Venice
June 1657

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Institute of Historical Research

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Allen B. Hinds (editor)

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1931

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59-77

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'Venice: June 1657', Calendar of State Papers Relating to English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 31: 1657-1659 (1931), pp. 59-77. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=89999 Date accessed: 19 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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June 1657

June 1.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
49. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After parliament had several times pressed the Protector to assume the royal dignity and he had refused it from fear of offending the army, with which he is bound to stand on good terms, it has lately made fresh attempts to persuade him, but he has remained constant to his denial and it has been unable to convince him. Finding his Highness so steadfast and the military so obstinate in their opposition, parliament has considered that it is not reasonable to press the matter further and has decided not to say any more about the royal title, but to remove it from the paper presented to the Protector, with all the decisions of the Assembly, and to add the confirmation of Cromwell, by consent of the three kingdoms in the dignity of Protector which he at present enjoys and to which he was raised by the army, and which he has so far exercised provisionally, since he could not call himself a true and legitimate possessor without a positive decree of parliament.
They are now discussing whether all the articles agreed on for the royal dignity should be appropriated to the Protectorate. Opinion is divided and they do not venture to put it to the vote until Cromwell's supporters, who seem rather chilled by his refusal, seem to have recovered their zeal for him. When this decision has been taken parliament will proceed to Whitehall to present this new law to the Protector. He is sure to confirm it, especially as it gives him the position which he himself selected and for which he then had the support of the military. The last are not likely to oppose or throw obstacles in the way, unless they think that the powers which it is proposed to give are too ample. There is good reason for apprehending opposition, not to the title, but because one of the articles leaves the succession in the hands of the Protector a point that comes home to the numerous high officers who aspire to this dignity, more than anything else. They wish him to have the title of “Royal Highness” and that he take the oath to observe the laws of England as the kings used to do, so that he will not be able to levy taxes or put any impositions on the people, without parliament. This would diminish the powers he now holds for he is more absolute and arbitrary than any king has ever been. In this way Cromwell would be and would not be king. He would be because he would enjoy all the fruits of the dignity, having the authority and the means to enforce his recognition as such. He would not be for he would lack a crown. But in time he may find a more favourable opportunity for gratifying his ambition which he has so long cherished, if his life is not previously cut short.
The army has recently presented another petition to parliament asking for the appointment of a general in place of the Protector, as they wish to have one who will always be with them. They add that his Highness has so many other affairs on his hands, which require all his attention, that he is unable to support the additional burden of the supreme command of the army. Nothing has yet been decided upon this delicate and important question and no step will be taken without consulting Cromwell and without his consent. He is utterly opposed to any move in this matter, and he will never surfer this command to be taken out of his hands, as the change would not suit his interests. They say that this petition was instigated by Lambert, who has long aspired to the supreme command, and who is the only one who could feel certain of realising his vast designs, which would enable him to unseat the Protector and take his place. But his Highness will know how to let it evaporate, and will temporise until it is forgotten, as he has done before when similar steps were taken by the army.
It has been intimated to me in confidence that the army thinks of accusing those who have shown most zeal in this affair of the crown as guilty of high treason for infringing an act made at the death of the late king forbidding any one to propose the reestablishment of the royal office. It also appears that the army contemplates forming a body of agitators that is to select some of their number whose duty it will be to treat with parliament, the Council of State or others in the name of the whole army, to see that nothing is decided to the prejudice of the nation, and in any case to offer vigorous opposition, so as to make it clear that they claim that nothing shall be done or decreed without them.
Libels have been found circulating in several parts of this city propagated by the Protector's ill wishers, infamous to the last degree and abounding in enormities. The title of this was “Killing No Murder,” indicating that to slay a tyrant and a bad man, indicating his Highness, must not be held as murder, as such fellows ought not to be allowed to cumber the earth. The Protector affects unconcern about such things, but he is secretly having all the sheets burned to prevent the contents getting abroad, as if the people came to know them, they might easily generate evil humours and make a bad impression, inimical to the quiet which his Highness desires to preserve, and so that they may be buried in oblivion.
The second 3000 infantry have safely landed in France, and are said to have been well received. It now remains to see on what service they will be employed. There is no doubt that their attention is fixed upon Dunkirk and Gravelines and that all the arrangements made between France and England in the last treaties were concerned with these places. Yesterday they finished the lading of certain ships with powder, matches, lead, shells, bombs, bullets, heavy artillery, machines, ladders, axes, nippers and other material for some great enterprise. The ships sailed away at once towards Flanders and there can be no doubt that this is in prosecution of the conquests which they propose to make there unless the Spaniards prevent it and unless something occurs to upset their plans.
The Turkish Aga still keeps his bed, being seriously ill. He makes no attempt at negotiation and so it may be considered as established that he has nothing to treat of beyond what I reported or which affects the interests of the most serene republic.
London, the 1st June, 1657.
[Italian.]
June 2.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
50. To the Resident in England.
Announcing a victory gained by the republic over a large force of Barbary ships going to join the Sultan's fleet. (fn. 1) The particulars are enclosed. He is to impart these to the Protector and to any other, as he may think best. The Senate is sure that an event so advantageous to all Christendom will be heard with particular satisfaction and content.
Ayes, 97. Noes, 2. Neutral, 2.
[Italian.]
June 5.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Francia.
Venetian
Archives.
