November 1656

Commons Journal

Thomas Burton's Diary

Acts and Ordinances

Thurloe, State Papers

CSPD Interregnum

Calendar of the Committee for Compounding

CSP, Colonial

CSP, Venice

Cecil Calendar

Venice
November 1656

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1930

Pages

278-285

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'Venice: November 1656', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 278-285. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89825 Date accessed: 01 September 2014.


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November 1656

Nov. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
383. To the Resident in England.
Among the very considerable preparations for war which the Turks are collecting for the coming compaign they have already begun to use violence against the English and Dutch ships to compel them to serve, and at this moment have refused permission to leave to those which are now at the Porte. The Protector Cromwell ought in reason to feel a just resentment at seeing his ships subjected to violence of this sort, compelling them against their will to unite with the Turk to the injury of a Christian prince who is an old and very devoted friend. We direct you, at a special audience, to represent to him, in the name of the state, these iniquitous efforts, and to have a letter written in resolute style to the English ambassador there, to offer a vigorous opposition and not allow that strong and valorous nation, which has succeeded so many times in bridling and destroying the corsairs, to suffer violence now from the tyranny of the Turks, or to permit his arms to be now turned by main force against the Christian religion for which he has always fought so gloriously. You will leave a memorial with him so that your office may be the more permanent. You will take the opportunity of this office to intimate to him how advantageous a union and reciprocal understanding between ministers would be in the country of a common enemy. You will perform a similar office with the Dutch ambassador.
Owing to the urgency of the matter we are sending these by way of Flanders, that they may arrive quicker.
Ayes, 86. Noes, 1. Neutral, 14.
[Italian.]
Nov. 4.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
384. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
An envoy of the Moldavian has passed through Volboria, where the queen of Poland is, on his way to King Casimir. Among other things he stated that Cromwell is offering help to the Grand Turk. My informant is quite certain that he said this, but he was not able to find out whether it would be by sea against your Excellencies, or whether, as is more probable, he will stir up the French to break with this part. I have tried to find out if the imperial resident has any light to throw; he is very penetrating, but I find that he writes nothing.
Vienna, the 4th November, 1656.
[Italian.]
Nov. 7.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
385. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The duke of Jorch has arrived in Flanders. Desiring to enlarge the forces of the king, his brother, with Irish troops, whom he esteems to be braver and more loyal than any others, he has written to some of the leaders of the Irish who serve this crown and in set terms exhorts them to abandon the service of France and take that of the king, his brother, who is their lawful prince. The letters have come to the notice of the king, who expressed great indignation against the duke and his Majesty has even made formal complaint to the queen of England.
Paris, the 7th November, 1656.
[Italian.]
Nov. 10.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
386. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
A troublesome fever with great pain has kept me to my bed and obliged me to omit one ordinary, which I hope will be excused. Now I am somewhat better I report the little which has been brought by friends visiting me, though of slight value.
Parliament has not yet come to any decision about raising money for the Spanish war. The subject is too delicate and the only one likely to cause those complications which the government desires to avoid as much as possible. Yet they work hard every day as the subject occupies the minds of the parliamentarians more than anything else; but a decision is unduly prolonged owing to the consequences. Decidedly parliament cannot end without imposing some tax, though it is said they will wait to the last to do so. Mean time they propose to raise 300,000l. for the payment of 20,000 sailors on the fleet, who are pressing for satisfaction, to confiscate some property of Catholics and others who bore arms for the king from whom they mean to extract an even larger sum, and in this way they would be able to satisfy the leaders and troops of the fleet. They propose to meet the cost of the new one being built with the gold recently taken from the Spaniards. This has already reached England and to bring it to London a number of carts have been sent to Portsmouth, where the Spanish galleon has cast anchor together with four English frigates, which separated from the fleet to escort the prize. One of these, with bullion, separated from the convoy, owing to a contrary wind, and did not succeed in rejoining them.
General Montagu has come with the above in the ship Nesbi having left his colleague Blake in command of the rest of the fleet off Cadiz. He came in charge of the booty and it is thought that he will soon return to the Strait with other ships and munitions, to lie in wait for the new fleet of the Catholic which is reported to be leaving the Indies soon. As it has no escort and none can be sent, owing to the blockade maintained by the English, who to this end have orders to guard all the necessary points, they entertain great hopes of meeting and capturing it, with all the treasure, which undoubtedly would be far greater than what was captured recently and would come in admirably for the prosecution of the war and for making attacks of every kind on the dominions of the Catholic at his own expense.
To wage the war everywhere and to weaken the Spanish monarchy as much as possible, in addition to their plans against the Indies, whither they recently sent a strong squadron furnished with picked troops and abundant supplies, and their attacks on the whole coast of Spain, they seem to contemplate sending to Flanders a force sufficient for some considerable enterprise. To this end patents have been issued for raising 16,000 soldiers in the three kingdoms, a corps strong enough for any design, and which could be used elsewhere if the Flanders plan does not turn out as expected owing to the obstacles in the way.
