Venice
December 1656

Sponsor

Institute of Historical Research

Publication

Author

Allen B. Hinds (editor)

Year published

1930

Pages

285-298

Annotate

Comment on this article
Double click anywhere on the text to add an annotation in-line

Citation Show another format:

'Venice: December 1656', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 30: 1655-1656 (1930), pp. 285-298. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89826 Date accessed: 31 July 2014.


Highlight

(Min 3 characters)

December 1656

Dec. 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci.
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
391. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The letters of Flanders of last week, delayed 3 days by contrary winds, bring me the Senate's instructions to speak to the Protector at a special audience and to the Dutch ambassador about the claim of the Turks to compel English and Dutch ships in their ports to serve against your Serenity, and to obtain resolute orders to prevent such an injury to Christendom. Although after a month of continual fever, which only left me two days ago, I am very weak, yet considering the importance of the matter I did not lose a moment in asking the secretary of state to obtain audience for me. From the expectations held out I felt practically certain of having it to-day, but this morning Sir [Oliver] Fleming sent me word that his Highness is in bed with a cold, but as soon as he is better he will receive me to carry out my instructions. This is the excuse that usually serves when business is pressing and they either cannot or will not give audience as soon as desired. I will exert myself to get results as soon as possible. I am sure that the Protector will promise to send to the English ministers in the Turkish dominions to resist the violence of the Ottoman against their ships, and I will urge the secretary to obey the orders given him with the utmost speed so that the despatch may not suffer from the tiresome sluggishness which is habitual at this Court.
Although unable to see the Protector I have been to perform the office with the Dutch ambassador. I went yesterday after dinner and spoke in accordance with my instructions, asking him to urge the States to send orders to prevent the ships being used, pointing out the injury done to Christendom should the Turks carry out their desires, while it would be contrary to the honour of his country to take up arms against the Christian religion, especially as your Serenity's fleet is largely composed of Dutch vessels. The Dutch ambassador was greatly impressed and promised to write to-day to his masters, as I feel sure he will from the zeal he displayed. I left a memorial with him to give my office greater force.
I took this opportunity to encourage the good disposition of the States to send a considerable squadron into the Mediterranean to secure it against the piracies of the Barbareschi. I remarked to the ambassador on the benefit which would result to all nations and the glory that the States in particular would win by extirpating this pernicious race, with other reasons to recommend the expedition to them. He told me that the States were always anxious to help their friends and to that end they had arranged to send this squadron to the Mediterranean to bridle the corsairs and squeeze them if possible. He assured me that if this squadron had not already sailed from Holland it was only waiting for a favourable wind.
The more parliament seems inclined to render power hereditary in the family of his Highness, the more the Protector hangs back, so much so that when the day before yesterday was fixed by the assembly to discuss the question and decide it, Cromwell sent to ask them to do nothing, giving the reasons which I have reported. Accordingly the members gave way but appointed another day next week, when it is said they will undoubtedly perform the act after it has been anxiously awaited by all such a long time. Yet Cromwell seems very far from desiring this conspicuous honour continued in his posterity and as he has proved it by so many refusals many are of opinion that the parliamentarians will at last grow weary, change their minds and do nothing for his Highness in the matter. But such talk comes from ill affected persons whose prejudices colour their conversation. Those who see deeper into things still believe that not only will the Protector receive the succession but that he will soon bear a higher title, and that his coronation may follow. With the knowledge that the parliamentarians are entirely disposed to satisfy him by raising him to the highest degree of honour to render him more august and terrible, and the universal impression that all his excuses are a sham, his assumption of this great dignity is expected at any moment. I have been told by a person in a position to know that if this does not happen at present it will certainly be decided in a little while. I report this in order that instructions may be sent as to how I must comport myself should this great alteration take place, which is considered inevitable although many difficulties stand in the way. This is the most important affair at present engaging the attention of parliament, all others under discussion being of little account, concerning domestic details and not touching others.
These is no news of the fleet, although advices from Portugal state that it suffered some inconvenience in a storm, but that at present it is in good order. At this end they are sending every week to keep Blake well furnished and powerful. He has recently captured a ship sailing from Spain to the Indies laden with quicksilver.