51. Francesco Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
We hear that Cromwell wishes to interpose for an adjustment between France and the United Provinces and is thinking of persuading the latter subsequently to a rupture with Spain, when the accommodation is made, but in their present condition the Dutch are by no means disposed to a war with the Spaniards.
Amiens, the 5th June, 1657.
[Italian.]
June 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
52. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Besides the resolution confirming Cromwell's title as Protector parliament has passed another by a unanimous vote (con pienezza de voti) which appropriates to that dignity all the articles previously granted in the event of his Highness accepting the crown. Thus by the consent of the three kingdoms Cromwell will enjoy all the privileges, prerogatives and possessions of the former kings, exactly as if he had the royal title, so that he holds the supreme power as if he was actually king. They have also granted him the succession, which will remain hidden in his breast, and the revenue already voted per annum, with some augmentation, in short everything that he could desire or ask for.
This having been settled parliament sent deputies to ask the Protector to appoint a day for them to wait upon him in a body to present their latest petitions for the establishment of this state. Being aware of the change in title and determined not to refuse it Cromwell told them that he would go to the house of Parliament last Monday to hear what they had to say. So it fell out, and after a discourse, not too short, from the Speaker, exalting and praising the Protector, they read and presented to his Highness a paper explaining the title they propose to confirm and all the articles granted to him. Cromwell's reply consisted of thanks, acceptance and approval of all with an undertaking to observe the laws of the country. He enlarged upon his submission to the decrees of parliament, knowing that they were inspired by a desire for the liberty, preservation and glory of these nations. He would therefore undertake one of the heaviest burdens which a human being had ever supported and under which he must inevitably succumb unless he received the Divine assistance. He would implore this from the bottom of his heart so that his acceptance should not prejudice the nations which had shown so much affection and esteem for him. For this also he asked the assistance of parliament and of all God-fearing men to pray that he may have divine help, knowing that without it nothing could enable him to discharge so great a duty. In a long and learned speech he indulged in many similar expressions, but I will not trouble your Serenity with it, as it was all to the same purpose and does not merit much consideration. He ended by giving his assent to the resolution. He said this was merely an introduction to establish the government. But there were many things which could not be done to promote this work without the assistance of parliament, and it was his duty to repeat his requests, not because he was doubtful of them, but because he was prepared to believe that the same spirit which had led to this step would easily prompt the rest as well. He did not speak in this way because he entertained any doubt or uncertainty of their progress, but to stimulate their goodwill, so that, with God's help, they might crown their work and at the proper time and with the energy which they consider suitable, a desirable solution may be reached in everything.
These last particulars are certainly remarkable as they clearly show Cromwell's ambition for the royal title, so that he cannot refrain from expressing it clearly and openly, calling the present act merely an introduction for the re-establishment of the government.
They thought of giving the Protector the title of “Royal Highness,” but out of consideration for his constrained objection to any word that might indicate a desire for the kingly office they let this drop as unsuited to the present constitution of affairs. So he will stick to his usual title. They are now arranging a bill to substitute the title Protector or Highness for King or Majesty in all the laws, wherever these occur, leaving all the rest in force. They are also arranging for the time of publication, though one cannot yet find out when this will take place or in what manner, whether it will be with pomp and ceremony, or in the form adopted by the Protector when he gave himself his present post with the consent of the army.
Meanwhile there is no doubt whatever of a palpable change in the government although none appears in the title. They supply a rule and direction for everything. They introduce an Upper and Lower House. They contemplate embassies and the despatch of ministers to maintain good relations with friendly powers. In short they establish everything and set things in the same position as they were in the time of the kings. It is true that no little time will be required to give effect to all this, without allowing for the slowness and delay due to the climate, or for their naturally phlegmatic temperament and their extreme inconstancy.
Letters which arrived from the fleet last week report General Blake as sick and in such a condition that he was reduced to living upon medicines and liquors made up by an apothecary. The news is a bitter blow to the government owing to the quality of the individual, and his long experience at sea, so that his loss would be serious for England which possesses no sea captains so universal as Blake. For this they are thinking of sending another commander to the fleet to take charge in case of Blake's death, although the Vice Admiral and other commanders could officiate before the arrival of the new general. But to commit so formidable a force to one man is a delicate matter which requires consideration, demanding a careful examination of the character and disposition of those who might be competent for the post, so that time will be required for such an important selection. It seems that Montagu, who had the post last year, is not inclined to take it again. On the strength of this news it was published that Blake was dead, but further news arrived yesterday evening, by a ship sent on purpose to the Protector, shows that he is still alive although very ill so that he is not expected to survive many days, and confirming the diet mentioned above.
They relate that when Blake heard of the arrival of the Spanish fleet at the Canaries and saw that he could work nothing upon them and that he had remained idle all that time off those shores, he summoned a naval council to discuss and resolve what could be done to incommode the Spaniards seeing they had not succeeded in meeting the galleons to fight and capture them as they expected, in view of their superior force. Some intercepted letters were read, sent from those islands to Spain showing the spirit and disposition of the inhabitants to destroy the English if ever they should venture on an attack there, to which end they had built forts on the coast and set everything in good order to offer a stout resistance, with nothing to fear as the English would be caught in a net and inevitably crushed, so making them repent of having remained off the Spanish coasts so long. To see if the facts would correspond with the confidence expressed by the people there it was decided to risk an entry into those islands and to inflict all the damage they could on the enemy, a decidedly bold decision and hazardous to the last degree.
