those parts. They will formulate and develop the plans, which seem likely to be more easily carried into effect; their desire to achieve great things shows no weakening indeed they seem more bent on war than ever. Yet the impression is general that parliament is certain to desire peace with Spain, to please the people who sigh and await it with open arms, because of the hardship and loss that the war entails. This point also will be of great consequence and may easily lead to dissension and trouble.
The squadron of seven ships laden with supplies which was ready to sail for the Indies, put to sea these last days with a wind favourable for that destination. With this not inconsiderable reinforcement added to the ships sent before and the men from neighbouring colonies who are said to be constantly arriving at Jamaica they expect to be in a position to make some attempt there and to confront the full Spanish power.
The ships returned from the fleet remain in the port of Dover awaiting orders to go and join the other English squadron blockading Dunkirk to stop the pirates there from coming out, who have inflicted such considerable injury on this mart. It is reported that a squadron of the fleet has passed through the Strait towards Tunis and Tripoli to procure the release of the English slaves in the hands of those barbarians. It is expected that the rest of the fleet will be recalled despite the announcement that it is to remain out all the winter, as though the Portuguese ports would always afford a shelter from storms and severe weather it is not to the advantage of the state to keep so heavy a burden on its arms when it is certain not to derive any advantage therefrom.
London, the 18th August, 1656.
[Italian.]
Aug. 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
355. Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
They are now saying openly in Madrid that Blake is no longer the enemy of Spain, having been won over in the same way in which they disposed of Prince Tomaso last year, and really the languid proceedings this year of that force which was dreaded as so formidable make this talk seem true and not absurd, and it passes current as beyond question with everyone.
Madrid, the 23rd August, 1656.
[Italian.]
Aug. 25.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
356. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Protector and his Council are fully occupied designing the instructions which he intends to prescribe to the coming parliament. The people long for it with passion as something they have asked for, but the ruler has only granted it from the confidence he feels that they will consent the more willingly to the payments that he requires of them, while want is constantly increasing and becomes more harassing. But even on this head some trouble might easily arise sufficient to disturb the ruler, as already one hears men say that the people will not stand by laws passed by parliament in the matter of taxes and they will not pay a farthing unless parliament by the authority it possesses relieves them of various burdens and especially that of 60,000l. which they have to pay monthly by order of his Highness.
These statements do not come direct from the mouths of the people and do not actually represent their intentions, but are published by persons ill affected to the government to instil them into the minds of the people, with other powerful considerations, to stir them to some virile resolution likely to cause trouble and disturbance, which the partisans of King Charles secretly endeavour to excite. Not a few of these are living in London, incognito and disguised, and conduct their affairs by night, when darkness favours their personal safety, for if discovered they would doubtless pay the extreme penalty, which is decreed against those who venture to plot against the present autocrat of the three kingdoms. As a matter of fact everyone says quite openly, as if the wish were father to the thought, that the opening of parliament will unquestionably lead to considerable changes and no little disorder. Appearances indicate that this may not be far wrong and the very parliamentarians utter sentiments which cannot be entirely reconciled with the maintenance of the present government, and are not calculated to consolidate and establish control in the person of Cromwell. But so long as he keeps the troops at his side, whom they pay, although irregularly from lack of funds, he will never fear any thunders from parliament, as the troops can always protect him from danger and ruin. To have them in a good humour at the time of crisis and to be able to count on better service then than would be rendered at present, the Protector is holding up their pay to be issued later at the opening of parliament, so that the new money in the hands of the soldiers may drive evil impressions from their minds and ensure their willing service in defence of his Highness, in which he would co-operate personally in case of need.
Besides the elected members of parliament the communities are constantly nominating others, although some still object. Thus when the Protector sent for the chief men of the parish of Westminster and told them the persons whom he wished to have nominated, they told him that they would exercise their privilege by selecting the persons who were considered best fitted by capacity and experience and they had no intention of binding themselves by promises as God Almighty had left them their freewill. This goes to show that the feeling for the Protector is not entirely good. Next week the elections take place of the representatives of the counties, who are summoned as knights. As this will all take place on a single day, in accordance with the writs issued by the government, it may easily give rise to a universal commotion among the people. But the presence of the troops, who are ordered to guard the sessions, will prevent any disorder and check any results from the evil intentions of those who wish to fire the mine which they are secretly preparing against this state.