The envoy of Curland has at last obtained audience this last week, after waiting two months. His negotiations only deal with maritime affairs and trade. It seems, however, that he is asking his Highness to be included in the last treaty between England and Sweden. He will not remain here long as his moves only depend on the expedition of the Court. The commissioner of Sweden has never been able to have his with all his importunity, and will not find it easy to do so, as he only deals with matters of commerce, all affairs of importance being entrusted to General Fleetwood, who receives the royal packets and acts for the crown of Sweden, though without any official character, and in a manner different from that practised by all the other foreign ministers, as he neither vists nor receives visits and remains practically incognito.
London, the 1st December, 1650.
[Italian.]
Dec. 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
392. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
As the Spaniards can contribute but little to the king of England the design for his enterprise languishes greatly. Among his servants he has recently discovered divulgations and understandings with Cromwell, revealing his plans, and has had them arrested.
Vienna, the 2nd December, 1656. [Italian.]
Dec. 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
393. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Once again his Highness's desires have prevailed over the wishes of the parliamentarians in the matter of the succession. Wednesday was the day appointed for the discussion, but the Protector sent such pressing and obvious reasons to show his objections that the assembly was obliged to listen to him and to put the matter aside, and no one knows when it will be taken up again, though everyone desires to see the question settled. The Protector's objections are mere artifice as he well knows that when he wants the succession for his posterity and when he asks for a higher title, all will be granted, since he controls the wills of those who have it to give. But at present he is content to remain as he is, acting in everything as a king although he is not one. It is enough for him that parliament has commended and approved the rupture with the Spaniards, upon which he entertained some apprehension at first, for the reasons given. All their decrees have been made with reference to his wishes, while they have afforded him the best evidence of their devotion in their desire to see him raised to the highest dignity. However many are of opinion that parliament will want before separating to come to some positive decision on this subject so that it alone may have the glory and merit. Others maintain that the Protector will ask for nothing more at present as he had the subject brought forward in the assembly by one of his most devoted followers, although he did not make it known, to sound their disposition, and having noticed it in his favour he does not want to go further and is content to keep them favourably disposed for another occasion which he may consider more opportune and adequate. So far as one can guess it is certain that in a short time he will be crowned king, and what he does not permit to the present parliament he will allow to another, and they say that a new parliament is to be summoned next June.
Meanwhile his Highness went to parliament yesterday accompanied by his horse and foot guards, for the ratification of some acts passed there, which have not yet received the necessary confirmation from him. Eleven of these were voted and fully passed and now they will be printed and in a few days every one will know about them. On this occasion also some of the most devoted of the members tried to raise the question of the succession but it was put aside by his Highness who compelled them not to go any further.
To the question of means for pursuing the war with the Catholic with vigour parliament has devoted its meetings this week. Aware that money is the only thing for this they have agreed to give up to 120,000l. a month promising to impose taxes in such a way that the people shall not be excessively burdened. This is not yet prescribed but however they go about it the people will break out into murmurs which they cannot keep in, owing to the heavy burdens on their backs which distress them extraordinarily. It appears that the sum which parliament proposes to grant does not entirely satisfy those who are to spend it, who ask for more, so we must wait to see what decision they will take. In the war with the Dutch they did not consume so much. It is true that at that time there were only 120 ships at sea, whereas now a much larger number are in commission, especially if they give effect to their designs on land, which they continue to foster to be carried out as I have reported. For this they are busy fitting out ships and collecting troops secretly and without noise. Time will bring it all to light, but at present nothing can be asserted positively.