In consequence of this decision, on Monday the 27th April, aided by a favourable wind, Blake approached the island of Teneriffe and entered the port of Santa Cruz. The islanders, on seeing this, prepared to defend themselves and discharged all their muskets at the English ships as well as some guns mounted in the forts and others scattered along the shore. Blake answered with the guns of his ships and after several hours of combat he succeeded in killing many, putting the rest to flight, forcing them to leave their guns behind. He then landed a force sufficient to destroy the forts and rase them to the ground.
Having succeeded thus far and recalling the troops who had been landed Blake immediately addressed himself to the second part of the operation in which he was equally successful. In that port were anchored the galleons, numbering 16, which had recently brought the plate. This the Spaniards had unloaded and buried to preserve it from accident. Blake began to fire his guns at these, and in this way and by throwing fire he sank and burned them all. The brave commander was lying moribund in his bed at the time surrounded by great woollen cushions and other material to stop or at least deaden the force of any missile that might strike him, and in this posture he gave the necessary orders and disposed everything in a manner which has given the English a signal victory, and which is here considered the greatest which they have won against the Spaniards since that of 1588 in the time of Queen Elizabeth.
Five other ships with rich cargoes which were awaiting a favourable wind to take them to the West Indies, on which passengers of rank and eminence were found, were completely stripped by the English and then scuttled and set on fire, because Blake could not tow them after him. All those on board perished, some in the waves and others in the flames. The number of the slain on the Spanish side is not known but it is bound to be very large. Of the English they announce only 50 and 120 wounded, without the loss of a single ship.
Such are the particulars contained in the letters of the English general, who adds that if he had a reinforcement of troops he thinks it would not be difficult to conquer the island of Teneriffe, to enable them to dig up the gold buried there uselessly. It cannot bring any benefit to the Spaniards, while it would prove exceedingly useful to the English. He reports further that he came out of the port, after that glorious and memorable action and has gone back to his usual station, ready to carry out any orders which the government may send, if God does not before then bring his days to a close, as he is in extremis owing to his advanced age and to the hardships experienced during the long time that he has been ploughing the waves. He adds that when he entered the port he found some Dutch ships riding there. When they sighted the English fleet they immediately stood off on another tack. If they had stayed where they were he would have shut his eyes and shot fire at them all, without distinction since it was reasonable to conclude that they were only there to assist the enemy.
The news of this great victory was read by the government with the joy and exultation due to such a success. By order of his Highness the secretary of state immediately informed parliament who were all greatly elated. They entertain hopes of getting the silver as well, and to this end they wish to support Blake by sending strong reinforcements, equal to achieving any conquest. Beyond a doubt this is a most serious blow of the greatest significance for the Spaniards, as they will need several years to equip another fleet and in the meantime no money will arrive. If the English succeed in carrying out the rest of their plans the Catholic must be considered very feeble and practically extenuated, as with the English in possession of an island in the Canaries and keeping squadrons off Cadiz and Corunna, the Spanish fleets from the West Indies would be shut out on every side.
Although the news is so circumstantial with full particulars of the day of the victory and of everything else, so that there can be no reasonable doubt of its truth, there are some would be knowing ones who contend that it is purely imaginary and made up at the palace on the arrival of the ship, to please the people, who after pouring out such quantities of blood and money are ever longing to see some results for their efforts. All news favourable to this state and published as such for the general information is interpreted in this fashion by the prejudiced and by those who do not want to see this government so prosperous. It is true that to please the people, to show that they are not idle, to keep them in a good humour and to facilitate the raising of the taxes they may occasionally manufacture victories, which can easily be done, there being no lack of pretexts and opportunities. But the news which will come in a few days from Portugal, from Spain itself and elsewhere in confirmation or otherwise will soon clear this up, and I will keep my eyes open. The present information was given me by one in a position to know the truth and he is not a person to be easily deceived.
London, the 8th June, 1657.
[Italian.]
June 8.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
venetian
Archives.
53. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
I have written of the suspension of the mission of Medoes to Denmark because the king there seemed to incline to peace rather than to war with Sweden. Now there is a great change, and though Denmark has not openly declared war he keeps committing hostile acts against the Swedes, and has recently seized some Swedish ships returning home through the Baltic with cargoes of salt from Portugal. The news has greatly stirred the government and they seem to contemplate a more conspicuous mission than that of an envoy so as to do their utmost to hold back Denmark from further action against Sweden. With the community of religion and interest that exists between England and that crown this government is bound to try and ward off anything that threatens that monarch and to show its concern for him. It is therefore said that from remonstrances they will proceed to threats if Denmark does not put a stop to the hostilities begun. But this mission cannot take place very soon as they want the affair of the Protector to be quite settled first. In that case the mission might be unnecessary and useless especially as some one is expected in Denmark from the Imperial Court to stir him up against Sweden, who would forestall England and have a free field for his business which he could conduct without the slightest hindrance.
They also contemplate sending some one to the empire to take part in the diet which should be held next August for the nomination of the new emperor, as they do not want to leave England unrepresented at this important gathering in which all the powers are interested. But this will not be done either until after the announcement of his Highness's confirmation in the post which they are giving him.