The prisoners, numbering 300, have also arrived in England and are momentarily expected in this city. A large house near Vitteal has been prepared for those of rank, and for the rest a larger building outside the city which formerly served as a college and university.
According to the custom of London Alderman Tichborne was recently elected mayor for the coming year, and having received his Highness's confirmation he made his entry on Wednesday with much greater pomp and magnificence than any of his predecessors. Yesterday, in obedience to the orders of parliament a solemn fast was observed in this city and throughout the three kingdoms, for the reasons reported. After a short illness the Protector's sister, who married General Desbero, one of the Council, paid the debt of nature. (fn. 1) On Monday, at two o'clock at night, she was carried with great pomp to Westminster and buried in one of the tombs which in other days were reserved for royal bodies only.
At Bruges and its neighbourhood the king of Scotland continues to raise troops and has succeeded in getting some together. He still cherishes the plan of making some attempt this side the water in the coming winter but the blow inflicted by the English on the Spaniards will do much to upset this plan, as the Catholic being short of money, King Charles will have to go without and consequently that affair will constitute a considerable hindrance to their designs, from which the partisans of the royal cause hoped for rare and refreshing fruit.
From your Serenity's missives of the 13th September I note that you are waiting for a response from his Highness to the news of the great victory won by the republic over the Ottoman forces. It will all have reached your Excellencies in time together with my own celebrations. On bonfires, music and a Te Deum in the chapel I spent 40l., being somewhat lavish on account of the distinguished Court to which I am credited, to the large number of foreign ministers here and what has been done by others on like occasions. I hope the state will not allow this extraordinary burden to fall on my weak shoulders, which are over-burdened by the cost of maintaining the dignity of the state at so expensive a Court.
London, the 10th November, 1656.
[Italian.]
Nov. 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Spagna.
Venetian
Archives.
387. Domenico Zane, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The arming of the few ships which are being prepared in Cadiz to encounter those of the English, proceeds with so much deliberation that they certainly cannot be ready before six months, unless they make more haste than at present. Nevertheless they do not forget to collect money in every possible way.
Madrid, the 15th November, 1656.
[Italian.]
Nov. 17.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
388. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
When everyone was expecting parliament to decide something definite about the important question of the means for prosecuting the war with the Spaniards vigorously, after discussing it so long, they finally decided to put it aside and keep it for some better opportunity. To meet the pay due to the sailors of the fleet they have decreed the confiscations I indicated last week. From these they expect to raise enough to meet these requirements and considerably more. But those who know the devices practised by those who have property, for which they live in constant apprehension of the state's demands, feel sure that the harvest will not be so large as they wish and imagine. Catholics and the majority of persons similarly menaced have consigned their property to persons who are not suspect and who favour the present rule, or at least the greater part of it, contracts of sale being made by a secret understanding, whereby the property is preserved from malign influence not only for the rightful owners but for their heirs also, whom also they wish to despoil merely as being suspected of professing the true faith and of favouring the cause of their natural prince. The government will never discover this clever reservation, or only with great difficulty, as it has been done with extreme secrecy and if found out those who have made such arrangements with the disaffected, besides losing the advantage of the same, which is considerable, would be subject to the exemplary punishment with which those are menaced who protect Catholics or those whom they call rebels for having faithfully served their king and having preserved their loyalty.
Having shirked this question parliament has taken up another of importance, namely the succession, which they wish to make hereditary in the house of his Highness. The members incline to this decision from their wish to raise Cromwell's family to the most conspicuous honour by this sovereign honour, and to avoid the very heavy charge upon the state if this great office were to be conferred by election, as an immense sum of money would be required for any new protector chosen to enable him to support the lustre of his station, and as fortune has shone upon this house they think it better to continue it, and permit it to end as the Almightly may decide.
His Highness resists the proposals on this question introduced in parliament adducing many arguments and pretexts which merely serve as a compliment as everyone naturally desires his own advancement and that of his posterity; and though Cromwell pretends the contrary he would not disdain the permanence of this great dignity in his family. It is said he acts thus in order that he may be pressed, as happened when he assumed his present dignity, from which no one can depose him. He knows only too well how to govern this fiery courser, guiding it straight so that it shall not throw him, to his utter destruction.
The Spanish prisoners have reached this city and are found to be considerably fewer than was announced, numbering only 25 or 30 instead of 300. They consist only of persons of rank and those for whom large ransoms may be expected. The others, the sailors and soldiers, were released by the commanders in Portugal as they thought this the best way to avoid the expense of their keep, and they knew they would never be redeemed. But the Protector has expressed some dissatisfaction at this having been done without his orders, and because he wished to see them all in this city, as shown by his having quarters prepared for them. The marquis and the others of high rank have been well treated and have already spoken with his Highness, to whom they are disclosing the plans cherished by the Spaniards and the places most easy to secure in the Indies.