Meanwhile they are most delighted to hear of the disappearance of the hopes which all good men conceived of a general peace, so necessary to all Christendom, as they expect to derive great advantage from the continued breach between the two crowns. Of this there is no doubt, unless God intervenes. For the rest the Spaniards assuredly are in no happy position, and in peril of receiving some serious stroke from England next year. They declare here openly their intention to injure and harass them where they are most vulnerable. Thus besides the orders to Blake to go and meet the new fleet, they are maturing another plan, namely to send an adequate squadron to interfere with the internal trade of the Indies, between Peru and Mexico. This would cause a great deal of trouble to the Spaniards because of the great advantages they derive therefrom. As the fleet referred to may steer another course than that of Cadiz, although the alternative is much longer and more inconvenient because of the long sea passage, they have decided to send 8 strong frigates to the pass of Corunna, well furnished and equal to engaging the Spanish fleet, to intercept its passage. With these two ways closed the Spaniards will have none left and consequently they will be obliged to stop the galleons in the Indies for some time longer, or hazard the voyage, which it is said they have already begun, and risk falling into the toils. This will be inevitable if they are tracked by the English, who will doubtless do everything possible and neglect nothing to bring off a second fine coup. In the mean time, even if the English do not succeed in making the capture the others will not be able to get them home or use that treasure, since the English will inevitably thwart the passage, and so the Spaniards will be seriously incommoded in any case, the more so because the Dutch will no longer be able to serve them as they did last year, by transporting the plate from the Indies, owing to the measures taken on this side to prevent that recurring. Through lack of money the Spaniards will be left without sufficient strength to hold out and defend them from the lightening which threatens them and which seems likely to strike them unless the Ruler of All gives them His aid.
Medoes, the Latin secretary recently back from Portugal, is to be sent to Holland in a few days. They say he is to remain at the Hague as Resident for this state with the United Provinces. I will keep on the watch and report.
Recent news from Portugal brought by a ship from Lisbon reports the death of the king there after some indisposition. (fn. 1) The government here has expressed the regret due to the close alliance with that kingdom, and is waiting to hear confirmation.
The Protector was really suffering from a catarrh these last days, which not only confined him to his room but made him keep his bed, so it was not a mere excuse for postponing my audience. I have not, however, neglected to keep pressing the secretary so that I may have access to the Protector as soon as he is well enough. So far I have not succeeded as they offer many excuses to justify the tedious delays which they practise with all the ministers without the least distinction. Monday next has been appointed for me, so I must put up with this further slight delay in the execution of my duty.
London, the 8th December, 1656.
[Italian.]
Dec. 9.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
394. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
The Palatine Prince Rupert has come here and reports the serious quarrels he has had with his brother, the Elector, which have reached such a pitch that the latter had the palace door shut in his face. But some believe it all a trick, as the prince, though of sublime intelligence, is correspondingly dark and deep.
Vienna, the 9th December, 1656.
[Italian.]
Dec. 10.
Senato,
Secreta,
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
395. To the Resident in England.
Acknowledgment of his letters and appreciation of his activities. Pleased about Fiscier's poem celebrating the victory in the Dardanelles. He should be rewarded, and the resident has authority to expend 12l. sterling upon a medal, or something else, at his own discretion, to be presented as if from himself, to be entered in his accounts.
That the Regolatori alia Scrittura and the Proveditori and Savii sopra i Conti be directed to allow 12l. sterling to the resident in England for the present to be made to Fiscier.
Ayes, 149. Noes, 3. Neutral, 1.
[Italian.]
Dec. 12.
Senato,
Secreta,
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
396. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
With respect to the alliances with England, Portugal and Sweden, Brienne assured me that nothing was yet settled; but everything is leading up to this, and in the present winter, unless peace ensues, they will undoubtedly be concluded. They foresee here that with the marriage of the Infanta to the emperor's son and with Caesar's commitments in Italy, everything will conspire to kindle a new war in Germany as well because France cannot suffer the emperor to break the Munster treaties without any reason.
Paris, the 12th December, 1656.
[Italian.]
Dec. 12.
Senato,
Secreta,
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
397. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The gentleman, Cromwell's envoy, who for many weeks led people to expect his departure and then announced his permanence at Court, set out for London at the end of last week. It is supposed that he takes with him the final proposals of the crown for the establishment of the alliance, and that he will soon be back in the character of ambassador in ordinary to his Majesty and to put the finishing touches to his negotiations.
Paris, the 12th December, 1656.
[Italian.]
Dec. 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
398. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I had my audience on Monday after dinner. As instructed I told the Protector of the attempt of the Turks to make use of English ships. I said that the Ottoman, stung by the victories won against him this year by the arms.of your Serenity, which in addition to crushing a most powerful fleet had freed the islands of Tenedos and Stalimene from the Turkish yoke, places of great importance, he was now doing his utmost to render his forces formidable for the coming campaign to recover what had been lost and to conquer the kingdom of Candia, for which he has been toiling so many years. In addition to the equipment of a quantity of ships in all his arsenals he had begun to do violence to the English in his ports, whom he wished to force into his service and he has refused permission to leave to those at present at the Porte. The possible prejudice to the most serene republic might reasonably be united with the just resentment of his Highness at the use of this violence to compel his subjects against their will to join the Turk against a Christian prince and old friend. The attempt was to the last degree unjust and his Highness should at once put a stop to it. I was therefore instructed to press him earnestly to send resolute instructions to the English ambassador at Constantinople and to all their consuls in the Turkish dominions, to offer vigorous opposition and not allow this most valiant nation, which has so often been able to bridle and destroy the pirates, to suffer violence from those barbarians and turn their arms against the Christian religion for which they have always fought gloriously.
His Highness heard me attentively and even more the interpretation of Sir [Oliver] Fleming. He then replied that he rejoiced with all his heart at the success given by God to the arms of the most serene republic against the common enemy. He wished she might go on and win greater and so he was much affected to hear what I said about the violence of the Turks. His affection and esteem for the republic obliged him to have its interests at heart and to see that neither his subjects nor anything belonging to him should do it injury at any time. He hoped to give clear proofs of this to match his desire and goodwill. The requests I made in the name of your Serenity were equally just and reasonable. For the present he could tell me that he agreed to all and promised all. For the means of carrying his goodwill into effect it was necessary to discuss the matter with his Council and then decide what would be most advisable and profitable. He would bring the question before them very speedily and he assured me that the affair should be despatched with all speed. For the rest he spoke highly of the Senate and assured me of his constant desire to serve your Excellencies, and it is to be hoped that these fair words will be matched by deeds which are so necessary for the relief of your Serenity and of all Christendom.
Having performed the above office I addressed myself to the other in my instructions and suggested how advantageous it would be, in the country of a common enemy, to have an open union and mutual understanding between ministers, and I brought forward many arguments to have the English ambassador instructed to keep up friendly relations with the minister of your Excellencies at the Porte. To this I obtained a reply like the first, the Protector repeating that everything should be put through quickly. I insisted strongly upon this so that a question of so much importance should not be subject to the tedious delays which are usual here. So besides the memorial left I shall not forget to importune them; but I will not venture to predict what the result may be because I know that all affairs, even those closely affecting interests of state, go on for ever and never receive the finishing touches.
When I had finished and as I was about to take leave his Highness got the introducer to tell me that he also had a request to make to be referred to the most serene republic. Repeating what he said before of his goodwill towards its affairs and adding much more to help his request, about the unequalled generosity of the Senate, he told me that some of his subjects who had served your Excellencies in the present war with the Turk were slaves and captives in the hands of the barbarians. He prayed your Serenity to consider the services they had rendered and procure their release. This could easily be done by exchange for Turks taken by the Venetian arms in the last battle. He did not believe that the number of English slaves exceeded 150. If your Excellencies will render this service to the state and so great a charity to a number of poor families, lacking some a father, some a brother or other relation, who long to have them back and not so far away, he would receive it as a special favour and an act of spontaneous generosity on the part of the republic, which would make men invoke blessings on her and to desire that God would grant her all prosperity and increasing glory. He was sorry to have to make this request at the same time that I was preferring mine, as it might be supposed that he wanted to make a bargain and that if he could not obtain what he desired he would not grant what was asked of him. He had made the request moved solely by love of his subjects and on the supposition that the exchange can easily be made, as suggested, without the slightest cost to the republic. He would leave everything to her generosity and humanity. This would not have any influence on the despatch which I had suggested to him. But your Excellencies can clearly see that he seized this opportunity to make the request, thinking it more likely to be granted, as he who desires a favour must also grant one, so his excuses amount to nothing. At the same time the hope of obtaining the result desired may contribute to their promptness in acting here, which is so necessary in the interests of your Excellencies.
I expressed the affection and esteem of your Serenity for his Highness and all this most valorous nation and without entering into particulars promised to report his request to the Senate, assuring him that he would receive every satisfaction that was possible as had been proved so many times before.
London, the 15th December, 1656.