In the treaties between this government and Sweden it was provided that besides Barcman, the Swedish resident here, two others should be sent to put the finishing touches to the maritime negotiations which were left unsettled. These two have since arrived and together with Barcman and the deputies appointed by this state will go into the matter, smooth away difficulties and conclude the negotiations. (fn. 2)
The last letters received by the Dutch ambassador from his masters obliged him to ask audience of the Protector, which was granted the day after the letters arrived. The ambassador had noticed a suspicion here that the Dutch might try to remove the plate from the Canaries and secretly help the Spaniards in all their plans, in contravention of their treaty with this government. He informed the States of this feeling and they directed him to assure his Highness positively that they had no intention of involving themselves with the Spaniards or of interfering in any way that might prejudice England, with whom they are anxious to preserve friendly relations; they also admit that it would not be to their advantage. Yet in spite of these assurances Blake found Dutch ships in the Canaries as I related, and they certainly were only there to help the Spaniards if they could and to make some profit, as the hope of gain is the one thing that will induce the Dutch to do anything. Moreover 7 large Dutch warships under the command of General Tromp, son of the one killed in the last war with the English, are cruising about in these waters, arousing suspicion and apprehension here, as his father did the same shortly before the war broke out, and that led to the rupture, although apparently they are only on the look out for some French ships which passed through this Strait, to try and capture them. They accept the ambassador's assurances but do not neglect to watch closely the actions of the Dutch. If the latter under Spanish incitement should be led to take steps not entirely consonant with their interests here, the English would undoubtedly want to teach them a lesson. As they have some 52 ships of war, great and small, scattered about in various squadrons, they consider themselves strong enough to deal with any attack from that quarter and to defeat it, as they are confident that English ships, guns and men are better than the Dutch by the admission made by the Dutch General Tromp himself before he died.
The French ambassador too had audience of his Highness the day before yesterday. He went to tell his Highness of the arrival in France of the 6000 men sent there under General Rinaldi; that the Most Christian had gone thither in person to welcome them and to see the muster which was held as soon as they landed, and the promise of his Majesty that they should always be welcome and well treated. I have been definitely assured that his Excellency asked for further reinforcements, especially cavalry and it is said that 2000 more men have been picked from the regiments here and will soon be embarked for France, while they continue to recruit for the diminished companies. Now that Cromwell has committed himself he will be obliged to give assistance to the French as they ask for it; for there is no doubt that a solid agreement exists between these two nations, all directed to the destruction of the Catholic crown, the secret articles of which can only be disclosed by time, since it is impossible to obtain particulars owing to the strict secrecy observed.
The present of animals expected by the Aga of Algiers, who has been here three weeks, has recently arrived in charge of another Turk of lower rank, who is a renegade Greek, but it has not yet been presented to the Protector. I have succeeded in discovering more about his commissions, a subject which I have very much at heart. In addition to what I have already reported I find that the chief reasons for his mission were as follows:
Some English slaves having escaped from Algiers the Divan there declared that the English consul there (fn. 3) had hidden them and claimed satisfaction from him, threatening to put him in prison. He meant to have acted upon this, but the Pasha prevented it, thinking that the wiser course would be to send some one here to make complaint. This was done and accordingly they demand satisfaction. Here they propose to send back the Aga in a few days and I am assured that they will give him a very stiff answer, meeting their complaints with threats that if the Turks do anything to the English consul war ships of this nation will pay a call at their port. God grant that this may produce some advantage for the state's forces. If those barbarians have imprisoned the consul as they intended, or if, dissatisfied with the answer, they decide to pursue their revenge, no doubt steps will be taken here against the Turks. A squadron of their ships sent to those waters would notably assist the public cause as it would create a considerable diversion which would greatly serve the cause of Christendom defended so vigorously by the most serene republic alone.
London, the 8th June, 1657.
[Italian.]
June 15.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
54. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
Finding the present parliament so conformable to his wishes, doing nothing that is not entirely satisfactory to him, and because a new one ought to be summoned for next September, the Protector has made up his mind that the present parliament shall continue, under the pretext of avoiding the expense of nominating the members of such a body, which is considerable, and relieving the community of no little inconvenience. From an assembly so entirely satisfactory to him he hopes in time to achieve all that he desires though he has not been allowed for the present to get what he is most ambitious to have and which he desires with the utmost eagerness and passion as all his actions demonstrate. Accordingly he wrote recently a letter to parliament expressing this wish and asking them to hasten their deliberations as by the 20th inst. English style he wished them to have ready for his consent the things they wished to complete, as he has fixed upon that day for them to separate and return to their homes, to return again to this city in October next, to reconstitute the parliament and decide those matters with which they have to deal. He states that the sole motive for this pause is his wish to give the members some breathing space after such prolonged agitation, knowing that they are much perturbed and very tired, and so that in the meantime they may return to their homes and attend to their private affairs and set in order such things as need it, so that relieved of domestic cares they may again take up the burden and devote their attention to public affairs with greater quietness of mind.
Parliament showed no objection to this decision of Cromwell, which entirely fell in with their wishes. They are already postponing the consideration of some affairs which they have in hand until October, when they meet again, by which time there will be the Upper House of Lords, already voted, such as they used to have in the time of the kings.
Before parliament separates the announcement of the dignity confirmed to the Protector will be made. So far the date is unknown and it is impossible to guess why the date of the ceremony is so long postponed. It is not due to the preparations to perform it with great pomp and ceremony because so far there is no sign of any and nothing is done that would attract the attention of a single soul.