At this Court one cannot consider any treaty concluded even when signed and ratified because they are always finding something which they think it necessary to alter. Thus the ambassador of Sweden has been thrice to audience of the Protector since his leave taking, and while he was making his preparations for the journey home. The motive for these extraordinary audiences is attributed to the desire of his Highness to alter some of the articles in order to tighten the bonds of confidence and union. But it is impossible to assert anything positively since the whole has passed under four eyes only, so it is impossible to find out, especially at a Court where all transactions are kept under the strictest secrecy and reserve.
Much remark is caused by the long delay of the Latin secretary in returning to England, who was sent for the ratification of the peace with Portugal. It is attributed to the pistol wound in his arm, but some weeks ago it was known that his health was much improved and that he was fit to travel. So the absence of news from him makes his master anxious lest some fresh accident has occurred. Fortune seems unfriendly to the ministers of this state, since in Spain and in Holland two have already been murdered. It is feared that having escaped peril by land he may have succumbed to a storm at sea. This delay also causes the postponement of the announcement here of the treaty with Portugal, although many are of opinion that it will not take place seeing that it is only a ratification of what has already been agreed and published.
The Dutch ambassador does not relax his efforts to put the finishing touches to his negotiations on naval matters. The chief difficulty is over a small point, but it delays a conclusion and prevents the ambassador going home to attend to his private affairs, as he wishes.
Since the blockade of the port of Dunkirk by English vessels it looks as if those pirates no longer gain those successes against merchantmen bringing supplies for this city, as they did before, as for the most part they are prevented from coming out. If by chance they succeed in getting out with the tide it is not easy for them to get back with any booty they have made without encountering another squadron of well armed feluccas, which cruise about for the purpose, near spots where danger is most evident and where it is easiest for the Dunkirkers to operate. The port of Ostend also is blockaded by ships of this nation, so on every side the way is closed against these corsairs from getting further booty intended for this mart, which has certainly suffered considerably.
Merchants here announce a striking victory gained by the arms of the most serene republic against the Ottoman at the Dardanelles. The news comes via Marseilles, brought by a ship that put in there, which reported having it from the galleys of Malta, who returned in triumph from the fight trailing after them various spoils of the hostile fleet, in memory of the event. They speak of the utter destruction of the Turks and other circumstances of the greatest consequence. May God protect the just cause so stoutly defended by our republic against the power of the infidels, and send confirmation of what all good Christians must desire.
London, the 25th August, 1656.
[Italian: the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 26.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
357. To the Ambassador in Spain.
Witn regard to visiting the duke of York, brother of the king of England it will behove you to follow the example of the emperor's ambassador.
Ayes, 125. Noes, 0. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
Aug. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
358. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
Cromwell's envoy and the resident of Brandenburg have recently had long conferences with the Cardinal. The particulars are not known, but it all tends to the alliance indicated and everything is being prepared for a new and most intense war in the empire.
Compiègne, the 28th August, 1656.
Italian.]

Footnotes

1 The Italian text printed by Barozzi e Berchet: Relazioni. Inghilterra, page 407.
2 On 16 June at the Dardanelles.
3 The Cullen, Capt. Thomas Gilbert, taken on 18–28 May, four leagues from Lisbon by the Jesus Marie and Joseph of Ostend. On 12–22 June, Blake sent out the Fairfax and six frigates under Capt. Edward Blagge to recover the Cullen. They found it at Vigo with its captors. The pirates burned their own ships and escaped ashore, 25 June o.s. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655–6, page 557. Thurloe: State Papers, Vol. v., page 134. Mercurius Politicus, July 17–24; July 31–Aug. 7.