[Italian.]
Dec. 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
399. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The Dutch ambassador, who called here the day before yesterday, assured me that he had forwarded the request made by me to the States and he had no doubt but they would give the fullest satisfaction in so just a case of such consequence for Christendom. He would let me have the reply as soon as it reached him so that I might inform your Excellencies. I responded suitably. He took the opportunity to repeat what he said before about the squadron for the Mediterranean to put down the Barbary corsairs and said it would be composed of 15 most powerful ships, capable of engaging a force of any strength. Three have already left port to convoy merchantmen, and they have orders to proceed to the Strait and wait there for the other 12, which are to follow them shortly under the command of Vice Admiral Ruiter, as very little is needed to complete their equipment. They will sail with the first favourable wind to join the first three and then all go on together to their destination to render such service as is possible to all Christendom by extirpating a race so noxious to the whole of Europe.
This state remains suspicious of the Dutch and closely watches their proceedings and measures minutely every step they take. They put another interpretation upon the despatch of this squadron, and state that it has been suggested to them on good authority that the object of this mission is not to molest the corsairs, which is only a cloak to avoid arousing suspicions not entirely placated, but solely to assist the Spaniards, by uniting with their fleet, escorting it and securing it in large measure from the attacks of the English, or to transfer the treasure to the Dutch squadron and bring it safely home in this way. But it would not be so easy, for if they fell in with the English the passage would certainly be disputed. The news that three Dutch ships have already sailed for the Strait with orders to anchor there and await the remainder of the squadron serves to increase the unfavourable impression. It causes the more apprehension as it is known that the Catholic ambassador at the Hague never ceases his pressure upon the States to take some virile resolution against this government, which would serve the interests of his king so greatly. But they are aware of this and also of the great mischief which they would draw upon themselves alone, as they are still suffering from the serious injury they experienced in the last war with the English. So they will avoid any rash action as much as possible and it is not in reason that they should take any such step unless dragged by the hair. But as they are devoted to gain and without looking too closely rush to whatever quarter seems to offer the greatest profit it is not so very unlikely that, allured by the Spanish blandishments and by their liberal promises, they may enter into some secret understanding with them for the joint conveyance to Spain of the gold of the new fleet. Without this the Spaniards will be handicapped in their action and in great danger of suffering some great disaster in the coming campaign which might considerably disorganise their monarchy. But if the Dutch have allowed themselves to go so far they would undoubtedly come to repent of it in time and this would be the game of the Spaniards and of King Charles, who desire nothing better than to see the interruption of the good understanding between this state and Holland and the end of that quiet which is so much desired and prized by all.
I am assured that the envoy returned from Portugal is to set out for Holland in a few days. At the moment they are preparing his instructions, every one is in the dark about their tenor, and it will be very difficult to find out, as nothing can be known at this Court with absolute certainty, and one can only make guesses which generally turn out wrong. Many believe, as appearances also indicate, that it is merely to have a minister in ordinary to the States to cultivate friendly relations, so that the Spaniard may not have it all to himself, and also to observe their proceedings close at hand, a knowledge of which is so valuable to the interests of this state.
Parliament has done nothing this last week which merits the consideration of your Excellencies. Its meetings have been devoted to discussing matters concerning domestic affairs only and private individuals. His Highness has indeed issued a proclamation forbidding his subjects to sell wool to foreigners, as they have hitherto been able to do. This affects the Dutch sensibly and it will vex them greatly as it will do them serious injury, seeing that they have always used the wool from this country which, mixed with that of Spain, served them admirably for the manufacture of cloth, of which they make a great quantity. Now they will no longer have this convenience they will be obliged to take the manufactures here, bringing great profit to this nation, which hitherto has received none in this material.
Confirmation has come of the death of the king of Portugal on the 6th ult., as well as the news that troops, both horse and foot, are being assembled to employ against the Spaniards. The new king seems friendly and entirely disposed to the satisfaction of this state as his father was, and most ready to maintain and develop the good understanding for the benefit of both kingdoms.
London, the 15th December, 1656
[Italian.]
Dec. 16.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Germania.
Venetian
Archives.
400. Gio. Battista Nani, Venetian Ambassador in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