Meanwhile the assembly is devoting its attention to discussing how to raise money, for while they decided a long while ago to provide the Protector with a revenue of 1,900,000l. sterling, they have never decided where all this money is to be obtained or how to get it into the exchequer. Thus they passed a resolution to impose a tax on houses built during the last 36 years, but it has never been put in execution, having been suspended owing to a petition presented against it. Knowing that they can still squeeze something out of the Catholics, wasted and down trodden as they are, with little to contribute, a severe law has been passed against them, which may be termed cruel and inhuman, if it is as represented. It is not yet published or confirmed by the Protector; if he gives his assent it will utterly exterminate the Catholics, making them altogether wretched and beggared for the rest of their lives. It is said that all their goods in the hands of Protestants for safety and to escape the severities against them, if found to be such, shall be considered forfeit and no longer the property of their owners; that their houses shall be thoroughly searched and all the children removed to a place specially appointed for them, to be instructed in the false dogmas of Luther and Calvin professed by the people here; that they shall all be forced to abjure their faith, and those who refuse shall be exiled. Such barbarity and tyranny has not been shown even by Turks and the mere recital makes one shudder. They have been suggested to the parliamentarians by these devilish ministers who are always fulminating in their pulpits against the Catholics, denouncing them as all Spaniards, the bitter enemies of this state and the most scandalous beings upon earth, merely because they are Catholics and profess the true faith.
It is not expected that his Highness will accept this law. The ambassador Bordeos, who has orders from his master to protect and assist the Catholics, went to audience yesterday to prevent it. But when parliament finds that he does not approve, it will point out to him that it was done to provide him with money and if he will not ratify it the sum voted will be diminished and they will deduct from it what might be raised by the destruction of the Catholics. So it is impossible to say whether conscience and justice will prevail in Cromwell's mind over interest and avarice. A few days will show and meanwhile these poor folk are perplexed and troubled, seeing the perils that threaten them unless God delivers them. Parliament appointed the day before yesterday, a Wednesday, to return thanks to the Almighty for the victory over the Spaniards at the Canary Islands. It was observed by all the city and the neighbouring parts, the whole day being spent in church, all the shops closed and the guns of the Tower of London fired from time to time. Those who represented the news as fictitious are obliged to admit its truth by the arrival of three of the best ships of the fleet which cast anchor in the Thames last Sunday. (fn. 4) They have come to England for the repair of the injuries suffered in the fight. They are so roughly handled that this will require an outlay of more than 15,000l., so it is concluded that the losses of the English were considerably greater than announced, although they still represent them as no more than 50 killed and 120 wounded.
In appreciation of the many services rendered by Blake to this republic they have decided to present him with a jewel worth 500l. and another worth 100l. to the captain who brought the news. (fn. 5) They also give Blake permission to return home when he pleases, in consideration of his sickness and present weakness which do not allow him to sustain that charge any longer.
Although the fleet does not lack men capable of commanding it and of directing with vigour any sort of enterprise, they are thinking of appointing a new general, and seem to incline to Sir [George] Aschiu a brave captain who has already had a command at sea. He is the one who took the Barbadoes Islands and annexed them to England.
An English subject who had long been a prisoner of the Spaniards, in custody at Teneriffe, had the good fortune to escape during the battle. Boarding one of his country's ships he arrived here the other day. He reports the feeble condition to which the Spaniards are reduced. He declares that they have no more than ten ships in the Indies, in a very bad state, and which cannot render them much service. They are greatly depressed and disconcerted by this fresh blow which has fallen upon them so unexpectedly for although the English have not derived any benefit from it, for the Spaniards it is the most serious thing imaginable. These statements serve to encourage the government here and raise their hopes high so they are contemplating expeditions and think that even conquests may not be difficult. It is stated that they will certainly send forces to those parts and say it is necessary to fill the Spaniards with consternation, assuming that the occupation of one of those islands would lead to great advantages, securing for the English the dominion over those parts and preventing the enemy from entering or leaving their own ports.
The English recently sent to France are deserting in great numbers to the Spaniards. Those who wish to serve are immediately enrolled under their banners; those who refuse receive a double each and lodging for 20 days, to enable them to return home, as they do. Over 60 of these English have been taken prisoner by the garrison of St. Omer, who made a sortie into France with 40 men and succeeded in advancing almost to the English tents. Thus in this short time those regiments are sensibly reduced, and desertions will constantly be taking place owing to the inducements offered by King Charles, so the French cannot expect much of that force.
Don Francesco di Melo, the Portuguese ambassador so long expected, does not appear and this extraordinary delay makes them fear that he has succumbed in some tempest at sea or that he has fallen into the toils of the Dunkirkers who, after many weeks without news of any capture, have recently succeeded in taking a very rich English ship, the loss of which will be much felt on this mart.
The duke of Buckingham has been some days in London, having come to make his peace with the Protector, who gave him permission with a promise to allow him to return to Flanders if an arrangement could not be made. To the general astonishment it seems certain that this will take place and they even talk of a marriage between the duke and a daughter of his Highness.
Your Excellencies' missives of the 5th May inform me of the offer made by the English ambassador at Paris, in the Protector's name to the Ambassador Giustinian of a mixed levy of sailors and soldiers here to serve the most serene republic, and the decision of the Senate to let this drop for sound reasons, with directions not to lose any opportunity of obtaining some assistance in ships for your Serenity, which I will do. As for Locart's offer I think that it came from his head alone without the knowledge of the Protector, because he wished to show his zeal for the republic. Cromwell is himself so short of sailors that he is obliged to take by force all those who arrive in merchantmen to the extent of stripping the barques which bring coal to supply the ships of war; so it is unlikely that he would allow others to take what he has not got himself. I have tried covertly to get some light on this, without any success, and this makes it the more likely that the whole thing arose from Locart's friendly disposition, which cannot be of any assistance to the public interests.