The money also is not so plentiful as originally announced. It has all arrived in London and they are now preparing to weigh it. The whole will not amount to more than 6 to 700,000l. sterling, besides some caskets of jewels of no small value. Many more which are described in the bills of lading and have not been found are supposed to have been stolen by the sailors and converted to their own use. It is known that many have secured considerable booty on this occasion and enriched themselves extraordinarily. But although the prize for the English is not so important as was supposed, none the less the loss to the Spaniards has been most considerable; as besides the captured galleon another, far richer in gold, was swallowed by the waves, the total loss amounting to 10 millions of pieces of eight, a notable blow indeed, which upsets all the plans of the Catholic and saps the strength of all his forces.
General Montagu will not be sent back until the spring. Meanwhile they are sending Blake strong reinforcements with orders to keep on the watch and at least to prevent the second fleet of the Catholic from entering Spain, if they are unable to capture it. Here they live in hopes of making another fine coup, and they certainly leave nothing undone to cause the result to correspond with their wishes.
At last, when no longer expected, the envoy of his Highness, who has been staying so long in Portugal, has reached this city. The reason for his long stay there was nothing but the need to recover from the pistol wound in his hand. He declares the king there to have the most friendly disposition to this state, and that he has made every effort to discover those guilty of the bold attempt on the life of the minister of so great a potentate.
One Fiscier, who formerly bore arms for this government and now exercises the profession of poet, has written some Latin verses to express his delight at the recent victory of the most serene republic over the Turk. (fn. 2) He came to present them to me the other day, pressing me to forward them to your Serenity, as I am doing. I did not forget to thank him and assure him of the state's appreciation. I am told that he expected some reward for his labours, as is usual in such cases, but I am not able to do anthing without precise orders from your Excellencies.
London, the 17th November, 1656.
[Italian.]
Nov. 24.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
389. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
All the deliberations of parliament take place with the utmost reserve and secrecy and it is supposed that only at the end will they make public all the acts passed during their numerous sittings. It is conjectured that they contine to labour at affairs of consideration, but it is extremely difficult to discover what decisions they arrive at. For me it is impossible as I am unable to leave my bed because of the constant fever. I am obliged to ask the indulgence of the Senate and report only what is communicated by the friends who visit me.
By a special deputation of its members parliament intimated to the Protector its desire to render that high office hereditary in his family. Cromwell asked them to convey his thanks to the assembly, but to decline the honour, and in an eloquent speech he set forth the reasons which impel him to refuse. Every one interprets this as affectation for the reasons given last week. But it may be that he really means it, as in his innermost self he knows that none of his sons after his death would be capable of directing this great machine and of superintending all that is necessary in a way that would not create disorder. So if his excuses are not mere hypocrisy, as is much to be feared, he may prefer men to feel anxiety about the succession, rather than have one of his sons cause it, arousing universal detestation and bringing about their own ruin, which is inevitable if the administration of this great machine should fall into their hands, and if their backs, none too strong and capable, should be called upon to bear so heavy a burden. So we must wait to see what parliament will decide. Divers and ambiguous speeches are made in it upon this question, but nothing certain can be reported. Time will disclose what their decision will be.
Parliament proposes to incorporate the kingdom of Scotland with this, forming a single republic. They are devoting their meetings to this question and we expect soon to hear their decision.
The minister of Sweden has completed the purchase of 500 barrels of gunpowder for his master, for which he had permission, and has recently had it laded on a ship which has sailed for the Baltic.
An Irish priest has been arrested latterly, accused by two Catholic women who have sworn in court that they heard him celebrate mass in the house of the Venetian Ambassador. This is enough to condemn him to the extreme penalty and sentence is expected in a few days; so this poor innocent will be butchered and cast to the flames merely for being a good Christian and true servant of God. Catholic relations and friends have made the greatest efforts to save him, offering money to the women not to give evidence, but it has availed nothing to divert their perverse obstinacy, being determined on the destruction of the poor man.
The nobility and merchants in this country who are still well disposed of King Charles, in spite of the ills to which they are subject for that alone, are sending to Bruges to offer their excuses on the impossibility of rendering his Majesty the service they would desire because of the activity of the Protector in finding out those who interest themselves for the royal side. A gentleman has already left these shores to perform this task in the name of the nobility, travelling by way of France for greater safety. In a few weeks the deputy of the merchants will undertake the journey. He is to beg the king to excuse them if they are no longer able to supply him with money, as they have done hitherto, to no inconsiderable amount. The loss of this assistance will be no slight annoyance for his Majesty as although not large it was very useful to him.
London, the 24th November, 1656.
[Italian.]
Nov. 28.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
390. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
When Cromwell's envoy was supposed to be on the point of leaving for London he announces his permanence at the Court. The reason for this change is not known as all his negotiations are conducted with the utmost secrecy.
Paris, the 28th November, 1656.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 The Dict. Nat. Biog., quoting Cal. S.P. Dom., 1656–7, page 489, says that she was alive in December, but the passage quoted does not justify this statement.
2 Payne Fisher, who acted as a sort of poet laureate for Cromwell. The effusion in question was entitled: “Epicenion in Victoriam navalem Venetum contra Turcos.” Ant. a Wood: Athenae Oxonienses iv., 379.