In order to keep Prince Rupert the emperor has confirmed to him one of his regiments and a pension of 500 florins a month. He has moreover yearly assignments for a greater sum, on account of certain credits belonging to that House.
Vienna, the 16th December, 1656.
[Italian.]
Dec. 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
401. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
In spite of my representations to the secretary of state about the requests which I recently laid before him, they have been fruitless and so far nothing has been said to the Council and as a consequence nothing done. Knowing the importance of the matter I will not relax the pressure to obtain the utmost possible despatch in this affair. The secretary holds out hopes and tells me that his Highness is most anxious to satisfy your Excellencies, but these fair words result only in sloth and do not produce the desired fruit. They are certainly so fully occupied with their own internal affairs, which engage their minds at every moment, that they have no opportunity of attending to the affairs of others except when it suits them and when these sensibly touch their own interests; moreover dilatoriness is so familiar at this Court that nothing else can be expected in any business even when important.
There are two reasons why they have been more than ordinarily embarrassed at the palace this week and which have caused them no little perplexity. The first consists of a conspiracy plotted in this city to fire a mine on which the supporters of King Charles have been long at work, in their desire to restore him to his throne. The second is a conspiracy fomented in Scotland for the same purpose. Reports were actually circulated about London that a considerable force of troops had landed in that country, sent from Flanders by the king himself to lend a hand to the well disposed and give them courage to make an effort sufficient to achieve the object they have so much at heart. Although these reports prove to be false they did not fail at first to create apprehension and increase suspicion. On the discovery of these machinations measures were forthwith taken to cut at the root of designs so prejudicial to the present government. The first step was to secure the persons of those considered suspect, and this they lost no time in doing. In London they put in the Tower a gentleman of the royal party accompanied by a woman of the lowest extraction, to whom every ordinary brought letters of King Charles from Bruges for this gentleman. In Scotland they have arrested divers leading lords, considered most rebel to this state. (fn. 2) All these are now being rigorously examined and compelled by torture to disclose their accomplices. Beyond doubt all the culprits will suffer the extreme penalty paying with their lives for their devotion to their natural prince and their ill will to the present rule.
The succession question, so often discussed in parliament without any result, was again brought forward this week, with the same result, to postpone it to another day as the Protector continues to oppose it. It is said, however that parliament will sit beyond the appointed time, for which a prorogation will be granted, and it is conjectured that the sole object of this is to carry this particular question, which his Highness desires though he pretends the contrary. He does not want it at once, but when he thinks the moment opportune, as all his actions are directed with such judgment and so cautiously that it is impossible for him to trip or to be dismounted. Until this question is decided I hear they will postpone certain embassies which have been discussed for a long while and which recently were put down to be effected at once. Even the mission to Holland seems to be postponed and they are not working at the instructions this week as they were last. There is no doubt about the mission, if one may trust the Latin secretary himself, who is to go, as he declared that he was going to the Hague, but he said nothing of when he should start, either because he did not know or because he did not wish to make it known.
Colonel Locart, already sent to France by the Protector, is back this week. Since his return he has spent every day in long conferences with his Highness to give him an account of his doings at Paris with Cardinal Mazarini. It is said that it will not be long before he returns to the Most Christian Court, clear evidence, if it happens, that his negotiations did not have the results desired. It is impossible to discover with absolute certainty what the subject of them may be, as they pass under four eyes only. Appearances lead one to believe that their object is to throw every possible obstacle to prevent a peace between the two crowns, that boon so much desired by all good Christians and to smoothe some difficulties in the way of the conclusion of the offensive and defensive alliance which is in negotiation between France, Sweden, England and Portugal; also to consider how best to harass the Spaniards jointly in the coming campaign. I have been told again by one in a position to know for certain that in the spring they are to undertake jointly the invasion of Flanders in order to injure the Catholic crown as much as possible and to render it weak and incapable of resisting two such powerful enemies.