London, the 15th June, 1657.
[Italian; the part in italics deciphered.]
June 22.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives,
55. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
To-morrow week parliament will suspend its sessions until the 20th October, when it is to meet again. In the few days that remain it is hurrying on with the resolution and settlement of the most necessary things putting off those which do not appear to require such haste. They are now meeting twice a day in order to complete this work.
The Instrument drawn up for confirming the Protector in his position provides that another chamber shall be called, without specifying whether it is to be Upper or of Lords, which will be set up when parliament reopens. The omission was intentional as they were afraid it might recall the title of king and cause a fresh disturbance among the military. But the simple soldiers seem quite quiet and satisfied by the refusal of the title, not realising that even without it the Protector has all the powers of a king. But the officers, who desire a disturbance and who do not want his Highness to have so much authority, labour to impress the truth upon them, though so far without the least success. The soldiers will not listen to what they say, their objection and aversion being for the title alone and for the rest they care nothing, being content with the surface of things without piercing to the marrow.
There is no sign yet of a public announcement of the confirmation of the Protector, though time is pressing and parliament only has 8 days more. Many believe that the proclamation will not take place until the Upper House has been set up, which will be in October next. This prorogation was decided so that they might labour in the interval to remove the obstacles against the royal title, and resume the discussion of the question at the opening of the two Houses; or if the way cannot be smoothed which leads to this supreme rank, destroying every obstacle, because then the post of Protector will be granted and confirmed to him by the Upper House as well, conforming to the ancient laws of the country, which do not allow anything without the consent of both Houses.
On Tuesday last his Highness went to the house at Westminster and entering parliament gave his assent to 20 acts already passed there. With his signature these become the law of the land and must be obeyed as such. They only deal with the manner of raising money, and have already been described, but without the Protector's ratification they cannot have effect. There were other matters of slight importance with which I need not weary the Senate. His Highness refused to sign one, which was to establish a new form of catechism (fn. 6) to be observed in the three kingdoms, as he did not wish to offend the sectaries, preferring to stand well with all and to give no reason for complaint to any body capable of generating evil humours, knowing that quiet alone will enable him to subsist and consolidate his power.
The severe act aimed at the Catholics was not among those presented to his Highness on Tuesday, as it seems it was not quite ready; but before parliament is dissolved Cromwell will have to go again to sign more acts and his approval will then be asked for that one. The French ambassador Bordeos, in pursuance of orders from his king, has had more than one audience of the Protector, showing much zeal in the interests of the Catholics. He pressed the matter so much that his Highness asked him not to meddle in the procedure of parliament touching his subjects. To this Bordeos replied that he asked nothing more than his Highness himself had done with his master in favour of the Huguenots of Piedmont, and as the king of France, at his request, had interposed for them, he expected the same civility and sincerity from this side towards the English Catholics, who profess the same faith as himself. After this very strong remonstrance Cromwell assured the ambassador that he would do all in his power to prevent the act or at least the execution of its most severe articles, and in a few days we shall see whether these words will be followed by deeds.
Meanwhile the Catholics, while obliged to show gratitude to the Most Christian for such friendly offices, are astonished at France taking so much interest in them, which has never happened before, since she rather displayed aversion. From this it is supposed that Bordeos is charged to do everything possible to draw them over to the French side by dint of courtesies, knowing well that they have a much greater propensity for the Spaniards than for the French, from whom they say openly they have never received any benefits, and so they are the more amazed at the change and to see themselves so favoured and protected.
That Bordeos is trying to win these folk admits of no possible doubt. I know positively that he tried very hard to obtain for his house a priest in close and confidential relations with the leading Catholic gentlemen. He succeeded in finding one but subsequently rejected him on learning that he was utterly Spanish and very obstinate about changing his opinions. So he would not admit him to his house and is now looking for another; but he will have great difficulty in finding one who is not entirely devoted to the House of Austria. When the superiors of all the religious who are in hiding in this kingdom went out of civility to thank his Excellency for his offices in favour of the Catholics he asked them why they were so given to the Spaniards, pointing out the present weakness of that nation and the vigour of France to induce them to come over to his side; but someone told him boldly that if the French had treated them well they would have been in their favour, as they have shown themselves for the Spaniards, from whom they have always received favour and protection.
The reason which impels France to seek the goodwill of these folk is quite obscure, and there is nothing to indicate its origin, as the Catholics here are exhausted and downtrodden, almost entirely stripped of their possessions, disarmed and in no condition to render the slighest service to anyone though ready enough to receive it from anyone who will oblige. So this action of France is worthy of notice since it certainly is not without some object or innocent of intrigue, as the French are not in the habit of rendering favours or at least of making a show of doing so unless they are sure that their interposition will bring them some advantage.
A report has been current here for some days that 16 officers of the army and two members of parliament, one of whom is Colonel Huson, governor of Dublin, fell in with an Ostend ship on their passage from England to Ireland, by which they were captured and carried to Flanders. Besides these persons the pirates found in the ship 5000l. and many papers of consequence. If the news is confirmed it will be a matter of great consequence, and in that case the papers and the accounts of the prisoners may enlighten King Charles about the plans of this government and its operations.
Fifty-two Dutch ships which arrived recently off the coasts of England caused considerable apprehension and suspicion until it was learned that they were merchantmen, accompanied by ships of war to protect them against the perils they might encounter on their voyage. They were bound for the Indies and had been compelled by a storm to seek these shores and wait for a favourable wind to carry them to their destination. On the appearance of these ships the English commandant who cruises about these coasts with some frigates, observing that the Dutch did not lower their topsails sufficiently, at once detached a skiff from his squadron which proceeded swiftly to the Dutch fleet to warn them that they had not fulfilled their obligation by completely lowering their topsails. Orders were immediately issued and everyone of the ships complied without delay in executing this act of submission.
The English recently encountered a Dutch ship coming from the Canaries and on searching it found gold to the amount of 100,000l. It was accordingly seized and brought into the river here. (fn. 7) The English claim that the money is Spanish property. The Dutch assert that it is theirs and absolutely deny that they are meddling in the affairs of the Spaniards. The States are pressing here for the restitution of this ship and of another which the English stopped at the isle of Wight, but so far they have not listened to them, in fact the decision of the matter has been handed over to the magistracy of the Admiralty, the Dutch being at liberty to bring forward their arguments and to defend themselves. The decision is eagerly awaited and one cannot tell in whose favour it will go, but it is incredible that the English will allow the money to escape from their hands. In that case we shall see the temper of the Dutch who claim freedom of navigation without submitting to search. They are obliged to maintain this point as otherwise they will lose their trade and themselves as well, as they live by that alone, as commerce and the gain it brings constitute all their sustenance.
London, the 22nd June, 1657.
[Italian.]
June 23.
Senato,
Secreta.
Deliberazioni.
Corti.
Venetian
Archives.
56. To the Ambassador in France.
Instructions were sent to him long since touching the differences between France and Holland. It is necessary that he should move with great caution in the matter, more especially if the Protector Cromwell has taken any steps in the interposition which he contemplates. Now that Cromwell has been confirmed as Protector by parliament it is desirable that the ambassador should cultivate friendly relations with his minister at that Court, and impress upon him how advantageous it would be to help the republic with some ships.
Ayes, 97. Noes, 2. Neutral, 43.
[Italian.]
June 29.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Inghilterra.
Venetian
Archives.
57. Francesco Giavarina, Venetian Resident in England, to the Doge and Senate.
To-morrow parliament ought to separate in accordance with the limit of time set by the Protector, who has the power to dissolve it now the time has gone by when it could sit by law without interruption. It does not seem absolutely certain just now that this will happen, as they seem inclined to stay on a few days longer, representing the impossibility of meeting to-morrow in a state to receive the Protector's assent to so many things that require it, which at present are merely in outline and which, before they separate, ought to be filled in and perfected. Up to this moment parliament has not asked Cromwell for this slight extension but if they do his Highness will readily grant it, especially as his sole object is to consolidate and resolve, after due consideration, those affairs which directly concern the welfare of the state and the maintenance of this republic.
As a sign of affection and esteem parliament has lately made a spontaneous gift to General Flitud, Cromwell's son-in-law, a member of parliament and Viceroy in Ireland, of some property in the kingdom which he rules, assigning to him and his posterity an estate worth 15,000l. from which he will derive a yearly income of 3000l. (fn. 8) This act of liberal munificence greatly delighted Flitud and his father-in-law who expressed their abundant thanks and perpetual gratitude to the assembly.
They are most anxiously waiting for news of the fleet, which is unduly delayed. Reports arrive from several quarters that in the last affair at Teneriffe they suffered much more than was announced, and that in addition to the ships sent to England by Blake to be repaired, where another very powerful one has recently arrived much knocked about, that general has been obliged to withdraw to Portugal to take shelter for some days and to repair the injuries which the rest of the force must have suffered.
To keep him well supplied they recently sent from here three ships laden with food and war material, which have sailed to find the fleet. Others are being prepared and will be sent off with even more expedition unless this is hindered by the difficulty they experience in finding sailors, without whom the ships cannot sail. They take the sailors from merchantmen and from the colliers by force leaving only enough of them to supply the material which is so necessary to this city and which they cannot allow to run short. They are now beginning to take the watermen from the small boats which ply on the Thames for the convenience of London and the surrounding places, who are stationed at various ferries. The number of men to each of these is strictly limited as well as the number of boats, being a considerable reduction from what were there before.
The French ambassador Bordeos is making fresh demands of his Highness for levies of troops, but it cannot yet be stated whether permission has been granted. But this cannot easily be refused, in view of the arrangements which have undoubtedly been made between Mazarini and Cromwell, though it might be put off and delayed if they have no intention here to go further in conceding troops. This might easily be especially as the soldiers show but little inclination to serve in France. From the 6000 already sent desertions are reported daily and there remains scant hope of doing any good or of assembling a corps capable of rendering the service which is required.
A levy of 2000 Scots has been granted to Portugal to serve their pressing needs against the Spaniards. This is by virtue of the treaty between the two governments, but they will not begin to assemble them before the money arrives which is expected from Lisbon. They are also expecting the ambassador who was sent to this Court. His departure from Lisbon was positively announced and his long delay in appearing arouses the curiosity of all and a wish to know that has become of him. The passage to England is not so long but he has had ample time to get here even with a wind not entirely favourable, reckoning from the time when he was said to have sailed.