They still entertain the suspicion that the Dutch may serve the Spaniards by assisting the passage of the silver fleet. The news that this fleet is already at sea on its way to the Strait with the intention of reaching Spain next January has stimulated them to hurry on the necessary preparations for reinforcing Blake. Although fresh ships are constantly reaching him they mean to give him more still. To this end a powerful squadron is to sail for Cadiz in a few days to join Blake and make him so strong as to render victory practically certain if he happens to meet the fleet of the Catholic and engage it. It is also stated that orders will be sent him to fight the Dutchman Ruiter if he attempts to convoy the Spaniards with his ships or afford them any other assistance. If this should happen a rupture between the States and this government would not appear to be far off; but that decidedly would not be to the advantage of either and accordingly reason should persuade each of them to avoid as much as possible the bringing about of so serious a prejudice.
London, the 22nd December, 1656.
[Italian.]
Dec. 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
402. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
My requests have not been laid before the Council yet. They excuse the delay on the ground that they have such a mass of other affairs which require immediate attention as affecting the state's own interests and which occupy every moment of the Council's time. I have urged the matter upon the secretary of state, and fearing that the memorial which I left with his Highness when I had audience might have been lost, as frequently happens, and so lead to delay, I recently gave the secretary another, begging him not to allow further delay in a matter so injurious to the interests of all Christendom. He promised to see to it, and I will keep up an assiduous importunity, which is necessary at this Court where everything is upside down as without it nothing can be obtained and they are not accustomed to give any sort of satisfaction unless under the spur and practically compelled by force.
The Dutch ambassador has not as yet received any reply from the States upon my request to him. He assured me that he expects to receive it soon adding that the question was subject to a certain amount of delay as it had to be discussed and settled in the Assembly General of all the Provinces. As this is the time for their annual meeting at the Hague it came at a fortunate moment. The meeting is at hand and he feels sure the proposal will be made at the beginning when the necessary result will be secured.
Their suspicions of the Dutch here increase daily and there is good cause for fearing some mischief which certainly will not be to the advantage of either. The ambassador protests his aversion from any sort of change but it is known that in Holland itself heavy wagers have been laid that by next spring the peace between England and Holland will be broken. It is also stated that the Spaniards wish to consign the place of Dunkirk into the hands of the Dutch, asking them to undertake its defence as they do not consider themselves strong enough to resist the attack which is being planned against that town in this quarter, in conjunction with the French. If these reports are not false there is danger of a rupture between these two powerful nations kindling a fire most difficult to extinguish. These suspicions keep the government in constant agitation and with untiring diligence they weigh carefully the pros and cons knowing the great importance of the matter.
In addition to the suspicion that the Dutch may assist the Spaniards in helping their fleet to Spain, it is feared that they may assist King Charles, and it is hinted that they feel more kindly to him than to this state. I must report that I have seen a letter from a person at present staying at Bruges near the king in which he informs his friend that the time is at hand which they desire so greatly for putting his Majesty's plans into execution. These cannot possibly prove successful unless they have the support of more than one strong hand, since it is well known that the help of the Spaniards alone is not capable of giving them courage and vigour for any of the efforts at which his Majesty aspires. Time will show the result, but meanwhile there is reason to fear on this head also and to remain on guard to meet any attempt that they wish to make against this kingdom.
Parliament has no work of importance and with the scarcity of news I must ask indulgence for a brevity which is due to the absence of anything worth reporting this week.
The day before yesterday completed three months since parliament began. It still continues to sit although its time has expired, and it will not interrupt its sessions until the Protector desires it. At present he can dissolve them when he pleases, which he could not during the three months without infringing the Instrument which was made when his Highness was admitted to his present rule.
Tuesday was the third anniversay of the Protector's rule and the day was celebrated with festivity, bonfires and the firing of all the guns at the Tower.
Nothing can be learned about the negotiations of Locart in France, except by conjecture. Meantime he was dubbed knight by his Highness the other day together with the mayor of London and another person of rank. (fn. 3) It is still rumoured that he is to return soon to the Most Christian Court, and if he does he may stay there in the capacity of minister in ordinary to foster and cultivate friendly relations between the two kingdoms.
London, the 29th December, 1656.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 John IV., king of Portugal, died on 6 November.
2 To prevent assistance for Charles Monk secured the earls of Seaforth and Glencairn, in the Highlands, Lord Lorne and Lord Forester in the Lowlands. Mercurius Politicus, Nov. 27–Dec. 4, 1656.
3 Lockhart was knighted on the 10th with James Calthorp; the lord mayor on the 15th with Lislebone Long, recorder of London. Shaw: Knights of England, Vol. ii., page 223.