Letters from Holland reached the ambassador of the States here early this morning informing him of the adjustment arrived at and signed between France and the United Provinces. Without losing a moment he has been to tell the foreign ministers. He was here not two hours ago and besides telling me the news expressed the deep gratitude of his masters for the mediation of the Ambassador Giustinian in this affair in the name of your Excellencies. He enlarged on the zeal of the republic for its friends and how much it deserves of the whole world for this. I thanked him suitably and said how gratified your Excellencies would be at the news of this adjustment. The particulars deal with the restitution of all prizes taken by both sides, the removal of sequestrations, and the establishment of treaties for maritime affairs between the two nations, as your Excellencies will probably have learned before from the proper place.
The ambassador took the opportunity to inform me of a considerable victory won by the Dutch in the East Indies against the Portuguese. The news had only reached the Hague during the last few days although the affair happened more than a year ago, the great distance causing the delay. He says that the Dutch company founded for trade and commerce in the East Indies has captured the town of Colombo in the island of Zeilon, (fn. 9) and almost the whole of the island. The loss is a severe blow to the Portuguese while it is a notable gain for the Dutch as from that place comes all the cinnamon and so many other spices and precious drugs of immense value. An English ship which arrived here recently from the same parts brings further news in addition to the above, but it requires further confirmation and is not fully believed even by the ambassador. It relates that the Dutch are now engaged upon the siege of Goa with 12 powerful ships of war, assisted on shore by the people of the Deccan, who are dissatisfied with the Portuguese and their methods of government, and long to shake off the yoke; so they are helping the Dutch and facilitate a capture which will be of the utmost consequence. In addition to this account it is related that an English ship (fn. 10) wished to enter the port of Goa, and finding the entry forbidden, decided to ask permission of the Dutch commander. This was refused and the impossibility of allowing entrance was pointed out. But the Englishman, being anxious to bring out a small frigate which was anchored inside laden with rich goods, to rescue it from the obvious danger of falling into the hands of the besiegers, took advantage of a favourable wind to work right into the entrance to the port. But she was discovered at the moment when she was about to enter, her progress being stopped by a single Dutchman who was nearer to the mouth. Finding that words were no use and that the Englishman obstinately persisted in his audacious attempt to enter he began to fire his guns, to which the Englishman replied. In a few hours the latter was forced to yield, as the other ships of the squadron, finding their colleague engaged, came to its assistance to reduce to submission one who tried to use force against the good pleasure of the dominant power there. No sooner was the ship taken than the Dutch released her, and she took shelter at Surat, a town on the sea shore not far from Goa, to recover from her injuries. These particulars are gathered from the lips of the sailors and passengers of the ship who have arrived in the river here. Further confirmation is eagerly awaited and may be expected with the arrival of the fleet from the East Indies, which the Dutch expect as usual in July next.
The ministers of Sweden and Brandenburg have frequent audiences, pressing his Highness to send a squadron of English ships to the Baltic. But here they do not seem much inclined to grant this, nor do they listen to their projects especially as they inform the Protector of close negotiations for an adjustment between Sweden and Poland. They report that the German ambassador has made to the former monarch in the name of the latter very liberal proposals. These are plausible and suit the genius and intentions of the Swede, who, when he has made peace with Poland, can turn all his forces against the Dane, who after his threats has come to an open rupture with Sweden. This is confirmed from many quarters although it is impossible to get the truth out of the Danish minister here.
Insurmountable obstacles seem to arise to prevent an adjustment between the duke of Buckingham and the Protector and accordingly one hears people say that the duke will not be stopping much longer this side of the water.
London, the 29th June, 1657.
[Italian.]
June 30.
Senato,
Secreta.
Dispacci,
Firenze.
Venetian
Archives.
58. Thadio Vico, Venetian Secretary at Florence, to the Doge and Senate.
Confirmation has come of the burning by the English of the Spanish ships in the Canaries, though all their cargoes, guns and troops had been removed. The Grand Duke is also advised that forty ships of war under the command of Tromp are to sail very soon in that direction to secure the plate and bring it safely to Spain.
Florence, the 30th June, 1657.
[Italian.]

Footnotes

1 Won by Lazaro Mocenigo against a fleet of Algiers ships, in the channel of Scios. Nani: Hist. de la Republica Veneta Vol. ii, pp. 438–41.
2 The Swedish commissioners who joined Berkman were Joachim Potter and J. Pryttz. Thurloe: State Papers, Vol. vi., page 361. The English commissioners to treat with them were Walter Walker, William Turner and Thomas Skynner. Ibid., page 686.
3 Robert Browne.
4 The Hampshire, Capt. Robert Storey, Fairfax and Speaker. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1656–7, page 577.
5 A bill for 100l. was ordered by parliament for Robert Storey on 10 June for bringing the news. Cal. S.P. Dom., 1657–8, page 386.
6 The Bill for Catechising which had been passed on 21 May o.s. Journals of the House of Commons Vol. vii, page 536. See Burton: Diary Vol. II, pp. 202, 205.
7 The Morning Star of Amsterdam, taken by the Lizard, Captain Daniel Baker. Cal. S. P. Dom., 1656–7, pp. 386, 551.
8 By a vote of the house on 8 June, lands to the value of 1500l. a year as in 1640 were settled on the Lord Deputy and his heirs. It was only carried by 45 votes to 43 after a hot debate. Journals of the House of Commons, Vol. vii., page 550; Burton: Diary Vol. ii, pp. 197–200.
9 Colombo surrendered to the Dutch on 13 May 1656. Schaefer: Geschichte von Portugal Vol. iv, page 580.
10 Apparently the Benjamin. Court Minutes of the East India Company 1655–9 page 165.


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